Spring 2015 Bloggiesta Finish Line

Our first week long Bloggiesta has come to an end! That was quick! What did you all think? Was it worth it? Did you get a ton done? I hope so and I hope you all had a great time doing it!

If you’d like to write and share your wrap up posts, or your updated To Do Lists, sign up in the linky below. We’ll also post a simple feedback form in the next day or two so we can learn more about your feelings on this event. If you have ideas for future mini challenges, you can let us know there.

The dates for Bloggiesta events for the rest of this year have changed slightly from previously advertised. We’ve bumped both up one week. Which means, the Summer Mini Bloggiesta will be June 13 and 14 and the Fall Bloggiesta will be September 17 through 20. Mark your calendars!

Thanks so much for participating!

Saturday’s Twitter Chat Recap: Books and Reading

Thank you to Rachel Noel from Purple Owl Reviews for hosting the Twitter chat today!  The discussion was all about books and reading in general.  I (Suey) missed about half the chat, but have managed to scroll back for a few notes.

What do you read and review on your blog? Pretty much everyone was all over the place on this one. Most people read everything but some said, “anything will romance” or “mostly fantasy” or “a lot of YA!”  Some love audiobooks, some not so much. Some love ebooks, some not so much.

How do you find books?

  • Blogs
  • Amazon
  • Goodreads
  • Edelweiss
  • Twitter
  • Bookstore
  • Recs
  • Author events
  • NetGalley
  • my past life! (revisiting favorites)
  • Friends

How do you decide which books you read actually get reviewed?

  • lots of people review everything they read
  • some review if they feel they have something to add to the conversation
  • many said they review the books from authors and/or publishers always, but only review the books from their own shelves if they feel like it
  • some say they only review books that they are very passionate about!

What about if you didn’t finish them? Still review?

  • yes, if it’s for a publisher/author
  • no, no , no
  • they get mentioned on the monthly wrap up post with reasons for the DNF
  • yes, if there’s constructive criticism to give, or feel the need to warn readers

What about reading friends books? 

  • some said if they do read and review a friend’s book, they’ll give a little disclaimer
  • it’s hard most people said, because if you didn’t like it… awkward!
  • some like to be beta readers for their friends book projects

How do you avoid spoilers in reviews?

  • give warnings ahead of time
  • say “because reasons” as part of explaining the book
  • only tell your feels about the book, and not stuff from the book itself

Do you feel pressure to rate a book high that is very popular and most people have liked?

  • resounding answer… NO!
  • Some said they felt this in the beginning as a newbie, but not so much anymore
  • We concluded: books with lots of hype don’t guarantee a high rating

And what if you don’t like a book you read for a blog tour?

  • tell the blog tour people ahead of time, before you review it
  • find something positive to say
  • talk about the book, and not the author

That’s pretty much what I caught from yet another quick and awesome chat!

The final chat will be tomorrow at 3 pm Eastern. We’ll talk about whatever strikes your fancy and give some feedback about the event in general.

 

 

 

Friday Twitter Chat Recap: Organization and Balance

 

Lots of awesome thoughts and advice were flying around the Twitter chat tonight! Thanks to Amanda from On a Book Bender for guest hosting and keeping things lively. Here are some thoughts that everyone had about blogging and balancing life and keeping organized.

The first question asked was: Where do does the pressure come from? The overwhelming response was… from ourselves.  The point being, if we are feeling blogging pressure at all it’s because we are doing to ourselves. Everyone agreed that we worry about writing perfectly, wanting to do more, comparing our blogs to others, feeling some peer pressure, worry about content, and etc. But in reality, we do this pressure thing to ourselves. No one else is making us do this. That being said and agreed on, we discussed the following questions:

What are some signs you are having blogger burnout?

  • withdraw from interacting and hide in a hole
  • not knowing what to say about the books you’re reading
  • feeling like you’re forcing content
  • having a lack of motivation
  • dreading writing a review, or even reading
  • much apathy toward blogging and other things in life

How do you minimize the stress?

  • be choosier about which books you read
  • take breaks
  • schedule posts
  • remember it’s a hobby and not a career
  • just don’t stress!
  • give yourself a pep talk
  • have a review reserve to fall back on
  • don’t review every single thing you read
  • recognize what you can and can’t do
  • take time to do other hobbies
  • break the self-inflicted rules (like “I must everyday! and etc)

What one thing would you eliminate from your routine if you could?

  • reading ARCS
  • cross posting
  • writing too many reviews
  • taking too long to write reviews
  • the need to post every day
  • getting on too many mailing lists

How do you keep blogging fun?

  • talk to other bloggers
  • blog what you want
  • be friendly and visit other blogs
  • participate in the community
  • just keep going!
  • learn and try new things
  • be creative
  • be silly
  • ramble
  • write non-bookish posts
  • have fun on Twitter
  • do some memes now and then
  • read what you want and not what you have to
  • write posts that entertain yourself and make you laugh

What advice would you give… to yourself and new bloggers?

  • It’s your blog, your rules.
  • find a niche
  • there are NO rules!
  • be yourself and have fun.
  • participate in the community
  • be original
  • make a list of ideas to fall back on
  • don’t have high expectations
  • don’t get on mailing lists
  • be careful of requesting too many ARCs
  • try things
  • remember why you started in the first place
  • blog for yourself and not your readers
  • make lots of friends!

We had lots of fun chit chatting tonight! If you want more advice for dealing with the pressures of blogging, be sure to check out the links on this page.

Thursday’s Twitter Chat Recap: Reviews

At this evenings chat, hosted by Jessica from The Bluestocking Society, we concentrated on discussing all the various aspects of reviewing books on our blogs.  Here are a few things that were brought up:

What do you think should be included in a review?

  • the book cover
  • a synopsis (most people use Goodreads, some write their own, most find it hard though, some read the synopsis, some skip it)
  • your rating
  • links to author’s page and/or twitter, other reviews, where you can buy the book, Goodreads
  • if you liked it or not!
  • book info

What should NOT be included?

  • SPOILERS!  (we discussed spoilers at length. Be sure to have a disclaimer if there are spoilers!)
  • don’t tell us the ending,  or if there’s a cliff hanger, or twists
  • don’t link to illegal downloads
  • don’t compare to other books, it might be an accidental spoiler!
  • A couple of sites were you can talk about a book and not worry about spoilers: The Socratic Salon and The Book Spoiler

What do you like to see in a review:

  • personality!
  • emotions!
  • if it’s a series and what number is it
  • gifs are fun sometimes, used sparingly
  • quotes, sometimes. Many people find quotes a fun thing to include.

How do you get your reviews to be unique?

  • change up the format
  • include the first line
  • thoughts on the first line or cover
  • why did you decide to read this book?
  • quotes and gifs
  • be snarky
  • interview the characters
  • make lists
  • create a discussion
  • use bullet points

What other content do you like to see in book blogger blogs besides book reviews?

  • Discussions!
  • personal posts
  • recipes and food articles
  • posts on crafting
  • movie and/or TV reviews
  • Top Tens
  • The Sunday Salon
  • lists and features

Some fun links to check out:

How to Write More Creative Book Reviews
A Treasure Trove of Blogging Ideas
Brainstorming Topics
Five Ways to Make Your Review Stand Out
Writing Negative Reviews
Brainstorming for Post Ideas
Blog Post Bingo

 

 

 

Wednesday’s Chat Recap: Display

Today we talked about what makes a blog page LOOK good! Here’s what was decided:

What You Should Have

  • an About Me page
  • review policy
  • rating scale
  • contact page
  • currently reading
  • search bar
  • social media follow me icons
  • subscribe options
  • recent posts

What NOT to Have

  • moving images
  • countdown widgets
  • too many ads
  • videos
  • automatically playing music
  • pop ups
  • too many images
  • links/images for every community you belong to!

What should an About Me page include?

  • your personality
  • who are you?
  • what do you do outside of reading?
  • what are your hobbies?
  • what’s your bloggy background?
  • some pictures would be fun!
  • what makes you unique?
  • what type of books do you like to read?

What makes a blog look nice and readable?

  • lots of white space
  • light backgrounds
  • no script fonts
  • no colored type (or very little)
  • breaks in text

Sidebars and Menus

  • maybe just have one sidebar with minimal content
  • three column layouts are out!
  • maybe you can get away with no sidebars? Maybe have stuff in a footer?
  • drop down menus are nice, but no more than 5 to 7 links
  • only have one row of tabs

Size? Any bigger then 700 px for your blog content area is too hard to read. Headers should be small, not take up the whole front page and should be no bigger than 350px.

We talked about so much more than this! At the end, we sent links to our blogs for instant feedback. If you missed out on that and are genuinely interested in feedback on your blog’s look, layout, colors, fonts, images, sidebars, etc.  we decided to try having a link here  for additional feedback.

Please, if you leave a link, plan to click around to the other links here and not only GET feedback but GIVE it too. Yes? Nice, helpful, constructive feedback!

Updated to add: Give your feedback by commenting on the person’s most recent blog post… or find their Twitter and send them a tweet. Will that work for everyone? 

Tuesday Chat Recap: E-Presence

We took our conversation from Monday… connecting with people… and expanded it to a larger level on Tuesday by talking about all of social media. It was one FAST chat and I’m sure I only caught a bit to share with you all in thisrecap! Here’s what I managed:

We unofficially ranked the most popular social media sites. Twitter is the huge favorite, followed by Facebook and Tumblr which are okay for some things, then Pinterest and Instagram which are only used by some, and then Google+ which most people don’t quite get.  And it’s rumored that it’s on it’s way out anyway.

Tips for Using Twitter

  • use hashtags
  • be an extrovert!
  • which means.. interact!
  • use tools to post your blog posts automatically
  • and schedule other tweets too
  • make use of Twitter lists
  • be selective of who you follow
  • it’s a party!
  • there was a debate between Tweetdeck and Hootsuite. Tweetdeck seems to be the favorite. Hootsuite seems to be more for professional use.

Tumblr

  • used by a younger crowd
  • seems to be growing and being used more
  • can post there automatically from other places
  • can catch a different crowd there than other places
  • some people like it for eye candy and to promote their fandoms

Pinterest and Instagram

  • people like to use these to get to know bloggers beyond their book blog and bookish hobby
  • Pinterest scares lots because of its time suck!

Facebook

  • everyone seems to use it but are sick of some of their strange practices
  • some people have blog pages there, but less than expected
  • they make you work too hard to get page views and such

General consensus: Facebook for personal interaction, Tumblr for fandoms, and Twitter for professional connections, Google+ for communities and hangouts, and Pinterest and Instagram for getting to know each other’s life outside of blogging!

Need some more challenges on certain aspects of social media!

Hmmm… should we drop everything all migrate back to MySpace? :)

Your Best Blogging Advice Ever!

 

A few of us were chatting one day (well some were chatting and I eavesdropped!) about the stress some people have been feeling lately with the whole blogging adventure. Some bloggers are forgetting to relax and have fun with it. Some bloggers get so worked up about blogging that they make some pretty dire mistakes and then a whole crazy incident happens.

We don’t want that to be your story! And so we’ve decided as part of Bloggiesta week this time around, we’d open up a discussion about the best blogging advice you’ve ever been given. Or the best blogging advice you’d like to give. Please write a post on your own blogs sometime during this week and come back here to link up. If we have a bunch of you participate, it will create this wonderful resource for bloggers to go to when they are feeling the need for help and understanding.

Also, we’d like to give a plug to the Book Blogging Buddy System which is currently being revived. This is where a veteran blogger is paired with a newbie blogger to help with whatever that blogger needs as part of their launch into the blogging world. It’s also a place where you can go to ask any sort of blogging question you have. What a fun and fabulous idea! Be sure to head on over and sign up if you either need help or want to help.

So, what’s the best blogging advice you’ve been given? Write a post and then link up here:

Monday’s Twitter Chat Recap: PEOPLE

We’ve just had a crazy fast Twitter chat, all about people and the connections we make with them through blogging. Much of the conversation centered around comments and followers.  Here are a few things we discussed:

How do you get more comments?

  • make sure it’s easy to comment on your blog. No CAPTCHA
  • get out more! participate!
  • end your posts with a question
  • visit other blogs and leave comments there
  • engage on Twitter

What comment platforms do you like?

  • Disqus is a favorite, though some people have issues making it work on their blogs
  • CommentLuv is a popular one too
  • Everyone seemed to dislike Intense Debate
  • WordPress has a good default system
  • Blogger’s is not liked, though some people haven’t ever really had an issue with it
  • Make to use something that gives readers options, and don’t force them to sign in

Any rules for comment? Do’s and Don’t’s?

  • Don’t promote your blog and add a link
  • Write in your own voice.
  • Be polite if your comment is to disagree with something.
  • Did we say, no links? :)

What posts get you the most comments?

  • NOT book reviews! Least amount of comments usually.
  • Discussion posts
  • Sunday Salon posts
  • monthly updates
  • Top Ten Tuesday
  • Book haul posts
  • any sort of creative post
  • posts on life and motherhood
  • lists
  • reviews on back list books get more comments than reviews on front list books

Other random tidbits:

  • most people don’t worry about numbers much, but it is nice to see which reviews are more popular than others
  • Twitter is better for a conversation than blog comments
  • “Twitter is for conversation, blog is for content.” — Belle
  • “Numbers matter to brands, people matter to bloggers. ” — Create With Joy

 

Ah, there was so much more! Sorry I couldn’t catch it all! I’m telling you, it was FAST! But this will give you a feel for the conversation. Tomorrow at 7 pm Eastern we’ll talk more about social media. Come with questions!

 

Bloggiesta March 2015 Starting Line

Mark, get set, go! Welcome to our first ever week long Bloggiesta!  It’s time NOW to get working on those blogs! And if you haven’t done so already, be sure to link up your To Do Lists on this post here. That’s how you’ll let everyone else know you are here and participating!

And…in case you are new to this event, here are a few things to remember.

HOW TO PARTY

  • Bloggiesta begins now and runs through Sunday night… wherever you are. We don’t have specific starting and ending times…. just Monday March 23 through Sunday March 29… wherever and whenever you are in the world!
  • Plan to spend as much time as you can working on your to do list and completing mini challenges. Don’t worry about having the entire week to devote to this, but do challenge yourself to put in some good hours to the project.
  • Feel free to update your progress any way you see fit. You can simply cross things off your list, or write a couple of update posts. We will have a Finish Line Post link up here on Sunday for anyone wishing to link up their summary posts (or crossed off lists.)

HOW TO CONNECT

  • Much of our connection with each other will be happening on Twitter. Be sure to follow @Bloggiesta and the hashtag #bloggiesta. You can also check out everyone’s Twitter handle on the sign up list and follow them.
  • Be sure to join us for the Twitter chats. They are a blast! We’ll be having themed chats again. Here’s the schedule:
    • March 23rd at 4:00 p.m. Eastern: PEOPLE: Giving and Getting
      Comments and Followers
    • Tuesday March 24th 7 p.m. Eastern: E-PRESENCE: Social Media Savvy
    • Wednesday March 25th at 12 p.m. noon Eastern:DISPLAY:  Side Bars and  Page Layout
    • Thursday March 26th at 9 p.m. Eastern: REVIEWS and Other Content Ideas (guest hosted by Jessica from The Bluestocking Society)
    • Friday March 27th at 9 p.m. Eastern: ORGANIZE: No Stress Allowed (guest hosted by Amanda from On a Book Bender)
    • Saturday March 28th at 2:00 p.m. Eastern: Books and Reading (guest hosted byRachel Noel from Purple Owl Reviews)
    • Sunday March 29th at 3 p.m. Eastern: Feedback and Free for All
  • Also, plan to do lots of blog hopping by clicking on participants links (See the sign up links here.) Send lots of encouragement everyone’s way and help out with your expertise on all bloggish things! This is a big part of the whole idea of Bloggiesta!
  • Be sure to participate in as many mini challenges as you can! The new ones are listed here, and previous challenges are listed here. Give our awesome challenge hosts lots of link love and ask them lots of questions!

And that’s about all there is to it! Go forth and blog your hearts out!