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BBAW: Thoughts on Blogging

A quick note to my Sea of Poppies Reading Buddies: Because I scheduled poorly (sorry!) and all this Book Blogger Appreciation Week madness is going on, I thought I’d post our mid-month discussion tomorrow so it doesn’t get lost in the shuffle. I hope that works for you!

Book Blogger Appreciation Week 2011 Badge

The last day of Book Blogger Appreciation Week is upon us, sadly! It’s been such a great week of meeting other bloggers and sharing ideas. Our final topic is:

“The world of blogging is continually changing. Share 3 things you feel are essential tried and true practices for every blogger and 1-3 new trends or tools you’ve adapted recently or would like to in the future.”

Tried and True

Instead of getting into specifics here, I’m going to stick with ideas. I’ll get to specifics in the next part! Three tried and true practices, at least for me, are:

  1. Write the blog you want to read.
    During Bloggiesta last January, Amy posted a mini-challenge for participants in which she shared where this idea came from, and I have striven to apply her advice since then. What does this mean to me? I want Erin Reads to be a blog that interests me, with content I find intriguing and an atmosphere that is relaxed and welcoming. I want to feel like there is a person behind the blog, someone I’d like to get to know better. Whenever I feel like I’m losing my focus a bit, I return to Amy’s advice and try to get myself back on track. I don’t know if it’s working, but at least I’m giving it my best shot!
  2. Write the blog you want to write.
    This corollary to #1 is something I added for myself as I considered what Amy shared. I realized I am in charge of my blog and that I blog because I enjoy it. It follows, then, that the blog I publish should be full of things I want to write and enjoy creating. When I’m writing posts I want to write, I am a much more enthusiastic and less stressed blogger. Blogging feels natural, not forced, and I enjoy myself much more. I think this idea goes along with the oft repeated advice to “be yourself” when you blog.
  3. Follow through.
    What I mean by that is be present. Yes, comment on other people’s blogs on your own initiative. But also, when someone visits your blog, visit them back. Respond to comments people leave on your blog, even if you can’t get to them until a few days later, or make it clear why you can’t or don’t respond to comments. If you sign up to help with an event or participate in a readalong, do so if you can. If you can’t, just let whoever is running the activity know. Your keeping in touch will be very much appreciated, and people will understand if you have to back out. I’m guilty of this myself sometimes, but I think it’s hard when a blogger is inconsistently present. Someone who follows through comes across as a real person, someone accessible, and I think people naturally gravitate toward such people.

Looking Forward

As for new trends or tools I’m hoping to make better use of, please don’t laugh at me when I say Twitter! I asked for Twitter tips on Wednesday and got some wonderful advice. (Several of you also pointed out that I appear to be rather well established on Twitter to be asking for help, but having followers doesn’t make me any less shy about getting those tweets out there or any more comfortable navigating the chaos!) My short-term goal is to make better use of this not-so-new social platform, since so many bloggers have shared great Twitter-related experiences. I do think I’ll like it, once I feel more comfortable! Anyone want to take the plunge with me?

I also have some longer term goals for myself that don’t really involve trends or tools but about which I’m very excited. They are related to my reading schedule and somewhat inspired by all the talk of community that’s been going on this week. I need a little more time to work things out, but I know once I start in on these goals they will be rewarding, and I’m excited! More soon…

What trends or tools have you found especially helpful or are you excited to try?

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  • http://medievalbookworm.com Meghan

    Those are all great ideas and ones that I certainly should think about myself – especially creating a blog I want others to read. Thanks for the reminder.

    I know what you mean about Twitter – I’ve been on it for years and still wonder if I know what I’m doing! It definitely needs a chunk of time investment and then proceeds to suck up even more of your time.

    • Erin

      I’m glad they resonate with you — they’ve been really helpful for me. I think I need to take a Twitter weekend or something and just tackle the thing, push myself to figure it out. It’s a bit overwhelming to attack in small bites!

  • http://chrisbookarama.com Chrisbookarama

    I lurk a lot more on Twitter than I comment these days. I used to have such great convos there. I need to do that more.

    • Erin

      I’m really good at Twitter lurking! Not so good at actually chatting there. But so many bloggers rave about it that I do want to try.

  • http://wormhole.carnelianvalley.com Charlie (The Worm Hole)

    Very important things, especially write what you want to write. Same as read what you want to read rather than just reading what others are reading (which is difficult to live by when you want to join in conversations but makes you happier). I think I know how to use Twitter well, but actually doing so is something else!

    • Erin

      Yes, read what you want to read is another great principle, and one I’m trying to work into my reading! In theory, I “get” Twitter, but then when I’m looking at my screen, I get a little lost. Practice, I suppose, will make something closer to perfect than I am now :-)

  • http://windowseatreader.blogspot.com Bailey – the window seat reader

    “Write the blog you want to read” … I like that one! I’m excited to see some of the ideas you mention, and the community of this week has me looking forward to the blogging future as well.

    • Erin

      I loved that advice when I came across it. Isn’t the community feeling great? I’m hoping it keeps going once we all go our separate ways. It’s so easy to get a little lost in the shuffle of life.

  • http://www.librariannextdoor.com Meredith

    I LOVE #1 – “write the blog you want to read.” It’s such a simple idea, but one that’s so important. If you don’t like what you’re writing, why would anyone else? I definitely think being enthusiastic and passionate about what you’re writing and reading is a vital part of being a book blogger.

    • Erin

      Isn’t it? That advice really stuck with me when I first read it. I think a blogger’s love for what s/he’s writing shines through, if s/he’s really enjoying him/herself.

  • http://laurelrainsnowcreations.com/ Laurel-Rain Snow

    Writing the blog you want to read is awesome advice!

    And, of course, the one you want to write just naturally follows, doesn’t it?

    I need to know more about what I’m doing or should be doing on Twitter. More to explore!

    Here’s MY BBAW POST and
    MY WEBSITE

    • Erin

      Yes, I find them to be great guiding principles! And yeah…always more to learn, at least for me, where Twitter is concerned.

  • http://proudbooknerd.com Heather (ham1299)

    Wonderful post. Your advice is right-on!

    • Erin

      Thanks :-)

  • http://www.sillylittlemischief.blogspot.com Linda

    Great advice. I’m trying to be more present in Twitter too.

    • Erin

      Thanks. Yeah…that’s one of my difficulties!

  • http://lenasledgeblog.com Lenasledgeblog.com

    Three awesome points. Well said and to the point. I really need to do better on Twitter as well. I need to reply to mentions sooner.

    • Erin

      Thank you! Twitter seems to be a tough spot for lots of us, so at least we’re not alone.

  • http://thecheapreader.wordpress.com/ Alison

    I love #2. It’s so easy to get caught up in writing what you think people want to read and completely forget what you want to write.

    • Erin

      I find that happens to me sometimes, so I try to keep my own advice in mind. It usually helps get me back on track!

  • http://www.capriciousreader.com Heather

    This. This is a fantastic post! You’ve put thoughts down that I’ve long had in my head, but didn’t know how to articulate. Thank you for the great advice.

    • Erin

      Thanks for your kind words! I’m happy you find this post useful. I’ve found the ideas in it infinitely helpful for staying on track.

  • http://thechildrenswar.blogspot.com Alex Baugh

    What a lovely blog you have. I really like your Reading Buddies idea.
    Your blogging thoughts are interesting,especially the one about following up. So often people think that it doesn’t matter if you leave someone hanging who counting on you.

    Re #2 it is very easy to forget to write what you want and not for someone else. I think we get used to that thinking in school when we try to write for our teachers. It is good advice to remember not to do that.

    • Erin

      Thank you! Reading Buddies is a project I’ve come to love quite a lot.

      I think maybe the Internet is a tough place for following up, just because we’ve usually never met the people we’re interacting with. It can be easy to forget they’re people and not just blog addresses, so they should be treated the way we’d treat people in real life.

      That’s a great point about learning to write for our teachers in school — I’d never considered that, but you’re absolutely right. Kind of like how I “learned” to think of classics as dull, difficult, and scary.

  • http://www.lifewithbooks.com Jenners

    I think your blogging advice is spot on. “Write the blog you want to read” and “Write the blog you want to write” is genius. And follow-through is key.

    • Erin

      I’m glad you agree! They’re ideas that have gotten me back on track in the past.

  • http://www.amusedbybooks.com/ Amused

    I love that statement “write the blog you want to read”! So true!

    • Erin

      Isn’t it, though? It really struck a chord with me when I first read it, and I’ve remembered it ever since.

  • http://www.lovelaughterinsanity.com Trish

    Erin–I love the way that you put it! Write the blog you want to read and write the blog you want to write. Such sound advice–so simple but sometimes it’s too easy to get caught up in all of the hoopla. You do a great job with your blog and making people feel at home–definitely someone people are naturally drawn to!

    • Erin

      Thank you, Trish! So simple, but harder to implement than it sounds, isn’t it? I often find myself returning to those principles to get myself back on track. I’m really happy to hear my blog is a welcoming place — that means a lot to me. I often think that because I’m not good at being personal on my blog (unlike some bloggers out there…*cough* YOU *cough*…) I might be harder to, I don’t know, get to know? Or something.

  • http://www.notesoflife.co.uk/ Nikki-ann

    Great tips!

    I always visit anyone who’s been kind enough to leave a comment when they’ve dropped by my blog, I think it’s common courtesy… Also, you never knnow what you might be missing!

    I used to get confused with Twitter, but I’m now on it more than anything else (except maybe my email!). If you’d like to add me then you can find me @nikkiann on Twitter.

    • Erin

      Thanks! I always try to visit back, too, though sometimes it takes me a few days when life gets in the way. It’s amazing how many people don’t think of that as common courtesy, and yes, they’re missing out on some great new blogger friends! Thanks for the offer of Twitter help. I’m working on that site, slowly but surely!

  • http://librariansbookreviews.blogspot.com melissa @ 1lbr

    I certainly love what you’ve posted – I need to think about being the blog I want to read. Also, I’m terrible on twitter, so I’m off to read those comments filled with advice!

    • Erin

      Thanks, Melissa. I loved the challenge when Amy had us doing it for Bloggiesta. It was sort of a “WOW!” moment for me, and I’ve remembered it ever since. There’s some great advice in those comments — I hope you find something helpful!

  • Nadine Nys

    Great post with great advice. I feel like I’ve learned a lot this week, not only from your posts, but from all others who participated in BBAW. What a pity I don’t have time to participate in all this fun. Luckily I can read about it… :)

    • Erin

      Thanks! I’ve learned a ton this week, too. I love reading everyone’s different takes on the same topics. Any way you can participate at all is good!

  • http://parrishlantern.blogspot.com Parrish

    follow through, comment on comments.

    • Erin

      Yep, that sums it up!

  • http://theshabbyrabbit.blogspot.com Laura @ Bunny Tales

    thank you so much for pointing me to all the great advice on twitter you got on day 3 here! That helped tons, now if my twitter would come back up I could go play! lol

    Love love love your first tip! And showing up is so important!

    Love your blog too! I browsed for awhile!

    • Erin

      I’m so glad you found it helpful. I know I did! I love that everyone was so ready and generous with their advice. One of the great things about this community. I’m glad my tips worked for you and that you enjoyed Erin Reads!

  • http://shelflove.wordpress.com Teresa

    Good suggestions all, especially #1 and #2. There’s so much advice out there about how to blog well, but people’s tastes are so different that there can’t possibly be one right way that will appeal to all blog readers or writers. Better to just please yourself.

    • Erin

      Thanks — I find it’s great advice and helps me stay on track all the time. You’re right, different things work for different people, and the only thing you can do is find out what YOU want to do!

  • http://joystory.blogspot.com Joy Renee

    whenever i let thots of other’s expectations or opinion rule my writing even the least little bit i freeze up so ‘write the blog you want to read’ should be my mantra.

    i think i’ve seen the version ‘write the novel you want to read’ in one or more of the many writing books i’ve read. it strikes one immediately as so sage and yet so ‘duh!’ and yet so hard to follow because even if you manage to dampen the sound of the ‘shoulds’ coming in with the voices of friends, family and imaginary others there is always that nasty harpy sitting on your shoulder shoulding all over your spirit…how to shut her up…

    hmm i think i need to ponder on this as it probably played a leading role in the writing and reading slump that began for me around this time last year.

    i’ve come out of the reading slump this month and this week used BBAW to take the plunge back into the community side of blogging. here’s hoping writing will soon follow

    • Erin

      I get intimidated when I think about other people as I’m writing, too. I can’t compare or assume! That pesky harpy and her should-ing…I love that image! I’m glad your reading slump is over — those are the worst. I hope your blogging/writing slump subsides soon!

  • http://www.3rsblog.com Florinda

    Your first two tips go together, I think, and are excellent. If you’re not happy with what you’re doing as a blogger, there’s no point to doing it at all. But if you do it well, and keep it real, there’s a good chance that the blog you want to read and write will appeal to other people too.

    • Erin

      Thanks — I’ve really found them helpful for staying on track, even though there are definitely times I’ve needed to take my own advice!

  • http://www.theintrovertedreader.com IntrovertedJen

    “Write the blog you want to read.” That is excellent advice.

    • Erin

      I’m glad you find it helpful — I certainly have!

  • http://www.aliteraryodyssey.blogspot.com Allie

    These are excellent tips, and they are definitely true! I think we all need to keep in mind that while we write for ourselves, we are also writing for an audience. If we get bored writing a post, our readers will be bored reading it. I try and give as much of my own voice into my posts as possible. I want people to be drawn in to something of quality, not something I am doing because I “have to.”

    Even though I have been on twitter for a year, I still feel like I don’t get it. But I just comment and tweet anyway. :)

    • Erin

      Exactly! If you’re not writing what and how you want to be, no one is going to be happy…and then what’s the point? I’m happy to know a seasoned Twitter-er still feels like she doesn’t get it. Makes me feel better :-)

  • http://nisefunpages.blogspot.com Nise’

    Great advice. It may take awhile, but you do need to find what works for you.

    • Erin

      So true! I’m not sure I’ll ever really get there, since I think where “there” is is always changing, if that makes sense. But, I’m always striving for it!

  • http://mattviews.wordpress.com Matt

    What great points you made. I’m certainly slacking in reciprocating blog visits, and not to mention that where work becomes very busy (like now, the semester just started and library is flooded with new undergrads), commenting on blogs is the first thing to go. I find Twitter/FB very useful in at least connecting to bloggers I have already known and with whom maintained a relationship. But I should get back to reciprocating visits.

    • Erin

      Thanks! I know, it can be really hard to find time to reciprocate. I try to comment, and then reply to comments, and then reciprocate…it’s always the last priority somehow. I’m hoping to get more comfortable with Twitter, since it seems like a really good way to stay in touch, as you said, with bloggers I already know a bit. Though it can be a time suck as well!

  • http://myreadingbooks.blogspot.com Kailana

    Twitter is a very useful tool! Even if you don’t go on, just using Twitterfeed tells all of your readers when you have posted.

    • Erin

      I was introduced to Twitterfeed just this week! I’m excited to look into it. Thanks for the tip!

  • http://www.bookdout.wordpress.com Shelleyrae

    I’m still struggling to get rid of my schoolteacher voice but that is my goal for the next year – to work on getting more of me into my posts
    I really like your advice – thank you

    Shelleyrae

    • Erin

      I haven’t been reading your blog long enough to notice any schoolteacher voice! I’m glad this advice was useful to you — it’s helped me a lot.

  • http://www.earphoriareviews.com Laura Ashlee

    I want to be more present on Twitter too. I’m working on it right now. I think it’s just about timing and having friends on there you feel comfortable talking to.

    Thanks for stopping by my blog, btw!

    • Erin

      I think you’re right. I’ve yet to talk with a book blogger on Twitter who wasn’t friendly, too, which is encouraging.

  • http://kinnareads.wordpress.com/ Kinna

    All three points are very useful tips. They may seem obvious but are in fact very hard to achieve. I’ll keep working on at it. All the best.

    • Erin

      I’m glad, Kinna! I’m not sure they’re endpoints — more like goals to constantly strive toward. I know they’ve kept me on track before when I’ve felt a little unclear.

  • http://yourmovedickens.blogspot.com/ Darlyn

    Great points! Lately, I’ve been thinking of ways to improve my blog, and this post really helped. I’m currently having problems with # 3. :)

    • Erin

      Thanks! I’m glad they helped. They often get me back on track. #3 is certainly a tough one, especially as I get busy! I think as long as you eventually get around to it, that’s fine. I just hate when I try to reach out to a blogger and just keep getting the sound of crickets in return.

  • http://jessicalawlor.com Jessica Lawlor

    Follow through is definitely the best tip…interaction is what blogging is all about, after all :) Seems like you’re doing a good job of that over here!

    • Erin

      Agreed! Some days are better than others, but I do try.

  • http://jessicalawlor.com Jessica Lawlor

    PS- I just became follower number 100 :) woohoo!

    • Erin

      Awesome!! Thank you!

  • http://www.thatswhatsheread.net Michelle

    Oh, what a teaser! I cannot wait to see what goodies you’ll be thinking up next regarding your reading schedule!

    • Erin

      They may not be super exciting to others, but I’m thrilled. I feel like I’m better aligning my reading with what I want to accomplish, like I’ve figured out where I want to be with blogging as well as reading. It’s a thrilling feeling!

  • http://www.quirkygirlsread.wordpress.com quirky girls read-jehara

    I have also been inspired by the posts during BBAW to learn how to utilize Twitter. We have an account for the blog, but we are not active with it. One of my blogging goals for 2012 is to try out some of the Twitter tips that have been offered this week and see if I can’t make Twitter seem manageable.

    • Erin

      I’m happy so many people touched on Twitter during BBAW, both to share success stories and tips and to voice concerns. I think it shows we’re not all on Twitter and tweeting away, but it also shows there are a ton of people who are who are also willing to help and be friendly! I hope you have much luck making Twitter seem manageable :-)

  • http://www.emsalcove.blogspot.com Emily

    Yes, yes, and yes. Fantastic tips. I completely agree with all of them!

    Way to be a active, supportive and involved participant in BBAW! If I had a participant award to give out, I’d give it to you :)

    • Erin

      Thanks, and thanks! I lucked out and had a slow week. I wish I could keep up that level of involvement all the time! Pesky life responsibilities… :-)