Why is criticism important?One of the biggest lessons I've learned as a blogger is that criticism is the best way to get ideas on how to improve my blog. I really don't think I could have come this far without it. Other people can see your blog's deficiencies more easily than you. Ask for criticism, and you might discover that your content is boring or mediocre. You might learn that the design of your blog makes it hard to use, or your widgets are slowing it down, or that your blog doesn't work properly in all browsers. As discouraging as it can be to get this kind of feedback, you can learn so much from it. Your blog's flaws could be turning readers away, which means less traffic and comments for you. Once you know the problems with your blog, you can set to work on fixing them.
So, where do you go to get criticism?
1. ForumsMost blogging forums have a section for you to share a link to your blog and ask for opinions and advice. The main problem with forums is that some members don't like to be critical, and will only tell you what they like about your blog, whereas other members won't tell you much of anything—good or bad—except that you should take a look at their blog.
Something to keep in mind when asking for criticism is that blogging forums are usually rampant with spammers—the ones that come for self-promotion, and leave a while later. With so many people like that coming and going, the "check out my blog" threads get numerous and monotonous. They often get ignored by the longtime members who have grown bored of the lack of real discussion.
You don't want to be one of these spammers, which is why you may want to spend some time participating in conversations and getting to know a few of the other members before creating a thread about your blog. Some bloggers want something in exchange for their feedback, so you can expect that you'll be reviewing other blogs too.
If you're not already a member of a blogging forum, I recommend Bloggeries. It's the best one I've found.
2. SurveysAnother way to get criticism is by asking your readers. This way, you can learn what you can improve from the people who know your blog best. A survey can be used for getting in-depth feedback that you probably can't get using any other technique. The only disadvantage of a survey is that people who browse the web are often lazy, and a long survey is a hassle to fill out.
To create surveys, I recommend JotForm. It's a free WYSIWYG form builder with tons of options for surveys.
3. PollsPolls are a quick and easy way to get feedback. Most blogging platforms have poll widgets, but you can also use a site such as Polldaddy.com. It only takes about two clicks for somebody to vote in a poll, which is why you probably would have more success with a poll than you would with a survey. The disadvantage of polls is that you aren't going to get a very good idea of what your readers think of your blog, but they're excellent for asking simple questions, such as what article they would like to see next, or if they think your blog should be green instead of orange.
Just a few tipsYou can use just one of these techniques, or you can use all three simultaneously. It's up to you. Just remember that you don't have to use all the suggestions people give you. After all, it's your blog and you know where you want to go with it.
Most people are happy to give their criticism, but not all criticism is constructive. For this, I recommend you check out an excellent article over at Reviewz 'n' Tips on How to Deal with Criticism.
So, how do you get criticism on your blog? Is there a technique I forgot about? I would love to hear from you!