Drive-by-Shooting Sundays: The Writing Journey

Last week’s hit had been messy. Sometimes hits were like that. But they’d kept their cool and covered their tracks. It was just a job.

Now Harry lay on the rooftop, his body stretched out, one eye pressed to the scope. He had long forgotten the way the gritty surface dug into his elbows, but this hit was a good old-fashioned sniping. No one ever expected death from above.

The crosshairs searched for the next victim. Any minute… any minute…

“There,” James whispered, and a second later, the victim wandered into his sights.

“I see him.” He took a breath, letting it out as his finger tensed slowly to squeeze the trigger.

One shot, one kill. That’s all it would take…

Today’s drive-by consult is for the Writing Journey, the blog of freelance writer Bob Younce. Here’s a glance at what was live before the hit:

The first thing the eyes notice is the black banner – it’s large and imposing because of the large and imposing font. It tends to overpower the rest of the blog, and since there are no attractive images to “amuse the eye” I think that may be a negative. It’s a dark look for your blog, and while not necessarily an unappealing color scheme, I think it’s too much.

I would definitely align the font of the title and the subtitle to begin at an even point, and probably at the same point the main navigation occurs. I’d consider changing the font – it’s a clear one but slightly difficult to read. It also looks a little comicky and not professional. Choose a font that is more bold and solid, I think.

The WJ logo doesn’t do much for me. It looks blocky and empty, perhaps also a little redundant. I’d replace that with an image or remove it completely. I’d also put any images on the right hand side, because they are less important than what’s on the left, where the eye first lands.

What I’d suggest is to lighten up your banner and possibly make it less tall – it doesn’t need the imposing height it has for its purposes. Again, the colors aren’t bad, but they’re template colors. Show some individuality – it’s good for you, because you have personality to match.

Your top navigation is very clear. At a glance, I know what everything means, I know what I’m going to get if I click there.

Your latest post is right there and clearly visible. Good one. The font is also large and easy to read. Bonus again.

The RSS button and subscription options are well placed and clear, too. The RSS button is a little large, though, because that block combined with the blockiness of the banner tends to create a sense of overwhelming blue and black. It’s also a little bland for an image – there are some nicer ones out there, I feel.

Most popular articles is right at the top, very good. However, if those are plumes or pens, they’re hard to see and distracting. Opt for small round bullets instead.

The layout is well sectioned above the fold… and below the fold, we have…

Topspots? Never heard of it. Paid text links are a no-no, though, so I’m not entirely comfortable with this one. Not sure if it’s a legit scheme or not, but personally, I wouldn’t take the chance. If you do keep it, move the “buy now” up to be at the top so people can see the offer better.

I’d also switch the Topspot section with the Recent Comments section. I’d place Topspot below the Top Commentators section, too. And even more, your Topspot is empty – even if you have to buy your own links or give some away to people, fill them up. Never make someone feel like they’re the first to step in, and first is a lonely place to be.

You have photos on your posts and while that’s great, I think they need to be more relevant. I don’t see many that strike me as “fitting” the post in question. Also, I’d make them a little smaller – somehow, they look huge on your blog, probably because they have no supporting background. If you make them smaller, your content will actually look more attractive and be easier to read.

Switch Recent Posts with My Other Projects. Put Categories in the right hand column. Remove the MyBlogLog widget – that doesn’t do much for your credibility. Remove the Blog Catalogue widget – that’s not doing anything for you either.

Consider knocking out some of these sections, by the way. You have a lot of link sections going on and below the fold, things are starting to look cluttered.

Dude. Ditch the Adsense.

Also ditch the Blogosphere widget – you’re sending traffic away (if anyone does click it). You want them to stay on site.

Another ditch for the Twitter widget – it just doesn’t make sense to read if someone lands on your site and has no clue what you’re talking about on Twitter. Again, aim for a more professional look, not latest gadget look.

You have all the good plugins going on – I would suggest removing the Share This and replacing with Sociables. Stumbles and Diggs are good and encouraging them even better.

I’d trim your Categories section, too. You don’t need “uncategorized” and you could combine a few of those to have less of a list and more succinct categories.

All in all, not bad. Cleanup, organization, a better RSS, and do something with your banner.

The shot still echoed in his ears as Harry packed up their gear quickly. A crowd had gathered on the streets below. He could hear the wail of distant sirens approaching.

“You alright?” James was his usual confident self, checking the clip on the Glock before tucking it back into the shoulder holster. Nothing seemed to shake the man.

“Yeah.” Harry stopped for a moment. He couldn’t explain the feeling he had. Dazed, maybe. “You’d think it would get easier each time.” It never did, though. That was just who he was.

James pursed his lips, looking down at the victim on the streets. “That was easy,” he finally said. “One shot. A clean kill. No mess.” It was all part of the job.

If you’re ready to reserve your free hit and drive-by consult in the comment section (or drop us an email.) We’ll schedule it onto our waiting list.

Come on. You know you want to.

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Post by James Chartrand

James Chartrand is an expert copywriter and the owner of Men with Pens and Damn Fine Words, the game-changing writing course for business owners. She loves the color blue, her kids, Nike sneakers and ice skating.