Hard Truths I’ve Learned About Book Blogging (& a few ways to cope with them)

I love book blogging, but there are some things about it that have been a little hard to accept.

I think that it’s natural for a community to always talk about the bright aspects of things. Would any of us be book bloggers if the cons of book blogging outweighed the pros? I don’t think so. But today I’ve been in a melancholy mood (guess the reason: it starts with s and rhymes with pool), and I wanted to get a little more real on the blog.

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Small WordPress Tips & Tricks that’ll Go a Long Way ft. html, themes & more!

This is the (hopefully) most anticipated sequel to my previous post!

This post and my previous post were originally part of one gigantic post that I planned to write called Tips I’d Give to New Book Bloggers, but then I realized that one half of the tips was related to WordPress, while the other had to do with how to build an audience.

These tips are things that I think a lot of newbie bloggers don’t know about. As a newbie, I didn’t know about these things, and I’m pretty sure other newbie bloggers, or maybe some veterans too, don’t know about them yet! So I’m here to impart the little wisdom I’ve gained in my half a year of blogging to those who need it!

HTML

Did you know that there’s a way to have different text sizes in the same paragraph? Shocking, right? Because I’m convinced that WordPress hates formatting–and it does–but luckily, html is here to help us undermine WordPress.

Simply choose to edit a part of your post as html, and you can do all kinds of magic. Here is the html coding I use to make my letters different sizes:

<p>regular text <span style="font-size: 20pt;">new size text</span></p>

To make the text bigger, I choose to make it 20pt, and to make it smaller, I use 8pt. But you can input any number and play around with different font sizes! These are just the ones that work for me!

There’s also a way to align two or more images in a row using html codes! This is pretty helpful if you want to align images of book covers!

42036538 42036538 42036538

I used this code format to align these three images of Gideon the Ninth:

<div>
    <img src="https://i.gr-assets.com/images/S/compressed.photo.goodreads.com/books/1546870952l/42036538.jpg" alt="42036538" width="154" height="238"/>
    <img src="https://i.gr-assets.com/images/S/compressed.photo.goodreads.com/books/1546870952l/42036538.jpg" alt="42036538" width="154" height="238"/>
    <img src="https://i.gr-assets.com/images/S/compressed.photo.goodreads.com/books/1546870952l/42036538.jpg" alt="42036538" width="154" height="238"/>   
</div>

Html is not limited to these two tricks, but I think that these are the most helpful ways to use it. I’m a very baby user of html, so if you want to learn how to do other things with it, I suggest searching for formats on google because a lot of sites offer different code formats!

Post Scheduling

When I first started blogging, I didn’t know that scheduling posts was a thing. When people talked about writing posts and then scheduling them, I’d get so confused. Like, what is this scheduling thing? Luckily, I found out soon enough!

How to schedule a post!

Scheduling posts is extremely helpful if you’re an international blogger. Chances are, the majority of your audience is asleep while you’re awake, but not to worry, you can schedule a post to go up in the early morning hours of your timezone. Scheduling also helps if you have a posting schedule and pre-write a lot.

Until now, a scheduled post of mine has never failed to go up on it’s scheduled time. It may not post on the exact minute you schedule it, but in a few minutes, you’ll get a notification that your scheduled post is now published!

But when I first started scheduling posts, I was so confused because every post I scheduled went up eight hours after the time I had originally selected it to go up. Little did I know that I still hadn’t customized my site timezone to the timezone in the Philippines.

Unless you change your site timezone, it’s gonna stay at UTC, which will affect your post scheduling. Customizing your site timezone is pretty easy to do. Just click your site settings, and site timezone is probably the first or second thing you’ll see!

Pingbacks

Pingbacks are notifications that you get once someone provides a link to one of your posts in their blog post. Their pingback will become a comment on the post they provided a link to.

In my Sunshine Blogger Award, I linked to a bunch of my own posts. I then got notified for all of the times I linked to one of my posts!

Pingbacks are incredibly useful when you’re tagging someone in a tag or blog award. Giving them a notification eliminates the need to comment on one of their posts informing them that you’ve tagged them in something!

To give a pingback, simply provide a link to the blogger’s post in one of your posts. You can just insert it in any piece of text. Ex: I tag Caitlin Althea. The link embedded in Caitlin Althea is a link to one of my blog posts!

The biggest tip when it comes to pingbacks is not to link to the blogger’s homepage. Linking to their homepage will not give them a notification for some reason.

I’ve also learned that pingbacks are pretty funky if a self-hosted sites links to one of your posts. Sometimes I get a notification when one links back to my post, other times I don’t.

Linking Your Website to Your Name

This is a pretty niche tip, but it’s incredibly useful if you’re a blogger who comments on other posts a lot. It ensures that when you comment on a post, a click on your name will immediately lead an interested user to your site.

Usually, your web address isn’t a direct link to your site–it’s probably something like caitlinaltheahome.wordpress.com. If your web address is like this, users who click on your name will not be redirected to your blog. To make it convenient for them, change your web address.

You can do this by clicking on your profile picture and then Account Settings. Here, you’ll find your username, email address, etc. Your web address and primary site will also be there, so you can change them to the url of your home page!

Plus, when someone gets the notification that you followed them, or that you liked one of their posts, it’s easy for them to follow you back because a follow button will appear directly under your name!

As you can see from the picture, the first two people in my recent followers don’t have their sites linked (or simply don’t have sites), so there’s no follow button that will allow me to follow them back easily. However, the bottom three have follow buttons, which I can easily use to follow them back, or unfollow them (but I won’t do that of course).

Get Theme

Fun fact: when I first started blogging, I had no idea what WordPress themes were, so I was hardcore wondering how everyone got their blogs to look a certain way. Honestly, my life is just a series of events like this.

For those who don’t know what they are, they’re basically how your blog is formatted. If you embed a link in a word, some themes will show that there’s a link embedded in it by changing its color (like in Penscratch 2), but in Libre 2, which I’m currently using, words with links in them are simply underlined with no color change (unless I change the color myself). Little things like that are decided by your theme.

But have you ever come across a beautiful site and wondered what theme they use? Not to worry, you can actually see which theme a site uses (as long as it’s a site hosted by WordPress).

On the lower right hand corner of any site hosted by WordPress, you’ll find the follow button. Just click the three dots beside it and you’ll see the option to get the theme. Note: you must be logged into your WordPress account while doing this.

You can then search for this theme name in WordPress themes and choose to activate it in your own site! (Some themes require you to pay for them though, grrrr.)

Connecting Twitter (or other social media accounts) to Your Site

Connecting Twitter to my site was incredibly helpful because I always forget to notify my Twitter followers about new posts. If you connect Twitter to your site, your Twitter account will automatically tweet a post’s link at the same time that the post is uploaded. You can customize what the tweet says too!

You can connect Twitter to your site by going to Tools, Marketing, and then Connections! You also have the option to connect your Facebook, LinkedIn, or Tumblr to your site, but the most common social media site to connect to is Twitter.

Additionally, if you have the Subscibe via Email widget on your blog, and choose to let it display the amount of followers you have, your total number of Twitter followers will be added to the total number of WordPress followers and email followers you have! It’s a great way to make your follower count seem higher.

I hope you found this post helpful in some way! I’m definitely not a WordPress expert–there are still some WordPress mysteries I’ve yet to solve, but these are the ones that I have–at least to some degree!

I had a lot of fun writing this post! Until next time,

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6 Pieces of Advice that’ll Get People to Follow Your Blog!! (coming from someone who’s picky about who she follows)

So… I have had this blog for six months now. My first ever post on this blog went live on February 26th, 2019, and August 26th is my six month blogiversary. I’m celebrating (slightly) in advance!

It took me a while to find my footing and figure out what I actually wanted to do with my blog. But when I started taking blogging seriously and figuring out what I wanted from blogging, I had the best time.

I’ve had a lot of hobbies in the past–and tried to have a lot of hobbies–but none have stuck except reading, and now, book blogging. (The former stuck because of the latter.) People usually ask me how I manage to post so much whilst having school, and a big part of the reason why is because I love blogging. There’s a certain joy in drafting, formatting and editing a post I love, only for people to love it as well.

I have no words for how excited I am to continue blogging. The past six months have been great. I’m happy with what I’ve accomplished, but I know that I want to do more things, and I’m so excited to do them…. Actually, one of those things is to write an advice post.

Advice posts are incredibly fun to read, and most of the time, I find myself agreeing with what the blogger is saying. Plus, they are obviously really helpful, so today I’m gonna try my hand at writing them!

By the way, this is only part one of two advice posts coming to you this week. I was originally planning on writing one gigantic post, but then I realized that there were two core parts to it. Obviously, the first part is about how to get people to follow your blog. You’ll just have to wait and see about the second part.

Reply to Comments

I completely understand that some people out there don’t have the time or energy to reply to comments, and that everyone’s circumstances are different. At the end of the day, it’s your blog and you can do what you want with it. You don’t owe your viewers anything you don’t want to give.

But it’s way better if you take the time to reply to comments, no matter how late you are. (No one will mind, trust me.) When a blogger replies to their comments, my love and respect for them grows twofold, because it takes a lot of time and effort to reply to comments. I recently came back from a week of not replying to comments because of exams, and it took me hours to catch up on my comments.

Sometimes you just want to like a comment, or simply reply with “Thank you!!,” but I advice against doing this. When I write comments, and (probably) when other people do, I want to start a discussion, and it’s a little weird when the blogger doesn’t respond in turn. It’s like unboxing a package that just arrived at your house–only to find that it’s empty.

empty like my wallet

I don’t mean that you have to write a three paragraph reply to a three paragraph comment, but I like it when a blogger engages with my thoughts. Bloggers who do this really well are Xandra @ Starry Sky BooksBrittany @ Brittany the Book GuruMay @ Forever and Everly, and Marie @ Drizzle and Hurricane Books, just to name a few.

Have a nice blog aesthetic

I cannot stress how important blog aesthetic is!! Unless someone is viewing your site from their reader, which I don’t like doing because I want to see everyone’s beautiful blogs, your blog aesthetic is the first thing they’ll see. And no matter how good or well written your posts are, they’ll probably click away if your blog is, well, ugly.

Moreover, blog aesthetic, for me, indicates professionalism. We can’t all be Kat @ Novels and Waffles, but not to worry–literally anyone can have a blog aesthetic that won’t scare people off! May @ Forever and Everly wrote this amazing guide to blog design that covers all the basics of making your blog look pretty.

Everything you need to know is in her post, but for me, the most important thing to remember when designing a blog is consistency. When your color scheme and graphics start to clash, it’s sure to turn people away from your blog.

Write discussion and advice posts

One of the biggest mistakes I made as a newbie was thinking that I couldn’t write discussion posts. I thought that every topic under the sun had already been discussed, and that my opinions weren’t strong enough. Sure, every topic has already been discussed, but trust me when I say that there’s no harm in adding your own perspective on the topic.

You can literally come up with any topic and discuss it. I don’t think it necessarily has to be a topic you’re incredibly passionate about. It just has to be a topic that you can come up with different pros and cons for. An example of an excellent discussion that utilizes pros and cons is Olivia @ Purely Olivia’s discussion on the controversy of hyped books.

As an alternative to pros and cons, you could also list stuff. For example, I wrote a post about why bloggers care about their statistics, and in that post, I listed a bunch of reasons why bloggers would potentially care about their stats, and then expounded on them one by one. (Yes, I’m self-promoting. Shhhhhh.)

But even though I said that you don’t necessarily have to be incredibly passionate about the topic you’re discussing, you should at least have an opinion on it and state it in your blog post. After you’re done listing pros and cons, or listing a bunch of points related to the topic, it’s best to end with you own opinion on the matter. Try to bring a piece of yourself into each of your posts. It’s what makes people have fun reading your blog and engaging with your content.

If you’re stuck on topics to write about, Xandra @ Starry Sky Books wrote a list of discussion topics she’d like to read from you–free discussion prompts for everybody!

I also recommend that you write an advice post at least once in your blogging career. Advice posts and discussions usually have very clickable titles, and people are more inclined to comment on them.

Xandra @ Starry Sky Books recently wrote an advice post that I adore on four things about blogging that seem scary, but actually aren’t. May @ Forever and Everly is also the best at writing advice posts. I already shared her guide to making your blog look pretty above, but other advice posts I love from her are her posts on how to get people to comment on your blog and things you shouldn’t feel guilty about as a blogger.

If you’re stuck on what exactly to give advice on, just write about something that you’ve gained wisdom on as a blogger and/or reader. Off the top of my head, some advice post prompts are–how to leave comments on people’s blogs, how to find audiobooks, and how to post more consistently. (Feel free to use any of these!)

Ultimately, I probably won’t follow a blog if the blogger doesn’t post advice posts and/or discussions–or if I do, that blog won’t become my favorite. These types of posts are incredibly fun to read, and they are more likely to get traffic. That being said, reviews, tags, TBRs, lists, and, of course, the god tier of generic posts, wrap-ups, are important too. Any blog that has the right balance of all of these posts will probably become a favorite of mine.

Post consistently

I don’t know about you, but I probably won’t follow someone with a sporadic posting schedule. I mean, what’s the point?

Usually, the more frequently you post, the more growth and traffic you’ll get, but it’s different for everyone. My advice would simply be to post at least once a week.

Cultivate your blogging voice

A blogging voice is, in short, how you write your posts, but for me, it is what differentiates you from other blogs. Writing-wise, one of my favorites is Rain @ bookdragonism. Her voice is incredibly distinct, and reading her posts always makes me want to unleash my inner dragon.

The best way to find your writing voice is to just be yourself. Generic advice, I know, but your voice will refine as you post more and more.

But, as I mentioned above, your blogging voice doesn’t just encompass how you write a post, but also how you format it. Do you include gifs? Do you make your font different sizes? I recommend doing these things because they make your posts a little more fun. This is the first post of mine where I’ve employed these two things, and it won’t be the last!!

Because I don’t think I did a good enough job of defining a blogging voice, Marie @ Drizzle and Hurricane Books wrote an incredibly helpful discussion on what a blogging voice is and how to find it. More recently, she wrote this wonderful post on how to give your blog posts that extra spark. Giving your blog posts that extra spark perfectly sums up what a blogging voice is for.

Comment on other blogs (blog hop)

Yes, I just wrote a semi-rant about blog hopping, but as I said in that post, I’m not saying that you shouldn’t blog hop. Blog hopping is such a great way to build an audience and make friends.

In my half a year in the blogosphere, I’ve noticed that most book bloggers’ followers are book bloggers themselves. It’s a small community, so it’s important to find each other. But you shouldn’t wait for other bloggers to find you. Comment on other blogs and see which ones notice your existence.

I’d recommend following and commenting on big book blogs first. They probably won’t follow back immediately, and it’ll take a while for them to get to your comments because they have a large audience, but following them will give you an idea of what it is that makes people follow blogs.

A lot of people also lurk in their comment sections, so people will probably wonder why they keep seeing your name and avatar everywhere, and then proceed to check you out. Also, it’s better to follow the people who you always see in comment sections. You already know that these blogs are big on blog hopping, so comment on their blogs and see if they’ll comment on yours too.

Now, this is a touchy subject because I don’t want to reinforce the idea that blog hopping is something that’s purely for stats. My stand on the topic is that you should blog hop to build an audience and make friends, but when it gets to the point that you only support people if they support you, it’s time to rethink things.

Also, while commenting, please show that you actually read the post. The easiest way to do this is to make your comment more than two or three sentences long, and to share your thoughts on what the blogger talked about. It’s pretty easy to tell when someone’s comment isn’t genuine. If someone comments on my blog only saying, “Great post!!,” or “These books are on my TBR,” I probably won’t comment back. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

That’s it! All of the things that make me follow a blog, and things that have worked for me personally! I’m not trying to say that I employ all of these things–I definitely don’t. I’m trying to be better about it though!

Thank you so much for making my six months in the blogosphere worthwhile. I’ve had the best time, and I’m excited for more years to come!!

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