Reading time: 7 minutes

I tend to get hooked on certain bloggers. Being a blogger myself, I love to learn from the best, to see what they do to succeed — and exactly how they do it. Lately, I’ve been hooked on American life- and business coach Marie Forleo. I’m not exactly part of her target audience, which is [...]

by Jerry “Doctor Spin” Silver // Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn
Senior Digital Strategist // Spin Factory

Screen Shot 2014-01-22 at 11.11.56I tend to get hooked on certain bloggers. Being a blogger myself, I love to learn from the best, to see what they do to succeed — and exactly how they do it.

Lately, I’ve been hooked on American life- and business coach Marie Forleo.

I’m not exactly part of her target audience, which is mainly women. But as far as digital marketing goes, which is my main interest, she’s awesome at positioning herself online within her niche.

I think especially her blog platform works really well. In this post, I will run through what I love about her site and why.

And be warned. This is for all you conversion geeks out there. I suggest you open up Marie’s blog in a separate window or tab to tag along.

Here we go:

Let’s take a look at a separate blog post first. This is often where you land if you’ve stumbled across Marie’s blog via social media — or if you subscribe to her newsletter.

The Header Area

1. The upper-left corner logo is small and allows for the image-based tagline to do the work instead.

2. Only four menu items, clean and simple.

3. An image-based feature box above the fold. Now, the copy doesn’t really say all that much, but I’m pretty sure the target audience loves the attitude and tonality. Usually, a box like this only gets featured on the front page and not on individual blog post-URLs, but the design allows for it — and it probably increases her signup rate a lot to have this feature area on all single blog posts.

4. The email opt-in copy below the feature box is actually continuously repeated in all Marie’s videos, so it makes a lot of sense. Nice touch to highlight free with italics. Typical best practice would be to have something pointing towards the first opt-in box, but in this case, her legs actually do. Coincidence? In either case, smart use of imagery.

5. Short and sweet exclamation marked call-to-action with an accent colour for the email opt-in button.

Above The Fold

6. The headline of the blog post is clearly visible above the fold. To ensure this, the main blog post image is below the headline.

7. Blog headlines are very clear about what you, as a reader, will get from reading her post. Clarity and length above short and witty headlines.

8. Instead of going all Mashable on us, she highlights only one social proof item above the fold — the number of comments she’s receiving. For a blogger, comments are like diamonds since value-adding comments are so difficult to acquire. Very smart to focus only on this, it really pops and proofs her popularity.

9. Since she’s doing such a good job asking for your email address in the header, the important spot on the top of the sidebar can be used for something else. So she highlights her being on Oprah. Boom!

Blog Post Area

10. Great contrast and text area width for onscreen reading. Short paragraphs and she writes using her talking voice. Perfect for blogging and very easy to follow.

11. She uses a rhetorical question to create a ladder of positive affirmations to keep you engaged. And you have to actually watch the video get the answers, so the whole blog post copy is actually a pull-in for the video.

Screen Shot 2014-01-22 at 11.06.01

12. Now, the video. This is where Marie really shines and leaves 99% of all other bloggers behind. First, the video still image is actually an image with a headline overlay, making it really clear what the video is about visually, no matter where you’ll find the clip embedded.

13. The video is the centrepiece content of her blog and this is very smart since she’s so comfortable with the camera. The production value is high-end and difficult for amateur bloggers to imitate due to budget, but still. She’s rocking it.

14. The video format is great for several reasons. Repetitive build-up, setting the stage, social media sharing call-to-actions, bloopers, in the end, etc. The list goes on. And always a prepared topic for discussion to get people sharing their experiences in the comments, rather than just giving shoutouts.

15. Not all people watch the video in full-screen. So, what to do with your fingers while you’re watching the video? Well, Marie puts a click-to-tweet link directly beneath the video. You know, in case you need to do something while watching.

16. She often ends her posts with a touch of appreciation towards her readers. It’s so easy to forget about this, but she never does. And she tops it off with her signature at the end of the blog post — nice touch.

Comment Section

17. Not a whole lot of sharing options in the end and they’re not prominently shown. Because she really wants you to comment or sign up to her email list. Everything else is clutter and therefore removed.

18. The comment section is a native one, not Disqus, Livefyre or IntenseDebate. She keeps it clean and really shows off her comment section, which truly is impressive.

20. If you decide to leave a comment, chances are you have to scroll quite a bit first. If you want your comment at the top, then you have to be quicker to comment next time she posts, right?


21. The sidebar is all best practice, too. Beneath Oprah, there’s some solid praise in the form of testimonials. Then a few (not too many) resource pages, which are great for new visitors and great for SEO, too.

22. New visitors also often want to see the best posts so they can make up their mind about her content. And there they are, in the sidebar, beneath the resource pages.

23. Common practice is to have contact information or some social media links at the bottom of the sidebar, but she goes with some extra social proof to top it off by showing two of her awards.

Front Page

24. The front page of her blog isn’t too dissimilar from her single blog post, which makes navigation and comprehension easier. It’s also smart to show lots of her blog post copy up front, but if you want to see the video, you need to commit by clicking “Keep Reading”.

25. Five posts on the front page are great, not too many (which is very common) and not to few.

What Your Business Can Learn From This

All of this is very much aligned with online psychology expert Derek Halpern of Social Triggers, one of the smartest guys in online marketing and a great source of personal inspiration for me. But of course, this is ONE way to structure a blog. There are other ways too, of course.

Marie Forleo is obviously very talented, smart and hard-working. Her content would surely go a long way without such a smart blog design. And the other way around — if her content was crap, a great design wouldn’t exactly help her all that much. And her business revolves around her blog content. So yes, it makes sense for her to produce stellar content for her target audience.

But YOU are probably in a completely different business, a business which not revolves around editorial web content. Or your personal brand, for that matter. But this makes my key point all the more relevant.

Here’s the kicker:

Imagine the above 25 points are not working. Imagine each and every of these 25 points actually working against you.

For the sake of argument, let’s say your content potentially could convert 1 in every 100 web visitor. Imagine how poor structure and design would affect your potential.

Small percentages, sometimes large, chipped away here and there. You might end up converting 1 in every 100,000 web visitor instead. Not because the quality of your content, but because how you presented your information.

Maybe content superstars like Marie Forleo could “afford” such unnecessary losses of conversion, but could you?

Tweet: Blog design = the devil’s in the details // @marieforleo blog analysed by @doktorspinn

I leave you with this classic West Wing scene:

Was there any of the above points you especially agree or disagree with? Or something worthy of an extra discussion? Please comment and I’ll make sure to jump in!

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Behind the keyboard:

Jerry Silver is the author of Doctor Spin, a PR blog that's been around for 15+ years. Via his agency Spin Factory, Jerry is advising brands on how to adapt to a 'digital first' world. In 2016, Cision Scandinavia named him "PR Influencer of the Year". Jerry lives in Stockholm, Sweden with his wife Lisah, news anchor and television host, and their three-year-old son, Jack.

Doctor Spin’s comment policy:
“Great minds discuss ideas, average minds discuss events, small minds discuss people.”
— Eleanor Roosevelt

Reader reactions:

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La Linda

Åh! Jag älskar henne. Tack för detta fynd. Så mycket inspiration och pepp på samma ställe. Och ja – jag är “färgglada prickar och hollywoodhår”-målgruppen. ;)

Jerry Silfwer

Jag är egentligen också en sucker för Hollywoodlockar och amerikanskt “yes, you can do it, too!”, men säg det inte till någon! ;)

1000 tack för att du kommenterar! Hoppas vi ses något i vimlet framöver!

Magnus Nilsson

Great post. It would be really interesting to see her Google Analytics account. ;-)

Jerry Silfwer

Yeah, what would you look for specifically? I would be interested to see the referrers. Cool to know where her target demographic hangs out. She gets so many quality comments, so it’s probably high-intent traffic converting superbly to her e-course if I were to make a guess.

Sanne Aronsson

Jag har följt Forleo i några år nu och det är så grymt kul och inspirerande att följa hennes utveckling. Både videomässigt och marknadsföringsmässigt. Hon har den stora styrkan med kontinuitet! Hon har köttat en video i veckan o flera år. Alla med samma ton och känsla. Sjukt inspirerande. Hon blir bara bättre och bättre! Kul att du lyfte alla bra greker hon gör så fler får tillgång till denna guldgruva:)

Jerry Silfwer

Hej Sanne! Kul att stöta på dig här i kommentarsfältet!

Ja, under den tid jag följt henne har jag också sett hur hon utvecklats, men precis som du säger utan att tappa sin kontinuitet. Riktigt strongt.

Ser att du flyttar till San Fransisco tre månader, kul! Lycka till!

Elia Mörling

Great break-down. I noticed she also uses popovers for collecting e-mail. I am abit conflicted about this approach. What are your opinions on it?

Jerry Silfwer

I am too. However, I’ve seen so many number crunchers swear by it as well. Apparently yes, you irritate some people. Heck, you even put them off reading your blog all together. But the reasoning goes, that those people would never had converted into potential customers of yours anyway. So the loss of the few doesn’t measure up the gain of the many.
Now, I admit this is hearsay — I haven’t tried this myself. Not for any client, either. But I’ve been thinking about doing some small testing here on the blog. But I’ve always felt that I need something to offer in return, like an ebook for lead magnet or something.
That’s the way I personally could do it, if I gave away something really valuable. Then I should really put in a “right hook”.
But before I try such a thing, I need to learn a little bit more about WHEN to show them. There are so many options and behavioural triggers. I’ve heard that some are really successful with popups when the mouse-pointer leaves the text, signalling you’re done reading.

Robb Gorringe


I’m sure this wasn’t an easy post to write, but ‘dang it was good! With just about every point I was going back to her site thinking, “Uh huh, yep, he’s right about that too.” It’s not that I’m any kind of design wiz, but I just learned so much from your post. I’m going to have to re-think a few things on my site as well. Nicely done.


Jerry Silfwer

Thank you so much for those encouraging words, Robb! I can’t tell me how happy it makes me that you did a side-by-side comparison with my notes and Marie’s site. And by doing this post, I discovered quite a few things to add to my to-do list myself, ha! Take care, Jerry


Riktigt trevlig läsning, det blir så mycket mer “actionable” med ett konkret exempel!

Jerry Silfwer

1000 tack, Axel!


GREAT article!!! I am working on my site and want to put in #4. I am using Thesis….any idea how to build this feature?

Jerry Silfwer

Thanks Tracee! I use Thesis, but rather than using their boxes, I prefer a plugin named Magic Action Box Pro.

Rob Elings

Great post here Jerry! I have actually done her entire e-course twice now and must say that besides having a great website, and her Membersite rocks it even way more than what you’re discussing above … but ultimately it’s the AMAZING value + outstanding customer service that she and her team provide, every time. It’s what sets her apart, and what draws people to her. Delivering real value (and valuable content) is way more powerful than any tools or techniques (SEO), etc. And of course, smart psychological thinking embedded in her web strategy only helps to land that value even more effectively. My 2cents!

Doctor Spin

Thanks for sharing, Rob! That settles it, I must try her member site! :)


Curious to find out what comment system are you using on this site Jerry, great review of Marie Forleo.

Doctor Spin

Thanks. I’m using the native comment system for Wordpress.