Middle Grade Mania is all about accessibility. Readers connect with authors, authors connect with bloggers, bloggers connect with the community at large. Since I've been working on this resource I've had the opportunity to visit hundreds of book blogs. Some are simply awesome! They reach their audience and connect in a way that brings people back again and again. Other blogs are not as successful.
I've pinpointed some specific elements that truly successful book blogs have and not-so-successful blogs don't. Now, when I say successful, I'm not talking about the number ticker on your Google Friends Connect. We all know that no matter how big that number may be, there's no guarantee that all your followers are actually reading your blog. The success of a blog can be measured by asking the following questions:
1. Do my readers comment on my posts?
2. Do my readers visit my blog on a regular basis?
3. Is my blog regularly getting new followers?
4. Do my readers share my posts on their blogs, FB or Twitter?
There are other questions you can ask, too. But the idea here is to have a blog that appeals to your readers and makes them want to come back time and time again. When I visit blogs there are certain elements I look for. I tend to pass on blogs that don't have them because without them, the relationship is just a one way street. You'll see what I mean in a minute, but here is my short list of must-haves for successful blogs:
1. YOUR NAME - Blogs without a human name attached feel as if the blogger expects me to read their posts but is unwilling to connect with me on a personal level. A photograph is nice, too. Then I'm communicating with a real human being, not a just a blog title.
2. CONTACT INFO - Again, if I have no way of communicating with a blogger other than through commenting on a post, it's a one way street. Readers should feel as though the blogger is accessible and willing to hear what they might have to say. If you don't want a particular type of communication, such as book review requests, mention that on your contact page.
3. FOLLOW OPTIONS - Some blogs have only one way to follow, such as email. I don't care to follow blogs via email because then I end up with a very full mailbox every day. I prefer to visit on my own terms, so I like blogger feed or Google Friend Connect. Make sure to have several follow options, including FB and twitter.
4. UP TO DATE REVIEW POLICY - Nowadays, it's really important to state right up front whether you do don't accept review requests, and what kinds of books you are willing to read. If you're closed to requests, say so. And make your policy page easy to find.
5. BUTTONS - Buttons are those cute little graphics on blog sidebars that link to other cool blogs and websites. They serve two main purposes: pointing your readers to blogs and sites you like, and giving back to sites that support you. For example, blogs that are listed in the Middle Grade Mania resource list are invited to include the MGM button on their blog. Many do. Some don't, but it is kind a rude to not have a button to a site that promotes your blog. Just common courtesy.
So there you have my short list of must-have blog elements. If you're blog is missing any of them, I urge you to consider a quick overhaul to make your blog more accessible. In fact, I just realized that I forgot a couple of things on my new blog, so I'm hoping over there right now to fix it. Bye!