About 5-6 years ago, I participated in a few Bloggiesta events to help me redesign and rethink my blog. The idea was to share information about useful tools and blogging tips, visit each others sites to offer suggestions on design and template issues and generally, spend time thinking about how your blog looks and works for you and for your readers.
I haven't heard or seen much about them in recent times, and the original hosting site seems to have turned into a Korean online fashion shop. But after my recent Stories & Shout Out post and then reading Marg @Intrepid Reader's post about social media use, I've been mulling over what's working for me and what's not. I decided it was time to bloggiesta my blog!
Marg was working out how best to integrate her SM with blogging as well as how best to record her reading journey. I'm trying to streamline processes and decrease my time on my iphone. I've also been inspired by Karen @Booker Talk throughout the year with her A-Z of Blogging tips. Many of you have been asking questions and offering comments in response to my earlier post, so this is an attempt to bring it all together in one place.
I've always been an amateur librarian with my books.
From about 8 yrs of age, I kept an exercise book with a list of all my books. At that time I started my own numbering system. I didn't want to start at number 1, as that would look weird (or so 8 yr old me thought). I started at 1000 instead. To this day, on my bookshelves, there are Enid Blyton and Trixie Belden books with 1022, 1087 etc inscribed in the top right hand corner of the titlepage.
At some point, during one of our moves, I lost this exercise book.
It wasn't until I left home for good in my early 20's, and made my very own home, that I started a new book list with all my grown-up books. In the year 2000, I got my first home computer, and converted this paper list into an alphabetised excel spreadsheet.
This continued sporadically until I decided to start using Goodreads to track my reading around 2015.
- I started blogging in 2009 with very little idea of what I wanted to do or how to do it. The first few years were a wilderness of experimentation and infrequent bursts of attention. It was only when I realised that my blog was for me that I relaxed and stopped trying to write for some imaginary audience. Brona's Books became my online journal - a place for me to list and talk about the books I had read, or planned to read.
- I prefer to think of my book posts as responses rather than reviews.
- I aim to post something 2-3 times each week.
- The template you see today, is the third incarnation. Each change brings in a more stream-lined, cleaner looking page. Each major overhaul sees me de-clutter the sidebar.
- Blogspot is currently eking out a new interface which I talked about here. Some of the minor annoyances have been fixed since then (i.e. the position of the new post button, ease of adding labels and hyperlinks). I'm quite happy with the changes so far. It was long overdue and gives the site a more modern feel.
- Thanks to Karen's A-Z posts, I developed my first ever About Me page a few months ago.
- I moved the 'search this blog' box to the top of the sidebar.
- I also started re-posting the occasional older post to give them fresh air, a new look and a new audience.
- Over the weekend I added a 'Follow this Blog by Email' option in an attempt to help WP users to track my latest posts.
- Last night I decided to change my font.
- September is my month to decrease social media usage. Last week my daily average was 4 hrs and 31 mins. This week it is down to a daily average of 2 hrs and 8 mins. Huzzah!
- Instagram is my preferred social media channel. I've always loved photography - travel pics and daily life. My feed mostly consists of scenes from my walks and some bookstagram images.
- Twitter is probably my next most used site. I mostly follow bookish people and Australian journalists/news sites. I do everything I can to avoid the ranters, haters and extremists.
- Facebook was once my darling. It's how I kept up with family and friends and shared titbits about our lives - where we were, what we enjoyed (or not), kid's achievements and milestones. I used to visit several times a day and update regularly. But slowly my feed became filled with memes and ads and other people's political opinions. It's no longer about staying in touch, but about trying to convince everyone else that they are wrong and you are right. I'm lucky to check in once a week now. If not for our personal business page, I would probably have deleted fb a couple of years ago.
- Pinterest is not really a site I use. I tried it about 5 yrs ago to storyboard home decorating ideas and recipes, but it didn't take. By chance one day, I discovered that other people use it a lot more though and that my blog posts were attracting some attention there. Turns out some people wishlist books on Pinterest the same way I do on Goodreads. Since then, I created three boards - Brona's Books Adult, YA and Kids. After each book review is posted, I send the URL link, via my phone, with book cover image to the appropriate board.
- Litsy is a book app that I used to play with. It's purpose is to highlight photographs of books with brief reviews and commentary. A nice way for friends and book clubs to share bookish stuff together.
- As mentioned above this is my main place to list all the books I've read and when.
- It's not a perfect system. I forget the occasional book and it only started properly from about 2015. Everything before that is a mystery!
- I distrust the star rating system a lot, preferring to read the reviews left by trusted bloggers to decide whether or not I will add a book to my To Be Read folder.
- I try to copy & paste in part of my review for each completed book, with a link back to my blog post for those who want to read the whole response.
- The 'To Be Read' folder is more of a personal wishlist. It doesn't reflect the physical books waiting to be read in my home, but is simply a place for me to pop any books I hear about that sound interesting.
- I've tried joining a few Goodread groups, but I don't spend enough time on there to make this a successful way to stay in touch with other readers.
- I don't always have a lot to say about the many picture books I read for work. A quick Goodreads review is a good way for me to keep track of them. Occasionally, when a certain reading week or theme presents itself, I can then combine a few of them into a more comprehensive blog post.
- I enjoy seeing what my Goodread friends are currently reading.
- I participate in the yearly reading challenge as I it can motivate me during the inevitable slow patches.
- Marg alerted me to this newish book hangout.
- It's a beta site, still finding it's way.
- It's not the right option for me to keep track of my books right now. I've got used to how Goodreads works, for better or worse.
- But it's very easy to import your data from Goodreads to create interesting graphs about your reading style.
- For instance, below is a lovely graph about all the books I've read in the past five years or so and what it says about my mood.
- You can also sort by one year at a time or months within each year.
- It's clear that the majority of my books are 'reflective'.
- The next five spots, shuffle around a bit, but basically they are 'emotional', 'informative', 'light-hearted', 'challenging' and 'adventurous'.
- It also showed me that I read about three-quarters more fiction than non-fiction, that most of my books are considered 'slow' reads and my average star rating is 3.61.
- I would have been curious to see a break down of male/female authors and books in translation too.
- The graph below represents the books in the 'To Be Read' folder.
- I obviously plan on reading more challenging, informative books than I actually end up doing!
- It has been a fun exercise, but as it currently stands, I will not be spending any more time with Storygraph.
- Despite having all the data about the books I read and filling out their survey, it still threw up books so completely NOT me (a cowboy romance!) that I don't see the point of it at all.
To integrate these sites, I use several organising/sorting/sharing platforms.
- A site I discovered thanks to one of the very first Bloggiesta events.
- At the time I created themed folders.
- There was an Australian group, one for Classics Club participants, Meme Hosts and YA bloggers.
- It quickly grew too big.
- So I redesigned the folders one rainy weekend to days of the week.
- When this also got out of hand, I added a new favourite folders for the 12-20 bloggers I visited regularly, who left comments and responded to my blogs.
- Last weekend, I decided it was time to clean out the weekday folders.
- There were still lots of bloggers I wanted to stay in touch with, but there were also a lot that I could now let go.
- During this process I realised that a number of long-term bloggers have disappeared over the past two years.
- I also discovered the option to 'Open in website directly'.
- This has been a revelation and makes commenting on blogs much easier.
- This is how I get my blog posts onto Twitter with an image.
- WP does this automatically. Blogger does not.
- Once you sign up, you simply right click on an image in your post and select 'Buffer this Image'.
- The post URL will be tweeted with the image/s you then select.
- You can also schedule up to 10 tweets which is great when doing chapter-a-day readalongs or hosting an event.
- Was another Bloggiesta find.
- They have a variety of 'Applets' that allow you to connect two or more apps or sites.
- I use this to automatically update the feed on my Brona's Books facebook page featuring my latest blog post.
- I set it up years ago, and haven't thought about it since.
- Is a free photographic site.
- I use this to help me source good quality images for my blog.
- Simply type in your search parameters (i.e. 'blogging')
- Scroll down to find an image you like.
- Copy the details of the creator so you acknowledge their work appropriately.
|Photo by Sincerely Media on Unsplash|
- Most of you probably know about this site, or other similar ones, where you can add a widget, or code, to your post that allows others to leave links to their posts on your blog.
- It's great if you're hosting an event or readalong.
- I prefer ones that are embedded in the post for their ease of use, even though they clutter up the look of your page.
- The only downside side seems to be an increase in spam comments whenever you leave your link in one!
- When you visit my blog, what parts work best for you?
- Which parts are hard to navigate or find?
- Do you checkout or use the sidebar on my blog?
- Do you read my posts on your computer, device or phone?
- Do you follow me on any other sites?
- How do you find out about my latest posts?
- Any other constructive comments or suggestions?