Hi all! Welcome to my first discussion post of 2018, very exciting! I had a lot of fun doing collaborations with other bloggers in these posts last year, getting other bloggers’ input into discussions on the blog so I wanted to continue this into 2018 and for my first discussion post of the year, I talked to five bloggers, 4 currently teens and one blogger who is an adult now but started blogging in her teens about how we can get more teens interested in book blogging. As a former teen book blogger (I started when I was 17), this is a topic that is very close to my heart, as when I was a teen, there seemed to be hardly any other teen bloggers out there to talk to. Thankfully this seems to have improved, but talking to the five girls for this discussion post threw up a lot of issues that affect teen bloggers, which I’m going to talk about further during this post as well as their ideas for what we can do to encourage more teens into book blogging and their advice for teen bloggers.
I was quite interested when I asked how the girls got into blogging, Ilsa, Sumedha and Charley all said it was out of boredom, from school, from exams etc. For me personally, it was to help me get into University as I had read that it was useful for Journalism students to have a blog. But it got me thinking, as great an outlet as blogging is, it’s not one that is advertised in school very much. If you want to get into blogging, it seems like you have to be the one to go looking for it yourself, if starting a blog was something that was talked about in school, then perhaps more teens would know how great it is and might take it up.
However, from the discussion I had with Ilsa, Sumedha, Charley, Ayla and Ruby, it seems that there are a lot of issues that could be putting teens off book blogging. I know that if I was a teen on Twitter and I saw some of the conversations happening around teen book bloggers from the past year or so, I wouldn’t be overly keen to join the community! Ilsa brought up the excellent point of the Epic Reads Book Nerd of The Year, that all the bloggers nominated were actually adult bloggers, despite it being a YA award. If I was a teen seeing that, I would be quite disheartened, because while awards aren’t everything, it definitely makes it seem like you are going to be less appreciated as a teen in the blogging community. Charley brought up the fact that a lot of newer blogs are by teens but they get ignored in favour of the more established adult blogs, again something that could be potentially off-putting if you were a teen looking to get into blogging, you might think, what is the point, when you only get a handful of followers and you see adult bloggers getting in the thousands. All the girls pointed out that adults had more time and money to pour into their blogs because they have jobs and don’t have school. I can definitely relate to that, as a student, I have to fit my blog around my university work and I don’t have the money to buy a domain name and pay for graphics and design and stuff. It must be quite intimidating as a teen blogger, seeing all of these other blogs out there that have all these fancy graphics and stuff and knowing you won’t be able to pay for anything like that.
I then asked the girls for their advice about how they think we can get more teens interested in blogging. They came up with so many wonderful ideas, which I probably don’t have space to share all of here, but I’m going to try and include the most important ones:
- Focus on blogging as an outlet-This was Sumedha’s idea, she suggested that to encourage more teens to take up blogging, we should present it as an outlet for life, you don’t necessarily need to start a book blog, blogging can also be a way to talk about your life and get all of your pent up frustrations out there. We also need to show how blogging can connect you with people with the same interests who you might not get to meet in your real life.
- Support teens-Ilsa suggested this one, and I think it’s probably the most important one, because if we support the teens that we already have in this community, boosting their reviews, commenting on their blogs, friending them on GR, nominating them for awards, then the teens outside of the community will see how lovely and supportive book bloggers are and might be interested in starting a blog of their own. If adult bloggers make teen bloggers feel welcome then they will let their friends know and the community will seem like a much friendlier place to those outside it.
- DivBookBridge-This was something I didn’t know about that Ilsa mentioned in our chat, it’s an organisation that donates ARCs to diverse teens. I think supporting organisations like this would be a great way to show teens that we support them and could be encouraging for marginalised teens who want to get into book blogging but may not be able to afford the books about them, that there is an organisation where they can access these. You can find DivBookBridge on Twitter, @DivBookBridge.
- Publishers-Publishers need to think of their target audience more, by giving more ARCs to teens. If teens see that they will be thought of, that they will be appreciated if they join the community, then it will be a lot easier to encourage more teens to join. As adult bloggers, this might involve passing our own ARCs onto teens, or maybe even declining and directing publishers towards teen bloggers instead. This was Ruby’s suggestion.
- Established bloggers need to help out more-This was a general theme throughout my discussion with the girls, a lot of them felt that big bloggers tend to ignore teens and smaller bloggers and that teens have to work twice as hard in order to get noticed. In order to change this, we need to promote teen voices on our platforms as much as possible, especially those bloggers with big followings as they have the most influence. I am trying to do what I can for this, but I’m not going to have as much influence as a blogger with thousands of followers!
I also asked the girls about advice that they would give teens interested in blogging. Again, they had a lot of ideas, not all of which I can share as this post is already super long, but I’ll share the most important points:
- Choose an easy platform-Ilsa suggested this one and I would definitely back her up on this. Blogging is hard enough without having to struggle with coding and graphics and everything right away. I use WordPress and would definitely recommend it for a first time blogger, it’s so easy to use and basically does everything for you! Sumedha also added don’t worry about get a .com website right away (this is your domain name) which I would echo, four years into blogging, I’m still just using the free WordPress plan and it works fine!
- Don’t worry about sticking to a niche-Sumedha mentioned this one, that it is something that is mentioned in all of the first time blogger post and that it actually narrows your scope. Personally I find it easier just concentrating on books, but she’s absolutely right, you don’t have to feel like just because you’re a book blogger, that’s the only thing you can talk about.
- You don’t have to read a certain number of books to qualify as a book blogger-Another of Sumedha’s excellent points. When you first start out blogging, it is going to seem like everyone is reading and reviewing a lot more than you. But it is quality over quantity, and if you write quality reviews and other content then people will keep coming back, they won’t care that you don’t read 200 books a year!
- Don’t be too intimidated by anyone & don’t be too concerned with having everything perfect right away-This was Ayla’s advice and something I wish I’d heard when I first started blogging. The book blogging community is really friendly and I wasted like a year of connecting with people, being too scared to talk to anyone. Comment on other people’s blogs, talk to people on Twitter, we don’t bite and we love talking to other book nerds!
- It’s okay for your interests to change-This was Sumedha’s advice and I think it’s a pretty good one-you won’t necessarily be interested in the same sorts of books later on than when you first start blogging and that’s okay. If you write quality content, people will still want to read it, no matter what books you’re writing about.
Finally we talked about how we can help out teen bloggers when they first start. This was something that was especially important to me, as when I started out at 17, I felt like there wasn’t really enough out there about helping out first time bloggers, so I hope that any new bloggers reading this find their advice helpful:
- Sumedha suggested reading Book Blogging 101 posts, where current book bloggers give new book bloggers advice about how to run a book blog. She shared this one, from Ava over at BookishnessAndTea:
In this post Ava shares a masterlist of all of her tips posts for new bloggers, so you can essentially find everything you need to know about book blogging in this one post. Also whilst we’re on the subject of tips posts, allow me a tiny bit of self promo here as I did these two tips posts last year that I hope are helpful for new bloggers!:
2. Ruby suggested that posts about how to get into contact with publishers (especially for international bloggers) would be very useful because it’s not something that you automatically know about when you first start blogging. Ilsa then shared these posts by Lia @ LostInAStory, as examples of this.
3. Ayla was talking about potentially starting a business about helping new bloggers with all the things they need help with when they first start out and have one place where they kind find all the information they need, to make it easier for them. She’s not sure if anyone would be interested though, so if you are a new blogger who would be interested in this, then I’ll be putting Ayla’s social media contacts at the end of this post!
4. Ilsa is thinking of starting a project to boost the voices of teen bloggers, so again, if you are a teen blogger and you are interested in this, then her social media will be at the end of this post.
5. Sumedha suggested that we should compile a masterlist of all of the book blogging tips posts out there so that they are easier to find, which I think is a great idea, but it might be a little bit difficult to coordinate as I think there are lots of tips out there!
Thank you to Ruby, Sumedha, Ayla, Ilsa and Charley for helping me out with this post, making sure that teen voices are heard is really important to me, and I hope this post has raised some awareness for the issues that teen book bloggers face, but also provided some advice for teens interested in getting into book blogging! If you want to follow any of them, I’m going to include their social media below:
Teen bloggers, I want to know, what would be your advice for teens wanting to join the community? What do you feel the biggest issues facing you as a blogger are and how can we help? Is there anything that would have really helped you when you first started blogging that you didn’t get? Let me know in the comments!
I hope I will have another discussion post for you guys in January, as I kind of fell of my two discussions a month towards the end of last year, and I would like to get back into it. As usual, if there is anything you would like to see me talk about here, then let me know! In the meantime, I will probably next be back on Tuesday with my latest Top Ten Tuesday post, so stay tuned for that!