Blogging and Why Community Matters

When I started blogging it was all about using technology in my classroom and getting my students involved outside of my classroom.  Then I got the idea that it might be cool to write about the books I’m reading so my kids can get more book recommendations.  That turned into a summer hobby which has turned Y.A. Love into a full-fledged blog.

As I’ve been navigating through the world of Y.A. blogging, I’ve asked myself tons of questions and even questioned if I’m “doing it right.”  Often these musings are on Twitter and I usually get this response: “It’s your blog, so do whatever you think is right or whatever you want.”  Not always in those words, but the general idea is there.  And I have to admit that it’s true; this is my blog so I shouldn’t worry about anyone else.  But don’t we still think about our readers and our community?  Yes, I’m writing what I want to write, but I always have my readers and students in mind.  When it gets right down to it, my community often drives my blogging.  Maybe that’s wrong, maybe it’s okay, but it’s the truth.

Before Kelly and Liz approached a group of us about this “unconventional blog tour,” I’d been thinking about this a great deal.  A couple months ago I was emailed by a college professor working on his dissertation and asked if I’d like to be interviewed and used as a source about teachers using web tools like Twitter, blogs, etc.  During our conversations after agreeing to this, how I started blogging and why I blog came up.  As I’ve grown more active on Twitter, I’ve discovered that many teachers and librarians are using my blog in a variety of ways.  I know of one teacher who shows the book trailers I feature to her classes every week.  Any time I consider skipping a Book Trailer Thursday, I think about that teacher and those students and I’m motivated to write that post.  I don’t want to let them down!  And now because I have those students in the back of my mind, I’m not only thinking about my students.  I have a wider audience influencing my blogging.  I used this exact example during that interview.

Community drives what I blog at times, but community is also important because of the  support it provides.  I don’t know if I’d still be an active blogger if it weren’t for my community and PLN on Twitter.  I can’t express how many times bloggers like Kelly @ Stacked, Jillian @ Mrs. Heise Reads and Recommends, and Crys @ Book ‘Em! The Reading Adventures of a Wannabe Librarian have helped me out.  They’ve helped me with blogging confusion, reading ruts, and just about everything else connected to blogging and reading.  It’s important to remember that the blogging community and the community of readers following your blog are often in your corner and cheering you on when you need it most.  My community provides me with amazing book recommendations and blogging topics.  Just yesterday I was talking with another blogger about sci-fi and fantasy recommendations for my Y.A. Lit II class.  I wouldn’t know her if I wasn’t blogging and interacting online.  Our community is what we make it, and I never want to take it for granted.

To prepare for this post, I put together a readership survey on my blog.  I’m honestly surprised at the number of teachers and librarians who read my blog.  I’ve always had a feeling or good idea that quite a few do, but I didn’t realize so many did!  It sure is reassuring considering how often I talk about my students when I’m posting about anything really or when I’m reviewing books.  I do that because it’s who I am as a reader and it’s why I read, but I’ve always worried that I might be alienating readers who aren’t teachers or librarians.  Anyway, I’m sharing the results of my survey 🙂  Thank you to the 57 people who responded!

1. What’s your title?

Teacher 47%
Librarian 21%
Teen 12%
Author 4%
Publisher/Publicist 2%
Blogger 42%
Other 16%

*More than one response was allowed which is why the totals don’t add up to 100.

2. How did you come across Y.A. Love today?

Search engine website 7%
Twitter 37%
RSS feed or blog feed 12%
Email subscription 9%
Referred from another website 26%
Other  9%

*Yay! Twitter!
**I should have asked what other website referred them.

3. Which type of blog post(s) do you find the most useful?

Reviews 84%
Book Trailers 33%
Author Interviews 25%
Giveaways 18%
Top Ten Lists (Memes) 53%
Education Related 47%
Other 2%

*More than one response was allowed which is why the totals don’t add up to 100.
**I wish I would have asked what other types of memes they find useful.

4. What type of blog post(s) would you like to see more of?

Reviews 46%
Book Trailers 17%
Author Interviews 25%
Giveaways 21%
Top Ten Lists (Memes)  44%
Education Related  35%
Other 12%

*More than one response was allowed which is why the totals don’t add up to 100.
**A couple of the responses with “Other” were:

  • “Keep up the variety.”
  • “I like to hear how you use books in the classroom and which books your students respond to.”
  • “I really enjoy the ‘What my students think’ posts.

My 5th question asked bloggers to leave their website if they preferred.

I kept this survey simple, but the results gave me a lot of insight.  Like I said, I didn’t realize how many teachers read my blog.  Plus, now I know that many of them are bloggers as well!  It’s also nice to know that my Twitter followers are reading my blog links (thanks!).  I’m not surprised that so many find reviews useful and want to see more, but I am surprised by how many people like and want more top ten lists or memes.  Personally, I’m a list maker and love making lists, so I’m all about writing more posts like that!  Something that strikes me as odd is that 25% want more author interviews and 17% want more book trailers.  Since posting this survey I’ve posted two author interviews and had one Book Trailer Thursday post with two trailers, but none of those posts received many views or many comments (compared to other posts, that is).  Quite a few people want more giveaways, but if my last giveaway tells me anything, it’s that I’m either not offering the “right” books, or people don’t really want a free book all that much.  I think in my last giveaway I had 8 entries.  Seriously.  Something to ponder I suppose.

I’m happy I posted this survey because I know what my community is looking for.  I love knowing that more teaching related posts are in demand because I love talking about what I’m doing in my classroom.  Even more, I love getting feedback and suggestions from other teachers!  I’m always thinking about posting more reviews, but this last half of the school year has really worn me out and it’s affected my review writing.  I know more reviews will be written this summer 🙂

I guess if anything’s taken from this post, understand that my community is incredibly important to me.  It’s not only improved my blogging, but it’s making me a better teacher.  I know the blogging community can get overwhelming sometimes, especially if you’re new to blogging, but if you manage to find a few people to connect with you’ll be happy you did.  I really hope that as I continue to blog, I continue to make new connections and provide my readers with valuable content.

Readership Survey

I’m taking things in a slightly different direction today, and I hope you can help me!  I’ve been blogging for almost two years now, and in that time my blog has grown quite a bit.  Next week I’ll be part of a group of bloggers who will be posting on a variety of topics related to blogging.  I decided to focus on community and accountability since that’s something that’s important to me.

My readership survey will help me construct my post, but it will also give me some important insight about my audience.  I have a pretty good feeling about who makes up my readership, but I don’t know that for sure, nor do I know which posts you find the most useful and want more of.  The survey I created is brief, but it and your responses will hopefully help me make Y.A. Love a better blog!  I truly appreciate your time and help 🙂  If you feel there’s something else you’d like to add that isn’t addressed in the survey, please feel free to leave it in the comments or email me.

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