Wednesday, May 23, 2012

If BooksYALove started today... (reflective) - blogging lessons learned in a year

old catalog drawing of manual typewriter
Not my typewriter.
Today, the 2012 WordCount Blogathon theme asks us to consider what we'd do differently with our blogs: “If I started blogging today I would….”

Hmmm... I'd compare WordPress and Blogger more closely before deciding which one to use. I started BooksYALove just hours before the 2011 Blogathon began, so I went with Blogger where I already had a personal blog for an online technology update course and it was a snap to add another blog. 

From reading other bloggers' experiences with plugins, going to self-hosted blog platform, etc., it sounds like WordPress has an edge over Blogger once it's time to take off the blogging-training-wheels. But I have gotten used to Blogger's interface (even when it changed right in the middle of a blog challenge for me) and really like the theme colors and layout that I selected, so I'm staying with Blogger for now. 

I wish I'd had enough time and confidence to register my domain name from day one so that all my outreach, publicity, and business cards had pointed to that web address from the very start. I probably will go self-hosted soon to give me more control over my own writings, since BooksYALove is meant to be a searchable archive of great books for young adult book fans.

Some things that I wouldn't change: I was immensely fortunate in finding my first choice of blog name available; the "YA" in the middle can mean "young adult" which is the book category that I cover or "ya" like the casual "you" since I'm writing recommendations directly to young adult book readers (rather than to librarians or those who purchase books for others).  And every book has to be one that a significant group of readers will love - I don't review every YA book that I read - so only the books that would rank 4-5 stars get the nod for BooksYALove. 

During my first month of blogging in May 2011, I settled on a blog format that suited my writing style, taking some of my YA recommendations posted on Barb Langridge's website and adding commentary with relevant subject links. Since I hate reading reviews that give away the ending or significant plot twists, I vowed to never do that to my readers - so, no spoilers, ever!

Longtime followers/subscribers have probably noticed some stylistic changes on BooksYALove in recent weeks, as I adjusted font sizes for better readability, added a new logo and blog background (courtesy of my talented daughter, the graphic designer), and started some easy-click book lists in tabs at the top of the page.

And I'll continue to participate each May in WordCount Blogathons, where I've found community (some of us posted in the Blogathon GoogleGroup for an entire year, not just the month of May!), advice, support, and the spark that set me off on this blogging adventure in the first place. Thanks, Michelle & the whole Blogathon crew!

(clipart of antique typewriter courtesy of Florida Center for Instructional Technology, University of South Florida)


  1. Such a good point about Blogger vs. WordPress. I agree, but so far Blogger has been pretty good to me.

    And I LOVE your blog's name. Glad you got that one!

  2. Same here, don't like that new Blogger interface either, but it seems all the various social media platforms like to change interfaces now and then. I hate the new Facebook one even more. At least on Blogger I can find stuff. Love our background!

    1. If I could just get into the "guts" of Blogger html a bit more to fix that darn gadget-spacing issue; it's somewhere in the Mobile section, but regular section for editing html won't show it so I can fix it... maybe when I go self-hosted on my own site (scary!) it'll look right.

      Getting used to the new Blogger interface - it is nice that it will add the 'target blank' to links for me instead of me having to do it each time.

  3. Replies
    1. Thanks! I was really happy that my designer-daughter could get at least one of our cats into the logo - they "help" me write all the time!

  4. The name is great...and I love the subject.


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