I wish I had had some sort of mentor when I was first starting out, but I was sort of just looking at other people's blogs, and trying to do like what they were doing. Sadly, I kind of failed. Here's how I think I could have done better, and what you should do if you're new to the book blogosphere:
- Well, I was right about one thing when I decided I needed to look carefully at some of my favorite blogs to see what they had going on before I started mine. But it is not enough to just look at people's blogs. Try contacting a blogger that you love, and ask them for advice. Now that I think of it, I asked Kristi, the creator of The Story Siren, to check mine out when I first started it (I actually met her at a signing before I even started blogging). She said that it looked good so far, but I think what she meant that it was good for a beginning blog. But I wanted more! Make sure you're specific when asking for advice about your new blog (like the header size/color/font/design, your rating system if you have one, or just basic set up and design).
- Get friendly with HTML
- I cannot describe to you how much HTML has helped my blog. Like, there isn't much on my blog that doesn't have some sort of HTML. The page tabs are of my own making, as well as my media buttons, my blog button, and anything that's scrolling along the sidebar. And they're all made possible through HTML. Knowing HTML is seriously priceless when it comes to formatting your blog just right. My blog would not be what it is today without HTML. If you want to know how I created some of the things on my blog (it took me forever to find the scrolling one), I'd be glad to help!
- Familiarize yourself with a photo editor
- I've changed the look of my blog many times (even just recently, and actually changing the font for the first time in a long while). But that's because I've had a great photo editor for my main header and the smaller headers that I put in my posts (like the one above!). I first started out with a trial of photoshop. When that ran out, I had no way of changing anything. I tried one called Picnic, I believe, for a while, but they stopped and spread their wealth to the photo editor in Google Plus (which I must admit is not my favorite) and one called PicMonkey. That's the one that I use now and nothing would look as pretty as it does without it. I also sometimes use the editor on photobucket for some things. That's also where I host my photos.
- Have posts already set up
- I had absolutely no idea what I was doing when I made my first post. I thought: no way I can post every day (though that's pretty much what I do now). So I posted a bit sporadically. The problem was that I had nothing to say. I copy and pasted an old review from Goodreads that I loved and looked for other ones that I wanted to post up too. But I was waiting to finish reading a book and so I wasn't going to post until I had finished it. It's just better to hit the ground running, unlike me who dragged my feet through the mud.
- Make your pages
- This is another thing to have ready before you create your blog. Even if you don't have much to say on these pages yet, you should still create them and then add to them as your blogging continues. Some pages I suggest are: Home, About Me, Review Archive, and a Review Policy. All of these can obviously be of different variations, but you should have the basic thought of the page. The ones I named are just the basic ones to start with. I also have pages for Author Interviews, Features (meaning my own that I created), Signings (ones that I have attended and will be attending), and as of right now a page for the Angelfire Read-Along that I'm hosting.
- Know your genre
- Know what you're going to write about. If YA is your genre, then say so either on your about me page. If adult is your genre, definitely make sure you let people know, especially if it's erotica. That's not something most people just want to stumble on. If you change your genre as you and your blog age, more power to you. But when you start your blog, have a firm grasp on what you and your readers are getting themselves into.
- Participate in memes and reading challenges
- I definitely did this, though maybe not right away. I think one of the first ones I did was Follow Friday (mostly because I wanted more followers). Not only does participating in memes (like Teaser Tuesday, Waiting on Wednesday, Top Ten Tuesday, In My Mailbox/Stacking the Shelves, etc.) get your blog more traffic, but it also makes you part of something. You're not just alone on your blog writing reviews. This is a community, and although the last year was a bit vicious, we're still a loving family. If you befriend the right bloggers through these memes, you're going to have a better blogging experience. Reading challenges are just something to give yourself a goal with the one major thing that made you start the blog in the first place: reading. I think this helps me stay focused on the fact that I'm going to read what I want when I want. The fact that it's part of a challenge just makes me want to read it more.
- You want people to visit your blog? Comment on theirs. Now, I'm not saying you should comment with the whole "I followed you, can you follow me?" spiel. That's just tactless. But often if someone comments on my blog and there's a link at the bottom of the comment, then I usually pop over to the person's blog. I may not follow you, but I may just enjoy your blog enough to keep an eye on it. The more you comment, the more I'll go back to your blog. Just sayin'.
- Attend author events and the like
- I've met other really great bloggers and it gives you connections that you would have never had otherwise. Like I said, the book blogosphere is a community. We love meeting fellow bloggers, and if someone I'm talking to at a signing just started a blog, I'll probably check it out when I get back home. When you meet someone in the flesh, it makes you want to know more about them, and then means their blog as well!
- Keep at it
- I can't harp on this enough. I haven't once given up. I know a few bloggers that have been at it for years that either outgrew their blog or some terrible drama forced them out. New bloggers don't really have that specific problem. But it can be overwhelming to try to post every day when you've only been doing it for a few months. You have to push through whatever pressure you're feeling. My advice, though, is to start your blog in the summer. That way, there's no school taking up your time and you can really get in the swing of things. Don't give up, no matter how much you want to. It's worth it in the end.
I hope you guys enjoyed these little tips. I know I could have used them! If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to ask, either in the comments or through e-mail (which you can find in my about me page).
What do you guys think? Let me know in the comments!