Hello and welcome back to Bookending Spring on the Nine Tale Vixen blog! If you’re new to Bookending Events, they’re quarterly (seasonal) events aiming to bring the book blogging community closer together; this spring, the optional theme is organization and cleaning. If you’re new to my blog — hi, I’m Isabelle and it’s nice to meet you! If you’re a returner — welcome back, friend!
The past couple of days have been lots of fun for me, and I hope you’ve gotten some inspiration from my prompts and from Bookending Spring as a whole!
For my last day as your host, in the spirit of spring and new life, I’d like to take you back to the beginning … of your own blogging journey.
If you were to restart your blog / bookstagram / other media account knowing what you know now, what (if anything) would you change? What tips would you give to newbie bloggers?
Disclaimer: By no means do I consider myself any kind of authority on blogging; these tips are all based on my own experiences and preferences. Take what you find useful and leave the rest — or ignore it all. Whatever floats your boat.
Things I Would Change
- Put more thought into my blog name and branding. I read a lot of advice to “just get started” and I certainly don’t advocate fussing over it for so long that you never start the blog, but I became disenchanted with my non-cohesive brand less than a year in.
- Basically, find a happy medium between “perfecting” your blog design and diving headfirst into blogging.
- Also, think about your hook. In a world full of book blogs, what makes yours noteworthy? (This is one that matters to me which I’m working on — but if it doesn’t matter to you, by all means disregard this!)
- Claim your matching social media handles unless you’re 100% sure you won’t be using them. I’ve never been a big fan of Twitter or Instagram, but it was really nice to have the option later on.
- Rebranding is an option, of course, but it’s a logistical hassle. By the way, if you change your URL, make sure to update the link in your WordPress profile so it’s easier for people to hop to your blog (whether they’re returning comments or checking out their new follower).
- Put more effort into the About page and review policy. When I’m thinking about following someone, I often start with their About page just to get a sense of who they are. And that first review request may come much earlier than you expected.
- Write a review policy even if you’re not interested in ARCs. Even if it seems authors don’t read it. At the very least, it’ll help you define your boundaries with regards to reviews. And it’s edifying to look at how other bloggers set theirs up; just don’t directly copy from anyone!
- Write more posts before you even start publishing them. Beyond giving you some breathing room in those first few days/weeks/months, it’s a low-pressure opportunity to play around with the WordPress editor and get the hang of blogging.
- Also, reviews aren’t the only posts you can make. I know, shocker.
- Bloghop, bloghop, bloghop. Even if you don’t have much to comment, you can support other bloggers by leaving likes! And if you’re too shy for that, I would still recommend at least looking at others’ blogs. Some things (like book blogging conventions) you just gotta learn through exposure and it’ll also give you ideas for blog design, posts, et cetera.
- Try to leave meaningful comments. While you may not always have something specific or genuine to say, you also don’t have to comment on every post you read.
- Discord servers are full of nice, helpful people. We’re all just trying to figure this blogging thing out.
- Related, get feedback from other bloggers! Sometimes you think something looks fantastic, but others might find it too cluttered or hard to read. Yes, it’s your blog, and that’s exactly why you can’t be totally objective.
- Blogging planners and spreadsheets are a lifesaver. (Kal’s template is a great place to start.)
- Make sure it’s easy for people to follow your blog. Most people put the WordPress/Blogger widget right in the sidebar.
- If you think you’re likely to change blog themes in the future, use the read-more function even if your current theme takes care of it. Some themes make you manually insert it into each post, and it’s a lot less work for your future self.
- Err on the side of over-citation. Sure, no one’s going to take off [literal] points for missing a source here and there, but better safe than sorry. And it’ll keep you honest — no plagiarizing other bloggers, and no stealing images!
- When I’m inspired by someone else, I make a note of that along with the idea so that I can credit them. This might be above and beyond, but it’s good practice. The majority of bloggers will appreciate it.
- When pingback-ing others’ blogs, link to specific posts (most recent is conventional, if it’s not related to a specific post) or the About page, not the homepage. People don’t get notified when you link to their homepage.
- Not always relevant cross-platform, but the vast majority of book bloggers are on WordPress. So the point stands.
- If other platforms (Goodreads, Twitter, Instagram, etc.) will be part of your online presence, learn the etiquette for each social media site. For example, when replying to a Twitter thread where multiple people are tagged, untag the other people who don’t need to see your reply.
- Preview your posts before scheduling/publishing. Proofread for typos and incomplete thoughts. Break up monster paragraphs. Check the overall formatting, because it probably looks different than it did in the editor.
- Given the opportunity, would you go back and restart your blog? Why or why not?
- What’s the single most important thing that a new blogger should know?
- How has your approach to blogging changed as you gained experience?
If you do this prompt, don’t forget to link back to this post!