Saturday 21 January 2012

Busting the Newbie Blues in 2012!

    Busting the Newbie Blues a great event organized by one of my favourite bloggers Small Review is back, and I'm taking part again! I love this event because not only does it offer bloggers helpful advice and encouragement, it also enables me to find great blogs which for some reason or another might not be on my radar. 

    You can see my 2011 Busting the Newbie Blues post here if you want to check it out.

    You can find out more about the event here.

    When did you start your blog? 

    March 2010

    Do you ever still feel like a newbie? 

     Yes and No. At this point I feel pretty comfortable in my blogging skin, but then there are some days too when I feel totally out of the loop. I guess the thing is with the internet and with blogging is that it's a very fast moving medium, constantly evolving and changing. Sometimes I keep up, sometimes I fall behind. I don't think I'll ever stop learning.

    What has been the biggest challenge you’ve faced so far?  Did you make any mistakes new bloggers can learn from? 

    When I answered this last year I said my biggest challenge was dealing with HTML and fixing up my layout. That's still true, by the way. It's a constant struggle. These days I try not to mess with the HTML.

    Scheduling post and blogging regularly is always a challenge too. I can appear to be very organized --people often say this to me in my real life and I have to laugh in their faces. :-p I am Miss Last Minute. If I can get away with not planning something, I will do it.  I like being spontaneous. Trust me though, in blogging matters, scheduling is key. And it's something I'm still working on. At this point I know that scheduling posts for maybe three days is as much as I can hope for, though. Currently I don't have anything scheduled for next week. Hmmmm....

    Oh, and reading slumps. We blog because we love to read. And then we are sent books for review that we might not necessarily read, but we read them, because it's a new publishing contact, or because we were sent it for review and now we feel obligated. I've done this, and my advice to new bloggers is don't fall into that trap. Read for fun, read because you love to read, review what you want to review. You don't have to review every book you read. You don't have to read every book you are sent. That said, the majority of review books I receive are 'surprise' review books. If you are requesting all those review books, you probably want to be reviewing most of them  too!

    What did you find most discouraging about being a new blogger? How did you deal with this? 

     Comments! The lack of comments! I used to really stress about this. And then I stopped stressing. I usually get a fair amount of comments on my posts nowadays, but if you look back to this time last year, I used to get more. Because I was obsessed with comment counts. I thought that comments equaled success in blogging terms, and I wanted more, more, more. But while comments are nice, they're not the be all and end all.  If you want to receive comments on your blog, you have to give them. But then I decided that I didn't want to spend all of my free time commenting on blogs. So now I just comment when I can, and if people like my blog enough to comment, that's cool. If I notice you on my blog, I'll more than likely seek out yours and comment too. :)

    It's also discouraging if you comment over and over again on certain blogs and they never visit you in return. I know, I've been there. But I've probably done that too, and it's not intentional. It's not because I don't like your blog. I'll get their eventually. Like I said, I'm completely disorganized. I have very poor time management skills, and if anyone tells you otherwise, they're flat out lying!

    Also (I know, I know, I need to wrap this up--this is important, though!) This didn't apply to me as a new blogger, either because it wasn't happening, or maybe just because I wasn't aware of it, but I will say to new bloggers: don't be turned off blogging or reviewing because of recent events in the blogging/reviewing community. Just don't be. Write your honest reviews, and if anyone has a problem with that, then that's their problem, not yours. Honestly...

    What do you find most encouraging?

     The lovely community of bloggers I met when I first started blogging. A bunch of us started around the same time and now y'all are my book twins.

    Comments, too. I don't stress about having a whole lot of comments on my post, but it's still nice to get them, especially on book reviews. I like hearing what people think about my reviews, if they've felt the same as me about a certain book, or if they feel totally differently. I like to hear that too.

    If you could go back in time and speak with your newbie self, what five bits of wisdom would you tell yourself?

    Don't stress the follower count and don't stress over comments either. Blogging is a marathon, not a sprint. Stick with it and you'll get the followers and the comments.

    ARC's are good, but they aren't the be all and end all of blogging. You don't need to get ARC's to be a blogger. Additionally, your blog won't suffer if you never get an ARC.

    Remember: Quality not Quantity. One or two meme's once in a while is fine. A meme every other day, not so much. Concentrate on the reviews!

    You don't need to post every day. You don't need to stay awake until 1a.m to write that review. Seriously. It doesn't have to go live tomorrow. The next day will do.

    Remember why you started blogging and remember that blogging should always be fun. Don't ever take it too seriously. It's not a job.

    What do you like best about the blogs you read? Have you tried to replicate this in your blog? 

    I like blogs that have good quality, detailed and honest reviews. I don't want to read a blog that rates everything five stars, where every book is the best book ever, because that's just not true.

    I like a little personality and bloggers that are innovative with the features they do.

    I like clean and simple layouts. 

    I like nice people. Bloggers that whinge and moan. Not for me.

    Yes, I've tried to replicate all of this in my blog. Have I succeeded? You tell me. :)

    What do you dislike about blogs you’ve seen? Do you try to avoid this? 

    I dislike mean and bitchy reviews. I don't like writing negative reviews, but I do it, because I always want to be honest in my reviews. I never get personal, though.

    Also, reviews that tell me nothing other than the synopsis I already read on Goodreads.

    Meme filled blogs. I'm all good with memes, but I've seen blogs where everything is a meme.

    Cluttered layouts. MUSIC on blogs. I love music. But not on blogs. Countdown widgets that autoplay. Ugh.

    Oh, and complicated comment systems. I know they look fancy, but they are sometimes a waste of my time and I might just have to leave without commenting.

    I think I've avoided all of this. None of that here.

     How did you bring your blog to the attention of so many people?  

    Twitter - every blogger should utilize twitter. I'm very active on twitter & I get a lot of my traffic from there.

    Submitting to Search Engines and Book Blogger Directories.

    Commenting on other blogs, reaching out, saying hello.

    Blog Tours (although I'm not sure on how much traffic they bring) and giveaways! (Lots of traffic. Traffic jams!)

    When and how did you get your first ARC (or first few ARCs)?  

    I've looked back through my posts and it looks like my first review copy was Beautiful Malice by Rebecca James--one of my favourite books, so I got lucky!  This came about via a Waiting on Wednesday post I did about a month after starting the blog which the UK publisher saw (probably after I had sent her the link on twitter!) and got in touch.

    I contacted one or two UK publishers in the Summer of 2010 to inquire about blogger mailing lists,  and I'm still working with those publishers today. (I think the first publishers I contacted were Bloomsbury & Simon & Schuster--lovely people!)

    A lot of UK publishers offer review copies via twitter, and this is where I make most of my contacts/have gotten most of my review copies in the past.

    I've never requested very many review copies. It's tempting, but I have to stop myself. If I requested everything I'd like to read I'd never get anything done, and then everything would go insane!

    That's all! I hope you like this post! Feel free to ask questions and leave feedback, because as I said above, comments aren't the be all and end all, but I love them all the same! :)


    1. Such detailed responses! I think you've covered most of the things I like and dislike about blogs, too. Mostly I'm annoyed by too many memes and neon colors, though. I still haven't encountered this music that everyone is talking about, but I tend to keep the volume on my computer off.

      I think being a new blogger can be a benefit with all the drama right now. In a way, I don't expect any authors to come across my reviews and have the opportunity to be annoyed!

      Thank you for sharing!

      1. Thank you for reading! :)

        Too many memes annoy me too. I took part in quite a few when I started, but dropped most of them. Nowadays I just occasionally participate in Waiting on Wednesday - it's always been my fave meme.

    2. Oh, I know what you mean about the commenting thing vs. not commenting! I'm really used to a back and forth repertoire so it's weird to me when people don't respond in turn. I understand there's an issue of time too! It just feels a bit disheartening to me when it seems like people don't care about your comments because it's sort of like why bother commenting? Anyway, I like what you said about that issue!

      It's a good point you made about Twitter. I know how to use Twitter as a personal account but I'm not quite sure how to handle it for a blog. Wonderful answers!

      1. I have separate personal and blog twitter accounts. Mostly because I just talk lots about tennis on my personal account, and that would just bore most people! ;)

    3. I loved this so much Leanna, I decided to join in and do a post of my own.

      And yes to your question in no.3 I definitely think you've succeeded. Your's is definitely one of my favourite blogs :D

      1. Thanks you! :) Yours is one of my faves too. We still need to read The Distant Hours by the way! This is getting ridiculous...! ;)

        I'm glad you did a post too. I was just over reading it!

    4. "Oh, and reading slumps. We blog because we love to read. And then we are sent books for review that we might not necessarily read, but we read them, because it's a new publishing contact, or because we were sent it for review and now we feel obligated. I've done this, and my advice to new bloggers is don't fall into that trap."

      YES! I've gone through this cycle probably 3 or 4 times this year and have just had to take a week off from review books and read books I really want to read but haven't been able to get to because they weren't in the review stack. It's so easy to let yourself get weighed down by the requests and then the blog becomes work instead of fun. Loved all your answers Leanna!

      1. Thanks, Jenny! :)

        I totally agree. I try not to take on too many requests nowadays. When I feel like I'm reading review book after review book after review book it starts feeling like a little bit of a chore sometimes. It's good to mix things up, for sure!

    5. I'm glad to see you talk about scheduling posts. That's something I have never done in the past, but recently, I have tried to get ahead in posting so that I don't have huge gaps of time without anything going live. I'm glad to see that I am not the only one with that problem!

      Thanks for stopping by Des Absurdites =)

      1. Thanks for stopping by here too! :)

        Tell me about it! I'm so bad at scheduling posts. It really helps to keep things running smoothly, though.

    6. Thank you for this post! It was really encouraging for me, because I've started my blog in March 2011, but recently I'm not quite popular. Anyway, I keep updating posts and I'm sure someone will read them. :D

      1. Stick with it and things will keep improving! :)

    7. I love your comments about reading for enjoyment. I think that advice is spot-on: it can be so easy to fall into the trap of reading things that you don't enjoy, and therefore losing the spark that made you want to blog in the first place.

      I'm also not a big fan of memes or complex commenting systems. I'd rather people just skipped a day or two of postings rather than posting up pics of what's arrived in their mailbox (really, you're going to review it, so we'll see it, anyway!), and I hate fiddling around trying to figure out how to leave a comment on a blog. :)

      Stephanie @ Read in a Single Sitting

    8. This post was really helpful! All the stuff about quality over quantity, reviewing for fun, less memes more reviews, etc., are things that are great to hear for a newbie like me! Very encouraging and great advice!

      Thank you so much for visiting my blog! I appreciate it so much! And I'm looking forward to reading your reviews!

      Andrea (New Follower)
      The Overstuffed Bookcase

    9. Ha, I'm such a last minute person too. I sort of have a schedule for blogging - reviews on Tues/Fri (not fast enough reading/reviewing to do anymore than that!), IMM, WoW and anything extra like interviews, cover reveals, news, etc gets stuffed in between.

      I ignore most of the drama that's been spread around lately. I don't care to get involved, so I don't bother reading. I want blogging to say fun for myself, not stressful!

      Totally agree on commenting, twitter and ugh, bitchy reviews. You can write a negative review in an honest, respectful way. You don't have to bash on the author and go over the top with things, that's just hurtful =\

      So much in your post I agree with and even though I'm not really a 'new' blogger anymore (sometimes it feels like it, other times it feels waaay longer!) your post was still super helpful and inspiring :D

    10. Amen on not liking complicated comment systems or mean reviews :)

    11. Love the analolgy that blogging is a marathon, not a sprint:) Nice job!

    12. I completely agree with all your advice to your newbie self. When I was a newbie, I used to think I needed to post every day and to accomplish this, I would partake in tons of memes as fillers. Glad I decided that quality trumps quantity, like you, as I am much more relaxed now (not that writing thoughtful reviews doesn't take a lot of time and effort). I still need to work on scheduling and twitter though - I suck at those.

    13. I agree with all of your advice! It's difficult for me to not stress about comments, since it's so nice to hear what other people's opinions are. But I'm working on it.

    14. Agreed on all! I used to stress about comments. Still do sometimes, but I do what I can. I try to play catch I am now! lol I've been hitting some reading slumps lately. I get very stressed that I'm not reading books in time. But then I think...wait a minute books are out forever! I think it's okay to review a book after it's been out. Authors want their books to be read long after the release date.

      Honesty is the best policy! As a writer, I have a very thick skin and can take criticism, but it's important to be constructively critical and definitely not bitchy! Most important advice: Have fun!

    15. I am in love with your post! Thank you for participating again :)

      I was nodding along with all of your bits of wisdom and advice. I've either experienced them and learned the lesson, or I'm still trying to figure it out (like time management!!) I'm trying to balance commenting, blogging, reading, and real life. When I first started, I never realized how much time all of that would take.

      You have definitely accomplished all of the positive things you mentioned. Your blog is among my favorites. :)


    Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to comment. I really appreciate it!

    If you are a book blogger and have taken the time to comment, I will make sure to come visit your blog and return the favour. :)

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