Since my first blogiversary 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…).
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. 😉