Happy blog-day to me! This time last year I came home from an author event and started a book blog. What did I expect then? Maybe to connect with 20 or 30 people. To find adults with a theoretical/writing-based interest in children’s literature. In the intervening year my blog has gained 240 followers, and I have an extra 1500 on Twitter.
Thank you to every single follower. You are the reason I write this stuff. I love your feedback and opinions. I love talking to you about books, and hearing whether my review caught your interest.
I have made friends, even finally met a couple, and a couple of my quotes have appeared in the front of books I admire. Not bad for my little bloggie.
I don’t dish out blog advice on a regular basis because I have barely started learning and it has been written before. Written better. Occasions like this seem a good time to reflect, and I do think there is value in these posts for people just starting out. When I searched for blog advice last year, the questions I was asking were newbie questions. The things everyone had forgotten about. I also found a lot of conflicting advice.
Here are some learning-curves I hit. I can’t tell you the answer, because you will have to find your own right. I can tell you about the places where I have had to rethink or revise my approach. Negative Reviews:
The blogging community seems split on what is more difficult, a positive or a negative review. Personally, I find negative reviews harder. The difficulty is:
- how much to write
- what purpose your review serves
Some people say you must post them to maintain integrity. Others say you shouldn’t spread your miserable opinions. No subject causes more conflict in the kidlit community. You need to find your own answer, but these tips might help:
- never tweet an author or publisher into a negative review. Sounds simple, but it happens surprisingly often. I think this is because what you think of as a three-star or fairly enthusiastic review might come across as negative to someone invested in the book. Save author tweets for books you loved.
- don’t fall back on the cliches. We all do it in our early reviews ‘if I had been this age’ ‘I would have done xyz’ and ‘I would have given it four stars BUT …’ are review cliches.
Network beyond Twitter chats. Networking is about building connections with people. Twitter chats are a great place to start, but it wasn’t until I networked outside of scheduled chats that I made meaningful connections.
If you’re looking to build social platforms, you need to be flexible about the content you are willing to include. If you’re blogging for fun and stats don’t matter to you, write what you like when you like. My blog falls somewhere between. Writing chatty content was a big step towards building my stats.
Find the hosting which works for you – I started on Blogger, but didn’t really get going until I moved to WordPress. Free WordPress (.com) is easy to edit, and brings people to your posts through WordPress reader. Now I’m looking at self-hosting options a little too often to pretend I’m not considering it. My storage on free WordPress might see me until the end of the year. After that, I will have to self-host or delete old media. I’m not sold on self-hosting. I would love to redesign my website and have more flexibility to code links in, but free WordPress is like the training pool. It is safe. It is easy. Unless I expand my blog into something other than a hobby, I am not certain I want to move.
Use more than one social platform – Twitter is my main social media platform. It is where I have most followers and it is the format I find most useful for connecting with people. Ask yourself where you would be if your main platform closed overnight. I don’t spend hours of time setting up pictures for Instagram, but I have started to build my network. Discord is great for blogger chats.
What have you learned in your time as a blogger? Share your reflections below. 🙂