Blog Planners – Do You Use Them?

Does anyone else out there have a strange obsession with lists like I do? I love, to a point of embarrassment, to-do lists. Mainly because I get to cross things off. When it comes to blogging, lists are my best friend. That brings me to today’s post – I wanted to hear from y’all as well!





First, let’s start with a picture of what I’m currently using:

Please don’t judge my font choice. I was rushed.

Please don’t judge my font choice. I was rushed.

I needed something to help remind me of things I always forget. Like did I post my review on Amazon? Did I update it on my archive page? Oh wait, did I already submit the link to the publisher?! Once upon a time I probably could have remembered to do these things on my own, but that day has long since sailed.

What’s a bit funny is I am digital in every other aspect of my life. Appointments, monthly calendars – including a month look at my blog schedule (I originally had a printed out a monthly calendar, but used it for about two weeks), writing out blog ideas, you name it – I have apps for all of those.

My weekly checklist though, not so much. I already have a list of things I want to add and switch up, once I run out of the stack I have, but it’s been really helpful in keeping me organized in blogging.





So what about y’all? Do you use any kind of planner? What do you use? What would be helpful in a blog planner?

Thanks for any feedback! I’m interested to hear what you guys use or don’t use!

How to Write a Book Review | Blogging Resources

There are approximately 9,000 different ways to write a book review. I know y’all know that and writing a post titled “How to Write a Book Review” seems so snobbish and that most definitely is not my intent. I love the variety of blogs out there, so this is just my two cents :)

book-blog-how-to

I’ve written about how I blog a bit before, but I thought it might be helpful to chat a bit more details and things I always like to include and why. Of course this is my style and you have to find what works for you, but hey if it helps one person, then awesome!





- Make it personal. One of my favorite things in reading blogs, is hearing how a book impacted a person’s life or how it connected with them, so I usually try to incorporate that; like why I reviewed a golf book, a book on marriage (oops) or why I was crying my eyes out. As you would all agree, books are more than paper, so hearing their impact is lovely.

- Always include an image. Whether from the web or a creative picture you take, pictures make life better (can you tell I’m a little biased and a photographer? :) It also breaks up the post and is more attractive to a reader.

- Include links of where to buy the book. Not only is this helpful if you are part of an affiliate program, but it makes it easy to buy the book, thus helping out the author.

- Make it easy to share. Whether it’s a helpful plugin (like Click-to-Tweet or any of the Share plugins), this makes it easy for people to tweet out, share on Facebook, Pin, etc. Looking over stats, I’ve seen an increase in my traffic since I’ve incorporated them. Also, from personal experience, there’s been times I’ve wanted to share posts from blogs, but couldn’t find an easy way to share them, so I didn’t. Just think, if someone is reading this from their iPhone, will it be easy to share? If your goal includes growth in your blog, I can’t recommend this enough.

- If you didn’t like the book, share why. I don’t think anyone really likes writing these reviews, it’s never easy to type up something you know isn’t positive. Yet, once you start blogging enough, you realize it becomes part of the job. My biggest piece of advice? Share why. For example: “I didn’t like the book” vs. “I wasn’t a huge fan because the plot moved slow after we met the main characters and I found myself losing interest” or “There was language I wasn’t prepared for and it took away from the story.” Publishers, authors and fellow readers all appreciate it. I remember reading a review of one of my favorite books and another blogger (who didn’t like it) shared why and while I didn’t agree with their thoughts (different ideas of what’s considered language or not), it was helpful to see why they rated it low.

- If you loved it, don’t be afraid to go all out. Sometimes a girl’s gotta go ALL CAPS right? These are the most fun to write. I’m pretty sure readers know when I absolutely love a book and that’s definitely on purpose. If a book impacted me, then I for sure want to pass that along!

- End with a question or something to engage the readers. When I’m reading blogs, this makes it a bit more fun and I’m more willing to engage, especially if it’s a new blog to me. Plus I love engaging with my readers, so I always try to include a fun question.

- Tag away! If you’re on Twitter or Facebook, be sure to tag the author (and the publisher). Whether good or bad, I know it’s helpful for them.

One of the goals of my blog is to support authors. What they do is truly a gift and I want to be able to use this platform to chat, discuss and support. I’ve found these tips help me accomplish that goal!

I’d be remiss if I didn’t include a couple other blogs to check out with different reviewing styles. Of course I want to list like 50, but that might get overwhelming :), so here’s a couple!

Hope this was a bit helpful for y’all! What are some tricks you love to include?

These are a Few of My Favorite Plugins | Blogging Resources

We’ve chatted about formats and blogging methods here before, but how many of you are WordPress users? If you are self-hosted, then you know all about plugins and how fabulous they are. It’s one of the main reasons I love using WordPress so much!

Anyway, today I thought I’d share a handful of my favorites. Maybe I’ll even convince you to join the ranks of WordPress ;)

Akismet
Used by millions, Akismet is quite possibly the best way in the world to protect your blog from comment and trackback spam. It keeps your site protected from spam even while you sleep
This one makes life easy and I don’t have to manually delete or deal with shenanigan-type comments. Imagine if spammers used their skills for something good?

Click To Tweet by Todaymade
Add click to tweet boxes to your WordPress posts, easily.
I love this on blogs! I don’t remember where I first saw it on a blog, but it makes sharing your favorite posts easy and helps break up the review.

click-to-tweetDisqus Comment System
The Disqus comment system replaces your WordPress comment system with your comments hosted and powered by Disqus.
There’s plenty of comment plugins out there and many are good, but for me, Disqus has been the most reliable and easiest to manage. Plus this makes it easy for me to respond!

Google Analytics
Enables Google Analytics on all pages.
I’m pretty sure we’ve all heard of Google Analytics. This just helps get it setup for WordPress :)

WordPress Database Backup
On-demand backup of your WordPress database. Navigate to Tools → Backup to get started.
I heard about this from my friend Lydia and it automatically emails you a backup of your blog. I was manually trying to stay on top of it weekly, but you know how that goes. So every week I get an update I can save…perfect!

Bonus Time! I call this a bonus because it’s technically not a plugin, but thought it might be helpful :). I’ve mentioned using Buffer on this blog before and I use Hootsuite for work, so I was curious which y’all prefer. For me? Buffer.
Why Buffer?

  • The stats are easier to read
  • The social media sites don’t log out.
  • Images! When you schedule a tweet with an image, the image shows up as an image (thus you get the pretty picture break in the Twitter feed), Hootsuite it appears as a link in Twitter. Lame.
  • It’s easier to schedule posts in buffer. There’s less steps and it’s quicker to change if needed.

Alright! What are some of your favorite plugins? Do any of you have one to making pinning to Pinterest easier? I’m always looking for more!

Book Blogging Programs | Blogger Resources

I’ve talked a little bit about book blogging review programs in the past, but since then, I’ve expanded my horizons :). After chatting over SkiWees Book Corner about it (if you missed the show, you can catch it here!), I thought it would be fun and helpful to share the ones I’m a part of and hear from y’all about some of your favorites. So let’s dive on in!

Book-blogging-programs

Blogging for Books

This book blogging site for the Crown Publishing Group (in the Christian Fiction world: WaterBrook Multnomah Fiction) was recently revamped and is AH-Mazing. The options people. The options! Cook books, Christian fiction, fiction, non-fiction, memoirs, crafts…seriously… all the books! They aren’t lying when they say over two million books.

I just started with them, but my first book is The Pursuit of Tamsen Littlejohn by Lori Benton, so I’m not complaining. I look forward to reading many more books for this site!

Bethany House Blogger Review Program

I’m a huge fan of Bethany releases. So many of my favorite authors publish books through them, so I always look forward to the monthly emails (I know when they come out each month and trust me….I’m ready to request!)! I’m on the list for fiction and non-fiction, you know to keep my options fresh.

There’s a handful of options each month to choose from and you only get to pick one (which is soooo hard sometimes!). You also have the option of e-book or hard copy. I’m so glad to be a part of this program. It’s great.

Litfuse Publicity

I’m so glad this publicity firm exists. They are so much fun to work with and make it so easy to promote and be part of book tours. When I see an email from them, I know something awesome awaits!

They really do make it easy. They send you the book (hard copy or e-book), send you all the graphics and codes you need for your post and there’s always awesome contests to enter. I still have hope that one day I’ll win one.

Tyndale Blog Network

I haven’t reviewed a ton for Tyndale yet, but the ones I have, I’ve really enjoyed. Jessica Dotta’s novels are published through them, so that’s all the evidence needed to sign up. Each month they send out the new releases and you can request one from the list (although now you can request two!).

They have plenty of options for fiction and non-fiction, so there’s lots of variety as well.

BookLook Bloggers (formerly BookSneeze)

This is the site for Thomas Nelson, Zondervan and Westbow Press E-Books. I love the variety. Love it! From non-fiction, fiction, children’s books, devotionals and bibles, there’s plenty to choose from. The two I have right now are a photographer’s memoir and a book written by Dr. King’s niece. I’m really excited about them! They have awesome fiction options as well and you have the option for applying to receive more than one at a time.

Another plus for BookLook is they are available beyond the month of release (same as Blogging for Books).

I review for BookLook Bloggers

Moody Blogger Review Program

Moody Publishers has a fantastic history and continue to produce Gospel-centered books and resources. Their fiction wing, River North Fiction, has published some of my favorite authors, including Tessa Afshar (biblical fiction) and Jocelyn Green (Civil War history fiction), so I’m a fan.

They have pages and pages of options to choose from, not just new releases, so the choices are endless. Once you review one, you can go back and simply request another one. Done.

Revell Reads Blog Tour Program

This program is a lot like Bethany’s program (they’re under the umbrella of Baker Publishing), so you can’t expect much of the same! The one difference is they request the reviews to be posted between specific dates (since it’s a tour). I’m also on the fiction and non-fiction lists, so like the others, it’s always fun seeing the email pop up in my inbox.

B&H Publishing

I’m rather new to this one as well, but it’s been a pleasant experience thus far. They have a site with all the options available for reviewing. I’ve also been able to email them requests too. While they send out emails of new and available books to choose from, the website site also has past options available too.

NetGalley

I haven’t done too much with NetGalley, besides the times I choose to get the e-book from one of the other publishers. I learned recently you can get auto approved for certain publishers, so when you request it, you automatically get it. There’s ridiculous amounts of options and you’ll never be in need of more books. It’s only e-books though, so if you’re anti e-reader, then you won’t like this one ;). With so many other programs, I’m not sure when I’ll dive more into this one, but I do like being a member!

What programs are you a part of? Any specific ones you really like?