Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Jamie's Top Ten Tips For New Book Bloggers

Top Ten Tips For New (Book) Bloggers

Learn more and check out the TTT schedule.

It's intimidating to step into the world of book blogging. I remember just trying to observe what other blogs did and figure out what I was "supposed" to do. The truth is..there aren't any set rules. It's your blog.  Sure, there are obvious etiquette types of things that have been developed and "suggested practices" but really..there are no black and white rules or formulas to blogging. I've learned that for sure. So here are my tips, which are similar to what I covered in my Letter To My Young Blogging Self.

1. Be Yourself. Ok that sounds like a no-brainer but the happiest I've been in my blogging life is when I stopped trying early on to replicate what I saw popular blogs doing and just DO ME. And I have to say that the thing I get most about my blog is not about writing the best reviews, or having the most followers -- it's that people get a clear sense of who I AM as a person and see my passion flow through everything. Just be yourself and your blog will be a lot more fun for YOU to keep on doing.

2.  Give yourself a chance to get ahead: The one thing I wish I would have done is read and reviewed a few books and drafted up some other posts so I had a month or so worth of content before I officially started. THAT way, I could have some in reserve for when I am reading slower  and I can just get a head. Also, it's nice to not start out trying to furiously read and review.  I'm STILL playing the catch up game 2 years later.

3. Choose a blogging platform carefully: Before you start your blog, create accounts on the two major platforms -- Wordpress and Blogger. There are pros and cons to each and you'll want to figure out which one you like to work with. Each platform is not for every person. But let yourself experiment and find that out before you have 1.5 years worth of content and comments and followers and decide that another platform would have suited you better.  I speak this out of experience after using WP for work for a year and realizing how much better I liked it than Blogger. BUT I do love aspects of Blogger. Best to test it yourself.

4. Create your own blogging manifesto: Whether you do this on your blog like I did or write it down in a journal or just think it in your head, do it.  It will help you keep focus always on what you want your blog to be. Your blog will change and grow along the way but having a blogging manifesto helps you keep perspective.

5. Find one really great blogging friend (or two or threeee or four) that you can trust: I don't know what I'd do without my very best blogging friends. It's nice to have people remind you that you rock, let you rant, support you and encourage you. I would have quit LONG ago without people I trust and that support me.

Just a few of my ladies <3 Photo credit goes to ANNA!!


6.  Don't get caught up in the numbers game: Easier said than done, I know. But honestly, the minute I stopped obsessing...I became happier. It's easier to look at other people's numbers and feel discouraged but it's not going to help you. Don't get me wrong, I do track my stats, but I don't let any number tell me the worth of my blog. I let the sweet comments, emails from readers who read books I recommended and thanks from others remind me of my blog's worth.

7. Comment, comment, comment:  I have been a slacker with commenting lately due to wedding planning stress but I cannot tell you how important this is. I met so many bloggers this way leaving GENUINE comments without saying HEY COME FOLLOW ME.  They appreciated my comment and came back to check out my blog on their own. It create community, it helps you meet others with similar taste and it just keeps the blogging community going. I'll say it again...comments are a book blogger's daily dose of affirmation!

8. Let yourself take breaks: I am not ashamed of the breaks I let myself take. Sometimes I just don't feel like stressing about a post so I don't for a day OR sometimes I take a few weeks off (ughh oops yes that was recently) and I don't let myself feel bad. My life gets in the way and my blog will still be here. It took me a LONG time to let my "blogging hair  down" and not get so uppity about not posting. Now everyone is different with how long they are ok with NOT posting so that's up to you..but if you need a break..dooooo it. I promise you you'll get burnt out if you keep fighting it.

9. Venture out from your blog: GO to book events, meet authors, hang out with other bloggers, find/start a book club! THOSE are the moments that make you realize that this community is about more than you sitting behind your computer and writing reviews. I can't even tell you how many book events I've been to and how many times I've hung out with bloggers and each time it just makes me love this all the more!








10.  Get a Twitter and use it: THAT is how I became a part of this community! It keeps me connected, I have amazing conversations, I meet new people, I get traffic from tweeting posts (not spamming...there's a difference!). It can be a time suck but you'll eventually learn how to balance your time...and sometimes you still won't after 2 years :P





69 comments :

  1. Awesome advice, Jamie! So funny how there are things on your list that I was like YES! OF COURSE! DO THAT. (i.e. #2). If Estelle and I hadn't done that, I'd be mighty screwed right now. It's almost midnight here in TX and I'm still working. No time for picking up a book (sad day) today. :(

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  2. Hi there,

    I like the tip on being yourself! it's so easy to get caught up in trying to be like the "big" blogs.

    Top Ten Tuesday

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  3. I love number 9! So true. I'm just getting to the point where I am comfortable with my aspect of the blog and am emailing/tweeting/messaging with authors, going to book signings, created a book club with some friend and have watched it grow from 2 to 13, and am planning on attending BEA next year (Disney this year with the hubby, so BEA has to wait). I'm starting to build relationships with fellow bloggers and I love that there are events like BEA and many others where we can get together and get actual face time! These relationships are what make blogging worth all the work and time. GREAT list of suggestions!!! :)

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  4. These are all great and number 6 is SO SO SO true.

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  5. Agree- tip #2 is such a great idea! I wish I had had a back catalog of reviews prior to starting my blog! I need to work on tip #9, for sure. I don't venture out enough to bookish events.

    Great list :)

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  6. Lots of great tips. I especially like your suggestion to write a blogging manifesto. :)

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  7. I thought those were valid points. I haven't been blogging very long so I decided to just visit the blogs this time instead of participating. I have noticed twitter being a big hit so I guess I know what I need to add. lol.

    Thanks for the Great Advice
    Amanda @ Sisters Unedited

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  8. I admire bloggers who schedule their posts a month ahead but I'll never be that person. I try to do a week ahead and that's tough. Lots of great tips here. Thanks for sharing!

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  9. Great advice! I wish I could go back in time and take some of this advice especially about creating a month's worth of posts beforehand! And I'm still waiting for the day I don't stress about missing a day. But the best thing that happened was not worrying about the numbers. Makes it do much more pleasant. And I have GFC dumping Wordpress to thank for that.

    But blogger friends are so important to bounce ideas off of to share your thoughts and books with! Great post topic this week!

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  10. I think 7 is really important, giving back comments you get and letting people know you've taken the time to read their posts is lovely (:
    When I first started blogging, I didn't know about any of the other sites out there that were available. I've seen a lot of people move from Blogger to WordPress, but I think I'm going to stay on Blogger...
    Great tips!

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  11. Just a heads up: the link I added to the linky won't go live until 6 am EST. I'm sorry if adding in advance is a problem; I just wanted to make sure I added the link now while I'm thinking about it...just in case I forget to add it later.

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  12. Really good advice, especially about blog stats.
    Only twitter hasn't really helped me as much as it annoys me, but I think that's a personal quirk.

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  13. This is some great advice. Number two is such a great point, I wish I'd done that before I began my blog! This is such a great topic this week!

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  14. Thanks, that was really useful! I think it would have helped me a lot when I started my blog.

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  15. When I started my blog 3.5 yrs ago I had written up about 20 reviews before I went live. I actually put them all on my site so that there was actually content! Instead of the proverbial ,"Hi I'm starting a blog" post. I started because my family/friends wanted a list of books I thought were good for them, so that's why I did that. I had no idea for several months that other people were blogging about books. Naive, I know.

    That has helped me stay about 2 weeks ahead of schedule! I've got reviews booked up to May actually, as well as TTT posts, discussion topics, blog tours, interviews, etc. If I want to post something spontaneously, I just move some posts around. I'm a Mom and I need to be organized so that I can blog! It's fun for me, and I don't want to lose it.

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  16. We just went to a book signing! (Your pix r from there! I was too chicken to intro.us to u & your clan of beautiful bloggers.) Loved the signing & really wish I could afford to do that more often, especially going to big conferences like BEA, RT, etc. Thanks for this TTT this week! P.S. I adore Twitter!

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  17. This is such great advice. I've been blogging since 2009 and I'm always jealously looking at other blogs with their fancy sidebars and wishing I could do more, my html knowledge isn't great! I dont have any blogging friends yet and I am constantly playing catch up with books and wishing I could comment more. I love your Top Ten Tuesdays because I used to only write reviews but it's nice to write something on there that's just for fun and not so involved. I really enjoy your blog, keep up the good work!

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  18. This list is fantastic. I especially love #8.

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  19. It's a privilege to be the one who gets to tell you to stop being insane. HAHAH I kid. Thanks for being my support system <3

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  20. Awesome advice!

    I would add start a blog with a partner! lol I wish I had someone to share the work with sometimes.

    I've had to learn that you don't need to blog how everyone else does. Just follow your own path and as you said your personality will come through.

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  21. I completely agree with #2. I wish I had done that. I just jumped right in. Also #8. I haven't taken any time off from my blog and now with the nicer weather I am finding it harder to keep up. (Due to not following rule #2 lol)I may have to take a little break so I don't burn out trying to keep up. Great post!!

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  22. These are some great tips! And I'm so glad this is the topic for the week because I'm always looking for new ways to be a better blogger since I'm just getting started. I LOVE #2 - I still like to have at least three or four reviews scheduled. My review often goes up a week or two after I actually finished the book in question, but it helps me not feel stressed if I get a little behind because there is always a review buffer. And I love the blogging manifesto idea! I'm going to write mine this week :)

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  23. Good advice! I so wish I'd waited a month and written up some reviews in advance before launching my blog... that way when things got super busy in my life (like right now), I wouldn't feel like I was endlessly playing catch up!

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  24. YES! Be yourself! Nothing against memes, but I stopped doing them a few months back because it works for me. I'll admit, I do miss doing Top Ten Tuesdays and IMMs sometimes...a blogger gets great comments/pageviews with memes most of the time and it's a great way to discuss books in ways besides just writing reviews.

    And YES to commenting and Twitter!

    Did you and Anna have a chat before you wrote up your top ten lists? ;)

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  25. Great ideas! I enjoyed going back and reading the lessons you mother taught and your blogging manifesto, too. I have only been doing this for a short time, but your blog is one of the reasons I started. :-)

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  26. Oops! I forgot to add my blog name lol :Pretty Little Pink Things. Great advice! It's so helpful to someone like me who's still getting started.

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  27. I love your tips! I wish that I'd spent more time choosing a platform before I started. It's so hard to switch once you're two+ years into it. I also always keep my posts scheduled a month out. It takes so much of the stress out of blogging. If something timely comes up I just bump a post to a later date.

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  28. You are so so right about finding people you trust to get you through. In all my blogging ventures, I have a few of those people and they are just NECESSARY to my survival. For real. Of course, there are so bad eggs which is annoying and I hate but I guess that's true with everything. It's important to have people to talk to about these things that "get it". You feel not so alone when you want to throw a book across the room! ;)

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  29. I'm not a book blogger, but I wish I had known all of this when I started blogging. I'm contemplating switching to Wordpress at the moment, but the thought makes my head hurt. I also agree with making blogger friends. I think that makes the whole process so much better!

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  30. Most of the blogging tips I've read today are from newer bloggers, and while they've been great tips (and a few have been ones that I now want to follow)it's great getting tips from someone who has been at the blogging scene for a while now. I think I've finally gotten comfortable with my blog, found my groove, but am ready to take the next step forward (attend book events, interact with fellow bloggers, etc.). This was exactly the helpful push I needed!

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  31. Yes to #2! I can't believe I forgot to include that one! Great tips!

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  32. Very good tips! Thanks for providing the idea of creating a blogging manifesto. I guess that includes my longtime goals and hopes for the future. I really like the picture of the convention you went to. I really wish book events happened more in my area.
    I'm really glad you choose this for the top ten for today! I love gaining advice to become a better blogger.

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  33. Ahhh, I really need to work on #5. I'm a Narnian living in the middle of nowhere (some of my friends don't even speak English) so it's kinda hard to get friends interested in something that's so remote from them. Still, there are a few potentials who might like blogging. Thanks for sharing this list! :)

    Here's mine for this week :)

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  34. I'm only just beginning to appreciate Twitter, but I now realise how important it can be for networking. I was worried about how long I would have to spend on it, but so far it hasn't used up much of my time.

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  35. Awesome tips! Thanks so much for posting.

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  36. Great tips! I love what you said about not being afraid to take breaks. There are so many times when school gets really chaotic that I get even more stressed out thinking about making time for blog posts. I definitely need to remember to allow myself to take a break every now and then!

    Darlene @ Leather Bound and Lovely

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  37. Brilliant tips, I agree with starting off with a few posts all ready to go, I'm a little behind right now and wish I'd have done that!

    And that's incredibly awesome that you got to meet Stephanie Perkins! :)

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  38. Fab tips! I definitely agree with number 2 and number 7, in particular. Mine are here if you'd like to take a look!

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  39. I love all your tips and hope to use them myself. I especially like #2 Give yourself a chance to get ahead. I did try this one in the being but it didn't last long. #7 Comment, comment, comment is a great idea. I need to follow this one more. Thanks for all the great advice.

    Nancy @ The Avid Reader
    Top Ten Tuesday

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  40. I love your #9 tip. I have met so many wonderful authors and bloggers by going to local book events. It's like going to see your favorite rock star.

    JJ iReads
    Check out my Top Ten Picks This Week

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  41. From a new blogger I say thanks so much for the tips, between you and the other 150+ people who participate in this meme, I have lots of good tips and tricks for getting into the blogging world. I am already feeling the effects of only partiality getting through #2.

    Hunter @ Book Crook Confessions
    http://bookcrookconfessions.wordpress.com

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  42. Thank you so much for the tips! :)

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  43. This was a really good read. I've been blogging half the time that you have and my blog is infinitely smaller, so I'm surprised how many thoughts we have in common. I tried to say something about 'having a clear idea of what you want your blog to be' in my Top 10, but you've expressed it much better with your advice about a blogging manifesto. I think I will have to make one; a year later, but better late than never!

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  44. I still haven't done twitter, though I'm often thinking about it.

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    1. I realy need to get a hold of the "taking a break one" I have been ill many times this year yet I feel guilty not posting 3 times a week.
      Thanks for your advice, your blog always looks very wel put together when I visit.

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  45. I love the idea of a blogging manifesto! I still have yet to give myself a chance to get ahead though :p

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  46. Great advice, Jamie! But then again, you always give great advice. ;)

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  47. Great advice! I always need a reminder of the not looking (and ruminating on numbers one).

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  48. Wish I could get the hang of letting myself get ahead.

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  49. LOOK AT THAT PICTURE. Well, all of them. Look how awesome we are <3

    The one I agree with the most is: TAKE A BREAK. And don't be remorseful about it. Even lovers need a holiday, ya know? So imagine how it is with a blog. It gives a chance to regain sanity and in this community (WHICH I LOVE) sometimes that is needed.

    I wish I would've added "separate yourself from the naysayers." The peeps who are always negative and shoving crap in people's faces and etc. etc. etc. Because this is about books and WTF THERE'S NO CRYING IN BOOKS.

    OR something.

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  50. I WISH that I had taken the time to prepare things before jumping right into blogging. That's a fantastic tip for new bloggers!

    I also really love the idea of creating a blogging manifesto. I may do that one of these days!

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  51. Number 5, definitely! Friends are where it's at.

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  52. As a new blogger I definitely love this list. <3
    I am so not sure how to get myself ahead with reading though!

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  53. Number 2 is a great idea! I wish I had done that too!

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  54. If I could find book events that were located in my community that I was remotely interested in, I would go. Its also sort of compounded by the fact that I have commitments on the nights that sometimes have events on.

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  55. "but I don't let any number tell me the worth of my blog."

    That's probably one the best lines I have seen on a Top Ten yet. Words of wisdom:)

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  56. Ugh, I am beating myself up over #2. I had a bunch of reviews written and ready to go...and I posted them all on the day I launched my blog. I was just SO EXCITED I got a weeeeeee bit overzealous. And now I either need to go write reviews on old books (hey, they're probably new to someone, right?) or drop off the face of the earth while I read some newer ones so I have something to write about. I chose door #1, but I really wish I'd have just kept some in reserve to give me time to actually...you know...READ something.

    Oh well. Live and learn, right?

    Also, where does one find these mysterious awesome blogging friends? None of my "real" friends blog. Many of them read, but none like to write about it. Is there a secret society? Do I need to know the secret handshake? I would LOVE some mysterious awesome blogging friends (or even just awesome. They don't even have to be mysterious) but am totally flummoxed as to how to go about finding them. Help?

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    1. Haha I can completely understand where you are coming from. Sometimes when I get on a roll of writing posts I just want to publish them ALLLLL.

      I would tell you to just strike up conversation on Twitter/through the blogosphere. That's how I did it! Lots of conversations and "OMG you love that too?" moments!

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  57. Okay so as a new blogger I found this to be an amazing amount of great advice (see full list of notes taken). I've been toying with ideas to include on my blog and have decided that I am going to post about other things beside JUST books and reviews. I'm going to write about my journey while writing my first book, I want to do a weekly meme where I turn one of my crazy-ass dreams into a short story, and I want to include other great memes from other great blogs. That being said, I love the premise behind Top Ten Tuesdays and can't wait to start participating on my blog as well!

    I can't believe I've never given much thought to commenting and how it can actually allow me to make more bloggy friends! (THAT'S why I'm practically a blogging hermit!) Here is my vow to start commenting on more blogs and take the time to actually read more of the posts for the blogs I do follow. (Rest assured that you are in the top members of that list)

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  58. All ten points are excellent, valid, and just so true! Twitter is a great way to get connected to so many types of people and I've just now discovered the awesomeness of going to blogger events ;) Commenting and being yourself does help attract an audience AND makes things way more fun. Great advice! I love the topic!

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  59. These are great tips! I'm not really a new blogger, but I still feel new because I was kind of just out there on my own for a long time, and only really started connecting with other bloggers more recently, on Twitter and through Bloggiesta.
    Commenting is really important, as you said, and it's funny because I was always so excited if someone new commented on my blog, but I didn't think other bloggers would want some random, unknown blogger (i.e., me) commenting on their posts! But I feel so much more a part of the community now, and probably spend more time visiting other blogs and commenting than working on my own blog! (Balance. Wasn't that one of your other tips? ;)

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  60. Thanks for the tips! I'm a new blogger myself & can get all the help I can get :)

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  61. These are great tips, as a novice in the world of book blogging some of these ring true. At this very second I'll have wished I did some draft reviews, but honestly I've also noticed I can take old books I've read back-in-the-day and just throw a review together wait until I really needed them.
    But as a blogger of God-knows-how-long, I've really developed on my technique when writing what I know, learned, etc. Hence the reason why I'm now trying my hand at reviews. I love me a new challenge.
    I've also submitted my blog into "Mr. Minky's" Top Ten Tuesday, as I'm always looking for new ways to help expand on my blog and not just make it about reviews. :)
    Cheers and happy new year!

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  62. Those are some great advices! Thank you! I am a newbie in this book blogging industry and I really am juggling my time between reading & reviewing books and doing things that are school related (since I'm still a college student).

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  63. Within the past week I discovered book blogs, found a few that I absolutely love (like yours!) and am attempting to start my own! I just wanted to say thank you so much for this post! I am just starting out and need all the advice I can get. Reading this makes me a little less nervous about it! Thank you for putting time into your awesome blog, and inspiring people like me to make my own!

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  64. Hey! I came across this post while looking for my fave subject for this week's TTT rewind and I have to say these are some great tips here! I'm a new blogger myself and struggle with some things and I think some of the things you said will really help me. Thank you!
    Esty @ Boarding with Books

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