What I Learned in My 1st Year of Book Blogging

Instead of a review, today I wanted to take a minute and reflect on the last year. Today is the first year blogiversary of Ivory Owl Reviews and I have learned a lot! By no means do I consider myself a pro yet but I feel much more confident than I did when I jumped in. I had been blogging for a couple of years before I created IOR, but was all over the place with my topics and posts.  Last year I snagged my first freelance article with Buckhaven Lifestyle magazine to review Kimberly Brock's The River Witch. I reached out to Kimberly on Goodreads and she was gracious enough to grant me time for an interview after she spoke on the 2012 Decatur Book Festival Emerging Authors stage. Imagine my surprise when she not only gave me great responses to my questions but proceeded to give me advice on moving forward with my passions of books and writing. She was so warm and friendly but very serious when stating that a book blog was a MUST! I went home and went to work. Here are a few pointers and things I've learned this year:

  1. Choosing a name for your blog-- I wanted something easy to spell. Misspelled words make searching for your blog difficult (1Luv, OneLove, 1Love, etc)  I also wanted my title to reflect the type of blog I had. I wanted it to include books, reading, or reviews. After much deliberation (and availability checking) I decided on Ivory Owl Reviews, named after the porcelain owl that guards my TBR pile.
  2. Plan your reading schedule--I originally thought you just post a review as you read, but once I received more requests for reviews and then discovered NetGalley and Edelweiss, I found myself to be overwhelmed. Starting out, I had accepted any and all ARCs and had to figure out how to streamline. I fulfilled my obligations and drafted a review policy. As I read I found it easier to revisit the policy and update it with what I was and wasn't interested in reviewing. I also found that I had accepted ARCs that I was unable to post a review of by the release date. I now know that I only want to accept ARCs releasing after a certain date (a couple months from now.) 
  3. Plan your posts--I was very sporadic at first but have become more constant. My goal is to have 4-5 reviews/week. You can save your posts as drafts and publish as you wish so I can easily start an outline of a review and return to it to dig in.
  4. Statistics--You can dissect and analyze which posting times and topics work best for you by checking your blog statistics. I get super excited if a post gets over 100 views. But to get those views you need to probably have another outlet you are promoting them on. I put links on Twitter and Google+. Maybe three or four times /post. You want it to be seen but you don't want to bombard your friends and audience.
  5. Interaction--I couldn't figure out how to get comments on my blog. I was getting views but no comments. What was up with that? Then I began commenting on other blogs and whaddayaknow...I start getting comments. Simple really. Interaction. Blogger allows you to compose your own reading list and you can post this on your site as a "blog roll."  After checking out someone's blog I decide if I want to keep visiting it. If so, I add them to my list. 
  6. Press all the buttons--"What does this button do?" "What about this one?" I tinkered with all the links and widgets to find what I liked. 
  7. Google it--"How do I add social media buttons?" "How do I change my template?" Anything you want to do with your blog, someone has probably already done it...and written a handy how-to tutorial.
  8. Ask your new friends--Once I started having constant interactions on my blog and social media, I could reach out to one of them and ask "How'd you make that picture look like that?" or "Where'd ya get that widget?'
These are just a few of the things I've learned this year but I feel they are good groundwork. Hopefully I can grow my readership and social media circles in the coming year as well as establish a more punctual posting schedule.

Do you have any blogging advice that you live by? What did you learn in your first year of blogging?