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Growing Pains of a Little Blog

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Hello all my wonderful visitors. I want to thank EVERYONE who has come by to read my reviews and posts, the authors that have participated in interviews and guest posts, the publishers and authors that have donated books and swag for giveaways, and everyone that has left me comments – I LOVE comments.
I have really enjoyed the past 18 months of blogging and I hope you all have enjoyed visiting. I loved watching my blog blossom and grow, and I think the best part is meeting so many new people – other bloggers, readers, authors and publicists. I cannot wait to go to AUTHORS AFTER DARK 2011 in Philly where I will meet so many of you in person!
I’ve noticed for the past several months, my blog as become a bit stagnant. I’ve been up and down one or two followers, and comments have pretty much disappeared. I know that I’ve been crazy busy, but I felt like I was still dedicating a good amount of time to the blog. I am not looking to make my blog the biggest, but I would love to continue to grow and provide my visitors with the best blog I can.
With that I’m reaching out to you… blog readers, fellow bloggers, authors, publicists… I need your input! I want to know what do you look for from blogs that you enjoy and frequent…  What does it take for you to “follow” a blog?
Do you like long or short reviews? Are the number of reviews important? Do you prefer a number rating or letter grade?
How important is it to have blog posts that are NOT reviews – you know the fun weekly spots or discussions about books, genres, reading, etc that are not reviews? Do you visit sites solely because they feature contests and giveaways? 
How important is the look of the blog? What features other than the posts do you enjoy on a blog? 
What about the name of the blog and branding? I’ve been thinking about this long and hard… When I joined twitter and then created a blog, I just picked an online handle that fit at the time. (For background on Twimom227, read HERE.) I didn’t expect to have my wonderful book blog and now I’m thinking about what might be better. There are so many great and clever blog names and personas out there… When you hear “Twimom227” or “That’s What I’m Talking About” do you think BOOK REVIEW BLOG?!
Finally, to those that blog… what are the pros and cons of having your own domain name? Blogger vs. WordPress? What are the other alternatives?
I really would love feedback from you!  If you would like to help me, but don’t want to leave a comment here, you can email me at twimom227 at gmail dot com.
THANK YOU in advance for your time and feedback! 
Happy Reading!  Jen

  • I feel your pain! My blog follower number has been stuck on the same number for MONTHS! I’ve gone from frustration to not caring to what the hell? I know it’s not all about the GFC number but you’d like to see that number change (For the better) every once in a while.

    I’ve noticed that when I post a non-book review, I get more comments. I guess it’s hard to comment on a review if you haven’t read the book or have no desire to. I’ve noticed that once I installed Intense Debate as my comment system, my comments increased. I don’t know if that is a direct correlation but I found it easier to comment back and keep an on going discussion. With Intense Debate, you can reply back to comments via your email. Genius! So you get a notification email every time a new comment posts.

    I recently changed my rating system to letter grade. So far I like it much better because it allows for more flexibility.

    As for your own domain….DO IT! I got mine a year ago. It’s only $10and it’s super duper easy making the switch. It’s so much easier typing http://www.yourblogname.com without having to deal with the blogspot. I like the name of your blog. I don’t know how easy it is to actually change your web link from twimom227 to something different.

    I’ve been thinking about making the switch to WordPress also. I created a dummy WP blog to get the feel of it and I was completely lost. It’s not very user friendly. I will definitely need some hand holding if I ever decide to make the switch.

    My blog is a constant work in progress. I don’t think I’m ever 100% completely satisfied with it. I’m always changing things.

    Good luck!

  • Thanks Marq!! It’s great to hear from fellow bloggers. I love the look and feel of your blog! You’ve made some great improvements lately! So you are still on Blogger?

  • I am subscribing/commenting so that I can catch all the responses because I am curious too.

    Overall, I read a TON of blog posts (about 150/day) so I don’t comment very often. If the book gets a good grade, I read the review. If not, I tend not to even read the review because I know that I probably won’t be adding it to my TBR pile.

    Otherwise, it’s simply depends a lot on my mood for the day and what catches my eye. I read everything in google reader so it’s always a surprise when I come to a blog like this that I read, but don’t comment much and see all the fun/fabulous things you have in your sidebars. ;o) smiles…

  • I know how you feel! I go through patterns like this too.

    Do you like long or short reviews? Are the number of reviews important? Do you prefer a number rating or letter grade?

    -I prefer shorter reviews. I don’t have a preference for numbered ratings over letter grades (or vice versa) but I do prefer to see some sort of rating.

    How important is it to have blog posts that are NOT reviews – you know the fun weekly spots or discussions about books, genres, reading, etc that are not reviews? Do you visit sites solely because they feature contests and giveaways?

    -These are usually a hit or miss with me. It depends on the topic and/or book being discussed. I do enjoy looking at other people’s wishlists. I don’t enter contests that much these days.

    How important is the look of the blog?

    -Not much really since I read blogs from my Google Reader. But if I visit a blog to comment or look for something, I would like to see an organized, not overly cluttered blog. I like blogs that are easy to navigate. And it’s good to have a search box and a way to contact the blog owner.

    When you hear “Twimom227” or “That’s What I’m Talking About” do you think BOOK REVIEW BLOG?!

    -Now that I ‘know’ you, I know that’s your brand. If I didn’t know you, I wouldn’t know that ‘That’s What I’m Talking About’ was a book blog just by the name. That blog name could be a blog about anything. ‘Twimom227’ on the other hand, I can tell you’re a Twilight fan, a Twilight mom, like me 🙂

    what are the pros and cons of having your own domain name? Blogger vs. WordPress? What are the other alternatives?

    -A pro to having a domain name is less characters to type out to get to your site. You omit the ‘blogspot’. And it’s also a way to show authors and publishers you’re in it for a while (not just a blog that has come up and may soon disappear). I am a rookie when it comes to blogging and HTML and all that jazz, so Blogger is the way to go for me. I think of WP as a platform for those with more experience.

  • I’m with Christi – I usually only read book reviews where the reviewer gave the book a 4/5 or 5/5 (or an A or B grade). I admit, I’m a book snob. I’m only going to add books to my wishlist/TBR list that get good ratings.

  • Jen, you rock! I love that you are stepping out there to figure out what is going on. I can say on my part the reason I have been so far behind in your blog and haven’t been leaving comments is because my life was so busy I got far behind in all of my friends blogs and trying to catch up was proving to be impossible and I am sorry for that!

    As far as reading reviews…I try to keep up with my friends as much as possible but when people post more than one review a day it feels overwhelming with all the blogs you are trying to read an follow. I try to comment on the blogs of people who keep up with and comment on my blog. I do enjoy having the random posts that aren’t reviews but really if you want to post a review a day that’s fine too. Um…I’m personally not too picky about branding and apperence and such it’s mainly just the person behind the blog. If I get along with you and you are becoming one of my blog buddies I will keep up with your blog a lot more.

    I don’t even know if this will help you at all and I’m sorry about that! But I do promise to get back on top of reading your blog on a daily basis and on top of that leaving comments because I’m with you I LOVE COMMENTS! I live for them. When I see a comment on my blog I get all excited like a kid in a candy store. I love your blog and your reviews are awesome so expect to see me around more again! 😀

  • I sent you an e-mail. 🙂

  • Hi Jen,
    I’m a bit conflicted about your questions, because I would really rather you keep “true” to your blog because it’s your style, instead of having you alter things because you think it will attract more readers or more comments. At the same time, I know you are genuinely interested in improving your blog.
    My husband has an insanely successful blog (NOT on romance books, but a different subtopic, and I think he has something crazy like 6000 followers) and his advice to me was to be regular – he posts at least once a day and sometimes multiple times a day. He has regular features. Some things generate huge comments, some not at all. That’s okay. I’ll type more later if I get a chance, but don’t feel bad if you don’t get a lot of comments – people are busy and will sometimes only respond to extremes or something that piques them personally. Don’t resort to giving too many overly positive or negative reviews or make grandiose statements just to draw readership.

  • Well I’ve only been at it since April on my own blog so I was very interested in reading the comments.
    I love book reviews and thats what I do, however I’ve found that since I made a regular schedule I have had more traffic.
    For instance my highest traffic day is Wednesday because that is my Guility Pleasure day.
    I am also trying to book Fridays up for my giveaways.
    Then I am staying true to me by posting my reveiws as I read them. I am a sole reviewer on my blog so I can only post them as fast as I can read them. Fortunately, I am addicted to books so thats often.

    Great post today!
    MichelleKCanada
    http://anotherlookbookreviews.blogspot.com/

    PS I was already a follower or I would have followed you today.

  • I’ve been coming across a similar feeling about my own blog. Granted I changed the link and title of mine, but I’ve been putting forth effort again toward it.

    I like your blog. 🙂 The look isn’t all that important to me but those that put forth effort into the look seem to say to me they care more about it. That could be because I’m into graphics though, haha.

    I prefer to read the shorter reviews most of the time. Just enough that I get a feel for the book but no spoilers. And I don’t prefer either number rating or letter grade. Whatever floats your boat. 🙂 I like the non-review posts as well, though it depends on what they are. Whatever I’m up for at the time. So…yeah lol I guess a lot of things vary.

    I’m hoping to gain some insight as well as you are here. 🙂 Thank you for posting this.

    ~Nixie
    ~~http://www.nixiesrealm.blogspot.com

  • Thank you so much for all of your input and for the lovely comments.

    Seems to me that getting my own domain name is a must… I’ll have to see if it’s even available and how to do that. I don’t think I’ll make the jump to WordPress, yet… I’m not that savvy and I honestly don’t have problems (usually) with Blogger.

    I’m going to think about the format of my reviews to see if I can put the “meat” up front for those that want the short part and then follow up with the longer detailed part. One thing that is hard for me it that I use a slightly different rating scale and my B is a 3. So, for those that only read the “best reviewed books” with a B or better want to read my 3 Stars and Higher. I’ll have to think about that as well.

    MzMolly: Thank you – I’m not looking to change the true me, but I would like to make tweaks if I can make it better, but the bottom line is this has to be my labor of love, or I won’t want to do it.

    I try to blog hop 2 times per week. I use google reader and skim most, leaving comments when I can. I had to limit time and create a space to blog hop b/c it would just overwhelm me otherwise. With Twitter, email, Facebook, blogging, blog hopping, and reading…. I don’t know how everyone else does it all with a family and job!

    Thanks for the feedback! I’ll be thinking about it all!

  • Una

    As one of your previous followers and now a reviewer, I am really enjoying the comments and glad you posted this. As a reviewer, I know that I check to see if there are comments since I like to treat the comments as a discussion area. Maybe others do not see that. I know that if there is a comment on one of the reviews that Gikany and I do, I will comment, especially if there is a question of some sort or to clarify. We like to keep our reviews fairly short, but with NO spoilers. We try to say what is good and what isn’t so the readers have a bit of overall feel to see if it is something they want.

    As a blog follower…I will skim all the posts to see if a book is something interesting. I will say, I look to the rating, if it’s really high, I read the review. If it is really low, I read the review (to see why). If they are in the middle, if the premise sounds interesting, I will actually read the review. Hope this helps!

    I wonder if it matters to your blog followers about your “other” reviewers. Do they prefer the reviews from you because they know you better?

  • Do you like long or short reviews? Are the number of reviews important? Do you prefer a number rating or letter grade?

    It really depends on what the reviewer thought of the book honestly. If they don’t have much to say about the book because it was a “meh” type of book, I don’t want them to force something out. But if they have a lot to say because it was well written, great characters, lots of world building, etc, then I want to know about it all. I don’t want to be inundated with 10,000 reviews a day, but I also don’t want to have 2 reviews a month (like I’m sometimes guilty of doing – and trying to be better about not doing). And rating systems… to each their own. I just want them to be clearly defined.

    How important is it to have blog posts that are NOT reviews – you know the fun weekly spots or discussions about books, genres, reading, etc that are not reviews? Do you visit sites solely because they feature contests and giveaways?

    I think they’re fun, but they’re not the be all, end all for me. Not everyone is funny or witty (namely: me. I’m not funny or witty when I try to be so those kind of posts aren’t always easy to do) and writing those things take time and energy people don’t always have. Reviews are hard enough to crank out sometimes. Giveaways are a great thing to have on the blog, but not everyone has the money or connections to do them, so I can’t say that they’re essential to having a terrific blog. Once in a while, yes, but not every single week/month.

    How important is the look of the blog?

    I just had my entire blog redone because it looked like a 12 year old had done it. As much as I want to say it’s not important, it is. People don’t want to visit an eyesore. And while I have the majority of my posts emailed to me, I still visit when I go to comment on the posts. You still don’t want your eyes burned out of your head.

    When you hear “Twimom227” or “That’s What I’m Talking About” do you think BOOK REVIEW BLOG?!

    When I first met you, I thought “HEY! Another TwiMom!” Because I’m in the fandom too, but now that I’ve gotten to know you and you’ve established your blog (because I think you really have) “That’s What I’m Talking About” immediately strikes me as BOOK REVIEW BLOG. Even when I’m in every day conversation. People look at me funny when I bring up books when they say “Now that’s what I’m talkin’ about!” and they weren’t actually talking about a book they were reading. It’s just become something that goes hand in hand for me.

    What are the pros and cons of having your own domain name? Blogger vs. WordPress? What are the other alternatives?

    I think having your own domain name gives you your own brand name, as it were. I’m MamaKittyReviews. And as pretty as Blogger layouts can be, I think WordPress is more “professional” looking, as well as giving you more options in the blogging world. I’ve also been blogging with WordPress a lot longer than with Blogger (keep in mind, I don’t just book blog, and I’ve been blogging in one form or another one one platform or another for around 15 years now) and I just like it a lot better. I think it’s easier to use and I’ve seen far fewer “bugs” and WAY fewer crashes with WordPress than with Blogger. But I’ve also seen a lot more Book bloggers use Blogger than WordPress because of the layout features.

    Boy, I hope this posts. I typed a lot more than I meant to. 🙂

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