Armchair BEA 2013: Blogger Development

Posted May 29, 2013 by Jana in Discussion / 65 Comments

Armchair BEA is a fun online event that those of us who could not attend BEA in New York City can participate in! There’s ways to network with other bloggers, posts on blogging tips, giveaways, and happenings at BEA from people who are there. Visit the Armchair BEA blog to see a schedule of events!

Wow… blogger development. What a daunting topic! I always feel inadequate to discuss how to become a better blogger, because there are so many times when I feel like a little newbie blogger, even though I’ve been doing it for almost 3 years! Well, I’ve been solo blogging for about a year and a half. Solo blogging is WAY different than collaboratively blogging with The Broke and the Bookish, let me tell you. And I’m still learning! Here’s what I’ve taken away from my experiences over the last year:

1. Be outgoing and make lots of book blogger friends! Everyone feels like a newbie at some point, no matter how long they have been blogging, or how awesome they seem to be. Just like in life, we all have our own insecurities. For this reason, and I’ve noticed this with most book bloggers, people in this bookish community are incredibly accepting and supportive. Lean on them for support, ask for advice, and be gracious.

2. Utilize Twitter. It’s an amazing tool that has produced and forged some of my best friendships! Plus, it’s a great way to get the word out about your posts AND find out about fun things in the book world.

3. Jump on the blog tour bandwagon, especially if you’re new. You get lots of awesome opportunities and you can meet a lot of cool bloggers and bookish professionals.

4. There is a fine line between an acceptable amount of memes and WAY TOO MANY. If you want to participate in a bunch of memes, don’t do EVERY one EVERY week. I do Top Ten Tuesday almost every week. Sometimes I’ll do a book haul post or a Waiting on Wednesday, but not every week. Try to come up with your own unique ideas that keep people coming back. Otherwise, you’ll fade into the huge crowd of book blogs out there.

5. Branch out of your reading comfort zone, and try something new. Chances are you will end up discovering something amazing. Before I was a blogger, I did not read young adult. I didn’t read contemporary, or dystopia, or paranormal. I read mystery and historical romances. Boring! I’ve become such an eclectic reader, and it’s thanks to my blogger friends. This might not do wonders for your blog, although being a versatile reader is very appealing, but it will enrich your experience as a blogger.

6. Support indie authors. In my experience, self-published authors are some of the most supportive authors out there. I’m not saying publishing house authors aren’t, but these indie authors are in the same boat as you are! They are trying really hard to get themselves out there, just like you are! And if you help them, they will help you. That’s how I got my name out there.

7. I really do not recommend follower memes or follower giveaways. You do not want to buy your readers. You want to earn them because they like you. Nobody makes true friends in school by giving them stuff. They sit and talk with them, establish a common ground, and hang out together. That’s how the book blogging world works, too. Go visit blogs, post sincere comments, and continue. You’ll make friends instead of followers.

8.  Ask your readers for their opinions. People LOVE explaining how they feel. Hosting discussions on your blog is a great way to meet people, gain friends, and learn something!

9. Don’t be afraid to show people who you are. Make your posts personal. You don’t need to give your address or full name to your readers, but let them know you as a person rather than a blogging machine.

10. Blog because you love it, or you will burn out fast. In the beginning, I was totally high strung. I had to have followers, I had to read every book everyone asked me to read, I had to post a review a day, I had to schedule out a few weeks of posts in advance, I had to comment on every blog I could find, etc. I stressed myself out! You can’t do that. You will never enjoy blogging if you turn it into a huge job. I did not want to dread reading or blogging. Once I realized I was doing this for myself, I began to have a lot more fun. Never, ever do more than you want to do. And if you hate a book, quit reading it. Life’s too short to read books not worth finishing.

Well, these are just my insights. When I get discouraged, I think of these pieces of advice that have been passed down from blogger to blogger. And yeah, it’s really hard to do all the right things all the time and have any kind of life, which is why the last tip is the most important. Do what you can, be happy with it, and know that it’s enough for you. And a reward system really doesn’t hurt. Go ahead and buy yourself that book you’ve been wanting. Blogging is awesome, we’re all learning as we go, and you’ll have an amazing experience no matter what happens!

So, what do you think? What are you doing to try and develop your blog, as well as your online presence, in the book community? Do you have any words of advice that I might also implement? Leave your links, and I’ll stop by!

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65 responses to “Armchair BEA 2013: Blogger Development

  1. Wow a seriously thoughtful and helpful post. I like what you say and am making a link in a google doc for myself to come back and visit it again after the mad rush of Armchair BEA. And I think you know Armchair BEA is a bit of a mad rush. I bet the actual BEA is a real mad rush!

    Thanks for the thoughtful tips.
    My Blogger Development

    • Thanks so much, Kathryn! I know what you mean about Armchair BEA being so crazy! I’m having a really hard time keeping up with it all! And if the real BEA is anything like ALA, which I went to last summer, then yes… it’s even crazier! It means a lot to me that you stopped by. :) Thank you!

  2. This is very helpful, Jana, especially for new bloggers, but you’re right that we all feel like newbies sometimes. I especially agree with the last one. You really have to love this to last, it’s so much more work than anyone expects to at first.
    And you’re right about Twitter – that’s something I’ve been doing totally wrong. I suck at Twitter, I really do. :)
    Thanks for sharing!

    • I find myself having a hard time figuring out what to say on Twitter. It’s definitely something you have to learn. Thanks for stopping by!

  3. Thank you for mentioning meme overload. Too many memes drive me crazy. In a way they seem like a cop out, and easy way to get followers, but are you getting faithful followers? Building an audience takes time and effort. There is no quick fix.


    • Tanya, you’re so right. It does seem like a cop-out, and in my experience the followers I gain are not usually faithful ones. It takes a lot of work!

  4. These are excellent tips! I feel that Armchair BEA is giving me that chance to be more outgoing and connect with bloggers. I definitely need to reach out to others because I know bloggers won’t come to me if I don’t make an effort (to develop content and to comment on their posts).

    I wish money wasn’t a concern, so I can just order the books I want. Lol.

    My blogger development post!

    • Yeah, Armchair BEA is a really fun way to network. :) Reaching out can be hard, but everyone is so nice, so that helps. :)

  5. GREAT post!!! I am also going to make a link! Glad I did the 5-10-15 twenty today (how I clicked my first visited blogs!!) I do a lot of those things but it is hard! LOVE IT!!! I am learning new things and be reminded to do the things I keep putting aside to do tomorrow as part of Armchair BEA!}AWESOME post!!
    My DAY 2 Post

  6. I love this post! And you’re absolutely right about all of it, but especially that last piece of advice: blog because you love it.
    And I’m glad we’ve all made you branch out in your reading! It’s one of the things I love best about blogging aside from the wonderful people I’ve met, discovering books to love you never would have picked up otherwise :)

  7. I hate giveaways that require you to follow a blog. I won’t enter them. I follow blogs because they are interesting, not because they are trying to bribe me.

    • I’m glad you agree, Heather! An optional follow for an additional entry doesn’t bug me much, but the blogs that require it just frustrate me.

  8. This is such a fun feature, especially because this is the first time in the past four years that I haven’t been able to attend BEA. However, I like to think that I’m perpetually working on blogger development. I think I utilize social media quite well, but I’m working hard to really get back in the swing of things after a lengthy hiatus. Lovely post, Jana! :)

  9. Thanks, Jana! These are top tips. I agree with only blogging if you love it. Otherwise it becomes stressful for you and dull for everyone else. I need to come out of my comfort zone, methinks, and venture into Twitter, memes and the like. I’m actually getting quite excited now by the idea that previously scared me silly! :0)

    • Oh, I’m glad you’re excited now! The people in this community are so nice. I definitely recommend you branch out and meet them all!

  10. I like the advice to blog because you love it. I had several blogs about different things before I found my niche. Now I love blogging and can’t wait to create a new post.

  11. Awesome tips. I really agree with blogging for fun or you will burn out. If I ever start feeling like that, I step away from the blog for awhile and recharge. One thing I love about the book blogging community is the amazing connections and friendships I’ve made with other bookey people. It’s really a great crowd.

  12. “Blog because you love it, or you will burn out fast.”

    That’s the truth! Except for those who are getting paid to blog… they’ll probably manage for a while. :P

  13. Self-imposed stress can be such a killer – it’s almost like an adrenaline rush at first and then you just want to run away!

    Twitter is amazing – I have met so many awesome people by just striking up a conversation – and for the less socially minded among us, it’s a great way to make new blogging friends.

    I love this community, I’ve never felt so supported and welcomed as I do when I’m talking to other book bloggers.

    • Self-imposed stress. That is a perfect phrase!

      And yes, Twitter is amazing. I had no idea I would enjoy it so much!

  14. Wow! You have so many great advice! I will work on helping more indie authors in the future. I met a few good ones in the past but want to meet more. I realized the blogging for fun too, I used to feel the presure to post constantly but now I post only after I wrote a post I’m proud of, knowing my blogger friends will still visit.
    Thanks for sharing fabulous advice. I will try to be more active and having fun on twitter.

  15. I used to be a writer-blogger but I’m transitioning more into book blogging, but I find book bloggers are much less likely to comment or interact except for Top Ten Tuesday posts. But I really appreciate your advice here, maybe I will try some blog tours.

    • Yeah, comments are hard to get because people are so busy. I get a ton of page views, but very little comments considering. I have noticed that if you comment, though, people usually reciprocate.

  16. Great advice. I’m like you in that while I’ve been blogging for just over 3 years, I still consider myself a newbie. I’ve learned a lot, but feel there’s so much more I can learn.

    I definitely love your last point – blog because you love it. I do this as a hobby and want to continue enjoying it. I do step away every once in a while, and then return all energized. If you look at this as a job, you will either get burnt out trying to do too much or end up hating it because it’s a chore.

    My Blogger Development

  17. Awesome tips!! I do have to work on some of these things – like using Twitter more or being more personal on the blog. I love how you differenciated between friends and followers – it’s so true! I think on every blog you see those one sentence comments that usually include a link to that person’s own blog and nothing more and those who actually comment on what was in the posts :)

    • Exactly. Friends and followers are two very different things. And I love friends way more! Thanks for your comment!

  18. This is great advice. I’ve been on the fence about “follower”-type giveaways. Sometimes I wonder if it’s worth the trouble, but it’s done so often it must be working for somebody!

  19. We have similar blogging advise, but I did miss the all important “too many meme’s” I currently do two, WOW, and Stacking The Shelves/The Sunday Post, and like you said, I don’t do them every week.
    I must admit I do partake in follower giveaways, but not follower meme’s. I figure every once in awhile hosting a giveaway that can have a far greater outreach works for me. Great points, Jana!

    • Thanks, Silverlight! Great minds think alike. :) Followers giveaways are alright in moderation, I suppose. I’ve seen some blogs who host different ones every week, though. That seems excessive to me.

  20. I completely feel the same way about feeling inadequate to discuss blogger development, but at least you have two different sets of experiences with both blogging individually and blogging collaboratively. That ought to give you an edge I would think. I like your suggestion about not necessarily doing the same memes every week. I have 3 that I do and I do them every week (including Top Ten Tuesday), but that’s because I really love those memes. But I try to balance that out with having at least two days of original posts and have been trying to think of ways to add more original content as well. Great insights!

    Sandy @ Somewhere Only We Know

    • Thanks, Sandy! I think memes do different things for different people. We’re all doing this for fun, so if you love the memes you do, then you should definitely continue. :)

  21. Such great suggestions! I just started doing blog tours and you’re right, it’s a fun way to network and read some amazing books, too!

  22. Oh my gosh I totally agree with all of your advice! And reading this was a nice reminder that at the end of the day, I read, and blog, for me. :)

  23. Such good advice Janna! I really agree with not being afraid to show people for who you are. Sometimes I’m like, should I post this on the blog, even if it isn’t 100% book related? Then I think, “hey, do I want followers who like ME for ME, or do I just care about the numbers?”. I care about people :) I love personal posts, or posts where bloggers are vulnerable. As you said, it shows we aren’t machines!

    I also blogged about my development as a book blogger and genre fiction!

    • Personal posts are wonderful! I love getting to know the people behind the blog. It’s definitely something I need to work harder on. :)

  24. Great tips and advice! One of the best parts about book blogging, for me at least, is following reviewers who have different tastes than me. They often get me to branch out of my reading comfort zone, which usually leads to me accepting a new genre or author I otherwise would never have read (contemporary YA really grew on me this way).