Thursday, June 26, 2014

Beast'sBelle Needs Your Input! :) (Plus New AG Releases)

Hey guys!  I'm in the process of working on a fun little review, but I'm not going to have it ready for tomorrow as I'd originally hoped.  My brother and sister-in-law are having a yard sale on Saturday, so most of the week has been spent going through stuff and then pricing it to put out at the sale.  As a result, my blogging time has been a bit more limited this week. :}

In the meantime, I need some help from all of you! :)  This coming September, I'll be speaking at my local writers group about blogging.  I plan on sharing some of my experiences, giving advice on how to get started, and also sharing how to maintain a successful blog (to the best of my ability).

I thought it might be fun to have you, my readers and fellow bloggers, share any advice or tips you can think of as well.  You can leave your thoughts in the comments on this post.  Depending on the response, I'll either share all of the comments or just pick several of them to share at my meeting.

So, your thoughts are needed!  If you're a blogger, you can share what's worked for you in the blogging world...or maybe what hasn't! ;)  What got you interested in blogging in the first place?  How did you build your platform?  For those of you (unlike myself) who have managed to gain some financial reimbursement from your blogs, how did you go about it?  What are some of the things you enjoy about blogging?

Those of you who do not have blogs of your own are still welcome to contribute.  Perhaps you could share what you appreciate most about your favorite blogs, or what you like to see in a blog post.  What makes you want to keep coming back for more?  Think about some of your favorite blogs.  What is it that makes them special?  (Who knows?  Maybe I'll get some ideas for the future from your answers!) ;)

If you come up with any nuggets of wisdom on your own that don't necessarily fit the categories I've discussed, go ahead and leave them in the comments!  I'd love to hear what all of you have to say.  When September rolls around, it will be fun to have some extra insight to share with my fellow writers.  And, of course, I'll be sure to let you know how everything goes once the meeting has passed. :)

Have a great weekend (just in case I don't get another post up before then)! :)

P.S.  I didn't have time to really discuss this in detail, but for those of you who don't know, today American Girl released several new items in the My AG, Bitty Baby, and AG pet categories, as well as a new doll, the lovely My AG #61.  Unfortunately, it's really hard to find their new stuff all in one place, so the best advice I can give is to browse each category.  If I find a direct link to all of the new items, I'll try to come back and leave it here for you.  My faves from the new stuff are #61, the adorable new Coconut, and the Coconut Cutie Outfit.  None of these items will be coming home with me anytime soon as they're a bit out of my price range at the moment, but they're fun to look at. ;)  Do you guys have any favorites?      


Juliet XD said...

My input:
1) It wont't go right the first time
2) Pay attention to your followers
3) don't change your blog design all the time, just a few times a year.
4) Don't try and use someone else's writing style.
5) Involve other blogs (be social)
6) Follow and be active on as many blogs as you can
7) Use lots of pictures

Sorry if these aren't what you're looking for, it's just what I thought of off the top of my head :)

Meritre said...

I do not have a blog and I do not read many so I can't give you much advice but here are a few thoughts that might be helpful. What I like:
-regulas updates (not just once or twice a year, otherwise I'll lose interest)
-the writing style: humorous, creative, optimistic or it just makes me feel better
-I'm a visual type so I love to see lots of photos and I like it if I can enlarge them so I'm able to take a closer look at them if I want.
I start reading a blog if it is about something I'm really interested in (that' how I found yours :)) or friends recommend me something.

Nina said...

Cool! Congratulations on your speech! I'll see what I can come up with;)

Personally, I love blogging! I love writing, too, so it gives me a chance to share my writing with the rest of the world. Over the years (just about three) I've been blogging, I've learned a few Do's and Don'ts about blogging.

Do have fun with it! While it's good to be professional, don't worry about posting schedules or how much you post. It's your blog, and if you can't post due to a violin recital or volunteering at an animal shelter, don't worry. It's supposed to be fun:)

Don't jump right into intricate blog design. I know this from experience:) Choose a basic template and background to start out, and as you get more experienced, jazz it up a little.

Do interact with your followers! Most blogs are really good with this, because it's easy, and really fun, too! If someone leaves a comment, I personally like to leave one back. As you gain more followers and more comments, it will get harder, so you can respond to comments in groups.:)

Don't get caught up in popularity. Honestly, it's better to have six loyal followers than six hundred followers who never comment or even read your posts. Yes, it's nice to get page views and followers, but remember, you are doing this blog for you.

Finally, DO BE YOURSELF!:) I can't stress enough how important this is. If you like unicorns and pie, don't be afraid to show that, because that's who you are. It's never okay to lie, online or offline. You are unique, and your blog is a doorway to show that. If you get hate comments, delete and forget them. They're just jealous that you have originality and they don't.

If you do start a blog, remember that this blog is yours. You set the limits, you make decisions, you think of the ideas. A blog is a place where you can be you, and that's a great thing:)

Whew! Sorry it was so long!:)

Mark Patraw said...

I don't have a blog, but I have a web site for my artwork that I've maintained for almost fifteen years now (I started it back in 2000, when I was in college, as a means to showcase my cartoons from the university's newspaper, and it grew from there). I just write about the things I want to write about; while I appreciate feedback/recognition from my readers, I don't do it for money or anything like that.

As far as blogs go, what attracts me is the subject matter and the content. I collect and make toys, so, any site that talks about them tends to attract me like a moth to a flame. I found your blog from reading Emily's Toy Philosopher Blog.

What I like about your blog, and Emily's, is the variety of doll/toy products you look at, even if I don't necessarily like every type of doll (it gets boring if a person only collects and talk about one line of toys). I also like that you go into detail about the articulation, clothing, high/low points of the figure, etc.--in comparison, some reviewers just post a bunch of photos but tell you almost nothing about the toy itself. Personal stories/touches (like a tale about a toy you had as a child) also go a long way with me.

Things that turn me off of blogs are short posts that don't have any substantial content, and thus, aren't even worth reading or looking at, poor grammar/writing, and people that write about things that they obviously know little, if anything, about, yet act like they do (I'm not saying everyone has to be an expert, but if they don't know basic things about the subject matter they're addressing, that's a red warning light in my mind). Now, understand that none of those things apply to you, I'm just saying what I don't like in the general sense.

beastsbelle said...

Great answers, everyone! Thanks so much. :)

A Nony Mouse said...

Beast’s belle, I need your help with something. I have a backpack that I got at Goodwill. It’s a doll carrier backpack, with two straps over a compartment the right size for an 18 inch doll. It’s shiny purple/blue that changes color in different light. It has the old AG logo with the girl with pigtails on it. I looked high and low to find out what it was and its value, but the best I could find anywhere (and I really looked all over!) was a doll-size suitcase that looks just like it except with a suitcase handle, down to the straps for putting a doll in (though in the doll-size it was for putting a mini-doll in). I now think that it might be a prototype. Where could I find out more about it, or who could I ask? How much do you think it would be worth on eBay?

Anonymous said...

So I don't have a blog, but my favorite blogs (yours included ;)) do have a couple of things in common:

1) GOOD GRAMMAR/WRITING is #1 on my list. Oh gosh, as a wannabe novelist, bad grammar and choppy writing drive me insane. Write well, and I'll stick around to read it.

2) Find a niche or topic. The majority of the blogs I read are doll blogs because that's my hobby. That doesn't mean that it has to stick entirely to one subject-- I like your blog, Beast's Belle, because, even though it's mostly a doll blog, you break up the content by including TV and movie reviews, too, as well as art posts-- but the idea is, center the blog on something you're interested and knowledgeable in, something that you know other people are interested in, too, but don't be afraid to go down the occasional rabbit trail on something else you like. But remember to keep the majority of the focus on the central subject.

I think that's all the blog advice/observations I have for now. As far as the AG releases go, there's not a lot I'm interested in, but if I had the $$ and enough space, I'd want #61. I would name her Amy. She would have a Scottish accent. And she would have a goofy best friend who likes bowties and fezzes and travels through time and space in a blue box, if you know what I mean.... ;D

--Kate :)

beastsbelle said...

Lol, Kate, I know exactly what you mean! :D Over in my neck of the woods, Mimi and I have talked about how #61 would make the perfect Amy Pond. ;)

Great tips, by the way...thanks for stopping by and sharing! :)

Candace Yoder said...

All of my favorite blogs post regularly, and they put really good posts.

Mary Hannah Grier said...

What's worked for me when blogging is just being myself. Your photos don't have to be like everyone else's, your crafts might be afferent. To stand out, just be you.

For readership, comment on other people's blogs you like. You could even (politely) ask if they'd check out your website. Share with friends, too!

~Mama Hen

P.S. #61 is the perfect Amy Pond... :-)

Shelby-Grace said...

My blog is fairly new, but I have a few tips to share :)

-Post regularly, I love it when I see a new post by a favorite blog show up in my reader :)
-Try to use good grammar and spell things correctly!
-Follow lots of blogs, especially new blogs with no followers, I remember how excited I was when I got my first follower!
-Comment back! If someone leaves a comment on your blog, reply back to them :)
-Comment on lots of other blogs! At first, I didn't comment much on other blogs, but when I did, my blog traffic increased by a LOT!
-Have fun! Enjoy blogging, and don't be stressed if you don't have any followers or comments, they will come in time as you continue on your blogging journey :)
-Try to post the best pictures you can! It's OK if you don't have a big, fancy camera, get to know the camera you own, and practice taking pictures with it, and with time, you'll be able to take some awesome pictures with whatever kind of camera you have :)

All AG said...

I don't have a blog sadly, but I love a blogger who is unique and writes like they are actually speaking to me. I love when people actually engage in a somewhat conversation style on blogs, maybe that's why I liked your blog for so long. :)

beastsbelle said...

Great input everyone...thanks! :)

BlackKitty said...

I have little experience with blogging and I'd love to see what you have to say about it. You will write a post about that speech, won't you? As far as my own thoughts, most are common sense, but I've been told that common sense isn't that common, so here we go (you check on all counts and some were mentioned by others):
- good grammar. I can forgive text speech in comments that people type on phone keyboards but nobody will take your blog seriously if u typin lyk dis.
- an extension of the above: if writing in a language with special signs, write all the diacritics, otherwise the translator (and the reader!) will get confused. While we're on this page, include a visible translator tool along with the blog.
- a nice readable design. If people have to highlight your neon text on black background to read it, you're doing it wrong. If they have to copy it in a word editor and change the fancy handwritten font, I'm willing to bet nobody will ever read it.
- speaking of design, don't overload it with custom images and scripts that take forever to load. It has to be friendly to most devices and internet speeds.
- organize the tags. Even if the search widget is there, I don't know what to search for when I'm on a new blog that I don't know what it's about. Make a tags widget.
- same goes about the archive, contact info and other information you decide to share. It should all be easy to find.
- write about what you like. Don't do it for followers or for "being discovered". The latter is a myth, the former won't happen for a while. You can go for months or years without followers, but if your blog is a product of love, the lack of traffic won't deter you from writing more. Eventually you'll have enough content for people to deem you serious and worthy of following. Rome wasn't built in a day, and neither was your blog.
- interact. Always reply to your comments and return the favour by visiting other blogs and have meaningful conversations with other authors. DO NOT leave comments like "nice article, pls visit my blog". Your name already includes a link to your blog which people can click if they are interested. Prove your value by a good comment, not by spam.
- many pictures. This was hubby's suggestion to me. Another friend asked me to put a picture in the very beginning of each article. Pictures are very good at explaining what it's all about or intriguing the reader to look further. The quality should be the best possible. Most camera phones have a built-in photo editor; photos can also be edited in countless free online and open source graphic editors. There is no excuse to upload blurry, dark photos. All pictures should be formatted properly for the web. Opening a 3000px photo in a new tab because it doesn't fit on the netbook screen is very distracting.
- respect property and copyright. Don't use stolen graphics or other resources. When using material created by others, ask for permission or state that it's not yours if it's public domain or fair use. As a blogger, you are an author yourself and you should stand for correctness in this matter.
- integrate as many social platforms as you can handle. Have a Twitter or Flickr? Link it! Maybe someone doesn't want a Google account, but they'll gladly read your updates when they show up in their Facebook feed. Include the possibility of following by email or RSS feed for completely asocial people.
- update regularly. It doesn't have to be daily spam even if you don't have anything to say, but post often enough that people don't go wondering if you're dead. Leave a heads-up about long absences whenever possible.

As I said, I don't find you guilty of any of these, that "you" is impersonal. Sorry about the wall of text. Congrats on your anniversary, by the way! I don't think my comment there got through. I hope you had a beautiful celebration with your family :)

beastsbelle said...

Thanks so much, BlackKitty. You shared a lot of great information that will be helpful for my meeting. And yes, I'll be sure to do a post about it afterwards so you can all hear what I shared and how it went. :)