Want To Start Blogging? What I’d Wished I’d Thought About When I Started Out

Blogging is special. It allows you to elucidate your thoughts and stances on issues that are important to you, and share this with the world through written word.

If you already have a blog, then you’ll know this, but when I was starting out, I wasn’t fully aware of the power blogging had, and how to best utilise this powerful tool. I’m not referring to the nitty-gritty of web design and SEO (although I’m still getting to grips with that today), but rather the way to use a blog to make it best fit your needs and aims. I believe to get the most out of your blog, it’s good to have a think about why you are doing it and what your hopes are. As such, I’ve made a list of three things that I think you should ponder if you’d like to start a blog. Now, I’m by no means an authority on blogging and the like, but here are some snippets of advice that I hope you’ll find of interest!

  1. Don’t Give Up (Even If You Don’t Get The Response You Wanted)

Blogs are the perfect platform for sharing your interests with like-minded people, and this was one of the main reasons that I started fictionforteens.com. When I posted my first blog post, I wasn’t quite sure what would happen; whether the book enthusiasts of the world would flock in their masses to my humble site, or whether my posts would lie unread, the comments sections a barren wasteland. I got a couple of views on the post, and it took me a while to build on that, but what kept me going was the knowledge that I was doing what I loved and sharing that enthusiasm with other people. 

Along your blogging journey, some people may not mirror your enthusiasm for blogging and your subject of interest, and others may not give you the support that you hoped for. I must emphasise that the kind of people that I have just described are definitely in the minority, but this is significant enough for a blogger to down tools and forget about something that they have worked hard on. If your posts immediately blow up and reach visitors in all corners of the globe immediately, then that’s amazing, but if your posts don’t, do not become disheartened, but post because a) you enjoy it and b) you are passionate about the subject on which you are blogging. Your passion for what you do will come through in your content, resulting in an invested reader and a quality blog. 

2. Be Prepared to Promote

Once you’ve built your blog and published your first post, it’s time to start on some Shameless Self-Promotion. It may feel unnatural at first, but to get your post read, you need to shout about it from the rooftops (not necessarily literally, but whatever works for you, I guess). Utilise Social Media, pester your friends, and use whatever ways you usually spread the word about something to spread your blog around. When you’ve spent time and effort working on something, it should be spread – people won’t know about it unless you tell them. Not everyone will be interested, but there will be some people that are.

If you use WordPress, you can write your Social Media posts with a link to your new article when you publish your post – you just have to link your accounts for them to be posted. This works best for Twitter and Facebook, and I’ll usually put a photo of the new post on my Instagram story directing people to a link in my bio. All of this will help to do your hard work justice. Make your follow button for people with a WordPress account high up on the sidebar of your blog, as well as the box where people can put in their email address so they can be notified of new content.

3. You Will Improve

I’ve been looking at some of the posts that I wrote when I first starting my blog, and comparing them with my recent ones. Granted, I was only 13, and the progress is over a period of almost 6 years, but it’s satisfying seeing my personal growth and how I’ve formed my writing style through reviewing books. There’s still got a long way to go, and I try to make each post better than the last, but at the start, I didn’t feel like I could do any better than what I was already doing. All of this advice comes down to one thing: just keep going. That’s the best way of improving, as well as pushing yourself to write in formats that you’re not used to. For example, I found it difficult transitioning from writing book reviews and listicles to writing articles such as the one on multiple points of view, where I was forced to think more deeply about the structure and organisation of my article, along with having to determine what the crux of my conclusive argument was. Similarly, starting my new blog opinionalwrites.wordpress.com (any opportunity to promote) was a challenge, because delving into the world of politics and the arts, while I am familiar with the two, stretched me, and I’m very much still learning!

I hope this is helpful if you’re starting out on your blogging journey! Even if you’re a seasoned blogger, I’d be interested to know what your thoughts are, and any advice that you’d give to a fledgling writer!

Take care, Al.

The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater – Book Review

On the windswept island of Thisby, capaill uisce, or water horses, dominate life. Every year, these water horses emerge from the surf on the beaches lining the island, and are caught by islanders to race in the infamous Scorpio Races; an often fatal race of the brutal creatures in which the victor gains glory and riches.

Sean Kendrick knows the races well: he’s a seasoned racer, winning four times out of the six that he’s taken part in. His ability to calm even the most agitated or violent of the capaill uisce has earned him a reputation on the island for his abilities.

Puck Connolly has never ridden in the races, but this year she feels like she has no choice – the money from winning the prize could be life-changing for her family. The first girl to race, she’s no idea what the races really entail.

Both lost parents to the capaill uisce. Both are struggling to get by. Drawn together in a time when you can trust no one, this is more than just a race.

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My Point of View on Multiple Points of View in Fiction

Lately, I’ve been getting back into writing stories. My go-to hobby in primary school, I still have the notebooks containing my rather unique storytelling attempts from my youth. Seeking to reignite my passion, turning to an online course and writing down story ideas when they strike me, as well as looking at what I’ve been reading, has helped me to get out of the starting blocks.

This means that I’m starting to be more conscious of the structures and techniques that writers employ in their storytelling. Of course, this is something that I like to mention when I’m writing my reviews here on Fictionforteens.com, but approaching literature from the authorial angle has given me a deeper appreciation of the challenges of form and establishing a character’s voice, as well as what works in different situations. Obviously, it goes without saying that I’m no literary expert, or author (yet…), I’m just an opinionated girl with a passion for books.

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Genuine Fraud by E. Lockhart – Book Review

https://www.instagram.com/p/B1tD23FgOHj/?igshid=14k05fszny4hb

Jule isn’t your typical protagonist. Comfortable with lying and cheating her way through life, she’s definitely not someone you’d want to be opposite in a fight. She meets social butterfly Imogen, and the unlikely duo instantly strike up an intense friendship. Before long, Jule is ingratiating herself with the social circles that Imogen is a part of and weaving her web of lies as she meets more people and must maintain the façade that she has created. Jule is a Genuine Fraud. You can’t get away with that forever, surely?

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The Perks of Being A Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky – Book Review

Charlie is used to being on the periphery of the social lives of his cohort, observing, without fully engaging, all of the drama, parties and relationships that come with the teenage experience. The move from Middle School to High School offers an opportunity for change for Charlie, making friends with some older students who show him what it is like to “participate” – going to parties, meeting new people, and living life to the full. It’s not plain sailing though – hidden to the outside world, Charlie struggles with family relationships, and the all-encompassing guilt he feels over the death of a close relative. Conscious to shake off his wallflower moniker, Charlie tries to live in the moment and change his perspective on life.

3 Ways To Access Books From Home (For Free!)

With the uncertainty and alarming nature of current affairs, the prospect of being able to escape to a fictional world or delve into a certain topic is an appealing one. There are many ways of accessing books – online – that aren’t really publicised and/or are vastly underused ( all legal, of course), that I want to let you know about, in case they have slipped under your radar. If you can access this blog, then you can access these online sources!

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King’s Cage by Victoria Aveyard – Book Review

Warning: spoilers if you haven’t read the first two books in the series!

In Aveyard’s penultimate instalment of the Red Queen series, we once again join Mare, Cal and the Red Guard on her fight against the oppressive system in the Kingdom of Norta. After the events of Glass Sword, Mare is confined to Maven’s palace as a puppet, her once strong, fear-inducing powers now reduced to nothing. As the rebellion continues without her, Mare must watch from the sidelines. Cal, on the other hand, the exiled prince, will stop at little to get her back…

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Heading into the GCSE exam period – what I wish I had known this time last year

The time is almost here for GCSE students to take the exams they have been working so long for; it’s an opportunity to show the hard work that they’ve been putting in to learning the new, tough GCSE syllabus introduced for most of the GCSE exams last year. I took my GCSEs last year, so the experience and process is fresh in my mind! Here is a brief list of some things which I wish I’d known before I had gone into the exam period.

  1. Mindset is key. However much revision you have done, having a positive mindset is so important. So many times, I have heard “I’m going to fail, I know nothing”. Try and say to yourself “I am going to try my very best in this exam, answer as many questions as I can and show the examiner my best”. This will help you to mentally prepare before the exam. As you are preparing to go into the exam hall, try and think about this, instead of running through any last-minute knowledge.
  2. Focus on yourself. Some people will be flexing their knowledge before the exam, others may claim that they are doing no revision (not always true). Exam period is one time when you can focus on yourself. These kinds of people will just take you off-track, and distract you from what is truly important. If the environment in a form room or canteen between exams is stressing you out, take a breath of fresh air or head to the library.
  3. Extract yourself from social media. I decided to delete Snapchat and Instagram through the exam period, as I felt like I may be tempted to scroll through photos when I should be either revising or having some time off. I found that I didn’t miss it too much, and I didn’t distract myself with what other people were doing, or feel intimidated by seeing people’s photos of their revision. I did like to check twitter from time to time to see the latest GCSE memes, which kept me going through the exam period!
  4. Don’t dwell on what went wrong. If an exam doesn’t go exactly as planned, then try not to spend too long worrying about it – If you found the exam difficult, then chances are, you are not the only one, and the grade boundaries will reflect this. It’s best that you try and focus on what’s coming up next, and how you can prepare yourself for that.
  5. Be organised. Try to make sure you have every piece of equipment you need (especially for Maths exams). Arrive for your exams around 10-15 minutes before they start, to help you to get into the right mindset, and to be able to calm yourself.

I wish everyone taking their GCSEs the best of luck!

Alyssa x

Glass Sword by Victoria Aveyard – Book Review

In Aveyard’s second instalment of her fantasy series Red Queen, we return to the Kingdom of Norta. After the events of Red Queen, Mare, Kilorn and Cal are on the run from the evil and wicked King Maven. As a Newblood, Mare has Red blood (the colour of common people in Norta) but also the superhuman powers of the elite Silvers. With a list of the others who share her Newblood status in hand, Mare embarks on a mission finding and recruiting these individuals to the rebel organisation, the Scarlet Guard.

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Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard – Book Review

In Norta, the colour of your blood defines you – your social status, your occupation, and whether or not you have superpower-like abilities. The elite Silvers exploit the Reds, sending them to the front line in the North and using them as their servants in their lavish residences.

Mare is a Red, and every day she becomes closer to being conscripted on her seventeenth birthday. After a chance encounter, she finds herself serving the King in his summer residence. One day, however, something happens to Mare that makes her question her identity – she appears to have Silver abilities but Red blood, so the royal family decide to declare her as a long-lost princess, to prevent any questions being asked. Mare is thrust in to the Silver world, engaged to a Silver prince. She now has the chance to take down the oppressive system that has caused her family and community so much pain and suffering. This won’t be easy; she must dodge the jealousy, lies and rivalries of the royal courts to try to bring justice to her people.

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