After celebrating two years of blogging here at Cover to Cover last week, I thought now would be the perfect time to reflect on the ten things I’ve learned from two years of book blogging. Oh, and if you haven’t already, be sure to enter my blogoversary giveaway; two lucky winners will get to choose a book from my list of 5 star reviews.
1. Be bold. Sometimes you just have to take a chance and hit publish. Gutsy is better than boring, right? Last week, I was a little nervous to hit publish on my Dear (Bad) Publicists and (Uninformed) Authors post, but it has gotten such amazing feedback! A week later, I’m glad I decided to be a bit brazen and go with my gut to write a post that had been bubbling inside of me for weeks.
2. Get personal. Of course, one thing we all have in common as book bloggers is that we’re bookworms. But we also all have personal lives, and it’s okay to write about things other than books once in awhile (or more than once in awhile!) on your blog. When I ran my first 5K in March, I knew it was something important that I wanted to share with my readers and I was amazed by the outpouring of support and encouragement. Generally, when I discover a new book blog, I begin reading it because I like the reviews and content, but I continue reading because I like the blogger.
3. Be helpful to fellow bloggers. Some of my most popular posts are when I offer blogging tips and advice to fellow book bloggers. Like this Google Reader 101 post, this book blogging pet peeves and quick fixes post and this layout tips post. We’re all looking to get better at this whole blogging thing; share the love and be helpful to other bloggers.
4. Seek out opportunities to develop professionally and personally. When I started blogging, I knew nothing about the publishing industry. Through reading book, writing and publishing blogs, I slowly started gaining knowledge about the field. When I wrote about studying PR on the blog two years back, young adult author Kristin Walker reached out to me and asked me to help her promote her debut novel A MATCH MADE IN HIGH SCHOOL. Now two years later, I’m offering my publicity services to other authors who need help promoting their books or creating a stronger online presence. Who knew I’d find my passion (and freelance work!) through book blogging?
5. Write thoughtful and engaging posts. A post is successful when it gets readers thinking and engaging. I love posts filled with great discussion in the comments like these two posts: Where Are All The Books For Twenty Somethings and My Name is Jessica and I Read YA,
6. Participate in features/memes. Joining in weekly features/memes like In My Mailbox hosted by Kristi at The Story Siren, Top Ten Tuesday hosted by Jamie at The Broke and the Bookish and Waiting On Wednesday hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine have helped me find so many new blogs that I otherwise likely wouldn’t have discovered. Plus, if you’re ever stuck for content, joining in one of these features usually helps get those creative juices flowing. But beware of participating in too many features a week; you’ll want to offer your readers reviews and original content to keep them interested!
7. Write reviews soon after finishing a book. Sigh. Easier said than done, right? My reviews are 100x better when I review them a few hours after finishing a book (or at least before beginning another book). I remember so many more details, and my thoughts and feelings are still raw. Makes for a much more engaging and exciting review. Plus, I feel like a complete idiot when I hold off reviewing a book so long that I have to re-read the summary to jog my memory.
8. Love your Google Reader. If you are a blogger, you should be using Google Reader or some other RSS reader. I promise, it will save you time and make reading blogs a completely seamless experience. And when you use your Google Reader? Be sure to organize the blogs you read into different categories to help prioritize your reading.
9. Write honest reviews. Accept the fact that you won’t love every book you read- and that’s okay! But as a blogger, it’s our responsibility to honestly review books on our blogs. While writing negative reviews can be difficult, there’s a definite way to do it graciously and without personally bashing an author or their work. Bloggers who write honest reviews gain respect much more easily than other bloggers.
10. Never stop learning. Even though I’ve been blogging for two years now, every day I learn something new as I write book reviews, hone my own writing skills and read other book blogs. Blogging is continuously changing and evolving and I’m always seeking to learn more and continue improving Cover to Cover.
What have you learned in the time you’ve been blogging?