What Makes People Come Back to a Blog ?

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Hello guys !

So this post was supposed to go up last week but… if you read last week’s tag post, you know why I went -forcefully- off the grid for a few days. That being said, I’m back and trying to speed schedule posts because Eid is at the end of the week and I’m traveling in a couple of days to my aunt’s house.

Anyway, way to get off topic, Fadwa. When I came back from hiatus I found a few comments from new bloggers asking for advice on how to do the whole blogging thing. Flash news: we’re all winging it. Okay no, more seriously, in my year and a half of blogging, I’ve picked up some tips and tricks that I think could be useful to someone out there. This won’t be the only post of this kind but I don’t know at what rate I will be posting them, it will all depend on inspiration (see, winging it!). But I already have a couple up that I think are somewhat useful:

So, now that that’s said, let’s get on with the post at hand. I want to talk about the things that make us not only follow a blog but also stick to it and keep coming back to read the posts that are put out. This won’t be an all inclusive list and some of these might not work for some people (some of them don’t work for me), but all in all, this is what I’ve seen around. So let’s do it !

Back Blog 1

It doesn’t have to be something fancy or complicated, it just needs to be at your image and not too crowded so that people feel comfortable reading your blog (says the girl with the bright pink blog. Le sigh). You can make it as simple or as elaborate as you like but I’d advise starting simple if you’re new to it, just so that you can pick up some skills (which you’re bound to do) and see what you like and don’t like and THEN you can work on making it into what you want it to be. Speaking from experience, wanting to master it all from the first try get VERY frustrating.

Also, don’t be afraid to experiment, switch things around, see what works best for you. Blog designing isn’t an exact science and no one is going to shun you for wanting to play around with your own blog. I know it sounds daunting and that you want to get everything perfect from first try but none of us have, it took me quite a few tries before getting it the way it is now and really loving it and even then, I still make some small changes from time to time.

Back Blog 2

I don’t do memes anymore because most of them don’t fit my posting schedule and I’m not interested in the ones that do. That being said I’m very very grateful for them because they jump started my blog quite a bit, they were the best way to meet other bloggers and interact with them as well as to fill in my blog with post while I was still trying to figure out who I wanted to be as a blogger. You can find a few meme directories in the first post linked above.

As for tags, they serve the same purpose, tho I still do them from time to time, not nearly as often as I used to (again, I started losing interest) but they’re still fun to do from time to time and have saved my butt from not posting more times than one, so they’re definitely a nice tool to have.

I must admit that this is a double edged sword because they tend to get boring and repetitive so if that’s all that’s on the blog, people may get tired of it and… not come back, which is counter-productive.

Back Blog 3

Don’t be afraid to be yourself, “looks” (read: blog design) can only get you so far and if there’s nothing to back them up, so be as loud as you want to be, as sarcastic as you want to be (believe me, I know) or as quiet, as flowery, as intellectual, as *add adjective that fits you* as you want. Most important is that you. be. yourself. Fangirl all you want, rant all you want, scream all you want, all you need to do is show your likes, dislikes and some traites of your personality, you don’t need to overexpose yourself if you don’t feel comfortable doing so.

I find that my favorite blogs are those that give me a sense of the person writing the posts, and when I read them I can feel that there’s someone behind the screen. This is not as hard as it sounds, most of us do it without realizing it.

Back Blog 4

I know that we’re mostly here as reviewers but we all know (and if you’re a newbie, now you will know) they’re the kinds of posts that get the least engagement out of all types and here’s where I give me two cents about it. So try switching it up with other types that make it easier for people to talk to you, maybe some discussions which can range from serious to hilarious, take your pick, or other original content like character interviews that a couple friends of mine do (Ceillie & Sinead) or branching out of books a bit (the Follow Me Through Morocco series I did a while back, which I might pick back up… someday) or other content that I can’t think of right now because I just had a brain fart.

I know that coming up with these kinds of posts at first seems impossible but as you grow more confident in your blog, the ideas just start popping in your brain? I think? Or you can get inspired from other bloggers but definitely don’t copy. That’s a big no no in the community. And just common sense.

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There’s nothing better than that, because it builds a trust with the reader and they know whatever your post that it *is* your opinion, no one else’s and it wasn’t influenced by anyone or anything. And at the end of the day, if people trust you, they’ll keep coming back to you. Simple math. Also, showing genuine interest in what they think and have to say is important, especially when they comment, I know it’s hard when comments pile up (Lord knows I’ve sucked at it lately) BUT it’s essential that when people take the time to leave a thoughtful comment to answer and show equal interest. This also goes for when they voice concerns about your content (which you can read a more detailed post about here).


That’s it until next time.

What are things that make *you* come back to blogs?What are your favorite kinds of posts?

Hope you enjoyed, write to you soon.

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Do Reviewers have a responsibility towards readers?

Responsibility

Hello Guys !

It’s been SO long since I wrote a discussion post that I’m not sure I know how to navigate them anymore. I DON’T KNOW ANYTHING. That being said, I’ve been meaning to talk about this particular topic since before I went on a hiatus so here goes nothing.

Over the past few months (year-ish?) and the rise of diverse books (it’s really just a tiny rise to be honest, we NEED more of them, so so much more), we started getting the representation we deserve to see and with that we started seeing how flawed and problematic some books we cherished for very long, as well as books who are still coming out, are so we naturally started calling them out and as reviewers, I think that’s the right thing to do (my post about problematic content). And that’s when I realized that having a platform comes with certain responsibilities. And that I needed to move my bum and live up to that, or at least, try my damn hardest to do so.

I want to say that THIS is my own opinion and if you don’t agree with it, don’t bite my head off for it. I feel like this is what I need to do with my blog and if the way you see things is different, you do you and I do me and let’s let each other be happy with what we’re doing.

That being out of the way, here’s what I think comes with having a voice in the community. I’m not saying I’m influencial, but if a review of mine helps one person, I call that a success. I also want to add that this won’t be about writing style, plotting or characterization as it seems that no one has trouble pointing out when those are not so great. Without further rambling, here are the respoinsibilities I feel like I have:

Responsibility 1

Yes this is a no brainer but I feel like sometimes we’re biased. I’ve been guilty of it, multiple times. But we need to do better. I don’t think my favorite author is exempt from criticism, I don’t think my favorite series is, I don’t believe anyone or anything is. If they mess up, you bet I need and will say it in a review. Does that mean I need to hate it now? NO. We all have those books we’re emotionally attached to for one reason or another BUT that doesn’t mean we’re allowed to pretend the issues don’t exist. Because they do. And people can be potentially hurt by them. So I’d rather feel a bit uncomfortable because my favorite isn’t perfect than sit around and watch people who trust my opinion get hurt. That happened to me before. And I felt betrayed.

I know, we’ve all as reviewers, started this journey for ourselves. Or at least, I did. My bio (which is from over a year ago) says it, I wrote that reviewing the books I read “will primarily be to record my thoughts and be able to come back to them whenever I want to” and although this may be true, my priorities have shifted, yes I record my thoughts, and yes they are *my* thoughts so I can come back to them whenever. but as my following grows (which I’m super happy about sobs) and people add books to their TBRS and pick books up because I’ve read and loved them (this legit makes my day and I’m super humbled by it), I realized that it wasn’t just for me anymore and if people actually care about what I have to say, I should care about whether or not a book does them justice.

Responsibility 2

We’re humans, we’re not perfect, we make mistakes. We’re also not part of every group of people that exists, which means that we’re bound to miss things that to us seem “normal” but that might be offensive to the people it actually is about. So that’s when listening comes in. If a person approaches you about one of your glowing reviews telling you that the book isn’t so glowing don’t be offended, it’s not about you, it’s about them, and about the book hurting them.

So listen to what they have to say, no “but I didn’t read it like”, no “but my friend is X so I know what I’m talking about” because that just doesn’t make sense. *You* as a person who isn’t part of a marginalized group can’t know better than a person who is part of it. Real life experiences >>> Text book definitions. Also, there is no such thing as an opinion when it comes to problematic content, because it’s based on facts. You wouldn’t say “well, in my opinion the earth is flat” so you can’t say “I don’t think this is racist” when you’ve never been subject to racism

There’s also the fact that people of a certain group are not a monolith so again, if someone from said group calls out a book don’t reply with “but I know this person who’s also of the same marginalization who’s read it and didn’t think it was problematic” because we all experience things in different ways so we don’t have a right to invalidate someone’s feelings with someone else’s, they’re both valid and should both be acknowledge in your review.

What I do when I realize I messed up and missed a book’s issue is that I go back to my review, change my rating if I feel like the rating isn’t accurate anymore and add an edit at the top with the date and the issue that was brought to my attention and what’s more important is to link to an #ownvoices review written by someone who actually knows what they’re talking about because no matter how extensive my explanation is, it cannot be as accurate as that person’s.

Responsibility 3

I’m a firm believer of messing up. We are allowed to miss problematic content, we aren’t born with the necessary baggage to spot all that’s hurtful and offensive, privilege as well as not being exposed to said marginalization shields us from it. But I also believe you need to learn from it and not makes the same mistake twice, it is your responsibility to do better for the readers who trust you because otherwise it’s safe and honest to say that you could lose credibility with them. If they keep getting hurt by books *you* recommend, they have a right to protect themselves and stop listening to you. Just like you have a right to do the same if someone keeps ignoring your feelings.

I know there are people I trust a lot and other I trust less, several I had to unfollow just because I just didn’t like the way they handled problematic content. So if a person I really do trust tells me X book could hurt you, maybe it’s better for you to skip it, I do and will more often than not. I don’t want “to form my own opinion” at the expanse of mental exhaustion, it’s just not worth my time and energy.

As much as this is a hobby -and yes at the end of the day, I don’t get a cent from it so it *is* a hobby- I think, us reviewers, have a responsibility, a responsibility to protect marginalized readers, especially teen readers from unnecessary hurt. I’d like to believe that they read my reviews because they trust me and I’d like to keep it that way. You may think what I’m saying is too “over the top” or that I should “just chill” because “books are just books” but we all know they’re more than that to people who are as passionate about them as we are.

So if you review books, please read critically as much as you read for enjoyement. Yes, smile, laugh, cry with the book but don’t forget that there will probably be a person who’ll pick it up because of you so, please, make sure it’s safe for them to read.


That’s it until next time.

What do you think a reviewer’s responsibility is? Do you think we should be careful when reviewing and recommending books?

Hope you enjoyed, write to you soon.

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How to Make your Redesign Go Smoothly

blog-talk

Hello guys !

If you’ve been following me for more than three months you know that what my blog is wearing right now is fairly new. While I was working on it, I picked up quite a few tips that were really helpful and made it easier and less stressful for me. So when I got a few questions on my announcement I decided that this was a post that I eventually was going to write. I meant to write it in the month after my redesign, but… other posts got in the way -posts I’m really proud of, just so you know, hehe- and I kept forgetting that this is something I was planning on doing. But fret not, here I am to guide you through your redesign. Or at least, to give you one or two helpful tips.

God knows how stressful changing your entire blog’s look can be. When do I do it? What sources should I use? What layout? What color scheme? How do I go about it? Add to that the fear of messing up a theme that’s been working for so long, most of us shy away from doing anything different. I know I did. The one I had before didn’t really reflect me, it was just something I did to get my blog going and as I learnt new things, I started hating it and even then, I was afraid to change it because I didn’t want it to end up looking worse. But, once I figured some things out, it took a lot of the stress and pressure out of it.

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You know as well as I do that rushed, sloppy work is 90% of the time mediocre. If you give yourself a very short time frame to redesign your whole blog, from A to Z, chances are you’ll get frustrated and won’t be satisfied with the outcome and you’ll have to go back multiple times to fix what you don’t like and what doesn’t work which will take all the fun out of it, it’ll end being a hassle and you’ll hate the new design before you even start using it. This goes hand in hand with doing it when you have plenty of free time. Don’t be like me, don’t do it while you’re preparing for the end of semester exams. I did that, and that added useless stress to days that were already FILLED with it. 100% would not recommend.

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This is probably the biggest one. Make a blog for which the URL would be testyourblogsname.wordpress.com or whatever platform you’re using and make sure to put it on private. You don’t want anyone stumbling upon the ridiculousness that those tests can be sometimes. Anyway, once this idea dawned on me, everything was WAY easier and less stressful because I wasn’t playing around with my actual blog so mistakes didn’t have any impact and I didn’t have to rush and fix them. You can really focus on seeing what works and what doesn’t and take your time to change it. No one will see it. You can also keep it afterwards to see whether posts work with your theme or not.

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What I mean by this is find ONE (1) thing that you love and want to build your blog around, this way you can really focus on it. If you have one too many things, matching them can be forced, if not impossible because a background won’t work for a theme, a layout won’t support some graphics etc… So, is it a background? A layout? A certain type of graphics? Choose one of these that you really love and build the rest around it, you’ll actually enjoy doing that and playing around with colors, fonts and whatnot. I promise. My starting point was -obviously- the background because I fell in love with it and couldn’t NOT use it.

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It’s good to be ambitious and have a pretty good idea of what you want your blog to look like but… if that goes beyond your coding and graphic making skills? You’re set for disappointment. I know 0 things about coding and like 2% of things about graphic making (courtesy of canva) so I kept everything pretty simple and all things around this page are easy to make. But if you actually know what you’re doing, PLEASE GO ALL OUT, I love to look at pretty blogs, and be mesmerized by how the bloggers actually do that, because it’s something I can’t do.

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What I mean here is fonts, color scheme, formatting, etc… I’m not saying that if you don’t do this your blog won’t look good, I know a lot of blogs that don’t do it and are still gorgeous. This is not a matter of how the blog looks, as the title says it, it’s matter of making things easier for you. By using a couple of fonts and a set color scheme, you’ll save time whenever you have to write a post because you won’t lose any trying to decide which ones to use, you’ll be all set to work on the content. Plus, your blog will have a kind of signature look that people will recognize. It’ll help you build a brand too, if you decide on keeping that theme for a long time.

6

I remember distinctly being VERY nervous about people seeing my new design and thinking it’s too bright and doesn’t look good, or that it’s not “professional” enough (news flash, I don’t get paid for this, it doesn’t have to look professional). And that’s normal. Because you want people to keep reading your posts and for that to happen they need to like it BUT that can’t put you off making you design into something YOU love, something that represents YOU. If people can match your vibe with your blog’s look, they’ll like it and they’ll keep coming back for more.


That’s it until next time.

Have you ever done a complete redesign? What are some tips and tricks you think are important?

Hope you enjoyed, write to you soon.

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Life Update + Ask me Questions

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Hello Guys !

I MISSED BLOGGING SO MUCH !! And I missed visiting all your blogs and commenting on them so so much as well. How have you been? How is your 2017 so far? What are you currently reading?

I’m finally able to breath and get back to blogging so I thought I’d write a quick post to catch up and announce my official return to Word Wonders.

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I know that you probably haven’t noticed that I wasn’t around because posts have been going up… less than usual but they were still there nonetheless but the truth is I haven’t blogged in more than a month -Ah, the magic of scheduling- so I feel like I don’t know how to blog anymore haha, forgive me while I shake off the rust.

So, where have I been? I know I said in my December wrap-up that I’d be going on a semi-hiatus because of my exams but it’s not just that. If you don’t follow me on Twitter (which you should totally do, HERE #selfpromo hehe) you don’t know that I shattered my laptop screen because of a scarf (yeah, long story!) a couple of weeks ago and ’til this day I’m still waiting for it to get fixed. I’m using my sister’s in the meantime.

About the exams, they were all okay, but the last one. It was the shittiest exam I’ve ever had to take and I will probably have to retake it (with 80% of the class) because the prof is vicious and he hates us. Anyway, I won’t bore you with details. I finished on the 20th and I wanted to blog this week-end but I was out of town with no Wifi so THAT didn’t happen either. That’s why there has been no Monday post this week, instead, I’ll be posting it tomorrow. 

After all this rambling, I just want to say that I’ll be back to my normal schedule of 3 posts a week next week 😀

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EXCITING NEWS!! Sunday, this baby blog of mine will be turning ONE. To celebrate that, I want you to ask me all the questions that might come to mind no matter the topic, personal, professional? blogging, reading, anything, everything… I’m open to answer all questions!

I’ll be answering all of them on Sunday, 29th. Bring the balloons and party poppers and come celebrate with me !


That’s it until next time.

Hope you enjoyed, write to you soon.

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20 ‘TIL I’M 20: My 20 Favorite Bloggers – 19 & 20

19-20

Hello guys !

You may or may not know my birthday is coming up and I don’t want to make this whole thing about myself, so what do I do instead? I make it all about my favorite people in the community. The ones that made my experience better, the ones that taught me things, the ones I admire and strive to be like. I decided to put 20 on this list but I definitely have more. Also, these are in no particular particular order.

aenteeaentee-2

What I love about her:

  • She is such an important part of the diverse community.
  • She often hosts original and fun readathons/challenges.
  • Her Instagram picture are STUNNING.
  • Her graphic designing skills are so freaking great.
  • JUST LOOK AT THE GRAPHICS IN HER REVIEW POSTS.

Noteable Posts:

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What I love about her:

  • She’s such a sweet and cheerful person.
  • Her post are hilarious while still being great.
  • She has these Feud of Food Posts that got me drooling.
  • She is so easy to talk to and fangirl with.

Noteable Posts:


That’s it until next time!

Hope you enjoyed, write to you soon.

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20 ‘TIL I’M 20: My 20 Favorite Bloggers – 17 & 18

17 & 18.png

Hello guys !

You may or may not know my birthday is coming up and I don’t want to make this whole thing about myself, so what do I do instead? I make it all about my favorite people in the community. The ones that made my experience better, the ones that taught me things, the ones I admire and strive to be like. I decided to put 20 on this list but I definitely have more. Also, these are in no particular particular order.

.catia

catia-2

What I love about her:

  • She’s one of the first people I’ve ever followed and never regretted it since.
  • My go-to to find some great NA books to add to my TBR.
  • She’s hosting an awesome New Adult reading challenge in 2017.
  • Her blog is so cute and girly.

Noteable Posts:

sara

sara-2

 What I love about her:

  • She’s one of my newer blogger friends and I love her so much. Talking to her is effortless.
  • I always find books I’ve never heard of on her blog.
  • She’s always so well spoken in her discussions and I love them.
  • I can go to her with my bookish -and non bookish- opinions, rants and raves and she’ll listen.

Noteable Posts:


That’s it until next time!

Hope you enjoyed, write to you soon.

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20 ‘TIL I’M 20: My 20 Favorite Bloggers – 15 & 16

15-16

 

Hello guys !

You may or may not know my birthday is coming up and I don’t want to make this whole thing about myself, so what do I do instead? I make it all about my favorite people in the community. The ones that made my experience better, the ones that taught me things, the ones I admire and strive to be like. I decided to put 20 on this list but I definitely have more. Also, these are in no particular particular order.

jilljill-2

What I love about her:

  • The concept of her blog is unique.
  • She is the queen of rants. Hers are A-MA-ZING.
  • She has an NA novel Corrupt Me (that I’m sure is awesome) that’s going to be out in January.
  • She writes great discussion as well.

Noteable Posts:

ashleigh

ashleigh-2

What I love about her:

  • Her review style is very chatty and interactive. It’s so fun to read.
  • She recently launched a Booktube channel and her videos are great.
  • She has a page dedicated to her art and it is SO good. She is very talented.
  • Her snapchats are so cute to watch.
  • She is just all around a sweet person.

Noteable Posts:


That’s it until next time!

Hope you enjoyed, write to you soon.

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20 ‘TIL I’M 20: My 20 Favorite Bloggers – 13 & 14

13 & 14.png

Hello guys !

You may or may not know my birthday is coming up and I don’t want to make this whole thing about myself, so what do I do instead? I make it all about my favorite people in the community. The ones that made my experience better, the ones that taught me things, the ones I admire and strive to be like. I decided to put 20 on this list but I definitely have more. Also, these are in no particular particular order.

Cw.png

 

cw-2

What I love about her:

  • She’s honestly the kindest person I’ve met through blogging.
  • Her discussions are the most thoughtful, best discussions out there.
  • She recently created a Diversity page and it is such an amazing idea.
  • Her Bookish Art is to die for.
  • I just think she’s an essential part of the community.

Noteable Posts:

beth

 

beth-2

What I love about her:

  • Her comments are always very sweet and thoughtful.
  • We have similar opinions of books, and I took to ranting to her recently haha.
  • She’s honestly just so sweet.
  • Her reviews are always organized and detailed.

Noteable Posts:


That’s it until next time!

Hope you enjoyed, write to you soon.

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20 ‘TIL I’M 20: My 20 Favorite Bloggers – 11 & 12

11 & 12.png

Hello guys !

You may or may not know my birthday is coming up and I don’t want to make this whole thing about myself, so what do I do instead? I make it all about my favorite people in the community. The ones that made my experience better, the ones that taught me things, the ones I admire and strive to be like. I decided to put 20 on this list but I definitely have more. Also, these are in no particular particular order.

puput

 

puput-2

 

What I love about her:

  • She has such a fun, chatty, enthusiastic personnality. I LOVE IT.
  • She’s the first fellow Muslim blogger I’ve met and it was like a revelation haha.
  • I fangirl with her A LOT over my latest bookish obsessions.
  • I trust her recommendations because we have the same taste in books.
  • She has a cutesy, girly blog (says the one with the bright pink blog. Okay *sigh*)
  • HER INSTAGRAM.

Noteable Posts:

Regina.png

 

regina-2

 

What I love about her:

  • I’ve been in kind of an NA slump this year and she made me want to read it again.
  • Talking of which, her reviews are great.
  • Have you seen her Instagram pictures? Go. Now.
  • Her graphics are very simple yet very beautiful and eye pleasing.
  • She’s just all around an awesome and funny person!

Noteable Posts:


That’s it until next time!

Hope you enjoyed, write to you soon.

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20 ‘TIL I’M 20: My 20 Favorite Bloggers – 9 & 10

9-10

Hello guys !

You may or may not know my birthday is coming up and I don’t want to make this whole thing about myself, so what do I do instead? I make it all about my favorite people in the community. The ones that made my experience better, the ones that taught me things, the ones I admire and strive to be like. I decided to put 20 on this list but I definitely have more. Also, these are in no particular particular order.

aimal

aimal-2

What I love about her:

  • Her reviews are very polished and detailed.
  • She created an amazing diversity meme called “Diversity Spotlight Thursday”.
  • She’s sassy and I love her tweets.
  • Can we just talk about the prettiness (I know it’s not a word but roll with it) of her blog?
  • JUST LOOK AT THAT HEADER.

Noteable Posts:

meleika

meleika-2

What I love about her:

  • She is such a strong, outspoken and intelligent woman.
  • I admire her for all the work she does to make marginalized voices heard.
  • She’s creating a 2017 Squad for marginalized voices.
  • Other than diversity, she tackles really important topicson her blog.

Noteable Posts:


That’s it until next time!

Hope you enjoyed, write to you soon.signature