Monday, March 23, 2015

Spring 2015 Bloggiesta - Sign up and Progress

I almost missed the Bloggiesta this time around in the whirlwind that has been March but oh boy do I need it! I have so much to do around here on the blog and if you do to why don't you stop by and sign up at Bloggiesta.
On my To Do List:
  • Schedule posts (I have at least a dozen posts that need writing)
  • Respond to emails from authors, publishers, etc.
  • Update the layout (I am not a fan of my layout right now, it doesn't seem to user friendly)
  • Update Archive list or debate eliminating entirely
  • Work on my twitter usage
  • Try to get feedback and put out ideas for content (I feel like all I post is reviews and maybe that doesn't appeal to a lot of people)
  • Visit several new blogs and make some new friends
  • Participate in at least one twitter chat
  • Participate in at least 3 mini challenges
  • Back up Blog
  • Fix pictures on About Me Page
  • Add a separate page for Contact
  • Add Follow Me buttons for Pinterest and Twitter
  • Pin Bedtime Stories
So there you have my plans for this week. I would normally post daily updates but I don't want to clog things up with my Rhode Island Author Features so I will post daily updates here and potentially post mini challenges here too.
Day 1 Progress
Monday was a surprisingly productive day for me! It was a relatively quiet day at the office so I was able to get the ball rolling. I wrote and scheduled 18 posts so I am now up to 37 posts scheduled and into May!
I also worked on finding ways to use twitter better. I found an old mini challenge about using twitter to automatically link to posts, I will be checking this one out.  I also participated in the twitter chat yesterday about commenting, it was very informative and again encouraged the use of twitter to interact with followers and other bloggers.  During that twitter chat I also completed a mini challenge and tested out the Twubs chat app. It was actually very cool, you can set the speed you want the feed to go which was great to slow it down when posts were coming too fast. It took me a bit but I figured out how to RT, Reply and Favorite posts in the program too.
After the chat I started requesting feedback on the Archive dilemma I have. I think it is a handy way to keep track and for people to look back for maybe a favorite book or author in your reviews. My issue is that it is nearly impossible for me to keep up with the list. I am reading anywhere from 350 to 500 books a year and to alphabetize or categorize and link to each of those reviews is a little overwhelming. I do post all of my full reviews on goodreads which has search features, so I am thinking about just linking up with my reviews on goodreads and leaving it at that.
Another mini challenge that I started working on was the pinning author interviews.  I set up a pinterest account specifically for the blog to complete this challenge. I spent some time setting up boards and pinning to the boards. I will use this pinterest page for followers to see what is going on with the blog and what is coming up.
While working on the pinterest account I also came up with some ideas for different types of posts. I thought it was about time I work on that bucket list.  I do need to get back to What's for Dinner and then of course there are always Crafty Times and Fun with Munchkin ideas.  I am also debating a Picture post day as either a caption this, wordless day or writing prompt.
Well on to Tuesday and day two . . .  I will be working on clearing out my emails and review requests. I will also be working on a couple of page updates preparing for a layout update. Oh and look into Disquis as was discussed in the twitter chat.
 Day 2 Progress
It was another busy day around here on Tuesday. After the surge from day one I thought momentum might drop but it kept right on chugging. I started off the day responding to emails (which honestly I didn't have as many as I expected). Once that was done I found a few moments to also change the layout and format of the blog.  Granted it is one of the simple ones blogger provides but I like the simplicity of it, everything I want is visible, it is easy to navigate and not overwhelming. Someday maybe I will higher a web designer to make me a custom blog but at this point I don't feel like I need it.  After making the changes (there is still some tweaking to do) I also backed up the blog.
I also completed two more mini challenges. Both of them older but much needed.  I completed the Spring 2012 mini challenge Your Blog & Twitter where I linked the posts of the blog to my twitter feed so it automatically posts.  I have been needing this because I want to link them but don't always have time at the office.  The second mini challenge of the day was the Spring 2014 mini challenge Pinterest for your Book Blog. It coordinated with the other mini challenge of this year Pin your Author Interviews.  So I now have a pinterest account for the blog with several boards (some I am still working on).  Please feel free to follow me - Eastern Sunset Pinterest
The new pinterest boards have me really excited and given me a lot more ideas for posts.  I would love your feedback on some of these ideas (I will also be posting on twitter to get some feedback).
Post Ideas
Capturing the Moment Monday - a wordless picture post or request for captioning
What's for Dinner - bring back the weekly recipe post
Cookbook Review -  where I post each day for a week trying out recipes from one cookbook
Bucket List -  I know this is really popular but I only had a little list in my head of what I wanted to do but now have it firmed up a little more and would like to share some of those adventures.
Pen to Paper - I used to do this post about sending handwritten letters, I would really like to bring this back as a monthly theme (ie. stationary, handmade cards, post cards, where to find pen pals, writing themes - thank you cards, fan letters, encouragement, etc.)
of course I will continue with Crafty Times and Fun with Munchkin.  The only other question is how do I find the time (I don't like having more than one or two posts a day because it clutters things up in my opinion). Do I start only posting the top reviews? Do I limit the genres I post?
Oh and I have decided to no longer updated the Archive list. It is just overwhelming and all the reviews are posted on Goodreads which is searchable.  I will however leave the archive list up that I have but maintain a link to goodreads reviews too.
Still going strong but I think the next couple of days might slow down a little bit as I work on polishing up both the pinterest board and the new layout here.
 Day 3 Progress
I had another productive day on Wednesday. I was able to participate in the twitter chat about layouts and design of our blogs. It was very informative and after chatting with everyone it feels like I am on the right track now that I went back to my very basic layout.  It was also nice to be able to share our blogs with each other and give feedback.  I have already put some I received to use and adjusted the side menu and changed the background image so it isn't as busy. I hope you like it better now.   While I was making these changes I did see a few things that need fixing. I noticed that all my pictures on my About Me page are broken, so I will tackle this over then next couple of days.
My next project is going to be working on content and hopefully I can stay up late tonight for the twitter chat.  I really want to bounce a couple ideas off other people and also I have a burning question: At what point does your book blog stop being a book blog and become a general blog? I have a lot of ideas about other interest posts but I want to keep my main focus on the books. My other question is since I won't be able to share reviews of all the books I read how should I go about choosing the ones to post? I pride myself on being honest and I don't want to just share books I thought were good, I also want to give you all a heads up on the books I didn't enjoy and maybe discuss why others did like them.
Anyway on the theme of content I have decided I will definitely be bringing back Pen to Paper posts. After a little bit of pinning and brainstorming I have a full 3 years of posts outlined (yes you heard right 3 YEARS - one for every week). It has me very excited about the subject, almost to the point where it could take on its own life and become a separate blog, but I am going to see how it goes before I make any big jumps.
Speaking of Pinning and Pinterest, I have also been working on that as well. I spent a couple hours yesterday pinning all my graphic novel reviews on a board. I may try to do the same for the Bedtime Stories today.
Day 4 Progress
I said I was going to take it easy on Thursday but I continued to work pretty hard on the blog. I pinned Bedtime Stories until pinterest cut me off 'to prevent spam'.  I will continue again today, but with how many there are to go it will take me a couple more days to get them all pinned.  I also fixed all the pictures on the about me page and added a separate contact me page.  I also continued to work on my non-review content ideas. 
I stayed up late last night to participate in the twitter chat regarding content, I really needed this because I had so many questions.  The discussion focused more on the content that we should or shouldn't have in our review posts, which mind you was very helpful.  I will definitely be making a couple of changes to my reviews to hopefully encourage more interaction and discussion.  I was really hoping to touch more on non-review posts which were only briefly discussed in the last ten minutes or so.  I was able to discuss with a few other bloggers as to the book to non book content balance and while I have loads upon loads of reviews to share with everyone I am going to need to break it up more with non book content.  As I said yesterday I will be bringing back Pen to Paper.  I also thought that it would be good to work on bringing back From the Book (recreate activities, recipes or do something mentioned in a book) and I Saw the Movie First (where I read the book after seeing a movie, a rarity for me).   I will also try to work on having more Crafty Times posts and Fun with Munchkin.  Upon doing some browsing of other blogs I have found some fun little memes I would enjoy participating in on occasion as well.
I am still up in the air about What's for Dinner.  I can't decide if I would rather (or if you readers would rather) have a weekly recipe review that features only one recipe or a once a month cookbook review where I would feature 4-5 recipes from a single book and give a general review of that cookbook.  Any preferences?
 Day 5 Progress
Check out my to do list! Everything has been marked off, even the things I added as the week went on.  I am going to have a few additional items to work on over the next little while, I would still like to add Disquis at some point.   I will also be participating in one more twitter chat.  I did manage to finish pinning all the Bedtime Stories. I will be debating setting up boards for other genres or just stick with those two that I post the most and regularly.
I also participated in another mini challenge yesterday - Creating a Treasure Trove of Blog Post Ideas.  Boy once you get going with the post ideas it just doesn't slow down! I started off with simple brainstorming and came up with about 10 ideas in no time.  I also looked at popular posts on other blogs over the last couple of days and came up with a few more ideas.  I saw on one of the chats that people really enjoy seeing lists so I also brainstormed book list ideas.  I now have over three pages of post ideas and even potential weekly posts. It was great to sit down and just spend time brainstorming instead of trying to come up with ideas on the spot when I have an open day. I plan to spend about an hour every month brainstorming ideas so that my list doesn't end up used up and so I can update it based on popularity.
Day 6 Progress
Not much time today with Munchkin at home with me and hubby at work. I am going to participate in the chat today. I also snapped a couple of pictures for some post ideas.  I hope to have a few minutes over the next couple of days to schedule some posts and work on some of these new content ideas.
Good luck to everyone participating!!


  1. I'm glad you've joined in too! It should be a fun week! Good luck with all your goals!

    1. Thanks Jenni, I definitely needed it and have already gotten a lot accomplished. It helps to be working on things with everyone else too.

  2. March has been crazy huh? I want to participate this week. I guess I should get a to do list posted. Good luck with your goals.

    1. March has been nuts and for a change has actually gone by quickly. I will have to stop by and see what you are working on. Good luck to you as well!

  3. Wonderful list, and I am with you March... I can't wait for it to be over, I have been SO busy. I am sending good vibes and luck your way to complete your list. Happy Bloggiesta!

    1. Thank you for stopping by Steph. Oh gosh I can't wait for it to be over too and to have some warmer weather! Best of luck on your list as well.

  4. I think scheduling posts is one of the tasks that takes more time!! Good luck with your goals :)

    1. It does take some time but I usually have reviews already written and other posts outlined in my planner so it is just a matter of transferring it and organizing it.

  5. Wow!! You are doing amazing!! I have had a slow start, but am hoping for more productivity starting today.

    I really love your idea about Pen to Paper. I really believe that there needs to be more handwritten notes floating around!!

    1. Thanks Tif, I wanted to start out fast because I knew I would have to slow down by the end of the week.

      I really enjoy writing notes but haven't made much time for them, but planning these posts has got things going again. I hope Pen to Paper will encourage others to do so as well!

  6. This is a great list! You've got some good ideas that make me need to add more to my list :)

    1. Thank you Kassiah. Every time I check out someone else's list I end up adding a couple of things to mine too.

  7. Hopped over from the Treasure Trove challenge post -- you're doing great with Bloggiesta! I love how many post ideas you came up with!

    Joy's Book Blog

    1. Thank you Joy! You had some great post ideas as well. I really hope to see your gardening posts, I don't believe I have seen that before.

  8. You were so productive during Bloggiesta week! I love your Pen to Paper feature idea. I love the very act of handwriting things, and am fascinated by notes, journals, stationary, pens, ink - all of it!

    1. It was a surprisingly productive Bloggiesta week. I have already started working on the Pen to Paper posts, the first post is schedule for the 2nd Thursday in May and 3 posts have already been written! I can't wait for it. I am a huge stationary hoarder and need to really start putting to use more often.