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BBAW: Blogging

Today’s topic for Book Blogger Appreciation Week is about “Blogging”

For the final day of Book Blogger Appreciation Week we were asked to name three things that we think are essential practices for every blogger and to come up with a few trends or tools we’ve recently adopted or plan on adopting.

Wow. This is actually a tough one. Well, the narrowing it down part and then the trends part. Given the fact that I am so not trendy. Though I really wish I were.

Things I think are blogging essentials…

Blog for the love of blogging

I can’t say I had the most noble intentions when I started my blog. I knew nothing about the community. I had never read or seen a book blog before November 2010.

I started blogging back in November because I wanted the opportunity to beta read Amanda Hocking’s book Torn and being a blogger was a requirement to do so. This was back before I knew what ARCs were or even what a galley was. I just knew that I was a huge fan of her writing and I wanted to get a chance to read her book early.

Plus, the thought of putting my proofreading skills to the test on something as important as a work of fiction was a dream come true.

That being said, the only reason I continued blogging past that one post was because I fell in love with it. I have my good days and bad days, but I just can’t imagine walking away. My blog is my labor of love. It is the product of countless hours of thought and research – because there is a lot of research involved when trying to be informative – and just plain hard work.

I’ve found that what I thought might simply be a fun hobby has turned out to be more of a second job. But it’s a job I am extremely passionate about, so it makes all the late nights, the early mornings and the frazzled brain worth it.

Blogging can be hard work, but the rewards are incredible. And no matter what your motivation to blog is – to share your love of books, to meet others with similar interests, to interact with authors – without loving what you do each and every day, the effort it takes will soon outweigh the benefits.

Blog at your own pace

I have heard this said and I have passed this sage wisdom on again and again. Find a schedule that you feel comfortable with and keep to it. Don’t feel that you have to blog every single day. Or even every other day.

Of course, I don’t heed any of that advice myself. I have this little voice inside my head that screams at me and makes sure that I have something posted each and every day. Whether I have the time or energy to do so, or not.

I have enough features, random thoughts, reviews or other items to post that would easily fill up every single day of the week. My problem is that none of these things are written in advance. I have nothing in the coffers. The cabinets are bare. I am one post away from extinction. So, until I sit down to write my post each night, with rare exception, I am that close to having a blog-free day ahead.

But I don’t feel the pressure from the blogosphere to do so. This is all internal and is nothing new for me. So, as stressful as this pace may be, it’s exactly who I am. It is my pace.

Some of my favorite blogs to stalk are those that post when they can. Sometimes that’s once a week, sometimes that’s a few times in a day and then nothing for awhile. I know that the bloggers are around, so I’m not wondering what happened to them. It’s just the pace that works for them. And therefore it works for me, as one of their loyal readers.

Blog in your own voice

I recently wrote a post about this on the blog. It’s one of the things I think is most important. Speaking in your own voice. Readers want to hear what you have to say. In your words. It’s why we visit the different blogs out there. It’s why we don’t just check out one review and call it a day.

I visit my favorite blogs to hear what each of those bloggers has to say. For bloggers who have found their voice, I enjoy hearing it in their posts and reviews. It’s why I visit them. I love the different ways people think and express themselves.

The same is true for books. It’s not the subject matter that changes so significantly much of the time, it’s the voice the author speaks in that makes each book different. The way each author crafts their story, develops their characters and builds that connection with the reader that makes each book feel new and exciting.

If all authors adopted the same way of speaking through their books, we’d only need one book about vampires, angels, Greek gods, witches, werewolves, etc. It’s those differences in how the author shapes those words and builds those stories that make us want to discover each one of them.

And this is why we can have so many different blogs that aren’t fighting to fill one spot. There may be blogs more popular than others, but that doesn’t mean we should try and sound like them so that we can be just as popular. It won’t work. While mimicking someone’s style may be possible, it’s probably not something we’d be happy doing day after day.

Unless we’re putting down our thoughts on the page in the way that we think and write, we’re being disingenuous. We’re pretending to be someone we’re not. And while it may not be obvious at first, it can’t last. Keeping up the facade can be tiresome and it’s just dishonest to our readers.

Besides, as bloggers we should be proud of our voice. We’re taking the time and energy to express ourselves and share ourselves with the world. Whether we have five followers or five thousand, there is someone out there that wants to hear what we have to say.

Trends in blogging….

I am neither a trendsetter or much of a trend follower so it is pretty tough for me to come up with a few that I’ve adopted or am planning on adopting.

After many hours between that last sentence and this one, the only things I can think of that seem to be popular these days for bloggers are Google +, Tumblr and this little thing called Paper.li which turns your Twitter, Facebook and RSS feeds into an online newsletter. I’m not sure if any of these would be considered trends or tools, but it’s all I can come up with.

While I have a Google+ membership, I have no idea how to use it. I’m not sure if it will be the next best thing and replace Twitter and Facebook, but it’s there as an option thanks to an invite I received from one of my favorite bloggers. I haven’t actually added any posts or images, aside from my profile image, and I only made my first comment two days ago, after having Google + for a couple months.

I am also not too familiar with Tumblr, but I know that it’s quite popular – not only with book bloggers – these days. This might be something that either really takes off, or goes the way of Myspace and Second Life. I’ve only seen Tumblr through links I’ve clicked on my Twitter timeline, so, once again, I’m not much help in this department. However, it does seem to be a trend with a few of the more “trendy,” for lack of a better word, bloggers. This may be something I sign up for one day – I asked the designer who was adding some custom elements to my blog to create a button “just in case,” so it’s obviously on my radar.

And then there’s Paper.li. I’ve seen those newsletters, and have even been included in a few over the past couple of months. It’s a cute and fun way to amalgamate some of the daily happenings and it gives you the opportunity to engage with bloggers, authors and readers you might not otherwise have spoken to. While I love seeing and reading the newsletters I don’t see myself doing this. Simply because I have too much on my plate as it is.

Just a couple other social media resources that bloggers seem to be involved in these days, but I’m not sure I’d call them trends, are Klout and Formspring. I did get a Formspring account and ended up signing into Klout with my Twitter account. But I haven’t really utilized either very much.

Formspring seems to be a great resource for authors and for more social or more popular bloggers. It’s a place where you can ask any manner of questions anonymously or publicly and sometimes get answers you might have been too shy to ask on Twitter or Facebook.

As far as Klout goes, aside from seeing my Klout score go way down the less I Tweet, I have no idea of its true value or how it works.

And something minor, but possibly of interest, is that there seems to be a trend to use Rafflecopter for giveaways rather than Google forms. It was even suggested to me yesterday, since I host one or two giveaways every once in a while.

I haven’t looked into it yet. It may very well be easier to use than Google forms. But the ones I’ve seen, which appeared to have at least 10 steps, look rather confusing and I’ve actually not entered those giveaways because of that. I try to keep mine very simple – name and email – so I’m not sure if this will meet my needs. That, too, is TBD.

The one drawback that I have noticed is that it shows the number of entrants, which could discourage someone from entering if there are too many and which looks kind of sad when there aren’t.

***

Final thoughts…

Just to wrap up this week, I’d like to say thank you to the folks at BBAW for hosting this annual event. As I wasn’t blogging at this time last year I didn’t even know of its existence until two wonderful bloggers pointed it out to me when they told me they nominated me.

This year’s BBAW has been awesome and I hope to be around next year to more actively participate in some of the events. The daily post topics have been very interesting and I’ve enjoyed reading the articles posted on the site throughout the week.

And I would once again like to thank the two bloggers that nominated me for an award. It has meant so much to me, and the news came at a time when I was having a really, really bad week and you just lifted my spirits. So, thank you so much.

I still have no idea how I went from nominations to the long list for YA Book Blogs. When I heard “long list” I figured I’d be one of hundreds or thousands of blogs, so I didn’t think too much of it. I was totally shocked when I saw that this long list was made up of sixteen, most of whom were my blogging idols. So, however that happened, thank you all so much again.

I still consider myself a newbie. I’m still trying to figure things out in this vast blogging universe. But I am grateful to have met all the bloggers I have and am super excited to meet more in the upcoming year. And now that I’m aware of this event, I will make sure to nominate the blogs I appreciate for next year’s event.

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