My Discussion Topic This Week - Blogging 101 - What I did wrong when I started blogging.
It might be easier to ask the question 'what didn't I do wrong when I started blogging', but I'm taking the opposite approach so you guys can actually see what my mistakes were and maybe someone can avoid them if they're new or just starting up their blog. For those of you who are old timers, I'm not sure today's post will teach you anything you didn't already know, but maybe you'll get a laugh out of it and nod along, having made some of the mistakes perhaps? Anyway...
So I decided to start a blog and knew absolutely nothing about it. I did a google search and discovered that Blogger was very user friendly, so I went with it. I think Blogger may be where most everyone starts really because of that ease of use, and it's quick and easy to customize when you're starting out. I looked on the internet for free blog templates and used one of those for my new look and then slapped up a name.
Let me stop right there. One of the things I did wrong here was that I should have taken more time in selecting my name. For the first long while I blogged, I had a name I wasn't excited about, and one that didn't excite anyone else. I had put no thought into it at all, and it didn't get me anywhere. A lot can be said for the power of branding. Pick a good name, because it does matter. Renaming my blog to The Tale Temptress has made a huge difference. People may not know my actual name is Shannon, but they do know I'm The Tale Temptress. People find that easier on google, and I've gained new readers that way.
Other that, here's a nice little list of things I did wrong when I started out:
- I didn't organize myself well enough. I didn't keep any kind of listing of what reviews I had promised on what date. What ended up happening is that I missed some posting deadlines. This is not a good thing. You don't want to get a reputation as someone who can't keep deadlines, especially with publishers and authors because a) you may not get a second chance with them; and b) you might gain a reputation for not being, well, organized. I keep a spreadsheet now that has all the books I've agreed to review, either from the publisher or author (and I mark where it came from), with a post date. I view this every time I pick up a new book to read, so that I'm able to see if I should be reading a review book next because the post date is approaching, or if I can pick something from my TBR pile instead.
- I participated in Stacking The Shelves and Waiting on Wednesday, but I didn't keep track of which books I'd already listed on either of those memes. The problem with that is that a couple times I repeated the same books. This makes me look, yes, disorganized again. So now I have another tab in my spreadsheet for my Stacking the Shelves books where I note whether or not I've featured that book in a past, weekly StS post or not, and I have a tab for all upcoming books where I note whether or not I've put that book in a WoW post.
- I signed up for a Twitter account for the blog immediately, and I found Tweetdeck which automatically posts your blog posts to your Twitter account. Yay me! I was progressive. But what I didn't do was anything further. I let Tweetdeck tweet my blog posts but not much else. I didn't use Twitter to its full advantage. More on this in a later post. This leads to my next one....
- I didn't give kudos to authors and publishers on Twitter for books that I loved. More on this in a later post.
- I didn't visit other blogs. Yes, we're all busy, but what's the point of blogging if you don't visit other blogs? I started my blog because I love books and wanted to talk about them. But posting reviews of your own thoughts is only half of "talking." To really "talk" you have to have participants, and they aren't just going to find you and come back every week if you don't put in some effort to go talk to them too.
- I didn't comment on other blogs. You can't just visit and then move on. You have to comment. And not just a "cool book list" or "yeah, I like that one too." Offer them some substance. After all, they want the same thing you do... they want to talk. Whatever weekly memes you participate in are a great way to find blogs to visit. And you don't have to comment on them all. Don't waste time commenting on blogs that don't share your interests or don't like what you read. You may not make true connections that way. Plus there are way too many blogs to do it that way. Pick a few each week and connect. You'll probably end up with some favorites that you'll want to revisit because they'll become your buddies, or they'll become shining examples of what you want your blog to be, and you want to learn from them.
- I didn't comment on blogs that commented on mine. To me, it's not enough to just reply to someone who comments on one of your posts. I take it a step further. If you comment on mine, I'll reply back on my blog, yes, but then I'll follow you back to your blog and comment there as well. It's good to reciprocate. People may notice you that way because you're not just out for yourself. You're putting yourself further out there and saying you care about their interests also. It makes you a friendly blogger whose face people may want to see again. Especially if you give them something substantial.
These are just a few things I did wrong. Given some more time, I could really stack this list... but these are what I consider my biggest mistakes or problems. This post is the beginning of a Blogging 101- What I learned series. So check each Sunday for further tidbits, lessons, "learned it the hard way" confessions, and helpful ideas.
So was this post helpful? What about you? What mistakes did you make as a new blogger?