The End of an Era

Hello, my dear On a Book Bender fans!

In the way of so many blogs and brands, it’s time to retire On a Book Bender.

Here’s what you should know:

You’ll also notice that all of those places are me under my own name.

After managing multiple brands and websites over the past five years, I’ve realized that I can’t do it all. Neither do I want to. So everything is going under one umbrella: Amanda Shofner.

I invite you to join me there. It’s going to be all my favorite topics, which includes self-publishing (which is a thing I do), books (because I never stopped loving reading), my dog (because, oh by the way, we adopted a dog in March), and my obsession with Futurama.

Because there’s a Futurama episode for just about everything in life. For serious.

It’s difficult to say goodbye to a brand that I’ve built over the years, but it’s time. The people I’ve met through On a Book Bender have been AMAZING and WONDERFUL and I LOVE YOU. I hope you’ll say “Hey!” to my @amshofner accounts and not be a stranger.

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Stop Putting Yourself Down {Amanda’s Discussion}

discussion

Book bloggers are incredibly negative about themselves.

I see this all the time, but Bout of Books brings out this tendency in full force. Maybe because I’m actually paying attention. During #boutofbooks 9.0, I started the phrase “Flailing, not failing” to combat some of the negativity I saw.

Full confession: I hate listening to people talk about how they’ve failed. It makes me want to throw things because 99.9% of the time, they’re not failing. They’re just being negative because they didn’t get to do what they wanted to do. Stop putting so much pressure on yourself and have a little fun.

But that’s not what this post is about.

This post is a demand to stop putting yourself down

Stop saying, “I’m a bad blogger” because you didn’t post when you wanted to.

You’re not. You’re a blogger who decided real life or relaxation took priority over blogging, and there’s nothing wrong with that. Because sometimes you need to take time for yourself or you’ll burn out and hate blogging.

Stop saying, “I’m a slow reader” because someone reads more books than you.

When did it become a contest to see who could read more books? Some people read faster. Some people have more time to read. Stop comparing yourself to everyone else. It’s not a fucking contest.

Stop saying, “I’m the last person on earth to read this book.”

You’re NOT. There is not a single book on earth that every person but you has read. (And let’s not forget all the people in the world who can’t even read.) Saying this makes a huge deal out of something that isn’t. On that note…

Stop saying, “I’m a terrible reader” because you haven’t read the latest book “everyone” is talking about.

There’s no list of books you’re required to read if you want to call yourself a “good reader.” Read what you want. Put a book on your library list or wishlist if you think you should read a book. Get to it when you have time. And DON’T feel guilty for it.

None of these statements builds a positive, happy community

When my Twitter stream is full of people putting themselves down, all I want to do is stop interacting and start reading a book. Which is fine for my TBR pile, but not so great for my relationship with the book blogging community.

Who wants to listen to a bunch of people whine about everything that isn’t going the way they want it? I don’t.

How you talk about yourself affects how people perceive you

I often see people talking about how they wish they could X or they wish they had more time for Y. And that’s fine. I get that we often don’t have the time or inclination to do something.

But the more you express your wish for the same thing (e.g., I wish I was more organized) and never do anything about it, the more it looks like you’ll never accomplish it. That you’re all whiny talk and no action.

In other words, stop talking about what you want to change. Just change it. If you can’t (if you’re just not organized and never will be), embrace it. You’re not like everyone else and that’s a GOOD thing.

More importantly, how you talk about yourself and the world affect how you perceive the world

If you want it to, the world will always shit on you. By focusing on the positive—by finding something to be happy about in any situation, even the not so great ones—you’ll be a happier, healthier person. You’ll find the world doesn’t shit on you; it throws you down a certain path to teach you a lesson that’ll help you later in life.

What’s something about yourself that you’re proud of? Go on, celebrate yourself.

The B-Word: Branding {Bloggiesta Mini-Challenge}

The word brand and branding brings up a lot of fear, upset, and uncertainty. Let me tell you what *I* think about brands:

Your brand is your reputation

It’s what people say about you (or your blog) when you’re not around. It’s the look and feel of your blog. It’s PERSONALITY. It’s building expectations between you and your reader.

So yes, you have one. If you don’t want to call it “brand,” don’t. But what you call it doesn’t really change what it is or how it functions.

This challenge is more of a reflective one. I’ve broken down brands into different aspects, and each aspect has questions to answer about your brand/blog. You can comment on my blog with your answer or create a post with your answers and link up in the comment sections here.

If you have ANY questions, tweet them to me at @BookBender or email me through the contact page. I’m here for you.

And please remember: This challenge isn’t designed to determine whether you have a “good” or “bad” brand, or a “strong” or “weak” brand. There’s absolutely NO FAILING. It’s only to get you thinking about the image you’re projecting to the general public and help you improve if you want to.

Your name

The best name will be unique and descriptive. It should set you apart from other bloggers and make it easy to figure out what you do.

If your blog name doesn’t do it, a tagline will help. Even if you have a descriptive blog name, taglines add an extra dimension to your name. Here are a couple examples:

At On a Book Bender, our tagline is “where book addicts go to get their fix”

At The Path of Least Revision, my tagline is “fighting the frustration of writing and editing (so you don’t have to)”

Once you have a name, it should be everywhere: on your blog, with your comments on other blogs, on social media. Keeping your name consistent will build name recognition. If people recognize you, you’re doing well and building your brand.

Note: If you’re a personal brand (as an author or blogger) and you have a common name, you can add something to your name to make yourself stand out. My friend Stacey Harris has a common name, so she started using The Stacey Harris, which sets her apart from every other Stacey Harris out there.

Challenge: Answer #1. If you want to do more, proceed to #2 and #3. Comment with what you did.

1. How well does your blog name reflect what your blog is about?

2. Create a tagline.

3. Look at the name you use to leave comments. Change it to reflect your brand. For example, “Amanda @ On a Book Bender” is more recognizable than just “Amanda.”

Your appearance

Your profile picture, blog graphics, and colors go into your brand.

There’s no real formula to this, but here’s what you want to keep in mind:

People connect better with pictures of people. They want to know that who they’re talking to is another human. If you’re uncomfortable with sharing an actual picture of yourself, an avatar works just as well. I used my avatar for a couple years before switching to a real picture of me. (And then only because I wanted to separate myself from my blog brand.)

Consistency is key. If you have the same picture on every social network, it’s easy to recognize you. People look for pictures first, name second. (Don’t worry. Change is okay. Just make sure you inform people so they don’t lose you.)

Make it eye-pleasing. Whatever colors you choose, they shouldn’t hurt people’s eyes. You also want something that translates to social media. Twitter has a small profile picture in the feed… don’t make people squint or enlarge your picture to figure out what your profile picture is.

Challenge: Answer #1 and #2.

1. Do you have the same profile picture on all social networks (including your blog)? If no, consider updating your profile pictures so they match.

2. Is the picture of you or an avatar? If no to both, consider getting one.

Your personality (or “feel”)

What do we expect from you? My personal brand (@BookBender, @amshofner, and amandashofner.com) is known for being positive. My business, The Path of Least Revision, is known for being witty, having attitude, and supplying pretty awesome advice. Renae from Respiring Thoughts is known for her conversationally analytic reviews.

Challenge: Answer #1.

1. What do people expect from YOUR blog? (If you don’t know, write what you WANT to be known for.)

Self-promotion

Here’s the key to being successful at self-promoting: understanding that everyone is more concerned with themselves than you. Most people don’t care about what you’re doing because they’re too concerned about what they’re doing.

That means self-promoting is about giving people context and something that’ll make them say, “Yes, I need to see that.”

That’s not, “Here’s my latest post!” ten times a day. When you see those posts from other people, how often do YOU click through?

Really. Go look at what everyone else is tweeting. What makes you want to click through? What do you ignore? What is it about the tweet that makes you ignore it? (Then don’t do the same.)

Social media is about being social and engaging with people.

Challenge: Answer #1 and #2.

#1. Look at your Twitter timeline. What’s the ratio between interacting with people and self-promoting tweets? (Eyeball it.)

#2. Write a social media update about your latest post (or your latest FAVORITE post) that teases and gives people a reason to click through.

Ex. “Want to know five secrets to successfully marketing yourself? @BookBender’s spilling the beans.” (NOT: “Hey, I wrote about post about marketing! Come check it out!”)

Giveaway

Once you’ve completed this challenge, you can enter to win a copy of my ebook, Blog Events. (If you have Blog Events, you can opt to get The Blogger’s Mindset.) You’ll receive an ebook in .mobi or whatever Calibre can convert an ebook to. The challenge is open internationally. The giveaway is subject to the terms and conditions listed below.

Terms and Conditions

  • You must be at least 18 years old or older and a Bloggiesta participant
  • Your information is subject to the On a Book Bender privacy policy
  • Your entry will be verified; if the entry cannot be verified, it will be removed
  • Void where prohibited
  • The length of the giveaway is from 1/24/2014 12:00am to 1/27/2014 12:00am Central
  • Value of prize is $1.99
  • No purchase necessary to win
  • Winner will be contacted via email and has 48 hours to respond before a new winner is chosen
  • Odds of winning depend on the number of entries
  • Additional terms and conditions may apply

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