Things I’ve Learned About Book Blogging

I’ve had plenty of blogs on and off over the years, but in most of those cases, I stuck to the communities in which I made my bloggery home (Efx2, Efx3, tumblr, etc.). When I started this book blog last year, I knew I wanted to dive deeper into the community. There are many amazing book blogs all over the internet, so keeping strictly to those I found and got to know on WordPress wasn’t going to cut it.

Past the 6-month mark, I feel like I’m finally forging my own little piece of this giant, exciting community. But in that time, I’ve come across several problems and questions that have made things difficult or confusing for me. I thought I’d share some of these observations — both the good and the frustrating. Most of these aren’t specific to book blogging, but you know.

The Good and The Helpful

First, I’ll start with the things I’ve learned that have helped me make friends in the community and helped bring people to my blog. I hope these observations will be helpful for any new-ish book bloggers, too!

1. The best way to make friends is to seek them out.

Browsing random blogs under the topics I'm interested in helped me find many new friends!

Browsing random blogs under the topics I’m interested in helped me find many new friends!

When I made this blog, I didn’t really know where to start networking, so I just searched for book blogs in the WordPress community that I could +Follow and see in my WordPress Reader. Some of those blogs have now become my favorites, and some of those bloggers are my most consistent visitors — I made friends!

From there, I reached further. I followed a few authors on twitter who would often retweet or link to giveaways. It is actually by following many of those blogs that I began finding the larger community. Subscribing to blogs via email, for the requirement of a giveaway, has led to me finding several more of my favorite book blogs.

But the most important thing? Commenting! Taking the time to read the new posts on these blogs and leave thoughtful comments on them has created familiarity and relationships between me and other bloggers. Talk to people and they’ll talk back.

Oh.. and my favorite blogs? I like to link to them in my sidebar, so I can share the love. :)

2. Memes are a fun way to get involved in the community.

Waiting on Wednesday - a fun book blogger meme by Jill at Breaking the Spine

Waiting on Wednesday – a fun book blogger meme by Jill at Breaking the Spine

In the beginning, I didn’t have a lot of content for this blog; I don’t have a ton of reading time, and writing reviews was hard. So in order to keep myself motivated, and to get to know other bloggers in the community, I started participating in some weekly memes. I’d seen this Waiting on Wednesday meme all over twitter, so I decided to start with that one. I also quickly found another one called Teaser Tuesday, which has been a lot of fun.

Participating in these memes each week has not only opened my eyes to so many amazing new books, but it’s also introduced me to dozens of other bloggers. I love the give and take that goes on with these memes. Visit the other participants and comment on their posts, and they come by to visit yours! I’ve seen some bloggers admonish memes, as if they are a waste of a blog post or “not real content.” I think the point, though, is that these memes shouldn’t be your ONLY content.

3. The more places you visit, the more opportunities you find.

Epic Reads, Goodreads, and Young Adult Books Central

At first, I really was resistant to following book bloggers on twitter. Many of the ones I’d come across in my early days were kinda… spammers. And I just didn’t want my feed cluttered with a bunch of nonsense. But then I realized I could pick and choose the people I want to follow on twitter (instead of blindly following random people for giveaways), and things began to open up.

I now follow quite a few book bloggers and authors who post interesting things, and it’s opened up my world to new books, new blogs, and new ideas.

Subscribing to blogs, following people on twitter, and making friends on sites like Goodreads have all done great things for my blogging. I’ve been inspired by other people’s posts, I’ve made new friends, and I’ve found a ton of new books, memes, events, and techniques!

The Frustrating and The Confusing

As I said before, not all of my experiences have been great. There’s been some roadblocks to my networking and friend-making attempts, and there’s been things I’ve felt uncertain about. I hope that some more experienced bloggers might be able to look at these and offer some suggestions to help remedy them.

1. There is no good standard for following & networking with other bloggers.

followblog

How do I choose? Which one do you prefer?

Ever found a new blog you like and want to subscribe, or wanted to enter a giveaway and you’re required to subscribe? Of course you have! And do you have a default method you use for that subscription? Maybe? Because I sure can’t find one. Everyone uses something different. I love the easy-to-use +Follow feature on WordPress, but that only works for me because I’m on WordPress, and it only works for other blogs in the WordPress community.

Google Friend Connect (GFC) refuses to work for me. Ever. I see a lot of people using Linky. Or Networked Blogs. Or Google+. But there’s not one that EVERYONE uses. And does anyone actually DO anything with those sites? I’ve signed up for Linky and Networked Blogs, and supposedly GFC, but beyond that, I don’t ever DO anything with them. They don’t actually help me get a blog feed (or… do they, somehow?), so are they just used to amass followers? I just don’t know.

There’s not one consistent method that everyone uses. There’s not one go-to for this. There’s not one that seems to do it better than the others. I’ve pretty much resorted to subscribing by email to blogs I’m interested in, that aren’t in the WordPress network. But still. Why can’t I have a place to collect them all?

2. There is no good standard for commenting systems & logins.

Along those same lines, there is no consistent way for me to login and comment on various blogs. Yes, it is easy for me to comment on any blog using WordPress, but that’s about it. Some sites use comment systems like Disqus, Intense Debate, or LiveFyre, and those are okay because they are internet-wide and I can use those accounts on many blogs — but they all require me to sign up or sign in to them using whatever options are allowed by the system or blog owner.

Comment Options

What if I just want to type my name, email, and URL? What if I don’t HAVE one of these?

And every one of them seems to give me different ways in which I may login. Some let me login via Facebook (I don’t use Facebook), or twitter, or simply by typing my name/email/url. Still others — namely Blogger — want me to login using Open ID, WordPress, or a few other options that AREN’T any of the previously-mentioned. In some (good) systems I show up just how I want: with my avatar, and my name (Kelley) linking to this blog. But with many other systems, I show up as “anothernovelread” with no avatar, or worse, as “Anonymous”, even though I’ve told it who I am.

Am I being too picky? Maybe. But I still don’t think it should be that difficult for blogs to simply offer an option to comment using my name/email/url. Maybe part of the problem is that many bloggers don’t realize what options their site offers visitors (since they’re always logged in to their own blog).

2b. There is no good method for comment follow-up.

Along those same lines, when I comment, I want/expect responses (I respond to every comment I get on my blog – don’t you?), but there isn’t always a good or clear way to find out if/when I’ve received a reply. Again, with the WordPress community, it’s easy because I get a notification. Some systems, like Disqus and Livefyre will send me an email when someone responds to one of my comments. Yet still others (Blogger, I’m looking at you) have no way of letting me know! It’s frustrating and disappointing, because one of my favorite aspects of blogging is the discussion!

3. Likes vs. Comments

WordPress, along with some other commenting systems, allows visitors to “Like” a blog post. I’ve also seen blogs that ask visitors to rate blog posts on a scale of 1 to 5 stars. How do bloggers feel about this? I include the Like option on my blog, but I’m just unsure how I feel about it.

2 of these people left comments (yay!), 3 of them Like every single one of my posts, 2 of them I've never seen before.

2 of these people left comments (yay!), 3 of them Like every single one of my posts, 2 of them I’ve never seen before.

As a blog visitor, I like having the option to “like” a blog post. It lets me tell the blogger that I enjoyed their post, even if I can’t think of anything clever or interesting to say in a comment. So instead of saying the boring “I like this post!” I get to click Like. (I also enjoy that WordPress gives me a shortcut to all of my Liked posts, so I can find them easily if I want to read them again later.)

As a blogger, I kind of want to turn the Like option off. There are some folks who basically Like every single one of my blog posts, but have never left a comment, and when I visit their sites, they don’t even seem like they’d be interested in my blog. Are these just spammers? In this regard, I really don’t like the Likes. I do see some of my friends Liking my  posts now and again, and I can tell those are genuine, but a lot of the others just seem kind of pointless.

How do you feel about them? What do you do on your blog? I’d much rather have (and leave) a comment than a Like.

So, what did you learn about book blogging in your first year? Did — or do — you have similar frustrations? Or different ones? How can we work together to make it easier to… come together? :D

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26 thoughts on “Things I’ve Learned About Book Blogging

  1. Thanks for sharing this tips, really appreciated for someone who has just started this blogging thing. Cheers!

  2. I really enjoyed this post Kelley! I always have the “like” vs “comment” debate with myself- if I should turn the like button off. And there are definitely bloggers who like my posts but never make any comments. It’s kind of like they’re ‘phantom bloggers’ so to speak. I definitely like to leave comments on people’s blogs because I get to appreciate their work and have a discussion with them about the post. Thanks for sharing your blogging experience!

    • Glad you liked this! Yeah, I mean, what do you do with the Likes? I know some sites where the Likes ot +1s were a decent measure of a post’s popularity or quality. But here on WordPress it just seems pretty arbitrary. Thanks for letting me know your thoughts! With this post in particular, I really like having feedback. :)

  3. I liked this post! Particularly the like “like” vs “comment”. I think the “like” button is sometimes a lazy option, but like you, I love the easiness of WordPress following. However you can add the blog site to your WordPress follow section on the reader even if it’s on blogger and as long as they have a RSS/Feedburner, it’ll be able to add all their posts to that and you can keep track of blog posts on the reader so you don’t have to have them all sent to your email! :)

    • Wow, are you serious?! I just went and joined Blog Lovin so I could collect all the blogs in one place, and that looked like a good reader. I didn’t realize I could do that on the WordPress reader. That is so cool! Thank you for telling me that! :D

  4. This was very imformative, The whole following/commenting is the most frustrating part for me, I wish there was a centralised system to make it easier. I forget sometimes what sites I’ve commented on only to find weeks later someone replied and I’ve missed the conversation.

    • Yeah, exactly! I’d love to be able to follow comments as easily as I can follow blogs. Some sites let you follow comments, but you have to follow ALL the comments for that post. Some of them are better and let you follow only the comments that are replies to YOUR comment. But, again, no consistent solution. Sigh. :)

  5. I like the like feature. Sometimes I have a hard time thinking of anything to say, or I just don’t have time. I have a toddler who keeps me pretty busy throughout the day. Sometimes if I want to leave a comment I’ll leave the page open on my browser all day until I get her to bed, just so I don’t forget.

    I know I don’t get around to comment enough, but I normally do try to comment back if someone comments. Unless it’s for a meme and they are just commenting with a copy pasted “Great pick, here’s mine” That drives me crazy. If you want me to visit your blog, leave a meaningful comment.

    I now have two blogs and never know what name to comment under. Normally it depends on if it’s a new blog to me of not.

    I also follow favourite blogs by email since I’m more likely to read those than my reader daily.

    • Oh yes, I agree about the generic (and obviously not interested) “great pick, here’s mine” comments. I do understand that sometimes a meme post leaves me without much to say, but I always try to say something meaningful or interesting. If at least to let them know I actually read their post! I also don’t like to link to my meme post, except for the linky or whatever where the meme is hosted. That way, it’s clear I’m not fishing for comments, and they are free to click my name and visit my blog if they choose.

  6. Great post! I wish I knew a few of these things before I started out, that’s for sure. The comment replying thing really does make me upset, there should be an easier way to keep track. I have a blogger blog, not WordPress, so some of these things are new to me, but I can understand your frustration. I love how you mention that you need to go out and make friends, I was always questioning how bloggers connected, and it’s through comments/visits! I’ve found so many awesome people this way!

    I just realized those orange fish move if I scroll. Huh.

    • Glad you liked it! I used to wonder the same thing, but it really is just about connecting with people and talking to them enough, so that you build up a relationship. So simple, and natural. (Thanks for visiting, by the way!)

      As for the fish in the background…isn’t it SO cute?! I seriously owe the chick who made this theme, because it is amazing. If you scroll all the way to the bottom, the seaweed moves a little when you mouse over it. And if you click the worm on the hook, on the left side, it takes you back to the top of the page! :)

  7. This was so nice to read. When I first started book blogging, I had no idea how powerful Goodreads was and other bookish sites. Those really helped me to discover wholesome reviewers. Towards the end of your post, it almost seems like you’re so comfortable with WordPress. That is a great thing, but there will never be one standard by which we all connect. That sucks, but it’s the truth. As for GFC, that is becoming a primitive option as Google continues forcing Google + on us. I really need to find a new system, but I am not sure which one because all they seem to do is generate numbers, and not readers. Sigh. Thanks for sharing!

    • Yes, exactly my frustrations! I don’t know which system to use, because the ones I see do just that: generate numbers and not readers. I’m looking to make connections with people. I don’t want random “followers” who never interact! Maybe someday we’ll find a universal solution. In the mean time, I guess we each just have to do what works best for us. Thanks for visiting, and thanks for sharing your thoughts! :)

  8. I personally don’t mind it when people ‘Like’ a post because it means at least they’re reading it, but I would like more comments. But then again, people have busy lives and I honestly don’t expect everyone to be able to comment on every single post. Yet as you pointed out, there are “phantom bloggers” out there who just ‘Like’ all your posts but never comment, interact, etc. It’s kinda weird.

  9. I really enjoyed this post, being a new book blogger myself. Even though I haven’t been at it long, I’ve had issues with each and every one of these – especially regarding the points with Blogger. It even made me think at one point that maybe I made a poor choice and should’ve created a blog through Blogger instead. (But I love WordPress, so I didn’t.) And followers always seem to be a huge thing. Though there is no one specific thing everyone uses – it does seem that GFC is the dominant tool. Of course, we aren’t able to use that for WordPress, and I really don’t know how helpful it. The blogs I follow on WordPress I choose carefully based on their posts (I love blogs that encourage discussion, like this) but the blogs I chose to follow on GFC were primarily for Giveaways so it came to the point where I wasn’t reading them. What’s the point of a follower if they only join for giveaways and don’t actually care about your content?
    Anyways, sorry for rambling! Enjoyed your post and it was helpful to see things from someone’s point of view who has been in it a bit longer than me. :)

    • Hi Asti! Thanks for visiting and for sharing your thoughts! I agree with you on all points. That’s one reason I don’t really care about GFC not working for me. I just want to connect with people, find an easy way to keep up with the blogs I like, and be able to keep up with the discussions in a way that works and makes sense. The number of followers doesn’t really matter, as long as my blogging adventures are satisfying! :)

  10. Great post. As a relative newbie to the blogging world, I’ve been struggling to engage with bloggers that aren’t on WordPress. I’ve come across a number of sites that I’d be really interested in following but no way of easily subscribing to them without the complicated process that involves setting up something new with yet another password I have to remember. It’s frustrating! Definitely agree that there should be a universal way to follow and to read all of the blogs we follow in one.

    • You might be happy to know that further up in the comments, Livvy informed me that: “you can add the blog site to your WordPress follow section on the reader even if it’s on blogger and as long as they have a RSS/Feedburner, it’ll be able to add all their posts to that and you can keep track of blog posts on the reader.”

      Isn’t that awesome? So you can just add those other blogs to your WordPress reader and keep track of them that way. Yay! :)

  11. Pingback: Clock Rewinders on a Book Binge (3) | A Glo-Worm Reads

  12. There is so much to comment on in this post! Where to begin?

    First off, I think that chatting with people through social media AND commenting on blogs is the best way to reach out and meet new people. WAAAAAY back when I started my blog in 2009, I didn’t even know about Twitter and I never commented on any blogs. Heck, I didn’t start replying back to comments until about a year ago and it’s made a WORLD of a difference. And I’m totally with you about comment notifications — I love that WordPress does it, as do self-hosted blogs, but I wish ALL of them did it.

    Second, you’re right. There’s really no standard for following blogs, nor is there for commenting on blogs. I actually kind of hate it when a blogger has a giveaway up, but the only thing they make you do is follow them through some means that you are not interested in (*cough*linksy*cough*). When it comes to commenting on blogs, I actually prefer the name/email way … that way it’s easiest for me. There are some blogs where I have to comment via a Google account, which then takes me to a page asking me to make a Blogger blog. Uh, no thanks.

    And lastly, I’m so with you on the likes. I do use the option on blogs, but it kind of bugs me when people ONLY like my blog posts and never comment. At least they’re checking out my posts, but I’d like a little more interaction, you know?

    Great post!

    • You know, it surprises me when bloggers don’t respond to comments on their blogs. You’re right: it makes a world of difference! When I comment on blogs, then go back later to see if they responded, and see that NONE of the comments were made by the author, it just feels strange. How do some blogs get so popular without that connection? Maybe they interact on twitter? I dunno.

      Yes, I also hate it when giveaways force you to follow via specific means that I don’t like/use. I like the option to choose my follow method. Too bad none of them say “BlogLovin” EVER, because that means I’m still following a ton of blogs via email AND on BlogLovin now. Hmm…

      • I think the same thing! I LOVE interacting with my readers and found that it has made a huge difference for me and my blog. And it’s just nice to open up discussions with readers … I mean, isn’t that why we started blogging?

  13. Pingback: Clock Rewinders on a Book Binge (27) | Reading In Winter

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