[Miscellaneous] Armchair BEA 2015 – Day 3: Blogging 101

Miscellaneous is the tagline to store random posts that don’t really belong elsewhere. They may involve tags, awards, challenges, and other book blogging nonsense.

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What’s Miscellaneous Today?
Armchair BEA 2015 —
Day 3: Blogging 101

What is it?

Armchair BEA takes the essence of Book Expo America without actually being at the convention and makes the experience virtual. It’s hosted over at http://www.armchairbea.com from May 26-31 and the theme for 2015 is DiversityUse the hashtag #ArmchairBEA on twitter to keep up-to-date.

Thoughts:

Day 3 looks at Character Chatter & Blogging 101. I’m forgoing Character Chatter because this one is contextually hefty to read about.

The “tips” below aren’t golden rules to live by; they’re observations from a year+ of niche blogging. (And for the most part, I have no idea what I’m really saying. So…there’s that to look forward to lololol.)


Blogging 101

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!

IN THE GREENROOM

considerations for all of the background noise and preparation

The Beginnings Don’t Define You

Every blogger starts off with the same beginnings (basically nothing) and it’s really what you make of the journey that becomes part of your branding. Own the experience.

Brand Yourself

Aesthetics, design and content go hand-in-hand in branding and distinguishing your voice. If you have the freedom to change your design—why not give it a whirl? I empathize with those who are bound by default themes (re: free WP) but you can still make the most of it by emphasizing your personality; being unapologetically you and others will take note.

Establish Your Priorities

Always have a talk with yourself (or someone) about what you want out of this experience. Maybe you want those stats to get those ARCs. Maybe you want to find friendships and create those connections. Maybe you want your voice to be heard. These are all paths that intersect with each other and there is no ideal vision greater than staying grounded and being yourself in what you do.

Post Scheduling

De-stress your blogging life by making the schedule work for you. However, if you curate content best on the adrenaline of feeling rushed/obligated to shoot a post out. Then by all means, do what works.

ARC Rite of Passage

I’m half serious with this one. All bloggers ought to endure the “oh shit, why did I request so many ARCs phase” which leads to “oh my goodness—I’m backlogged in reading”. Your blogging life isn’t the same without it. (You’re welcome.) NetGalley and Edelweiss are excellent starting points for requesting eARCS.

Post Maintenance and Backing-Up Your Script

I have never been fully satisfied with the posts that get uploaded. There are always problems; typos, broken links, anything, and this is a PSA to revise your work. Also, don’t solely rely on your blog or Internet to be a memory-dump of WIPs. Free WordPress users: know that your blog can be taken down.


ON STAGE

considerations to go about crafting content that is “You”

Reviews

I won’t say much here other than find a format that works for you. Take notes, use post-its, do whatever helps with writing reviews and talk about what comes naturally. Most readers aren’t looking for some golden review to put on a mantle; they’re looking for an opinion—preferably with your voice—that they can buy into.

Meme Participation:

Basics:

I swear by this as one of the best ways to build those bridges. It’s no get famous quick scheme but it’s a good point of continual relationship development. Why? Because there’s an immediate purpose of an ice-breaker framed within a prompt.

If you’re on WordPress, search the tag up on the day of the post and get connecting. Note that Free WP does have some rules regarding visibility. If you over-tag your post (more than 15) it might not show up in Reader. Something to think about.

Commenting:

Read the content and comment accordingly but take note that Internet-dialogue is a very fickle thing and what you say can be misconstrued. For example: sarcasm does not always translate across screens. Also, try not to always comment robotically. Sometimes you can’t help but write generic comments—that’s okay—but you want the best you possible to translate to the reader(s) (remember, more than the post author will view your comment).

Leaving Your Mark:

If you’ve participated or are thinking about participating in memes, I’m sure you’ve witnessed commenters leaving a “Here’s My [Meme Link]”. Contextually, this is fine.

I’m very notorious for leaving a “Cheers, joey @ thoughts and afterthoughts” at the end of my comments where the quoted is an HTML target link. I know there are those who believe this to be disingenuous blogging practice, and maybe it is, but I’m of the belief that it signs off your comment with a kind gesture (like a “see you later”) and opens that door for a connection to be made—which in fact is a link to your meme post instead. It’s a sleight of hand almost but it immediately gives that individual somewhere to go and something familiar to discuss. This is why I do it.

Playing the Game of TAG:

Everyone who plays the game of tag is a winner. Not only are these posts quick to read and write, they’re accessible to read. Consider tagging individuals to give credit. Saying “I tag all of you” only encourages those who are willing to do it. If you tag with intent then there is usually more incentive to complete the tag.

Discussion Writing

I want to spend a bit of time on this because while topics of “ebook vs physical” or “how I review books” are some examples of prompts to engage your audience, I do feel like it’s the same rehashed question seen on a different day. That being said, I am no guru at discussion writing nor is there a cookie cutter way to go about writing these post—I’m merely giving my two cents on writing discussions from my experience thus far.

Talk about what you enjoy. It’s worse to try to spoon-feed someone if you yourself don’t appreciate what you’re trying to sell.

Deconstruct an umbrella topic and raise awareness to a niche issue based on what you know or how you think/feel. For example: I satirize all that is poorly represented of men in fiction because I have that personal experience to gauge it upon.

E.g. Characters -> Male Archetypes -> Physical Appearance -> Your Claim (i.e. Men do not smell like the great outdoors.)

Spawn a topic from a conversation with your friends. You’d be surprised how many topics can come from just talking amongst your friends as it relates to bookish content. You may not notice the tangents in your bantering but it’s there.

Do not be afraid to go against the community. It’s tough to be the black sheep but I assure you that in the herd, there will be others who appreciate the dialogue you have created and those who may genuinely agree with you.

Ask questions and probe for responses. Your rant is complete but the job is not done yet. Ask questions to spark that connection; whether it’s personal or post-related, everyone has a valid opinion to share.

Be mindful of what you’re saying and open to interpretation. This is the biggest thing I need to stress (and can be applied everywhere in blogging). Just because you post on your blog does not give you some God complex to disregard other trains of thought. Be open to that possibility.

Other Content

Don’t be afraid to branch out in blogging content if you feel interests swaying. Change is necessary but it doesn’t take away your roots of being a book blogger.


MEET & GREET

considerations after that blog goes live

Fact: everyone loves that notification when something happens around their blog or comments (unless it’s drama-related). The more effort you put into building rapport, the more those Internet-walls start to break down and messaging these blogger-turned-friends becomes less daunting.

It’s Hard Work

Don’t expect those who do (or don’t) follow you to regularly return to your blog. Any bridge you build will deteriorate with time. It’s up to you to continue cementing those bricks so that you can cultivate a lasting connection.

It’s Not a Solo Mission

Blogging is a never-ending journey to the top of the mountain. Bring your friends with you so you can all enjoy the trip.

It’s an Extension of You

It is what it is. And I quote from a recent post of mine “be you, be true, and the rest will surely follow.”


Afterthoughts:

Honestly: I am no master at anything (aside from maybe solving Sudoku puzzles) and I don’t even follow my own advice most of the time (#hypocrisy). So do what I say not as I do because my blogging practices are not a standard I would encourage bloggers to live by. I write very last minute, nonsensical, and exhaustive—but that’s just the identity I hope to convey.

And so I ask: what kind of blogger do you strive to be?

If you have any [non-invasive] questions regarding anything book blogging related, I’d be happy to answer them (not that you should really take what I say to heart—ever.)

(I am also going on a massive follower-ing spree as since ABEA encouraged me to practice what I preach LOL. If I have yet to follow you on Twitter or what-not, do let me know.)

Cheers,
Joey

connect: afterthoughtAn // twitter  |  anotherafterthought // goodreads

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14 thoughts on “[Miscellaneous] Armchair BEA 2015 – Day 3: Blogging 101”

  1. OK, I have a couple of things to say: first off, I love love love this post! It has a few tips I haven’t heard before (especially the ones about discussion) that I’m definitely going to try and follow (don’t worry, I’ll follow this post not the whole blog ;)). Secondly a question – when did you start applying for ARCs? What kind of stats? Thanks 🙂

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    1. It makes me happy that you could take something away from this read.

      The topics of ARCs are actually a difficult thing for me to answer. I guess I should mention that I’ve never actually gone about requesting physical ones from publishers–only from NetGalley and Edelweiss (which the latter, I find, is more difficult to get galleys from).

      Stat-wise, be sure to include subscribed followers on all platforms (separating them by twitter/blog/google/bloglovin/etc), page views (daily/monthly/total). The point is to highlight your exposure value.

      I started applying for e-arcs around the 6th month mark of my blogging (perhaps when I was around ~150 followers and like 5k views or something). While there’s really no golden rule for requesting, the guidelines they state in their publisher requirements (i.e. blogging for a year) often do hold true. Publishers want to see is just your visibility in the community. While discussion/memes and the like are fun to post, reviews are the meat of what makes a book blog what it is; so be sure that there are reviews on your blog (generally consistent) that show you have done it before.

      I would say that if you’re at 200~500 followers, that merits a sound consideration from most publishers under a year of blogging. Anything above 1k+ followers is probably solid enough for even physical copies. Know that I have seen bloggers with less than 200 followers receive physical arcs. You just have to frame your brand to the publisher in a way that gets their attention that says “hey, I’m an awesome blogger that will do this book justice.” Rejection sucks but hey there’s always next time and at least you opened that conversation up.

      The last thing I’ll just say is to be mindful with what you’re requesting, how much you’re willing to take on, and just simply appreciative of the work publicists do in giving bloggers that opportunity.

      I hope this helped to answer some of your questions, if not let me know LOL.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Definitely relate to the ‘hard work’ part. I’m very guilty of abandoning the blog for weeks on end and expecting the people I’ve connected with to still be there when I come back. I love your discussion post advice too. Great post 🙂

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  3. This was a great post! I totally bricked on signing up for Armchair BEA -_-. Next year, next year. I can’t think of the kind of blogger I would strive to be. Maybe one who can prioritize her reading and reviewing, but great post!

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    1. I didn’t think i was going to do ABEA but then it just sort of happened (mainly because I wanted to take part in the Twitter chats).

      I also guess I should have framed that question (And so I ask: what kind of blogger do you strive to be?) differently. It was supposed to be rhetorical haha. But yes I need to get on with reading. I’m so bad at it this year.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Wonderful post, and wonderful tips! How long have you been blogging, may I ask?
    In answer to your question, I’m striving to be a very active blogger, and also just to be an honest blogger who shares thoughts on all bookish and maybe some non-bookish things. I’m not looking to be famous but I do want to get myself out there for the entertainment of others! Once again, great post!

    Like

    1. I started blogging in Nov 2013 but I didn’t actually strive to do much with it until a year-ish ago (perhaps in March 2014) so a lot of my growth early on wasn’t much at all. A lot of my early content has changed dramatically (in approach, at least) and that’s necessary for blogs to grow with each passing month.

      Those are good aspirations; mainly staying grounded and not letting stats get to you!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Wow so you’ve been blogging for about two years! It really does show that you’ve got experience and have grown over that time. I may have not seen your blog when it first began but I love it now and I love your approach to things, like the title names you give for certain categories and such! And your writing.
        Yes, I try my best to not look that those stats or care about them too much!

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  5. Oh, I love this post! I think all bloggers can agree that blogging is hard work (and sometimes I can’t help but wonder why I’m even doing this), but it’s just so addicting and rewarding, and so worth all the trouble.

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    1. Yeah the payoff is worth the struggle (even if we seldom see it at the time of writing certain posts). I do feel like a lot of my early content was sort of voiceless but as I found myself in this small community I’ve created for myself, I’m glad that there are readers who enjoy the nonsensicalness of these posts haha.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Of these, I have to work on scheduling the most. I feel like I’m really lacking in content a lot of the times because I’m a slow reader and even when I’m not reading slowly I’m often busy. Also, I feel like it defines the kinds of books I can read because I want my blog to look like ME, so when I reviewed “Little Girls” recently, I considered not uploading it at all because it’s so unlike me that visitors might get the wrong idea and I might miss out on followers that have similar interests without knowing it.
    *Siigh* It’s all very mind-numbing.

    Like

    1. I’ll fight you for the title of slowest reader/book blogger. I feel as though I’m unmatched (not to mention my NetGalley ratio–yikes!). But yeah, I understand why you feel like one single review might rebrand your blog. Judgment passes so easy in this community that even a simple middle-grade book for a first-time viewer might dissuade them to think differently than what you’re trying to sell. It’s definitely bananas sometimes!

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