Sunday, April 5, 2015

Confessions on One year of Blogging: Dos and Don'ts

In this 'special' edition of Confessions of an Insomniac Book Devourer, I uncover some tips and tricks of the book blogging trade I've learned over my first year of blogging.

Do: Write Whatever You Want, on Your Own Schedule

One of the biggest sources of blogger burnout I've come across is this myth that posting daily will automatically make your blog an uber popular one. Don't believe it- although it may boost your pageviews (or in my case, NOT), you're better off finding your own way by writing at a feasible-for-you pace.

Also, write about whatever strikes your fancy- often the best posts are impromptu ideas.

From Digital Sherpa

Do: Become Familiar with the Way of the #Hashtag

I never had a Twitter or Pinterest account before this blog, and to be honest, I had no intentions of setting up one. I didn't want to, as I'm a crotchety old woman in a twenty-something's body... but then my insatiable curiosity got the better of me.

Guess what- it isn't so bad. Although the trending topics on Twitter tend to be very inane (boy bands, mostly), there are occasions when bookish topics come up: like #weneeddiversebooks.

Pinterest has also upped my pageviews, as people like to repin the interesting book covers, or the books they've read, or what they want to read. When they repin you, the link to your review is carried over, regardless of what they may have rewritten at the bottom of the pin- which means if anyone is curious what is all about, they can click on the picture and be led straight into your site. Free advertising, as long as you remember to pin every post.

From Wifflegif

Do: Mix and Mingle

I didn't know what I was doing when I started blogging- I freely admit that. There were so many options, choices, and decisions- how was I going to learn how to make sense of it all? Which choices were the right ones for me?

The first smart decision I remember making about blogging was to sign up for book blogger groups on different platforms. Once I signed up, I listened to the common problems people ran into (which were sometimes problems I had), and then the varied responses of fellow bloggers. It became so much easier to make hard decisions (which social media sites to join, how to make your blog more streamlined, etc.), and it also made me want to continue blogging.

Another difficult part of 'mixing and mingling' is finding the right blogs/bloggers to follow. When I started out, I followed mostly newer blogs that were less than three months old. A lot of those blogs ended up not making it past six months of age, sadly enough. I didn't find the blogs I ended up loving best immediately, but with trial and error (I followed different blogs, then found the people I related the best to and kept following them) I eventually found a core group of bloggers I still follow the bookish adventures of.

Do: Become Your Own Graphic Designer

Appearances are a key part of blogging. People like looking at pretty things, and if you want them to take time to look at your blog, you're going to have to stand out from the other 'pretty' blogs. To do that, you'll have to either have access to professional software, like Photoshop, or be like me, and make do with PicMonkey.

PicMonkey makes it simple to design your own simple-but-elegant post pictures, like the ones I made for this post. It also doesn't take much time, as long as you have an idea of what you want, and how you want it to look. For this post, I coordinated my usual blog colors aqua and gray, and kept the font plain black. The only elements that stand out are the checkmark and the cross-out, which was illustrating the dos and don'ts. I like to keep things simple, sometimes.

Do: Participate

It wasn't until September of last year that I decided to take part in my first readathon. It was fun, painless, and I don't know why I didn't join one previously. Book blogging is full of events and opportunities to meet fellow bookworms, so when you see an event you think you'd enjoy, do choose to participate.

From Central Desktop Blog

Do: Ask for Help

Sometimes you won't be able to go it alone: especially when you don't know an answer to a burning question that needs answering ASAP. If you need help, ask- you might be surprised at the response.

Don't: Plagiarize

This should be self-explanatory. If you don't know what plagiarism is, click on this helpful article from Wikipedia (my favorite weightless encyclopedia).

From Rebloggy

Don't: Be Afraid of Changing It Up or Doing Something 'Different'

I don't think most bloggers start their blogs with the intention of being just like another blog, but sometimes it ends up that way. Some of the more unique blogs I've found burn out quickly, never to return, while some other blogs keep doing the same thing over and over again and have much better results. I would say starting with the middle ground is a good idea- some things on your blog should be unique, but if you have a book blog, it's kind of weird if you never (ever) write a review, or don't participate in any popular memes (like me).

Example of My Fear of Changing It Up:
For the longest time I thought I'd screwed up by making the feature "Mini Macabre Review Monday" for the month of October, but by the end of the month they were some of my more popular posts. And people continue to click on them when looking up old, scary short stories online. I also second guessed myself when I made Sunday Fun Five and Not Quite a Confession (which is sometimes more popular than my actual Confessions). Guess what- all those 'crazy' ideas I had for features eventually worked out. As with anything else, tweaking was required (NQAC has lots of book cover pics now, Sunday Fun Five always has questions at the end of the post now), but the ideas themselves remained intact.

From Tumblr

Don't: Be Afraid of Commenting on Someone Else's Blog

I'm sure all of you may have had this moment before: you stumbled onto someone's blog, found a post that resonated with you, wrote a thoughtful comment, and then... couldn't click the Publish button. I've done this too many times to count. It's like, "What if they get really upset with what I had to say, or what if the meaning gets lost in translation?". Book bloggers are generally nicer than 99.99-to-infinite% of internet trolls. You don't have to fear them. Click that Publish button. And if they do respond oddly, at least you'll know where not to comment again.

Don't: Overindulge on NetGalley

NetGalley, Edelweiss, and other read-and-review programs can become addictive, especially when you first join. Although I've never gone too far with my requests, many people request more than they assumed they'd end up with, leaving them with lots of books and little time to read them while they're still "fresh". Book blogging is full of choices, so you have to learn to decide which books you really want to read, and which other books you could pass on without regretting.

From Giphy

Don't: Get Discouraged

Blogging is a process, and there isn't a formula for automatic success. You probably won't start out with dozens of adoring readers following your every move, unless you're a famous author or Alex from Target. If you love writing, reading books, and hearing people's opinions from halfway across the globe, book blogging is probably the best (and most rewarding) hobby you'll ever take part in.

What are some of your tips and tricks on book blogging? (And happy Easter to those who celebrate it!)


  1. Interesting info about Pinterest, will have to keep that in mind & maybe start pinning my posts too. Although I will freely admit that I tried Twitter and still don't see the point. But maybe that is because I try to use it out of sync with people in American timezones, so I rarely see anything bookish on it.

    1. You should try using Tweetdeck ( ) if you haven't already, for your Twitter- I use it to keep track of blogger friends and favorite authors: you make lists of people whose tweets you want to see in separate feeds, which helps some. I keep odd hours (I'm 'nocturnal'), and most of the time someone else I actually "know" is also online.
      Thanks for stopping by and commenting, Miriam!
      ~Litha Nelle

  2. I love this post so so much. I wish I had found something like this a year ago when I had first started my blog. It's really helpful.

    Also, your idea for pinning your posts on PIntrest is really interesting. I'm going to have to try that out. I just starting using Pintrest last month and I'm sort of obsessed with it. I never thought to pin my own posts =)

    Thanks for stopping by my blog!
    - Jazzie @ The Book Dancer

    1. You can also "verify" your blog/profile for Pinterest by embedding a code in your blog somewhere- it took me a while to figure it out, but now I have a little red checkmark by my blog url on my profile. I've found I get quite a few hits from curious people on Pinterest who want to know about the book based on its cover, just by pinning my book reviews.
      Thanks for stopping by and commenting, Jazzie!
      ~Litha Nelle


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