When I started blogging back at the beginning of 2018, I had no idea what I was doing. Naturally, I went out looking for advice from other bloggers, and while I found LOTS of incredibly useful tips and guidance, there was still plenty that I learned on my own along the way.
This list is eight little things I didn’t know when I started out blogging. These details, from formatting things to the blogging community, were small enough that they didn’t show up on typical lists of advice for new bloggers. But all of them would have been helpful for me starting out. I hope they’re helpful for you too!
I’ll start out with formatting tips…
1. Creating headings
Starting out, I created all my large text headings by painstakingly changing the HTML like so…
Needless to say, it was a lot of work that I didn’t even have to do.
A few months (yes, months) into blogging, I discovered that you can change text into headings, which will change not only the size of the text but the font, making it stand out even more. *mind blown* Yes, this magical tool exists, and it’s ridiculously easy to access.
So if, for example, you wanted to make your text really big and noticeable, you could make it Heading 1.
Or if you wanted it smaller but still emphasized by putting it in a different font, you could make it Heading 6.
The world is wild like that.
(These headings don’t always show up properly on different WordPress readers, but they’re still bigger and bolder than regular text, and they should still work fine on the blog itself.)
2. Use a formatting reference post
Now this was actually a piece of advice I found from someone else starting out – wish I could remember where – and I wanted to pass it on because it’s been one of the most useful tips for me.
A formatting reference post is a post that you keep in your drafts and refer back to so that you don’t have to constantly check other posts to see how you formatted things.
For example: I have a certain way that I format reviews and aspects of these reviews that I don’t want to forget to include. Instead of going back to old reviews each time, I copy and paste my template from my formatting reference post. This is what my review section looks like:
It’s pretty handy!
I also keep images that I use frequently, such as my divider image and all my various star ratings…
They’re easy to access and I don’t have to go digging through my media gallery every time I want to find them!
3. Give your posts interesting titles
Starting out, I titled my posts things like “Review: _____” and “_____ Wrap-Up.” There’s nothing wrong with these titles, per se, but they tell you next to nothing about what’s in the post. Adding a little personality or a glimpse of what you talk about can make your posts look much more exciting to click on.
I’m not saying your titles should be clickbait. (Though I’m not saying I wouldn’t click on a post titled “I read a book… and you won’t believe what happened next!”)
I now title my book reviews things like this…
These don’t have to be funny titles. You can give an idea of what you’ll be talking about through titles in posts like wrap-ups…
There’s nothing wrong with giving a post a straightforward title, but why not make it a little more exciting? And I know that my book reviews at least have gotten noticeably more traffic once I gave them fun subtitles.
4. Use Canva for graphics
Are you unsure how to create nice graphics for your blog? Did you start out this whole blogging endeavor expecting to talk about books, not be an expert in graphic design?
Yeah, I’ve been there.
Luckily, there is a solution! Canva.com is a great resource for creating graphics if you have no idea how to do it. They have tons of templates and the editor is so easy to use! Even I, an idiot, can use it. Plus, it’s free! You can use it to make headers, Pinterest graphics, and anything else you might need.
(Wow this literally sounds like a commercial but it’s not at all I just love that website a lot.)
5. Link back to old posts
Just because a post is a few weeks/months/years old, doesn’t mean you have to let it die a slow death in your archives. Don’t be afraid to link back to old posts that are relevant to what you’re talking about now.
If you think a discussion post is enhanced by something else you talked about a while ago, link that first post. If you’re recommending a book that you reviewed in the past, link that review. If you’re writing a post about tips for new bloggers, feel free to mention that post you did a few months ago talking about what you’ve learned in a year of book blogging. (I’m so slick.)
Be sure, though, that those old posts are still polished. If a picture has disappeared or if the formatting has gone wrong somehow, go back and fix it!
6. Visit the blogs of people who comment on your posts
Starting out, I saw advice all over telling me to respond to every comment I got on my posts. Which you should definitely do! But why not go the extra step?
I make an effort to visit and comment on a post for everyone who comments on mine. Not only is it a nice way of saying thank you for visiting my blog and reading what I wrote, but it has led me to discover so many more great bloggers than I would have otherwise!
This method might be more time-consuming than simply responding to every comment, but for me it’s worth it. A large part of blogging for me is about fostering community and starting conversations, and this is my way of doing that.
7. You can start requesting ARCs whenever you want!
I waited until I’d been blogging for almost a year before I started requesting ARCs, since I was weirdly scared of getting turned down. But once I actually put in the effort of setting up my NetGalley and Edelweiss profiles, I started getting positive responses almost immediately.
The ARC gods (aka publicists) are fickle and wily, meaning there often isn’t a lot of rhyme or reason to who gets approved and who doesn’t. One time, I saw someone with more than triple my number of followers get rejected for an ARC that I was approved for. I’ve heard of people with almost no social media following at all get approved. It doesn’t always make sense. So I say just go for it. Receiving your first ARC feels so special, so why wait!
8. Post what you want!
When I was thinking about what else to put as advice, I thought I should probably give some thoughts on which types of posts you should do if you want the most page views. Tags? Discussions? Reviews? What generates the most traffic? What do readers of your blog most want to see?
But frankly, I think you should just do whatever sounds most fun to you.
You’re probably doing this book blogging thing because you love books and want to talk about them with fellow nerds. (Or maybe you don’t – I don’t know your life.) So if you spend too much time obsessing about what posts will be post popular and how many followers you have, it’s probably going to suck the joy right out.
Do you like writing book reviews? Write book reviews! Do you have fun doing tags and weekly memes? Have at em – there are lots out there! Do you love writing long rambling discussion posts that you think nobody but you will care about? Go ahead and write them. Somebody out there will probably be glad you did.
Post the things that are fun for you, and blogging will be so much easier.
I hope this was helpful to any new bloggers out there! Older bloggers – do you have any tips to add? What little things did you wish you knew starting out?