Recipes for Success: How to Measure the Success of your Blog
Guest post: Thea James, The Book Smugglers

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I’m very excited to be moderating a panel at the BEA Bloggers Conference with some YA Book Blogging Pros, including Thea of The Book Smugglers. The panel will be on Wednesday May 29 at 11:15 am, but today I’m pleased to share this post from Thea.

Continue reading to find out how The Book Smugglers measure their blog’s success!
Recipes for Success aims to give new bloggers and reviewers helpful information, tools, and best practices to help facilitate your growth and effectiveness as reviewers. Check back often for tips and tricks from the insiders.

It all started with Lost.

You know. The television show about a group of plane crash survivors stranded on a time travel-y desert island populated by renegade polar bears, black smoke monsters, hippie-esque 1970s secret initiatives, etc?

Ana (the other half of The Book Smugglers) and I are huge, obsessive nerds. As such, we both loved Lost so much that we devoted countless hours to the show online – concocting madcap theories about the island, spoiler and easter egg hunting, and shipping Sawyer and Kate (Skate) with unabashed fervor. Ana and I became friends on various Lost forums right before season 3 started, and quickly discovered that we also shared a passion for books – both of us also share obsessive personalities that lead to irresponsible spending on (and stockpiling of) books.

Around this time, Ana was in her romance phase and deeply invested in reading blogs for recommendations and reviews – so, when Ana asked me if I wanted to start a blog with her, I said sure, what the heck.

Thus, on January 7, 2008, The Book Smugglers was born.

Over the years – five years! – our blog has gone through a number of changes in terms of content, focus, as well as look and feel. When we started the blog, Ana was all about historical and contemporary romance, and I was more focused on fantasy (especially urban fantasy) and horror. Over time, however, this has shifted – Ana no longer reads much romance, and overall our reviews firmly focus on speculative fiction (science fiction, fantasy, horror, and all things in between), as well as young adult and middle grade fiction.

That said, we’ve always been an eclectic blog, so it’s not uncommon to see a review of historical novel or a mystery/thriller pop up. Plus, while we focus a lot on the new and shiny big frontlist releases, we also try to give some love to older titles and forgotten backlist gems. For example, this year we started a feature called Old School Wednesdays, in which we review books that are a minimum of 5 years old. Our audience is an eclectic one, too, and we think (hope!) appreciates our varied tastes – we certainly see a strong response to the big, hyped new releases, but also love seeing responses from readers that love the older titles we cover.

As for the “success” of our blog, we like to think we’re successful! Having blogged on a daily basis consistently for over five years, we’ve steadily grown our audience of readers and subscribers. We are an analytical pair, and believe me when I say that we monitor our traffic statistics very closely and on a number of different platforms (google analytics, wordpress, statcounter, etc). The easiest metrics to quantify and track are those for traffic and subscribers, which we have seen grow over time. That said, we also think success can and should be measured by other means. Engagement with comments or with tweets, for example, are other important yardsticks. But, most importantly, there’s an internal measure of success (at least there is in my opinion!).  Running The Book Smugglers is a second full-time job, and trying to keep up with a daily posting schedule year after year is no small feat. You see, both Ana and I love what we do. We want to read more, review more, and continue to innovate and grow and connect with other passionate readers online. The fact that we are still as excited about books – if not more so! – than we were when we started our humble blog in 2008 is the greatest measure of success, to me.

-Thea

Wellness Pledge

Thanks, Thea, for sharing your thoughts! I look forward to our panel at the BEA Bloggers Conference. Bloggers, don’t forget to sign the NetGalley Wellness pledge for a chance to win $100 in books!

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