Top Ten Tips For New Bloggers

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.

I love to hear your thoughts and read every single one of them.

  1. I like this top 10 tuesday! I think I’m going to be checking out a few of these! I like the schedule idea, I’ve recently stopped posting my reviews if my co blogger has posted one that day, I would rather the two of us post one post a day than spam everyone. I think that will work out a lot better if we space out our reviews, because sometimes we can go a weekwithout a review and I don’t like that..lol

    Thanks for the great tips! As a newish blogger, I appreciate them :)

    • thebusybibliophile says:

      The Google Docs would be great for you guys because you can share the doc and each of you can make changes to it. So you can see when she has something scheduled, etc. Patricia and I use the heck out of it for our YA Save Reading Challenge. I don’t know how we would have organized the thing without it.

      • I’m playing around on Google Docs right now, when she is on later I’m going to ask her what she thinks, it looks like it might be very helpful! Thanks!! (There are a lot of blank spaces right now..lol)

  2. Even though I’m not a newbie to the book blogging game, there are a few of your tips that I still *swallows sheepishly* haven’t conquered! I really need to get on a schedule like you suggest, I think it would help a lot!

    Also, I totally agree with tip #5…I thought that I needed to crank out a lot of material when I first started too, but I’ve started to let that go in recent months. AND as a book blog reader, I can say that I can sometimes get a bit annoyed if a blog I follow has 3 or 4 new posts a day…quality, not quantity, right!?

    • thebusybibliophile says:

      You are absolutely right: quality, not quantity is the end all, be all as far as I’m concerned!

  3. thebusybibliophile says:

    The Google Docs would be great for you guys because you can share the doc and each of you can make changes to it. So you can see when she has something scheduled, etc. Patricia and I use the heck out of it for our YA Save Reading Challenge. I don’t know how we would have organized the thing without it.

  4. I definitely need to look into a google schedule. Right now I’m just using wordpress to schedule my posts and it’s working ok, but I’ve had some snags with it and I’m sure it would benefit me to use something that would give me a better view of how everything lays out.

    Of the stuff on your list I have the hardest time with socializing. I’m actually quite outgoing once I get to know someone but if I’m around people I don’t know I’m pretty shy/quiet, and that includes on social media. I need to put myself out there more. I have some bloggers who have reached out to and befriended me and I’m soooo grateful for them – it really does help to have a support network!

    • thebusybibliophile says:

      Socializing in person is the hard part for me. I can gab away on Twitter or Facebook, but put me in a room with people and I clam up and get nervous! A good support network is absolutely invaluable, I’m so glad you found one.

  5. I LOVE that you actually posted your schedule format! So efficient! Well done! The rest of your list is fabulous as well. Number nine is one I used to struggle with because I felt bad saying no, but then I adhered to number ten and the guilt evaporated because I didn’t feel like I even had to respond to requests that didn’t fit my policies. If someone doesn’t take the time to read my policies, how can they expect me to take the time to read their book?

    Great post!!

    Check out my Top Ten!

  6. thebusybibliophile says:

    That’s how I feel, if they can’t bother to read a few pages of my blog, why should I bother reading their entire book? I wish they all understood that.

    Thanks for checking my post out!

  7. Excellent advice – especially the image on how you do your scheduling. I had just put the draft posts in, but I love the idea of using a google doc to keep track. Going to try it.

    • thebusybibliophile says:

      I hope it works out for your needs. It’s really been a timesaver for me.

  8. I wish I would have known about #9 when I was brand spanking new at blogging. I accepted everything! 7 months later and I am a bit more selective before accepting a book. It’s hard having to tell an author that you cannot review their book at this time, but it’s even worse to have to DNF their book.

    BTW, loving that google doc. Is that shared out or is there a template that we can copy from?

    JJ iReads
    Check out my Top Ten Picks This Week

  9. You have a ton of great advice here. The google doc schedule is a great idea. I’m looking forward to trying that out sometime and getting more organized. Same with review and guest post policies – I really need to put those together. Also, problogger sounds like a great resource.
    Thanks so much for sharing your tips!

    • thebusybibliophile says:

      I can’t tell you what a timesaver that schedule has been for me. Thank goodness Patricia introduced me to the concept!

      You definitely need some policies in place, girl! The Story Siren and Book♥Soulmates have great policy pages to give you some ideas.

      ProBlogger has introduced me to so many new ideas, it’s been a tremendous resource.

  10. Even after blogging for almost two years I still find it hard to say no to review requests, but it has gotten easier. There are usually two reasons I say no: not enough time (which is alllll the time lol) and their book has nothing to do with my policy (genre, etc. – they clearly have not read my policies). LOVE that you are as ‘organized’ as I am lol. I am even rethinking of ‘revamping’ my online organization method on Google Docs – - I still have yet to find the perfect method….. Guest post idea… (I digress lol).

    I still have not delved into learning about SEQ – I desperately need to do so.

    • thebusybibliophile says:

      The ones that haven’t bothered to read your review policy are easy to reject, right? But the ones that do and fit my blog and are really earnest, those I had a hard time declining (before I stopped accepting requests). But you just can’t do it all, you know?

      How could you even think of changing that spreadsheet? I can’t wait to see what you come up with next!

      • I’m not really sure what I can come up with for new organization. I might not. I actually just added color coded like yours (different colors of course) but I’m thinking between our YASRC schedule and my personal blog schedule I’m good for now. Realized how much work it would be lol

  11. First this is my first time on your blog and I must tell you how adorable it
    Is!!!! I love your header!:) Also, can I please
    steal this blog calendar?! I love it and want to
    try it out!! :)

    • Thank you, I’m glad you like the header! Much <3 for my designer, Jessica at Southtown Creative! And yes, please steal the schedule! I've made it into a public template so others can try it out. Click here to get the link. Let me know how it works out for you!

  12. Andrea,
    What incredibly helpful tips. Today I’m on information overload with all of the fantastic information offered up…and loving every minute of it :)

  13. thebusybibliophile says:

    I know, there is an amazing amount of super-helpful information on this meme. I’m favoriting posts left and right!

  14. Oh I lover your Google document. I had one I was using for a while, then switched to paper planner where all of my other stuff is logged, but this colour coded idea is great. Perhaps it will even help me get caught up. :)

  15. Great tips! Yes to never stop learning: I’ve been around for almost two years and I learn new how-to thing every single day. And I can still use all the tips I can get, so thanks! :)

  16. I find it really helpful to read post like this. I’m a blogger for some time now but I still feel like I don’t know what I’m doing. I’ve wanted to try a meme for a while now but it looks like too much work and I don’t have a lot of free time… Does it take a lot of planning and time to make the post and all that?
    I feel like I’m trying too hard to make the blog a nice place for everyone but I almost never get feedback on my posts and it’s hard because I don’t know if people don’t like them of they just haven’t seen them. Any ideas how to change that? :)

    Thanks for the great tips. They are really helpful!

    • thebusybibliophile says:

      As for the memes, some of them can be especially time consuming. For me, the Top Ten posts take more work than the others, but most of them are fun to think about. The Book Boyfriend meme is another one that takes some time. The good thing is you don’t have to participate every week if you don’t want to. I look ahead and pick all the Top Tens coming up that interest me and plan to do those. When you do them, make sure to link back to the meme host’s linky and visit the other blogs that are participating.

      Participating in memes could help you gain more readers. Also, visit other blogs and make comments on their reviews, talk to people on Facebook and Twitter. I think you just need to give it some time and really get yourself out there. You won’t have a ton of readers immediately, but if you keep at it, they will come.

      I’m like you, in that most of my comments come from meme posts and not my reviews, but I know that I’m getting there, just by continuing to put honest, good content out there.

      • Thanks for the tips… I’ve started to make some changes and I’m already using Google docs to keep a schedule. I’m planing some stuff for my blog and I’ll keep working on it. It takes time but it’s fun and I love it.

  17. Thank you for #5! I am just getting started with making my blog more public and I was starting to feel a bit of pressure. So many of these blogs are so well done, so organized and I don’t know how they read and post so much. There is no way that I would ever be able to post every day or even more than once a week. As of now, I just read and review and with all my RL responsibilities, it’s nice to hear that my blog can be whatever I want it to be.

    Thanks for the encouragement!

    …April @ smartgirlsread.blogspot.com

    • thebusybibliophile says:

      April, I’m so glad you were able to get something from my post. You are absolutely right, your blog is yours, and you shouldn’t compare it to anyone else’s. Do what you are comfortable doing and your blog will be great. Good luck!

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