Blogger Panel: Best Advice for Newbie Bloggers

Hi everyone! Welcome to the first Blogger Panel here on Adrift on Vulcan! Today’s panelists are:

Debby from Snuggly Oranges

Chrys from Oh, Chrys!

Katie from Curse of the Bibliophile

ME! (I couldn’t reach one of my original panelists, so I’m filling in.)

Thank you so much for joining me, ladies! The question, asked by Shannelle from The Tracery of Ink, is:

What is the best advice for newbie bloggers? Like the best way with dealing with publishers, for example?

Debby says. . .

My number one piece of advice stems from my marketing background: find your unique selling point and make sure it shows. There are many different ways you can make your blog stand out, and you need to take the time to find the right one for you. Whether you post hilarious gif-filled reviews, post thought-provoking and engaging discussions, are the “friendly blogger” who comments on everything and engages in discussions, have a beautiful layout that gets everyone drooling, or just have a memorable name (haha), make sure you’re original in something. If you’re a newbie blogger who wants to achieve something (i.e. get to the next level of followers, get those publishers interested), you need to not be “one of the crowd”. The book blogosphere is enormous and (debatably) overpopulated. The worst thing is to be forgotten. But make sure it comes naturally, and you’re not forcing yourself to form some kind of image that you don’t actually have. That will make it extremely hard to stay consistent, at the top of your game, and it can make blogging feel like a chore. Know where your natural strengths lie, and utilize them to the fullest!

(P.S. Get on Twitter. That’s where the real fun & friendship forming happens.)

Chrys says…

I don’t really know if there is any “best advice” for newbie bloggers because we all have our different comfort zones, goals, and personalities. However, I think it is helpful to know that blogging should never feel like a burden. Yes, you are a newbie blogger, so obsessing over your design and content is inevitable for most. If commenting on other blogs feels like a burden, then don’t do it. If posting four times a week feels like a burden, then don’t do it. Basically, I think you should just relax. I am not saying to be lazy and uninterested, but to be moderate – whatever that means for you. Of course, there are some onerous tasks that have negative consequences once not fulfilled. For instance, not replying to comments on your blog, might deter readers from interacting. 

In regards to contacting publishers (I assume for ARCs), I think one must be thorough in their request. You should introduce your blog, share your statistics and address,and state your desire for the book. One should not feel intimidated, especially considering the anonymity that comes with emails. The result can only be a “yes” or “no”, whether via email or ARC delivery/non-delivery.  What’s to fear in that? If you still don’t feel comfortable doing it, if it feels like a burden – simply don’t do it. It is not as though the book will not be published. Right?

Katie says…

The best advice I can give to newbie bloggers is to be active and get to know there fellow bloggers. The best thing about being a book blogger is getting to share your passion with others and it makes being a book blogger so much more fun in the long run.

Meg says…

If there’s one thing I wish I knew when I first started out blogging, it is to interact with your readers. Not only return comments to them or reply to them on your blog, but also talk to them — whether it’s on Twitter, Facebook, email, or somewhere else. The book blogging community is full of friendships, so it would do you well to form some of your own to ensure that you don’t get left out or feel lonely! And also, if you run out of posts to post every day — DON’T PANIC. Don’t try to fill up those empty slots with blog tours, blitzes, giveaways, memes, and all those kinds of fairly unimportant stuff. We love reading personal things from you. We want to get to know you more, and by sharing a little bit of your heart with us, you’ll help us to appreciate more and let us know that blogging really does mean something to you. We booklovers love passion, after all, and if you’ve seen the stats, it is not book tours, giveaways, or memes that usually get the most traffic. It’s discussions and original stuff, because we love originality, too!

About that bit about the publishers: I don’t claim to be an expert, but the most important of all is that you be polite and professional. I know — some help, right? But really. Don’t demand books from them. Don’t throw yourself at them (unless you’re very good friends), otherwise they won’t take you seriously. Don’t fill your email with CAPs and exclamation marks everywhere. I know you’re excited and that you want the book you’re requesting really badly, but seriously — calm down. To be honest though, I don’t think there’s a correct way to deal with publishers. I mean, once you send off your email, everything is pretty much out of your hands, and it’s up to them whether they want to respond or not. And in your email, I also think it’s a great help if you include a short introduction of yourself, how long you’ve been blogging, and why you’re blogging. It kind of gives the pub a better sense of what you’re doing and why you’re doing it, which will also add to the professional factor. 

Tip: U.S. publishers are usually more picky about who they send galleys to than publishers in the U.K. or Australia — especially if you’re an international blogger. You’d have much better luck contacting the latter two than the former!

Over to you!

What do you think? Do you agree with these panelists? Do you have some tips of your own that you’d like to share? Please do! I’m sure we can all benefit from it. And if you’re interested, signups for the next Blogger Panel begin now!

What is the Blogger Panel?

The Blogger Panel is to provide help and a little bit of an “insider’s scoop” into what bloggers/reviewers think about certain things in a book, OR anything book/blog related. I’m also accepting questions from YOU! The questions can be about anything – books, authors, book blogs (advice, etc.) – just as long as it is book related. Please remember, this isn’t an interview with bloggers, so do refrain from asking simple questions you’d ask in an interview.

If you want to join the next Blogger Panel, but don’t want to submit a question, select “Yes” in the form and leave the “Question” area blank. I’ll be looking for up to four people for the next panel. If you’re accepted, look out for my email and the question!

BLOGGER PANEL FORM [NOT COMMENT FORM (for the comment form, please scroll down further)]:

END OF FORM

*This post is linked on the Let’s Discuss feature hosted by Oh, Chrys and The Fiction Conniption*

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34 thoughts on “Blogger Panel: Best Advice for Newbie Bloggers

  1. All of you make such great points! I think putting yourself out there and interacting with other bloggers is essential for a newbie blogger. Also, being memorable. Like Debby said, there are so many bloggers out there, it is easy to be forgotten. My advice would be not only an unique name (because words such as books, novel etc. are very overused and you’re very likely going to be lost in the sea of bloggers) but also a design/logo, establish the brand of your blog and make that logo one thing memorable about your blog. I found that was very helpful for me because people would remember me from my blog icon and it stuck long enough. If you’re concerned about design changes, I would advise sticking to a certain colour scheme too because even if the design changes, readers will start to associate these colours together to your blog.

    • I agree with all of them, too! Being memorable is definitely important, otherwise why would people want to visit your blog when they can find a thousand similar ones just a few clicks away? Thanks for your advice too, Charlotte! A unique name is incredibly important; I only wish I knew that when I first started out. (My first blog name was “The Book Galaxy.” I know.)

      • Haha, it’s okay, you two! I added in huge bright red words to warn others. Hazel, I’ve posted your comment below for everyone to see. 🙂

        Awesome tips! I’m fairly new to the community (3 months is still pretty young for a blog, right?) and despite learning so much already, I feel like I haven’t learned enough. So I love reading all your advice! I especially love Chrys’ point on the anonimity of emails. I’ve always been one to be easily intimidated and that has held me back from requesting from publishers. Maybe I won’t be so afraid of the rejection now! Thank you for this post!” – Hazel @ staybookish

  2. Thank you for this post! It’s great to see bloggers helping each other out and offering advice, looking forward to the next one 🙂

  3. Hello, popping over. It’s nice to see that you’re still continuing this. And thanks for picking my question! c(:

    I was still kinda new then, so I submitted that in, and it’s still nice to see this familiar advice. And ooh, I never really realized that UK and AUS are a little nicer. Maybe I’ll try talking to them someday when I ever want to request an ARC.

  4. Oops, obviously I can’t read well because I put my comment in the forum box. But what I said was that I totally agree with your points. I think a mixture of getting to know bloggers and finding your niche (like gif reviews or a specific theme) will have people returning to your blog. I know some blogs I visit because they have discussions that I can’t find elsewhere. Love these panels, Meg 😉

    • That’s fine, Becca! I should’ve made the form clearer, heh. Definitely agree. Widening your scope is super important as well, because it helps you find blogs you never knew existed — which was the case with me! It wasn’t until mid this year that I decided to step out of my comfort zone and comment on other blogs. Yay! So glad to hear that. 🙂

  5. Oh yay! You’re still doing this feature 😀

    I definitely agree with everything that people have said above! The most important thing for me would probably be a tossup between interacting with your readers and having some sort of original content. After all, people like to know that their voices are being heard- so reply to their comments, go and comment on their blog, whatever. In terms of original content- sure, reviews are definitely the backbone of a good book blog, it does get tiring just to read reviews over and over again- other content such as discussions and memes and random features are certainly nice posts to shake things up a little 🙂

    • Of course! 😉

      After all, people like to know that their voices are being heard” – YES. Especially since most bookworms are social recluses, and no one wants to hear them ramble on and on about books, so it’s nice to know that you’re being listened to out there. Not too many memes, though!

  6. Yes, yes! From what I’ve noticed the 3 most important things are to be original (discussion posts and original features are just natural “crowd-pleasers”), to be yourself (it’s the easiest to do, and really who wants to be friends with a fake?) and to be “communicative” (have a presence on Twitter, reply to comments as well as visit and comment on others blogs).
    I only request e-ARCs on Netgalley, and even that not so much anymore, so I’m not an expert when it comes to approaching publishers, but I think the advices above are all sound and solid 🙂

    Great post! I really wish I had read it when I started blogging…. And I’m glad you’re continuing Blogger Panel here 🙂

    • Ha, at least everyone agrees one the same things. I’m the same; I feel SO intimidated whenever I ask publishers directly, because I don’t have a very good track record with them… (as in, I nearly always get ignored or rejected.) Yeah, I’m now focusing on getting those reviews typed up! Procrastination sucks. No idea why I still do it.

      I know, right? At least now we’re all wiser. Thanks, Cayce! 😀

  7. What an amazing post girls. I didn’t know about your panels but I’d love to participate in one of them. I’ll sing up 😉
    For the today’s matter for me being honest is probably the most important thing. You need to be polite too and at the same time never insult anyone’s work. Basically you should act as you’d like people to act towards you. It’s simple and mostly works as plenty of things in life. Also it’s about setting priorities – you should do this for reading not few books – they’re just a bonus. Great post 🙂

    • Yay! Glad to hear that, Tanja!

      Ooh, yes, how could I forget that? Honesty — so important. I absolutely hate it when trolls start thinking they rule the internet or something and start insulting people’s work. I don’t know if they’re being honest or if they just like tearing people down, but yes. You should definitely act as you’d like people to act toward you. Great advice!

  8. Haha, this came just in time! I literally only started my blog today 😛 Thank you so much for the advice. Right now, I’m trying to focus on finding different blogs (like yours!), commenting on them, and hopefully making friends… Oh, and a unique blog name? Well, my blog name has a grammar error 😀 (I did put it in there on purpose, though).

    And even though I am only a newbie, I wholeheartedly agree with you that blogging shouldn’t be a chore. I made a blog because I wanted to have fun and make friends, not because I wanted a new chore to add to my list.

    Again, thank you for the great post!

    • Ah, awesome! Welcome to the blogosphere, Lesley. 🙂 I tried clicking on to go to your blog, but it’s still private… That’s a good idea, and high five for unique blog names. Who would have thought something so simple — like a grammatical error — could turn something unique, huh? 😉

      Blogging becomes a chore when you’ve got so much books to request, so I’d really advise everyone against requesting too many books coming out in the same month… which is what I did. T_T But I’m so glad this helped you out! Looking forward to seeing you around!

  9. Wow, this was a very insightful post, Meg. :3 I agree with all the things the panels have said. But what really struck me the most is Chrys’s words of wisdom. Take everything in moderation. Because I am still a new blogger, I am pretty much freaking out when you know, I can’t reply to comments, visit insert-number-here blogs or post insert-number-here of posts or read insert-number-here of books. There were days that I panicked whenever I see that I only have one cued post for the upcoming days. And then I am also busy IRL with work and school and I’m not already sure how to fit it all in.

    I am just glad that right now, I am slowly learning that blogging shouldn’t be a stressful thing. That myself and my happiness should always come first. And I have the prerogative to post or not. That when you want to go on hiatus even for a year, nothing should stop you. True, readers and followers are very important but again, your own happiness should always come first.

    Thanks for this post, Megan!

    • I am pretty much freaking out when you know, I can’t reply to comments, visit insert-number-here blogs or post insert-number-here of posts” – Story of my life, Charlotte. Story of my life. I always get a small panic attack whenever time restraints me from visiting and commenting on other blogs to return the favor, because I get the feeling that people think I’m ignoring them! SO STRESSFUL. But most of the time it’s still fun. It gives me something other than schoolwork to do. 🙂

      You’re right! I have to try to remember that, too, but the problem with creating a blog is that you become VERY attached to it. *sigh* I’m glad this helped you out though!

  10. I think this is my first time visiting A Drift on Vulcan. Love the concept of the blog, Meg ❤
    My favorite advice from all four panelists above is that blogging shouldn't feel like a burden; I agree with this point so much. Once you started doing it because you want to fulfill some goals and not because you want to, it won't be fun anymore. IPR was started about a year ago and up until now I'm still struggling with posting regularly, but at least I'm pretty happy with the blog as it is right now. I'm always amazed at how other newbie book bloggers could find a really great original contents' ideas and has amazing design AND able to post regularly even from the start, but well, blogging is not a competition, right? 🙂

    Thank you for this post! I always love reading blogging tips; it's very helpful!
    – Tirta @ I Prefer Reading

    • Yay — so glad you do, Tirta! 😀

      Yeah, I keep needing to remind myself of that, too. Blogging should be enjoyed, not feel like a chore. But whenever it comes to my blog, I’m willing to give up anything just to make sure a post goes up each day, or that people who commented on my blog get replied to (and visited back), and so on, so I have to admit that my schoolwork has been suffering a little. >.< So that's good advice, for sure! And you're right! Blogging isn't a competition, though it sometimes feels that way. Eh…

      Thank YOU for stopping by!

  11. I’m so glad to see you’re continuing this feature, Meg! I love the Blogger Panel.

    Everyone makes really good, valid points but I definitely think the biggest one is interacting with other bloggers and getting your name out there. As an introvert, it’s something I find quite difficult but I’m trying hard to overcome it. I do find that when I interact more on Twitter and post more comments on blogs, my own blog stats increase, usually in comments. I don’t always have a lot of time to sit down and read everything, but it’s my main focus of improvement at the moment!

    • You have no idea how happy that makes me feel!

      Ah, introverts unite. I’m really shy and quiet in real life, so it’s a relief to try to at least “pretend” to be someone else online, someone friendlier, more outspoken, etc. etc. Same here! Well, not on Twitter. Twitter doesn’t change much of my blog statistics, but commenting on other blogs — definitely. Wishing you all the best with expressing yourself and time to spend with your blog! I know the feeling too well…

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  13. All the advice is really good! I think that what I love the most in the blogging community is the friendships! I have ‘met’ so many truly nice booklovers, and even if we live in different countries, I feel close to some of them. I mostly agree with the moderation – blogging is a hobby, and I want to have fun with mine – not stress about how many posts I have coming up or if I’m gaining enough followers.
    Thanks for sharing your wisdom, and for letting us all chip in 🙂

    • I totally agree! I never would’ve found so many people like me back here where I live. Where everyone prefers doing anything but reading (the horror!), so I’ve definitely made some strong friendships ever since I started blogging. Sometimes it’s hard just to focus on having fun and not trying to boost your follower count up, though. I know I suffer from that daily. Must. Set. Priorities!

      Thanks for stopping by, Lexxie!

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  16. Great advice from everyone. I think my favourite is get yourself out there. At first I felt awkward commenting but the more you do, the easier it gets. People get to know you and friendships form. Reading other blogs always inspire me to aim higher and to be creative, it really is a win, win.
    I agree with Debby too, you need to put a marketing hat on sometimes to grow your blog. You have to attract new followers and keep old ones and the quickest way is to be unique. Spend time thinking about what can do that is uniquely you and embrace it.

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