Aug 7, 2015

LITHW #6 : Let's discuss about discussion posts

The initial concept of book blogs might be posting reviews of books, both released and upcoming. But that doesn't mean, that reviews are the only posts that we book bloggers end up writing on our blogs.

Discussion posts - posts that discuss about either book related concepts, issues, problems, fun topics or things related to blogging - are sometimes the most popular and often read posts on our respective blogs. Sometimes they get more pageviews, attention and comments than reviews.

But such posts need some practice and time to be mastered, and here's everything you need to know about discussion posts, from coming up with ideas to dealing with the consequences, compiled by yours truly, based on some hard learned truths.

Before we start, let's ponder on why we need discussion posts in our blog. After all, we run book blogs, right? Why do need to discuss things, when we can go on to post review after review?

Reviews help your readers to find their next read. It might help publishers to promote your books. But other than that, they're not going to help you in any way, if you want to reach out and have a healthy relationship with your readers.

This is where discussion posts come to help. These posts make your readers understand you as a person. Your views, passions and your ideals will be brought out. You can talk about your passion of books, rant about your favourite characters and vent about book nerd problems, because after all, isn't that why you created a book blog?

Discussion posts also make your readers think, it gives them something to discuss about, which will, start a meaningful conversation between you and your reader, and eventually, a healthy relationship.

Coming Up with Ideas

  • Make a word doc or a draft in your blog with keywords. Words that are often used in the blogging community and in other discussion posts. For example, I have an alphabetically ordered list of keywords, like TBR, ARC, tearjerker, book boyfriend, villains etc. When you are compiling this list, it might seem useless, but whenever you need an inspiration, when you look at these words, there's a chance that you might get a post idea.
  • Don't stress too much, and try to spend some time for relaxing. Trust me when I say that you get more post ideas when you are in the shower, or relaxing around in the park rather than when you're sitting in front of your computer and staring at the blank screen

  • Keep a notebook for ideas. Write them down even if you think it's stupid. Sometimes the best way to make a reminder is writing it down, and my notebook is one of my biggest treasures in the world. An idea which seems stupid now, might be something brilliant when you look at it after some time.
  • Read a lot of discussion posts. Observe the concepts. Sometimes, a post you read an another blog might spark an idea for your own post! Remember, I am not saying that it's right to copy another post's concept, but it's okay to be inspired.

Putting the ideas into words

In my opinion, this is the hardest step when you write a discussion post.

  • When you get an idea, don't start writing then itself. Give that idea some thought. Make an outline in your mind. Start writing only after you have a rough but complete idea of what you're going to write. If you don't do this, chances are high that you deviate from the topic halfway and end up talking about something else.
  • Make lists. Make points and list them under subheadings. In some short way you can understand, make notes of what you are trying to say. Like I said above, keep a notebook for this purpose. In this way, when you go through the pages after some time, you'll be able to write the post as if you came up with the idea just now, and you won't miss anything.

  • If you're finding it hard to write down what you are trying to say. Drop the post for now. When I get into this situation, I take my phone and make a recording clip while I talk about the topic. Mostly this happens to me when I am in a blogging slump. Later, when I have the mood to write, I listen to these clips again, and try writing the post all over again.

  • Ask for opinions. Twitter is the best option here. Tweet about the concept and ask what others think about it. This might give you an idea on what to write.
  • Use gifs. These are more than images to me. Most of the time, I convey emotions and feelings that I can't seem to describe in words through gifs. They help me a lot with setting the mood, and give the reader an idea whether I am talking in jest or I am serious.

When you hit publish

  • This is something common to all posts, but be sure to check for typos. And grammar mistakes. A discussion post is supposed to sound like a conversation, so it should flow smoothly, and these mistakes can interrupt that flow.

  • Figure out the best days and time that your blog gets the most pageviews, and schedule your posts accordingly. If you carefully observe your stats for some time, you can find this information out!
  • Promote the posts! Tweet out the link, and when you do so, make the description as catchy as possible. Go on commenting sprees, link up your post if you can find any suitable linky. 

Also remember!

  • Be open minded when you write a discussion post. Think of all the possibilities and point of views before you decide to take a side. 

  • Be careful of your tone. Being argumentative is okay, but keep it as conversational as possible. Also don't talk as if you're debating on a topic. And make sure that you don't sound preachy. 
  • Make sure that you know everything about the topic that you're going to tackle. Believe me, I learned it in the hardest way possible. When you put up a post on your blog, you're not considered as a teen who's bound to make mistakes. So if you interpret something wrong and let out inaccurate info, you're going to face a lot of criticism.

  • Try to make your title as catchy as possible. For example, instead of naming the post - "Let's discuss : Love Triangles" you can name it as " When the girl can't choose between two guys...." Get what I mean?
  • Images are important. There should be a balance between words and images in your post. But at the same time, don't over do them! Too much images and gifs can delay the page loading, by the time which I would be frustrated and closed the tab.

  • Never hesitate to tackle controversial concepts! It's okay to hold back if you're scared of criticism, but if you're daring to face the consequences, go on to talk about that! I deeply admire bloggers who aren't scared to talk their mind *cough* Nova *cough* 

  • And please, please, please don't copy someone else's work! Plagiarism is a horrible thing to do, and please don't attempt it! It's okay to be inspired by someone's post - and if you can credit the post and the blogger who inspired your post, it's even better! But please don't steal ideas, concepts and words, it's the worst offence you can do to and as a blogger.
  • And most of all, remember to give space to the audience in your discussion! Don't end your post in a way, that sounds as if your view is completely accurate. Admit the possibility that you might be wrong and ask for the reader's opinion. A footer question is a great way to do this!

So there you go! Those are a few quirks and tips I learned the hard way about discussion posts and I really hope that they helped you all in some way!
What are some tips that you guys can share regarding discussion posts? Do you agree with what I said up there? 
Feel free to leave a comment!

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