So you decide you want to become a book blogger. You figure out your blog’s name. You see it’s available on Blogger or WordPress. You, maybe, buy the domain. You add your design – free, customizable template, custom.
You start blogging.
As a new blogger you aren’t being handed books for review so you start by reviewing the books you’ve purchased or received from the library. You try to read and review more current titles so that your reviews get noticed.
You try to read a variety of books – unless, of course, you only like one particular type. But as a new blogger you want to keep your options open. You don’t want closed doors before you even start to make a name for yourself.
Then you’ve reached that six-month point. The time at which it is deemed “acceptable” to request review copies. And you start getting a few books for review.
As more time passes you find more books being sent your way. And you are approached with review requests.
But then you notice, “Hey, they’re all for X type of book!” And you look around and realize you’ve been typecast. Whether it be paranormal, dystopian, contemporary, you’ve been pigeonholed. When you never intended for that to be the case.
Perhaps it was your blog’s design. Perhaps it was because the books you received more often for review were those of a certain genre, and thus were reviewed more frequently on the blog. Perhaps it’s because the bloggers you surrounded yourself with were niche bloggers.
Whatever the case, you’ve been labeled. And try as you might, without a complete image overhaul – and a possible loss of audience – you are stuck with that label.
So… after that long intro, the question of the week is…
Or do you find that being typecast is not such a bad thing because it helps you define your audience and hence get a larger one?
I hate being labeled. When I find that I have been, it tends to send me running in the opposite direction just to lose the label. Which is something I’m trying very hard not to do with my blogs.
Because I like designs that are dark and edgy, I must only like to read dark and edgy books. Nope. Because my blogs have a fantastical element to the design, they’re only a good platform to showcase books that are fantastical. I hope not. Because I don’t surround myself with bloggers who read contemporary fiction, I don’t enjoy contemps. Not even close.
And yet I find that I get rejected more often than not for books and tours outside of that niche. Which leads me to believe I’ve been typecast.
But choosing a blog design that is clean-lined, with a more neutral or contemporary feel wouldn’t be the solution. As much as I love clean and minimal and have contemplated making the switch, I’d likely get a new label, one that also wouldn’t quite fit.
So what’s the solution? Not sure. Maybe I will opt for a completely neutral blog design one day. But for now I plan on continuing to read and review the books I like to read, whatever genre they are, even if they’re my least trafficked posts. And even if they make people wonder.
But what about you? Had you planned on an eclectic blog and ended up with a niche blog? Have you gravitated toward a certain type of book only to find that now that you’re ready to read something a bit different your audience wouldn’t be interested?
Do you find yourself being rejected for books or book tours because of a label you might have received?
One of the things I’ve noticed more and more frequently lately is that there are certain blogs who have either removed or have never had the social sharing buttons at the bottom of their posts.
While these buttons can be a bit visibly unappealing and can sometimes – in the case of certain Facebook buttons – slow down load times, what they do offer is the ability for a visitor to share a particular post on social media with ease.
Yet some blogs have opted to blog share-free.
So that’s my question this week.
Do you find that having your posts easily shared across the various social media platforms – Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, G+, etc. – makes you more vulnerable to plagiarism? Does it put you into a spotlight you don’t feel comfortable with?
Is there another reason to opt to remove any social sharing buttons that come standard with Blogger or not to easily add them to a WordPress blog?
While I’m not all about the numbers and I detest having to “market” myself on social media, having the sharing buttons offers a way for others to spread the word so I don’t have to. It gets the word out about my blog to a potentially different audience than I might reach.
While it does leave the door open for idea thieves or plagiarists, anything publicly posted does the same.
But I am also a blog reader. And every-so-often I read a post that I’d love to share with others. But when I go hunting and find no social share buttons, I tend to say, “forget it!”
If I’m on my phone it requires a level of effort that is just not worth it. Copy link to clipboard, open Twitter, paste link, remember blog name, remember article title…. As I mostly read articles in the wee hours of the morning all of that demands brain power I just don’t have.
I suppose I can understand wanting to remain under the radar. When I got embroiled in my own set of blogger dramas last winter I pulled every social share button off my site, I removed every link or widget to places I could be found. But that was only a temporary protective measure, not a forever choice.
But enough about what I think. This question is one I’m just so very curious about. So…
One of the ways for a blog’s readers to keep up to date with a blogger’s posts is to subscribe by email. This handy function allows that blog’s content to be delivered directly into the reader’s email box. They don’t have to search out a particular site. They don’t have to scroll through their overcrowded feed readers. They don’t have to deal with slow site loads or having their IP address logged.
But while the number of readers subscribed by email is a statistic that bloggers can give to publishers or display on their blogs as a measure of success, having readers who opt to subscribe by email can often mean less traffic to the site – fewer visitors, fewer pageviews.
Unless that reader of the email has incentive to come to the site – a giveaway, a discussion topic so hot that they just have to leave their two cents – site traffic can suffer.
As this has been a question of my mind for quite some time, I thought I’d finally ask and make this…
Do you have the “subscribe by email” option on your site? Do you promote it by placing it prominently in your sidebar or do you hide it so that people will opt to visit instead? And do you think email subscriptions are positives or negatives: As a blogger? As a blog reader?
When I first started out blogging, my friend Nic told me I just had to have a “subscribe by email” option. She’d noticed on one of the blogs she discovered that they had that option and she loved getting their content emailed. So, reluctantly I researched how to code it and added that widget. (It wasn’t a standard feature/widget on WordPress blogs at the time.)
And until fairly recently I buried the option in my crowded sidebar.
I wanted people to visit my site. Not because of traffic – if I wanted that, I’d do a “read more” option to increase pageviews, review more buzzed books, or choose more controversial topics for discussion – but because I wanted to be able to interact with my readers. I wanted to see what they thought of my posts, I wanted them to share their thoughts on books and other subjects. I wanted my blog to be dynamic.
But I decided to feature the subscribe option more prominently with my last design this past winter. Because I figured that it was my responsibility to draw readers to my site with my posts. And if they weren’t enticed to visit from the emails they received daily, then I wasn’t doing a good enough job.
And, I also realized I was being just a little bit selfish. The fact that anyone wants to read my content should be enough. My site isn’t the fastest loading site and reading posts by email is often so much easier. And I should want that easy delivery system made available to my blog’s readers.
Of course I still much prefer to interact with those readers. So, I suppose I’ll call posts by email frenemies.
But what do you think?
Do you have high email subscriber numbers but few comments on your posts? Do you find that there are plenty of people who read your posts but few who visit and comment?
Had you even thought about the fact that emailed posts could mean that people are reading your content remotely and never stopping by?
Have you thought about the fact that it makes it that much easier for your images and content to be plagiarized if a thief stockpiled your posts for use at a later time?
Or do you see the emails as alerts to, or reminders about, new content that actually draw readers to your site that otherwise might never have otherwise stopped by?
Aside from the daily, semi-weekly or weekly posts, the social networking, the reading, interviewing, reviewing and coming up with fresh content for our blogs, there’s also this thing called blog maintenance that requires some of our time and attention.
I’m not talking about updating to the latest versions of WordPress, backing up our files and databases, learning new ways to format and code our posts. I’m talking standard blog administration. Something that’s required of anyone with a blog – no matter if it’s Blogger or WordPress.
I’m talking about the “boring” stuff like updating our reviews on our Review pages. Updating our sidebars with new tours and removing the old tour banners. Deleting defunct blogs from our blogroll. Swapping out photos in our scrolling image widgets when the image no longer exists or has been corrupted.
Stuff that while not always exciting, also serves to keep a blog current and relevant shows its readers that they’re aware of more than just what’s going on in their posts.
So that’s what I’m asking in…
Do you keep your blog’s pages and sidebars current? Do you make sure that your policies, features and bio are up-to-date? Do you swap out the content in your sidebar(s) to keep them relevant?
Do you check link-outs in your sidebars to make sure they still work? Do you check your blogroll to keep it updated with your current “favorite” blogs?
And if you do all that, just how often do you do it?
I’m somewhat guilty of not updating my policies and about pages too often. Whenever I have a blog re-design or start feeling guilty about a feature I haven’t posted in awhile I’ll start thinking about updating them. But as they aren’t pages that need daily or weekly updates, they do tend to get a little stale.
I almost always update my review pages every time a review gets published, along with my yearly reads page. I’ll forget every-so-often, but those are typically pages I update each week.
However, I’m not so great about updating my Random Thoughts page with the latest post or the Interviews and Guest Posts pages with the most recent posts from tour stops.
I probably update those pages once a month, or every other month. Then I spend at least a few hours paranoid I’ve missed something.
Unless I’m totally off the computer, however, I will update my sidebar on the main blog every day. While I may not add new content, it drives me crazy to see my tour stops or giveaways marked as “upcoming” or “current” when in fact they are over. Because the sidebar is an “in your face” thing on my blog, and I’m a tad neurotic about how things look visually, I make sure to keep things as current as possible and if I know I won’t be around (or in the mood) to update things, I’ll pull things temporarily, until I am able to keep those items “fresh.”
When I stumble upon a blog I read that has something marked “recent” in its sidebar and it’s something that’s over a year old I wonder how that fact could have escaped that blogger’s attention. While bloggers spend most time on the back end of their sites, they do look at what’s facing the world, don’t they?
Then again, maybe that’s just me and my obsessive quirks….
But what about you?
Do you update your review links on your review page? And if so, how often? With each review? Weekly? Monthly?
Do you check out your bio, review request policy, giveaway policy to make sure they reflect who you are, your current stats, what and how you wish to review, who is eligible for your giveaways?
If you have a page listing your features or challenges, do you update those, too? When was the last time you checked them out to see if they were up-to-date?
And what about those sidebars? When was the last time you checked your blogroll? Do you see any blogs whose last post was over two months ago? A year? Two years? Do you still have tour stops listed as “upcoming” that have long since passed? By a year or more?
In your scrolling blog widget are all those blog buttons you’re sharing still there? Or has the image disappeared from photobucket? Do you even remember some of those blogs you’re calling favorites?
And is the book listed as your current read really the book you’re currently reading? Or have you long since moved on?
In traditional media, when the author of an article makes a change, alteration, modification or has an update, they are required to let readers of that article know. They can do this via strikethrough, adding “[UPDATE]” to the subject line and reposting, or adding an update or “correction” at the bottom of the posted/published article.
Unless, I suppose, it’s a minor modification that in no way affects the information that has been previously disseminated, they are, in my understanding, required to alert their readers to the change.
But that doesn’t seem to be the case in many instances across the book blogosphere. Whether that’s just standard practice or a “no-no” I’m not sure, but on many occasions I’ve seen significant post alterations post-publication without any notice within the post that it has been modified. Which lead to…
Do you modify your posts after publication? Significantly? In minor ways? Not at all?
Do you notify your readers that you have made changes to your previously published post by using strikethrough or any of the methods that the traditional media outlets use for alterations/additions?
Do you keep minor edits like typos a secret but alert readers when the change has been significant? Or is a published post more akin to a work in progress?
For my own posts, if I see a missed comma or a small typographical error, or just some coding gone awry – like those Rafflecopter forms where the script breaks – I will make a change post-publication and not draw any attention to it.
But when I have an addition to make, or any change beyond a missing word like “the” or “as,” I will use strikethrough, or add an “UPDATE”/”END OF UPDATE” section to the post that has been modified.
I view published posts as just that. Published posts. Posts that shouldn’t be modified in any real way without alerting my readers to the change. I don’t post them now and add information later, typically. Aside from updating links to direct posts in a tour schedule, that is. But even then, I will often let readers know I will be updating that post with the direct links post-publication.
It makes me a little crazy when I check out a blog and then go back later and something looks different, but no mention is made about the alteration. It makes me feel like I’m seeing things or that my memory is faulty when it really isn’t.
I’ve heard of bloggers going back into old reviews and rewriting them when their style changed. As a post purist, I’m not too keen on that, either. I think I’d prefer to see the newly written review as compared with the old. You can’t rewrite history or change the writer you were in the past. So, even though I know my early reviews were dreadful, I let them stand and hope that no one ever reads them.
I’m also not one to alter publication dates, either. If my post misses its schedule and I’ve caught it within an hour, I will hit “publish” so that it publishes at its scheduled time without updating the publish time to the current time. But if it misses its schedule, or I don’t have my post ready to be published when I should have, I don’t alter the date to make it seem as if it was there earlier than it really was.
As I don’t believe there is a right or wrong when it comes to non-monetary personal blogs, I suppose its just a matter of preference. But as someone who often wonders, “I could have sworn it said something else the last time I checked,” or “That wasn’t there the last time I visited!” I’d hate to put that question in my blog readers minds.
But what about you?
Do you make changes to your posts after they’ve gone “live”? Are the changes you make significant or just minor tweaks?
If you’re given new content after-the-fact – a trailer, an excerpt, an author bio – do you add “UPDATE” to your posts to alert your readers that there is new content contained therein? Or do you simply add it without mention?
Have you gone back and significantly rewritten a post or review because you didn’t like the way it sounded? Did you re-issue it at a later date, calling it a revised post/review? Or did you simply rework the one you had previously?
Do you ever come across other bloggers’ blog posts that you could have sworn had a different message, different content or significantly less content and were left scratching your head wondering if it was just you?
I’d love to know your thoughts!
One of the best things that happened to me since I started book blogging was to have discovered the amazingly talented Rachel of Parajunkee Design. Without her insane skills my blogs wouldn’t be even remotely as gorgeous as they are. She has managed to fine tune my style, finesse it and come up with something… some things… that are just out of this world amazing.
While my design aesthetic might not be to everyone’s taste, they are the designs I wanted, and the designer’s talent is not in the least limited by the fact that I like things dark. Though I do like super bright, pretty and clean-lined blog design too.
And I know that her abilities extend that way because she designed a blog for one of my parental units. A design that neither I, nor he, can stop staring at. A design I am super jealous of. But I really shouldn’t start any more blogs at this point.
While I can’t offer up for giveaway a custom design, once again I’d love to support this designer and give one blogger the chance to have a bit of a makeover on their blog by giving away one of Parajunkee’s design templates for Blogger.
As someone who has purchased… just as recently as last night… one of those design templates, I know just how easy they are to install on Blogger and how pretty they are. And they are easy to customize if you know just a little bit about coding.
I like to use them on my tester blogs for when I have to code posts for the various Rockstar Book Tours. Who says tester blogs have to be dull?
To ONE Winner a pre-made Parajunkee Design Template of their choice.
There is no requirement to like or follow, but you do get an extra entry for liking Parajunkee Design on Facebook!
Enter in the Rafflecopter below…
a Rafflecopter giveaway