25 January 2012

Busting the Newbie Blues

Small Review has created this brilliant event for bloggers. It's running throughout January, and while I initially meant to make a post last week, I finally got round to it today. Busting the Newbie Blues is something I participated in when I first created my blog - Small and I started at around the same time - and it helped me in so many ways. Primarily, it helps out newbie bloggers and lets us all get to know each other better!

I'm filling in the questionnaire for established bloggers. I did the same last time, but that was silly of me because I was clearly still a newbie!

1. When did you start your blog?

Technically I started my blog early on in 2010, but I didn't post much. I think I posted one book review and the rest of the posts were about me and my family. I took a long break until I started book blogging in late September of 2010.

2. Do you ever still feel like a newbie?

All the time! Compared to some blogs out there, mine is still very new. I also still turn into a bit of a fangirl when I am contacted by authors by email, Twitter or Youtube. I can't help it!

3. What has been the biggest challenge you’ve faced so far? Did you make any mistakes new bloggers can learn from?

Blogger and HTML. I still face these challenges. I'm awful with creative designs, and I found it really difficult to stick to one blog design as I always thought mine looked terrible compared to everyone else's. I tried creating banners and things for myself, but I couldn't do it. My friend made me my current banner, but this is only temporary while I wait for her to finish the other one. I also struggled with HTML in posts, such as quotes and those boxes, but after reading tutorials from the wonderful Small and Parajunkee, I managed to get the hang of it. Kinda. 

4. What did you find most discouraging about being a new blogger? How did you deal with this?

Getting so few comments and also handing them out. I think so many people have said this. In the beginning I didn't get many comments at all, but that changed slowly over time. As for me, I do try to comment on at least five posts a day, which really isn't all that much. I need to work on that. I promise I do READ every post, but I have so many posts to read that I just forget to comment. 

5. What do you find most encouraging?

The people! Everybody is so lovely and I've met some really good friends through this community. I've never encountered a rude book blogger. You're all awesome! 

Comments are also very encouraging, and I love getting them or receiving emails from people telling me they love my blog. I also love it when people tell me they've bought a book because of my review, or if they ask me for recommendations.

6. If you could go back in time and speak with your newbie self, what five bits of wisdom would you tell yourself? 

Oh, I love lists! Okay...

  1. Don't be afraid to join in with conversations you see happening on Twitter/other blogs. If they were meant to be private, these people would be emailing each other!
  2. Make bullet points before you write reviews! The amount of times I used to just sit staring at the screen was ridiculous. 
  3. Don't worry so much about stats! I wasn't extremely worried about them, but I did get a bit jealous of those other blogs that had tonnes more followers than I had. 
  4. Schedule posts! It took me a while to figure out how to do this (I told you I'm useless!) but I'm so glad I figured it out. Even if I don't always use this feature... 
  5. Read what you want! If you really aren't in the mood for a book, put it down. Don't be pressurised into reading something you're not enjoying. 

7. What do you like best about the blogs you read? Have you tried to replicate this in your blog?

My favourite things to read are reviews. I like it when reviews to ramble (too much, anyway!) and I like it when the reviewer shows off their own personality through their reviews. Don't just follow the trends and describe the characters, plot and writing style in a monotonous 'voice'. Make the review your own.

I also love it when I get replies on comments I've made on other blogs. It makes me feel really welcome and it keeps me from feeling ignored. I try to reply as often as I can, usually on my own blog. Although I do worry about people not checking back to read the replies. 

8. What do you dislike about blogs you've seen? Do you try to avoid this?

I like simple blog designs. I hate it when a blog takes ages to load, or is really bright with clashing colours. I have to be able to read your posts without squinting or getting a headache. I like good grammar, which, thankfully, most book bloggers seem to have grasped. I also HATE it when there's music on a blog. At least, when the music plays automatically as soon as you click on the page. Same goes for those widgets that blare music or sounds (The Hunger Games widget, anyone?)

9. How did you bring your blog to the attention of so many people?

Memes, Twitter and giveaways. Memes are a brilliant way to discover new blogs. My favourites are Top Ten Tuesday, Waiting on Wednesday and In My Mailbox. Twitter is great because you can chat directly with other bloggers and authors, which is great. People also spread the word for my giveaways sometimes, which brings some traffic to my blog and often leads to more followers. 

10. When and how did you get your first ARC (or first few ARCs)?

I got my first ARC a few months after I started blogging, in December 2010. I was contacted by the publisher to see if I wanted to participate in a blog tour. I did, and I really enjoyed the experience. After that, I didn't get any more ARCs for a while until I started requesting review copies in February 2011. I felt I was established enough to be able to publicise these books, and I was also sure I wouldn't be quitting blogging any time soon. 

Whew, that's it! If you have any questions at all, then feel free to ask them below. I'd be more than happy to answer them for you. I'll try to visit as many blogs as I can!


  1. I'm a total twitter addict and go completely fangirly if an author talks to me or responds to a tweet. I'm constantly amazed at how nice and open some authors are! Pre-blogging they were mystical creatures. :P

    I still haven't gotten the hang of scheduling reviews. I'll do this once or twice a month if I happpen to be ahead but mostly I just write and post... I should probably work on that. ;)

    Simple designs are always better. I can't wait to see what your new header is going to look like!

  2. I'm pretty awful with creating designs as well, so I try to stick to really simple themes with my own blog. I just HATE it when people have like 10,000 widgets on their sidebars!

    I also really love it when reviewers put a lot of emotion into their reviews! I'm trying to work on doing this to my own.

    And I'm still trying to figure Twitter out, haha. I'm not sure I have the hang of it yet.

  3. Same here , hence my nice simple background :) Im not really a Widget girl -never have been . When It comes to the emotion side, thats something that Ive started to move into as when I first started my book review blog, the reviews were pretty mechanical in sorts but over the year Ive tried to inject my own personality into them. Im a old follower

  4. Great advice! Especially, don't worry about stats and don't feel pressured to read books. Very important to keep in mind if you want blogging to be fun and not a chore! I'm bad at scheduling things too.


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