January 5, 2012

Busting the Newbie Blues!

I participated in this event hosted by Small Review last time, and I'm joining in again! Basically it's an event to help newbie bloggers spread the word about their blogs, make connections in the blogosphere, and get some of their questions answered. Both new and old bloggers are welcome to participate! You can find all the info HERE. There's also a separate Busting the Big Blogger Blues event, hosted by Ruby's Reads, geared towards oldie bloggers :)

So, how it works is: you pick a questionnaire to answer, post your answers, and then hop around to the other participants' blogs. It's held during all of January, so come join in!

I chose the "established blogger" questionnaire:
  1. When did you start your blog? 
May 2010, officially...but I only started actually letting people other than my family know about my blog in July of that year. Wow, can't believe it's been 1 and a half years! O_O

     2. Do you ever still feel like a newbie?

Sure do! Whenever I participate in a new kind of event or something's getting discussed in the blogosphere that I have no idea about, then I get that "what's going on? I don't understand..." feeling again. But generally I do feel a lot more confident about my blogging than I did a year and a half ago!

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

Well, I found organizing and running an entire event last year (Psychtember) to be pretty stressful and daunting. But in the end I think it was quite successful, so I'm pleased about that! My mistake in terms of Psychtember may have been trying too hard to do too much in too little time, LOL. But hey, better too much than too little, I think!

      4. What did you find most discouraging about being a new blogger? How did you deal with this? 
The follower count and getting comments. I would get super excited whenever my follower number increased (okay, who am I kidding, I'm still happy when that happens!) But now I've got some very loyal followers who comment regularly (*waves* hey everyone!) and I'd much rather have that than a bunch of followers I feel I don't really know at all. In terms of comments, basically, you'll get them if you comment on other blogs. Also, you may get them when you least expect them...it's a bit of a "watched pot never boils" thing.

Another thing I found discouraging was seeing all these other bloggers getting tons of ARCs, back when I didn't receive any at all. This is more just a matter of time — getting your blog established — than anything else. But it's also sometimes a matter of making the effort to contact a publisher and request a review copy.

      5. What do you find most encouraging?
I always love it when I hear from authors I admire! I'm thrilled if they tweet at me or e-mail me...the novelty of this hasn't worn off yet and I hope it never does :)

Also, the comments. Comments are what makes the blogosphere go round. Especially thoughtful, substantive ones.

      6.  If you could go back in time and speak with your newbie self, what five bits of wisdom would you tell yourself?
Good question! Hmmmm....

a) Do NOT stress so much about followers and comments. They are not a reflection of the quality of your blog. Instead, concentrate on doing what YOU'D like to do with your blog.

b) Participate in blogging events, but try not to bite off more than you can chew. Consider how much time and energy you have to devote to a particular project.

c) Don't be afraid to try new things with your blog. It'll help get you out of any blogging slumps you find yourself in.

d) HTML code isn't as scary as it looks. You can figure it out! (...at least to some degree...)

e) Be patient. Publisher contacts and ARCs will come eventually.

      7. What do you like best about the blogs you read? Have you tried to replicate this in your blog? 
In terms of appearance, I like blogs with clean, uncluttered layouts (but not sparse or drained of colour), with colours that aren't too hard on the eyes. Often I'm envious of the blogs with the fancy, themed layouts that you can pay for, but since I don't have the money to spend on those right now, I've made do with my own limited design skills.

In terms of content, I appreciate reviews that are thoughtfully written, with minimal grammar and spelling errors. I like reviews that give me a sense of the book and the reader's opinion without giving away major spoilers! Also, spoiler warnings are excellent. I value bloggers who do not shy away from giving honest but negative ratings and critical comments in their reviews, but who accomplish this eloquently, without bashing the author.

Blogs that have a variety of posts — memes, reviews, discussions, event posts — are appreciated. And I enjoy blog posts that make me smile :)

Overall, I hope that I've managed to replicate some of these aspects in my own blog!

        8. What do you dislike about blogs you’ve seen? Do you try to avoid this? 
I've said it before and I'll say it again: light font on a dark background doesn't work well. Really cluttered blogs can be difficult to navigate, and music that starts playing as soon as I get there? PLEASE, NO. Even those countdown widgets with sound drive me crazy.

Bloggers who gush equally about every single book make me skeptical, and reviews riddled with spelling/grammar mistakes make me wince. I do try to avoid most of these things in my blog.

        9. How did you bring your blog to the attention of so many people? 
Originally, the Book Blogger Hop (hosted by Jennifer at Crazy For Books) was probably the number one way I gained followers — it was a wonderful way to increase blog traffic! Since then, participation in various events around the blogosphere (including co-hosting one, and hosting another) and memes like Waiting on Wednesday have been quite helpful. Twitter, too, has been useful in this regard. I'm still trying to work on this aspect, though :)

        10. When and how did you get your first ARC (or first few ARCs)? 
I believe my very first ARC was for the A Cornucopia of Dystopia event I co-hosted with Casey from The Bookish Type. We contacted publishers about our event and the books we were hoping to highlight, and several of them sent us review copies. I remember being SO EXCITED that it said "advance reader's copy" (or words to that effect) on the book :D

Hope my answers have been at least somewhat helpful to newbie bloggers reading this post! Oldie bloggers, how would you respond to these questions?


  1. I thought you did a fantastic job organizing Psychtember, Danya, and participating in the A Cornucopia of Dystopia event made me more open to reading dystopians. It's still not my favourite genre but I've realized that for the most part I do like faster paced dystopians.

    I hate it when there's music playing too. It's so distracting while you read a post so I just usually leave right away.

  2. You know, I consider myself lucky because I have yet to stumble upon these music playing blogs everyone is talking about! I can't fathom why someone would do that, it's a really quick way to drive someone out of your blog. That event does seem stressful but I'm glad it all paid off in the end!

  3. Thanks for stopping by at my blog Danya!

    I have to say that I love what you've done with your blog, even though you're not that good with HTML (I know how that feels, haha).

    I'm co-hosting my first event next week... I'm pretty nervous about it, but looking forward to it at the same time.

  4. Hi Danya, I found you through Small Review's Newbie Blues event. I love your post and you're very good at putting your thoughts into words. I know it's something that I still struggle with. It's comforting to know that even established reviewers can still feel new sometimes. And thanks for the advice in question 6A. I periodically panic about numbers, but it's time I just let it go. Or so I keep repeating to myself.


  5. Hi, Danya :)

    I love your long, thoughtful answers here. One of the first things I look at when visiting a new blog is their labels/tags to see if they have tagged their reviews with the rating they gave.

    I really value a blog that can give honest, low ratings on a book that they had issues with and explain why without making it seem like a personal attack on the author. I'm still struggling with that myself, so I end up stalking a lot of blogs' labels :)

  6. I was the same as a newbie, playing the follower game, feeling thrilled whenever I got a new follower, heartbroken whenever I lost one (always thinking, what did I do wrong?). It was the most relieving thing to realize, as you did, that loyal followers were far more important than lots of unknown ones. Also, if someone doesn't want to follow you back or decides to unfollow, don't take it personally because they probably didn't mean it personally!

  7. I'm totally with you on still getting excited when my follower count goes up and flipping out when an author I admire will talk to me! Great advice on joining the Book Blogger Hop, that is just such a great meme to meet wonderful people!

  8. Haha html terrifies me now, and I have *extremely* limited design skills, too. (As in, I can copy and paste the code for a free background and that's about it.) Your header is so cool, though. Did you make it yourself? And I love when I get thoughtful comments. It's the best feeling in the world knowing someone has not only read your post, but cared about it enough to put effort into replying to it. And I know what you mean about typos. I'm sure I have plenty of my own, but I always proofread my posts twice before publishing to catch as many as I can.

  9. Thank you so much for participating!

    If you hadn't told us Psychtember was your first time

    I loved Psychtember! You pulled that off like a PRO. I also love that you write long, detailed reviews and I like how you occasionally switch up your review style.

    Your five bits of wisdom are great. I need to listen to them now. Especially B and C! I'm mostly ok with the followers bit now, though I felt exactly like Aylee (in her comment).

  10. Im a old follower www.thephantomparagrapher.blogspot.com


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