Tuesday, November 29, 2016

How to Start Blogging

Thanks for reading! Be sure to enter my international holiday giveaway!

I believe it is safe to say that blogging is way more complicated and involves way more work then most of us think it does when we start. I've had this blog for over 5 years now, and I've seen so many bloggers drop off the face of the earth shortly after creating a blog, because it is so hard to get started. I struggled with starting myself and establishing a good reader base, and I probably wouldn't have been able to do it without my personal friend Alex from Electrifying Reviews.
For all of you who don't have an IRL friend to help you start blogging, I'm here for you! I will be highlighting the things I've found most helpful in not only picking this book blog off the ground, but also starting my makeup blog and my social news blog. 

#1: Create an ORIGINAL blog title

This step may sound overly simple, but I don't want to undermine the importance of having a blog title that isn't already taken, That way, if people are ever searching for your blog specifically, they won't be led to a different one by mistake. 
A good way to ensure your name is original is by making your domain the same as your blog title. Your host network will not allow you to create a domain that has already been used. For example, I wanted my blog to be titled "Brittany's Fantasy". To confirm this blog name wasn't already taken, I made "www.brittanysfantasy.blogspot.com" my domain, and it was approved meaning that it has not already been in use. If you want to see what is out there that is similar to your desired blog title, you can always google it and see what other sites come up. If you see that someone else has already used a blog title that you want to use, but they haven't used their blog in a long time, try emailing them and politely asking them to terminate their blog, so that you are the only one with that title.

#2: Create a READER FRIENDLY design and layout

It's so easy to get over-whelmed by all of the options you might have when it comes to designing your blog. It's important to personalize your blog by using things like the colors and the theme of your choice, but also understand that you are ultimately catering to your potential readers. With that in mind, it is best to keep your design simple, your font an average size and text, and a post width that is pretty wide compared to your sidebar(s). It's also a good idea to keep the items in your sidebar(s) to a minimum to avoid over-cluttering and irrelevant content. 
Of course, hiring a GRAPHIC DESIGNER to work on your blog is a great option to help make your blog stand out from everyone else's. There are many people out there who work specifically on designing blogs for all hosts like Blogger, Wordpress, etc. They will work closely with you to come up with a design scheme that you like and most of them will even install it for you, so that you don't have to worry about the coding process. Graphic designers are pretty easy to find if you just pop the phrase into Google, but they are pretty expensive ranging from, in my experience, $50 to $400+ depending on what you're looking for. Obviously, this might not be in everyone's budget, which is completely okay.

#3: Create accounts on ALL SOCIAL MEDIA

Okay, maybe not ALL. But, the more social media, the better. Apps such as Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, etc. provide great opportunities for you to connect with other people who are blogging about similar things while simultaneously giving you the perfect space to ADVERTISE the content that you post. For example, if using Twitter (highly suggested), then search and follow people who blog about the same topic as you, engage in conversation and be friendly towards them. You can also tweet about your posts and use hashtags that are relevant to spread the word. Be sure to make your handle/username/whatever the same as your blog title instead of your personal name, so that people can find you easier and don't forget to link your social media pages to your blog so that people on your blog can click the sidebar or footnotes to find your social media.
Most social media apps will also offer ways for you to promote your posts on them. For example, you can promote a Facebook page and target specific audiences and interests. On Twitter, you can use "cards" which are essentially ads that will also target specific audiences. These will help get your blog views, but I would be weary of these when you first start out because they can be expensive, will not produce many active readers, and results will definitely vary.

#4: Create QUALITY content for YOUR audience

The old saying that quality trumps quantity is most certainly true when it comes to blogging. While most readers would prefer if you updated you blog regularly (At least once a week), it is much better if you spend a lot of TIME and deep THOUGHT about the content you are creating, versus posting silly meaningless posts 100 times per day. 
"good" content is very subjective, but generally readers like to see nice interesting titles, quality pictures, and correct grammar. It is also better to post at a time that your audience is most likely going to be awake. Most blogs will have a way to check which countries your main audience is from (On Blogger, this will be under "Stats"), and it's probably not the best idea to post when that country's time is 3am on a weekday morning. But, if that happens to be your preferred time to write, you can always schedule your posts for a better time.

#5: Get INVOLVED with the blogging community

The world of bloggers creates a wonderful community that I would highly recommend engaging in. Remember that you are not the only blogger out there. Why should you expect people to follow you and comment on your posts if you don't follow others or leave comments on their content? To get the most out of the blogging community, we ALL need to support each other's sites. When someone comments on something of yours, spread the love by commenting on something of theirs too.
One great way to help get involved is by participating in weekly "memes" (No, not the funny pictures you laugh at on iFunny). Memes are usually hosted by one blog in which the creator of that blog provides a prompt every week that they create a response to. Everyone else who wants to participate leaves their link in a Linky or a comment leading to their own post that contains their own personal response to the same prompt. Then you visit everyone else's blogs to comment on their responses and they will do the same to yours. Here is a great list of memes that cover a wide range of subjects and here is a list more specifically for book bloggers. ANYONE can participate in any of these!
Another way is to get involved with the blogging community is to engage in Twitter chats. A lot of subcategories of blogging will have their own themed chats with new topics every week that everyone can participate in by using the allotted hashtag. For example, beauty bloggers have a chat every Sunday and Wednesday evening that anyone can participate in by tweeting with the hashtag "bbloggers". Fashion and Lifestyle bloggers also have their own chats, but I can't find one for book bloggers! Anyone know of one?

#6: Have FUN and STICK WITH IT!

Blogging takes an unbelievable amount of work, so it is easy to start feeling defeated when your follower outcome isn't what you originally anticipated. But, I promise that a good following comes with time, so keep remembering that it is supposed to be for fun and when you're not worried about gaining numbers, they'll start increasing before you can believe it. Especially if you follow my tips ;)

Thanks for reading, I hope I could help! What are your blogging tips?

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Thursday Quotables: Fallout

Thanks for visiting, don't forget to enter my latest giveaway!

Thursday Quotables is a fun weekly meme hosted by Bookshelf Fantasies!

My quote this week is from Fallout, the third book in the Crank series by Ellen Hopkins. The first time I read this series was years ago, but I decided to re-read them recently after remembering how much I used to love them. This series follows the life of a girl who abused drugs like meth, and how they have affected her and everyone in her life. Hopkins writes these books in a beautiful prose that is unlike anything I've ever seen before and it makes them even more interesting to read then they already are.

This quote is from the main character's daughter:
"Goddamn meth has ruined so many lives. 
Her life. 
Dad's life. 
My life. 
Friends' lives, because they use or because people they love use... It chews people up, spits 'em out, often unsalvageable. 
So why have I been a little tempted to make a spin with the monster?"
I still love this series as much as I used to! I highly recommend them to everyone of appropriate age, as they do contain a lot of adult material. It's so interesting to read about incredibly personal stories of addiction, and how drugs can ruin lives, but also what makes them appealing at the same time. (This series is based on a true story).

Have you read Fallout? What are you currently reading? Leave a comment below!

Monday, November 21, 2016

International Holiday Giveaway!

Fellow readers, I need some serious help. I just returned from a 4 year hiatus and I have no idea what's going in the magical world of books! In return for your gracious advice, I'm going to be giving one follower a $15 Amazon Gift Card on December 18th! This gives you just enough time to still put it to use for some holiday shopping for your loved ones...or for yourself!

The only requirement is that you must be a follower of this blog. However, there are quite a few other entry options that are pretty easy. The option that will give you the most entries is to comment on my previous post titled "I'm back?" Where I ask you guys for book requests, weekly meme requests, and graphic designer requests! Any suggestions you could give me on that post would be much appreciated.

I will edit this post to announce the winner on Sunday, December 18th. I will notify the winner by email, and after they confirm, I will send them the code for the Amazon gift card. If they do not answer my initial email within 48 hours, I will choose a new winner. This contest is open internationally, good luck everyone!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

I'm Back?

Hello there fellow readers!

It's been around 4 years since I've posted anything on this blog which is absolutely crazy to think about. I started this blog when I was just 14 years old and in high school. Now, I'm 20 and a junior psychology major in college! So much has changed in my life, including the amount I read. I hardly ever read for fun anymore, but have so much extra time on my hands, that I figured I should start it back up.

But, I have NO idea what is going on in the world of books anymore. I haven't a clue where to start in terms of reviewing, so I desperately need all the help I can get! I remember the Iron Fey series and the Mortal Instrument series both being very popular when I was last blogging, but I can only imagine that things are way different now! (Anyone remember those fantastic series though?)

I will start reviewing again as soon as possible, but book suggestions would be wonderful! What are some new releases you would like to see reviews on? Any other posts I should do? Know of any good graphic designers to re-amp my blog? Leave me a comment please!

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Hoppy Easter Eggstravaganza Hop Winner!

Thanks to everyone who entered the giveaway hop! It was a lot of fun to participate in and I had over 1,000 entries which is awesome! :) And the winner of the $15 Amazon Gift Card is....