My Five Favourite South African Book Bloggers

I have always been fascinated with bloggers. These were people who knew the magical language of HTML and coding and they created gorgeous websites/blogs. They were so talented! When I started my own blog however, I felt incredibly lonely. I felt like I couldn’t relate to those bloggers. I was a South African student who did nothing but read while those bloggers attended sample sales and blogged about designer planners. So when I discovered South African book bloggers, I was over the moon! Finally after years of searching (three years, if you were curious), I finally found people who got me. Here are my five favourite South African book bloggers:

Life is too short to belived counting the years.Enjoy the ride and makeamazing memories.Have a great birthday!

 

  1. Urbanised Geek– Urbanised Geek has to get the first mention because back when I first started reading YA, I read whatever it was that Monique recommended. Also, she was the reason that I read The Lunar Chronicles and I would gladly sell an organ or three to own the entire collection in hardback. I loved the series that much.
  2. The Book Fairy’s Haven– The Book Fairy’s Haven is run by Tammy February who is a journalist for W24 and she REVIEWS BOOKS FOR A LIVING! Her blog has lots of great content such as interviews, book reviews and great posts but occasionally I visit just to admire the design (it’s decorated in faeries. Can someone please do that for me but with vampires instead?).
  3. Read and Seek- Blogger Nihaad originally had another blog (I think it was called The Little Blog of Stuff? I’m not sure but I absolutely loved that name) and I followed her over from that previous blog. She regularly posts discussions and book reviews. She also has a gorgeous Instagram feed.
  4. Under the Midnight Sky– I don’t remember how I came across this blog (I think Twitter perhaps?) but I know I’ve taken more than a few book recommendations from Abdeah (my favourite being Divergent- until I read a spoiler for Allegiant- and The Wrath and The Dawn). Abdeah also has a great Instagram feed with a ridiculously amazing set of props (she has what looks like a sword, guys. I’m equal parts terrified and fascinated).
  5. A Write Review– I don’t think I’ve read any of the books that Tina blogs about but she blogs about really great books. I basically follow her just to see what I should be reading when my TBR is shorter (so those are books I’m never going to read?)

Who are your favourite book bloggers? I’d love to know below.

Things I Wish I Knew Before I Started Book Blogging

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1) The Book Blogging Community is Really Welcoming: It never fails to amaze me how supportive and friendly book bloggers are. They’re always ready to lend a helping hand.

2) How Time-Consuming It Is: You need to read a book, draft a review, edit a review, post a review and still ensure you’re publishing bookish content that isn’t only book reviews. Excuse me while I go take a nap. That sentence tired me out.

3) Free Books are a Thing In South Africa: South African publishers give out review copies. Up until recently I had no idea that was a thing. Being a book blogger, this would have been great to know but hey better late than never. If you’re interested, Kat Silver wrote a really helpful article on requesting review books here

4) Book Blogging is Really Expensive: Domain and hosting, data, buying books, etc. Blogging on it’s own has some sort of expenses (internet connection, camera, etc) but as a book blogger I feel like I absolutely have to have every interesting book that I come across. I don’t just want to have a book for me but my blog needs it too.

5) Not All Books Are Great: You guys! This was a major shock to me. I generally read books I know I’ll like so I pretty much love every book I read. However as a book blogger, I’ve discovered some books that are really bad. It physically pains me because how can a book be bad? Books are my one true love. Just not all books like I once thought.

 

What do you wish you knew before you started blogging (as a book blogger or any other blogger?) I’d love to know.

How to Balance Your Blog with College

College is hard. Being a college student with a blog is infinitely harder. However with some handy tricks you can learn to balance your blog with college.

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1) Schedule everything- You might have noticed by now that I’m a huge fan of planners and to-do lists. Scheduling your commitments ensures you don’t forget them and are aware of them long before they occur. Write down both your college deadlines and important blog post dates. For me every Friday I write a Fiction Friday post so I write this in my diary.

2) Work in advance- Do things before they’re due. Write a few posts before they’re due to be published and queue them up. I usually write an entire week of post on the first day of the month and then work from there.

3) Delegate work- Ask for guest bloggers to post on your blog or ask a friend to help you study when college gets overwhelming.

4) Combine the two- Blog about your college experience. I especially like this option because anyone who is/has been in college can relate to the stress of it.

What are your tips for balancing college and a blog?

Why You Should Start a Blog in College

Okay, I know I might be a bit biased but I really believe that starting a blog is ALWAYS a good idea. Starting a blog in college is like the best idea. Here’s why:

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1) You have a record of your college experience- College is not something that is forever (honestly I wouldn’t want it to be either). A blog is a great way to keep track of your college experience. It’s been two years but I still like to read and reread the horror of my first year. I like looking back and marvelling at how things have changed.

2) You gain writing experience- You’re probably wondering why do you need writing experience. Well if you’re a student of humanities chances are that you’re going to be writing essays. Knowing how to write well is a great advantage to have in college. There have been so many occasions when I had no idea what I was saying in an essay but I managed to scrape together a pass.

3) You gain friends- blogging is a great way to make friends. You find people who are going through the same things as you. Being a college blogger allows you to meet other stressed college students who you can share your woes with.

4) You get a portfolio of writing pieces- if you’re interested in a job that involves writing, starting a blog is a good place to begin. You can gain writing clips simply by writing on your blogs. Some paying jobs actually look for blogging experience.

Do you have a college blog? What’s your favourite blog to read? I’d love to know!

Why You Should Consider Self-hosting Your Blog

It’s been two months since I took the leap and bought myself a domain and hosting. Once the initial thrill wore off though, I was incredibly proud of myself. Self-hosting with Elitehost.co.za has been such a pleasure (but we’ll get to that some other time). Self-hosting is a great idea for several reasons.

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1) You have greater control over your blog- You can have ads (and control the ads that appear on your page) as well as write sponsored content which some blog hosts don’t allow.

2) Plug-ins galore- there’s a plug-in for everything. Stopping spam, managing SEO, Pinterest, torturing your jackass ex. Okay that last one is still a work in progress but there’s no end to the amount of fun stuff available for a self-hosted blog.

3) It looks more professional/People take you more seriously- sadly people tend to find self-hosted blogs and their bloggers as more serious about blogging. I hate this stereotype (especially since I know so many great blogs that aren’t self-hosted) but it’s difficult to combat. Also I kinda like seeing co.za in my blog url (does that make me sound as vain as I feel?)

Is your blog self-hosted? Why or why not? Feel free to let me know if you need more information on hosting. I’m happy to (try and) help.

Advice for Teen Writers

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As a teen I always wanted to share with others what I’ve learnt about writing. Now at twenty (excuse me a minute while I have a small freak-out about my age), I feel I’ve gain enough experience and maturity to offer advice to teen writers. So here I go:

1) A Writer is Someone Who Writes- For the past three years I haven’t written any complete novels. I have however written mediocre and excellent essays, blog posts and online articles. My point is this- you’re not a writer unless you write. You don’t even have to be published. As long as you write you are a writer. (Sorta like how if you kill someone you’re a murderer).

2) Write everything and anything- write whatever you can. Above all, write what makes you happy. This allows you to see what kind of writing you’re good at and what you enjoy. Maybe you’ve got the skills to be the next Enid Blyton. Maybe you’re the next horror movie director. Perhaps you’re just an ordinary teen who hates high school. Bam! You have a novel ready and waiting. Everyone hates high school.

3) Be prepared for rejection- this is very very important. Writers face rejection every day. We have our work rejected by publishers, magazines, etc. I’ve had two of my novels turned down. And while the first novel was horrible, both weren’t turned down because of my writing. They were turned down because there was no market for what I was writing.

4) Haters gonna hate- *sighs* there is no way I can say this without sounding like a conceited ass but I will try. People will discourage you. Be it because of the belief that “writers don’t make much money” (true but I’m assuming you’re writing because you enjoy it) or simply because of jealousy, you’re going to have to deal with people trying to stomp your dreams into pieces. Don’t let them. You do you! (Also if this happens and you need someone to talk to, email me! This is not a joke. I’ve had to put up with this for years. Sadly it doesn’t get better).

5) Write Online- The internet is your friend. It makes publishing super-easy. You can submit work to websites, publish ebooks or fanfiction and start a blog to display all your work. Starting a blog also allows you to have a collection of pieces to show off. Ta-da you’re a writer with published pieces. Good for you!

6) Write Often- I’m not going to say everyday because that’s going to be difficult. However it is incredibly important that you write regularly. I stopped writing during eleventh grade to focus on school. It took me two years to start again. So write. Write on napkins, on your phone, on the cover of your Maths book. Just write.

7) Live- this is very very important. Do not lock yourself up in your room to write 24/7. Yes it’s fun to escape into another world but you NEED the real world. How else would you gain experience and ideas for your stories? While I regret my two year hiatus from writing, some of my greatest memories and plotlines were drawn from that time.

Lastly and most importantly- okay equally important as living- be sure to have fun. Writing doesn’t have to be serious. In fact it’s better if it’s not. Trust me, college has enough serious writing waiting for you. Have fun with your writing. It’s an entire world that you created. It’s almost magical.

Why Your Blog Needs a Business Plan

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Whether you’re blogging for fun or to make some extra cash, you NEED a business plan. It’s like a road map for your blog and it’s so helpful!

Why I Created a Business Plan
The first person to take my blog seriously was my uncle. He was also the one who suggested I draw a business plan. I thought he was crazy because why did I need a business plan? Except I did. My blog was a mixture of book reviews, college posts, fashion and me ranting about stuff. My blog needed direction. Creating a business plan helped me decide precisely what I wanted out of my blog. As a result I was rewarded with greater opportunities and page views.

Why You Should Create a Business Plan Too
Creating a business plan allows you to see where your blog is and where you want it to go.
By writing everything down you’re able to see if there’s any gaps or mistakes you’ve made and how to rectify them. My business plan allowed me to see that I knew nothing about stock photos and if I really wanted to be taken seriously as a blogger, I needed more content and less “me using my blog as a diary”.
I strongly suggest that you create a plan regularly to ensure that you’re on track with your plan. I revise my business plan every three months just to keep it fresh and relevant.
The business plan of someone blogging for fun will obviously differ from the plan of someone blogging to make money but you can see how to create a business plan here

Finding Pictures for Blog Posts

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When I first started blogging I had no pictures in my posts. I didn’t think I needed them- I cared more about my words than the way they looked. I also had no idea where to get photos from. If you’ve had issues finding pictures for your blog posts this is for you.

1) Take Your Own- People always say that you should take your own pics. But how do you know precisely what pics you need? If you’ve been blogging long enough you know a certain type of picture is what you need. For me, it’s always pictures of notebooks or technology. Play it safe and take a picture of anything that looks appealing if you think you can use it in your blog posts.

2) Death to the Stock Photo- Subscribe to stock photo sites and you’re certain to get monthly collections of photographs. I love that Death to the Stock always has a theme for their collection.

3) Picjumbo- Picjumbo gives photos every few days and they occasionally allow you access to their premium packs. Their photos are of high-quality and always have a theme depending on the time of the year.

4) Canva- There is no end to what you can do with Canva. Use it to create social media banners, blog posts, infographs or printables.

5) Picmonkey- Picmonkey was the first experience I had with pictures and editing. It was definitely my favorite. Edit your pics to make you look like a vamp, create a colourful picture or customise a card. All you need to join is an email address.

How do you get pictures for your blog?

Webinars: Yay or Nay?

I don’t attend webinars. The idea of sitting still to listen to someone over the internet reminds me of a virtual classroom. Sure there’s always interesting webinars on writing or social media but they’re either scheduled at an extremely inconvenient time or I don’t have data (story of my life). Yesterday a member of the Her Campus Blogger Network- now called the Influence Her Collective- invited me to a webinar on gaining your pageviews. I attended but honestly it was more to support the blogger than anything else.
The webinar was hosted by Morgan, the blogger behind Mostly Morgan. It was super-informative. I was delighted to learn more about SEO (which I knew nothing about) and promoting your blog. Morgan made several helpful points. I also loved that her webinar was at such a reasonable hour (8PM South African time instead of 2AM like most webinars).
I’m so glad I attended and I will definitely be paying more attention to webinars from now on.