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Friday, March 14, 2014

The Difficulty in Creating New Features

Posted by Charlene // Tags: , ,
As a book blogger, I wish it was feasible to have only book reviews on my blog.  It would be fantastic to read enough books to have at least 3- 5 reviews on my blog a week.  My TBR pile would be gone!  (Well my current one at least.)  So other features are very important.  Since starting book blogging almost two years ago, I've seen other bloggers create regular features that were unique to them, which made them stand out and that is so important for a blog. Having great content unique to each blogger is the usual recommendation for how to improve your blog, but it is really hard.  Especially the unique part.  I do a feature on my blog every Sunday where I recap and review an episode of an old radio show called Suspense.  This is pretty unique for a book blogger I think, but it is also a very specific topic, and I would love for my blog to have a more widely engaging feature. The main problems I think that comes up when trying to think of a new feature for your blog are:
  • Is the feature unique or can you give it a unique viewpoint?
  • Will people be interested enough in the content to continue to read every post?
  • Can you maintain new content for the feature indefinitely?
  • Is the feature true to your interests and abilities?
  • Does the feature fit in with the tone or brand of your blog?
It's certainly not easy to come up with these things.  Of course book reviews are important to a book blogger, but not all reviews will engage all readers, and it's wonderful if all readers can be engaged on something that is personal or informative to themselves.  And that's why discussion posts do so well in connecting the blogger to their readers.  And while I considered trying to create more discussion posts on my blog, I really don't think I could keep it up indefinitely, especially when I see so many other bloggers thinking of interesting, thought-provoking topics.  (Like Gypsy Reviews, Angela's Anxious Life, and Paper Cuts for instance.)  I usually can't think of anything.

For almost the whole of the last two years I participated weekly in Awesome Adaptations which was so much fun because it enabled me to talk all about the bookish films and television shows I love, but I don't watch enough new shows and movies to have kept up with that.  You may notice that I have a banner for this post - Whimsical Notions - which doesn't mean this is a true feature - the banner is more a catch-all visual to add to a post that is mostly thoughts into words.  But a week ago I had an idea for a feature that I think fits in with the tone of my blog and is also very true to my interests which I'm planning to debut as my weekly Monday feature.  

I'm calling it The Refined Reader.  I hope I can maintain this feature for awhile because I am really excited about making it a part of my blog.  My idea came from thinking about the circulating libraries in the Victorian era.  This led to the three volume novel which isn't popular today - or rather it kinda is as the trilogy format.  I hope to go more into it next week as that will be my first topic for The Refined Reader.  I envision that for this feature I will take a look at many different aspects of books and reading culture from the past and compare it to how different or similar it is to how we read, see and use books today.  It's sort of history and commentary and hopefully some fun explorations of what it means to be a reader today.  Bookish history basically.  I love history, especially 19th century history, but I hope to explore and learn how books were seen and used in other times and cultures.

It's pretty much taken me two years to think of something cool and different for my blog. (I don't know if that is encouraging news or not to anyone reading this post and running into dilemmas similar to the ones I had!)  So I hope I can really make this new feature informative and interesting for all potential readers!  

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40 comments:

  1. It is really difficult to come up with features and maintain them, I've come up with a few and abandoned them. I think it doesn't necessarily have to be unique because it is definitely hard to come up with one which others have not but rather adding your own touch to it.

    I'm looking forward to seeing your new feature! It definitely sounds very interesting and very you :)

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    1. Yes it is so hard to keep a feature fresh and interesting, but it's great that you tried them out a few! It was so difficult for me to even think of one! For me though I really wanted something unique, so that it would be memorable - some features I've seen around, I usually start to associate with the blogger and I think that's a good thing for any blogger.

      Aw thanks! I'm actually looking forward to Monday now so I can post it! :D

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  2. Sounds really cool and cant wait to see it. I struggle with that too. I want to come up with something engaging to feature every week to be able to share with people and people to share back. I know its hard to comment on book reviews sometimes..

    I definitely cant wait to see the launching of this!

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    1. Even though I love putting book reviews out there, that's very true that it's hard to comment sometimes. Especially when the visitor isn't interested at all in the book reviewed. Thank you Amber, I can't wait to post it! :)

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  3. I think this is a struggle all bloggers go through. For me, it's a little easier because I have a co-blogger and we kind of do back and forth type posts, or if we forget to do a certain post, the other can have it done. We've also started some stuff that didn't really stick. I think the flipside to this is when you write a great post or feature, then you're over-the-top happy. :)

    I'm curious to read "The Refined Reader" so that sounds like a pretty good feature to start with!

    -P.E. @ The Sirenic Codex

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    1. Having a co-blogger is wonderful for productivity! I also really like it when co-bloggers co-review a book - it's interesting to see the conversation that comes up about the book. And thank you, I'm so happy you are interested in reading my new feature!

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  4. I love history and I think your new idea for feature is great! I am really curious to read your first post for this feature.

    And I know what you mean with how difficult it is to come up with a new feature for your blog. Creating unique and original content can be really difficult sometimes. Since I few weeks I am posting a non-book content post every saturday, I do pick a different topic each saturday because I didn't want to limit myself to one topic.

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    1. Oh thank you! I'm so glad people are interested!

      I love the idea of random non-book content actually - I do that, but I don't usually think of it as a feature - I guess because it can be so random. But it is nice to talk about things other than books, and as a reviewer I think we look at things more critically so we can bring different perspectives to topics outside of books.

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  5. When it comes to thinking up blog features, it usually starts because I notice something that I like doing and wonder if other book bloggers have talked about it. For instance, I noticed that I've been busy with some offline hobbies (sewing ARGH NEEDLES) instead of reading and wondered what non-reading activities my book blogger friends do. So that led to me starting to interview other bloggers about their non-bookish activities. I'm still in the middle of my first interview, but I really like being able to talk about their other hobbies :D

    As for discussion posts, I usually come up with topics when I notice something about my bookish habits and wonder if other people also do the same thing. I do like to talk to people, so interviews and discussion posts are fun for me. :D

    I really like The Refined Reader! I'd love to hear more about bookish history, especially during the Victorian era. :) Best of luck, Charlene!

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    1. Oh that's actually a great discussion question I think - how do you come up with discussion questions? I feel like I already learned a lot from your comment. I probably should work on being more self-aware of my reading habits. But the idea of blogger interviews is fantastic - I look forward to reading the first interview!

      Thanks Ana! My first few posts on Refined Reader will probably deal more with Victorian history so you are in luck! :)

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    2. Haha, so meta! That's a great discussion question, actually. :D Go for it, Charlene!

      Aw yeah, that sounds awesome. :) I used to read this manga title set in Victorian England and the artist did a lot of research so all these little details about it look so good in the story.

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    3. Heh, I might! I'll don't know if I have any tips though! :)

      So great when an author (or artist) does their research to make the story authentic! It's really cool that the manga has those visual details!

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  6. Coming up with features can be hard, especially when the blogosphere is filled with so many ideas that sometimes my idea doesn’t feel unique. When I do come up with something that nobody in the book world has, I get sooo excited and territorial. Lol.

    For me, I have features because I want to give my blog variety and make it more interesting. When I come up with features, I'm usually already in love with the idea, so keeping it up would be no problem. Besides the uniqueness factor, I think coming up with a really awesome and unique name is the hardest part. I frequently want to tear my hair out because I want a name I’ll absolutely love. If I don’t, I won’t be 100% in love with the feature and slowly lose interest in it. I can’t have that!

    I’m excited about your new feature. Bookish history is the best!

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    1. I so feel you on that one - there are so many book bloggers, it seems like everything must have been done already! I love one of the features you have on your blog btw- the You're Just My Type one - I think it's so fun to look at different fonts, and it's so great that you can showcase them. And the title of your feature is so clever! So definitely good work with the naming! :)

      Thank you Cee, I really look forward to reading what people think of the first post!

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  7. First off... thank you for mentioning me thinking of topics. Honestly... I am not creative. They come to me at 1 in the morning when I can't sleep! This feature you have thought of really interests me. I love things all historical too and don't really know much about how books were circulated in the past. Really though I think that even though it has taken you two years to come up with this .. it has taken me just as long. When I first started blogging I didn't know really how to write discussion posts and features. Now I just well.. talk. Instead of acting like it's a college paper I actually talk to my readers. I have always loved your blog and look forward to this!

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    1. I think you come up with great topics so your brain is doing a great job supplying you with questions in the early morning! :) When I was kicking around ideas for topics one thing I noticed was that most of my ideas would make me do some research into the topic, so I feel like I also want to have a feature which will hold me accountable to learning more about the things that interest me. And it will also be great for me to pass on that knowledge to others!

      Finding your voice while blogging does take a while it seems - I'm still working on mine, it's better when the post sounds natural and like you said - like you are talking to the reader so you are doing great with that! :)

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  8. I wrote a post similar to this one a few months (I think) back. Coming up with new features and discussion topics (I love Charlotte's as well!) is almost IMPOSSIBLE, lol! My creative juices do not flow well, haha! It's easy to come up with ideas, but it's difficult to come up with ideas that are UNIQUE and interesting. Can't wait for this new feature, Charlene; good luck with it! <3

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    1. I'm going to go look up your post now! Yes, so agree - some people are wired to come up with lots of ideas I guess, and I'm not one of them. :D

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  9. I don't even do any discussions or feature posts at the moment because 1. they're hard to maintain and 2. it's SO HARD to come up with ideas..

    It takes time to think these things through and I cannot take that much time out of my work load :/

    I am glad that even though it took two years, you came up with a feature you're excited about! :)

    I look forward to it! :)

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    1. You know I probably spend more time at work thinking about my blog then I should! But even so it is really hard to think of new content! I am really happy with this feature idea though, so maybe now I can focus more on work. LOL

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  10. I love the sound of The Refined Reader!! I can't wait to read your posts Charlene!

    And you are too sweet to mention my discussion posts, especially since they don't feel all that good to me. I haven't even done one in a couple of weeks because I'm out of ideas! That's the hardest part about trying to maintain posts that aren't memes and reviews, I think--content. And it's so hard to come up with something new and engaging to say sometimes.

    I've been mulling over features for ages and have yet to come up with something I love, so you're ahead of me!! :)

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    1. Thank you Rachel! Well you come up with great discussion posts, so no wonder it takes some time to think of them! :) I know you'll come up with something!

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  11. I have a couple of my own features, though I feel like the most original is Museum of Literary Wonders, which I've posted the least so far. The problem is, so many features and memes already exist that it's hard to think up something completely new!

    The Refined Reader sounds excellent! What could be better than books and history? =D I look forward to it!

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    1. I missed the Museum of Literary Wonders somehow, so I went to your blog and looked it up - such a great idea and I love the title!! I hope you post more soon!

      I knew you would appreciate the history part. :D

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  12. Good luck with your new feature! It sounds really interesting.

    I'm constantly jotting down ideas for my blog, but I never actually post any of them, because like you said, I'd need to be able to carry them out for awhile. I'm not sure I could with most of them. The only new feature that I started this year was my Chick Flick Friday, which has been tons of fun for me to do, and it gets a fair amount of regular comments! It'll run for at least 99 weeks, since I'm following a list of 100 movies (I had fully reviewed one previously), but I already came up with a spinoff/extension for it if I wish to continue. :D

    Angie @ Pinkindle

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    1. Thank you Angie! Chick Flick Friday sounds like a great feature - I'll check it out on your blog! I like the idea of reviewing a movies according to a theme for myself, but I'm afraid I couldn't keep up with the film watching! So I'll be glad to read your feature!

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  13. I wish I was better at thinking of discussion topics. I just can't ever seem to find something bookish to talk about, other than reviews. Maybe with the more I blog and read, I will come up with something!
    Missie @ A Flurry of Ponderings

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    1. I think that does help - reading more books and your other blogs gives you more perspective and helps you figure out what you are really interested in. It's taken me two years to think of something for my own blog, but it was probably necessary for it to take that long so all the ideas could percolate in my head. :)

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  14. The Refined Reader sounds amazing I can't wait to read your posts. I didn't always comment, but I enjoyed your Awesome Adaptations posts. I've only been blogging for a little over a year and I've experimented with different kinds of posts and features. Sometimes there was little interest or sometimes I lost interest myself, but it always fun to have an idea and to try bringing it to life.

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    1. Thank you! I am glad you enjoyed the Awesome Adaptations posts too! You are so right, it is exciting to come up with new things to blog about, and if it you don't feel like following through with it, you still have some excellent and different content for your blog.

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  15. First of all, I have to say that your blog design is truly GORGEOUS! Luvvvvv it.

    Lots of big bloggers always have this same advice/tip/whatever it is to those who's just starting: Have a unique feature. They don't understand how hard it is to come up with a new, unique one! *yanks hair* I feel like everything people are talking about must have already been talked somewhere in the past by different people. All we can do is recite them again and again while it's still relevant.

    Regardless to say, I'm pretty interested by your new feature! Good luck, Charlene! :)

    Tirta @ I Prefer Reading

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    1. Aw thank you, I'm so glad to hear that! Heh, yeah I feel the same way with getting that advice to think of something unique! It's so not easy, but ideally because everyone is unique there must be a way to put your unique personality into something and make it stand out. It just takes time to find something that you can really bring a new slant to.

      And thank you Tirta, I'm so looking forward to reading people's thoughts on it on Monday!

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  16. I can totally relate to this post, and it's something that's been on my mind a lot lately. I just don't have the time to read as many books as I used to in a month, and I've been kind of scrambling to think up non-review content that can also be posted somewhat regularly. I love the idea of The Refined Reader posts, and I'm looking forward to reading them! :)

    And I love, love your new blog design! The silhouette is so pretty!

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    1. I wish you lots of luck thinking of new content - I think inspiration can come at the oddest moments, so hopefully you'll have a serendipitous moment! And thank you Lee, I'm always glad to hear comments on the new design! :D

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  17. "I wish it was feasible to have only book reviews on my blog" You and me both. I love writing and reading unique posts but they are SO hard to come up with and almost everything has been done before. I am loving the sound of your new feature, and can't wait to see what you come up with! It's a great idea!

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    1. I know, book bloggers are too creative, everything is taken! :) I am hoping I will keep up with the new feature though and make it unique! Thank you Alise!

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  18. First, this is a great post. I also find it really hard to think of a unique feature. So many fantastic bloggers already discuss so many fantastic things, I wonder if I would only be adding to the noise??
    Your idea however, sounds fun! And completely unique! I will be subscribing to keep up :)

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    1. Thank you! It is pretty daunting to put more content out there and wonder if it is really necessary, but I think us book bloggers are interested in such a wide variety of things that a feature that you really put alot of thought and heart into should find interest!

      And thanks, I look forward to keeping up with your blog as well!

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  19. Pretty Little ReaderMarch 24, 2014 at 3:54 PM

    I think you really nailed why it's so hard to come up with a unique feature. It seems like every time I think of something that would fit my blog and my interests, someone else is already doing something similar!


    Best of luck with The Refined Reader! I'm not a huge history buff, so it'll be super interesting to learn about how some of the things I take for granted today, or use on a daily basis, came to be!

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  20. Yes, it is both wonderful and a pain to have so many creative book bloggers out there! :) Thank you, I think it is so interesting and important to know what happened in our past - it gives you a great perspective on the little things in your life - I don't know if The Refined Reader will be able to do all that, but I am hoping it will be interesting!

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