When I first started blogging a couple of months, I was incredibly overwhelmed by everything the blogosphere had to offer. I didn’t understand the first thing about blogging organization, or how to get more followers, or why people wouldn’t visit my site. I think every new blogger has that moment when they realize that when they became a blogger, they signed up for a lot more than what they originally thought.
And that’s completely normal! This whole post is for anyone just starting out, or anyone who just wants a few tips to make blogging easier so you can spend more time having fun and less time stressing about anything and everything. I’ll be the first to admit, I’m definitely not an expert on this topic. I’ve only been blogging since October, but I thought I would give you some realistic tips that I think will really help you out.
I’m putting organization first because it is really is the most valuable thing you can have when it comes to blogging. I’m not saying that you have to have an in depth organization system, but you should have some idea of how you’re going to run your blog. Whether you like to plan out all your posts in advance, or you just like to have a general idea of what you’ll post in mind. Being organized will help you keep yourself sane when it comes time for a post to go live. It’ll help keep you from furiously trying to write a post 10 minutes before it’s supposed to go up (trust me, I speak from experience when I say it is not fun and it probably won’t be your best work).
Here are a few tips to help keep you organized:
- Take advantage of google calendars. You can plan blog posts in advance and see if you need to move or add any posts to the week. Also, you can color code things, and I’m a firm believer that colors make everything better.
- Tag your posts! Both wordpress and blogger allow you to add tags to your posts. If you do this, it’s much easier for people to navigate your blog and find certain types of posts. For example, some of my most popular tags are review, book meme, discussion, etc. When doing reviews, I also tag the author and the book title, too. This way, someone could easily find all my, say, discussion posts in one place by clicking on the tag at the bottom of my post. I’m not sure if blogger has this, but wordpress also allows you to sort things into categories. You could organize your reviews into categories if you want. Really, it’s up to you how you want to keep yourself organized.
- Try and set some time away every once in awhile to get caught up on posts for the upcoming week. Setting time aside specifically for blogging can help you get a few of those posts for the week out of the way and take some stress off your shoulders (also, you’ll have more free time for reading!).
- Schedule posts in advance!!!! This goes hand in hand with the bullet point above. Scheduling posts ahead of time can really help you out. If you know you won’t have the time to write a post the day before it’s supposed to go live, it’s a good idea to write it in advance. Both wordpress and blogger allow you to set the time when the post will go live. Just a reminder that it’s in military time, so if you want the post to go up at 12:00 am, you’ll have to schedule it for 00:00.
- Evernote is a really great app that can help you keep track of your post ideas. No matter where you are, as long as you have your phone, you can write down your post ideas. You never know when inspiration will strike, so it’s a good idea to have an app like this. Or, you can use the notes app in your phone, like I do. Both work just as well, but I know a lot of people swear by Evernote.
- This is a classic answer, but you really can’t go wrong with goodreads. If you don’t know about it already, it’s a website that lets you keep track of the books you’ve read, are currently reading, and books you want to read. You can also sort books onto shelves; for example, I have shelves for all genres, and I also have a shelf for books that have my OTPs. You can organize it however you like, which is great! (Also, when you’re writing reviews, the information about specific books is really helpful when formatting a review)
Social media will become your best friend in the blogging world. It’s how you connect with other bloggers and authors, promote your posts, and find new books to read! I’ve met some of my best friends on social media, and it’s also helped me grow my following immensely. These are some of the best social media sites (you don’t have to sign up for all of them though! Your choice, of course 🙂 ):
Here are some general tips for navigating social media:
- Twitter is a great place to meet new friends! I know it might seem scary at first, but all you have to do to start a conversation is say something like “hi [insert username here]! what are you reading right now?” or something else. Basically, I promise bookworms are nice and will welcome you into the conversation. If you don’t know where to start, you can talk to me! My username is @alexs_bookshelf 🙂
- If you write/schedule your posts ahead of time, you can also schedule tweets! This way, you don’t have to worry about promoting your post the day it comes out–Tweetdeck will do it for you! Tweetdeck allows you to schedule tweets in advance so as soon as the post goes live, everyone will know! It’s a really invaluable tool, and I wouldn’t be able to survive without it.
- Still on the topic of twitter, one of the best ways to find new friends/authors to obsess over/books to obsess over is to participate in a twitter chat! Twitter chats are usually 2 hour long events where a host asks a question and everyone responds to the question using the chat hashtag. Lots of hosts have reminder DMs so you won’t forget when the chats are; some popular chats are #RQWN hosted by Nori, #BHPChat hosted by Sarah and Emily, and #ASQWW hosted by Gabi.
- Goodreads is a useful tool when it comes to cross posting your reviews. It can help you expand your following across multiple platforms, and it’s really nice to see people find your reviews helpful!
- Bookstagram is a mashup of books + instagram. It’s where people post pictures of books, and it’s a very visually pleasing place. If you like photography and books, then this is a great place to expand your blog! Bookstagram is a wholly different community than the twitter community, but they’re both pretty great 🙂
A lot of people claim that stats for your blog don’t matter, but I won’t lie to you; they do matter. At first, your blog won’t get a lot of views, and there’s absolutely no way you can avoid this. It’s just life. But, there are ways to help maximize your stats and followers! Of course, I should say that you should be blogging for yourself, for fun, and not for the followers. Trust me–it’s not worth it to just get ARCs. You’re going to have to put a lot of effort into your blog, and it’s a hell of a lot better to have fun with it than to do it just to get free books. I know that it’s nice to see that people are viewing your blog (and actually coming back), so here are a few tips to help you with your blog growth:
- Bloglovin is your best friend! Not everyone will be able to follow you via wordpress or blogger, but with bloglovin, someone can follow you no matter what platform your blog is on. All you have to do is verify your blog, and then you can put a link to your bloglovin on your site. That way, anyone and everyone can follow you! Also, when requesting ARCs or counting totals, you should count your bloglovin’ followers too. (There’s also a free app, which makes it easy to view other blogs and follow them).
- The best way to increase your follower count is to host giveaways! People love free stuff, especially free books/bookish swag. Rafflecopter is a great way to host your giveaway; you can simply embed the contest into a blog post. If you want, you could also host twitter giveaways to, where someone has to retweet your tweet + follow you to enter. Contests are a win-win–you get new followers, and someone wins a prize. Just remember to promote your giveaway every now and then so people know about it!
- Comment on other blogs! I promise you, it will never get old when you get a comment on your blog. I still smile when I see every new comment that I get; you can make someone’s day by commenting on their blog! It’s a fun way to 1) find new blogs and 2) help people find your blog! When you comment on someone’s blog, they usually comment on your blog (or at least visit it). Again, it’s a win-win situation 🙂
- Be patient. Like I said before, you won’t gain 100 followers overnight. It’s going to take time and a hell of a lot of effort for your blog to grow. As long as you keep churning out posts and put effort into them, you’ll get new viewers and followers, I promise you. It just takes some time, so you might as well accept this fact now.
- Remember that your stats are not everything. I promise you, it may seem like it–I obsess over my stats all the time, and I bet almost every other blogger does too. And that’s okay–of course we want our blog to be successful. But we should also remember to take a step back and remember why we started blogging in the first place. I don’t know about you, but I would much rather have a dedicated group of people who always comment on my posts and make me smile than have a bunch of people view my posts but never comment or talk to me. Interactive followers are the best, and when it comes down to it, they’re the people who’ll make you smile when they pop up in your notifications.
Having original posts is what will make you stand out among every other blogger. Not all of your posts have to be 100% original–memes are always a good way to start out when it comes to posts–but original content is a surefire way to attract people to your blog. Here are some general tips to have original posts:
- Spice up an average post with a title image! For almost every post on my blog, I use a title picture. People like visual things, so a picture is sure to catch their eye. You don’t have to have any fancy skills to do this, either: I use my iPhone 5s camera to take the picture, the app VSCO to apply effects to the picture, and photoshop to add the title (you can get a free trial for photoshop here). It’s a little thing, but it adds something extra to your post.
- Write down your original post ideas somewhere you won’t forget them! You never know when inspiration will strike, so utilize apps like Notes or Evernote and write down any post idea you think of, no matter how stupid it might seem. You never know when you might strike gold with your ideas!
- So….how exactly do you come up with ideas for original posts? Hell if I know. Usually I come up with my original post ideas on a whim, but that’s not exactly the best advice, so I’ve come up with a few ways to create original posts.
- Write about what you love. For example, if you love Harry Potter, you could write a post sorting your favorite characters into the 4 houses. Or you could write about your favorite OTPs, because everyone loves a good romance. These are just examples, but you get the idea.
- Participate in blog events! For example, I participated in the Top 10 of 2015 event this winter, and the End of the Year survey 2015. It’s a fun way to get involved in the community and take a break from the typical book reviews and memes. You can also sign up for blog tours, but a lot of them require you to have average-higher stats, so don’t be upset if you don’t get chosen to be on one.
- Invite people to be a guest blogger! What’s better than inviting your friends to post on your blog? It’s an awesome way to have both original content and your friends involved with your blog.
- Discussion posts! Everyone loves a good discussion, considering they’re always my top performing posts. It’s really easy, because there’s absolutely no rules when it comes to writing a good discussion post. Simply all you have to do is come up with a topic that you think is interesting and write down all your thoughts about it. If you need some inspiration, here are some people who write damn amazing discussions: Claudia @ Penmarkings, Mishma @ Chasing Faerytales, and Cait @ Paper Fury.
- Graphics go a long way. A header for your blog can make it look instantly more appealing, and you can make one easily with photoshop. If you google free fonts, there are thousands that you can download to use to make graphics. I made my own header in about 10 minutes and it’s one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. You can also create a “signature” for the end of your post, or a blog button. A blog button is a graphic with your blog name that people can download and put in their blogroll. You don’t need to have one (I don’t) but it’s a helpful tool to have. You’ll never know when you’ll need it!
Ah, ARCs. If you don’t know, ARC stands for Advanced Readers Copy. They’re sent out to reviewers pre-publication so that they can get publicity for the book. Everyone wants to get an ARC; I’m not going to lie, it’s kind of awesome to read a highly anticipated debut before it’s released. But you have to have a distinguished blog before publishers will send you ARCs, and you have to have the stats to back you up. You might be disappointed after reading that, but fear not! Here are a few tips that’ll help you get ARCs, even if your blog is only a few months old.
- Digital ARCs are the best way to get ARCs when you’re just starting out. I use Netgalley, a website that you can sign up for and request ARCs from a digital catalog. You don’t even have to have an ereader to do this! I read all my digital ARCs on the kindle app on either my phone or my iPad. Netgalley is great, and there’s also another site called Edelwiess. EW has a bigger catalog than NG, but I’m not as familiar with EW so I don’t have any tips for that.
- Join the Sunday Street Team! It’s a mix of a blog tour and a street team created by the amazing Nori. You can sign up to be on an ARC tour (or you can request a digital ARC) for any tour she has, and it doesn’t matter what your stats are! Anyone is welcomed to join. That’s how I got to read and review The Love That Split the World by Emily Henry. Here’s the link to the SST page if you’re interested in joining.
- Don’t request ARCs as soon as you start blogging. Typically, publishers won’t send you anything until your blog is 6 months or older, but this isn’t a strict rule. I got my first physical ARC when my blog was 4 months old. When it comes to followers, I’ve heard varying answers. Some people say 200 followers is when it’s a good time to request, other people say 500, but again, these are all suggestions. For digital ARCs, your numbers can be lower, but typically the 200-500 range is when publishers will start accepting your requests on the reg. However, I got my first physical ARC when I had 125 blog followers, so again, not everything is set in stone.
- This post by Rachel @ A Perfection Called Books is invaluable post that has a whole bunch of into about ARCs. Erin @ The Book Nut also has this great post about an example email you can use when requesting ARCs. I’m inexperienced when it comes to ARCs, as I’ve only gotten 1 before, but there are tons of people with great guides and whatnot.
And I think that’s it! I really hope that you found at least some of these tips useful. Again, I don’t claim to be an expert at any of this. I’m still learning something new each and every day that I blog. I just hope that some of the things I’ve learned over the 4+ months I’ve been blogging is helpful 🙂
I really loved writing this post, and I would really like to know what you think of it! Below is an form where you can anonymously leave feedback on this post–you can also request more tips about specific things! So if you want to know exactly how I create my title images, or how to navigate netgalley, request away!
Did you find any of these tips helpful? Would you be interested in more posts like this? Let me know in the comments below!