I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the actual process of blogging. Some friends of mine have been discussing starting up a new blog and I was trying to come up with some helpful advice about blogging that I’ve learned in the past two and a bit years. They are not at all interested in book blogging but here are 12 things that I think can apply to all people who are thinking about starting up a blog no matter what the topic.
- It Cant Be Incredibly Time Consuming
I never would have imagined just how much time I spend blogging. And I’m not counting the time it takes to read the novels I review. There’s writing up posts, promoting them, seeing what is happening in the community, replying to comments, commenting on blogs I enjoy reading and so on. I love seeing what other bloggers are writing about and I don’t see that interacting with other bloggers as a chore – but it can be time-consuming. Last night I decided to check out some blogs that I follow and before I knew it was almost 3am.
- Don’t Be Surprised if Your First Few Posts Are Retrospectively Cringeworthy….
I cringe a little when I go back and read my first posts. It is a learning curve and over time you will find a format that will work for you. Whilst I may not be a fan of my earlier reviews, I like keeping them there to show how much I’ve grown and I remember how proud I was of them at the time.
- A Formula Doesn’t Mean Your Content is Formulaic
I’ve worked out a way to write my reviews which works for me. I follow a loose formula but each of my reviews is unique. Just because I have a guide doesn’t make them the same and boring. There is nothing wrong with having a formula to your posts – in fact, it will help you when you know you want to write something but have no idea where to start.
- Memes Can Be Good / Memes Can Be Bad
There are a lot of memes around the place and they have their place. I participate in a few weekly and they are great as conversation starters, inspiration and a way to find other bloggers to connect with. But a blog just consisting of memes can lose focus of what you want to blog about in the first place. Work out a ratio of memes to other posts that works for you and your readers.
- You Are Not Alone… There’s a Community!
No matter what your niche – there is a community out there for you. And people are incredibly accepting of like-minded people. Social Media is a great way to connect with your new “tribe”. Twitter parties, facebook, instagram and pinterest are all great ways to find the others who blog in the same area as you do. They are great for advice, inspiration and friendship. It’s always nice to bounce ideas off people and find new view points.
- That Said…. People Can Be Mean
Much like in real life, there are some people out there who may not appreciate you and what you write. Haters and Trolls exist everywhere but you should not let them get you down. When I get comments from these kinds of people I choose to be flattered that they chose to spend time on my blog but try not to engage.
- You Will Change the Way You Think (aka. You Will Find Inspiration in the Oddest Places)
There is a certain series of books and their covers are beautiful. But the other day I was looking at one and starting thinking about how much they reminded me of cupcakes. Ta-dah! I was inspired and will be posting my attempt to recreate the cover in cupcake form on the blog in a few weeks. I think about things differently now. I read books now with the intent of reviewing them and because of this I take notes about quotes I like, things I thought of whilst reading them and what not. It’s not a bad thing. But it is different from how I read BB. Before Blogging.
- Statistics Are Not the Be All and End All…
It’s easy to get hung up on things like page views and visitors. It’s great when you have a post viewed by hundreds or thousands of people! But stats aren’t the most important thing. Don’t get depressed when you write a post that you think is the best thing you’ve ever written – and barely anyone stops by to read it. It happens. It can be frustrating but just keep going.
- Never Underestimate the Importance of Images
A post without pictures is like a snail without a home. Sluggish. Okay – bad analogy. But images spice up an otherwise bland page. Blogs are a visual medium and reading large blocks of text can get a little boring. Break up paragraphs with a picture or two to distinguish your posts from each other.
- If You Don’t Ask They Can’t Say Yes!
I’m not a very outgoing person. I don’t like asking anyone for anything and I do keep to myself a lot. But one of the biggest things I’ve learned since I started blogging is if I don’t ask someone for something, they can’t say yes. And if I ask, the worst thing they can do is say no. This goes for asking for review copies, contacting authors for interviews, inquiring with other bloggers about guest posts and more. That said, keep in mind that you should not be unrealistic with your expectations.
- Beware the Green-Eyed Monster
Other bloggers will always have things you don’t. Maybe they have a shiny new review copy you’re dying to get your hands on. It could be them having thousands of comments to your none. Try not to compare yourselves to them and don’t let the jealousy get out of hand.
- Write What YOU Want to Read (aka. Don’t Be Afraid To Be You)
My blog is unique. There may be thousands of book blogs out there who review the same books as I do, participate in similar memes as I do and whatnot but mine is unique because no one else out there thinks the same as I do. I write about the things that I like to read – and I’m not just talking about books. There is no right or wrong way to blog. And you may think this goes against some of my other tips but my number one suggestion to all bloggers – new and old alike – be true to your own style. Write posts you are proud to share and enjoy writing. I read a quote somewhere saying it is always better to be the best you that you can be rather than a second-rate someone else. This is advice I try to keep in mind – not only for blogging but with my everyday life too. You are worth knowing and your thoughts are worthwhile reading.
Does anyone else have anything else they wish they knew before they started blogging? Any tips for bloggers new and old alike? Feel free to comment and let me know what you think.
Great advice! I’ve been blogging for almost a year now and I still struggle with some of these things, especially the whole be unique/write-what-you want thing. It can be easy to fall into the habit of doing lots of memes instead of creating your own content, but I’ve found that creating my own original posts is so much more fun and fulfilling.
I wish knew this when I started blogging! Especially the photo idea. It took me a while to learn that images can change your posts dramatically.
I would elaborate on the last two point’s – DON’T compare yourself to other’s. Don’t compare you’re blog stats to others. Don’t compare your content, features, meme’s, idea’s, ect. Being yourself and blogging how you want to is something I took a long time to learn – and I still compare myself to other’s now, but I’ve gotten a lot better and it doesn’t get to me as much.
Great post, Kate!
These are all so true! I kind of fell into book blogging. It started with blogging about writing, and somehow just merged into all things books – so I knew quite a few of these things already. I would also add that you’re not going to get every review copy you ask for, or even ANY when you first start out. I started by reviewing library books and ones I’d bought 🙂
Blogging is extremely time consuming, but I wouldn’t give up this little community for the world 🙂
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I LOVE that “be the best you can be not a second-rate…etc.” that is like the best quote ever. It should be stamped EVERYWHERE. I get very frustrated when I see bloggers copying big bloggers…just because those big bloggers are awesome doesn’t mean it’s not annoying to be copied! *ahem* Plus being yourself is a lot less taxing. 😉 I like this list a lot. It’s very encouraging. I think the thing I’m learning most this year is that blogging IS super time-consuming if you want to really get out there an network. Gah. I get so exhausted I just take days off at a time sometimes. x) But it’s all good. Just need balance!
Yyeeeess! These are all things I definitely wish I knew when I first started as well. I really wish I new a better way to get my blog name out there. I would’ve loved to know how easy it was to interact with people and how genuinely dedicated some of the bloggers are. I love this community so much now!
Thank you for these thorough and encouraging tips. I write about breakfast and boy, do I have to get creative! That’s the fun of it. Everyone should blog even if it’s just for themselves. Writing every day is a fabulous discipline and a really interesting way to get to know yourself better.
omg yes, I would have NEVER KNOWN HOW TIME CONSUMING it would be either!! yes yes to 5 and 6 and 7 and 11 and basically this whole post.
Brilliant post. Just perfection.
If someone had of told me how time consuming it was before I started, I probably would have done that coughing thing to cover up me saying bullshit. But by gawd, it really is. I don’t do memes apart from the weekly STS, I just can’t find the time in between reviews. But I’ve seen blogs filled with them, one review per fortnight and six or 8 memes. Your content gets lost. The sad thing is with memes, they bring new comments, but so many of them are just random cut and pastes. They don’t read what you’ve posted.
One thing I’ve found is, don’t be afraid to be controversial. If you’ve got something to get off your chest, or want to put an opinion out there, do it.
OMG #2!!! LOL… I will look back at my first book reviews and I wrote like 2 sentences. Really??? Yes really. BAH! #12 I have always always believed this. If you don’t be yourself eventually you will get blogger burnout and be bored. I have seen it happen countless times.
Great advice! I have the same thing happen to me all of the time. I will sit down just to comment on a few blogs, and before I know it, its midnight and I have to be up at 4 am. YIKES! Blogging can literally eat your time!