April 17, 2012

I Accept Tips... & I Give Them, Too!

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. Every week they post a new topic/Top Ten list and invite everyone to share their own answers. I'm so obsessed with lists!

I am SO excited about this week's topic because I'm still a new blogger myself! Although I've had some type of a blog for a few years now, I'm very new to the book blogging community. It's the first time I've had a blog that I love and want to spend time on. So, I'm really looking forward to reading everyone's tips. But I'm also going to share a few tips - both things that have helped me and things I've noticed about successful bloggers!

Source
Top Ten Tips for New Bloggers

1. Be Yourself
You've got to have this little cheesy phrase on the list... because it's true! The best tip I can give and the most attractive quality in any blogger is someone who is true to themselves. They read what they like, they write in their own voice, they develop their own content... You get the picture.

I am instantly attracted to a blog where I feel like I know something about the person behind it. If your blog makes me feel like I know you, you're doing a good job about being yourself!

2. Comment!
Comments make you feel good, right? It's proof that someone not only read what you wrote, but they also took the time to tell you what they thought about it. As a new blogger, I get excited for each and every comment that I receive. So, why wouldn't you want to make someone else feel that way? 

I don't comment on other people's blogs because I want them to come check out mine. I get why people do that. But I comment because I honestly what that blogger to know that I read and enjoyed/agreed-with/disagreed-with/love/wished-I'd-written that post. Yes, leaving comments will often get you comments, but that shouldn't be your motivation for commenting because it's usually really obvious that's all you want. I also try to leave comments that actually say something. I strive to leave the kind of comments that people look forward to reading.

3. Don't Do It Unless You Love It
This may sound like a weird tip, but it's an honest one. If you don't love reading and books, don't blog about them. If you don't like writing, then maybe a blog isn't the best venue for you to express that love. Will you enjoy every single minute of blogging? Heck no! But if you don't love it starting off, you won't love it when it takes even more work.

Go into blogging for the right reasons, and that's NOT to get free stuff. Your blog should come from a place of loving books and wanting to share that with others. If you don't have that love, maybe book blogging isn't for you. Would you want to keep your blog, even if you knew you'd only ever have like 5 readers? I could have have any more readers, and I'd still want to have this blog because I love it.

4. Make Friends
What was one of the best things about going to summer camp? Making new friends! The one bad thing about working at a real job and getting into a routine is that it can be hard to meet new people. I spend a lot of my time either at work or with my husband, so I don't necessarily have a ton of time to make friends outside of people I already know or work with.

One of the best things about blogging is having the opportunity to make friends all over the world. Another great thing? You've already got stuff to talk about - BOOKS! And then you can find other interests that you have in common, and your friendship can grow from there...

5. Read What You Like
People have an awful lot of opinions on what defines quality literature and what books are worth your time. You know what I have to say about that? Read whatever the heck you want!

Does that mean you shouldn't stretch yourself? Not at all. Does that mean you shouldn't try new genres? Nope. But I think you should try them only if you want to! If you read what you like, you'll be passionate about what you're reading and you'll be excited to share that with others. I'm not saying you'll like everything you read - but read the books that remind you of why you love reading.

6. Don't Get Caught in the Comparison Trap
I think this can be a huge issue, especially for new bloggers. When you're a new blogger, you've got a pretty small audience... but you've probably decided to become a blogger because of another blog. If you're anything like me, you fell in love with the book blogging community before you ever joined it.

Because of that, you probably follow quite a few establish blogs. The only bad thing about following really established blogs? It can be easy to start comparing your blog to theirs. Don't do it! Resist the urge to fall into the comparison trap! That doesn't mean you shouldn't strive to build your blog, and it doesn't mean you can't learn from the bloggers you admire. But it does mean that you shouldn't compare yourselves to them. Chances are, they've been doing it a lot longer than you have. And what builds a blog following? Consistency over time.

7. Blog Design Matters
I was just talking about this on Twitter the other day, but I think it bears repeating. There are few things that bother be more about some blogs than their design. I don't think everyone needs to have professional help to have an attractive and appealing blog design.

I have a really hard time falling in love with a blog if it's poorly designed and has way too much going on in the sidebars. I love sidebars, and I think some things should always appear on your sidebar (archive, search, subscription options, etc.). And I think there's even a place for other things if you so desire them. However, I think some sidebars need editing.

Look at your blog with a critical eye every few months. Ask yourself:
  • Is everything up-to-date?
  • Is it easy to navigate? 
  • Is it readable?
  • Is there anything that isn't necessary that you could remove?
  • Is there something missing that you need to add?
No matter how good your blog content is, people won't be able to focus on it if something about the blog design makes it hard to focus on or enjoy the content.

8. Learn a Little HTML
I don't think you have to know everything there is to know about HTML to run a good blog. In fact, you barely even need to know anything these days because Blogger/Wordpress makes it so easy. However, I do think you need to know enough to make simple changes and updates.

For example, Blogger doesn't always format my posts correctly. Sometimes there are extra spaces or things aren't lining up the right way. Those are the moments when knowing a little bit of HTML is invaluable.

You don't have to know everything, but know enough to make minor edits. And if you don't know how to do something, Google it! I've learned how to do many things just by Googling it and following simple step-by-step directions. Beyond that, you can always ask someone who knows!

9. Create Original Content
I've found a lot of blogs that seem to rely on memes for the majority of their content. Don't get me wrong, I love memes (hello, Top Ten Tuesday!). But, I would offer some caution: choose one or two memes that are the most interesting/appealing to you. Don't try to do everything.

And if you do choose to participate in a meme, make your contribution meaningful. I hate when I'm visiting other blogs that are participating in memes, and it seems like they only participated to get blog traffic and visitors. Participate only if you actually have something to say! Just don't rely on those to provide you with all the content for your blog.

My absolute favorite blogs are the ones that have original content. Original content shows me that you have a unique voice and have something worth sharing. Work on creating original content, and I guarantee people will be attracted to your blog!

10. Use Social Media
Here's a final tip to round out my list: get on social media! I think social media is a great way to get your blog content out to a larger audience, but that's not why it made my list. I cannot say enough about the potential to make friends and start conversations using social media. For example, I have been able to talk to some hilarious ladies on Twitter - and I'm starting to make new friends that I never would have been able to make just through blog comments. Not only that, but I've developed an even deeper appreciation for those people's blogs because of the conversations we've had on social media.

19 comments:

  1. Hi there :) just popping in...

    Learning html is a great one. I am now a html whizz after setting up my blog about 3-4 times now.

    Waiting On Wednesday

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Gracious! I bet you're a total HTML whizz! I think it's so helpful to know at least a little bit.

      Delete
  2. Excellent tips, Hannah! I especially love your suggestion to know some HTML code. You're the first person I've seen suggest that -- and you're right: it really helps. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Jillian! I don't know how any of my posts would look if I didn't know at least a little HTML. I think I have to make a few formatting tweaks on everything I post, so I'm very thankful that I know how to make the necessary changes myself :)

      Delete
  3. I agree with EVERYTHING you said! Great post. Gah, I wish a knew something about HTML code - I'm even considering finding some kind of small workshop on it to enroll in ;p

    And I'm a big lover of social media, especially Twitter! But you must be engaging on it - having an account and just following people or getting followers means nothing if you don't engage others. I feel the same way about making post comments - some of my favorite bloggers are the one's who respond to comments. I realize this can't always be done, especially for blogs that receive tons of comments per post, but it's always nice when a blogger acknowledges your comment, especially if it's someone's first time commenting. Haha - and I am NOT writing this because I want you to acknowledge me! ;) Or maybe this is a test...lol. Kidding, kidding.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Brie! And oh my goodness, you can totally learn some HTML without having to enroll in a class. I've found several online classes/tutorials that really helped me, and they were all free! I'll do a little research and see if I can find the one that helped me the most. Plus, I've totally Googled things like "HTML to center header image on blog" and just copied and pasted the code provided. A lot of people will show you the code and highlight the portion that needs to be changed to your information/image/words/etc.

      And I'm right there with you on the Twitter thing! It's such a great way to engage with people, and I've found so many new bloggers through it. I love getting to know people better and see their personality, and I think Twitter really gives you an opportunity to do that.

      AMEN to your points about comments! I completely agree! I've actually noticed that I'm less likely to comment on blogs where I know the blogger never replies. Even though I know they read the comment, I think that not replying sometimes comes across like the comment didn't matter. For those that get a ton of comments, I totally understand not replying to everything. But I still think they should reply to some, especially comments that took some time or effort to write.

      Delete
    2. You passed the test! Heehee ;) That would be amazing if you passed on any HTML links that might help me out! While I enjoy learning it, I'm also easily frustrated, lol.

      I also meant to mention earlier, that I love that you blog about all genres of books. It seems like it's taken me awhile to actually find blogs like this (as opposed to ones that focus on just one genre), and it was so refreshing and nice to find! I was so worried about "book snobs" when I started my own blog because I read all over the place, too. I just want people to read and love books - doesn't matter what books those are!

      Delete
  4. I love what you say about reading what you like! When I first started blogging I mostly read classics, and I felt this obligation to be "literary" because there was a group of bloggers that were very vocal about how a "real" reader only reads literary works. Then as I got involved in YA, I felt like people didn't read my blog because I didn't read only YA but instead a variety of books. I used to worry so much about these things. Now I finally feel comfortable reading exactly what I want. I don't have the most followers out there, but I get what I want from my blog and my reading experiences. It is hard to not listen to all of the opinions out there (for me at least) but I can definitely say I haven't gained from doing that!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's funny that you liked that point in particular because your blog was one of the ones that helped me realize I could read and blog about whatever the heck I wanted! I found so many "classics only" or "YA only" blogs, but I love a little bit of everything when I'm reading. At first, I wondered if I should only review certain genres but quickly realized that a lot of people are more likely to read like me (a little bit all over the place) than exclusively one genre.

      PS - It was like a breath of fresh air when I found your blog because 1) I think we have similar taste in books and 2) You read & review a wide variety of genres. The added bonus was your love of L.M. Montgomery - that immediately made me feel like you had to be a kindred spirit :)

      Delete
  5. I like your comment to learn some HTML. I really need to do this. I've picked up on a little here and there - you are right - Google is awesome for that! I also appreciate your comment to read what you like... I am all over the place with genres and while sticking with one genre works for some people; it definitely does not work for me.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I don't know a ton about HTML, but I definitely think it helps to know some! And I'm always thankful for Google & it's magical ability to tell me how to do almost anything I don't already know. I'm glad you like the comment about reading what you like - it's so true! I don't read one genre exclusively, and at first I wondered if it was bad that my reading was all over the place. I figure many people probably read like I do (a little bit of everything), and I know that not everyone will be interested in everything I review. BUT I always hope that someone who likes one thing I read & loved (say it's YA) will then be interested in something else I read & loved even if it's a different genre.

      Delete
  6. The photo is great. Love the tips! Thank you so much for posting them. My brain has officially turned to mush from over-saturation of the most incredibly helpful advice today :)
    Angela @ AJ Arndt Books Blog

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I know! I still haven't read everyone's tips - I'm trying to visit them all because everyone has a unique perspective but it's taking some time. I'm trying to not to read them all at once so I'm not overwhelmed with all the advice haha :)

      Delete
  7. This is such a great list!! YAY!!

    I want to talk a second about reading what you like. For the longest time - like until the end of last year - I was always really vocal about not liking YA Contemporary books. I just didn't like them. I even guest posted in another bloggers really great YA Contemporary Month event about why I didn't particularly care for it but am *trying* to give it a chance...then I challenged myself to read more of it during 2012. I challenged myself to read 12 contemps this year. Not too hard, right? Basically one per month?

    I think I've read 8 already. And I'm co-hosting my first BIG event in June (interestingly enough YA Contemporary Month). So YAY for reading what you love, but also YAY to ME for reading outside of my norm. I'm feeling good about challenging myself. ALSO...

    ...the best part of it has been the HUGE amount of support I've gotten from my blogging friends in my new-to-the-Contemps endeavor. Another blogger loaned me a huge box of contemps to read (I'm working thru them!) and sent me a hand-written list of her favorites (I think there were 36 titles on there!).

    Great, great list!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh I totally agree with you about getting outside your comfort zone! I intended for the tip to be more about not letting other people's negative opinions influence what you want to read, but you make a great point about how sometimes it's a great thing to let other people sway you into trying a new book. I think one of the great things about reading what you like is that you communicate your passion for it to others. Like in your example, other bloggers' passion for contemporary YA helped convince you to give it a shot. The best part about reading what you like is that you can hopefully introduce someone to something that they haven't tried before.

      But I also totally support reading outside of what you like to challenge yourself to get outside your comfort zone. I was absolutely convinced that I would hate The Hunger Games & Harry Potter. Convinced. Now that I've read both, I'm so glad that someone else's passion for them finally won me over. I think it's SO important to expand your reading horizons.

      For people who don't like reading, I hope that some books can act like gateways into the world of literature. For example, someone may fall in love with the Twilight books & thus decide they only like paranormal romance. I would hope that they'd ultimately challenge themselves to go beyond that and see what other genres they might enjoy. But if they spend a few years reading only paranormal, I'd hate for their love of books to be killed off by other people telling them that they should read something else. I've seen that happen so many times!

      Delete
  8. Girlllll, I need to learn me some HTML. Seriously, I just ctrl-B for bold and know a href and that is it!

    ALSO? I just really love an uncluttered blog, so design definitely matters.

    AND OMG SUMMER CAMP. I used to go right, and while I loved camp and making new friends, I would always sob and sob after leaving, like an idiot. So yes, I like that book blogging is like PERMANENT SUMMER CAMP! HOLLA!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Haha you should definitely learn some HTML! I only know very basic stuff, but it's really helpful when blogger is being a pain and formatting things weird. And I'm so glad you agree about blog design! It's actually one of the biggest reasons why I won't follow a blog - if I can't concentrate on the content because of the design.

      And yes, book blogging is totally like summer camp! EXCEPT YOU NEVER HAVE TO GO HOME!! That's the best part of it :)

      Delete

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...