Today’s topic is sharing tips on keeping book blogging exciting and unique to your vision for your blog. I am far from being an expert on blogging. Each day I learn something new. I am always trying to improve my blog and make it a place people want to visit.
I learned some really important things last October when I moved from Blogger to WordPress (Self Hosted). I had been using Google products for everything, my blog, email, calendar, images, and documents. My entire life for both blog and family was all in one “basket”.
If you use Blogger you know the only Technical Support they have is through their forums. Your questions get answered by other bloggers but “Big Brother” Google does have monitors that lurk, sometimes answering questions.
Last September/early October Blogger shut down the Amazon Gadget that made it super simple to add Amazon links to you blog posts. Several of us took to the forums to find out what was going on. Many had contacted Amazon and were told the problem was with Blogger/Goggle.
On Sunday, October 9, I woke up to find all of my Google Accounts had been turned off. Everything! All my publisher/author contacts gone! All my emails gone! All my appointments gone! My blog gone! No explanation, no recourse. I admit I lost it. I had commitments to meet. While I do not earn a salary my blog is my job and very important to me. Google had taken it away without one word of warning. The only thing I could think of that I did was post in the forums about the Amazon gadget. I also tried to direct all the people with questions or comments to one forum post so we could keep all of our comments together. Today I still am not sure if that was the reason.
My accounts were disabled for eight (8) days and then I received a one line email from Google “This matter has been resolved.”
Eight days for a blogger is forever. I had reviews to posts, authors doing guest posts and several giveaways in progress.
My good friend Lori from Lori’s Reading Corner saw me freaking out all over on Facebook and she contacted me, calmed me down and helped me start over on WordPress. After a week I realized I needed a better theme and more features than were available with the regular free WordPress. Lori again was a huge help and I also had two new friends come to my rescue. Bex from Kindle Fever and April from My Shelf Confessions. Bex lives in Sweden and she must never sleep because no matter when I had a question and some of them were pretty stupid, she was right there. Both Lori and April talked me in from the ledge a few times.
In my haste to make the move and get up and running as soon as possible I made some costly errors. The biggest one was not transferring my Google followers correctly and I was unable to transfer my posts from Blogger to this new blog. Another was that user names cannot be reset. It was too late for my friends to help.
From this experience I will give you a few tips that may help you.
1. Never, ever put your online life in one place, especially a place that can be taken away in the blink of an eye.
- I now have three email accounts and all my contacts are saved in each one plus I have downloaded a copy of the list to the hard drive on my computer and I update it regularly. I save important emails to my computer as soon as I receive them. My computer hard drive is backed up every night to an external hard drive. I am trying to get rid of the gmail account as soon as possible.
- My calendar is on Microsoft Outlook on my computer along with my To Do List and one email account.
- I use Rafflecopter or Google Docs for my giveaways. With Google Docs I have shared each document with another online profile I created. I also download active giveaway entries often to my computer.
- My blog is self hosted with excellent customer support and it backed up several times a day by my host provider. Customer support is available 24/7 365 for me now. No more forums!
Some of this may seem excessive but my Blogger blog was hacked once and disabled once and I never want to relive either event.
2. Eliminate clutter.
- When I started my blog over it was the perfect time to reevaluate. My old blog was 3 columns full of stuff! Using this WordPress theme I was able to add several pages. Things that were previously in my sidebars now have their own pages. The Current Giveaways Page and Recommendations Page are very popular with my followers.
- Keeping your home page clean and inviting is very important but your blog will also load much faster with less items too.
3. Use your “Tags”.
- This was something I was horrible at on my old blog. One thing I always tag is where the story takes place. I participate in the Where Are You Reading Challenge hosted by Sheila at Book Journey. I know how hard it is to find books to read from every state so this is my little way to make it easier for my followers to find the books they may need.
- I also tag the genre, the publisher and subject matter or theme like friendship, fly fishing, quilting, etc.
4. Use links.
- I always link by books to Amazon several times in a post.
- I also link other internet sites that may relate to the book. Recently I was working on a review for Following Atticus: Forty-Eight High Peaks, One Little Dog, and an Extraordinary Friendship. I was really inspired by this book so I checked out online sites about The White Mountains and hiking them. They were so interesting I linked a couple of them and then even included a picture in the review. The review will be posted next week.
- I also link to the author’s blog or website whenever possible.
- I have also started just recently adding the link for GoodReads to my review posts so readers can “Add Book” to their GoodReads shelf with just one click.
- I use Networked Blogs to publish my posts automatically to Facebook and Twitter. I also have a Facebook Fan Page for my blog. I use the share buttons at the bottom of each post to link my post to groups I belong to on Facebook, Tweet about my posts and also share at a variety of other sites.
- The newest craze is Pinterest and I spend some time each week “pinning” books I like and other things that interest me.
- I am also active on both Goodreads and shelfari. Both are free and wonderful places to meet new people and keep track of the books you are reading or want to read.
- A Linked In profile is a great way to connect with authors and publicists. You can also reconnect with old friends that may not be on Facebook. Linked In is more of a business setting that other social media outlets.
- Due to the problems I had with Google I have not jumped on the Google Plus bandwagon yet, but it is another great place to connect with people.
- I travel around on Sundays with The Sunday Salon and on Mondays with the What Are You Reading? meme hosted by Sheila at Book Journey, but what about the other days of the week.
- If you don’t have memes every day that take you visiting this communication thing takes a little work. You can either join a meme for every day of the week or you can do what I have started to do. I bring up my Google Reader or my WordPress Reader and pick a few to go visit. Read their posts and comment so they know you are there. I am guilty of lurking( (not leaving comments) but I am working hard to improve my blog communications.
- Blogs that you find yourself visiting often should become ones that you subscribe to via email. Then you see their posts regularly and can comment with a few clicks of the mouse.
7. WordPress is a wonderful step up from Blogger!
- I have been thrilled with my WordPress experience. There are a variety of beautiful free themes. Plug-ins make many complicated things so easy. Things like adding the Social Network links are done with a few clicks. Spam Control is top-notch. The widgets are many and very simple to use. There are still forums for questions and there are so many bloggers using WordPress that are always willing to help. If you do want to transfer your blog someday which I highly recommend be sure to have help doing the transfer if you are not tech savvy.
8. Your blog is always a work in progress.
- I am always tweaking my blog trying to make it better. I listen to comments I receive. I see things I like on other blogs, or when WordPress introduces something new. A blog needs to keep growing to stay fresh. A blog in motion tends to stay in motion and that’s a very good thing!
I love reading, blogging, sharing my thoughts. I hope you have enjoyed these Armchair BEA posts. I have been traveling around the blogosphere and have found several new blogs and have been learning more about people behind the blogs I was already following. Yes, I still wish I could go to New York and meets some bloggers face to face but Armchair BEA has been quite the positive experience.