January 11, 2012

Rambling Geezer, or Thoughts on Trends

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Back in my day...
Sheila from Book Journey expressed her thoughts on how book blogging has changed since she started and the discussion in the comments is so insightful. Old and new bloggers alike have commented on their experiences. As I read the new bloggers' comments, I wondered if maybe the advice I give to new bloggers is outdated. Blogging trends have changed so much since 5 years ago when I started. It was a different place. The advice I give bloggers might have as much relevance as my Grandmother's advice to me when I was a teen to not wear red because "red is for bad girls." I tried not to laugh. Okay, Grandma.

These last few months I've seen older bloggers, like myself, say, "What's with the giveaway blogs? What the heck is a blog hop?" I realize now that these trends are what newer bloggers use to gain influence and attention the way that 5 years ago reading challenges and memes did. Whether or not these trends will be successful I do not know. In 5 years, there will be something totally different I'm sure. I don't know how I would feel as a new blogger now. There are so many blogs out there. How would I find my place? What would I do to get someone to comment on my blog? That's a hard question to answer and I just don't know.

Anyway, I wanted to look at my past advice and work out if it is good or, like my Grandmother's ideas, totally square. These are mostly just thinking aloud ideas.

Reading Challenges: These were all the rage a few years ago. Everybody was doing one or two or a dozen and just about everyone hosted one. Now the refrain I hear most often is "I don't want to get too overwhelmed." Fair enough. We're all busy. I think people don't have as much time to read challenge books because they have deadlines from publishers or want to read the new releases. Or they've realized that they just can't do every challenge that comes along. 

I still believe challenges are great ways to meet other bloggers, especially if the challenge is in your niche. If nothing else, you'll find a few blogs to follow (and read lots of interesting books). Hosting a challenge, on the other hand, might not get you a lot of traffic. People tend to stick with the tried and true (Once Upon a Time Challenge, The Canadian Books Challenge) and the fairly general ones. If you plan on challenging yourself to read all of Maeve Binchy's work in a year, you might be going it alone.

Memes: I always talked memes up as a great way for new bloggers to connect with others. When I started blogging, there were a few memes like Booking Through Thursday that I participated in. In one week, 30 or so bloggers would participate. It was easy enough to comment on all those blogs. Then it got huge and I couldn't keep up. Now it looks to be about the same as it was when I started. 

Of course, there are hundreds of memes out there. You could do several a day if you wanted but readers tend to get bored if you do too many. Hosts of memes encourage mutual commenting but if the meme is a big one, it can be a daunting task. I'm still not sure if the meme thing is a good way to get attention any more. What do you say? Yea or nay.

Other advice I've given: 

-Commenting on lots of blogs: You probably have to keep commenting on the same blogs to get their attention. And say something, not just "nice blog." If you follow bloggers whose books or style you like, you'll have more to say. 

Bloggers are busy creating content or reading or living their lives. Not everyone can comment on every blog that comments on theirs everyday. I also don't know how the Big Bloggers can possibly comment on everyone's blog. They could have hundreds of commenters a post.

-Twitter: Yeah, not so much. A year ago I would say get yourself on Twitter but it's so big now you get easily lost under everyone else's tweets. 

Pay attention, because this affects you.
Thoughts on New Trends:

Blog Hops: I have no opinion on these as I barely know what they are.

Giveaways: Ok, I've done a few and they really didn't increase my traffic. The people who entered them were mostly people who already followed me. It was hard getting people to enter even. Giveaways are a dime a dozen these days. Readers have their pick of the litter. Gone are the days people got excited when someone was giving away a old copy of Wuthering Heights (for the record, I still get excited about that!). And the "Follow my blog" thing causes small mutinies. Plus, if bloggers are funding giveways themselves, it can get expensive and how do you keep track of them all? If you want to do giveaways because you enjoy it, by all means do it!

Reviewing New Releases: I like the latest thing. To be the first. To start a trend. But being the first can be lonely. When I review new books, I don't get a lot of comments because there is no one else to talk about it, even if that book is popular in a month or two. If you can, leave off reviewing those books until you see other people talking about them. Then you have something to talk about with those bloggers. :)

I'm probably missing tons of other ones. So, what trends have you noticed from old and new bloggers? Are these the best ways to get noticed and find blogging pals? What has been your experience? Do you agree or disagree with my thoughts? Why am I asking so many questions?


37 comments :

  1. This is such a great post. I haven't seen Sheila's but I'll have to go check it out. I fall somewhere in between new and old. My blog will be two in a month. I tend to think that I am more like the older bloggers than the newbies.

    I don't really participate in the hops (tried it, didn't do anything for me). I do some giveaways, but have found what you said to be true, it doesn't increase hits or readership. Blogs that are nothing but giveaways were just clogging up my reader so I unfollowed them.

    I would like to move toward a more balanced combination of new releases and back list titles. I feel like that is how most non bloggers read.

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  2. I never understood the hops and I don't do giveaways. Oddly, I never participate in anybody else's giveaways either.

    My blog will be three, I think, and while I do participate in challenges - as long as they fit with what I'm already reading - I've sort of given up on the memes. It's not that I don't enjoy them but I just don't have the time to look at everyone's response and some are just huge now.

    I read a weird mix of old and new and I like it that way. I even stopped accepting (I didn't ask for many to begin with) ARCs and that's made picking what I want to read so much easier.

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  3. A major one...book tours. Not sure how popular they were years ago but I think they are a fairly recent trend. The only problem I have with them, is the timing. I hate to see the book reviewed by 12 different people all in the same day.

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  4. I don't know what to say. Today I actually took part in BermudaOnion's Wednesday Words meme and have more new commenters than I've seen in eons. Don't quite know what to think about it! I'm sort of wondering what has happened.
    I like to think I haven't changed much. Still doin' what I've always done - keeping it fun. Happy New Year!

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  5. Memes and blog hops to me seem to be the same thing, since it's encouraged for mutual commenting. I host giveaways every now and again because I think they're fun and honestly to get rid of my books! A lot of ARCs are ones I can't Paperbackswap out so I want to put it someone's hands.

    Part of me gets concerned with the old bloggers/new bloggers separation. I consider myself a new blogger even though I was told the other day that I wasn't anymore, even though it's only been two years. :) That was a pleasant surprise for me, but I'm still new when others have been on the blogosphere for five or more years!. I do think, though, that the more we focus on that separation the harder it may feel for those who truly want start to track their books, who want to get involved in the communty, and feel welcome and a part of it. Personally, I think the best way to interact and meet others is via challenges more than anything else. I know the challenge (project) that I'm hosting this year has already introduced me to more bloggers and I love that.

    But giveaways and hops don't always increase followers, and ultimately, at the end of the day, most who like to read awesome books and track their books don't really care about how many followers they have. I know we've all seen blogs who have 50 followers but have more comments for each of their posts than blogs who have 1000 followers.

    I'm also a big fan of Twitter, but I don't really go on there a lot. That's more for having chit chats with blogging friends :)

    Well. This became a much longer response than I intended. :)

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  6. First, I love the Abe Simpson image.

    I'm an old blogger, SORT OF, I mean, more like middle aged, my blog will be 3 in July.

    I miss the anticipation of Dewey's readathon. I miss how most of my friends participated in BBAW, but now it seems like they don't so much anymore (which is fine, but I loved the community building with BBAW). There's two memes that I love - IMM and Top Ten Tuesday - especially top ten tuesday because one can get so creative with that. And with those memes, they are huge but I don't comment on every participant, rather I choose random people and also go to blogs that I've never visited before.

    And with reading challenges -- I still get giddy over RIP and Once Upon A Time.

    Great post, Chris!

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  7. Teresa- I've been happiest finding a balance between old and new books. I also think wanted to get all the new books could get overly-competitive.

    Amy- I hardly enter giveaways myself, only if I'm really interested in the book.

    Ti- I think they were becoming popular when I started. Blog tours are great for getting traffic and the best ones stagger the reviews. I like those.

    Care- New Year's resolutions?

    Natalie- When I started there were older bloggers who wondered who these upstarts were! Ha! There's always going to be a 'new crop' of bloggers. I just wondered if I was making myself irrelevant by not being aware of what the new trends were and if the old ones didn't apply. I don't want to be pushing a rotary phone on someone who needs a smartphone.

    It's also probably a lot harder to get heard now. I have a hard time getting heard. I don't think people mean to be unwelcoming but with a community so big and changing, it might feel that way to someone just starting.

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    1. Woo-hoo! I have threaded commenting now!!!

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    2. Sweet! I'm about to implement on mine and I'm scared!

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  8. April- I think that's a good way to participate in memes if you want to introduce yourself to someone you haven't visited before. I'm sure new bloggers appreciate that too. BBAW gets a bum rap sometimes which is too bad because Amy (My Friend Amy, for those of you who may not know her) has such a good heart and does so much for the community.

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  9. But sometimes that rotary dial phone actually works. Smartphones go down a lot! :)

    I forgot until April posted, but the RIP Challenge is my favorite! I think those established challenges are the best ones to join because they're a short duration and it's consistent. But I honestly can't think of anything else that really develops the traffic of followers. Goodreads, too! I love that site. I just started getting more involved with it, and there's so much that can be done on that!

    By the way, I think this post is perfect, not to mention timely! I've been wondering myself what I can do next that is relevant. I love social media, but everything online is hit or miss!

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  10. Ha ha ha, 'red shoes are for children and whores.'

    But yes, I am also stodgy and old and irritated by these new blogging ways. I see you on my lawn! Get off!

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  11. I had to laugh about your thoughts on hosting reading challenges. I get a very good response to my Ireland Challenge, and a mild response to my Essay Challenge. But last year, I hosted the Wendell Berry challenge - and I think I was the only one that completed it! But I wasn't doing it to gain traffic - but to get people reading him, and even if it only prompted me to read the unread Berry books on my shelf, I'm happy. :)

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    1. Yes, when I hosted the Daphne du Maurier challenge, I had to 'encourage' (beg) people to join. Only a few completed it, which made me sad because I love her and wanted everyone in the world to read all her books. Still she got a few new readers. :)

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  12. Oh, I like the new comment style! Very nice. :)

    I have honestly no idea what a blog hop is. I apparently am getting 'old'. I don't think the blogs I follow participate or if they do, I don't pay attention... I don't think give-aways are a bad thing, but I have known blogs to do little else and that just drives me nuts. The whole followers thing is just silly. So some people follow you to get another entry towards a book... So what? It doesn't really mean anything and half the time they only come back the next time you have a give-away. I very rarely enter them myself. I have too many books as it is. I also rarely host them because Canadian shipping costs are ridiculous!

    Good post, Chris!

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    1. I wish I could give away my books, not necessarily in giveaways but the shipping is killer.

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    2. I'm with you on that - ouch. Canada Post just gouges us!

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  13. Loved reading your post. Things do seem to have changed, though I still do the same old thing. Avoid most review books, prefer to focus on older books, a mix of random topics and subjects. I really don't understand the hops at all. I mean... yeah. Don't get them. As to giveaways, when I had more money and read less ebooks I did a lot but never as a way to get followers (I didn't require people to subscribe or anything), more just because I didn't have space on my shelves and so was sending them out instead of keeping them. Now I'm more likely to know who may like a book and just send it on to them, you know?

    I still do think that the changes aren't necessarily bad and that it's great watching what people do. I think I'll avoid some stuff though still :)

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    1. One of the newer things I like that people are doing is the Read-a-long. I've done a few and hosted one last year. It's like a mini book club. So, yeah, not all new things are bad. :)

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    2. I agree that the read alongs are the "new" fun thing and have sort of taken over challenges for me. I like connecting WELL to a FEW bloggers now, instead of connecting a LITTLE to a LOT of them. Know what I mean?

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  14. It is a very different place. I think I may post some of my own advice, too, but one thing would be posting consistently. I've noticed a considerable jump in traffic and comments since I've been posted 4 times a week or so. As for other social networking sites: I use Twitter minimally, but I publicize on Facebook and that seems more effective.

    Great post, Chris!

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  15. I'm a newer book blogger, early 2010, so reading your post I was both enlightened and able to nod in turn. I totally agree with you about Twitter. I think unless you're well known already it's pretty difficult to get far. And if you want to @ reply to someone famous they're not likely to see it anyway because lots of people are doing the same.

    New releases are double-edged. They're interesting and it's always nice to be able to talk about something that hasn't already been done to death - but no one else can really say much other than that it sounds good or bad and they want a copy. Reviewing classics is best for discussion in my opinion. I've never been keen on memes because all too often it ends up with duplicate content or posts where there's nothing to comment about, which seems counter-productive to me.

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    1. I stopped doing memes when I found I was saying the same things every week. It was also hard to comment on others posts. I first people I'd visit I'd have something to say, then after that it was, "Nice post."

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  16. I think a lot of us in the old school have been reconsidering blogging a lot, and how it's changed. For my part, I've never liked memes because they seriously clog up my reader with posts that I personally don't find super-interesting. I also don't like the blog tours or author interviews (that might be a newer trend). I should make more of an effort to meet new-to-me bloggers, but I just don't have the bandwidth to do that right now. So I just stick to what I have always done- I need to start innovating, perhaps!

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    1. I tend to skip the meme posts in my reader too, unless the answers look interesting.

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  17. I used to do memes but find I want more substance on my blog now.

    I used to do the weekly photo posts but found them to be cliquy ... people commented on the same ones all the time and didn't share their love.

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    1. I did Wordless Wednesday a long time ago, then it got really big. It was too hard to comment on all the blogs. I stopped linking to the meme even though I'll occasionally post a photo. I will comment on photo posts in my reader (when I see them).

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  18. I like your thoughts here... honestly the blog hops drive me nuts. Comments like "just passing through on the hop" does not make a loyal reader.... and like you said = maybe that's not the point anymore the Monday reading meme from J Kaye I had hopes that it would bring people in to link, but I also hoped that people would like what I wrote and come back and visit. I used comments in the early days to build readership - but still try to make comments to others daily at least a few - as we all enjoy reading the feedback and having discussions. :)

    I too do the occasional give away to pass on books i may have duplicates of or to generate a little excitement... but my giveaways will never be twenty different ways to enter and liking 15 different links...LOL...

    Maybe I am an old blogger even after only 2 3/4 years....

    Thanks for the post!

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    1. It's true, with memes people rarely stick around- with the really big ones anyway.

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  19. i don't think the advice you give is outdated but i find that giving advice to other people who want to write about books is hard. some of my favourite book bloggers are those who write multiple posts on one book or start discussions about topic X because of something they're reading to engage everyone and help them broaden their experience. i don't know how i'd explain that to someone without just throwing them into it and telling them to write what they're thinking and feeling and try to find others who do the same.

    the giveaways, the memes and etc don't seem to keep people following you unless you actually write compelling reviews.

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    1. Those posts are fun. I did that last year with Jane Eyre and while I didn't get a lot of comments, I enjoyed doing it.

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  21. I only really memes if it SAYS something. If it's just pictures of "what i got in the mail" or something I just skip over it. Same with Blog Hops. It seems so much of the time they are just posts that don't say much.

    I tried giveaways too. One giveaway only had person; that's when I realized it was just not something people cared about. Lightly used books just aren't cool. people have too many books anyway.

    Looking back at where things have been is very enlightening. I used to comment or at least follow EVERYONE's blog that commented on mine. Now I find I have to pick and choose and I don't ever find myself leaving "nice post" comments because like you say it's much nicer to receive actual comments.

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  22. I agree that a blog hop is just another form of meme. I did join in with a couple for a little while but in the it was just the same content every week which was boring for everyone concerned. The organisers have now changed to include questions which is in effect the same as Booking Through Thursday etc.

    I think that for the most part I have a balance now between memes (a couple of times a week) and then whatever the rest of the time.


    I think the comment, comment, comment rule still applies, but deciding where to comment is the hard part.

    I am sure that theere are huge swathes of the blogosphere that I am not even aware exists! And for the most part I don't have time to find those areas. That isn't because I am an old blogger but because I still have to balance out blogging and commenting and parenting and life and work!

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  23. Also meant to say that I think challenges are still effective, but personally I have chosen to back away from participating in too many of them!

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