Book Blogger Appreciation Week: Blogging Practices

Today is the last day of Book Blogger Appreciation Week and the topic of discussion is all about the world of blogging practices:

The world of blogging is continually changing. Share 3 things you are essential tried and true practices for every blogger and 1-3 new trends or tools you’ve adapted recently or would like to in the future.

Narrowing down “tried and true practices” to three items was a bit of a challenge for me…but here is what I came up with:

Honesty

Recently I read an article about fake product reviews … written by  book reviewer who was paid to post dishonest, fake reviews! I was shocked (although I suppose I should not be given that there are people out there who will do anything for money). Not long ago, I had an email exchange with a self-published author who wanted to know why bloggers would not accept money to read and review her book (I was glad to see that she didn’t have any takers).  Although I don’t begrudge any blogger for making money through advertising on their blog or being paid to post objective reviews through a third party…I have a real problem with bloggers accepting payment directly from authors or their publicists to provide a review. Why? Because I think it is a conflict of interest. How can we be 100% honest about a book when the author is paying us to review it? And really, honesty in our reviews is important, isn’t it? I go to the book bloggers I trust for recommendations on books. I don’t want to have to wonder if a book blogger is just giving a book a pass so they can pick up their check. I want to know that the reviewer actually read the book. I think honesty is the way to preserve our integrity as bloggers. For me, it is the #1 practice that I believe we should all follow. And that includes full disclosure as to where our books come from, too.

 

Crediting our Inspirations and Ideas

How many times have you read a blog post and it has inspired an idea for a post of your own? It has happened to me many times. And if you read enough blogs, you will discover that ideas are not formed in a vacuum. We spin off of each other all the time. Maybe we are on Twitter and a conversation starts which gives us a great idea for a series of posts or a project. Or maybe we read just one part of someone’s post and we recognize an idea for an article based on just that aspect of the post. It is not only polite, but good practice to credit our ideas with a link to the blogger who gave us the inspiration. It is one of those things that spreads goodwill…and it is just the right thing to do. I truly believe that when we recognize each other and give credit and appreciation to other people, it helps ourselves too. My grandmother always told me that whatever I put out in the world (whether it be good or bad), it would ultimately come back to me tenfold. I have never forgotten that…and so this “practice” is just part of my overall philosophy of putting good out into the world.

Consistency

Nowadays there is a lot about building a following – and let’s face it, most of us would like people to read what we write. Bloggers are writers, educators, and individuals with opinions. We like getting feedback through comments. We like to know that when we hit “publish” that our post is not just going out to an empty world and disappearing. One way to ensure readership is to be consistent with your posts. I don’t think you have to post every single day. But, I think you have to post enough so that your readers can depend on the content. Twice a week, three times a week – more or less – it doesn’t matter, as long as it is consistent. Readers to my blog know that I post every Sunday for Sunday Salon and I give links to the reviews for that week; they know that my Mailbox goes up on Mondays with blurbs and links to some of the newest literature coming out; they know that I post at least one book review (and sometimes as many as three) per week; they know that I will occasionally post about my pets or my quilts or about a local event. Every week, there is new content on my blog. It is consistent…and if I cannot post because life has taken over, then I let my readers know so they don’t think I have just disappeared.

(photo credit)

What about you? Do you have ideas of what constitutes “tried and true” practices for book blogging?

The second part of this post involves trends or tools – new things I have added to my blog or are considering adding. I will admit right up front – trends change so rapidly, that it is hard for me to keep up sometimes!

Social Network Widgets

I will admit, that the speed of information out there often just overwhelms me. BUT, it became apparent to me that providing a quick and easy way for people to tweet a post or share something I wrote on Facebook or StumbleUpon or any one of the gazillion social media tools…was  important.  I installed a plugin called Socializer! on my blog which provides a quick and easy way for readers to share information. The widget appears on the top and bottom of every one of my posts.

Comment Luv

Let’s face it – blogging is all about the interaction between the reader and the blogger. Discussions make your blog more interesting. I like to give back to my commenters whenever I can … and adding the Comment Luv plugin to my blog allows commenters to display their latest post as a link at the bottom of their comment. I loved when I saw this on other blogs (and often clicked through to posts which looked interesting). It allows readers to find new content and new blogs to read. Readers to my blog can find a CommentLuv box to check at the bottom of the comment dialog box – doing this will create a link to their last blog post at the bottom of their comment.

What about YOU? What tools do you have on your blog? Please share them in the comments – I’d love to get new ideas. Are there trends in blogging that you think add functionality or readability to your blog?

Check out other bloggers posts by visiting the BBAW blog here – and following the links.

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16 comments

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    • Erin on September 16, 2011 at 08:42

    I love your thorough and thoughtful post (and the pictures you chose to include). I absolutely agree that honesty is paramount, and I like to believe that bloggers practice this, though I know that may not always be the case. I’ve been trying to keep track of where different ideas have come from, either by noting the link to the post that inspired something or writing down the blogger’s name, at least. I do think crediting one another is important.

    I’m happy you spoke about consistency as you did. I’m good with the number of posts I post per week but not always the type — I’m thinking specifically of Sunday Salon here! I love the idea of it but can’t always come up with a topic I find blog-worthy and so remain silent. I’ll have to think on that.

    I don’t have any new exciting tools to recommend. I’m spending today getting tips more than giving! My goal is to get comfy with Twitter.

    • Amy on September 16, 2011 at 09:30

    Great tips, ones I try to keep as well. I think crediting others is a really huge one that really builds the community and shows how we all interact with each other.

    • Trish on September 16, 2011 at 10:13

    Wonderful tips, Wendy. I especially agree with honesty and crediting inspiration. The one I struggle with is consistency. Even before the little babe was born it just seems like some weeks I can get a post up a few times and then some weeks I have nothing. I do try to pre-write and schedule when I can (a blessing during this week), but it’s something I’d like to be better at.

    Love commentluv. Wish that Blogger had some neat features–or at least a better commenting system!! 😉

    • Rikki on September 16, 2011 at 10:19

    The tool I probably love most is a plugin that lets me select related posts myself. I hate the related posts feature that randomly choose “related posts” on some unreliable algorithm (or whatever it is they use).
    And a spoiler hide/reveal kind of plugin that I liked so much that I created a new quiz feature on my blog just so I could use it…:)

    I like your grandmother’s advice. Very true!

  1. I pretty much agree with everything you have said so well here. I used to be so consistent with my posting and then I gave birth. Out the window that went. I am slowly getting back into a routine and finding my blogging mojo over on my personal blog. Thankfully our group book blog works so well – having multiple bloggers available to fill in for each other is a life saver! People are more likely to visit a blog when they know when to expect new posts from them. If you are sporadic, you fall off of their radar.

    -Molly

    • Wallace on September 16, 2011 at 10:36

    I had no idea it was even allowed to pot fake reviews for money. That’s horrible (and concerning). I just learned that people can also pay for Twitter followers — which feels fake to me too (and misleading). Who would do that?? Argh… I hope no one that I’m reading does that, I’d be so disappointed to find out.

    I’m with you on the ideas for posts, etc. I LOVE that part of blogging… it makes the conversation go on and on.

    I go back and forth on being consistent blogging (though try to be as consistent as possible). I do lose interest if people aren’t consistent… and I like to “keep in touch” (if you will) by reading updated blogs. And it is nice to have readers — it’s almost like having morning coffee with friends (does that sound strange)?

  2. I’m a big fan of that CommentLuv plugin, which is one of the MANY reasons I dumped Blogger’s native comments for IntenseDebate (which is not perfect, but has gotten better, and will do until Blogger’s commenting system enters the 21st century!).

    You make some excellent and important points here, Wendy. Disclosure is the right thing to do, even without the FTC telling us to do it. I’ve recently started doing some compensated reviews for third parties, and when I cross-post those on my own blog, that’s also disclosed and credited/linked to the sponsor. And other bloggers are one of my best sources of inspiration for posts, so I do try to be good about linking to them when they’ve done that.

    • Amy on September 16, 2011 at 14:27

    I am completely shocked by a reviewer posting fake, dishonest review…besides, what’s the point?
    I think accepting money directly from an author to write book reviews is a conflict of interest. If the review is a positive glowng reviewI think it will be tainted always by the knowledge that money exchanged hands.

    I think your thought about crediting the bloggers from whom we get our ideas and inspiration is totally on point. It’s completely normal for bloggers posts to inspire and help generate thoughts, ideas and post in others and giving credit where credit is due, I agree, fosters goodwill, Wendy! You also make a great point about posting the same way every week whether it’s only review or more memes are a mix of the two.

    I am deficient in facebook, twitter etc. I have to find out to link my blog to my twitter and facebook accounts… I have no idea how to do this! I might check out your Socializer link. It sounds interesting.

    • Wendy on September 16, 2011 at 14:50
      Author

    Erin: Thanks for your feedback. I think consistency is probably one of the hardest things to achieve. Re: Sunday Salon…I usually just talk about the books I’ve read that week and give links to my reviews. Sometimes, I’ll come up with some original idea I want to talk about…but, mostly I use it to be just conversational about reading and books.

    • Wendy on September 16, 2011 at 14:55
      Author

    Amy (Amy Reads): I really believe in the “Golden Rule” theory of blogging – treat others how you would want them to treat you…and I think giving links/credit to other blogs is all part of that.

    Trish: I hear you about the consistency thing – but, in your case, you actually have let everyone know about how full your life is with your little one…and that is what I meant when I talked about posting if you are not able to be as fully consistent. Most people really do “get that” and won’t abandon you for it 🙂 I know I will ALWAYS subscribe, no matter how often you post!!!

    Rikki: Do you remember the name of that plug-in? I just recently shut off the one that arbitrarily picked posts…for the reasons you stated in your comment. I’d love to be able to hone that and select my own. Thanks for the heads up on it!

    Molly: Group blogs are great that way…allowing you to take time off when you need to, but still maintain your traffic. I think most people understand the whole baby thing (see my comment to Trish)…again, it is just letting people know, otherwise they begin to wonder if you are still even maintaining your blog.

    • Wendy on September 16, 2011 at 15:01
      Author

    Wallace: Apparently it is not illegal. Paying for Twitter followers? Really? That seems so stupid to me! Coffee with friends does not sound weird to me at all – it sounds like the perfect way to describe what we do in book blogging!!!

    Florinda: I do love CommentLuv – I not only like to have my most recent posts pop up in comments, but I love to see what other people are writing about. And yes, about the compensated reviews (I know a lot of bloggers are now doing those for third parties, and I don’t have any problem with that because there is no pressure to post positive reviews…the third parties just want reviews of any kind). I notice that you are very consistent with posting links to other bloggers 🙂

    Amy (Seven Tails): I know – my mouth dropped open when I read that…and how weird that she copped to it, too!!! I know that there are lots of apps available for linking sites (like FB and Twitter)…there are great plug-ins available. Library Thing also has an application where you can have it automatically tweet your reviews over there.

  3. CommentLuv is one of my favorite plugins. I’ve been using it so long I guess I take it for granted. We shouldn’t do that with our tools, should we?

    • Rikki on September 16, 2011 at 22:52

    The plug-in is called Microkid’s Realated posts. This is the site: http://www.microkid.net/wordpress/related-posts/

    It is awesome, you can easily search for posts yourself by entering keywords that should be either in the title or in the text of your related posts.

  4. Hi
    What an interesting post – It doesn’t surprise me that people are paid to make fake reviews but I was interested to learn how you could perhaps tell difference.

    Comment luv doesn’t seem to like my blog sometimes, I am not sure why.

    Shelleyrae @ Book’d Out

  5. A nice list of best blogging practices, Wendy. I’m on a loose blogging schedule, and try to be consistent … to the best of my abilities (and what life has in store for me that day/week)

    • Jenners on September 17, 2011 at 18:38

    I think your blogging advice is fantastic. I’m shocked by the idea of bloggers getting paid to write book reviews!! It just seems wrong. I tend to turn down the bulk of review requests from authors because I want to be 100% honest in my reviews and it feels so awkward to have a personal interaction with someone and then not like their book and feel that you have to be honest in your review. I deal with it by just not reviewing them.

    I like the CommentLuv plug-in too. It is a wonderfully easy way to share the love with others.

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