Today for BB101 I’ll be answering a few questions that came through in December. Some were a few technical questions because of the HTML post that went up at the end of the month.

Spawned from the Big Sis, Little Blog program, Book Blogging 101 was born. Do you have a question? Leave it in the google docs form and I’ll try and answer them in the order they are received.

Question #1:

How do I go about gaining new followers and getting my blogs name out there? Joder

A: The Question. If there was a set rule to this, or answer I think I could make a fortune. Maybe bottle it up, or write a book. *IDEA* Who is with me?? Gaining Blog Followers for Dummies. But, right now, I’ll give you a simple break down. 

Step 1. Get your content, vision and brand down pat. I have a post on making a plan and branding yourself. >> Here

Step 2. Make friends. Social Networks are great way to do this. An integral way to do this.  Guess what? I also have another post for that. >> Here

Step 3. You follow me, I follow you. Find blogs that are similar to yours, introduce yourself and ask for a follow back. Hook up with other start-up blogs and introduce yourself. Other young eager new blogs will quickly return follows for a follow. My bit of advice on this: make sure they are worthwhile blogs. Blogs you will like to read and comment on. Numbers in the beginning might make you happy, but in the end you want worthwhile readers that comment on your blog and participate. Your reciprocal commenting and participating helps with this. Just like a “real” buddy, the phone goes both ways.

Step 4. Join a book/blog tour. Fun ways to have like-minded individuals become aware of your existence include signing up for tours that are offered through 3rd party groups, other bloggers or the author themselves. I happen to have a post on that also: >> Here

The fun thing about this is that even other bloggers might host an ARC tour, so it really isn’t that you need to have a contact or an “in”. I can’t point you in directions or push you towards certain tours…just scour the WWW and I’m sure you’ll find a few.

Step 5. Join a group. I get group invites all the time. This book group on goodreads, this one on Facebook, this one on BookBlogs.ning. People love new group members, just as much as they love new followers. Join a group, make new friends. Five good bloggy friends are worth 500 non-participating blog followers.

Step 6. Host a contest. Contests are good ways of getting attention and getting followers. All of them might not be loyal followers, but you will get people’s attention that will most likely come back for more. I also have a post on contests >> Here

Step 7. Patience is a virtue. Followers come in time. Blog good. Blog true…and they will come. That was sooo hokey. But it is true. At 500 I stopped actively trying to recruit new followers. They come in time. They come through google searches. They come through friends made. They come through recommendations. They come through twitter. Did I say that you need to be on twitter??? Refer back to step 2.

Once again, there is no set formula. You make friends, you network, you blog good. That is the basic advice I can give you. What I strongly recommend that you do not do to try and gain follows are a few basic no-nos that have sometimes a reverse effect:

  1. DO NOT Spam. Don’t harass people through their comments. If you are making a contact, saying hello, introducing yourself that is fine. But don’t comment on 100 blogs with the same message. “Hi, I’m Jane. I just started The Next Book Blog, and I want you to check it out. I followed you, can you follow me. XOXO – Jane” Book bloggers are a tight little group, we read a lot, including what people are commenting on other blogs. If they see that you made the same comment on just one other blog, it will probably leave a sour flavor in their mouth.
  2. DO NOT expect anything. Nothing in life is a guarantee, the same is in the blogging world. Do not expect authors to just throw books at you, and do not expect bloggers to just flock to your blog because you follow them. And please don’t begrudge the blogs that don’t follow back. It is probably not because of a blatant snub, it is probably just because they are unaware. If you are a loyal follower of one blog and notice they are not on your follow list, make a happy comment…saying check me out, I’m a loyal reader of yours. Nothing more.

I hope this helps!

Question #2:

I wanted to know if using a pre-made code for a blogger template to start your own is a bad thing to do. I seriously want to know how to code my own blog designs but tutorials out there are a bit sketchy and I’m trying my best to sort through all of them. – Akoss

A: As a website designer I have used pre-made code and have adapted it to my will. Just don’t pass on anyone’s work as your own and you should be good. Every coder knows that their work usually falls within the public domain and is used and adapted. Most offer it willingly. Blogger is even more open, because they have the standard templates that are easily modified to your own design. Easy rule of thumb, if it is offered up for free on the internet, try and modify it to your own design, just don’t keep any images or design elements.

Question #3:

How/where do you get all of your “follow me” buttons in one gadget? Are they custom made?

Thanks! This is such a great help.
– LJ

A: The ones that I have on my blog are custom made:

But there are great sites that you can get free icons. Just do a quick search online and you can find something that might just fit your design: http://speckyboy.com/2009/01/26/30-amazingly-creative-social-bookmarks-icon-sets/

And on that note. I’m out. Have a wonderful Thursday my lovelies.

Ask your BB101 Questions here…