Last week, I invited you to ask me any questions you might have that I could answer in upcoming posts, whether it's follow-up regarding anything I've written about in the past, curiosities regarding any of my personal experiences, or your general blogging questions.
Here's my first installment of answers to two questions I received, which both revolve around starting a blog. In the following weeks I will continue to respond to your questions, so please feel free to ask any that come to mind in the comments below or on the original post.
I did look at different platforms to host Life Blessons on and, while I know many other bloggers do prefer Wordpress, I ultimately decided that Blogger was a better choice for me. Especially after having used Wordpress for a year, I found that Blogger was more customization-friendly, which if you're into tweaking your design like I am (which I'll talk more about in a future post!), this is a key to take into account. I think you can do more tweaking on Wordpress if you upgrade to a paying member, but I saw no reason to have to pay for something I could get elsewhere for free! As I'll share below, there were some slight sacrifices as well as additional benefits that did come with choosing Blogger over Wordpress.
Q: Lately, I had been thinking about starting my own blog but I was unsure of which website to use. I noticed that you did your old blog on Wordpress and your new one on Blogger. I was just wondering which one you think is better?
When I originally started this blog with Blogger, there were some features that Wordpress blogs had that Blogger ones lacked. Fortunately though, it seems that Blogger has been slowly been improving many features, even just over the past year that I’ve had this blog. When I first started, you couldn’t create separate pages, but they’ve since added that feature (à la my “About Me” page). They also continue to add standard blog templates and recently debuted their “Template Designer” where you can do a bit more tweaking without having to play directly in the HTML file.
However, I still would like to see more variety of widgets available from Blogger, and Wordpress does offer some great ones. But because people are continuously hacking codes to make similar ones work on Blogger and because Blogger does slowly seem to be adding more options (most recently one that will display your most popular posts), I don’t feel like this has hindered my blogging, which is why the trade-offs of a Blogger account outweighed a Wordpress one for me when I started up Life Blessons just over a year ago.
One of the other perks I found for using Blogger (and I don't think this is available on a freebie Wordpress blog) is the ability to integrate Google Analytics. I like having access to the Google Analytics info because it gives you great insight into how people get to your site, what search words they use, how many visitors you get, etc. I think Wordpress has their own version of this (as does Blogger), which both give a good at-a-glance vantage point, however the Google one drills down deeper to give you a customizable and comparative view that the others can't really rival.
As far as reviewing books, it's completely a hobby, although I wouldn't mind making it a career! I love getting the chance to learn new insights and perspectives from a variety of authors and a new book always holds such promise and potential, even if it sometimes fails to deliver that in the end! But you never know until you read it and there's usually always something you can glean from the pages.
Q: I was wondering about your reviewing of books. Is that the official job you had or is that more of a hobby? I’ve thought about starting a blog and might want to consider reviewing books, too.
If you want to get started doing book reviews, what I would recommend first is to sign up for my favorite blogger review programs from two Christian publishers, which I've linked to here. Both of these programs will accept any blogger; the only caveat is that you can only request and review one book at a time. Until you post that review, you can't get another book. But it keeps you motivated and reading!
I'd also recommend reviewing books you're already reading or can recommend so that you can build up a repertoire of reviews on your blog. Alternatively, you can also go to the library and find new books that you can review, which is what I did with the book The Jesus I Never Knew that I shared in posts like this one.
Then, once you have a handful of reviews posted, you can try to email publishers directly and ask for a copy of their book that you can review on your blog, which is how I got my copy of Canning and Preserving that I reviewed here. I've had decent luck doing this; some publishers don't really think blog reviews are helpful and some are pretty open to it. But it's worth a try!
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