Friday, April 10, 2015 20:48

Blogging tips (for beginners).

I’m not saying I am an expert when it comes to blogging, but this year I celebrated my 3rd blogoversary (and I completely forgot about it) and I think I have some experience when it comes to blogging. I did something similar when I celebrated my 2nd blogoversary. You can find those tips here, where I talked about my blogging methods. Some of my tips might come in handy – but it’s fine if you do it your own way of course!

Let’s start right away with the most important advice I can give you: do what feels good to you. There is no right or wrong way when it comes to blogging (except for the most obvious things as: don’t steal someone’s content). The tips I’m going to give you are only meant as guidelines. In no way you should let anyone else dictate what you do with your blog and content.

-Goodreads. I would recommend to cross-link your reviews with Goodreads. This is the website that inspired a lot of people to start their website and this platform might give you new blog followers. I’m still not sure if it’s best to post your whole review or only a teaser. What do you recommend/use? I just copy-paste my entire review there with a link to my blog-review.

-Color scheme. We judge books by their cover; we also often judge blogs by their design. You should stick with the design you like, but I would recommend to choose a pleasing colour scheme. Nothing is more annoying than unreadable content (so try to think about the fonts you use too). Purple and orange might be your favorite colours, but I think you can understand that this is going to cost you followers:

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-Simplicity. ‘Less is more’ is a very known statement for a reason. Try to keep your sidebar as simple as possible. The essentials for your side bar are: search bar (PLEASE make sure you have this one. It makes navigating so much easier), email subscription, icons for your social media, author box (or an ‘about me’ page, people want to get to know you), archive and several following options – I would recommend to have at least Bloglovin’.

-Blogging method. Try to find a method that works for you. The first thing that’s best to decide is how often you want to post on your blog and stick with that number.  Next is taking a realistic look at how many books you can read per month – and try to adjust your requesting to that number. Let’s say you read 10 books. Then decide for yourself how many of those you want to read for review. We all made the mistake (and sometimes we still do) where we request too much. Try to avoid that. It’s easy to make a list with all the upcoming books you must read as an overview.

-Time management. Don’t think blogging is easy, because it’s not. It’s really rewarding and incredibly fun, but it takes work. Be prepared to invest your time in writing posts and socializing to gain followers (& make friends). Try to calculate how much time you want to put in your blog and stick with that. You decide how stressful blogging is for you; nobody is forcing you into doing anything.

-Reviews. This might take some time and the first reviews you write will make you feel embarrassed years later. There are different ways you can write a review. Length, use of gifs, ratings, structure; all things you must consider. What I find important is that you stay true to yourself. Show your personality and don’t try to write with a different voice. You don’t have to be funnier, more sarcastic or wittier. People will notice it if you are forcing yourself to be someone else. I personally like straight-to-the-point reviews that talk about different aspects of the book (like; world-building, characters, romance and writing-style) and where people really talk about how a book made them think/feel. I talked about this in my personal vs professional review discussion. Try to think about what you like/would like to see in a review and work with that. What I do recommended is to put a link to Goodreads in your review. It makes it easier for people if they want to add the book to their Goodreads account.

-Handy dandy. Try to find things that will support you to make blogging easier. Here are some examples you can think about and the method I use. An app for your schedule (Wunderlist), a program to write your reviews (Windows Live Writer), keeping track of books (Excel spreadsheet) and background information for your review (I write in a notebook while reading and I use tabs/e-reader highlight function to remember quotes).

Was this helpful or do you already use these tips? What are some of your blogging tips?
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Mel@thedailyprophecy

Mel is a microbiology technician who is obsessed with Disney, fairytale retellings and fantasy. If she's not reading or blogging, she's either busy with gaming, hanging out with family or watching a TV show. She loves summer and bright nail polish. One of her dreams is to travel the world. She has found her Prince Charming and they are together for 7+ years.

43 comments:

  1. This was super helpful, Melanie, and I've been blogging for 4-5 months. I guess I'm still sort of a newbie, but I feel like I've been doing it forever. I wasn't prepared for how difficult it could be, or just how much fun! Thanks for the tips!

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  2. It was my 3-year-anniversary too in March. I only realised just a few days ago oops.

    I've just started using Wunderlist because I haven't been doing very well with school work lately and I like how it sends about a 100 notifications to remind to do something, which pressures me into doing it (so far). I haven't figured out how I could use it to plan blog posts though. Not that I have a tight schedule, I never post more than twice a week so I don't really need a blog schedule.

    Keeping my blog simple, especially the sidebar, was something I only learned after two years of blogging. I wish someone had told me earlier!

    Great blog post, Mel! I'm sure it'll help a lot of (new) bloggers out! :)

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    1. Haha, congrats Kaylie :D I have a map where I put all my ideas and reviews I have to write. It's easy to see in one app how many I have left to write.

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  3. I've always loved and appreciated your positive and accepting attitude when it comes to blogging Mel - I think EVERYONE out there should adopt your attitude. Everyone should blog according to what makes THEM feel good. Period. That being said, I do think it's important to have a blog that's welcoming and pleasant. Off-putting colour schemes and too busy style are very off-putting to me. I followed a wonderful blogger my first year and every.single.time. I would visit her blog, my browser would crash. Her page was PACKED, way too much stuff going on (busy sidebars, animated mouse, music, etc...) and needless to say, I stopped visiting pretty quick. Loved your helpful tips in another lovely discussion post^^ ♥

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    1. Thanks Micheline, I really hope people adapt the whole 'blog-like-you-want' idea. It would be great to see less stressed out bloggers :)!

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  4. This is a very helpful & great post Melanie<3 Ive always loved it when bloggers share advice and tips with others, it's very humbling and genuine. I agree that less is more & your blog has done an amazing job of that. <3 Benish | Feminist Reflections

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    1. Thank you Benish & I'm happy you liked the tips :)!

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  5. This is a wonderful collection of tips Mel! You've covered everything important, and this would have really helped me when I was first starting out. Your comment on our first reviews making us feel embarrassed - made me laugh - it's so true!

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  6. This is an extremely helpful post! I should definitely start writing notes and quotes in a notebook as I read the books I am going to review. One thing I would like more info on is how to use gifs in my blog. I always see people using them but do they save them in a file on their computer? Do they like them on tumblr and then take them when they need them?

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    1. Hi Tara, I never save gifs when I find them. I like them/repost them on Tumblr and when I want to use them in my review, I save them on my computer and then I upload them in my review. Most of the times I look for gifs the moment I write my review :) I hope this helps!

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  7. I'm definitely not a new blogger although, i'd like to think I am. I hate the feeling of not being a newbie anymore because I still feel so lost.

    The one about the color scheme brought up old memories *shudders* let's just say that I LOVED script fonts for the actual post. *HEADDESK*

    Something I would add is to be socially active. It's GREAT to have a blog and maybe you have the BESTEST BLOG IN THE WHOLE WORLD but if you don't talk to other bloggers and comment on their posts and develop relationships, what's the point?

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    1. OH. Good one! I definitely should have included that one. I should use it for a part 2 (if I ever going to make it :p)

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  8. These are all incredibly helpful tips, Mel! I'm still quite new to blogging myself, so I always love it when more experienced bloggers share their experience. I was SO unprepared when I started, I guess I just didn't realise how much work went into a blog. But it also incredible fun, and I love the community! Thanks for all the tips!

    Beatrice @ Book For Thought

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    1. No problem! I think most of us didn't expect blogging to be so much (rewarding!) 'work'

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  9. These are great tips, Mel! I agree that design matters a lot. A hard to read design will throw me off from a blog because it physically hurts to read the blogger's posts. Also, staying true to your voice is definitely important. When I first started blogging, I was reading a lot of blogs with witty and very informal reviews, and I thought I had to write like that for blog book reviews. However, it just didn't fit with me and my voice. Now I write reviews in more of a formal way, and I love it!

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    1. It's definitely important to stay true to yourself and to write in a voice that works for you!

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  10. These are great tips. I have been on blogs where they have a crazy background color and a crazy font color. That is so annoying!

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  11. Pft, so modest. You are an expert in blogging, Mel :). I like hearing about different tips frm each blogger since we've all got such different opinions on books (of course we'd also differ so much in blogging styles!).

    I love that you started off by telling newbie bloggers to do what feels good for them and that there's no right or wrong way aside from plagiarism. I haven't honestly found a lot of people followed my reviews from Goodreads since that site is so huge now and I feel like, it's like blogging, you have to invest a lot of time into commenting and interacting with people there for it to make a difference (the way Sam at Realm of Fiction used to), and most people who do interact are the ones who would interact on your blog or twitter anyway o.O. Anywho, I post my full reviews because I never bother to click the teaser links (not when there's a full review right below it, anyway).

    Good advice on color scheme! I remember when I first started out, I immediately started to notice this because I couldn't read some blogs (and some blogs had those annoying noise countdowns and i was like AHHH CANT REVEAL WHAT IM DOING TO EVERYONE) and so I would click out. At one point I had some green text and I think despite it being mixed with grey, it was a lot harder to read. (Also you chose an awesome example - the yellow and blue is so hard to read!).

    Ah your advice on methodology is also really good. If only I were less of a dreamer and perfectionist, I could actually be a rational human being and follow those guidelines.

    Hahahhahah time management. THAT EXISTS? And you're so rational. Nobody is forcing us into doing things, but I do admit to feeling pressured by myself and not always knowing how to get out of that rut (because I'm always like WAIT O THAT WOULD BE SO COOL BUT DON'T PUT EVEN MORE TIME DIDN'T YOU SAY YOU WERE CUTTING BACK?).

    Nice advice on reviews! I think that's something you learn with time too. My first reviews are so crappy. And of course I used to have a different style than I do today, when I'm much lazier.

    Google CAlendar is pretty good at helping for your schedule & can sync with your phone if you have a gmail account, I think. Excel is super helpful and if you read in Bluefire Reader for some of the Netgalley books, you can make bookmarks in that and excel for the notebook in case you don't have a notebook handy with you. But you're awesome and already have your own apps and advice, so you don't need to know that ;).

    Of course it's helpful! You're the best, Mel.

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    1. I wouldn't consider myself an expert, but I definitely have found some tips and tricks over the years :D (gosh, that makes me feel old!) I think it's so important to just DO what works for YOU instead of thinking about what others might think. Making that picture to illustrate a bad combination made my eyes hurt, haha.

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  12. This was an incredibly helpful post. I am going into week three of my book blogging journey and you help to answer a lot of questions for me... I want to say, thank you and blast you for referencing those other articles... Now I have more to read but with as great as this article was I am looking forward to reading the two others. Thanks for taking the time to do this!

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  13. Thank you so much for these wonderful tips! To address Goodreads, I usually copy/paste almost my entire review. I typically use gifs in my reviews, so I just put the 'text' of the review and a link to my blog in Goodreads. Honestly, though, some things in Goodreads confuse me. I post all of my reviews on Sundays, which means I pre-write them earlier in the week, but for the Goodreads challenge the site asks for the specific date you finish the book. I don't like to file a book as 'read' until I post my review, though, so it all ends in a confused mess. Oh, well.

    I also love that you're encouraging bloggers to make their own path. I consider myself a somewhat new blogger and I've found I can put more of my own voice into the computer screen by being completely original- summaries, memes, features, and all. You're so accepting of every blogging style, though, which I love (Wow, I've said love a lot, but I love love love love love love love love love this post.)

    At the moment I have a physical calendar where I write down the names of posts I've written, but currently that's the only tool I use. I am definitely looking into using Wunderlist and Excel for blogging. I never even considered it before.

    <3 For the millionth time, I love this post. I appreciate the help.

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    1. Haha, thank you! I'm happy I could help. I do think it's important to embrace every blogging style, because we are all unique persons and that is great :)!

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  14. Oh haahahh on the reviews. I definitely am kind of embarrassed about my review style, even though it's only been one year. Things can change so much in one year. Also BLOGGING is very time consuming. But very rewarding. Awesome post Mel! I hope a ton of people take a lot from it :)

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  15. I love this post Mel. <3 Your advices are all kinds of amazing :D Love love love them. <3 Thank you so much for sharing :) But damn. You murdered my eyes with that color text thing o.O It still hurts, lol :) I don't dare to look at my reviews from 2011/2012. They are awful. And way too short. And SO BAD. And ugh. Shudders. lol :) I always copies my reviews to Goodreads, though I never include my blog link.. though I feel like I should do so for all my reviews. But it also sounds like lots of work, lol :p Anyway. Your post is gorgeous :)

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  16. It's always nice when people offer tips. I've only been blogging since February, so it's great to get advice from other bloggers. I'm already doing a few of the things on your list, so it's nice to know that I'm doing something right.

    I always worry about the review part because I never know if my reviews are any good. I just write what I think. It's difficult sometimes putting into words what I thought about a book.

    Great post!

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    1. You can't do anything truly wrong :)! Reviewing takes time, you'll get the hang of it in no time :)

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  17. Ooh, thank you so much for these tips! I've been blogging for a couple of years, but I still feel like I need all the tips I can get. ^_^

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  18. Awesome tips, Mel! You've got everything covered, I think. I love what you said about finding a blogging method. I personally don't think I've got mine down yet even after one and a half year of blogging and I think this dilemma is where most of my blogging frustrations lie. Hopefully I'll work it out by the time I hit my 2nd year blogoversary.

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  19. This is all good! I'll admit I'm not especially organized, as you obviously are, but it's good to know what your goals are and set yourself to a reasonable standard. There are so many bloggers who post every day, but if you can't, you can't. Simple as that. It'll only stress you out. And YES for color scheme and simplicity! The look is so important, but it doesn't have to be fancy to look good. :)

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  20. Oh my goodness - I wish I had all these tips when I first started blogging Mel! They're all so helpful! Goodreads is definitely a great recourse - you can really explore books and experiment with reviewing.

    And deciding on your color scheme is so, so important. Your color scheme really shows who you are as a blogger, and it's not something that should go overrated. And yes to simplicity - more is not always better, you know?

    Great post! <3

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  21. This is incredible!I love it when blogging geniuses like you step down to give us amateurs some tips:)
    And I agree with everything you've pointed above Mel.Plus,I am still struggling with blogging tools-I've never been techno savvy and I am horrible with apps,so I find it really helpful when bloggers point out some in posts like these.

    Wonderful post Mel!

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    1. Blogging geniuses, haha, stop it you! :D

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  22. Great tips Mel! I think when it comes to having your blog, you should think of the style you want to write your reviews early on so that you have a format to follow, and of course think not only yourself, but your readers as well. Make sure the text and font is readable.

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  23. This is great, Mel! I wish I had read this when I first started blogging. I definitely agree about Goodreads - it's how I first started getting into blogging in the first place. Not requesting too much - so important, tho I think everyone goes through that initial phase where she requests ALL THE BOOKS. Twitter has been super helpful for getting my blog out there the most, for sure. And I agree - blog design is key.

    I hope this post has been able to help those new to the blogging world!

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  24. Fabulous tips, Mel!

    I really get bothered with people who only post teasers of their reviews--if I wanted to visit your website, I would do it because your entire review wowed me and I'd like to see more, not because I want to read the whole thing. I'd like to see your *complete* review the second I click on it. So personally I think pasting the whole review is the way to go, and don't forget to add blog links for people who are interested.

    Oh I definitely judge blogs by how readable they are too. I'd understand if you're using free Wordpress since you're not really given a lot of options, but for other blogging platforms, you have almost free reign, so also think about how other people are going to see your blog.

    Finding a blogging method is definitely good advice. I completely missed this when I first started blogging--sometimes I posted twice a day, and sometimes I wouldn't for entire months. And of course I started going request-crazy to the point that I only read 1/10 review copies.

    Definitely spot-on with review tips, too. I still cringe sometimes when reading my older reviews, but I'd like to think that I've gotten better. But I still have a hard time getting my personality across through my reviews.

    Again, these were awesome! If anyone asks for some tips, I'd definitely hand them over the link to this post. <3

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    1. Okay, good thing I post the whole thing on Goodreads! I thought something similar :)

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  25. I definitely approach reviews as more of an explanation of my own enjoyment of the book, meant to be more informal, and in some ways notes for myself. I figure if it's something that I find helpful, perhaps others would too. And doing anything more involved would limit my enjoyment, which takes away the purpose of the whole venture. Very good tips!

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  26. I think this is all brilliant advice and I wish I had gotten it when I started blogging. I can't think of anything you missed either. As for posting to goodreads, I just post my whole review but that's really because i'm too lazy to post a teaser since it's not always as simple as just grabbing my first or last paragraph. If I had to guess though I would think that teasers generate more blog traffic.

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    1. I think I would have liked such tips in the beginning too, so I hope they prove to be helpful for starting bloggers :)

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  27. Awesome tips Mel! Having the sidebar be minimal is something all bloggers should make sure they do. Too many gadgets just looks like clutter and can really slow down a site's load time.

    I really need to iron out my blogging method/time management since I've been all over the place. I just bought a planner actually to help with this, so hopefully I can become more organized with my posts and blog schedule!

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  28. All excellent tips. I know I can't stand the dark or colored background on text. It makes it complete,y unreadable.

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  29. These tips are perfect, Mel!! Goodreads is where I started writing reviews before people started telling me I should start a blog. Simplicity on the blog design is key! Something cute but not too overdone. Time management is super-important. I like to read blogs that have new posts consistently, not sporadic "Hey it's been two weeks, so here's something!" Awesome post <3

    Rachel @ A Perfection Called Books

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