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Topic: Website Critique

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I Sampled! Blog, Please Ciritique

Posted by NatashaChernavska on 500 Points
Hi, everybody.

I have just recently started a blog that will review subscription boxes, beauty and other consumer products, merchant deals. Target audience - mostly women in US 18-50. Bonus - giveaways. http://isampled.com/

I would really appreciate your input about

- Do you like the name of the site and branding?

- Visual: how appealing is the website, how easy is it to read/find information?

- Does it look much more like a commercial project than a blog (my concern)? If yes, what would you change? I would like it to look like a blog, but it's not easy to do so when you review deals and other subjects of my reviews.

- Do you care for giveaways? I have some products provided for me for reviews and giveaways. I was hoping it may be a great marketing tool to promote my blog.

- I also have Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/ISampled) and Twitter. Do you think Pintrest will help? I would really like to focus only on Facebook marketing, Twitter is a supplemental thing where I have automatic posting from the blog, and I am not planning to put a lot of effort into Twitter Markteing. Do you think I should?

- Overall, do you think there are too many banners on the site? I have designed a big chunk of those banners, so I am trying to keep it stylish and pretty (the top 120x600 block on each page are all banners designed by me).

- I also have some additional helpful information about deals and promotions: is it easy to find? Do you care for that information?

- What's your general impression - would you like to receive updates from the site about giveaways and special deals that different merchants provide?

Thank you very much for your participation!

  • Posted by Moriarty on Accepted
    General question, Natasha:

    What happens when someone can do it cheaper than you can?

    Oh, and well done for getting some decent likes on Facebook!

    I would say that it is above average for being cool and interactive.

    What can you offer your audience (since you have one!!) that nobody else is offering?

    From a 50 something frump tied to a happy old jazz musician.

    To your success,

    Moriarty xx
  • Posted by NatashaChernavska on Author
    Moriarty, thank you for your answer.

    Here's the thing, I am not selling anything! :) You don't buy anything from me, so there is no sales competition. What I am offering - a site of subscription boxes reviews - most of cosmetic boxes and some other ones. + a lot of giveaways.

    So I offer my input on what subscription boxes providers have to offer and giveaways. Mostly. Also some cosmetics and other product reviews, as well as some beauty advice.

    I can see, you already think that I am selling something. Damn, I am doing something wrong. ;)
  • Posted by Jay Hamilton-Roth on Member
    When someone first lands on the site, they're not sure what you're offering/selling (or to whom). They're also not sure how you make money with this site - are you getting referral fees for products, selling ad space, hoping for lots of free product samples, or something else? Ultimately, you need to answer the question "Why should someone trust your advice?"
  • Posted by NatashaChernavska on Author
    Jay Hamilton-Roth, I understand all that. Do you have anything to answer my questions?
  • Posted by Moriarty on Member
    Nats,

    I did wonder if it was an affiliate site. Let's just say it has that feel.

    Please remember that I looked at it for ... three minutes? Your readers - and you have some decent comment threads which must mean something - know differently. There are those here for whom a website is for selling stuff only.

    My own site - at least the English site - is primarily aimed at getting people to think. Just that alone would make my life nicer because fewer people would make stupid decisions on the basis of poorly thought out problem solving!

    Let me know what you think and I will revisit your site and give you a second opinion.

    I still think the design is cool and the ads inoffensive (but prominent).

    M xx

  • Posted by NatashaChernavska on Author
    Thanks, Moriarty
  • Posted by Moriarty on Member
    Was that a "thanks" or a "stuff-off" sort of thanks ... ? M
  • Posted by NatashaChernavska on Author
    Moriarty, thank you very much for your input! I have a lot of info to process with this launch. I appreciate your participation! :)
  • Posted by Jay Hamilton-Roth on Member
    Do you like the name of the site and branding?
    * The name of the site is based around YOUR sampling. It says nothing of my benefit.

    Visual: how appealing is the website, how easy is it to read/find information?
    * It's easy to navigate, but there's too much visual clutter.

    Does it look much more like a commercial project than a blog (my concern)? If yes, what would you change? I would like it to look like a blog, but it's not easy to do so when you review deals and other subjects of my reviews.
    * What's the benefit of a blog-looking site for your visitors? When I see lots of ads, I think commercial project. When I see no ads, I think non-commercial.

    Do you care for giveaways? I have some products provided for me for reviews and giveaways. I was hoping it may be a great marketing tool to promote my blog.
    * I'm not your target market.

    I also have Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/ISampled) and Twitter. Do you think Pintrest will help? I would really like to focus only on Facebook marketing, Twitter is a supplemental thing where I have automatic posting from the blog, and I am not planning to put a lot of effort into Twitter Markteing. Do you think I should?
    * I think that you should measure the results of your efforts, and do more of what works, and less of what doesn't.

    Overall, do you think there are too many banners on the site? I have designed a big chunk of those banners, so I am trying to keep it stylish and pretty (the top 120x600 block on each page are all banners designed by me).
    * Yes.
  • Posted by mgoodman on Moderator
    What's your objective? Why have you created this site? How will you know if you've succeeded?

    Overall I agree with Jay's responses, but I realize that most of us are not in your target audience, so what we think may not be relevant.

    If your site delivers against your objective, then it's fine. If it doesn't then you either have to redesign it or revisit the objective.

    Asked another way, what does success look like for you?
  • Posted by Gary Bloomer on Accepted
    From an SEO viewpoint, Google gives searchers the following information about your site:

    I Sampled!
    www.isampled.com/ISampled.com - true reviews on cosmetics, monthly subscription boxes, and other consumer products and services.

    Your site might benefit from minor tweaking of this head and tag text.

    From a review of your site content in terms of your editorial, you talk about yourself 4 times as often as you talk about your customers. This needs fixing because it's going to have an impact on the way people view your site.

    On an initial look, and purely from a positioning point of view, your site may benefit from a niche specific landing page rather than dropping visitors straight into your blog.

    A well-designed, subject-optimized landing page will telegraph who you are, what your site is about, what you do, what you offer, and why people interested in these kinds of offers will want to learn more and come back for updated content.

    Here's a link that shows various kinds of landing page layouts and what it is about those page designs that helps or hinders conversion: http://unbounce.com/landing-page-examples/15-that-couldnt-sell-honey-to-a-h...

    Because your site is registered in the United States (via GoDaddy), and because you have ads on your site that are affiliate links, you MUST, by order of Federal law, clearly declare your affiliate and material connection to any and all sponsors on your website (VistaPrint, Amazon, Ulta ... all of them) to your site visitors.

    There is NO way around this and by NOT disclosing
    your material and affiliate connections with the advertisers on your site (whether they're financial in nature, in which you receive a percentage payment from any sale arising out of a link originating from your site, OR id you're receiving "in kind" gifts in the guides of free samples to review so that you can then direct people from those reviews to your affiliate links, whether they're on your site, on other sites, or through social media streams) you are currently in violation of FTC code 16 C.F.R. Part 255: Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising

    Read more here: http://www.ftc.gov/opa/2009/10/endortest.shtm

    Read further information here:

    http://business.ftc.gov/documents/reflections-connections-ftcs-revised-endo...

    And yes, this Code does apply to you and yes again, the FTC does check and they will file suit against you if they believe you are in violation of the Code. Fines are high. So, unless you have LOS of money, my best advice to you is to comply with this law or shut up shop.

    Here's a link to show you how to comply with the law:
    http://michaelhyatt.com/five-ways-to-comply-with-the-new-ftc-guidelines-for...

    I hope this helps.
  • Posted by NatashaChernavska on Author
    mgoodman, thank you for your input, I will think of what you are asking about.

    Gary Bloomer, great point, I didn't know about this. I have updated the site in order to comply. The thing with landing pages, I know, I am a designer and know how to design those and implement and what role they play in marketing, but my site is not about that, it's a blog. That's why it's landing in the blog, because it simply is, nothing more. I do talk a lot about me, because this blog is about me and my experience with different products. Yes, there are affiliate links there, but I am not selling anything, I am providing links in case people would like to buy the products I am reviewing, but my task is not to sell, but to educate and entertain. If it makes me a buck - would be great. Even if it does, but stops being fun for me - hell with it. If it makes no money or fun - hell with it, too! :)

    But I really appreciate your input about law - that is very valuable and important. You are a rock star!
  • Posted by Gary Bloomer on Member
    Natasha,

    Glad my points helped. Although you are not selling anything outright, the FTC still considers an affiliate relationship as a material connection, and as such, you must clearly state that you have a material connection with the vendor.
  • Posted by NatashaChernavska on Author
    Gary, I did state it! I added a foot note to the site footer and a specific disclaimer to the pares where I write about the products that are provided for free. Also, I added a special page with disclaimers. I think that's enough, don't you? Thank you!

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