Here's the official schedule:
- Tues. May 25th - BEA Related Posts
- Wed. May 26th - Blogger Interviews
- Thurs. May 27th - BEA Related Posts & Giveaways on Participating Sites
- Friday May 28th - BBC Roundtables
If you're just starting out in blogging, I'd suggest not fretting to much about branding. It's not until you've been doing this for a while, I think, that you know what sort of books you most enjoy talking about, and are able to relax into your own unique style (unless you are a remarkable person with Clear Goals from the get go).
But at some point, you might want to concentrate on making your blog distinct. Before the fateful day when I decided to brand myself, "Charlotte's Library" was a scattered collection of children's and YA books--whatever struck my fancy, without much rhyme or reason. There was a heavy concentration of sci fi/fantasy, because of me having taken part in the Cybils, but it wasn't something I was doing on Purpose. And my stats were not stellar--around 3000 a month, and only about 100 people following me on various readers.
So I decided to specialize, to make Charlotte's Library a unique place. I decided I wanted to be a reliable, well known blog where people automatically went to find fantasy and science fiction for younger readers, and I took three steps to move in that direction.
Step 1. I established a Target Audience. I wanted to be a Resource for three different (but overlapping) audiences--people like me who like reading sff for kids, people considering adding books in that genre to library collections, and parents looking for recommendations. I dunno if having a target audience materially effects the words I type, but it gives me people to write to, and I make an effort to say things they might find useful.
Step 2. I created a distinctive look. I (finally) put up header art (with a nebula orange space snail to serve, in my own mind at least, as a mascot), and tweaked the settings. I can't think of any blogs that look much like mine. Part of this was putting a tag line in my header art, so that it was clear immediately what my blog was about: "fantasy and science fiction books for children and teenagers."
Step 3. I blogged about the books I though would best serve my target audience. I put a lot of effort into making helpful posts about new releases of sff for kids and teenagers, and, more recently, started rounding up middle grade sff posts from around the blogs. I had been frustrated by how hard it was to reliably find such posts--reviews of mg sff tend to be very scattered. Every reviewer I found who every reviewed such a book got added to my google reader (more or less--I am not a systematic person), and my round-ups have reached a rather nice bulk.
So I now am Branded. I think my blog has become synonymous with sff fiction for younger readers (I review both middle grade and YA books, but not, in general, the darker, older books). And my readership has grown by leaps and bounds. I still have lots of progress to make--I'd like to do more thematic posts and create more thematic lists; I'd like more people to know about me, and I'd love more comments (thank you, dear hardcore band of commenters. You know who you are). But I feel much more certain of my own identity in the blogging world, and I find that is a great motivator.
That was my own path. Specialization was a large part of that for me, but it doesn't have to be for everyone--a joyous eclecticism can also make a blog a unique place (off the top of my head, Colleen at Chasing Ray, Melissa of Book Nut, and Becky of Becky's Book Reviews come to mind). And when I think of the blogs that stand out in my own mind, it's not the crisp categories of style and book selection that set them apart. It's the fuzzy, intuitive-ly realized, consistent feeling that each one gives me that makes each one clear to me (logical, rational thinking not being how my mind works). And those distinct feelings come, of course, from the distinct voices of bloggers just being themselves, which I can kind of hear in my mind, even if I've never met them in person.