Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week’s subject is:
Top Ten Tips for New Bloggers
This is another good one! I’m going to list the top ten tips I wish someone had given me when I started blogging.
10. Create your policies as soon as possible. A guest post/guest reviewer policy, review policy, compensation policy and giveaway policy are all important things you need to think about pretty soon after starting a blog. If you have them in an easy to find place, you won’t have (as many) random requests for books that don’t fit your blog or people questioning your ethics. And if you are uncomfortable with anything, you can consult your policies and have an easy reply (“As stated in my policy, I am unable to…”). Other blogs can be a good resource for getting some ideas, but make sure you use your own thoughts and words to create your policies.
9. Don’t say yes to every single review request you get. Really read the descriptions and check out other reviews on Goodreads, Amazon, or some other place. When I started, I was so excited to get requests that I ended up reading some really unfortunate novels. Plus. I felt obligated to keep reading them long after I normally would have given up.
8. Keep a schedule. At first, I was just remembering when I was doing posts, but once I started adding in memes and interviews, it was too much. For a while, I was keeping track in a paper calendar, but after Patricia introduced me to her Google Docs blog schedule, I knew that was the way to go. I can see at a glance where any gaps are or if I have too many of the same kind of posts bunched up together.*
7. Socialize. Create accounts for Twitter, Facebook, Klout, Goodreads, Pinterest, G+ and any more you might be interested in. Get out there and talk to people, both readers and bloggers alike. I’ll admit, when I started my blog I didn’t think the other YA bloggers would be nice to me. I mean, we’re competing for the same audience, right? Wrong! There are more than enough interwebs for all of us and I have been blown away with how friendly and kind the other bloggers and blog readers have been. Most of them are more than happy to answer a question, make a suggestion or even, in my case, critique an unflattering review. A blog can be a lonely place and the other men and women sharing the YA blogosphere have made it so much fun. They are not your competition, they are your friends.
6. Ask questions. If you have a question you can’t solve with Google, ask someone. If they can’t (or won’t) answer, ask someone else. Keep asking until you find someone with the answer. Love a book? Ask the author for an interview, or the publisher for a copy to give away. Like the way a blog looks? Ask the blogger who designed it. Interested in a meme? Ask the meme host how to take part. Enjoy the way a blogger or author talks? Ask them for a guest post for your blog. You’ll never learn if you don’t ask.
5. Don’t feel like you have to make a ton of posts. Don’t think you have to post several times a day or even every day. ProBlogger has a great article about why it isn’t necessary to post that often, I highly suggest you check that one out. When I started, I felt it was important to get the posts out, really crank out the content as fast as possible. I started doing some memes just to get something on the site every day of the week. It wasn’t long before I realized what a mistake I was making. The memes may have drawn other meme participants in, but were they sticking around and reading my other posts, or were they leaving a generic commenting and running off to the next blog? Once you really have a handle on blogging and what direction you want your blog to go, then you can step up the pace of your posts. Just take it slow and steady in the beginning.
4. Explore other blogs. Sometimes it’s easy to get bogged down and feel like you’re the only little blog in the great big interwebs, but there are a ton of others out there. Find a blog you like (the YA Book Blog Directory has a huge database of YA book blogs and the Book Blog Directory lists book blogs by title) and check out their blogroll. Read their posts and go crazy with comments. But not the “great post!” comments, those are crap. Really read what they’re saying and reply thoughtfully. Not only is that a great way to make friends, but you can see what the other bloggers in your field are doing. Are they hosting interesting giveaways? Do they have a post subject you never thought about? Are they in love with a book you’ve never heard of?
3. Do what you want. Blogger burnout is a common topic and I think it can usually be avoided by simply doing what you like. Don’t accept review requests for books you’re not really interested in, don’t feel obligated to post more often than you want, don’t participate in memes if they stop being fun. Just because Jennifer posts every day of the week doesn’t mean you have to and just because Mandy participates in 14 memes doesn’t mean you have to. Do you want to review only books published in 1998? Do it. Only want to review books with blue covers? Go for it! This is YOUR blog and you can do whatever you want with it.
2. Use your time wisely. Maintaining a blog can easily be a full-time job if you let it. You need to find the right balance of family, personal and blog time. Add in school or work and you can really find yourself overwhelmed, especially if you aim to post often. Decide how much time you want to spend on your blog and stick with it. Create a schedule, and set aside specific times just to work on your blog. Keep an ongoing to-do list and start checking items off during your “blogging periods.” If you become overwhelmed, re-evaluate your goals and adjust them accordingly. This is another way to avoid the blogger burnout mentioned above.
1. Never stop learning! Learn which blogging platform is best for you, if you should self-host and if so, with whom, how to set up your blog’s email address, how to set up an RSS feed, how SEO works… All of these are good things to know before you even publish your first post.
However, if you’ve already taken the plunge and have started your blog, it’s never too late to learn. My number 1 source of blogging help has come from ProBlogger. They have an extensive archive of helpful articles about every aspect of blogging. You could spend weeks and weeks reviewing the site and never run out of new things to learn. Parajunkee’s View and The Story Siren are other great sources for blogging information.
There is always a new plug-in, social site or trend being created and it’s important to always be on the lookout for it. Keep an ear on other blogs, social sites (especially Twitter) and the sites mentioned above. They will be the first to talk about the next big thing.
*I’ve created a template for my blog schedule and made it public. If you’d like to see if it might work for you, check it out here.
What do you think of this Top 10? As a blogger, did I leave any tips out, or do you disagree with any of these? As a potential blogger, did I give you some things to think about? I’d love to hear your thoughts about this list.