Monthly Review: January 2009 Part 2

This is Part 2 of a 2 part post about January 2009 on Birdbrain(ed) Book Blog. Part 1 was focused on book stats and reviews; this part is focused on my updates in the Blog Improvement Project.

I’m having lots of fun doing the Blog Improvement Project, and since I like reading other people’s updates on it, I thought I should do my own!

Blog Snapshot Jan 09 Blog Improvement Project 2009
Week 1: Wherein I make some goals
Week 2: Wherein I talk about brainstorming and where I get my ideas

So, how am I doing? Pretty good, I’d like to think. My goals for week 1 were to: get better at writing reviews, get more involved in the blogging community, start actively encouraging reader participation, and to turn my blog into something I would want to read if I wasn’t already writing it.

1. Get better at writing reviews.
I do think I’ve started getting better at writing my reviews more concisely, and making them a bit more interesting than before. I hit a snag earlier this week when I realized a lot of my reviews sounded the same– not the structure, per se, but the phrases and such. I realized I kept repeating certain words and sentences (“I liked the characters,” “the plot was engaging and interesting,” etc.), and it was driving me nuts. I didn’t want to get stuck in a rut, so I consciously made an effort to use different words, even if I had to go to a thesaurus. I think I’ve started to work the kinks out, and hopefully I won’t worry about repeating myself any time soon.

2. Get more involved in the blogging community.
When I first made this goal I meant more in the commentating area, but it turns out that there’s lots of other ways to get involved that I hadn’t considered before. I have made an effort to comment more (at least once a day, in fact), but I’ve also joined the Book Blogs community on Ning and have made some friends there, as well as helped other bloggers out. I also have started using my Twitter for more bookish/bloggish things (and not just my personal life), and I’ve been having lots of fun talking with book people and stalking Neil Gaiman and Stephen Fry and so on.

3. Start actively encouraging reader participation.
This is a tricky one. I started adding discussion questions to the bottom of my reviews, but then gave it up when, er, no-one responded. I also hated trying to come up with them! (I think I’d be horrible in a book club.) Instead, I decided to do something else to encourage participation, which I’ll talk more about below.

4. Turn my blog into something I would want to read if I wasn’t already writing it.
I definitely like my blog now, and while it’s maybe not 100% of where I want it to be, I do think I’ve made some good improvements. I’ve fiddled with the layout a bit– you may have noticed the new header!– and re-organized the sidebar. I also asked for some critiquing on Book Blogs, and Natasha helped me out a lot with setting up informative pages and contact info. She also gave me the idea to make a Review Directory, where all my reviews are cataloged by title instead of date. (Thanks for all your help, Natasha!)

On the inspiration front, I’ve started keeping track of all the ideas I get, so I can start doing some non-review, non-eBook Wednesday, non-link posts, too! I’ve got some really good ones; I just have to start writing the posts!

Where do I go from here? I can always keep improving, and I even have a plan to do just that.

First, I want to amp up the reader participation here, so I’m going to do some discussion posts about books, blogging, or whatever I can think of. I’ll try to do one a month unless I’m feeling frisky.

Secondly, I’m going to keep fiddling with the layout and sidebar. I’m sure there’s some things that are missing, and I know the blogroll has to be updated.

Thirdly, I’m going to do a book giveaway sometime this month! I don’t know for what, and I don’t know when, exactly, but I figure since it’s my birthday this month it’s as good an excuse as any to do one.

So that’s my January. How was yours?

0 thoughts on “Monthly Review: January 2009 Part 2”

  1. My month was okay I think in terms of Blog Improvements. I have cleaned my blog (sidebar) up a bit and played around with the design. I am also trying to stick to my resolution of commenting more – like you preferably at least once a day – and involve myself with other bloggers and their blogs. I am still thinking of new ideas and have taken up a few new things I haven’t done in the past. Regarding the reviews I also struggle to make them better, but I still have some work to do in that department. I keep going and hopefully will make improvements all year long. Seems like you had a good month!

  2. I’m glad things are going well for you so far! One of the BIP topics is going to be playing with the sidebar, I just haven’t figured out what sorts of articles and stuff to link to that might be helpful. I don’t like my sidebar much either, but fixing it up keeps getting pushed aside for other stuff.


  3. Louise: I have every confidence that you will do great things with your blog in the coming months. 😀 If you’re looking for more feedback regarding your blog design, you might want to check out the Blogging Tips ground on Book Blogs. I got some really good ideas and tips there myself!

    Kim: lol, I think a lot of people aren’t sure if their sidebar is good or not. A BIP post on that would be great!

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