Armchair BEA 2015: Christina on Blogging 101

armchairbeaIt’s Day 3 of Armchair BEA! How has your week been going? Today’s prompt, I have decided to look at blogging 101:

Blogging Q&A

Blogging 101. All kinds of tips and tricks to get you started or keep you going. Talk about ARCs, reviewing in general, web design, etc.  What blogging platform do you use? How do you network? What are some of your favorite web designs?  Or maybe you want to talk about your own blogging journey, and how you got to where you are now. Either way, we want you to share your knowledge with the rest of the community!


Let’s start from the top and work our way through the questions:

Talk about ARCs:

  • For me, ARCs are fun to receive the opportunity to review and fun to read. Whether these come through email or book expos, and whether they are free copies for e-readers or physical books – they’re fun! I must say, the first physical ARC book I personally received (The Exchange of Princesses by Chantall Thomas) made me giddy (for lack of better words). I loved having the actual book in hand to review.My advice: Be sure to have an easy-to-find email on your blog for publishers and authors to reach out to you through. Do not take every book that comes in through your inbox or that you find on a table. Be selective and pick the ones on topics that catch your interest. This will allow you to enjoy the reading experience and write a passionate review.

Reviewing in general:

  • Reviewing books should be fun! That is why we do it, right? Enjoy the books you read and find a reviewing style that is right for you. For me, after taking many history classes and writing historical reviews for these, my style has settled into organizing my reviews by: summary of the book; what I liked about the book; why the book was unique; areas that needed improvement in the book; and overall summary of my opinion/rating and the audience I would recommend for the read.

Web design:Dont make me think

  • If you do not own these books yet, go to your local book store or get on Amazon right now and order: Don’t Make Me Think: A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability by Steve Krug and The Elements of Content Strategy by Erin Kissan

    These books will help you optimize your web design, make it user-friendly, and attract others to your blog. There are so many great tips in these two books for setting up a webpage, whether it is for the content on pages, the layout, the font or colors, and other widgets and features…. You need these books. I was introduced to them during my Digital Public History Master’s class and will always keep them close on my book shelf.

What blogging platform do you use?

  • I have grown comfortable with using WordPress. I have explored other sites, but WordPress has an easy-to-use platform with many different layout options. The font and colorings are so easy to change, and the different pages, parent pages and children pages are easy to manipulate. I use WordPress for both of my blogging platforms.

How do you network?

  • Twitter and other social media platforms are a great way to network. Going to libraries, talking with others and events, and just talking about the blog in general with others who may be interested are different ways I network. I still need to design business cards…

What are some of your favorite web designs?

  • I haven’t really thought much about this…

Or maybe you want to talk about your own blogging journey, and how you got to where you are now:

  • My blogging journey began with my Digital Public History class. We had to create a blog we recorded our weekly thoughts on for our readings, and we had to comment on others’ blogs in our class. From there, we had to create a website for the Digital Public History class’ final project… that is how Virginia Wine: History Uncorked ( was born. I have grown my blogging from that site by writing about the history of wine in Virginia, visiting different wineries and recording my experiences, and by writing about the history attractions near wineries. About two years ago, shortly after we started are VA Wine and Book Club, Michelle asked me if I wanted to contribute to Playing Jokers with the occasional book blog. I was honored, thrilled, and here I am today loving the book blogging and writing world!

Share your blogs so we can check them out and connect!

pj - christina

What do you think?

  • Christina, I really like your blog design that I’ve even contacted Hazel. I really loved her Portfolio. I’ve already got a design on my blog which I absolutely love but I do love the designs that Hazel does too, but I find that there’s a certain look and I know it’s a WP blog. Since I’m looking at migrating, I might get Hazel to fully redo my blog design but I can’t help being slightly attached to my one now.

    Great post!

    • Michelle Michelle says:

      I admit…I love changing up the blog design. I just like looking at different things and sometimes get different ideas of what I want the blog to convey. The layout we had before this one was very nice, crisp, and much darker. After that, I was craving something really soft and almost less professional (which sounds weird I know!).

      Hazel was FANTASTIC to work with and was very affordable compared to other designers. I was pretty abstract with what I wanted (I kept saying ‘more feminine and soft, whatever that means in terms of html!) and she delivered. I’m very tempted to reach out to her again and switch things up again, moving a bit away from the yellow, which I admit was a better idea in theory than in practice.

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