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Advice for Starting a Blog

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My Advice for Starting a Blog

You may have noticed that I’ve been blogging here for a while (3 years? I don’t even know >.>), but what you may not know is that I recently have been getting a second blog up and running for my research lab (science!). I still remember back to when I was first starting up this blog and I’ll tell you a secret: I didn’t even know about the book blogging community! I just wanted to make a blog to try it out and reading was the only hobby I had ever stuck with long term so it seemed to be a reasonable thing to blog about, ha. If you really want to take a walk down memory lane with me, go ahead and check out my original WordPress.com blog ;-).

In any case, I frequently see advice from experienced bloggers to people thinking or in the process of starting a blog (such as Kelly’s post that originally inspired this one) and to be honest, those articles kind of overwhelm me even though I already have a blog D:

I’m definitely not saying that it is bad to plan, but I worry that someone thinking of starting a book blog will see all the advice out there and get overwhelmed and not try it out. My main piece of advice therefore is this: it’s okay not to do everything all at once in the beginning! When you first start your blog, no one will be reading it anyway so it’s okay to change things, change everything, early on. Look at me! I changed my blog name, address, theme, everything basically!

I think that all the advice out there is still helpful because they are great things to think about like:

  • What kind of focus do you want your blog to have, since this can help you choose a name and theme that fits all you want to talk about (it doesn’t have to be just books! It doesn’t have to be all genres of books! Go crazy!).
  • Whether you want to use a pseudonym and avatar to protect your privacy or not. This is honestly the most important thing to consider because it is the one thing that you can’t really go back on very easily once your name is out there.
  • Maybe write a post or two before officially opening your blog so that you have a buffer, but I very much advise starting with one post a week, maybe two or maybe every two weeks, since it takes some time to get used to writing posts and thinking up content. Don’t stress yourself out trying to prep seven posts a week when you’re trying to figure everything else out too!
  • Maybe think about whether you want to go self-hosted right away, but probably just go with a free platform until you know whether you like blogging or not ;-).

But sometimes you just have to jump in with both feet, pick a name you think you like, and start posting! The book blogging community has gotten pretty huge, it is true, but we’re all still excited to hear what you have to say about your latest read.

What I’m basically trying to say is don’t worry about making a mistake and not doing something perfect the first time because we’ll forgive you! Here are some things that I probably didn’t do right at first:

  • Changed my blog name and didn’t redirect my original blog >.>. I still get a hit on that site now and again and keep thinking that I should officially redirect it, but it just doesn’t seem that important either ;-).
  • Posted really short and probably ridiculously unhelpful reviews of books that I had read a long time ago and therefore couldn’t really remember. I applaud bloggers who can write eloquently about a book they read a month ago, much less a year ago!
  • Almost certainly messed up the first giveaway I hosted. I don’t really remember the specifics now (at least I say I don’t >.>), but I’m pretty sure that I had to Google how to check if someone was following me on Twitter….
  • Posted those annoying “I followed you, follow me back!” comments *hides*
  • Made a fool of myself on Twitter. I still remember how excited I was when Giselle favorited a joke I made in response to her, it was a big moment for me, I thought about that joke for a long time ;-).
  • Posted sporadically for a while, disappeared for a while when school got crazy, and then finally came back and actually started keeping to a schedule, ha.
  • Sent out ARC requests that were never answered, oh well!

And I think I turned out all right, right???? You’re going to make mistakes or change your mind or become more interested in some other hobby for a while (but really, we always come back to books in the end ;-) ), and we’ll all still be here for you because we’ve all been through the same thing :). So just go for it!

Group hug! But seriously, do you have any questions for me about starting a blog or maintaining a blog?

Anya from On Starships and Dragonwings-Anya

© 2014, Anya. All rights reserved.

Comments

  1. I did the whole thing where I wrote ridiculously short and unhelpful reviews of books I hadn’t touched for months. When I started my blog, it was just to give myself a way of discussing books because I didn’t have a lot of friends who read as much as I did. Discovering the book blogging community made me so happy!

    My biggest advice is that if you decide to go self-hosted, get the Ultimate Book Blogger plugin BEFORE you’ve written upwards of 300 reviews, because adding the info to all the old ones was a major pain. :P
    Grace recently posted…“Prince of Thorns” by Mark LawrenceMy Profile

  2. Wow, thanks for sharing so many…interesting experiences as a blogger. We all learn from our mistakes :D
    Kat Stark @ Not Yet Read recently posted…Review: Sublime by Christina LaurenMy Profile

  3. Congrats on three years. :) Yeah I don’t think many of us had a clue what we were doing when we started. I agree, it’s find to change things up and figure it out. I think kind of blog just kind of happens too. lol at followed you comments. I did the opposite, I just read and never commented. Great post!
    Molly Mortensen recently posted…Indie Book Review: The Empyrean Key By JL TomlinsonMy Profile

  4. I totally agree! Great advice. Although back when I started no one really thought of using a fake name. If I were to start a blog now I would.
    Savannah recently posted…Review: FeralMy Profile

    • Yeah, I feel the same way. I didn’t think that I could identify with a pseudonym as well, but then I realized that I went by pseudonyms plenty when I was gaming, so I probably could get used to it, haha, oh well!

  5. I always love reading about other bloggers experiences of how they started their blog and what they think is important. It’s true not many people are going to see it in the beginning anyway!
    Tabitha @ not yet read recently posted…Review: Sublime by Christina LaurenMy Profile

  6. Great post! I think you struck a good balance between offering helpful advice and encouraging freedom and experimentation. Because there are so many awesome established blogs out there, when I started I felt like I should be doing what they were doing (e.g., all the memes, 20 billion reviews, tons of giveaways, etc.), but I ran some trial and error and figured out a schedule that worked for me and didn’t drive me insane.

    And now, I still sometimes feel like I have to be professional and perfect and blah blah blah; but I keep reminding myself, this is still a hobby, not a job, so anything goes. I’ve been thinking about switching up my blog design again. I’ll probably wait until after the LSAT so I have time to deal with the inevitable glitches, but the point is I CAN. Feel the power, Kronk! :D
    Kel @ Booked til Tuesday recently posted…Art It Up! – ElsaMy Profile

    • Thanks :D Hehe, I set a high bar I know ;-P But I think you’ve found a great balance since I certainly love your content :D

      Oo, what are you thinking for the new design??

  7. Definitely good advice!

    I’ve been blogging in one form or another since the late 90s, back when having an online journal was considerably less respectable. I remember actually being mocked for it in high school. Seems a bit funny to me now that the very same people who mocked me for it now typically have blogs of their own and probably don’t remember making fun of me for mine. :p

    It’s funny how many people hear that I do bookblogging and see the perks I get and have the reaction of, “Wow, how can I get in on that?!” And then I explain that I’ve been doing this for almost 5 years now, have put a lot of work into it, have improved so very much since I began, and it’s not just something where you can post, “I liked this book because the characters were funny,” and have publishers throwing free books at you faster than you can read them.

    That’s the one thing I stress to people who want to start blogging about something seriously. It may be fun, it may be a hobby, but it’s also work. And you don’t always get benefits equal to the work you put in. Most of the time, the benefit you get is just the fun of talking about the subject that interests you. If you can’t handle that, then especially review blogging isn’t for you. And like anything else, you’re not going to be awesome and well-known right away. That’s more work, building your content and your presence and using social media and commenting on other similar blogs and the whole shebang. So many people see review blogs as a quick way to get free stuff, and it is anything but that!
    Bibliotropic recently posted…Flight of the Silvers, by Daniel PriceMy Profile

    • Yeah, you really have to enjoy blogging about anything in order to get any benefits because the main benefit will be the enjoyment of blogging, not free stuff! Friends are a major plus too *hugs* :D Haha, in this age, it’s unlikely you’ll ever become that well known since there are so darn many blogs out there already D:

  8. I think it depends a lot on WHY you want to start blogging, but yeah, I’d have to say that the most important advice is probably the most simple.
    1. JUST DO IT
    2. Have fun
    The end. :) And maybe with a caveat to not be afraid to let your blog evolve and change as you figure out what you want to do with it.

    • Definitely, I almost had a point along the lines of “if you’re starting a blog for free books, just go to the library” haha, but I decided it was too snarky ;-).

  9. Love this post! I did the followed you, follow me comments. I did the reviews of books I’d read earlier in the year and didn’t remember that well. I did the stupid twitter comments. And I had horrible design. But I figured things out and found my place. I’m still learning – haven’t sent arc requests yet, but plan to in 2015 – and I change my mind frequently. But the point is to enjoy yourself and definitely do!
    Berls @ Fantasy is More Fun recently posted…Sunday Post | 64th EditionMy Profile

    • *hugs* We can just be happy we learned ;-) I’m excited for you to start requesting ARCs, let me know if you want any help :D

  10. I remember the tons of mistakes I made when I first started. I know I still make mistakes now. You’re right, worrying about the mistakes you might make is not going to help. Great advice, Anya!
    Ruby recently posted…Reading Blogs & Eating Popcorn #6My Profile

    • I know people who are so obsessed with being perfect that they spend hours reading over and tweaking pieces of writing before I force them to put it aside, haha, they would be so much more efficient if they chilaxed a bit ;-)

  11. Yeah a lot of advice posts can look intimidating, but I like all your advice! Especially not worrying about making mistakes. That always happens but we have to do them to learn from them in the end. I tried to have so many posts up a week when I started but I wish I’d taken it slower. Now I’m in my own groove and it works better for me, but I’m still learning. That’s one thing you could add, you’re always learning and never perfect! :)
    Kelsey recently posted…Showcase Sunday (74)My Profile

  12. I love how honest you are. It makes me feel better that we all have “those” moments. :-)
    Brittany t recently posted…(SNEAK PEEK)Review: A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. SchwabMy Profile

    • Mwahaha, I am perfectly happy embarrassing myself so that we can all accept that we do those silly things once in a while ;-)

  13. Hahaha when I started blogging, I had no idea there was a whole blogging community. Plus I make so many changes with my blog, but it’s fine because everyone loves it anyways :D So yep, it takes a while to get everything settled in (about 6 months maybe?), but it’s definitely worth it!
    Valerie recently posted…Stacking the Shelves #14 (Or How I Am Drowning in Piles and Piles of Work)My Profile

    • Exactly! I just wanted to post some reviews out into the ether ;-). Yeah, six months of actually trying things out sounds about right, though mileage may vary depending on how much time you put into it during those six months!

  14. Great tips for new bloggers. A lot of it is just figuring out your blogging style and interests.
    Julie recently posted…That’s what HE said Thursday- November 20, 2014My Profile

  15. Great advice both for new and old bloggers! I completely agree with not worrying about mistakes. Most people will either not notice them anyway or just forget about them very quickly. When I first started blogging, I had never used twitter and only used facebook to wish “Happy Birthdays” to friends and I still haven’t managed to figure out how to use facebook for my blog in a useful way.

    I still do the disappearing when school gets crazy. I have managed to plan and schedule a few posts for the next few weeks (exams ahead!), but when I don’t have the time to schedule anything, I disappear for a short while.
    Hellen recently posted…Review/Reseña – The Loneliness of the Long-Distance Time Traveller – Joanne HarrisMy Profile

    • I just ignore facebook these days, since it doesn’t really seem to matter for book blogging anyway. It’s totally fine to disappear when life gets crazy, I suspect most of us follow so many blogs that we only notice when someone comes back since then we see their awesome blog content again :D

  16. Technically I’ve been blogging for a while, but I didn’t *really* get into it until this summer, mostly because I wanted to ease into it. I don’t think I even commented on another blog until like May of this year. >.> It can be really hard not to fangirl/fanboy on twitter! Philip Pullman responded to one of my tweets thanking me for my “generous review” of The Golden Compass…I took a screenshot and posted it to facebook LOL. I’m still not over how awesome that was ;)
    Danya @ Fine Print recently posted…Review: Burn For Me by Ilona AndrewsMy Profile

    • Hehe, I did that too when I started and so I don’t even really celebrate a blogoversary because I have no idea when to count as my blog birthday! OMG I would totally still fangirl over PHILIP FREAKING PULLMAN responding to a tweet! *swoons*

  17. I still remember when I started my blog, I had been co-blogging for a while so I already knew some things, but I still made a fool out of myself a few times and did those comments that didn’t really add anything. Then I stopped visiting and commenting on other blogs, before finally figuring out a better way to comment.

    My reviews were very different at first and I felt like I was just rambling a bit, before I found a system that worked for me. I did redirect from my old to my new blog, but something went wrong, so the link to specific posts doesn’t redirect to the same post on my new blog, but to the home page instead. Never managed to fix it and some old posts still have wonky formatting.

    I agree with you that making mistakes is part of being a new blogger and that’s okay, you can’t do everything perfect at first and eventually you’ll find out what works for you. I think this is some great advice for new bloggers!
    Lola recently posted…Lola’s Ramblings: Favourite and not so favourite genresMy Profile

    • Oo co-blogging definitely gives you a leg up lucky girl ;-). I figure that in another couple of years I’ll look back at what I’m currently doing and shake my head still, oh well! Just gotta have fun in the process :D

  18. I’ve been blogging on and off for years. This is my first review blog, and first WordPress though. It still amazes me the things that get people to find my blog. And I’m constantly finding out new things that I hadn’t known about earlier.

    Like, I only a week or two ago figured out about CommentLuv. *laughs* And I’m STILL getting sign-ups on my old blog, even with a huge bright banner saying it was no longer at that address. And not having updated the old blog in more than a month. I’m sure most of those are spammers, but it still makes me laugh when I get the “you got followed at…” e-mails.

    Oh, I know what to ask you. What do you use to keep track of your site stats? A particular plug-in? Something else? I noticed I got 500 click-throughs for Amazon yesterday according to Amazon. But only 1 registers in my site stats. *so confused*
    Silvara recently posted…When I’m Not Reading…My Profile

    • Woot CommentLuv :D I figure most of the sign ups on the old blog are spam accounts anyway since no human would do that haha

      I use the Google Analyticator plugin to have Google Analytics track everything for me, it seems to be the most accurate and detailed option since you can dive in deep to figure out pretty much anything you want!

  19. I LOVE THIS. I had no idea what I was doing when I started blogging, and I’m still taking baby steps even though I’ve been blogging for a year and a half. I just kind of post when I feel like it, randomly decide to join in on features/readalongs/other events. I don’t think I really got the hang of it until this summer, actually :)
    Kritika recently posted…Sci-fi month: “Because Science!” (a rant)My Profile

    • Yey! Yeah, blogging how you want to blog is a big part of it too I think, so jumping in and out of features whenever the wind moves you is a great way to figure out what you like to do :D. I used to do a lot more read-alongs until I realized that they kind of stressed me out, haha

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