4 Things I Learned about Writing in School I Also Use While Writing My Blog

Whenever Krysta or I bring up the structure of a blog post or the idea of research or evidence in a blog post, we get a flurry of comments to the effect of, “This isn’t school!” No, it isn’t school, but my theory is that the things I learned about writing in school are not ONLY for writing research papers about Shakespeare; they’re also guidelines for how to write things in daily life! So while I admit I don’t put the same amount of rigor and structure into writing for the blog that I would have for a serious academic research paper (I agree; this is still just a hobby!), there are are things I do while writing to try to make my blog posts more cohesive and readable.

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Have a Thesis

A “thesis” is just the idea that the text has a main point, and that the main point is clearly stated somewhere in the opening paragraph or introduction (if the introduction is more than one paragraph long). This means that, for discussion posts, I try to make the main argument or question clear in the beginning of the post. For reviews, I try to end the first paragraph with a clear statement of whether or not I enjoyed the book and what main aspects of the book led me to like/dislike it.

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Write Topic Sentences

This is probably the area where I’m flakiest on the blog because I put A LOT of effort into writing topic sentences for academic papers, and I don’t put nearly the same amount of thought into them for my blog. However, I do still try to write them! Using topic sentences helps the reader know what the paragraph is going to be focused on, and they help me as the writer stay focused on that thing, whether I’m discussion the pacing of a book, the logic of a plot, or the characterization of a protagonist.

Use Evidence to Back Up My Points

The idea that you should back up your arguments with evidence has been a strangely controversial point on our blog in the past, but I think it’s immensely important! “Evidence” is just the reasons I believe the things I am writing. For a factual discussion post, this could, in fact, mean research and reading studies and articles to cite and link to. For instance, if I want to make a claim that “no one reads audiobooks anyway,” I should probably look up what percentage of readers do (or do not) listen to audiobooks.

The important aspect is recognizing what is “just my opinion” and what is a claim that could be proved or disproved with actual research. I have awkwardly seen book bloggers make (sometimes very angry!) claims about why publishers do X, why ebooks cost Y, why libraries do Z, etc. that are . . . just factually wrong. I know “research,” for a lot of bloggers, sounds like something that they shouldn’t have to do for a hobby they are just doing for fun, but I believe it’s important to try to make accurate claims when possible.

And for topics that ARE more opinion-based, I still think evidence is important! If, for instance, I say in a review that the plot is slow, I try to give an example of why. Or if I say a character is brilliant, I might give an example of a time they did something exceptionally smart.

Evidence is important to help your audience understand why your opinions or arguments are what they are, and help the audience decided whether they agree.

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End with a Conclusion

This might be the most obvious point on the list, but I do try to end my posts with some type of conclusion. In a discussion post, I try to sum up the main point and any final information I want the readers to take away. In a review, I make a final point about whether or not I recommend the book to other readers, and why.

Conclusions can also be good for SEO. I’ve read that readers like seeing them, and having a clear conclusion can increase how many people finish reading the post. Using clear heading tags like “introduction” and “conclusion” throughout the post can also be useful for SEO.

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And One Thing I Don’t Do As Much As I Should: Proofread

I literally proofread professionally, but I can’t stand reading my own work. Sometimes I reread a post once it’s published and notice some typos I need to clean up, but I admit I don’t do much proofreading of my own drafts. Please forgive me.

Briana

Why I Think Comments are the Single Most Important Way to Support Book Bloggers

Disclaimer: Ok, some people would probably argue paying book bloggers is the #1 way to support them, but not every blogger has a ko-fi or Patreon where they are asking for money, and I’d personally say paying bloggers should be on publishers/authors/people asking for marketing and not other bloggers. This post is more about how blog readers can support bloggers.

A consistent theme in the book blogging community is that many of us started our blogs to connect with other readers– and that we value conversations and friendships more than anything else. When people answer questions about why they love blogging, they often answer “the community.” When people explain what they consider success for their blogs, they often say “connections with my followers.” So, while conversations about whether blogging is dying, whether bloggers should be paid, and whether bloggers are valued continue in the community, I personally believe that the most important thing we all can do to support other bloggers and keep blogging alive is to leave other bloggers comments.

In recent years, I’ve noticed that our traffic here at Pages Unbound has grown, but the number of comments we receive on each post has gone down. In casual conversations with other bloggers, I’ve had many report the same: they just don’t seem to have as many conversations with other readers as they used to. No one is quite sure why, though speculation includes the fact there are just so many platforms (Twitter, Youtube, Instagram, TikTok) that it’s hard to keep up with them all to the fact that people might just prefer other platforms entirely. A lot of people seem to think it’s simply “easier” to comment on something on Twitter than on a blog.

But what is the result of this? Bloggers feel that no one is valuing their content, and that can be a depressing thought to someone who has put hours into planning, writing, formatting, and promoting a post. And when people feel that they’re “wasting their time,” they might decide it’s time to quit blogging. I’ve never thought that blogging is dead, or even necessarily dying– but it might die if tons of bloggers decide they’re not getting what they want out of it, which is readers who are interested in what they are posting and conversations with readers about books. To me, it seems clear that the one thing that can really revitalize blogging, even more so than (some, probably the biggest) bloggers being paid for their work, is readers leaving more blog comments.

Yet I also think that more blog comments can lead to the payment that some bloggers are seeking. When bloggers request ARCs or payment from publishers or authors, they’re generally self-reporting their stats. I assume the majority of people are honest about their page views and visitor count, but a publisher can never be sure. I myself have been confused by blogs that claim to have a billion followers and views yet, when I look at their sites, have zero comments on every single post. Are they lying about their stats? Are their page views from bots? From people who don’t really care about their content? Who can tell? When I go to a blog and see every post has 40 comments on it, however, I know I’ve found a blog that people like to read. This might also be interesting to publishers when they decide where to give out ARCs and, maybe, money.

No one is obligated to anything, of course. I myself don’t comment around as much as I’d like or as much as I’d use to, as real life responsibilities catch up to me. However, if you’re really invested in supporting bloggers, I think commenting is the way to go. Retweets and likes on posts are nice, but it seems that what people really want are readers who are interested enough in their content to take the time to leave a comment and say so.

Briana

Why Your Book Recommendation Posts Should Have More Than Three Books Listed

Frequently when I am blog hopping or scrolling through my WordPress reader, I find posts titled things like “Three Books about Mermaids” or “Two Books Featuring Mermaids.” Or maybe it’s just titled “Fun Middle Grade Fantasies You Should Read,” but when I open the post, there are only three book recommendations. Lists that are this short are always disappointing to me, and when I do book recommendations, I aim to list at least five books, but preferably 10 or more. Here’s why you might want to make your own book rec lists longer:

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Longer Lists are Better for Blog Traffic

If you’re interested in growing your blog traffic, particularly in getting more hits from search engines, longer lists are your friend. When people go to Google and search something like, “Books Set in New York City,” the top results are probably going to be lists with 10, 20, or even more books included on them. If your list only has three books on it, there’s a good chance that a list of 20 or 50 books already includes the three you are featuring. So the search engine is going to recognize that and feature blogs and websites with long lists as their top results. If you want to rank, you need to think of other sites as your “competition” and provide information that is as or more valuable than what they are providing.

Example: A quick Google search gives me these top two results of lists with 31 and 40 books respectively:

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Short Lists Are Less Useful to Readers Because They Eliminate Half the Books on the List Anyway

Even when I want to read a book about a certain topic, I don’t have an interest in every book about that topic. There are thousands of books about dragons, but if someone lists “three books about dragons,” there’s a very good chance I am going to look at that short list and think, “no, no, no,” and leave without adding a single one of them to my TBR pile.

This is particularly true if the topic of the list is very broad. What is even on a list of three books about dragons? Are all of them YA books? If I don’t like YA, I automatically will have no interest in any of them. But maybe they’re all different age categories. Maybe this three-book list includes one picture books about dragons, one middle grade fantasy, and one adult nonfiction book about the history of dragons featured in literature. This is interestingly varied, but if I am looking for a middle grade book about dragons, only one book on the list applies to me — and I might have already read it or not be interested in reading it for some reason. If I am looking for a YA dragon book, none of the recommendations help me at all.

This is why longer lists are more helpful to readers and more likely to provide them with valuable information to, ultimately, actually add one of the books to their TBR pile.

If you have a list of 40 books about dragons, you can now break it into categories: 10 picture books, 10 middle grade books, 10 YA books, and 10 adult books.

Alternatively, you can narrow the topic of your list: 40 middle grade books about dragons. And you can make it as narrow as you want, as long as you have enough books to make a decent-sized list. 20 middle grade books about dragons published in the last 10 years. 20 diverse middle grade books with dragons. 30 middle grade books with dragons that can talk. Now, if someone has an interest in this topic, the list has a lot of information for them to help them find a new book to read.

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One challenge I personally find to making very long lists is that I generally like to feature books I have read myself or that I feel I know enough to confidently recommend. If I were to make a list titled, “100 books set in Florida,” there is no way I will have read all of them, so making the list would basically involve Googling and finding other people’s lists and taking the books off those list to add to mine. This is definitely something people do, particularly bloggers who are blogging to make money and need their posts to rank highly in Google, as well as large bookish sites. You know whoever makes the Penguin Random House lists hasn’t personally read all 40 books they’re recommending on a single topic. So whether you’re comfortable making lists that include a lot of books you don’t know much about is up to you. I’m generally not, which is why most of my lists are 10-15 books instead of 45.

Do you prefer reading longer lists? How many recommendations on a list are you usually interested in?

Briana

10 Post Ideas for Book Blogs When You Haven’t Read Anything Recently

Creating content for a blog can sometimes seem quite the struggle, especially if you have not read any books recently and have nothing to review. But book blogs can talk about all things bookish–there’s no need to limit yourself to reviews or even memes. Here a few ideas to get you started posting.

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Recommend read-alikes.

This is one of the most common book blog posts, but always a welcome one! You can do a straightforward recommendation, like our post recommending books if you like Nancy Drew. Or you can try to capture some of the enthusiasm for something trending, like our post recommending books for fans of sea shanties or YA novels for fans of Bridgerton.

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Create a personality quiz.

People always enjoy taking a personality quiz! You can try a standard one like our “Which Female Character from Murder on the Orient Express Are You?or you put your own spin on the personality quiz, like with our “How Obsessed with The Lord of the Rings Are You?” quiz.

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Highlight some of your favorite author’s books.

Sometimes a beloved author has one book that really stands out to readers and that gets all the love. If readers are into one book, however, they may interested to learn that an author wrote more. We highlighted some of our favorite authors’ works in posts like “Beyond Anne of Green Gables: The Other Novels of L. M. Montgomery” and “A Brief Introduction to Tolkien’s Non-Middle-Earth Books.”

Another option is to take a really long series like Redwall or the Discworld books and create a guide explaining what each of the books are about, how they are related, and where new readers might like to start. This allows you to draw on your extensive fan knowledge to create a post you might not have realized will be really helpful to others!

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Post some book trivia.

Put all your bookish knowledge to use with some fun trivia-filled posts! We’ve done posts such as “Ten Things You May Not Have Known about J. R. R. Tolkien,” “Classic Books with Lesser-Known Sequels,” and even a series on bookish misconceptions.

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Weigh in on a bookish controversy.

This does not have to mean something really controversial, where you are afraid of backlash, but could mean a question avid readers keep returning to. For example, we weighed in on whether the Chronicles of Narnia should be read in publication order or chronological order. Think of some issues your bookish friends have strong opinions on, such as whether a certain book counts as canon or if poetry excerpts or songs should be in the middle of books. Then explain your stance and watch the discussion ensue!

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Create a discussion post (or several) based on a specific book.

Many book bloggers seem afraid to post a discussion about a specific title, rather than on a topic that is merely generally bookish. However, our book-specific posts are some of our most popular! We’ve posted on everything from not liking the ending of King of Scars to whether Tolkien’s female characters have any depth. We have even weighed in on the great Team Keefe vs. Team Fitz debate being held by fans of the Keeper of the Lost Cities books.

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Talk about a childhood favorite.

Even if you have not read them in awhile, you probably have strong memories about your favorite childhood books. Tell readers why you loved them–and if you still, do! For instance, we’ve written posts such as Why I Still Love Nancy Drew to showcase our love of childhood favorites.

On the flip side, you could discuss a childhood book that disappoints you now or that you never liked at all. We’ve written on Why I’ve Never Liked The Giving Tree and Why I Never Liked The Rainbow Fish.

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Compare adaptations.

Plenty of books have film adaptations! Try talking about your favorites, such as which film version of Little Women is best, whether you play the Nancy Drew PC games, and more!

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Show some library love.

Readers love the library! Even if you haven’t read anything recently, you talk about other bookish things you love: the thrill of browsing, library resources you love the most, libraries you have visited, what your dream library would look like, and more!

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Share blogging tips.

Bloggers are always looking to improve, and our posts with some of our tips are some of our most popular. You can share everything from graphic design tips to a list of places to how you plan your schedule to a list of resources bloggers can use for editing images. We have a whole page of blogger resources!

What are some of your favorite non-review posts to write?

Also check out “How We Come Up with Discussion Post Ideas!

10 Discussion Post Topics for Your Book Blog that Get Comments

Introduction

In the past several years, I opened January with various discussion post prompts for book blogs, including:

I try not to overlap prompts, so that’s 102 prompts right there! And you can check out our Classic Remarks page for discussion prompts related to classic literature.

For 2021, however, I want to highlight 10 discussion post ideas that are practically guaranteed to generate discussion on your blog. There are not necessarily the most original post ideas — bloggers have been talking about them for years — but they are popular post ideas. People have thoughts about these questions, and writing a post about them is sure to get you some comments!

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Are Negative Reviews Valuable? Or Are Negative Reviews Cruel to Authors?

This topic came back in December 2020, when a few authors berated a booktuber for making a “Worst Books I Read in 2020” video, and other authors and reviewers entered the fray, debating both the value (or lack thereof) of “worst of” lists and then of negative reviews in general. If you missed the chance to talk about why you do or not like, read, or write negative reviews then, however, I have no doubt another opportunity will arise in 2021 and beyond.

Read Our Post: Negative Reviews Aren’t “Mean;” They’re Integral to Selling Books

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Do You Comment Back on Other Blogs?

Another perennial favorite: Do you comment back on the blogs of people who leave comments on your blog? Why or why not? Do you expect other people to do the same? Do you follow people (or unfollow) based on whether they answer comments on their blog or based on whether they comment back on your blog?

Read Our Post: Do You Comment Back?

What Are Your Bookish Pet Peeves?

Maybe people just love to complain, but a post about things that drive you nuts in books is sure to get people responding in the comments, whether they agree with your or actually enjoy the things you hate. Just keep it light instead of actually insulting authors or books!

Read Our Post: 10 Bookish Pet Peeves

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Do You Like Writing Book Reviews? Do People Like Reading Reviews?

Although book reviews are generally considered the primary content of book blogs, a lot of bloggers don’t actually enjoy writing them! And bloggers have long noted that reviews often don’t get as many page views as other types of content. So, do you like writing reviews? Or reading them? Can you blog without writing them at all?

Read Our Post: Can You Run a Book Blog without Book Reviews?

What Makes You Follow a Book Blog?

While we all love to support other book bloggers, there are only so many blogs we can follow and read! Explaining what makes you click that follow button and become a regular reader is always a popular topic because it helps other bloggers brainstorm ways they might want to approach how they blog.

Read Our Post: 5 Things That Make Me Want to Read Your Book Blog

Do You Have a Set Reading Goal? What Books “Count” or Don’t Towards the Goal?

At the end of every year (and then at the beginning of the next year!), bloggers and readers begin discuss reading goals: how many books they read vs. how many they’d hoped to, whether they believe in having a reading goal at all or just reading at leisure, whether they’re judging people for “inflating” their reading goals with picture books or graphic novels or audiobooks. While most bloggers seem content to let other people set their goals however they wish, the topic of reading goals always gets discussions flowing.

Read Our Post: Don’t Stress about How Many Books You’ve Read This Year

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Should Adults Read Young Adult (Teen) Books?

It feels as if we should have settled this issue somewhere around 2012: people can read whatever they want, and books “for teens” or “for children” can still speak to adults. Yet every six months or so, some major publication seems to publish an opinion piece about how adults shouldn’t be reading young adult books, and then the blogosphere gets talking again, publishing their own posts responding.

Read Our Post: The Debate over YA Is Over

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Should Book Bloggers Make Money? How Would They Successfully Monetize?

I’ve been blogging for ten years now, and book bloggers have never regularly made money or received payment from sponsors the ways booktubers or bloggers in other niches do, in spite of how much labor they put into marketing books for publishers and authors. Whether book bloggers deserve to be paid and how they can make money if they choose to monetize is a topic that comes up time and again. Here’s to hoping 2021 is the year bloggers who are interested in monetization finally start making a decent blogging income.

Read Our Posts: I’m Okay with Not Being Paid to Book Blog and What Would Happen If Book Bloggers Made Money?

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How Can You Support Other Book Bloggers?

Want to support other bloggers? Want to let your non-blogger followers know how they can support book bloggers beyond just reading their posts? Sharing ways to boost book bloggers is always a hit.

Read Our Post: 7 Concrete Ways to Boost Book Bloggers

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Do You Care about Your Blog Stats?

Some bloggers are deeply invested in their stats and growing their audience, while others blog purely for fun and don’t care at all. Discussing your approach to stats (to look at them, or not to look?) and sharing tips on how to improve stats, if that’s what you’re into, will get other bloggers talking.

Read Our Posts: Is Stress about Your Blog Stats Holding You Back? and Book Blogger Stats Survey Results: 2020

Briana

5 Things My Favorite Book Bloggers Do

5 Things My Favorite Book Bloggers Do: What Makes Me What to Read Your Blog
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Write Informative Reviews

I’ve posted about how I think it’s possible for a book blog to not have any reviews at all, but I’ve also written about why I think book reviews really aren’t going away and personally…I like reading reviews on book blogs. Specifically, I like reading medium to long reviews that really get into the heart of the book, what’s working and what’s not and why. I also like to know about the themes or any interesting questions the book raises, since that’s the most interesting thing to me, not necessarily whether the plot is fast or the characters are witty. Reviews that are actually mostly summary or that are too short to really help me decide whether I’d like the book are less interesting to me.

Write Discussion Posts

I think unique and thoughtful discussion posts are what really help certain blogs stand out and brand themselves. Specifically, I love blogs where the discussions go beyond common topics like “Do you comment back on other blogs?” and “How many books do you read at once?” to address questions I might not have thought about myself or that I haven’t already seen a dozen other bloggers discuss.

Include Evidence in Their Posts

This is apparently a bit controversial, as the one time Krysta talked about including evidence in blog posts and backing up claims, a lot of people disagreed and said blogging is just a hobby and not an academic endeavor, so they didn’t need to do research. However, “evidence” is a broad term, and mostly what I mean is that I like to see bloggers support what they’re saying. In a review, this is as simple as giving an example or explanation of why, “The main character is whiny.” If the reviewer gives a quote or explains a scene where they think the character is whiny, this is helpful to me.

For discussion posts…more research might be necessary, and I appreciate bloggers who put in the time to do that. There’s a lot of incorrect information on the Internet and that can bleed into the book blogosphere. A blogger who does research is less likely to make incorrect claims like, “Children’s books are not priced cheaper than adult books” or “Libraries don’t pay a lot of money for ebooks,” and I love following bloggers whose posts I can trust.

Elaborate on Their Lists

Books lists are a really fun part of the book blogosphere, and I love when bloggers go beyond simply listing titles to explain more about the books they have chosen for the list. For example, has the blogger read the books on the list and what are their opinions on them? Or was the list mostly curated by Googling something like, “Books set in Antarctica,” and the blogger doesn’t really know much about them or whether they recommend them?

Write Posts They’re Passionate About

I’ve seen some complaints that (in particular) big bookstagram accounts and big booktubers often seem to be more about marketing than sharing a love of books, and while I think this is less common in book blogging, I do think readers can tell when someone is writing posts they love and when they’re writing posts they think will get traffic. My favorite book bloggers write about topics they’re passionate about, even if those things aren’t the best for getting page views, and it helps their blogs seem vibrant and unique.

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Conclusion

I think a common theme among these points is that I like following blogs where I feel I am getting valuable content. For me, blogs are about reading, learning, and discussing, and my favorite bloggers give me robust information that I can think about, form an opinion about, and engage in conversation with them about. Again, this does not in any way mean I am expecting book blogs to be academic blogs with a bunch of sources and a Works Cited at the end, but I do appreciate blogs where I feel I’m getting unique perspectives and voices and informed content that might not be getting elsewhere.

Briana

How I Increased My Pageviews From Pinterest by 1600% in 2019

In 2018, Pages Unbound received 523 pageviews from Pinterest referrals. In January 2019, I decided I was going to take Pinterest more seriously.

While I was skeptical that content from book blogs could really take off on Pinterest, many bloggers in general swear by the site and say it is their single largest source of traffic. After I stumbled across a few actual book bloggers, including The Uncorked Librarian and Lovely Audiobooks, saying they receive a reasonable amount of traffic from Pinterest, I figured I had nothing to lose (besides maybe my time).

The result: In 2019, Pages Unbound received over 8,000 pageviews from Pinterest.

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Concrete Steps I Took to Increase Traffic from Pinterest

Honestly, if you read any article or blog post on how to get traffic from Pinterest, the ideas are generally the same: set up a business account, set up rich pins, post appealing graphics, make sure the graphics are vertical, etc. and so forth. I did all this, but here are some of the more concrete steps I took:

I created uniform board covers.

Pinterest board covers screenshot example

I don’t think there’s any actual need to create uniform board covers to succeed on Pinterest, but a lot of the “serious” Pinterest users have them. Board covers with the title of the board make it easy for people to see what each board is about, and your profile looks professional and attractive to potential followers. It’s an easy thing to do to update your profile.

I created a book bloggers group board.

(Good) group boards are important to help get other users repinning your content so it gets more visibility. The general rules of a group board are that for every pin you add, you must pin one other person’s pin. Other rules might include not spamming the board with your content and posting only vertical images, not horizontal or square ones.

I noted in an earlier post that I had trouble finding book or book blogger group boards, especially ones that are accepting new members, so I started my own. (You can request to join the book blogger group board here.) I’ve since found several boards hosted by others to join, some of which are great and some of which are a bit spammy. Some of them also trend more towards romance books, so I more recently started a YA/MG specific group board here that I’m hoping to grow.

I started pinning every day.

Advice on how much or how often to pin each day to “succeed” varies, but my basic rule in 2019 was to attempt to pin something every single day. I pin my own post of the day to a minimum of two boards, and then I log onto Pinterest and repin others’ content there, even if it’s only four pins or so.

I missed some days, and I wasn’t always consistent. Some days I pinned a lot, while others I pinned practically nothing. This is definitely not the “ideal” strategy. But since I had NO strategy for Pinterest in 2018, pinning at least a little each (or most) days in 2019 noticeably improved my reach and my traffic.

I created more pinnable images for the blog.

Of course, in order to pin things, I needed content to pin. In 2019, I made it a point to try to have a vertical pinnable image with the title of the blog post for any discussion post or book list posted at Pages Unbound.

(I have made some graphics for book reviews, and I see other book bloggers who have pinned images for reviews, but my experience is that these do not do nearly as well as discussion posts or other features–especially any type of list. If you have time, promoting your book reviews on Pinterest is worthwhile because you’ll probably get some traffic, but it’s not where you should put your focus if the time you can commit to social media is limited.)

I signed up for the Free Trial of Tailwind

Tailwind is a paid service that lets you schedule pins, join tribes to get your pins shared, see analytics on your pins, and more. It is fabulous because you can take an hour or two and schedule pins (at suggested optimized times!) for basically the whole month and then forget about them. You can also use features to ensure that you are pinning a single pin to all the boards you want, without overlap, and at staggered times–so I can pin something to 13 groups boards but schedule it so it only is pinned to one board a day. (People who are serious about Pinterest but don’t have Tailwind seem to get the same result by keeping elaborate spreadsheets detailing what they pinned, where, and when; without Tailwind, I just wing it and miss the opportunity to pin my content to all relevant boards.)

I wrote more about my experience with Tailwind in this post, and I really liked it while I had the trial. I just struggle with the idea of paying for it month after month when I make absolutely no money from this blog. But if you are monetizing your blog, or if you simply have the disposable income to spend some money on your blog, I would recommend checking it out.

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Insights for Book Bloggers on Pinterest

  • Book lists do particularly well. If you think of Pinterest as a search engine more than social media, this makes sense. People go on Pinterest for ideas and inspiration, not necessarily for book reviews or even bookish discussions. If you have limited time to promote your content on Pinterest, start with any lists you have.
  • Seasonal content does well. Similar to the first idea, people like lists of books related to holidays, seasons, etc. Books to read in winter. Picture books for St. Patrick’s Day. Whatever. Make sure to start promoting the content early though. I’ve seen recommendations to start promoting 45 days before the actual holiday.
  • Think of content that will do well with a “general” audience. The people visiting your blog from Pinterest are not necessarily other book bloggers. This is exciting because most of us know other book bloggers are usually our main audience. But this also means you have to think about what will appeal to readers/visitors who might not even know what a book blog is, much less be interested in the usual book blog discussions and debates.
  • Pins with lots of covers do well. This is probably related to lists doing well, but if I create one pin for a list with a lot of book covers on it and one pin that has a single image, usually the one with tons of covers does better.
Briana

Secrets to Blogging Success: How to Schedule Ahead

Running a blog can be a struggle.  There’s so much to do, from writing content to taking pictures to commenting around to handling social media.  Here are some of our strategies to keep everything on track.

Pick a schedule and stick to it.

Our general schedule is to post reviews on Mondays, Thursdays, and Saturdays.  We used to do memes like Top Ten Tuesday when we first started out, but have since stopped, leaving room for other days to have discussion posts and recommendation lists, or more reviews if we have them.  Having this schedule means we don’t have to spend time figuring out how or when to post.  We simply fill in the dates with posts as we write them.

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Fill in the most important dates.

To make it easier to stay ahead, however, we don’t typically fill in the schedule one week at a time.  Instead, we schedule weeks ahead.  For instance, we might fill in all the Mondays and Thursdays with reviews first.  If we have a several discussions ready, we’ll start filling in all the Tuesdays.  This has two advantages.  The first is that, should we find ourselves unable to post for awhile, we have content scheduled to go up for weeks, not just one week.  The second is that this leaves us room to add in time-sensitive posts.  We can fill in empty days with reviews for new releases, ARC reviews that need to be posted at a certain time, etc.

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Look ahead to events and holidays.

When we know we want to do an event (such as our celebrations of L. M. Montgomery and William Shakespeare) or recognize a season or holiday, we save posts for those events.  For instance, we typically feature reviews of spooky stories in October.  However, we don’t read all those books at once.  Instead, if we read a spooky book a few months in advance, we just schedule the review for October.  Then, we don’t have to rush to find and read ghost stories suddenly when fall comes around.

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Keep running lists.

Sometimes Briana and I have ideas about lists of recommendations we could post, such as YA books featuring male protagonists or YA books with little to no romance.  However, we may not have ten titles to recommend at the time we have the idea.  So we create a draft and add titles to it as we read them.

What are some of your strategies for success?

7 Ways to Revive Old Blog Content and Drive Traffic to It

How to Revive Old Blog Posts and Get New Traffic

If you’ve been blogging a while, you probably have content you posted months or years ago that you think it is awesome and valuable to readers but that hasn’t gotten much traffic since you initially posted it.  That’s always disappointing, so here are some ways you can try to bring visitors back to your old blog posts!

1. Share on Social Media

The fastest way to remind people of old posts is to promote them on social media: add links to the posts on Facebook and Twitter.  Keep in mind, however, that the engagement with such links might be low, so be strategic about picking posts that have engaging headlines or interesting graphics that might get readers to click the link and go to your blog.

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2. Share on Pinterest

Sharing old posts on Pinterest has been one of the most effective strategies for me personally.  Making a new Pinterest-friendly graphic and promoting the post on Pinterest can open your blog up to new visitors, particularly if you pick posts on topics that are things people tend to search.  (For instance, discussion posts and book reviews often work less well on Pinterest than lists and “how to” posts.)  You can read more about my advice on Pinterest here.

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3. Link Back to Old Posts

If you write a post that’s related to an older post or reference an idea from an older post, be sure to link back to it!

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4. Do a Post Round-Up

You can also write posts that are just round-ups of posts on similar topics.  For instance, you can do a post of featuring your “best blogging advice” or “every post I wrote on Harry Potter last year.”

For instance, we did a round-up of blogging advice to help readers start the new year.

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5. Write a New Post on a Similar Topic

If you had a great idea that you still have more to say about, write a new post AND link back to the old one!

For instance, we’ve written about:

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6. Update Old Content

Finally, if  you’re trying to drive traffic to old blog content, make sure it’s worthwhile for your readers.  Check the blog post and see if you can make any updates.  This could mean expanding the content of the post itself to make it more useful or more in-depth, or it could mean reformatting the post to make it more readable, adding images, updating the title to be more engaging, or improving the SEO.

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7. Make Sure You Have Archives

Listing all your reviews or all your discussion posts or all your blogging advice in one place helps readers access it and find some of your new content on their own.

4 of the Most Important Things I Learned about Using Pinterest to Get Blog Traffic

4 Ways to Use Pinterest Marketing to Get Blog Traffic

I noted in January that one of my blog goals for 2019 (actually my only goal) was to start using Pinterest more to actually drive traffic to my blog.  I’ve had a Pinterest account for years but always assumed that the site was better suited to things like cooking, lifestyle, parenting, etc. and that getting traffic to a book blog from Pinterest was probably not going to happen. (Here are the initial five steps I took to improve my Pinterest profile.) Now that we’re a couple months into 2019 and my Pinterest experiment, here’s what I learned about using the site and what seems effective–or not.

You can follow Pages Unbound on Pinterest by clicking here.

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1. Vertical Pins Do Best

This is obvious, and you will find this advice on any post about how to succeed at using Pinterest, but since I wasn’t focused on pinning my posts for a number of years, many of our posts did not have Pinterest-optimized images.  This included anything from lists and dicussions (horizontal headers) to reviews (square Instagram images).  I had to make new, vertical graphics for any post that I wanted to add to Pinterest AND delete any old, non-vertical pins from my existing boards.  A lot of book bloggers also do not have vertical, pinnable images on their posts, and best practices for Pinterest suggests that you do not pin others’ graphics if they aren’t good for Pinterest either.

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2. Book Reviews Get Some Traffic–But Not a Lot

You can post book reviews to Pinterest, and they do get a small amount of traffic. Lovely Audiobooks even started a group board specifically for book bloggers to share book reviews that you can join to promote your reviews.  However, book reviews do not get as much traffic as other book-related posts, so if you’re just getting started out on Pinterest, I would suggest focusing on other content before reviews.  If you do want to promote your reviews, consider using a Canva template that you can quickly customize for each review, instead of simply posting the book cover as your pin.  Here’s what I use:

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3. The Most Successful Posts Are Ones that Are Already Getting Search Engine Hits

Reviews don’t necessarily do as well as other posts because, as people have pointed out, Pinterest is more of a search engine than a social media site.  Users log onto Pinterest often looking for specific things, like recommendations for recipes, make-up tutorials–or lists of books to read.  This means that if you have a post that is currently getting good traffic from Google, it will probably also get good traffic from Pinterest if you promote it correctly.  Lists of books and blogging advice (or reading advice like how to read more or read quickly) will probably do well.  This does mean, however, that discussion posts–which tend to generate a lot of traffic on book blogs–might not get a lot of traffic from Pinterest simply because the topic might not be one that users are actively searching.  Here is an example of a pin that did well for us:

If You like this classic, read this middle grade book

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4. Pins with Lots of Book Covers Do Well

Finally, I learned that pins with lots of book covers tend to do better than pins with a single large image.  People like books lists.  This also, unfortunately, means that our branded Pages Unbound pins in purple and gray don’t always do as well as I’d like, so I often make a couple pin options to see what will do better.  For example, the pin with the covers performed better than our original heading image with just a background picture of a hobbit hole:

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Discuss!

Do you use Pinterest, either for your blog or for personal use? What kinds of pins do you post? What types of pins do you find yourself drawn to saving/repinning?

Briana