Well my blogoversary event is finally winding down. With just a couple of days left, I will be saying goodbye to the amazing banner and buttons I had created for me by Parajunkee Design. But not quite yet….
I still have a few amazing bloggers stopping by to share their words of wisdom. One of whom I have on the blog today. And that’s Maricar of Blackplume, who has so generously and articulately put together TEN tips for new bloggers starting out. Tips which are just as helpful to be reminded about by those of us who have been at this for awhile.
Such as her tip about organization. I used to be organized… until I’d been at this blogging thing for awhile. Now I live in chaos on a daily basis.
Anyway… before I turn the blog over I will just share a little background….
Maricar is one of the first bloggers I met in the blogosphere. And it was either on my blog or on Facebook, but I’m thinking Facebook. Yes, you get to meet a totally different group of readers and bloggers on Facebook, so I highly recommend starting a Facebook blog page if you don’t already have one. Sorry about that detour….
She is one of the first international bloggers I met online. And I loved her blog which consisted not only of reviews, but of poetry and writing. She blogged about books, but that wasn’t her only passion, and so she blogged about other things she loved. And she still does.
But Maricar is also so incredibly helpful and generous. I had a bit of a tough time with a package not being delivered to a giveaway winner and she so generously offered her help. It’s something I never forgot. Fortunately that situation did resolve itself and I was proven not to be dishonest and the winner ended up with three copies of the book and I didn’t have to take Maricar’s help. But her assistance and support were so very much appreciated and were gestures that meant so much to me.
I love connecting with her on Facebook and Twitter as it seems the easiest places to socialize. But every-so-often I get the chance to head over to her blog and read one her wonderful reviews, which are interesting and thoughtful and very much in her voice. And she has some amazing poems she shares with her blog’s readers that always make me think. So be sure to stop on by!
Anyway… once again I’ve rambled, and it’s not my post to ramble on. So, without another word….
Let me get straight by telling you that I am no expert in book blogging. I am just a regular book blogger like anyone else out there who love to write their personal opinions about books and other related topics. The tips I’m going to share in here are based on my personal experiences in my two years of blogging. Some of these I learned the hard way and some I am still trying to learn. Though most of these are common knowledge to my fellow book bloggers, I think they are still fairly useful for newbie book bloggers out there.
In no particular order, here are a few tips I can share which I called the 10 B’s of book blogging:
1. Blog for the right reason
There are lots of reasons why we blog, but if you don’t have one right reason, you are doomed. For book bloggers like us, the most common and rightful reason is we blog for the love of books. But what exactly “love of books” means? For me, it means sharing – sharing our ideas and thoughts, sharing our knowledge, sharing our dedication, time and effort. If you are just blogging for freebies like free books or ARCs, you are in a wrong path. Even if you enjoy receiving free books, it doesn’t always mean you also enjoy reading them and writing reviews for them. And forcing yourself to write a review and promote something you don’t like is a recipe of disaster. There is no fulfillment in that, you will just end up tired and suffocated.
2. Be yourself and be unique
There are so many book blogs out there and the only way you can stand out is to be different from them. And how will you do that? Simple, just be yourself because you are unique. Add some personal touch in your blog by sharing not just your thoughts but also your experiences. Show your creativity, feel free to express yourself and be you. By being you, you don’t just stay away from plagiarism issue, you also give chance to your followers to know you more. And by trusting your readers to know you, you can gain real followers or supporters. Followers who appreciate you and what you do.
3. Be involved
Interact with others, comments with other blogs, offer to guest post, and participate to some online discussions. In short get involved! Don’t just stay on your own blog and live in your own world. Book blogging is not a static world where bloggers are stuck behind the pages of their websites. There are more fun things aside from writing reviews and being part of the community is just one of them. You will get a lot of help from friendly bloggers. They can give you tips in writing and blogging, they can introduced you to their contacts, even give you encouragement and supports you in your passion. You can find friends, mentors and supporters in this active world of book blogging.
Also, people will start following you if you are more visible as a person who they can actually talk/chat to than just an anonymous blogger. So strike up a conversation. Utilize social media sites such as facebook, twitter, tumblr, formspring and goodreads to connect with other bloggers and authors. Hang out with other book lover friends, attend book events, meet authors and even join active book clubs or organizations.
4. Be respectful
As a blogger we have a responsibility to be honest in our reviews, but we also need to be thoughtful in writing our reviews. We should respect the authors and their works. Bashing a book or the author is not right even we don’t like the author’s work. There’s a right way to say it (or not say it). If you really don’t like the book, I suggest skip reviewing it. And if you are required to submit a review, try to ask the publisher or author first if you can skip the review and explain to them in a professional way your reasons. If they still insist then write your opinion with so much care. You can be honest without attacking the author personally. Also, keep in mind that if you write a negative opinion about the book you read, make sure that you backed it up with examples from the book. Explain what you think happened and why you feel it didn’t work for you. Don’t just say you don’t like it, you should explain why you didn’t like it, so readers understand more where are you coming from. Remember, what didn’t work for you doesn’t always mean it won’t work for other readers too. So be fair.
5. Be friendly
When I say friendly, I didn’t mean that you should befriend anyone you meet online through your blog or other social networking sites. You just need be nice and don’t be a total snob. You don’t need to follow everyone or stalk them, that is impossible thing to do and a total waste of time. I suggest look for friends and not just followers. It doesn’t really matter how many followers you got if you don’t have at least one book blogging friend. Yes, it is nice to have many followers, but don’t get caught up too much with the statistics. As long as you have a circle of friends who believe in what you do, I think you will be fine. Because friends are the one who will accept you and appreciate your work. They will encourage and supports you in what you do and even give honest criticism that will help you improve. Most of the times they are the support that you need when you feel tired in blogging. They are the one who will remind you that you rock when you feel that you are not.
6. Be selective
Choose what you read and what you accept for reviews. Do not accept everything that comes your way. Be realistic and accept the fact that you can’t read everything and you can’t review all the books available out there. Read stories that interest you not because they are available for free or because everyone is raving about it. Do not accept books that you don’t like so you won’t be forced writing negative reviews. Reading and blogging is a serious endeavor and forcing yourself to do something that you don’t enjoy is a waste of time.
Also be selective in joining events or features like memes. Participate only to those that really interest you and not because you feel like you’ll get more followers in joining. In using memes for your blog, please do not overdone it. I’ve seen a couple of blogs who uses memes in their everyday post. As if they got every memes available out there and it is not really enticing for me. As much as they are helpful in keeping your blog active they also can cause distractions. Posting meme after meme after meme is just too much and quite annoying.
7. Be professional
For most of us, book blogging is not a profession but a hobby, still it is not an excuse for not being a professional. We don’t need to get paid in order to take seriously what we are doing. We should be a responsible blogger. As a blogger, we have an obligation to our readers/followers when we decided to post something in our blog. We also have an obligation to authors and publishers when we decided to accept the books or ARCs they send us for reviews. We should honor commitment with those authors and publishers. We should be honest in writing reviews, and be careful in information we are giving to our readers. We should check carefully our spelling and grammar especially the author’s name, the title of the book we are reviewing and links where we are directing to our readers.
8. Be organized
Get your priorities in order by keeping a calendar or reminders. List your review dates and deadlines the moment you accept a book for review. If you can, schedule your post ahead of time. Have a list of events you are joining and submit the requirements on time. If you are joining a book tour make sure you can read the book and submit your review on time or anything that is required to you. Put things in perspective. Prioritized deadlines and your commitments. And always remember to not accept commitments if you know you can’t deliver it in the first place.
9. Be active
An active blog not just attracts followers/readers but also site traffics. So post everyday if you can. Though it is really hard to do this, it’s still count that you at least try. Write down every ideas you have, anytime and anywhere because you don’t know how those ideas can turn into something interesting one day. I am not saying that you should published everything that comes up in your mind, all I am saying is put those into writing and try to expand your ideas into something you can use for your blog. Do not post something just for the sake of having something to post. Do not procrastinate. I know this is easier said than done but there is no harm in trying. I myself is a victim of procrastination, but I am trying hard to be active and keep my blog alive and running.
10. Be entertained and have fun (forcing the “B” in here :D)
Book blogging or blogging in general should be fun. If you are not enjoying it, better not do it. As I said, there’s no point in doings things you don’t like. Do not stress yourself out with the responsibilities of reading, updating and reviewing if you don’t feel that it is not for you anymore. Remember, your feelings also shows in your writing and if you are not enjoying blogging, your readers will know it and they won’t enjoy your blog too.
Oh Maricar, I totally agree with ALL your advice. And I absolutely agree that you shouldn’t push yourself to promote something you don’t love or believe in. I love promoting books. But I couldn’t imagine pushing a book I don’t love. It feels very dishonest.
And your last tip – “have fun” is so important. Why do it if you’re not enjoying yourself? Unless you’re getting some kind of financial reward it doesn’t make any sense to work hard doing this if it doesn’t make you happy.
I just wish I could follow your tip #8. I strive for organization but I often fail miserably. Fortunately I don’t have a specific schedule for my posts so that it gives me some flexibility. But trying to keep a calendar is something I do not succeed in. That’s the tip I need the most work on!
Thank you so much for sharing all your wisdom. I couldn’t agree with you more about all if it. I know that your advice will be so very incredibly helpful, not only to those just starting out, but to those bloggers who have been at it for awhile and just need that friendly reminder.
I could keep on rambling, but I probably shouldn’t, as it’s your guest post, not mine.
For those of you who have not yet “met” Blackplume, here are a few places you can find her here…
As I was completely remiss in asking Blackplume what her favorite book was, I stalked her blog and found a wonderful review she did last week for SPEECHLESS by Hannah Harrington.
So, I am offering up for giveaway – to be ordered from Amazon or The Book Depository depending upon location – to two winners a copy of SPEECHLESS by Hannah Harrington.
Enter in the Rafflecopter below, and all my usual giveaway rules apply. (See my giveaway policy if you have any questions.)