Thursday, July 11, 2013

Book Girls Don't Cry: What I Look For In a Blog

Inspired by Book Buzzers, Book Girls Don't Cry is a weekly feature where we each discuss/vent/advise on the chosen weekly bookish topic. Don't miss Jenni on Mondays, and Amy on Saturdays:

Be attractive, baby! *winks*

Most people will start a blog because they want to share their opinion, so it's important that your blog (design, content etc) attracts readers. What you should really aim for are regular visitors as they're the ones who are your loyal blog supporters and readers. How do you get people to come back? After visiting tons of blogs in my 2 years of blogging - and even before - I've seen it all, and some things will attract me to come back, other things will make sure I never do.

How to attract readers:
  • Content! I like content that is a mix of interesting bookish things, though as I prefer reading reviews I'm attracted to blogs who post at least 2-3 reviews every week - to me reviews are the raison d'ĂȘtre of book blogging. I also enjoy discussion posts and some memes (I like Top Ten Tuesday, WoW, and STS). I think the key for memes is moderation; if a blog only has meme after meme after meme, it gets boring and lacks personality. Content should also show effort and that you care about what you're sharing.

  • An attractive design! This doesn't mean you have to pay an arm and a leg for a designer, in fact a lot of simple designs that take minimal effort can be very nice. I guess I should say more "a design that doesn't give people headaches". Firstly, white on black is hard on the eyes and while I won't not read a white on back text, I won't read a lot of it. I can't. It physically hurts my eyeballs! I also find it hard to read when the fonts are way too fancy (usually hard to read) or bright colors. No one likes to read bright lime green text!

  • Clean sidebar! This is a huge pet peeve of mine but I can't stand when things are all over the place on a sidebar. Similar go together!! For instance, a Facebook icon that is at a totally different place from the Twitter icon irks me (and this is something I deal with daily when visiting for tours), it makes it so hard to find you online which is how you make blog friends and connections! And if you're going to put buttons of blogs you like, why not put em together? One here, one over there, another one randomly on top of everything makes no sense, and if you don't make sense I'm not interested in figuring you out. Moving on, sidebar widgets like moving cats or fish-tanks have a sole purpose of making a site slow to load. Those book countdown widgets, too, can slow your site down tremendously if you have more than a couple. This reminds me, I went to a blog once that had a Hunger Games countdown with sound effects and I almost shat my pants - yeah I didn't go back there. My point: Keep your sidebar clean, logical, and to the point!

  • Socialize! Who wants to talk to a wall? Well aside from Facebook? No matter how nice your design looks or how good your content is, if you don't show you care or even notice people are visiting, they're likely to stop coming. If you get a comment, you should reciprocate, especially if the person is a regular commenter. If someone asks a question, reply direct or via Twitter - that's just common courtesy. I know some recommend replying to every comment but in my opinion 1) if you've got  the native Blogger commenting people don't get notified of your reply so I never saw the point (unless they asked a question and thus are likely to come back to check) and 2) a lot of people will appreciate comment backs more than a generic reply if you don't really have anything to add, so I prefer commenting back on their blog instead. I also like people who show an online presence on Twitter; that is how I made almost all of my blogging friends. It's how you really get to know and connect with them, and you get a bigger grasp at their personality. I'm not saying you have to be constantly on Twitter chatting about, but it's good to show your face every day or 2 - and if someone @'s you, reply!

Those are the main things that will be deciding factors on who will appear in my favorite list in Bloglovin and Feedly ;)

What do YOU look for in a blog?
What makes you come back, or run away?

We're looking for topic suggestions for future BGDC posts! What would YOU like to discuss (can be anything from vents to advice)?
Leave a suggestion via this short form!

You know you love me!
Xoxo, Book Girl!


  1. OMG. Dude you have me cracking up right now. A Hunger Games countdown that has sound effects? HOLY COW WUT.

    I agree with pretty much everything you said there. I have visited a number of blogs that have sidebars that take forever to load as there's no much junk on them. Drives me nuts.

    I also look for a blog that comes out with posts frequently- there are a few I love that don't have many posts as I'm close with them on Twitter or just like stalking their reviews. But on whole, the lack of posts can sometimes show lack of dedication in blogging.

    The main thing that readers may find a little annoying on my blog is the white on purple. Not sure if it is an issue or not but when I make the move to Wordpress- which I believe is right after you- I'll see if u can get a more manageable background.

    Fantastic post as always, Giselle! <33

  2. Ugh, blogs with widgets that have sound are the worst. Basically, any blog should never have sound or music in the background haha, especially if you can't turn them off.

    For me what keeps me coming back to a blog first and foremost, I need to like the vibe I'm getting from this blog. It's not very specific but more like a gut feeling. Then I zoom in on their content and blog design, I don't expect much for the design but something pleasing to the eyes and easy to read. No fancy fonts or neon colours please.

    The networking is also really important too, if a blogger isn't particularly responsive towards getting to know new people and can be a bit of a snob unfortunately, that definitely deters me and I would be more likely to not follow this blogger.

    Great post Giselle :D

  3. LOL! The Hunger Games countdown thing! Haha! I totally understand what you mean. A couple of times I'll visit blogs that have silly background music and obviously I'll automatically mute that crap, but yes it can be shocking when you first hear them.
    I also hate all those Team banners on sidebars. They are so annoying. Countdowns are another no-no for me.

    Twitter has been a huge catalyst for my page views, so yes I completely agree what you said. I'm there most of the time via my phone and it's a lot of fun. I've gotten to know bloggers on a much more personal level like that.

    Anyways, great post, Giselle!

  4. Totally agree -- the blog needs to have interesting content, look good (I like a nice, clean design) and not have sound! Sound sucks on blogs. Oh, and one of my biggest things is INTERACTION! I'm still with Blogger so my replies to comments might get lost but I still try to do it, even if there isn't a question. And I try to visit everyone who comments on my blog (a lot harder when you get a ton of comments per day but I don't so it works for me). After all, what's the point of a book blog if you don't talk to other readers?

  5. Great post! I agree with everything you stated. An overly busy blog gives me a headache and reviews are my fave.

  6. Great post, as always! I agree with pretty much everything you said. I absolutely hate it when blogs take forever to load! And I usually don't see people's replies to comments because I don't go back to the same post (although I will if it was a particularly burning question). The other thing that annoys me a lot is captcha.

  7. THIS POST. Everyone should read it, veteran blogger or not! Content is so important. I can't count the number of times I've seen blogs who only post memes or blog tours. I have nothing against the two, but seriously, if I come across a blog FULL of blog tours (this is a huge pet peeve), it's impossible that I'll stick around and leave comments. Where is the personality? Where is the originality? That's why I prefer reviews and discussion posts, like you. And YES to design. I don't mean to sound mean, but there are so many blogs out there who should really get a makeover. Horrible headers, weird fonts, blaring colors, or a loaded design... those make my head throb, and another reason why I won't be hanging around anymore!

    I also came to realize that the more cluttered up your sidebar(s) is/are, the slower it takes for me to navigate around your blog. It's got something to do with the browser - everything starts to go slow-mo, and that's so frustrating and confusing as well. I agree with the social buttons thing, too. This might sound picky, but I can't stand it when the social buttons are different from each other. I mean, if you want to add something to the sidebar, at least make sure they're similar, right? I don't really mind countdown widgets, but like you said, they do slow down the blog quite a bit.

    You don't know how annoyed I get when I comment on a person's post and A) They don't reply to my comment, or B) They don't return the favor. It's like, hello? Are you there? Sometimes I'm nice and I continue commenting, but after a while, my patience dries up and I go poof.

    Also, Melanie had a great point! I love blogs that post frequently (though not with blog tours or memes, no please) because I know that they're constantly around and that's good.

    Awesome post, chickie!

  8. I totally agree with you about the white font on black background. There are only a few blogs that I visit regularly with blogs like that. It hurts my eyes too. Also if they have really bright background. One was this super bright red and I couldn't stay on the blog very long.

    Oh and the sounds! The Bane Chronicles countdown widget makes a whooshing sound that freaks me out every time! And I haven't encountered it lately, but blog with music. I get too distracted and can't read with a song going.

    I always try to reply to comments too. If not on my blog, I visit the blog of the person who visited or interact on twitter. I haven't been as good about it lately, but I do try.

  9. I have a white grey font on dark background. I tried the white but it hurt my eyes and if it hurt mine then it no doubt would bother others. Font is so important because if people can't read your site they won't bother coming back. I just wish some blogs realized this. I've seen some horrible fonts or even worse a bad font color mixed with teeny tiny font size.

    Great post!

  10. I think I post way too many reviews. But its because I do my best to read the books and spread the word about them. Next month, I'm going to change my blogging schedule around and do more book/issue talk post.

  11. In a blog I hate a dark background, and those widgets with music or sound. Sound sucks on blogs.

    I'm new blogging, so I going to follow your tips, except post at least 2-3 reviews every week because the main purpose of my blog is to improve my english writing, I'm spanish and I'm not used to read in english, for that reason I read very slow in english.

    Great post! :)

  12. Great post Giselle. I am still trying to find a balance between memes & review posts. Last week I barely posted at all and when I did it was one review and 2 memes. This week it's pretty much ALL review except for Friday & Sunday's planned meme posts.

    As for what I look for in a blog,first of all I cannot do black background and white text. It seriously kills my eyes. Lets not talk about when it's a black background with COLORED text.Oh.My.Goodness that blog has pretty much lost me as a visitor right there. Also putting things that go together,together is another thing.I have all the ways to follow my blog in a row because sometimes I go to blogs and they say to follow via whatever thing they are using and I CAN'T FIND IT! Unless they tell you exactly where to look of course.

    I could go on and on but I think I'll stop now.

  13. Great post! Messy layouts and sidebars are huge turnoffs for me. And YES to the countdown with sound effects! I went to a blog once that had one (I believe it was for The Hunger Games, but I could be wrong) that started with a sound of a giant explosion. Giving me a heart attack is not the way to get into my good graces. Just saying.

  14. I think I agree with you on all of your points! The attractive blog is a surprisingly big one. If the that blogger visits me regularly I will visit them back, but my stops will be more brief if their blog is hard on the eyes (like a really dark background), that's for sure.
    I like reviews best as well and the blogs I visit daily post more reviews than anything else. I don't do memes (at least hardly ever) and they aren't real interesting to me, but I don't mind Top Ten Tuesday and Waiting on Wednesday.

  15. Recently visited a blog of a fellow author, only to be greeted with marching music, a slow-loading slideshow, and yellow text on a brown background. It was too much sensory activity all at once. I'm in the midst of rethinking my own blog's simple layout and that was a real "what not to wear" lesson! I know there is a real content vs design dialogue going on with marketing types but if the design doesn't let you see the content, well, the battle is already lost!

  16. I know it's low tech but I love when bloggers leave comments on my blog when I leave comments on theirs. Giselle, you're great at that.

  17. I hate it when a blog has a cluttered sidebar ... especially if I'm trying to figure out how to FOLLOW that blog. Make things easy for your reader!

    One thing that bugs me is colours ... a bright background colour that's hard on the eyes, or text and background colours that just don't work together.

    I think some bloggers are so pressed on making their blog unique, that they forget to make it easy for readers!

  18. Agreed on everything! Socializing is SO important - it's why I try to return as many comments as I can, or visit the blog of whomever is commenting at mine.

    The noise/music widgets make me close out of a blog. There are a couple I used to love visiting, but they started doing that, soooo NOPE. Sorry, not sorry. More time for me to spend a nice blogs I can read without getting a headache. :D

  19. Haha that Hunger Games widget was SO annoying. Several blogs I visit had it installed on the sidebar, and it drove me bonkers! Almost as bad as having an autoplay song. This is what both of those feel like:

    I also hate the cluttered sidebar, it makes it hard to find anything. Also search buttons are so hard to find on so many blogs. Sometimes I'll remember that I read a review ages ago, and I'll want to check up on it before buying a book, but I can't search or even navigate through an archive list to find it. I usually just give up.

    This is a great post, thanks for sharing! :-)

  20. I hate when people's layouts don't let me search through their blogs. "I love this review! Where are the rest? ...seriously, where are the rest?"

  21. I’ve slowly learned through these. I feel like the last one is my toughest one. I don’t have a facebook and didn’t have a twitter until a few months ago. And I don’t really use it. It’s hard to hide twitter at work and even harder to get work done while I’m on it.
    I HATE the blogger commenting system (especially if they have Google +). I love that I can directly reply to blog comments through email on Wordpress.
    The countdown widgets do slow things down a lot and the black background is hard to see.
    Great points!

  22. Sound effects and background music are the worst. I also agree with the overly bright fonts or background; if I have to squint to read your content, I'm not going to be visiting! And I also don't understand why some bloggers make it difficult for people to follow you. I was once on a blog that didn't have ANY follow options at all but kept asking for followers!

  23. I'm not a fan of anything that makes noise, when visiting a blog! Whether it's a countdown widget or an mp3 widget (why is that even needed?). Most recently the Magnus Bane countdown widget really annoyed me and I wouldn't stay on a blog that had that. That's a big no-no for me. The obvious are organized sidebars, visible blog posts and a good content. Also, I like when a person replies back or interact in some way. And another thing that really bothers me is when I can't reply to someone because they have a google + profile and I can't find their blog. I feel so bad that they took their time to comment and now I can't even find them.

  24. I'm pretty much with you on all of that. I can't even find the energy to participate in a million memes. I think that's what happens with blogs like that. They spend so much time working on their memes that they don't have time to read an review. As far as reviews go, I'm not terribly picky about how many someone posts a week. If they post one per week, that's fine with me. They're reading at their own pace, so I'm not complaining. As long as they write reviews with real criticisms and not just "OMG THIS BOOK WAS SO GOOD."

  25. This is such a great post, Giselle! I totally agree with what you said about blogs that post interesting content that's attractive, it's much easier to write comments about stuff that genuinely interests you! Haha, so many people think that in order to have an awesome design (like yours) they have to pay money, but some of my favourite designs are really simple and elegant, and that's all there is to it, really. Aaah I really need to get around to writing more reviews and posts! It's Summer, and I have so much free time, but there's also so many other things to do. >.<

    Thanks for sharing, Giselle, and lovely post!! <3 xx

    BTW I heard you were switching to Wordpress? O.O What brought it on?

  26. YES TO THIS. Except that by the time I realized I shouldn't have put white on black, half of my reviews were highlighted in black ._. #notsmart.

    I HATE sound effect widgets. Sure, they're cool the first time, but by the second or third, I want to rip it our of the screen and throw it at someone.

    And oh God, THE MEMES. Several blogs I followed (once upon a very long time) just did meme after meme with only one review every two weeks. NO TO THIS.

  27. This post is fantastic! Okay, those sound effect widgets are HORRIBLE sometimes, especially if I'm still wearing my headphones for some reason or I have the volume cranked up high on my laptop. I jump right out of my seat! And I totally agree about the sidebar thing... I once visited a blog that had countdowns for books that had been released a year or two ago and it was all cluttered and I just didn't want to look anymore!
    Also, the whole meme thing kills me. I visited this one relatively new blog (4 months or so at the time) and there was two reviews and the rest was memes and book blasts. And a LOT of those. There was not a lot of original content, other than a few of the memes, suppose... It just made me so frustrated!

  28. I definitely like a clean layout, easy-to-find stuff in the sidebar and a good personality and mix of content. I don't mind how often that content's posted though, particularly during holiday season, because a lot of bloggers are working full time and have families. I only tend to UNfollow a blog if they haven't posted for 10 or 11 months and it looks like they've maybe stopped blogging for good. I certainly don't manage to read and review 2-3 books a week any more like I did a few years ago, but I hope that doesn't make my blog unworthy of reading! If I can scroll down a blog's homepage and find a mixture of reviews, book chatter, personal stuff and memes, then I'm happy, whether they post once a week or once a day.

  29. I agree, agree, agree! I can't stand it when I go to a blog and they have crap all over the place! There are a few blogs that are extremely popular and I cannot stand all of the crap they have all over the place long enough to even be on there for longer then 2 seconds! Blick! I love a nice, clean look or at least one that really makes sense. One that makes me crazy lately is that there are a few that have designs that go off of the screen! What is up with that? Why would you want that? Scrolling down forever is bad enough, but scrolling to the side??? Forget it! As far as content goes, I like a nice mixture of memes, personal and book chatter. I do NOT like a ton of jerkish bashing!! There are a few out there who just bash, bash, bash!! How is that ok? Why do they think that's appealing? I truly don't care if they post once a week, or once a day...if they have something I love I might start to even follow them by email. That's the ultimate in love for a blog for me...following by email...I only do that to a select handful.

  30. I agree on all these points. I also want to see your personality depicted in your blog! I think the blogs that I end up visiting on a frequent basis are those I feel a personal connection to, whether I know the author or not, simply because of how the blogger writes, if that makes sense?

  31. I agree with you completely! Socializing is important and it's the most likely way that people will notice you. I don't socialize nearly enough, but I do comment on my favorite blogs often and have built a decent readership (in my eyes) and I know that there are some people who ARE in fact interested in what I have to say and I am interested in what they have to say. I don't follow blogs with crazy designs or the ones with crazy-ass font. Like.. it's seriously disturbing to read anything there. I know I should probably be more active on twitter 'n stuff, but hey! I have school, work, internship, blog, I read, I work out at least twice a week and I want to have some down time with my friends who I've been dissing a lot lately, because you know.. I'm just too damn tired by the end of the day. If I spent every minute w my phone/computer on twitter, I'd have no life outside work, school and blog. But I do manage to have great conversations and discussions with people and I'm happy with that. I don't want to be the top dog (lol) in the blogging world, I do this for myself so I don't find it worrying that I'm not on twitter as much as other people. Anyhow, love your discussion and your thoughts and they're definitely worth considering for every blogger out there since you're not the only one who follows these 'rules':)

    1. You've pretty much summed up everything that I have to say. I'm just a newbie in the world of book blogging and just like any newbie out there, I'm putting my best foot forward to attract readers and followers. And I have to admit that if you try to do all these stuff (twittering, reading, writing the review, blog hopping)simultaneously and piously, I think I'd have drop dead by now. What with school, work, family, pets, review writing,and book reading, I cannot help but sacrifice certain things like twittering, hardcore bloghopping, facebooking with fellow bloggers. I am proud though that I'm able to reply to those who took their time stopping by my blog.

      Thoughts and Pens

  32. Hi Giselle, I really appreciated you writing this article since it really reminded of my gaps as a book blogger. This somehow challenges my time management system as to how I can fit all these things into my IRL schedule without sacrificing something along the way.

    And I can very much relate to what you said in item number 2. It's the reason why I am totally driving myself to nuts in changing my blog layout for countless of times. I can't wait to transfer to Wordpress so I can finally spend for a customized template.

    Thoughts and Pens