Armchair BEA: Blogging 101

Posted May 29, 2015 by Stormy in Books / 15 Comments

Here’s today’s Armchair BEA prompt:

Blogging 101. All kinds of tips and tricks to get you started or keep you going. Talk about ARCs, reviewing in general, web design, etc.  What blogging platform do you use? How do you network? What are some of your favorite web designs?  Or maybe you want to talk about your own blogging journey, and how you got to where you are now. Either way, we want you to share your knowledge with the rest of the community!

Ahh, I love this topic, but there’s just SO much we could discuss! The prompt just kinda makes my head spin. I’ll probably touch on most of these topics, but first, let’s talk about my blogging journey.

My Blogging Journey

I’ve been online in some way since 2002-2003? I was in middle school then, and my internet use was regulated, but it was pretty consistent. I didn’t have a blog at the time, but I did have a few websites on geocities(oh, the days). I had a website about hermit crabs, and I also had a livejournal which functioned pretty much as a personal blog. I kept both those up through most of high school, stopping sometime around senior year. I was online in many other capacities(Facebook, and, uh, fanfiction.net) but nothing that really looked like blogging.

Halfway through my freshman year of college, I started a personal blog on WordPress.com. I kept that up, posting about once a week, until I started Book.Blog.Bake. in 2012. I loved the blogging medium, but I didn’t really want to talk about my personal life too much anymore, at least not ALL the time. Before my last semester of college, I found book blogs and decided to jump right in. I started that on WordPress.com too, because I liked using it for my personal blog, and then six months later moved to self-hosting and bought my own domain name.

And now here we all! I’ve stuck with book blogging for TWO AND A HALF YEARS, which to some people may not seem that long, but I am a SERIAL hobby dropper. Seriously, here are a list of things I’ve tried to do in the past:

  • Learn guitar
  • Baking(I mean, I still enjoy baking, but not nearly to the same extent)
  • gardening
  • teach myself who knows how many languages
  • crafting(I am not crafty)
  • and probably more things I don’t even remember

So for me, having a book blog consistently for two and a half years and still REALLY enjoying it is kinda amazing. I’m so glad I found this community!

Book Reviews

I’ve been going through some of my old reviews in order to update everything to the Ultimate Book Blogger Plug-in, and. . . they’re bad. There’s really no skirting the issue. I was in my last year of college as a writing major when I wrote those reviews, and that makes me cringe. They should have flowed better! So many of my points were nonsensical.

It’s easy to say I should have been able to write better reviews, but I think part of it is that there’s just going to be a new learning curve when writing something new. Book reviews were different than say, the fact sheets or feature stories I wrote at my internship that semester. Until you’re read a lot of reviews and written a good handful, it can be difficult to figure out what you want to concentrate on. And I’m not sure you can ever include it all! There’s the writing devices to consider, such as plot, voice, writing style, characters, dialogue, etc. but then of course, also the content. Does the book make sense? Are there any issues you’d want to bring to people’s attention? Do you want to talk about how diverse or non-diverse it is? There’s an endless list of questions, and I feel with every review there’s some level of picking and choosing, even just on a subconscious level, with what to talk about.

This is one of those things that will depend a great deal on the length of a blogger’s reviews too, I think. I mostly write “medium length” reviews that probably skirt on the longer side. They’re generally between 700 and 900 words, and I try to touch on the things that made the biggest impression to me, especially if I hadn’t seen other people discuss those aspects.

The Other Stuff

I feel I could go on & on about this topic forever, but I’m trying to keep this post (relatively) brief, so I’ll just hit some quick highlights on a few different topics.

  • ARCs. I read a good chunk of ARCs, but the more I blog the less I request FOR SURE. There are benefits to ARCs, but I’ve been really enjoying reading more from my shelves.
  • Platform. Team self-hosted WordPress all the way! It’s not the most cost-efficient(because it’s not free), but there are good affordable hosting options, and I love having control over my site, and the multitude of available plug-ins is definitely a plus!
  • Networking. I don’t generally think in terms of networking, but twitter is definitely where it’s at for me. I probably chat with other bloggers on twitter more than I do via blogs.

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15 responses to “Armchair BEA: Blogging 101

    • Stormy

      hey, don’t knock the hermit crabs! I was a very responsible hermit crab owner & most of the pages on my site amounted to “stop treating your hermit crabs so terribly & do some research”. Now, if anyone ever saw the site or not, who knows, hahaha. . .

      • I wasn’t laughing at the hermit crabs themselves, just that it seemed so random. If you owned them, though, it makes more sense. I’d like to think you saved at least one hermit crab’s life.

        • Stormy

          oh, haha, I guess I skipped that part in my post. I owned several! About six, and I have a 55 gallon tank set up in my bedroom for them(which is a VERY LARGE tank for hermit crabs, let me tell you. It was a pain to clean.)

  1. I haven’t really done a whole lot on my wordpress (which is not self-hosted, it’s just a wordpress account I created for free when I was little bitsy me in probably 9th grade or so). It’s been awhile since I’ve even posted. These days, I have a tumblr blog where I’ll post things about books (that has next to no followers) and a youtube channel where I will intermittently post booktube videos. I’m trying to be more consistent, I totally understand where you’re coming from with the serial hobby-abandoning. I am technically in the middle of so many projects, I don’t even know how where to start again!

    • Stormy

      It’s kinda fun to play around though, which it sounds like you’re doing! I like the idea of BookTube videos, but man, I think I’m too lazy for it. You’ve got to plan out lighting and filming and factor in editing. . . even with written post that take a lot longer, I definitely find blogging easier. I love the idea of book Tumblrs, but the Tumblr layout is so harsh on the eyes & changes constantly I’m almost always fed up with the site(which has nothing to do with the users or the quality of content, of course).

      • I totally get that – sometimes it’s easier to just write how you feel. I’m not particularly good at booktubing yet – but for me, video feels more personal, like I’m actually talking to an individual person on the other side of the camera. And I think having a tumblr was just easier for me, because I already had a blog on the platform which was just me messing around, and I figured I’d create one that was more book-focused as a side-blog.

  2. Yay fellow self-hosted WordPress fan! I’m not very computer/coding/etc. savvy but I love how relatively easy it is for me to use WP.

    • Stormy

      It really is easy! I’ve learned a little bit since moving to self-hosted, but I definitely am still fairly uneducated in that area, and WP being so simple to use is a huge plus for sure.

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