My whole blogging experience thus far has been “Fake It ‘Til You Make It.” I would be lying if I said I knew what I was doing. I’m incredibly disorganised and have no sense of time management. However, after blogging for six months I have learnt a few little things here and there and I wanted to share in case there’s any other new bloggers out there who aren’t aware!
When I first started blogging I searched extensively for “blogging tips” and quite a few of the points helped me however because I was new seeing these huge established bloggers was kind of intimidating and there definitely felt like there was a disconnect. I feel like my connection with newish bloggers has helped me so much more.
This isn’t an extensive guide or anything – just little bit and pieces of things I think could be potentially helpful!
I think this is an element that can get overlooked when it comes to blogging. Obviously content is the most valuable thing, but having an aesthetically pleasing theme is important too. When I’ve been blog hopping in the past I’ve spent a lot more times on blog that are clean and easy to navigate. I think some people get intimidated by the word “design” and honestly you don’t need to be an expert!
- Take your time when it comes to picking out a theme. The free themes that WP provides aren’t the greatest thing, but there are some nice ones. Every one has their own preferences, but I think clean and minimalist themes are the best.
- Don’t go crazy with your sidebar. It’s very tempting to put everything ever in your sidebar, but your blog will look a lot more tidier if you just put the basics. The main things to include is short bio of what your blog is about and links/widgets to your social media. This will also help people load your blog quicker. Create a separate page for your awards and challenges and then put a text link.
- Don’t go crazy with your menu bar. Again, like with the sidebar it’s tempting to link every post you have, but it’s better to just have the main sections of your blog. Most themes support dropdown menus which means you can layer your links.
- Use Featured Images. Featured images add a nice touch to your posts on your blog and in people’s feed. It’s a great way to get your posts to stand out and be noticed.
- Upload a Favicon. A favicon is the little picture you see in the corner of the browser. If you want to add some personality to your blog WordPress gives you the oppurtunity to upload your own. All you have to do is go to My Site > WP Admin > Settings > General and then upload an icon in the box that says “Blog Picture / Icon“.
- Site Title & Your Username. You can change your blog title by going to My Site > Settings. I feel like having a site title with your blog name helps your blog look more professional. Just keep it simple. The site title will also show up in Google search results. You can also change the name you see when you leave comments. Again, I think it just makes every thing a little more professional if you change your username to “Your Name @ Your Blog“. If you don’t want to give out your name, just change it to your blog name. You can change this by going here and changing or adding a “Public Display Name“.
- You don’t need Photoshop. There’s so many great free photo editing applications out there if you don’t have access to Photoshop! Canva is definitely an incredible resource that everyone should take advantage of. I also made a post with some of my favourite resources here.
If I was only allowed to give ONE tip for new bloggers it would be “comment on other blogger’s posts!” As someone with extreme social anxiety I know how nerve wracking this can, but from my experience everyone in this community is so nice!! I was so worried I was going to be annoying people, but everyone made me feel so incredibly welcome. Interacting is the best way to help your blog grow and as an amazing added bonus you get to make friendships with so many wonderful people ♥
- Bloggers appreciate any and all comments, but it’s great to see some heart put into the comment. “Great post!” is nice, don’t get me wrong, but we love when people have a bit of a discussion about what we actually posted.
- Don’t feel pressured to comment ALL THE TIME. Everyone understands that everyone can get busy sometimes. If you have time just leaving a like is really appreciated.
- If a blogger invites you to link your own post in a comment don’t be afraid. It’s a great way to get your blog out there! However, back to point one it’s nice if you actually leave a comment with this instead of just dropping your link and leaving.
- Social Media AF. Having other social media such as Goodreads, Twitter and Instagram can really help you connect with other readers! You can connect your Twitter to your blog and share your posts! If you can catch one, Twitter chats are a great way to involve yourself in the community!
- CHECK YOUR SPAM FOLDER! Sometimes comments that aren’t spam will be placed in your spam folder. I always forget about checking mine, but after I recently had a problem where everything I commented was being marked as spam I definitely made an effort to check it more regularly in case it was happening to someone else.
Until I started blogging I associated memes with weird cat pictures and Pepe the Frog, but in the blogging world memes are actually weekly lists and prompts that people participate in. When you’ve been blogging for a while you may want to branch out, but they are GOLD MINES for new bloggers. If it wasn’t for Top 10 Tuesday or Stacking the Shelves then I wouldn’t have met half the amazing people I know now. Book Tags are also really fun and a great way to interact with your fellow bloggers and get to know each other!
Pingbacks definitely have their issues, but most times they work and are extremely helpful. If you want to tag or mention someone make sure to link to an actual post or page on their blog. If you just use their main url i.e (https://wonderlessreviews.wordpress.com/) then they won’t be notified! Most times people will link to the blogger’s About page (https://wonderlessreviews.wordpress.com/about/), but if you can’t find one then I’d suggest just linking to their most recent post! You can learn more about Pingbacks here.
- My favourite weekly memes to participate in are Top 10 Tuesday and Top 5 Wednesday. Other popular weekly memes are Stacking the Shelves, Sunday Post, and Waiting on Wednesday. There are SO many out there. Here’s a super handy list that was created by Bookshelf Fantasies!
- BLOG HOP! If you participate in any of the weekly memes link up your post! If you have time go through some of the other links. Leave comments. It’s the best way to get other bloggers to notice you.
- Get creative. I don’t know about anyone else, but when I’m reading people’s Top 10 Tuesday posts and Book Tags I LOVE when they do more than just write a list of book titles. Use images. Explain WHY you chose what you did. Get personal.
I mentioned this briefly in the design section, but WordPress pages feature is definitely something you should be using! You can create pages for whatever you want. The most important things, in my opinion, is having a Review Directory, a Review Policy and an About page. A review policy can let potential publishers and authors know what kind of books you do or don’t review. Mine needs a revamp, but at the moment it says that my review requests are closed, that I prefer Young Adult and that I don’t R&R romance ect. Having an About page is a way to tell everyone a little more about who’s running the blog and what your blog is about.
Posting is definitely the part I struggle with 😅. What I can tell you though is that blogging will be more time consuming than you ever except it to be. I definitely need to work on creating a better schedule and planning posts.
- Invite people to interact with your posts. Leave a question at the end or encourage bloggers to engage with your posts and ask their thoughts. It might not work all the time, but I know when I see someone inviting me to contribute to their post I feel a little more comfortable in doing so.
- Categories & Tags. Making use of this WordPress feature is one of the best things you can do. Categories & Tags definitely help keep your blog organised and make it a lot easier to navigate. You can link both in your navigation menu. Tags also help people find your posts that aren’t following you.
- Unlike me, try and schedule posts in advance! This can definitely help if real life gets in the way (it will!).
- Use Google Docs or other office applications to create a Blog Schedule. This was my schedule for the first half of the month. This doesn’t have to be extremely complicated, but it can really help seeing the week ahead.
- Don’t think of blogging as a job or chore! At the end of the day blogging is about having fun. We do this because we love reading and talking about books. It’s great to be organised and professional and blogging will probably cause you to stress at some point, but it’s important not to let it get on top of you. If you feel like you’re getting too overwhelmed TAKE A BREAK
(runaway with us for the summer, let’s go upstate, we can all go stay with my father, there’s a lake I know)! Again everyone is incredibly understanding. It’s okay to take a hiatus.
- Explore the settings. If you’re not sure of something – don’t change it, but there’s lots of things you can control in the settings section such as posts per page (My Site> WP Admin > Settings > Reading), comment moderation settings (My Site > Settings > Discussion) and only having an excerpt of your post in the feed (My Site > WP Admin > Settings > Reading > For each article in a feed show: Summary).
ARCs or Advanced Readers Copies are probably one of the things that comes up most when you’re a book blogger. ARCs are given to bloggers/BookTubers ect. in exchange for honest reviews. I’m definitely not an established ARC receiver, but I wanted to share what I’ve learnt. ARCs are definitely a plus to blogging – it’s great to be able to recieve free books but ARCs shouldn’t be the sole reason why you start blogging. The best place to start your journey into ARCs is Netgalley. These are digital, but you gotta start somewhere!
I haven’t contacted any publishers directly (yet), but from what I’ve seen around the blogosphere it’s best to wait until you’ve been blogging for at least six months. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I feel like it’s a lot harder for international bloggers to receive physical ARCs.
- ALWAYS disclose in your review that you received a copy of the book for free. This is mostly for the benefit of my US friends because it can be a legal issue if you don’t. I mean I’m sure book bloggers are the least of the Federal Trade Commission’s worries, but hey – it’s better to be safe than sorry, right? Anyway, I think it’s just a good practice to let people know regardless.
- To help get your ratio up on Netgalley read and review some of the Read Now books. These are books that you don’t need to be approved for.
- Make sure your Netgalley profile is as informative as possible. Include links to your blog, how long you’ve been blogging for, your followers ect. Link to your social media and places where you’ll be cross posting your reviews.
- Edelweiss is another site similar to Netgalley, but I’ve yet to been approved for a book there. Still give it a go though!
Finally, there is no right or wrong way to blog as long as you’re being respectful and a decent human being. I realise saying “be yourself” can come across as really cliche, but it’s honestly so true. Definitely take inspiration from other bloggers – I do all the time – but don’t mimic them. You have something unique to bring to the blogging world yourself and you don’t need to be anyone else.
I understand that people may not want to talk about themselves on the internet, but I prefer blogs where you can see there’s an actual person running them. Some people may just want to post reviews and participate in blog tours and nothing else, but if you post tags or talk about your life then it makes the whole experience so much more personable. One of the best parts of blogging has been getting to know everyone in this wonderful community. Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there! Let your personality shine through in your posts.
- Reg @ She Latitude talks about her Must Have Blogging Tools
- Molly @ Molly’s Book Nook talks about 6 “On the Go” Blogging Apps that You Need
- Esther @ Chapter Adventures talks about Blogging Stress and How to Avoid It
- Marie & Drizzle and Hurricane Books talks about Taking a Blogging Hiatus
- Ashley @ Nose Graze’s Guide to Receiving ARCs and for my fellow Aussies Speculating on SpecFic has a Great Guide here all about Australian Publishers!
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