Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Top Ten Tuesday: Tips for New Bloggers

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created by The Broke and the Bookish.

Top Ten Tips for New Bloggers

This is a Top Ten topic very near and dear to my heart, in that I've been doing a lot of soul-searching the last few months about what it takes to be a blogger and whether I really can/want to do it. I've only been blogging for a year and my blog is still small, so there will be advice much more valuable than mine, but I feel like I can offer a perspective on what it's like to start a blog and how different it is from your expectations.

10. Really think about what you want to achieve with your blog and what you want it to be.

I started my blog very uncertainly - so much so that I didn't even know if I wanted anybody to read it or not! I tried doing lots of different things with my blog, just because I thought it was what I should be doing and I wish I'd had a clear and pragmatic goal from the off. There are already hundreds, if not thousands of book blogs already out there, so you need to think to yourself: What can I bring to the blogosphere? There are bloggers who have huge followings and do a lot to promote books and generate buzz and there are blogs that do thoughtful discussion posts and there a blogs that run events and memes - the variety is huge. Think about what you'd enjoy and be good at and stick to that.

9. Participating in memes is the easiest way to build a following and interact with other bloggers.

When I started writing reviews, I was having a lot of fun getting my thoughts on a book out there. But with no followers, I did begin to wonder if it was enough. I was starting to feel like a madwoman, talking to herself all day. Even if your blog is just for you, nobody likes to feel like nobody else is listening to them, so you should check out other blogs and invite them to visit yours. The easiest way is with memes and they can be a lot of fun and I found they helped me get comfortable with commenting.

8. Don't compare yourself to other bloggers. 

There are bloggers who started out at the same time as me and their blogs became a hundred times more successful than mine. I'd sometimes feel bad about it: Why are they so much better at this than me? But there's no point in getting down; everyone is different and I don't even really want to be as successful as some other blogs, because I've had a glimpse of how much work it takes and I don't think I can do it. Your blog will grow at the pace that is right for you.

7. Make sure you are having fun and don't make your blog a burden.

Yes! You will not be paid to blog, so don't treat it as something you have to do - make sure it's something you want to do. Every blogger experiences burn-out at some point, and realises they have been pushing themselves too hard. Don't start thinking all your followers will desert you if you don't post every day. Relax. They won't.

6. Post what you want to post - don't chase after followers or trends.

I think this rarely works precisely because it is insincere. I haven't done anything too desperate, but I went through a phase where I picked the current popular books to review, because I thought more people would be interested in reading about them and be inclined to comment. But one of the things I actually dislike about the blogosphere is when you see the same books reviewed on every blog - I read blogs to be introduced to new reads! I think this goes back to having fun with your blog - read what you want to read and post what you want to post.

5.  Work on cultivating a few good friendships.

I've thought about deleting my blog many times in the last few months and one of the main things that has stopped me doing so, is how much I enjoy connecting to the small group of people I've met online. I have a few blogs that I regularly read and comment on and the other bloggers return the favour and it's such a nice thing to think there are some people who are interested in what you have to say. I know that I'll always read their posts and they'll read mine and that's actually enough for me.

4. Treat your followers now and again.

I've only hosted two giveaways but I'd love to again. I don't recommend having giveaways to gain followers; I did it because I honestly like making other people happy. Emailing people to tell them they've won is the most fun - you feel like a magical book fairy, granting wishes! 

3.  Join NetGalley.

I've drooled over many an ARC in an IMM, but I know I'm too cowardly to ever approach publishers myself. That's why NetGalley is so great - it was made for cowards! You only have to click a button to ask for something and if you're rejected, well, at least it's not to your face.

2.  Don't be afraid to change things up.

Early on in my blogging days, I wrote my reviews up as bullet points, but I quickly realised these didn't work and didn't give a reader a real feel of a book. I also used to participate in memes every week, but I've eased up on that now. I know my first point was to decide what your blog is and stick to it and this may seem contradictory. But what I mean is, don't let yourself be tossed every which way the wind blows because you're indecisive. Make choices you're sure about - and make new choices you're sure about when the time is right.

1. Be aware of how much time, effort, blood, sweat and tears are required to run a successful blog.

I really can't stress this enough. A successful blog takes W-O-R-K. If I had known how much, I probably would have been put off from ever starting one. If you want people to visit your blog and comment, you will have to visit theirs and this takes a lot of time. If you want to attract new readers, being on a number of different social media sites will help and this takes a lot of work. Making your blog attractive and memorable, with an original design may cost some money. Keeping on top of new releases takes effort. Reading enough books so that you can post regular reviews takes time. Coming up with other post topics takes effort. And this is ongoing and continuous - you can't take a day to comment on all the blogs, tweet and read something and think you're done for the month or even week. You have to keep these things up.

If this sounds like too much for you, don't be put off. That's where my number 5. tip comes in. Think small to start off: a small group of blogging friends, a few reviews, a couple of memes and you decide where you go from there.


  1. Nooooo! Don't quit blogging!!! Sorry for that melodramatic reply :P But I would miss your blog if you quit :)

    "Your blog will grow at the pace that is right for you."

    You gave a lot of stellar advice, but I really liked this line. It's so true! It's very easy to get swept up in wanting a bizillion followers, but it's a different experience in terms of both the amount of work you put in and the type of interaction you have with your readers. It may be nice having tons of followers, but I also like the intimate feel of a small blog a lot. Plus, Rome wasn't built in a day :P

    1. Aw, thanks, Small. That's really nice to hear. Don't worry, I'm probably not going to. I'm OK with how things are right now - I also like the intimate feel of a small blog and I think it suits me better.


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