Posts Categorized: Blog Tips

7 Must-Have Blogging Resources for #AMonthofFaves

December 7, 2016 Blog Tips 15

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The lovely bloggers at Traveling with T, Estella’s Revenge, and GirlXOXO have once again produced December prompts that are both laid back and informative. I’m fascinated to learn the tools each of us use and have already incorporated a few from reading the bloggers’ posts who are participating.

These are just a few tools I consider must-haves for blogging.

First though, a disclaimer. Some of the links below are affiliate links. This means that should you make a purchase using one of these links, I may make a very small commission. Please know I will only recommend products and services that I use and love.

Number 1 tool is my MacBook. I’d be so lost without it. Scary to admit, but my MacBook is my ‘precccciiiooouuussss.’

Learning Photography ~ The absolute best instructor I’ve ever taken an online course from is Emma Davies of A Year with My Camera. She is not only an expert photographer but also has the credentials and personality to teach. Her methods are encouraging with recommendations on tweaks that take your photos to whole ‘nother level. Now she’s got a workbook that’s as amazing as she is!

SiteGround. Thanks to a recommendation, I’ve updated my hosting to SiteGround, massively upgrading my page load time. The customer service is prompt, helpful and they never make me feel like a ditz when I ask a question. . .17 times.

I’ve used Mailchimp ever since learning I ‘must have’ an email list. And I still like Mailchimp…but, I’ve found an email service that delivers the moon. So of course I went with moon delivery! Have you tried ConvertKit? OH. My. Goodness! So worth the investment!

Social Media Scheduling Tools I’ve tried several other social media scheduling tools and so far, CoSchedule by far, rocks my world. Their blog is chock full of goodness and information. Their response time is immediate. And, when I first signed up for the free 14-day trial I didn’t have a chance to try it out, let them know, and my trial was extended for another 14 days! Loved this company ever since.

UBB – Ultimate Book Blogger. I’ve been using UBB ever since it first came out and I’m using one of Ashley’s WordPress Themes at the moment. If you’ve been blogging about books for any length of time then you’ve probably ‘met’ or at least heard of Ashley at Nose Graze. Her book review plugin – ultimate book blogger is a great way to keep track and sort book reviews. Her theme is responsive and easy enough for me to tweak {the one who knows almost nothing about back end design}. Plus Ashley is incredibly quick to respond to questions or issues and I’m happy to support a fellow book blogger in any endeavor to earn a living from blogging.

Design Your Own Lovely Blog. Chock-full of ideas, tools and tips, Marianne’s ebook has been a tremendous resource for me. Plus, she’s always posting tutorials on her blog. If I have a question about anything blogging related, I check Marianne’s site and ebook first.

What tools do you use for blogging? Please do share in the comments!

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Ask the Bloggers: A Day in the Life . . .

April 20, 2014 Blog Tips 13

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This segment of Ask the Bloggers is all about a Day in the Life of . . .  One thing is for certain, these book bloggers share a love of the book much more than the television!

dingShannon at River City Reading  Most mornings before going to work, I spend about 20 minutes scheduling Tweets/Facebook posts and replying to general blogging e-mail. I usually get home from work around 5:00 and will spend time reading and responding to posts after (or sometimes during!) dinner. I do most of my post writing when I’m off on the weekend, but if I have anything extra to work on when it comes to scheduled posts, I’ll usually do that during this time to. The rest of the evening, from maybe 7-midnight (my bedtime is terrible), I’ll be off and on between reading, spending time with my family or working on the blog, depending on the day.

 

sheila from book journeySheila from Book Journey  A day in the life of Book Journey looks something like this. I get up in the morning and grab my coffee (fuel, elixir of life…) and usually sit down at my lap top. Morning Meanderings are a “me unplugged” blog post and may or may not be book related but are a fun way for me to connect with my readers at a different level. I may talk about a funny happening, or working out, or something I am looking forward to, or even something I am dreading.

When I start to read or listen to a book I usually have a draft post started as well so I can pop things into the draft like quotes from the book, things that the read makes me feel or thoughts that come to mind. In the mornings I may add to these drafts.  If a book has been finished I use the mornings to prep a review to go live somewhere around 11 am central standard time. I put the finishing touches on my review and schedule it. If I have time, I have a group of book blogs I like to pop in on and read about what they are reading.

I lead a pretty bookish life and books are usually entwined with me daily. When I get ready in the mornings I listen to audio, not because of the blog – but because I really LOVE audio books… books that allow me to do other things while listening. A second audio is always ready to go in my car and I listen to that on my way to work.

In the late afternoons I am usually alone in the house as we own an Excavating Company and my husband is usually not home this time of year before 7 pm. I listen to audio while I do laundry, dust, sweep, cook supper, etc…. and in the evenings after hubby goes to bed, I tend to read either in the cozy recliner, or when it is warm enough, out on the back deck. There is rarely a day when I do not get in some sort of reading.

Evenings are also when I return to the blog, reading others posts, and updating my drafts or finalizing thoughts on a book to be posted soon.

 

kathy from bermudaonion.netKathy at BermudaOnion  I think most people will find my typical day pretty dull, but I’ll fill you in anyway. My mornings are pretty structured. I get up around 6 AM and walk for a little over 3.5 miles. When I get home, I spend an hour or so on the computer checking and responding to email and reading blogs. After that, I shower and get ready for work, just in case my son needs me to help out at his store. I do a little housework and then I call to check on my mother and my mother-in-law.

My afternoons vary. Several days a week, you’ll find me helping out at my son’s store, but I also find time to attend author events, meet my husband for lunch, or go to lunch and/or a movie with a friend. I also get my errands run and do a few more household chores.

I might get a little reading done in the afternoon but most of my reading is done in the evenings since I’m not much of a TV watcher. I listen to one audio book while I walk and to another in the car, but usually only have one print book going at a time. I like to stay ahead on blog posts so try to get several written every week, usually in the afternoon or evening.


 

A day in The Novel Life? Well, it depends if I’m keeping The Little Monkey for the day or not.  Also depends if it is Inspys season or not – during the Board’s review of the long lists where we whittle down a couple hundred books to only 5 per category, my days revolve around reading those selections.  Sooo, if I’m not keeping TLM and I’m not immersed in reading for the Inspys then . . .well, I’m trying to think of an actual typical day!  It also depends if I’m in the city or in the mountains and if any of my three children need me at the moment.  Oh gosh I need a schedule!

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Me & The Little Monkey

If I’m in the city {Atlanta}, then I can get several good hours in devoted to my blog.  “Hours?” you say.  Yup.  Hours.  Takes me at least two – three hours per blog post.  As much as I like writing it does not come easy.  Thinking of the right word when all the words are failing to come out is frustrating.  So I will open the thesaurus tab – do you know how much you can learn just by opening that site?  There is a ton of information ALL about words and it’s so easy to get lost and forget to find my way back to my blog til hours later. . .well, you get the idea 😉

If I’m in the mountains my days are usually spent with my family.  Some days it is easier to see one child than the other but that is my time to focus on them.  If you have a child between the ages of 18 – 21 I’m sure you know how hard it is to tie one down long enough to grab a hug or especially a conversation!  Having three that fall into those ages makes it a bit of challenge, but I do have my mommy ways!  Weekends in the mountains are spent at the RV Resort and, well. . . . the mountains.  I get some reading time in, a bit of computer time and lots of time with my Honey.  My life is good.  Great family, sweet Honey, and wonderful friends.  Thank you for being a part.

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Ask the Bloggers: 4 Non-Bookish Sites for Book Bloggers

March 16, 2014 Blog Tips 20

ask the bloggersI’m flying solo today – not because there’s a shortage of excellent bloggers to share their tips but thought I could share a few of my favorite non-bookish sites that help me tremendously with my book blog.  I’m hoping you’ll share a few of your favorites in the comments as well!

 

If you’re not on Amy Lynn Andrews Useletter email list run don’t walk right over there to sign up.  I’ll wait for you here. 😉  She’s my go-to site for all things technical as Amy has a way of breaking down tasks and explaining that does not make me feel completely computer illiterate.  Her Useletter is emailed out once a week and I keep every one she’s sent me in a folder.  Info like the legalities of using affiliate links; using action colors on your blog; and how to speed up your site loading times ~ Like I said excellent tools and tips!

 

Are you a podcast listener?  It’s only been in the last few months that I’ve become a fanatical podcast listener {may have something to do with no available audible credits!} but in my quest to find some great podcasts I came across Kat Lee’s HowTheyBlog.com.  She has such a great conversational show with bloggers in the know about self-doubt and growing your blog; changing the world with your blog; consistency; blogging and community; blogging as a business while being a mom/wife/daughter/sister/friend. . .Each week I anxiously await her podcast and always listen while I’m walking my dog {that way he gets in a good 20 minute walk as do I!}  Kat comes across as truly sincere with her desire to help others on their blogging path.  And I always finish listening feeling energized about working on my blog rather than dejected that my blog is not _____. {fill in the blank – I’ve said it all I believe!}  My favorite podcast that Kat has done {and I’ve listened to every single one} is How to Blog Like an Olympian – extremely motivational and helpful!

[Tweet “4 not-to-be-missed non-bookish resources for book review bloggers”]

For those of us on a budget with blogging Marianne’s Design Your Own Lovely Blog is an absolute must resource.  Her most recent series has been sharing free image resources from around the web.  And not just a few sites – it’s like a giant list of where to go for images you can use without the photo police beating down your door!  She’s also has a series all about color and the psychology of using the rainbow of colors.  For inspiration, easy HTML, tips for beautifying your blog on a budget then definitely add Marianne’s blog to your repertoire of resources!

Jeni at The Blog Maven is such a giving soul.  Every single one of her posts are “evergreen.”  Not only does she give incredible value through her posts but also in her comment section Jeni replies with even more quality tips!  Time management is so important for bloggers, especially the book blogging community as we typically do not receive any compensation for our blogs.  Not only do we have the time spent blogging but we also have time dedicated to reading the books we blog about.   With that said, one of my favorite posts of Jeni’s is the 12 Best Time Management Tips for Bloggers.  She also has a series on creating media kits and utilizing pinterest to grow blog traffic.  The Blog Maven is a great resource for all things blog related!

How about you Lovely Reader?  

Who are some of your favorite non-bookish sites to visit either for inspiration,

camaraderie, tips and tools, or motivation while on this book blogging journey?  

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Ask the Bloggers: Blogging or Bookish Conferences?

March 9, 2014 Blog Tips 12

ask the bloggersAre you enjoying these fabulous bloggers as much as I am?!?  I have learned a little something each week we’ve done this and cannot thank enough all of these wonderful bloggers for sharing.  And a tremendous thanks to YOU, Lovely Reader, for the in-depth conversations we’ve been having.  Blogging is all about community to me and this series has proven it even more so in my eyes.

This week’s topic ~ Blogging or Bookish Conferences ~ have you been to one?  If so, what did you like or dislike?

 
love at first bookRebecca at Love at First Book  Blogging Conference – I went to Florida Blog Con in 2013, which is a general blogging conference, and at first, I felt alone as one of two book bloggers. But then I realized I had a huge advantage: to learn from bloggers of other genres! Not only was the conference HUGELY beneficial, but also learning from the many DIY/Lifestyle bloggers I became friends with.  I probably learned more from them than the conference itself!

Bookish Conference – I attended 
ALAMW14, which was just this past January.  ALA is a book conference mainly for librarians, but while attending with another blogger friend, we met people in multiple working capacities.  This conference was so valuable!  I met authors, publishers, and bookish people in other arenas, and passed out my business cards to tons of people.  I also walked away with fabulous books, many of them autographed.   Both conferences were amazing.  I highly recommend ALA as well, because the conferences are held 2x a year, in different cities.  Maybe there will be one near you soon!
Bhscv1TCQAA1MGTRissi from Dreaming Under the Same Moon:   No, I have never been to a conference related to blogging or books though having read about some, I have to say, they sound like such fun! The appeal to me would be meeting some of the authors I respect and admire as well as potentially bumping into some of the bloggers I have formed friendships with (though I cannot promise I’d sound coherent ;D) – and of course, ideally bringing home gobs of books.

Profile2011-2Suey from It’s All About Books:  I’ve really only been to writing conferences, well, one particular conference each year. And while it’s about writing, it’s also very bookish, so I’m not sure how you’d count that! I’ve been to a book festival but that’s a little different too. So I guess I’d say that technically I haven’t been to a real book or blog conference, which is sad because I’d love to go to one!

What I love about the writing one is the community, the gathering together of like-minded people. It makes you feel like you aren’t quite as weird as you thought! I also love getting to know the personalities of the authors better. And buying their books and getting them signed. Basically, I love being a fan.   There’s not much I dislike except for the fact that I always have to fight my shyness and force myself to mingle and talk to people!

Stacy from Stacy’s Books  Thanks for having me, Stacy!  I attended Bouchercon, THE 3 day event for mystery/thriller authors and fans, when it was in Cleveland and had the best time.  There were great panels and so many bestselling authors walking around you were bound to run into them.  Lots of free books, an awards ceremony at the Rock n Roll Hall of Fame and a very friendly atmosphere.  I even bought Mary Higgins Clark and her daughter Carol a glass of wine at the bar 🙂  If you can do it I can’t say enough good things.  I also learned of the yearly Ohioana Book Festival from a fellow blogger (Carol from Carol’s Notebook) and attended this one day event hosted in Columbus for Ohio authors. There were great panels and authors on hand to sell their books. I wish this one had been longer and included more social time.  I would love to attend a blogger event! Send Clevelanders my way and we’ll get something  set up 🙂

and me?  Well, I’ve been fortunate enough to attend SIBA in 2010, BEA in 2011 and the Decatur Book Festival each year since its inception in 2006.  One of the things I found truly memorable about the SIBA Trade Show is that the authors were so accessible as compared to BEA.  Of course at BEA there’s soooo many authors and publishers and publicists that a book blogger could believe she’s died and gone to bookish heaven!  But, SIBA is a more intimate event and on a much smaller scale {that this particular extreme introvert found quite enjoyable!}.
So how about you Dear Reader?  
What festivals or bookish/bloggerish conferences have you been to?  

Would you recommend your fellow online friends attend?

Have a Question?

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Ask the Bloggers: Amazon, Indies or Big Box Bookstore?

March 2, 2014 Blog Tips 24

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When I started blogging it was with the intent to open a small bookstore in my little mountain community.  Instead, the world changed a lot over the past five years and my focus has evolved to writing, reviewing and blogging.  Doesn’t mean I’ve given up my life-long dream of having a bookstore but it’s been on hold while I get a few more life things sorted out.  Thinking about my dream had me posing this question to a few fabulous blogger friends:  Amazon, Indie, or Big Box Bookstore?  Which is your favorite bookish place to buy books or hang out?  

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Marce from Tea Time with Marce:  Love this question as it takes me on a memory journey.  Before blogging I would say an airport, lol.  It was exciting to see what was out and the hot book everyone was discussing, really how diverse can you get over the choices at an airport.  When I started blogging I found the amazing website, bookdepository.com that shipped to Bermuda for free, that is truly amazing.  Then I received a Kindle and I have been ebook addicted which has me loving AMAZON.  I love the 1 click buy button, it gives me recommendations, shows me what similar books others are reading specific to a book I’m reviewing and it allows me to have a Wishlist, sends me emails with updates on authors I have read, special deals, this is the works with bells and whistles.  I LOVE AMAZON!

Juju from Tales of Whimsy:  Definitely Amazon. You just can’t beat the prices and their excellent customer service. If my library doesn’t carry it, then I go straight to the Amazon Kindle app on my phone.

Rissi from Dreaming Under the Same Moon:  This is tough! There is a big difference between shopping on-line at Amazon.com or walking into your favorite bookstore (for me, all I have is Barnes & Noble – for variety and Family Christian for inspirational/Christian fiction) so I think they should be treated differently. Amazon is awesome for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is availability to self-published authors (and since I know a handful of self-publishers, this is a must) as well as their pre-order price guarantee and the phenomenal customer service, because of that, I confess I often order books I don’t request for review from Amazon since there is nothing quite so easy as shopping from the comfort of your own home. Having said that, there is also no better feeling for a book addict (well, with exception to reading the book) than to walk into a book store and randomly search the shelves brimming with new gorgeous stories, and actually touch and see the book; when I go book shopping, I often end up pulling out far too many new titles and have to choose between books A, B, C, D and sometimes E since usually I limit myself to two – three max, per trip.

Bottom line? For the sake of the pocket book and atmosphere (there’s nothing better than realizing there are people like you who still value a good old-fashioned book), the better option (for me) is to walk into the book store. To get the best deal, Amazon’s pre-orders is probably hard to beat, though I can admit that while shopping there, I don’t limit myself to a mere two titles. 🙂

Kathy from BermudaOnion:  I buy all of my books at my local independent bookstore, Fiction Addiction.  I started going there because it’s locally owned and continue to go there because it’s such a great store.  The staff is friendly and the service is outstanding but the best part is their wonderful events!  Fiction Addiction hosts some fantastic author and has some very creative events.  I love their Book Your Lunch events – they’re a great way to meet an author and make new friends!

Jennifer from Bookalicious Mama:  With a husband who owns his own business, it’s important to me to support local, small businesses.  I’m a huge advocate of shopping at and supporting them, and it’s no different when it comes to where I purchase my books.  Foxtale Book Shoppe in Woodstock, Georgia is my home away from home!   I adore every square inch of this shoppe and its owners!  They are an incredible asset to our community — bringing the world of literature, books and their authors to Woodstock.  I cannot imagine my community without the three owners (Ellen Ward, Karen Schwettman and Jackie Tanase).  What originally started as my occasional place to drop in and pick up a book has turned into my second home for both myself and my girls.  Foxtale is a haven for all kindred spirits who happen to love books.  I am not the only person who values this jewel of a shop.  Foxtale was recently voted “Best Bookstore in Atlanta” by Atlanta Magazine!  Do yourself a favor and RUN to this independent book shoppe!  Don’t live in the area?  Check out their website (foxtalebookshoppe.com).  They will ship to you!

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There are a couple of Indie book stores that are within an hour of me and I love each for different reasons ~

I’m besotted with Avid Bookshop in Athens, Georgia.  I first learned of Avid through a fundraising campaign and if you check out the photos on the site – it’s equally charming, eclectic and conveniently located in a huge college town {ever heard of University of Georgia?!?}.

Let me throw in one more just because I adore the owner and she let me work with her for a couple of years!  Myra knows more about the authors on her shelves than anyone I’ve ever known. . .so if you’re ever in Gainesville, Georgia be sure to visit Hall Book Exchange!  And test Myra on her author/book knowledge – she will wow you, promise!

And you dear Lovely Reader ~ where is your favorite place to shop books?  Are you one of the lucky ones with a hometown unique and special Indie Bookstore or is the closest thing to a bookstore near you the local Walmart so all of your books come from Amazon or The Book Depository?  Do tell ~ share your fabulous book store stories!

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