July 28, 2019
To celebrate my two-year Blogiversary, I’ll reflect on what I wish I knew two years ago and offer a GIVEAWAY!
10 Things I Wish I Knew Two Years Ago as a Beginning Blogger:
I wish I knew how much time I would devote to social media.
- I wish I knew about the amount of time social media requires.
- Time: 2-3 hours every morning on Instagram, Twitter, Goodreads, Facebook. Pinterest, and blog comments (my blog and others). As I read blogs, I comment, like, and often share the posts on Twitter. Sometimes I link up with other bloggers (Top Ten Tuesday for example).
- Instagram: Engage with the bookstagram community and post my own content. In order to share posts on Instagram, I first need to create a picture (because I read digitally, I use PhotoGrid to create graphics using book covers in lieu of using physical books……setting up physical books for a photo shoot would take even more time than creating a graphic in PhotoGrid). One more option to consider with Instagram is setting up the LinkTr.ee app which will enable you to add more than one link to your profile.
- Goodreads: Check in at least once a day and engage with the reviews in my feed, or I post a review (always adding my blog link to the end of the review).
- Pinterest: Check for notifications and look to see what I can pin. On days that I publish a post, I pin my post to several group boards (it took me a while to figure out how to find and join the boards in my niche). I create my Pinterest images using a Canva template.
- Twitter: Check my notifications, retweet, comment, and look for opportunities to share a blog link.
- Facebook: From my personal page, I engage with many book groups I follow and post my blog links when the opportunity arises. Then I post links or memes on my blog’s FB page.
- Throughout the day, I also respond to various notifications from my morning’s engagement on social media. In the evening, I will often revisit my morning routine to take advantage of more opportunities to share my blog link.
- I wish I had all the social media set up and ready to go the day I launched my blog, it would have been a lot smoother and more effective. It took me months to set up all my social media accounts. It took me about a year to finally get around to Twitter (eventually, Jennefer-TarHeelReader was kind enough to comment that she couldn’t share my blog on twitter and offered encouragement to help me get that set up!). I missed a lot of promotion opportunities by not having Twitter set up from Day One because I receive more views from Twitter than any other social media platform. It’s extremely easy for readers to click and share your blog post to Twitter for you!
- Best Tip: Make sure all your social media accounts reflect your blog name in some way.
I wish I knew how much bloggers benefit from each other’s support and encouragement.
One of the unexpected joys of blogging is discovering your people! It’s been thrilling to make blogging friends around the world, comment on and follow their blogs, tweet their posts, and follow their social media…..be KIND and SUPPORTIVE and you will build a community! Recently, I created a TWELVE blogger collaborative post. Over the months as I follow bloggers’ reviews, make comments, share their work, and engage with their social media accounts, we establish some camaraderie. When I reached out to see if twelve of them would like to collaborate on a post, every one of them joined the effort! See the post here. Blogging can be a lonely experience and finding your people can make a huge difference in the enjoyment factor of your blogging endeavors. You will find that most bloggers are kind and responsive to your efforts.
I wish I knew more about optimizing SEO from the beginning.
- These are a few of the SEO tips I’ve learned in two years and are simple steps you can take in your very first post to optimize SEO.
- Title: Your title should always be Heading1.
- Key Words: Think about the key words in your title and use those key words strategically throughout your post (including in subheadings and picture file names). For my book review posts, the book title is my key word, and it’s easy to use the title several times throughout the post. When I’m naming my pictures, I always use key words.
- Graphics/Pictures: Use engaging pictures, graphics, and/or Gifs to break up your text and create engagement and interest.
- Structure: To break up the text, use heading, subheadings, short paragraphs, bullet points if possible, a conclusion that includes key words, and a call to action (there are other considerations, but these are a few of the basics). If I were more cool and accomplished, I would have added a few GIFS to this post…..I need to up my game!
- Links: In your content, look for ways to include the link(s) to a previous post(s) and/or outside resources.
I wish I knew the importance of and where to get free images.
It was a learning curve for me to realize that even if I credit a source for a picture, that this is NOT the same as having permission to use it. I still need to return to some of my first posts and replace google images with images from sites such as Canva, Unsplash, Pixabay, etc. It would have been easier and more legally minded of me to be clear on picture usage from the beginning. It’s still tempting to use a Google image when I have something in mind and I can’t find a comparable image in any of my free resources. I’m practicing restraint!
I wish I knew some of my “work smarter’ tips from the beginning.
Honestly, it takes time and practice to streamline your work. I’m embarrassed to tell you though that it didn’t occur to me to make a template until year two of my blog! I’m not saying I didn’t have a good idea of the components of my post. From the beginning, I knew the format I would use for a post. What I didn’t do is create an actual physical template of that format. I think I was so preoccupied with learning the logistics of blog production that it took all my brain power. It wasn’t until some of it became routine that my brain was freed up to think about finally working smarter. Now I have templates for a basic review post, my 1st Line/1st Paragraph post, and my monthly wrap up post. These templates save me many minutes on each post and add up to hours at the end of a month. Through repetition and practice, you, too, will discover time-saving measures.
I wish I knew more about the importance of quantity.
When I started blogging, I absolutely was committed to consistency. I knew this was extremely important because before I started blogging, I was a consumer of blogs. Nothing bugged me more than inconsistency. So when I started out, I was determined to post consistently no matter what! I made the arbitrary decision to post on Fridays. In two years, I have never missed a Friday deadline. This was all great until I realized that the most successful bloggers were posting multiple times a week. So, about three months ago I decided to push myself to publish one extra post per week. Immediately, I noticed that my number of views showed steady growth. Encouraged by this phenomenon, the next month I decided that if I could do one extra post per week, I might be able to produce two extra posts per week. Again, I enjoyed a nice boost in my stats for monthly views. In order to produce content three times per week, I needed a doable plan. I keep Fridays as my main content of the week: a full book review. For my other posts, I look for memes I can participate in like TopTenTuesday and 1st Line/1st Paragraph. Memes are easier for me than my Friday reviews because memes are usually short responses (or in the case of TopTenTuesday, a bullet list). I can create a 1st Line/1st Paragraph post in about thirty minutes; whereas, a Friday review can take three or four hours. Occasionally, there might be a tag or topic I want to respond to in a quick post. I KNOW now that more posts result in more views. (It also requires more of my social media time to promote the extra posts). Most important, though, is that you need to do you! Find a quantity and consistency balance that works for you.
I wish I knew how important it would be to keep a running list of future blog topics for future inspiration.
Now, at the beginning of the month when I sit down to plan, I already have a brainstorming list of topics available. Some of the ideas for your list will come to you spontaneously and other times you will be motivated by other bloggers (always give a shout out for inspiration!). For convenience, I keep this list in the notes app on my phone.
I wish I knew how much “happiness” I would find.
Gretchen Rubin in her book The Happiness Project (which I wrote about here for my first Blogiversary) suggests that one path to happiness is trying something new and challenging……establishing and maintaining a blog continues to be a source of happiness for me.
I wish I had used NetGalley from Day One.
I jumped into blogging the day I retired from my teaching career. I hadn’t thought too much about social media or how I would afford the 100+ books a year I would read. Of course, the learning curve of the first year consumed me, and I didn’t think about getting books from sources such as NetGalley until Year Two. I recently received my 25 Book Badge from NetGalley. I might be slower than some in earning my badges because I’m careful to request books that I’m fairly sure I’ll like, and I am committed to keeping my 80% Badge!
I wish I knew that however I decided to blog was OK!
In the beginning, I was too worried about my content, structure, and voice. Just do you! Take inspiration from other bloggers…..but know that your blog will be unique and it will be fine. You can and will tweak along the way. Just START! We need your voice.
ANYONE can blog! I hope I’ve provided some encouragement, motivation, or helpful tips. I realize that two years is not a long time, but I’m happy to share my journey and answer questions.
QOTD: What is one question you have about blogging?
Two Year STATS:
Before we get to the GIVEAWAY, I’d like to share stats with my fellow blog nerds (feel free to scroll through!):
Total views: 45,534
Total followers: 1,059
Total posts: 197
Most viewed post: Where the Crawdads Sing (day after day, week after week, and month after month, this is the most searched for and viewed post! ….it’s one popular book!)
First follower: Gail Wallace @ The Junia Project (thank you dear faithful friend!)
Most recent follower: Judy St. Hillaire @ Tiny Tots Poetry (thanks for the follow and welcome!)
2nd Blogiversary GIVEAWAY!
Thank you, Readers and Followers, for supporting me! I hope my reviews have encouraged you in your reading endeavors and have helped you find some great reads! To celebrate I’m offering a Giveaway!
Giveaway limited to followers who can receive an Amazon digital title (sorry I don’t have an international account….it’s on my to-do list).
I’m giving away ONE ebook of your choice not to exceed $20.00 (U.S.). You must supply an email address and be able to receive an ebook from Amazon (U.S.).
To enter the giveaway:
1. You must be following this blog (please don’t follow to unfollow because that’s rude and uncool), and you must be at least 18 years old.
2. To enter, please comment on this post and let me know if you’ve read a book or added a book to your TBR as a result of reading the blog.
3. Please share this post on Social Media (you can easily do that by clicking the share options at the end of this post). Please let me know in your comment that you’ve shared this post.
4. Entries close at midnight PST on Sunday, August 11, 2019.
Good Luck! The winner will be chosen at random on August 12 and announced on the blog on Thursday, August 15 (and I’ll respond to your comment so that you receive a notification). If I don’t hear from the winner in 24 hours, I will draw another winner.
Happy Reading Book Buddies!
“Ah, how good it is to be among people who are reading.”
~Rainer Maria Rilke
“I love the world of words, where life and literature connect.”
~Denise J Hughes
“Reading good books ruins you for enjoying bad ones.”
~Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society
“I read because books are a form of transportation, of teaching, and of connection! Books take us to places we’ve never been, they teach us about our world, and they help us to understand human experience.”
~Madeleine Riley, Top Shelf Text
At the end of the week, I’ll publish my July Wrap Up post.
Posts You Might Have Missed:
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***Blogs posts may contain affiliate links. This means that at no extra cost to you, I can earn a small percentage of your purchase price.
Unless explicitly stated that they are free, all books that I review have been purchased by me or borrowed from the library.
Book Cover and author photo are credited to Amazon or an author’s (or publisher’s) website.