5 Things I Wish I Knew When I Started Blogging

5 Things I Wish I Knew When I Started Blogging blog header

Since my first blogiversaryΒ just came and went last week, I thought now might be a good time to reflect on the things I’ve learned over the past year and share some things that I wish I had known when I first started blogging. Some of this seems so ridiculously obvious now that it’s almost embarrassing to realize that a year ago, I didn’t understand it. But hey, live and learn, right?

Interacting is a Must

When I first started blogging, I didn’t realize how crucial it was to visit other blogs and comment on posts. I liked reading other blogs, don’t get me wrong, but I almost never commented. I didn’t think it would be important and I didn’t feel that I had anything to say that was worth commenting. I thought people would just naturally end up finding my blog (what was I thinking?!). Now, though, I realize that one of the best ways to get people to discover and visit my blog is to comment on theirs. And it’s equally important to return comments that people leave on my posts. Nobody wants to comment on a blog if their comments always go unacknowledged.

Don’t Request a Hundred Books!

This a lesson that I’m still learning… When I made my blog, I quickly found out about the wonders of NetGalley and went a little click-happy, requesting probably 20 books. I had seen bloggers talk about how hard it could be to get approved, especially as a newbie, so I thought I’d only get approved for one or two at best. But then I got approved for about half of them and was ridiculously overwhelmed. Moral of the story: even if you don’t think you’ll get approved for all of them, don’t request a ton of books because if you get approved for too many, you’ll be in way over your head and won’t be able to review them on time (I still have books I haven’t read that I requested the first time I went on NetGalley a year ago).

Scheduling Posts is Super Helpful

I still don’t schedule posts really far in advance, but even just scheduling posts a day or two ahead of time is really helpful. I used to write a post and immediately publish it which worked okay for me, but it left me scrambling to write a post to get up that day which got very stressful when I was busy. If I schedule posts a day or two in advance, it gives me a little extra time to make sure the post is written (and coherent). And if I’m super busy one day, no worries. I can just write the post ahead of time and not have to worry about trying to squeeze in time to write. My goal right now is to actually start getting posts scheduled a couple of weeks ahead of time because that’ll give me a buffer for when things get really chaotic (like when midterm exams start…).

Graphics Matter

This is one thing that I think a lot of people deny because they don’t want to seem superficial. Who wants to admit that they might not visit a blog because the blog doesn’t look nice? But as much as we hate to admit it, having a nice blog design and nice graphics to match both make a difference. This is a relatively simple way to make your blog more appealing. Luckily for me (and I’m sure for many of you), making graphics doesn’t need to be frustrating or time-consuming and you don’t have to be really good at graphic design to have nice graphics. My #1 favorite resource I’ve discovered is Canva which is a great website that makes it really easy to make nice graphics. That’s where I make all my graphics and it hasn’t cost me a penny. They do have paid features if you want them and don’t mind spending a little money, but you can absolutely make nice graphics without spending anything. And like I said, it’s really simple.

Social Media Can Help (and Be Fun)

Social media can be both a blessing and a curse, but I’ve found it to be really helpful in a lot of ways. Obviously, having a big social media presence can help direct more visitors to your blog. I don’t get a ton of hits from social media, but I do get a fair amount. Bloglovin’, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and Tumblr have all helped me get more visitors. Social media can also be a great place to get advice from fellow bloggers and learn about issues that are important to other people in the community. I can’t even tell you how much I’ve learned about the need for diversity and the importance of accurate representation just from following a few people (authors, readers, bloggers) on Twitter. Social media can also be a great way to make more friends in the community since it’s a lot more open and conversational than a blog. Plus, Twitter chats are really fun to take part in too. My favorite is the #BHPChat that’s hosted on the last Tuesday of every month. If you were only going to make one social media account for your blog, I’d recommend making a Twitter account because there’s a huge bookish community on there and a lot happens! Just make sure you don’t spend too much time on social media or else you’ll never get any reading done. πŸ˜‰

What do you wish you knew when you first started blogging?


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99 thoughts on “5 Things I Wish I Knew When I Started Blogging

  1. I don’t know why, but I haven’t been able to get the hang of twitter yet, even though I created an account along with my blog – I don’t know what to tweet half the time lol

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  2. Lol I think we’ve all been there when it comes to requesting. πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚ I learned my lesson the hard way which it why I rarely request books on NG anymore. Scheduling posts has been a great way to help me procrastinate less when it comes to blogging. It also gives me the motivation to blog more and keep blogging slumps away. πŸ™Œ

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  3. I’ve just started my blog this week. I don’t really know what I’m doing with it yet, but I want to review books and share some of my personal writing. This post is coming at the *exact* right time for me πŸ™‚ I’ve been searching for advice, and this was probably exactly what I needed.

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  4. I am so pleased that your four points are all points that I think are important too. I am also trying to get a bit ahead with prepared blogs to save myself when I am hectic. I also use Twitter as my main social media tool.

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  5. 100% agree with all of these. haha, i’ve been through the NG/edelweiss requesting frenzy and, man, did i regret it, lol! now i’ve calmed down. im ashamed to say i’ve been really bad at interacting lately due to my health and my school, hich makes me sad cause i love talking with y’all. i have been more active on twitter, but at the same time, im slightly intimidated by it. i feel like i cant seeem to get the hang of it and when i respond to people’s tweets, i feel like im butting in on their conversations and/or trains of thought and its just awkward…anyhoo. im not ashamed to admit graphics and visual appeal are a big thing for me–but then again, im a designer, so ya know *shrugs*. but its not like that’s ultimately what makes the decisiion for me of whether or not i’ll follow you–that comes down to content. great post! πŸ™‚

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  6. “Nobody wants to comment on a blog if their comments always go unacknowledged.” This is very true! haha, the easiest way to get me to stop visiting a blog is if the comments I leave on someone’s blog are not acknowledged. I understand that sometimes people are busy, but they least they could do is respond eventually! Commenting back is definitely appreciated, but not necessary for me to visit a person’s blog again. But people who frequently comment on my blog and comment back quickly become blogging friends of mine. πŸ™‚
    Anyway, there are so many great points here. I am about to reach 1 year as a blogger and wish I had known all these things early on.
    I’m still learning not to requests too many books. I don’t do NetGalley, so I’m talking about accepting review requests emailed to me and requesting books from publishers myself. It took me forever to get through my ARC backlog and when I got caught up, I put a notice on my blog saying I’m not taking any requests for the forseeable future. But I’m awful and when I like a book I see, I sometimes reach out to the publisher to get an ARC. sigh. I’m never going to learn.
    Good advice on not spending too much time on Twitter to actually get some reading done…I should listen to that advice. 😦

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    • Exactly, it gets me so frustrated when I leave comments on someone’s blog and they never respond. Eventually I just give up commenting on their posts because I just feel like I’m talking to myself. πŸ˜› I’m the same way, really – I like when bloggers visit & return comments, but I don’t feel like they need to. It also depends on how frequently I comment on their posts, though. If I comment a lot, it’s nice to have them return the favor every once in awhile. But I don’t expect them to do it every time.
      I doubt that I’ll ever actually learn not to request too many books, hahaha. I’ve gotten better at it, but mostly that just means that I hold off on requesting until I’ve gotten some of my review copies read and then I end up requesting quite a few again and lose any progress I made on getting my list down to a manageable size, haha.
      Ha, I should listen to my own advice, too. Sometimes I do really well and barely go on Twitter at all and other times I waste hours on there (especially when an author/book is being called out, then all my productivity goes down the toilet because I want to keep up with what’s going on, haha).

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  7. LOVE your discussion post Kourtni! so many great points that I myself wish I had known when 1st starting my blog. Interaction is key & I had a bit of difficulty with that in the beginning because I’m not a social butterfly by any means. I also didn’t think i’d have a following at all lol. Once I started seeing that readers were taking the time out to write thoughtful comments, that was plenty motivation to get my feet wet in the game. Now I enjoy blog hopping but i’m still working on time management. Great post <3!

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    • Thanks, Lilly! I had the same issue! I’m very shy in real life (and have social anxiety :P) and so I was super nervous to talk to people and comment on posts in the beginning. But this community is really friendly and great to talk to so I’m really glad that I started interacting with everyone. πŸ™‚

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  8. I completely agree about Canva. I love them! I also think having a nice layout is worth having. I go to some blogs that have way too many posts are clumped together that i makes finding a blog post to read almost impossible. and as sad as it is, I usually skip over their blog. Lovely post! πŸ™‚

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    • Canva is such a lifesaver! It makes making nice graphics so easy. And I completely agree with you – a bad layout can really be a deal-breaker, as much as I hate to admit it. If it’s too hard to read posts or find things on a blog, I might not stick around.

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  9. Interacting and not requesting a ton of books is so me too! I wish I would have known how important interacting was when I first started blogging. Honestly, I think I was overwhelmed by the aspect because I’m naturally a shy person. But when I started actually interacting it didn’t take long for me to come out of my shell lol. And it’s so good to hear that I’m not the only one who has books on their NetGalley that they still haven’t reviewed. Mine are more recent but I went a bit overboard (even though I said I wouldn’t) and have missed some deadlines. I’m not even sure when I’ll get around to them. It’s only two books though so not too bad πŸ™ˆ. I still haven’t gotten the hang of other social media or even regularly scheduling posts. I sometimes do a day in advance but not very often. Someday! πŸ˜‚
    Great discussion, Kourtni! πŸ’•

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    • I’m the same way – very shy (and I have social anxiety on top of it :P). So interacting with everyone was super intimidating at first, but everyone is so welcoming and friendly that I got over that pretty quickly. πŸ™‚ I’ve been doing a LOT better at not requesting too many books on NetGalley and I’ve managed to stay on top of all the newer ones I’ve gotten. But I still sometimes end up overwhelming myself, especially when I factor in review copies I got from other places. Scheduling has been super helpful, but I’m still trying to get better at it! One day I’ll be one of those bloggers that has posts scheduled weeks in advance, I swear, hahaha.
      Thanks, Melissa! πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

      • Yeah, I think the fact that everyone on the blogosphere is so nice and welcoming is what really helped me as well. 😊
        Well that’s good! After my last requesting frenzy I’ve started really asking myself if I’ll have time for a book before requesting it and haven’t requested any in a while. Hopefully I keep from going overboard again.
        Same here! One day. πŸ˜‚
        You’re welcome!! β™₯

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  10. Awesome post, Kourtni! I definitely wish I knew a lot of these before I started blogging especially in regards to scheduling posts. When I first started it was so easy to keep up, bu then as my blog grew (which I was never expecting haha) it got a lot harder. I also requested WAAAY too many ARCs on Netgalley and I’m still paying the price πŸ˜‚ Interacting is so so important too. I was super nervous, but fortunately everyone was so welcoming β™₯

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    • Every time I think back on when I didn’t schedule posts, I’m just genuinely baffled as to how I kept up with it, hahaha. Scheduling things in advance makes things SO much easier! I was really nervous about interacting, too! But this is definitely a great community and even “big” bloggers are generally really friendly which is great and has helped so much.

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  11. I wish I had been more selective with who I followed back in the beginnng bc I was following some weird blogs that followed me, and I am really just into the book blogs…then those people don’t interact so what’s the point. You know?

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  14. The comment about interaction with other bloggers is super vital in my opinion. I have also found that in my own experience, the blogging community responds well to that. If you want love, spread it freely amongst your fellow bloggers. Thanks for sharing this, and good luck on your blogging journey.

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  15. Hello, just signed up to Canva, amazing thank you.
    Have you got any other advice to up my followers on WordPress, I get lots of traffic from twitter, Facebook but not direct on here? xx

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