December 3, 2010

Busting the Newbie Blues!

Small Review is hosting an event called "Busting the Newbie Blues," to help new bloggers figure out the ropes and connect with other bloggers. She's inviting new and established bloggers to answer some questions about their experience, and I think it's a great idea so I've joined in! You can find all the details here.

I've been blogging for over 5 months now, so I chose the "established" blogger questionnaire, although really I am probably somewhere in between :)

1. When did you start your blog? Well, the first post is dated May of this year, but I really didn’t get going and become involved with the book blogging community until July.

2. Why did you start your blog? I’d happened upon several other book blogs and I was using them to get ideas of what books I should read, so I thought – hey, why don’t I start up my own? I love to read and I love to discuss books with others, so it totally made sense.

3. What has been the biggest challenge you’ve faced so far? Did you make any mistakes new bloggers can learn from?

One thing I found challenging was balancing blogging with the rest of my life. Don’t let it take over your life! If one of your posts doesn’t get any comments, don’t stress about it. If you don’t post any reviews one week, it’s okay. We all have lives and blogging is just one part of it!

4. What did you find most discouraging about being a new blogger? How did you deal with this?

As a new blogger it can be difficult to really get to know some of the other bloggers. Mostly this just takes time, but also I found that getting involved on Twitter was really helpful in making more connections (with both bloggers and authors!) Another great idea is getting involved in events going on in the book blogosphere – there is always something going on! And just generally, posting meaningful comments on other blogs helps – often when someone posts a thoughtful comment on my blog, I’ll hop over to theirs and comment back, and we get a bit of a conversation going.

The process of gaining followers might also sometimes seem discouraging – I would recommend not focusing on how many followers any other blogger has. If you’re new, it’s going to take time to get established, and if your reviews are good and you interact with the community, you will slowly but surely gain followers! The Book Blogger Hop is also a great way to spread the word.

5. What do you find most encouraging?

I really enjoy the sense of belonging in the book blogging community, it’s just so fabulous that there are so many other book-lovers out there (and even just the number of YA book blogs is amazing!) Also, I always find comments encouraging — sometimes a really thoughtful comment will make my day :)

6. What do you like best about the blogs you read? Have you tried to replicate this in your blog?

I like layouts that are not too cluttered and easy to read, and graphics that aren’t hard on the eyes, so I tried to incorporate that into my blog design. I really appreciate it when a blog has a menu for their reviews (otherwise it can be difficult to find them!) and they are ordered alphabetically, so I created that for mine soon after I started.

I also noticed that some bloggers did features or memes, so I started a couple of my own (my Forget-Me-Nots feature, and a seasonal “All I Want For Christmas” meme). That was actually pretty exciting!

In terms of reviews, I like quality content with decent grammar, punctuation and spelling (otherwise I will get distracted and not be able to focus on the review itself). I enjoy reading reviews that do a good job of explaining why they loved/liked/hated the book without giving too much away. Reading a spoiler in a review can be a downer, so I appreciate it when you must highlight the text to read the spoiler (or at the very least, a clear warning a spoiler is coming). I learned to avoid this once I figured out how to make white text in my posts, so now anything I consider spoilery you can’t read unless you highlight it!

And reviews that are really long are easier to read if they are broken down somehow. I am often guilty of long, in-depth reviews, but I do usually split it into sections so it isn’t one huge paragraph that the reader can get lost in.

7. What do you dislike about blogs you’ve read? Do you try to avoid this?

Pretty much the opposite of my answer for #6 :D

Clashing colours, white text on a black background, copious grammar/punctuation/spelling errors in reviews, and insufficient spoiler warnings are a few things that will frustrate me.

8. Do you have any advice for new bloggers?

Interact with other bloggers. That’s probably the number one piece of advice from me. A lot of the blogs I visit the most frequently are the ones where I feel I’ve made a connection with another blogger. Memes are a great way to do this (Top Ten Tuesday, In My Mailbox, Waiting on Wednesday, Book Blogger Hop, etc.), or even just commenting on reviews or other posts. Twitter is also helpful this way, because it’s quite casual.

Also, I’d recommend always reading some books that are purely for your enjoyment and not for review.  Once you do gain a fair number of followers you may start to feel some pressure to do things on your blog in a certain way (for instance, perhaps you find it intimidating that some bloggers post way more reviews than you do in a week). Try not to stress about any of that. Remember that it’s your blog and you can do exactly what you like with it. It should remain fun for you! :)

9. How did you bring your blog to the attention of so many people?

LOL, I’m not sure I’ve accomplished that yet! I think you can get exposure for your blog from a number of different things. If you’re really new, I’d suggest the Book Blogger Hop, as I found that really helpful starting out. Any participation in events around the blogosphere (memes, challenges, etc.) will help spread the word, though.

10. Is there anything else you’d like to share about your experience?

Just that I’ve been enjoying myself so far and hope the new bloggers do as well!


  1. Hi Danya! I completely agree with so many of your answers, when I first started I was a little obsessed with it and I forgot that I had a life outside of the blog. It was all shiny and new and I wanted to post everything I could and get comments and meet other bloggers, it's so easy to get caught up! Leaving meaningful comments on other blogs has been the big thing for me, I know I love getting comments, so that's been one of the best ways to get to know other bloggers outside of the hops and things. Fabulous answers! Hope you have a great weekend:)

  2. As the first established blogger in the event it was interesting to read your thoughts. I do think a lot of us newbie bloggers focus too much on followers. One question that came to mind whilst I was reading, regarding followers, that I hope you don't mind me asking. When someone follows you, do you feel obliged to follow them back?

    Thanks for some great answers.

  3. This is such a wonderful idea, I've popped over to Small Review's blog too and I'l be joining in soon!

    I agree with lots of your answers too, you've phrased it all beautifully. I think that it's so easy to get swept away by how big the book blogging world is at first but once you build a little community within the blogs you visit most and participate in memes and hops, everything becomes clearer. However, I think that Jenny is right when it comes to becoming a bit obsessed with posting and visiting as a newbie blogger.

  4. Hi Danya. Thanks for your visit and for answering my question. I have been in that position a few times even in my short time as a blogger. It's good to know I'm not the only one who feels a little awkward about it. :)

  5. Hey Danya! I also agree with a lot of your answers. I mainly started mine because I'm constantly being asked for recommendations from friends who are either teachers, parents, or avid readers like me. I also think establishing your unique "voice" in the blogosphere is important too. We each have our own unique style and reaction to books which makes this blogging community so much fun. Hope you get your copy of "Matched" soon. It's on its way and have a fabulous weekend!

  6. New blogger and new follower here :D

    I love your advice, and yes, we have a life outside blogging that we should enjoy!

    Check out my answers here

  7. I totally agree - Twitter is an awesome way to meet new blogger friends and authors! The accessability of authors is really amazing. Also, totally agree - copious grammar errors make me a little nuts. I should really be an English teacher LOL. This is such a great event! I'm totally participating tomorrow. Right now, I seriously need to crash.

  8. Danya, I love your blog, and I love your answers! It's so true that the book blogging community is close-knit and fun to be a part of. I totally agree that interaction is key. If someone consistently comments on my blog with meaningful things, I'm 100 times more likely to drop by and follow their blog, too!

    I love what you have done and continue to do with your site, and I'm so glad to have met you in this community :)

  9. Really interesting to know what you dislike in a blog and helps me as a blogger. I also did this.

  10. Thanks so much for participating, and for putting the button on your sidebar! (Yes, I might have jumped up and down a little when I saw that!)

    I loved reading what you like and dislike about blogs and how you've tried to work those preferences into your own blog. I really appreciate it when bloggers do things like make the text the same color as the background or put spoiler tags so you don't accidentally read any spoilers.

    I'm also glad to see you mention time and not letting the blog take over your life. I've had to really try to manage my time and last night I had to convince myself to just close the computer and go to sleep already! It can easily take over your life if you're not careful. You gave very good advice, thank you.

    The Slowest Bookworm, I do feel uncomfortable sometimes with following. I try to only follow blogs that I intend to read.

    I also love what Rummanah Aasi has said about finding your "voice." Was this an issue for you, Danya, or did it come naturally?

  11. OMGosh it is so reassuring to read that I shouldn't worry so much about posting many reviews weekly like some bloggers do! How do they manage it?
    Also, it was interesting to read about what one of the things you like best in a blog, a design that is organized. I have such a long way to go with the design of my blog and I have no idea what I'm doing, lol! I'm learning about html slowly, very slowly.

  12. Ah, yes! Spoilers! How could I forget about those? I've been coming across them more and more, and they nearly always turn me away from reading the specific book because I don't like knowing what already happens. Such a good point.

  13. I loved your advice on not letting blogging take over your life. It can be pretty stressful trying to push yourself to put out content day in and day out.

    I've had to work a lot on grammar and punctuation, as English is my second language and sometimes I write funny, but I think it's worthy the effort to proof read, it helps me a lot.

    Thanks for the great advice all around :)

  14. All of that was awesome advice! I JUST started a blog so I'm really glad I read this. Thank you :)

  15. I love your advice for spoilers in a review! I don't think I've ever included a spoiler in a review I've written but I love the idea of having to highlight the section of the review to read it.

    I really need to remember that I started my blog for fun. There are times when I feel stressed if I can't finish a book faster or if I'm having trouble reviewing it for the blog.

  16. I loved reading your answers just like everyone else. I think you had some very good points. It's funny I do get stressed over it, and I know I shouldn't. I have been trying to keep balance between things but it sometimes doesn't work for me. Sorry now I'm just babbling on. Anyways, nice answers.

  17. Balancing blogging and life can be difficult. For example, it's after midnight and I'm having fun commenting when I should be sleeping. Even 6 months into blogging, I still get super-excited about the blog and have to pace myself.

    Life you, I have a huge pet peeve of black background with white text - actually a black background period.

  18. I think networking is really good advice when starting out because it allows you to not only meet people but also gets them to know about you. I don't have Facebook and Twitter so I've found one of the easiest way to connect is by leaving comments. For some reason, I learned about the Dashboard feature really recently - I've been told so many times that I live in my own world and miss the most obvious things - so now it becomes really easy for me to check out what's going on all the blogs I follow.

    P.S. The first thing I saw when I stopped by was your profile and here's what I thought: Someone who has a degree in psychology and she's a fellow Canadian! Yay!

  19. I agree how you shouldn't let blogging take over. And thank you so much for saying it's okay if you can't put up a post one week and such, because that does happen to me! And yes, the blogging community is so accepting and knows how to welcome new bloggers like you and me! Such as this Busting The Newbie Blues event!


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