Tag: Blogging

5 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Start a Book Blog

I love my blog. Usually. Sure there are some moments when I’m stumped for content ideas and want to tear my hair out but most of the time I am pretty proud of what I have created. That being said, book blogging always feels like something I fell into rather than consciously going into. And with my years of experience I want to share 5 reasons why you SHOULDN’T start a book blog.

  1. Free Books– First and foremost. Free books. Whenever I mention I have a blog, the first thing people want to know is if I get free things. In fact I remember drawing out plans for a book blog back in ninth grade before an exam with the sole intention of getting free books. The blog never even got started but don’t be that person. Getting free books for a blog is so far off in the future that you are better off not starting a blog at all.
  2. It is hard work– Coming up with content is tough especially if you’re looking for non book-reviews content. Yes your blog can focus on just reviews but everyone does that. You want to stand out. You NEED to stand out.
  3. If you’re a bookworm, this is an expensive hobby– Here, ladies and gentleman we have the real reason I fell into book blogging. To justify my bookworm habits. No I’m not obsessive about books and fictional characters. I’m just a book blogger. For the longest while, my book blog was used as an excuse to purchase more and more books. Now I’m sitting with 3 shelves of unread books and instead of reading them, I’m watching Netflix. (They look at me with judgement in their spines and I can’t stand it).
  4. It is incredibly time-consuming– You need to generate content ideas, get graphics, draft posts and edit. Then you need to promote on social media- preferably different platforms so your work gets exposed to a different audience. I’ve been sitting here for two hours just preparing this post (and okay, occasionally checking Whatsapp but my point stands).
  5. There can be some ugliness– Trolls hating on your feed, copycats duplicating your work and passing it off as theirs and even authors just being downright shady in some cases. Google it. I don’t even want to go there but I remember a story of an author tracking down a book blogger’s physical addreses (What the ACTUAL fudge?)

In life, nothing and no one is perfect. I will always say that you should start a book blog. It’s an amazing experience provided you’re doing it for the right reasons and you know what to expect.

Do you have a book blog? Feel free to leave your link below!

5 Hacks Every Blogger Needs to Know

I miss the days when blogging was just a hobby I had on the side and I could choose how much (or usually, how little) effort I wanted to put in depending on my current workload at uni.

Now that I’ve been blogging for a while and Playground of Randomness seems to be a permanent part of my life, I’ve made it a priority to take it seriously. In doing so, there are lots of little tricks I use to blog more efficiently. Here are 5 hacks that every blogger should know:

1) Batch your work– Whether it’s generating ideas or creating graphics, make sure to batch your work so that you’re doing it all at once. I used to think of an idea, create the graphic and then write the blog post. Let me tell you- that got old FAST. It is far more efficient (not to mention easy) if you do similar tasks together.

2) Set up a system to respond to emails– I usually only reply to emails between 8AM and 5PM because those are my working hours. I also only ever reply to emails from work and usually from my cellphone (I am really lazy when it comes to switching the laptop on for anything that isn’t writing-related). If you are not swamped with too many emails, load your blog email on your phone or tablet so that you can reply to mails while you are on the go.

3) DO spend time on social media– A large portion of blogging is about writing but an even larger portion is about promotion. Put in the time and effort to promote your blog on social media. It will help you find new readers for your blog.

4) Have a content notebook– Have a notebook or an app where you can list content ideas. This helps if you ever get stuck with thinking about what to blog. This also helps you with deciding what content to publish when.

5) Use Google Analytics– I only learnt about Google Analytics when I signed up for a Digital Marketing course a year back. But from my very first second, I was glued. It was like magic. Google Analytics shows you what your readers are interested in so you can create the content that they want to read.

What other blogging hacks do you use? I’d love to know below.

Why You Should Consider Self-hosting Your Blog

It’s been two years since I took the leap and bought myself a domain and hosting. Till today, I still believe that this was the best decision I had ever made. Here are some reasons why you should consider self-hosting your blog if you haven’t already.

Laptop and cellphone

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 plug-ins 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. It makes ME feel professional.

Is your blog self-hosted? Why or why not? I’d love to know your views on hosting.

5 FREE Sources for Pictures for Your Blog

Laptop and notebook

When I first started blogging I had no pictures in my blog 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- It’s your blog and no one know better than you what pictures you need. The easiest way to get pictures that you need is to take your own. However, keep in mind that you need great lighting and a good quality picture. I know nothing about photography so I always rely on websites instead. Also I really don’t trust my photo skills.

2) Death to the Stock Photo- Death to the Stock photo provides you with monthly photo collections based on a theme. Most of my pictures are from their site.

3) Picjumbo- Picjumbo provides you with new photos every few days and they occasionally allow you access to their premium packs. Their photos are of a high-quality and always have a theme depending on the time of the year. Need a Christmas or Easter-themed photo? They have you covered!

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. I especially like using Canva to add text to my pictures from Picjumbo or Death to the Stock Photo.

5) Pexels- I LOVE LOVE LOVE Pexels. Simply type in what you’re looking for in the search(e.g, a picture of a laptop) and pick from one of their many choices.

How do you get pictures for your blog? Have you tried any of the above sites? I’d love to know below.

5 Productive Things to Do While Looking for a Job

Job-hunting is difficult. It is even more difficult when you’re unemployed and have nothing to distract you from job-hunting. Here are five productive things to do while you’re looking for a job.

5 Productive Things to Do While Looking for a Job

 

1) Volunteer somewhere- This shows that you haven’t just spent your time as a job-seeker at home. You made a meaningful change. Also, staying at home can get depressing so volunteering lets you make a positive change to someone which in turn makes you feel better. It also looks great when you can show that you did something productive without needing to get compensated in any way.

2) Learn a new skill- There are so many amazing online classes out there. I found some on Criminology and Management only to be distracted by the free Microsoft tutorials offered on the Microsoft Office website. (Fun fact- after I finished the Microsoft Excel tutorials I actually ended up getting a job that used Excel regularly).

3) Take time to perfect your resume and cover letter- A great thing about not having a job is that you have lots of time. Spend some of that time on tailoring your resume and cover letter for each position. This will maximize the impact of your application as well.

4) Network to get a job- Talk to people you know to see if they know anyone who is hiring. This was one of the best ways that I could get my CV out there and I definitely recommend it to others. You never know who knows who and where you could land up.

5) Take unpaid work or an internship – While working for no pay is not something most people want to do, sometimes the experience and lessons learnt are invaluable. You could learn skills that could be put to use in another field.

These tips are sure to help you be super-productive and ready to kick butt at your next interview.

How I Schedule My Blog Posts

I’m sitting here with a cup of coffee that I have heated up for the third time this morning. This is also my third attempt at drafting this post. It has been getting harder and harder to get time to write blog posts since I started work. I think I have some sort of system going now. It is by no means perfect but I’m sharing it in the hopes that maybe it’ll help you.

Person with laptop

1) Generating Ideas:

I use Trello and OneNote to keep track of my blog post ideas. I basically just make a list of blog ideas in Trello and then expand on them in OneNote. I know I can write the entire blog post out on a Trello card but I am just more comfortable using OneNote. I write down ideas as soon as they come to me so that I don’t forget them. I also use a regular planner so that I can see in print when I want to schedule my posts.

2) Actually Writing the Posts:

Like I said above, I usually use OneNote to write down the blog post. On occasion, I do write the blog post on WordPress. WordPress is my last stop before actually publishing so I make sure that I edit the post here before publishing it. I write blog posts every Saturday or every spare moment I can get.

3) Getting images:

In my opinion, this is where the magic begins. In the last week of the month, I spend an hour or two on Canva, creating images for my blog posts. I know that I usually have a TBR, Book Haul and four book reviews. While the book reviews don’t need any images, the TBR and book haul posts do so these are easy to create. I also use my Trello list of blog ideas to see what blog posts I’m writing for the month and then create those posts.

4) Publishing and Promoting:

In the first week of the new month (eg, first week of October), I combine my blog draft with the Canva images. Voila! A blog post. I read through the post to make sure it reads well, I add the relevant tags and publish. I try and make sure that at the very least, I have four book reviews for the month already queued. Then I use Buffer to schedule social media posts for the week. Honestly I usually just do this the first week and then forget the rest of the month. (Hey, I am trying here. Like I pointed out above, finding time to blog is TRICKY!). On the day that a blog post is published, I promote it on Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest. I repeat this a week or two later.

My process is not perfect and sometimes I do fall behind. Okay, lots of times. But I’m working on it and I found that having an actual process in place makes it easier to blog. How do you schedule your blog posts? I’d love to know below!

My Favourite Blogging Apps

I love blogging apps. They make it so easy to create posts, edit pictures and blog on the go. This is great since I don’t have to be attached to the computer 24/7 in order to create content.Here are some of my favourite blogging apps:

My Favourite Blogging Apps

 

  1. JotterPad- I love using Jotterpad to jot down ideas or drafts for blog posts. I have a memo pad app on my phone but there’s just something about Jotterpad that I love when it comes to taking down quick notes. I also use JotterPad for non-blog notes such as phone numbers, lists or reminders.
  2. Trello- I use Trello to keep track of my social media and editorial calendar. I occasionally also use it to track my reading and book reviews. The Trello Android app now has the Calendar Power-Up which makes it even more   effective for blogging. It also makes using Trello as an editorial calendar SO much easier
  3. Pixlr- I don’t always edit pictures on my phone but when I do, I use Pixlr. This is mainly because when I first started adding pictures to post, I used Pixlr and the habit stuck with it. I’m just really comfortable with it and hey, if it isn’t broke why fix it?
  4. WordPress- For some reason the WordPress app on my phone does not let me blog but I use it to reply to             comments and check my blog stats. This is probably my least favourite app on my phone even though         WordPress is my favourite blogging platform.
  5. Pinterest- I love Pinterest for tips on blogging, sharing my own blog posts and to keep up with friend’s blogs. I feel like you can find anything and everything on Pinterest. It’s like a visual Google.

Blogging would definitely be far more difficult without these apps. What are some of your favourite blogging apps? I’d love to know below.

 

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?

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