As many of you know, I'm taking part in a blogging panel on Sunday at YALC alongside Jim from YAYeahYeah and Lucy from The Queen of Contemporary. The blogging workshop is entitled Taking Your Blog to the Next Level. Firstly I would like to make it clear that I don't see myself as being any more experienced at blogging than anyone else. I think it would be extremely big headed and insensitive of me to even remotely think I was classed as better than someone else. Being chosen for this event, is purely a subjective choice.
There are some amazing people who review books out there who are more popular and get a lot more hits than I do. They don't necessarily even use a blog to review their books. Reviewers such as Stacey from Pretty Books, who runs an extremely successful Tumblr account and Casey from Dark Readers alongside Ben from Benjaminoftomes who both run highly popular Instagram and Youtube accounts. Sarah from Feeling Fictional is one of the top reviewers on Amazon and Goodreads. And don't even get me started on the adult book bloggers! So as you can see, I'm just one of many.
When I started blogging, I learnt from some of the best:
Jenny from Wondrous Reads,
Liz from My Favourite Books,
Emma from Bookangel Booktopia,
Sarah from Feeling Fictional,
Kirsty from The Overflowing Library,
Carly from Writing From The Tub,
Michelle from Fluttering Butterflies,
Darren from The Book Zone for Boys,
Sophie from So Little Time, So Many Books,
Lynsey from Narratively Speaking.
When I think of experienced bloggers, these are the people who come to mind. Not me. They are the reason I blog and if you are looking for awesome people to follow then these are the ones you need to seek out.
So what does taking the blog to the next level actually mean?
- More followers?
- More free books?
- More invites to events?
- Sharing your passion about books to a wider audience?
-Having somewhere to record your inner thoughts about a book that has moved you to tears?
Personally I think it comes down to the individual blogger - before you can move forward, you need to know what you want to gain from it; to map out the direction you wish to take.
My blogging journey lives up to my blog name. Serendipity knocked at my door and I followed. When I started, I had no set plan and no goals. Looking back on my blogging journey, with the help of my husband, Darren, I realised that I may have unconsciously followed a certain blogging route, that created knowledge I could pass onto others to maybe help them on there way.
So here is my list of tips to taking your blog to the next level.
1) Know your target audience.
If you want to reach a particular group of readers, then you need to know what they like and dislike in order to cater for their needs. I have a huge interest in writing, so I tend to run a lot of posts that look at the mechanics of creating a book. I stalk authors and nag them to come on my blog, in order to tell me their writing secrets. This is purely a selfish reason but I've found that many other authors and unpublished writers really enjoy these posts. So my target audience tends to be authors, unpublished writers and SCBWI members.
2) Define your mission.
Where do you want to be a year from now? How are you going to get there?What methods and actions can you use to increase your readership? Competitions can be very popular. Blog hops are also an option. Taking part in memes will get you networking with other bloggers. These are just a few examples of how to increase your readership. I used to dabble in all of these and I'm certain they helped when I started out.
3) Be unique.
I tend to do a lot of my own style posts on the blog. I have set author guest posts that I like to use and thankfully appeal to authors and readers. I think that may have had a lot to do with the reason why I won Champion of Content at the UKYA Blogger Awards earlier this year, founded by author, Andy Robb. If you want to stand out from other bloggers, do your own thing. Don't copy or steal features, because that is the quickest way to lose credibility.
4) Learn to talk the Twitter way
To be a successful blogger, I really think you have to be on Twitter. It has a huge effect on your followers. Some may disagree, but I wouldn't be without it. You need to be talking to authors, publicists and other bloggers. This is one of the fastest ways to increase your readership and to get noticed. This is networking at its best.
5) 100% commitment and endurance
A blog takes a lot of work and many hours of your time. Posts need to be prepared in advance. Success doesn't happen overnight. Are you prepared to put your life on hold so that you can write another post, or read another book for review? I hate to think how much time, I've put into the blog over the years.
6) Be Careful What You Wish For
Running a successful blog can be draining. You can often feel the pressure to review books by a certain time and often that TBR pile comes tumbling down. So as exciting and magical as it may seem, there are times it can be too much. Remember you have a life outside of blogging and learn to balance them. Books will always be there, people won't.
7) It's OK to say no.
On discussing this post with Laura from Sister Spooky, she mentioned this one point and I agree completely with her. As a blogger you often feel under pressure to say yes to publishers because you don't want to be left out or seen as not joining in. It doesn't work that way. Publishers know how many books you have to read. They won't beat you with a stick, or send you to coventry or even, God forbid, stopping sending you review books. And even if they did, you know what, it's OK, because YOU CAN ALWAYS JUST BUY THE BOOK! It's your blog! You worked hard to get where you are and you pretty much did it on your own or if you are lucky like me, with the help of other contributors ( a little shout out to KM Lockwood and the rest of the gang here). So feel confident enough to say no occasionally to the things that don't suit you.
So that's my advice. Take it or leave it. It worked for me, but I'm certainly no Oracle on this subject. I will still be chugging along, stalking authors to come on my blog and making a nuisance of myself, on that journey to 1 million blog hits!