Friday, May 27, 2011

Armchair BEA: Blogging Tips

Today's topic for Armchair BEA is Blogging about Blogging. We're supposed to share some tips about blogging and balancing blogging with family life, and how we use social networking and blogging events throughout the year.

Balancing blogging with family life
I'll tackle the question of balancing blogging with family life first. My family life (and my day job) comes before reading and blogging. This is why I didn't end up writing a post for Armchair BEA yesterday. I had some ideas for talking about Nurturing Relationships but never got a chance to put them down in a post. I figure it's a good prompt for a blog post next week or the week after. I may use some of the prompts for this post as fodder for future posts as well.

I generally just take time to read in the evenings when the kids are in bed. This means I read about one book each week. That's it. I'm always amazed at the number of books some book bloggers are able to read in a week, but then I assume they probably don't have kids and/or a significant other and/or a full time job to take up all their time. If I took away one of those things, I'm sure I'd have time to read much more. Because of my limited time, I generally don't read as much on weeks when I have a lot of blogging to do, like this week. And the weeks when I do read a lot, you won't see much blogging going on. That's just the way it is.

Using social media and blogging events
I use social media to some extent. I joined Twitter (@MyBookRetreat) and generally tweet about my book reviews and other posts once or twice on the day they are published. That's really about it. I use Twitter more as a resource for finding articles about books and activities for my kids, rather than as a major promotion of my blog.

I just set up a Facebook page for my blog. I'm not really sure how to use it to promote my book blog so I'll be perusing all the other Armchair BEA posts today to see if anyone has tips!

One of the blogging events that I've participated in a couple times and found extremely helpful is Bloggiesta. It's basically a set time when you are to focus on updating and improving your blog. There are tons of mini-challenges that give you ideas for things that could be done, and explain how to do them. And by seeing what everyone else is working on, you get ideas on what you can do to improve your own blog. The first time I participated, I got so many amazing ideas and improved both of my blogs a lot. If you're a new blogger I highly recommend joining next time.

Tips on book blogging
Finally, I want to share some tips specific to book reviewing.
  • Be selective in what you read and review. I've found there are so many opportunities to get free books for review, but I've learned to only accept those that sound like a good fit for me. This is hard because I now get many requests directly from authors who are usually self-published. I feel bad telling them no, but I would rather not accept a book than accept one that I don't end up liking. Then I have to write a bad review, which I think is worse than no review at all.
  • Speaking of bad reviews, don't be mean. I'm sure authors occasionally Google their own names and will therefore most likely find your review at some point. Try to keep that in mind. If you don't like a book, explain why politely. Talk about the things you didn't like in the book, but don't slam the author. Offer constructive criticism rather than just going on and on about how bad it is. And be sure to mention some good points as well.
  • Don't forget to include Full Disclosure per the FTC for any books you review for a publisher, author or anyone else. If you received a free book in exchange for a review, you need to disclose this fact. I have a statement I include at the end of each review that explains where the book came from. Here's an example of mine: This review was written based on an ebook copy of The Pharos Objective that I received from the author in exchange for an honest review. 
  • Consider including additional resources with your reviews. I try to include a link to discussion questions, when possible. ReadingGroupGuides.com is a great resource for this. I also sometimes include links to the author's or book's website, or I include the book's trailer. This adds to the review, giving your readers more opportunities to learn about the book and decide if they want to read it.
  • Learn about search engine optimization (SEO). I get a lot of traffic from Google, and part of the reason for this is that I've tried to use SEO techniques to attract traffic. For example, my book review posts are generally titled: "Book Review: Title by Author." This way, when someone does a search for book reviews or for the book title and author, my post is more likely to come up in the results. You can also improve search results by making keywords, like book titles, into link text. There are many other ways to use SEO to your advantage, so do some research on it if you want to increase traffic through search engines.
  • Join a meme or two. There are all sorts of memes out there for book bloggers, and each of them can result in a lot of traffic to your blog. My favorites are It's Monday! What Are You Reading? and What My Child Is Reading. Some other popular ones include Book Blogger Hop, Teaser Tuesdays, In My Mailbox, Top Ten Tuesday, Waiting on Wednesday, Booking Through Thursdays. I'm sure there are many others as well. Find one or two that you really enjoy, and then participate! You'll meet lots of new bloggers, find some great new book recommendations and get more visitors to your own blog.
I hope you've found my tips helpful in some way. Let me know if you have any tips of your own. And check out all the other posts about blogging at Armchair BEA.

3 comments:

  1. Great post, Julie. I struggle a lot with finding the right balance. I do sometimes feel as if I spend too much time on my laptop. My kids are older than yours, so they are often busy with their own stuff now. Still, I find that no matter how much time I spend online, I can never quite keep up with writing enough or reading all the blogs I want to read!

    Sue

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  2. Love this post! I think that you have a fantastic balance and some great tips here. I tend to title my reviews with the book name, and the word book review, but I never include the author. Hmmn. It's just SO long! ;)

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  3. Great tips. I need to figure out SEO. I keep hearing about it. Time to do some research!

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