Bibliophiliac is the space where one passionate, voracious reader reflects on books and the reading life. You will find reviews, analysis, links, and reflections on poetry and prose both in and out of the mainstream.

A book must be the axe for the frozen sea within us. Franz Kafka

Friday, May 27, 2011

Armchair BEA: Blogging About Blogging

This is the final day of Armchair BEA, and today's topic is (blogging about) blogging.

How do you blog? Do you post daily, several times a week, weekly?
Do you participate in memes, read-alongs, and challenges?
Do you post structured reviews on a regular basis?
What makes your blog distinctive: do you have a niche, do you blog about a particular genre?
Are you happy with the number of comments your posts generate? Do you comment back immediately?
Are you happy with the number of followers or subscribers you have? Do you have strategies for generating more followers?
Do you use social media?

Most bloggers have to make a decision about each of these questions eventually. Some bloggers devote many hours a day to their blogs, and they may post daily. At some time most bloggers have posted because they felt like they"should." And many bloggers seem to feel they need to apologize if they don't post for a while. My posting patterns follow the school year: When school gears up the second week of August, my posts diminish. During the school year I post two to three times a week-high stress months (usually October, March, and May) I may post less than that. I hate writing posts just because I feel I "need to." Those posts usually end up sounding strained.

I do like memes, read-alongs, and challenges because that increases my interaction with other book bloggers. The conversations and friendships that are struck up in these group activities are the most rewarding part of blogging for me.  As I said in yesterday's post, it's about relationships.

One insight that I've come to is that the best blog posts are those that tap into the blogger's passion. While I initially wrote only about books, I found that when I wrote more personal posts that the feedback was very positive. When I write about things that are really close to my heart, like my teaching job, my family, or my favorite books, the response is gratifying. Two of my own favorite posts were about my father (Remembering Dad with a Book in His Hands) and a book I love with a passion (Middlemarch, My Love). I wish I could always write from that genuine, intense place.

The book blogs I most admire are ones where the writer has an original, distinctive voice. It might be informal and warm, or professorial, but the voice is authentic and unstudied. I would like to find that voice for my blog-and I think it is harder than it looks.

Generating comments is a struggle for me. Sometimes I post a review or write about a book that mean a lot to me, and there are only a few comments. There are blogs that I visit on a regular basis that generate dozens of comments for every post, and I want some of that mojo. Still trying to figure that one out.

"Followers" sounds vaguely cult-like, and "subscribers" seems very impersonal. The number of readers my blog attracts is important to me, but I don't like participating in events for the sole purpose of "getting followers." I'd like to attract loyal readers by writing posts people will want to read--but there are days and weeks when my posts don't necessarily have that much juice. I appreciate the readers who continue to stay with me through thick and thin. I do think twitter helps generate traffic to the blog, and also is a way of widening the circle of potential readers. Plus, it's addictively fun.

I do love blogging about books, whatever the occasional frustrations may be. As a book blogger, I have the opportunity to write frequently for an audience that shares one of my greatest passions. My book blog is very personal for me, and I am always thinking about what I want to write for my blog. Why I blog about books, how I want to write and think about books for the blog, and how I want my blog to be a part of the large book blog conversation are questions I find perplexing and engaging. What's your take on all this? Remember, comments=book blogger love.


Bailey said...

great post! i like what you said about followers sounding cultish and subscribers sounding impersonal. we need something in the middle, lol. and i know what you mean about those folks who get dozens of comments on every post! it's difficult not to wonder about their awesome blogging mojo :)

Alison Can Read said...

I agree that the best posts are one the blogger is obviously very passionate about. The posts that I'm most passionate about are my favorites and the ones I think have provoked the most comments. Particularly my Twilight posts.


great post I agree with you about the comments. Its so interesting posts I just chug out get tons of comments and others that i work hard on get barely any :)

bibliophiliac said...

@Bailey-yes, I'd like to think that all the people who *follow* or subscribe are my readers, but know that is probably not the case. When someone leaves a comment, you know for sure they've read your post.

bibliophiliac said...

@Alison-my favorite posts are the ones where I was so passionate about my topic that I wasn't worried about how many comments I might get-i just felt *compelled to write*

bibliophiliac said...

@Fiction State of Mind-I've had that experience a lot with book reviews. I'll be really excited about a book, and the review will get maybe four comments.

Red said...

You're not alone in the comments department. I've seen from a few bloggers that their favorite posts, the ones they've worked the hardest on, get some of the fewest comments.

Anonymous said...

This is a helpful post as I've just re-engaged with blogging about my love of books after getting side-tracked with other interests. I'm going to sit down and think about some of those questions with a view to improving my own posts and communication with other bloggers.

Bybee said...

I could drive myself crazy with the comment stuff, but I have to remember that first of all, my blog is my online diary, and when I started it, I promised myself that I would write to please myself. Of course, that was back in 2004 before blogging really got big.

bibliophiliac said...

@Red-and some of the book reviews I've been most excited about, there were only a few comments. But maybe there isn't much to say to an enthusiastic review, except "I'm going out to buy this book right now." Which would be gratifying!

bibliophiliac said...

@LindaP-Blogging is like anything else you want to to well: reflecting on your practice is always helful. I've learned so much this week just by reading the posts of Armchair BEA participants.

bibliophiliac said...

@Bybee-2004! I don't think I knew what a blog was in 2004. When I started my blog, I knew absolutely nothing. I didn't even know you could comment, nor did I know you were supposed to respond to comments. I literally talked to myself for the first two months.