Ask the Bloggers: 6 Tips for Blogging Your Best

February 2, 2014 Blog Tips 54

askthebloggers

Do you ever wonder how some people seem to get it all done?   How they make it all look so good, neat,  and. . .well, easy?  Me Too!  That’s why I’ve created this new feature with some of my favorite pals!  These ladies rock the blogging world and seem to know the whats, wheres and whys of it all . . .and though each one is extremely humble and I can see them now shaking their heads over my gushing, they really do know their stuff.  I thought it would be fun to throw out a question each week and see what these lovely ladies can come up with.  Are you in?  Ready to read some applicable blogging tips?  Well join me as we tap into the knowledge of all these wonderful bloggers.

To kick us off I asked a few bloggers “If you go back to just before you started your blog, what advice would you give to your former self?

Jamie from BooksandBeverages.org  What a great question! First, I would say stay consistent. Whatever schedule you decide, stick with it. I blogged as a wedding photographer for years before starting my book blog, but was never really consistent, so my readers never knew when to expect a post. Early on in my book blog, there’s was no rhyme or reason either and it wasn’t until I became consistent I saw steady growth. Whether it’s 3 times a week or 5, pick a schedule that works for you! I’d also say dive right into the blogging community! Commenting on fellow blogs, connecting on twitter, Facebook or whatever your social media favorite is, not only helps you grow, but you also get to make pretty awesome friends too :)

Sheila from BookJourney  I would tell myself “Prepare to be blown away!”  When I started blogging I had no idea how big the blogosphere was – in fact, I didn’t even know I was blogging… I thought I was keeping an online journal of books I read.

As for other advice, I would tell myself to enjoy the ride.  Know that for the most part (in my experience) Book Bloggers are awesome and willing to share with you the tricks of the trade.  If you see some thing that another blogger does (like side bar widgets, adding pictures to posts, linking…), ask them to tell you how to do it.  Learn as you go – your blog does not have to be perfect at launch time.  Just get out there and enjoy writing what you like to write… oh and, don’t be afraid to share a little about yourself.  It took me years to start the Morning Meandering which was supposed to be me, unplugged… and I was afraid to let people in.  When I did, I received so much positive response to people getting to know the blogger behind the blog :)

Oh and also, past self, seriously… that fuzzy pink and blue striped sweater of 2009?  Don’t wear that again.  Ever.  ;)

Rissi from Dreaming Under the Same Moon  Of course, there are countless technical or scheduling advice I wish I’d been aware of but I guess if I could go back and give myself any advice it’d be simple: don’t be afraid to jump in with both feet. In the beginning I was timid and unsure of what was “proper” in blogging. I still have a healthy sense of nerves when trying something new or publishing a post on a controversial topic, however the most important thing I’ve learned is to not be afraid to express thoughts, opinions or to join in interesting conversation. If you’re afraid to “live” in the blogosphere, then your experience will be limiting. It’s your readers who make the experience rewarding and because of that, I never take the time they take to offer insight – whether it be adding input to the topics brought up on Dreaming Under the Same Moon or comments on favorite moments over shared book love, for granted.

Kathy from BermudaOnion I’ve been blogging for five and a half years and have learned a lot in that time.  There’s still plenty I don’t know but there are a few things I would do differently if I were to start over.  I had no focus when I started my blog – I didn’t really know there were book blogs – so I would start with a focus and goals before starting a new blog.  Then, I would carefully consider my blog’s name because it will become a part of you.  I would also suggest reaching out to another blogger so that I would have someone to proofread, bounce ideas off of, and vent to.

Lydia from The Overweight Bookshelf   Great question! Never in my wildest or most hopeful dreams did I think my blogs would take me to where they have or afforded me so many wonderful opportunities. But, the learning curve has been steep at times. My biggest tip is find a community that you want to belong to, not compete in. Thankfully the world of Christian fiction blogging is a warm and accepting place—we actually love to see new book loving blogs pop up because we are consummate over-sharers. I have encountered so many exceptional women, many of whom I consider my friends (waving to you Stacy!). Stay in touch with your online community through commenting and social media. It will make your connections all the more genuine and valuable.

If it starts to feel like a job, step back and reevaluate why you are blogging and who you are blogging for. Don’t be ashamed to take a break and come back with refreshed passion and revitalized writing voice. It is easy to overcommit and underestimate the value of your free time. Make a blogging schedule that allows you time for yourself, yet still provides your audience with regular posts.

On a more logistical level, I wish I had started on WordPress from the beginning. There is a lot of creative liberty using their framework and you can customize your site to really suit your personality and audience. Speaking of audience, remember that your content should be the star, not your sidebar. Avoid too much clutter since it can distract your readers and hinder them from returning. The eye needs a certain ratio of white or empty space to fully process what you are trying to read.

Most importantly, remember to have FUN!

and finally, Juju from Tales of Whimsy sums it all up beautifully:

Dear Juju,

You are about to enter a really cool sphere and you’re going to meet some amazing people along the way. Here is my advice for you.1. Read only what you want when you want. Remember accepting books for review comes with a price. You have to read on a schedule and you may not like the book. Always remember that before you accept a book. Be very selective.
2. Don’t be jealous. Just like in life, there will always be someone cuter and more articulate then you. But there is only one you. Tap that. Share that. Embrace that. Keep it simple. Keep it true. Stay happy. Have fun.Signed sincerely,

Future you

Are there any tips you could incorporate into your blog today?  What advice would you go back and give your blogging self?

54 Responses to “Ask the Bloggers: 6 Tips for Blogging Your Best”

  1. Sheila (Book JOurney)

    Fantastic post Stacy! I picked up a few more great tips here! I agree with Jamie’s consistency, finding the rhythm that works for you so your readers can too.
    Rissi talks about not being afraid to express yourself and I get that, it can be scary sometimes but she is right be true to you. :)
    Like Kathy, I too wish I would have spent more time before selecting a blog name. If anyone recalls it used to be One Persons Journey Through A World Of Books (good grief!). I changed it to Book Journey before I went to BEA in 2010, but still sometimes see it on peoples side bars under the old LONG name. Its hard to change it once it is out there. I actually have another name I wish I would have used and am still holding on to it someday for something….
    I love Lydia’s thoughts on community and agree, it is one of the biggest rewards of blogging. I love “talking” books and getting to know the readers. Oh and also, yay for WordPress… I just got lucky and chose WordPress from the start because it worked with my little knowledge of what I was doing. I still love that platform.
    Juju brings up an excellent point on choosing books. It is exciting in the beginning (shoot…it still is) to be offered books to read, but yes – be selective.

    Stacy I love that you are doing this! I enjoyed reading it very much!
    Sheila (Book JOurney) recently posted…Morning Meanderings… Imitation of Sleestak, The Books and Ask The Bloggers!My Profile

    • Stacy

      Aw Sheila I’m just thankful you joined me! As one of those blogs and women that I truly admire and see as a sort-of virtual mentor, I feel so blessed you joined me on this endeavor!

      And I learned a LOT doing this post ~ like I never knew {or if I did I forgot} that you started off with a different name! I thought I was the only crazy one to change my blog name about 1/2 way into my blogging journey! And wow ~ what an incredible “Book Journey” and blogging journey you’ve had! I’ve always loved the name “Book Journey” and I’m so surprised you have another name under wraps that you’ve considered as well ~ just goes to show the whole part that Juju writes about being envious of other bloggers. . .we never know what those bloggers are thinking or where they are along their journey!

      You were definitely the smart one in starting off with WordPress! I didn’t jump on the wordpress platform til I changed my name over a year ago. And I love it too ~ I still don’t understand or know all I can do yet but wow! the capabilities are so much more on WordPress.

      Sheila dear thank YOU for your blog, your passion and your willingness to give so much of yourself to the blogging community. You are one of the greats!
      Stacy recently posted…Ask the Bloggers: 6 Tips for Blogging Your BestMy Profile

  2. Laurel-Rain Snow

    What a great feature! I like what everyone said…and it is so important to reach out to other bloggers. I know there were some who helped me, showing me how to do certain things (Sheila), and others who also were friendly and commented back on my blog(s) (Kathy, Sheila, and others). And yes, JuJu…I learned the hard way how important it is to be selective in accepting review books, and books with deadlines. Yikes! I don’t like to feel as though reading is a job.

    I’ll be checking this feature out every week, Stacy. Thanks!

    • Stacy

      Laurel you have such a beautiful blog and your writing style is so engaging! I know we’ve caught up with each other on several weekly memes and select reviews and I’m always impressed with your engaging wit and easy style.

      This is a great community of giving bloggers. I’ve read about snarkiness and meanness in other blogging circles but I feel so fortunate to be amongst all of you lovely ladies who blog with integrity and respect. Makes it quite enjoyable!

      And did you do that too ~ accepting so many review books your blog & reading turned into a chore rather than a fulfilling hobby? I thought I was the only one to do that! I love that I’m learning how other bloggers have dealt with the very same issues! How did you learn to say “no?” It seems so hard at times :-)
      especially when my favorite authors have a new book out. . .oh wait, maybe that’s the problem? I only have about a million + favorite authors ;-)
      Stacy recently posted…Ask the Bloggers: 6 Tips for Blogging Your BestMy Profile

      • Laurel-Rain Snow

        Thanks, Stacy….and it is hard to say “no,” but I realized that all I had to say was “thanks for the opportunity, but I must pass due to time constraints.” Or something like that.

        It is so important to stay true to ourselves. Thanks again!
        Laurel-Rain Snow recently posted…AUTHOR’S HOME PAGEMy Profile

  3. Beth Nolan Conners

    What a great post!
    If I could go back to my pre-blogging days, I would assure myself that there are many wonderful people out there who enjoy reading as much, if not even more, that I do! Reading can be an isolating activity, but not when you are connected to excited bloggers. My whole life peers have made fun of me for the amount I read, what I know about books and authors, etc etc. I wish I could say this was only when I was a child, but it continued into adulthood. I was once told I couldn’t join a bookclub, when in my 20′s, because I was “so enthusiastic and so knowledgeable” that I made other members feel intimidated. Blogging was my way to share my thoughts with family and friends who asked me for a good book to read. I never realized it would connect me with fabulous authors, wonderful readers, exciting people, publishers, and generally LOVERS OF BOOKS. Now I only wish I had thought of a clever blog title! :)

    • Stacy

      Now that’s just awful about the book club! I hope you went out and started your own and invited everyone without prejudice {of their reading stacks ;-) } If not, come join ours!

      And can you believe this community and how many books some read! I saw one person on Goodreads had a goal of 400+ last year and MET THAT GOAL! Was that you Beth?!? :-)

      And Beth you’ve got a great blog name! One of my favorite indie book stores is called the Book Nook and up until FoxTale Book Shoppe exploded on the Atlanta scene, the Book Nook always won Best of Atlanta each year! So kudos on a great name Beth!
      Stacy recently posted…Ask the Bloggers: 6 Tips for Blogging Your BestMy Profile

  4. Tanya Patrice

    This is such as awesome feature, and so interesting to see what other blogger’s thought. And ditto to publishing consistently, but don’t be anal about it. A missed post will do no harm. I lost my post for today (long story with upgrading something then having to restore to a backup), but instead of typing up something quick and probably not as good, I’ll spend some time visiting and commenting on blogs.
    Tanya Patrice recently posted…Make It Outstanding {The February Edition}My Profile

    • Stacy

      Excellent advice! that’s one of my failings is I stay consistent for a little while but then health issues get in the way and I fall off. . .so incredibly frustrating! I like that you make it a point to comment on other blogs rather than stressing when something doesn’t work out right to post. Way to stay relaxed and committed to both blogging and the community!
      Stacy recently posted…Ask the Bloggers: 6 Tips for Blogging Your BestMy Profile

  5. Cassie

    I think this is my first commenting on your blog, so hello! I have been blogging for a year now, but I sometimes feel like I am still a beginner, so all these tips are very helpful. I’m still learning new things all the time!

    Jamie’s advice about consistency is so true. Whenever my posts are scheduled regularly, I find that there is a lot more involvement from readers, compared to when my posts are randomly scheduled. What’s hard about consistency is having new topics to discuss and reviews written on time.

    Thank you for your advice, Sheila! I find myself trying to figure things out all the time and loving what other bloggers have on their blog that I just don’t know how to do. It’s good to know I can just ask bloggers how to do certain things that confuse me.

    Rissi, your advice to jump in and participate in the conversation is something I need to take to heart. My first several months blogging, I didn’t really know what I was doing. But, interacting with readers is so rewarding and makes the blogging experience so much better! I’m still learning to interact with my readers and comment on other blogs, and it has been a blessing to get to know others in this community!

    Juju, I can’t tell you how much I identify with what you said. I read other blogs all the time and love their voice and insightful comments. But, I have my own, unique voice, which is something I need to remind myself of. Besides, what reader wants to read 10 different blogs that sound the same? Thank you for reminding me to be myself, and not to try to be someone I’m not.

    Thanks for all the great advice! I will take it to heart.
    Cassie recently posted…Monthly Recap: January 2014My Profile

    • Stacy

      Hi Cassie! Welcome! I think that’s one of the wonderful things about blogging, there’s always something new to learn.

      Do you find it more difficult to get the reviews written and posted on time or is it getting the reading done and completed in time to get that review written? For me it’s a little bit of both ~ not getting the book done in time to get that review up on schedule. I currently have a running list of books I so need to get reviews written for. . .but I”ve got to finish the book first! And for some reason life keeps wanting to get in the way! Aargh! Ever have that happen to you?

      I agree with you Cassie about all of the advice given by these wonderful ladies ~ Juju’s especially resonated with me. I’m always reading other blogs and thinking oh geez if only I did that or sounded like this or, or, or. . .Juju’s gentle encouragement to be true to ourselves is definitely something to take to heart.

      I’m so glad you found this post and commented ~ I’m off to find you now and make myself a new blogging friend :-)
      Stacy recently posted…Ask the Bloggers: 6 Tips for Blogging Your BestMy Profile

      • Cassie

        I think a bit of both. The only time I find it hard to finish a book is when I’m not enjoying it, so then it just seems to drag on and on. More often I think writing the actual review is what slows me down. Between reading several books, posting new topics on the blog, and life in general, sometimes there is little time left to write a thoughtful review. Recently, I had several books read but nothing written for them, so they just stacked up on my desk until I finally got to them- my motivation to get the books on actual shelves is what got those reviews written in the end :)
        Cassie recently posted…Monthly Recap: January 2014My Profile

  6. Care

    Fun post! I love blogging and was quite overwhelmed with how it has evolved – all to the good. My sugs would be to find and participate in a Read-A-Thon and especially Bloggiesta – two wonderful community builders. Also, just keep plugging along and commenting and linking/sharing to start the conversations. You may find that blogs you like never visit you back but if you continue to enjoy their posts, then keep visiting anyway. And vice versa. Eventually, the relationships will start and build and yes, will change over the years but that is the best part – the friends you will make. But you have to comment!
    Care recently posted…The Rosie ProjectMy Profile

    • Stacy

      what fantastic advice Care! I’ve actually never participated in a read-a-thon in all 4+ years I”ve been blogging! For some reason the timing has not ever worked out but it sounds like a lot of fun. Did you participate in the Mini-Bloggiesta last weekend? It’s such a great way to meet new blogging friends and to clean up/fix up your blog. Great advice Care and I’ll keep trying to join a read-a-thon! Any one in particular I should try out?
      Stacy recently posted…Ask the Bloggers: 6 Tips for Blogging Your BestMy Profile

  7. Juju at Tales of Whimsy...

    Great advice everyone! I’m so honored to be among such awesome ladies. *group hug*

    Jamie: Your photo skills makes more sense now. :)

    Sheila & Rissi: I completely agree! *high fives*

    Kathy: Your fab advice makes me think of your name which I want to say I totally love your name. Seriously. It’s so different and fun. I think you’re favicon should be a mini onion.

    Lydia: Wow. “Find a community you want to belong to, not compete in.” How brilliant! <3
    Amen too on stepping away if it starts to feel like a job.

    Laurel-Rain: I hear ya friend. I learned the hard way too. In the beginning I was so honored, I took whatever.

    Cassie: Yes. Definitely. I'm SO with you. Who wants carbon copies? I want voice and uniqueness. So glad I could help.

    Diane & Sheila: Thanks :D
    Juju at Tales of Whimsy… recently posted…Girls Talking BlogsMy Profile

    • Stacy

      Thanks so much Colleen! And I bet you’ve got words of wisdom we can tap into as well?!? Haven’t you been blogging for several years now? I love how you’ve used the NYC pics as part of your header but also make your design so uniquely and freshly you. Hope you’ll let me send you a question or two ;-)
      Stacy recently posted…Ask the Bloggers: 6 Tips for Blogging Your BestMy Profile

  8. Tea Time with Marce

    What a great post Stacy, you have always been good on bringing us together. Some really amazing bloggers and I now get to meet others.

    Join a community instead of competing, perfect advice.

    I absolutely love my name, it is so me but I quickly had to change my blog button to match my genre love of reading as Tea Time sounds sweet and of course I like bloody, crime, emotional reads, lol

    I agree also on being consistent with posting, I think you have to be upfront with how you read, I read approx. 1 book a week and try to review once a week. It can be scary with those that can read a book a day.

    My advice – network network network, definitely take the time to comment on others blogs and most times they return the ‘favour’. If you love a blog enough you will continue to read and comment even if they do not comment though.

    Fun Stacy, have a great week.
    Tea Time with Marce recently posted…January is Hot Tea Month – Tea Review and Tea book recommendationsMy Profile

    • Stacy

      aw Marce Thank YOU. Your comment about bringing us together means the world to me. . .I’m sending you a giant virtual hug!

      and you bring up an excellent point ~ have you found that in the beginning of your blogging days you were able to read more and possibly even review more but as you’ve been blogging for awhile now, the reading has had to slow down? I used to be one of those people who could read a book a day ~ that’s one of the reasons I started blogging ~ but now I find my reading tastes have evolved somewhat and I’m reading on a more intent level if that makes any sense whatsoever. Reading to get more meat out of the book makes my reading speed much slower thus no more book a day.

      And you’re right about your name ~ which I love as well! It is a bit deceiving but I always know who to turn to when I’m looking for that bloody thriller ;-)

      Thank YOU Marce for your gift and presence in the blogosphere. Have a wonderful week!
      Stacy recently posted…Ask the Bloggers: 6 Tips for Blogging Your BestMy Profile

    • Stacy

      Isn’t that the truth! I’ve made the MOST wonderful friends on this blogging journey. And I’ve seen so much giving and love amongst the bloggers I associate with that when I hear of blogging bad behavior it’s almost impossible to believe! So happy to know you Elizabeth and be a regular reader of your blog :-)

  9. Rissi

    *High Five*

    Bloggers, this is wonderful advice. Jamie (constancy), Lydia (finding a community to be a part of) and Juju (be yourself) – I agree with all you said. And as most of you said, just to enjoy the ride and have fun. That IS the most important thing in this blogging world – when you stop having fun, blogging ceases to be a community of friends and more a task and then, it’s no fun for anyone.

    …and Stacy, a million thanks for putting this together and asking me. I’m honored to be among this group. :)
    Rissi recently posted…When Calls the Heart, Season One – Episodes 4-5 (2014)My Profile

    • Stacy

      Aww thanks Rissi ~ you’re a sweetheart!

      The fun aspect of blogging *for me* is all of you! It’s the people who make up the blogs, like yourself, who put the pleasure in blogging. Along with so many of the publishers and authors we get to know. . .but mainly, it’s the bloggers. :-)
      Stacy recently posted…Ask the Bloggers: 6 Tips for Blogging Your BestMy Profile

  10. stacybuckeye

    This was so great, Stacy! I’m sorry I missed taking part (please don’t give up on me!) I’ve been with Kathy from the beginning and she has done it all right :)

  11. Sarah (Sarah's Book Shelves)

    Thanks for a great post – great tips! I have only been blogging for a year and a half, so I still feel so new to all this and the blogging community. And, I still feel like I’m learning new things all the time – particularly about what I can do with my WordPress blog (I started with WordPress from the beginning) and how to master the “techie” side of things (not my strong suit). I also just recently started engaging more with the blogging community, participating in memes, and commenting on others’ blogs – mainly b/c I have two young children at home and have just gotten to a place where I have a bit more time. But, everyone has been so welcoming and helpful I so wish I had begun engaging with you all sooner! Thanks again and I’m looking forward to the rest of the series.
    Sarah (Sarah’s Book Shelves) recently posted…Book Review: The Lords of Discipline by Pat ConroyMy Profile

    • Stacy

      oooooo you were one of the really smart ones and started off with WordPress! A hundred kudos to you ~ the transfer from blogger to wordpress was a nightmare for me and one I wouldn’t wish on anyone! {techie side of things is NOT my strong suit either!}

      And Sarah ~ I’ve been doing this over 4 years and still I am learning something new all the time ~ I think that’s one of the really neat things about blogging ~ it never gets old or boring ;-)

      I”m so glad you’ve found this to be a welcoming community!
      Stacy recently posted…Ask the Bloggers: 6 Tips for Blogging Your BestMy Profile

  12. Julie

    I love this post! All of the blogging advice is excellent, and I love that there is a similar theme – build community and enjoy what you blog!

    FYI I linked this post up on the Spread the Love linky for this past week :)

    I would add don’t be afraid to grow and change. You are learning as you go and it is ok to have your blog evolve with your interests.
    Julie recently posted…Entangled is turning 3My Profile

    • Stacy

      Julie that was JUST what I needed to hear “it is ok to have your blog evolve with your interests. .. ” I’ve been slowly taking that to heart these past few months wanting to integrate more personal posts with the book reviews. I have to kind of laugh at myself because I will tap my toe into the proverbial waters then I jump back as if I’ve scared myself! Silly, huh? Especially taking into account the hugely supportive blogging community!

      Thank you so much for adding this post to the “Spread the Love” linky! AND for joining in on this collaborative feature!
      Stacy recently posted…Ask the Bloggers: 6 Tips for Blogging Your BestMy Profile

  13. Michelle

    Great list of bloggers and wonderful advice! I agree with it all. I would even say that sometimes the learning curve is half the fun because it means you try new things and discover more about yourself than you ever thought possible. Once you find your niche, you will know it and blogging will be a breeze. The most important tip though is to always have fun.
    Michelle recently posted…Review – By Blood We Live by Glen DuncanMy Profile

  14. Rebecca @ Love at First Book

    This is great. I think that the biggest thing for me would be to tell my old self two things:

    1. It’s just a blog – relax. It’s not so serious.

    2. It’s YOUR blog. Do it YOUR way. Don’t worry about being like everyone else. After all, if you’re like everyone else, what’s going to make someone come to YOUR blog?

    :D
    Rebecca @ Love at First Book recently posted…Magnetic Bookmark DIYMy Profile

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