Bookish Blogging: Trying New Features

Bookish Blogging, Trying out New Features

Bookish Blogging

Are you a blogger who is constantly trying to come up with new and original feature ideas? Maybe you come up with an idea or two,  but then are too worried about how others might respond that you never actually put your ideas up on your blog? This post is for you, my friend.


Post Inspiration

A couple of months ago, Kelley had emailed Leanne and I to ask about our opinion on a possible feature idea. She thought it would be interesting, but was worried that others might not like it. Our automatic response? GO FOR IT! That’s not surprising since Leanne is all about not letting worst-case scenarios hold you back from doing things, and I myself am known for experimenting with random features on my blog. Kelley has yet to actually go through with her idea for her feature, but it made me wonder how many other bloggers are in similar situations where they come up with feature ideas but don’t try them out.


The Feature That Almost Never Was

If you were to ask the blogosphere one thing I’m known for, I think one of the top answers would be my features. I have a lot of them, and though I don’t use them all regularly (especially now that I only post twice a week), I do like having them because it gives me a chance for variety when creating posts that keeps me entertained.

One of my top features is my Bookish Games. I’m always surprised when I think how successful it is, because it almost didn’t happen. Let me explain.

When I started my blog, I LOVED to come up with new feature ideas. Of course, I was starting to have so many that I decided to create a survey to see what features people loved and hated on my blog, and which possible feature ideas they might want to see next. The results were interesting, and it led me to introduce two new features on my blog: Bookish Wars and Bookish Games.

Pictionary, YA Book Title

My Pictionary Attempt >.>

Of course while my survey was up I had changed my idea about what I wanted the Bookish Games to be and that left me really conflicted on what to do. Originally, it was just going to be a feature where I played a bunch of different games incorporating books and invited followers to play along. I had created a post with Pictionary and one with a crossword puzzle (which inspired Kelley to start creating crossword puzzles herself) in preparation of launching this new feature.

But then I had an idea.

Way back when I was thirteen, I remembered playing this game in a forum where you had to fight to be the last person standing, using only your words. I couldn’t remember what it was called, but could remember how much fun I had playing it, and thought that maybe it would work for a blog. I did tons of research to find out what the game was called (Mafia) and then wondered if it would be a good idea to do for this feature. I emailed both Kelley and Eve asking them their opinions, and though I’m not sure they completely understood my idea, they were more or less supportive. I was still unsure myself, but decided to just throw up a post to see how the blogosphere respond and… well, the rest is history.

But, the funny thing to me is how that feature almost didn’t happen because I was too worried about what other bloggers would think. It was so unlike anything else that anyone does, that I thought I must be out of mind for putting it on a blog. And though I may still be out of my mind, it did end up working. Phew!

The Bookish Games

The feature that almost never was.

I can’t say all my features have been so successful (Bookish Wars and Bookish Parades aren’t that loved), but I don’t let fear hold me back from trying. If I’ve learned anything from Bookish Games, is that there is no harm in trying a new feature out. The worst that can happen is people don’t love it, and the best that can happen is people do love it. Either way, you find out the truth instead of being stuck in your head, and you can make your decisions much easier from there!


Coming up with new Feature ideas

Now what about those who want to come up with new features, but don’t know how? Well, I can’t do everything for you. But I will try to help however I can!

In my opinion, the best way to come up with new feature ideas is to think things that you love that you can somehow put together. If you just look around the blogosphere, you can see quite a few amazing examples of this:

(Note: These aren’t all the interesting features out there, not by a long shot, and some of these combinations have been used in multiple ways by multiple blogs. These are just the first few that popped into my head!)

When I created my survey last year, a couple of ideas I came up with revolved around possible combinations I thought might be fun to try. Here they are (along with some other random ideas) that I have never used but might someday try:

  • Books + Scrapbooks = Bookish Scrapbooks (I go through phases where I love scrapbooking, and I always thought it would be cool to make scrapbook pages from the character’s point of view of important scenes, quotes, etc.)
  • Books + Travel = Bookish Itineraries (Choose a location in the world and find out what book-related activities you can do there, whether visiting places from a loved book or checking out their bookshops and libraries.)
  • Books + Doodling = Bookish Scribbles (What better way to show your love for a book than through fan art?)
  • Books + Challenge = Bookish Challenges (If you find something in a book that you’ve never done or tried, give it a go! It could be something like zip lining (Divergent) or dying your hair blue (Daughter of Smoke and Bone). Do something new based on a book you’ve read and talk about the connection and your results!)
  • Books + Parties = Bookish Parties (Plan themed parties based on books! Or what would you do at a party if you invited the characters from a certain book to join?)
  • Books + Video Games = ?? (There really should be some kind of possible connection. Highlighting books mentioned in video games? Talking about the story lines within books? Recommending one based on the other?)

See, it’s all about having fun and trying new things! Of course, there are other ways of getting inspiration for new features. The important thing to remember is that if you do pull inspiration from someone else to credit them for that inspiration (so if anyone is inspired to do a feature based off of one my ideas, please contact me and provide credit) and to HAVE FUN!


Your Turn

Are you afraid to try out new features on your blog? Have you had any success/failures with features you’ve tried? What new feature ideas do you have in the mix?

Asti

 

Read 52 comments

  1. I have ideas I give up on all the time, mostly because I just don’t think they will work on my blog but also because writing them doesn’t work out in the way I wanted. But, I agree with Leanne on not letting the worst case scenario stop you – sage advice there. I’ve never thought of paring book and other activities up like that to make a feature, very creative, I like it.

    • Yeah, I do think sometimes it’s hard to translate what you have in your mind into a blogpost, but as long as you give it a try in the first place I think that’s good! It’s one thing not doing it because it’s just not working, it’s another to stop just out of fear of what others will think! And thanks :) I think pairing things up is one of the easiest and most fun ways to come up with new features!

  2. This is definitely interesting! I have a hard time coming up with new and/or interesting features to post on my blog, just as posting interesting discussion posts. I find it really hard to be original sometimes, but I think lots of people shave this problem. Loved reading this post! Thanks :)

    • I do think it’s hard to come up with anything completely original, but even if you come up with something and find out it already exists, you can still make it your own (though usually it’s still good to check in with that other person)! And hey, people still read blogs even when they’re not completely original, so it’s not always a bad thing :)

  3. I love this Asti! I put out Discussion ideas last week and now we have feature ideas and I love that we can give other people ideas and the confidence to do what they want to do. People shouldn’t be too afraid to do what pleases them on their blog, I have a few features, many of them book cover related, but it has a good reception and right now, I like them too, so I stick with them, but I think the confidence you can give with this post is fantastic! (I also tune in for your Bookish Games but don’t take part, it’s interesting to see it all unfold, so be proud!)

    • Exactly! If we can just encourage one person to try a feature or discussion idea out that has been at the back of their mind, then I say we have done our job :)

      And thanks! I also wonder if anyone aside from the players actually look at the Bookish Games posts. I can’t imagine it makes a lot of sense, since even the players playing the game barely ever know what’s going on. But I have a lot of fun running them so I don’t mind! :P

  4. I have a couple of my own features – Fantasy Friday which is probably a pretty common idea across loads of blogs (I just talk about anything related to fantasy every fortnight), Turning Off The TV (where I recommend books based on TV shows or films every Thursday) and Museum of Literary Wonders (showcasing bookish ‘artefacts’ in my imaginary museum). That last one came around because I’ll be off to study in order to become a museum curator soon :D

    I post about video games quite a bit, as you probably know. Mostly they’re part of my ‘Thoughts’ posts, which are just discussions, although I do have a LOT of video game ideas, plus video game & book ideas. There’s one that I’m going to have up at the end of this month actually, just need to write it ;)

    I think it’s tricky to think of new features. All of mine just suddenly came to me one day, the times where I’ve actually sat down to think one up I’ve been unsuccessful.

    • Yes! I actually think you’re pretty great at coming up with your own unique features, and love how they reflect your different interests!

      I can’t wait for your video game post. I know people bring them up sometimes, but it’s usually just a one time thing. I want some kind of regular feature combining the two. Doooooo it Rinn. Doooo it ;)

      Haha yes, I do think it’s a bit random how features come into our heads sometimes. Half to the time mine come from brainstorming, but other times they’ll just pop into my head. I think the main thing is writing them down as soon as you think of them – no matter how crazy they sound! Even if you don’t use it right then it’s always good to look back on and think about. That’s what I do with my features – I have a whole list of ideas that I refer back to when wanting something new.

      • Aww, thanks :D

        You know, I am tempted… I just need a good name for it :P Sometimes I worry that I drive people away with my video game talk though? Which is stupid, because it’s MY blog, for my interests.

        Yup. the idea for my Museum feature came to mind at work,and I had to furiously scribble down all my thoughts for it because I was working the late shift and couldn’t risk forgetting by the time I got home!

        • I highly doubt you drive people away through your video game posts! In a way, I think they’re like memes or other posts. If people don’t want to read them, they won’t read them, but that doesn’t stop them from following you if you like your other content. That’s one of the perks of having different features. People have their own favorites, and as long as one or two gets them to stop by, you win ;)

          • This is very true. I guess I offer enough different content, so that even if people like the video game stuff, there’s plenty of bookish stuff which is what most people are there for ;)

            Starting work on my new feature now! ;D

  5. I always have ideas, but then am a bit worried no one else will find them as interesting as I do. We’re planning on doing a feature on our blog called Literary Cage Match, and hope others find it entertaining (think characters 1v1 in the ring…) :) Another worry is that it has been done before — I have no idea if someone has tried that, or is doing it now, and I don’t want to appear as a copycat or unoriginal. We started doing movie casting twice a month on Mondays, and I recently discovered another blog has been doing it for a looong time. Great minds think alike! The best part is though, if it isn’t good, you don’t have to keep it up. And since this isn’t my job, failure is easier to accept!

    • You don’t know unless you try! I like the idea of Literary Cage Match. If you do come across someone who is doing it as well, I’d say just reach out to them and let them know that you didn’t realize that they were already doing it, and then see if linking to their feature in your feature introduction is okay. I have had numerous people create features inspired by my features, and they usually just include a link to my blog (or they did when it was A Bookish Heart) and I never had a problem with it. Ideas are rarely original, it’s what you do with them and the content you produce that makes it different. :)

      And yes, you’re right! If it doesn’t go well or you decide you don’t like doing it, you can always stop! It’s the beauty of blogging. You can change it as much as you want or do whatever you’d like, because it’s your blog :)

  6. I love that you wrote this post and shared some of your ideas — successful, not-so-successful, and still untried — because it shows such a wide variety of topics and it gets my brain thinking too! I hope this encourages other bloggers to try out some of their feature ideas that they might be uncertain about. I have so many I want to try too, but I’m still trying to figure them out (or find time to do them)!

    • Yes! Go brain go! WE CAN NEVER HAVE ENOUGH FEATURES HERE >:D! (Sometimes I wonder if maybe there is such a thing as too many features, but that will never stop me from creating them all.) I hope at some point you have the time and energy to try some of your ideas out! I know things have been hectic lately though, so I’ll patiently wait <3

  7. I was never exactly afraid of introducing new features on my blog. I was hesitant though because I what I wanted were unique features but I almost got no idea for my first two years of blogging. I finally took the plunge this year by introducing a couple. They aren’t exactly unique but I think the content is? To an extent.

    I’ve to give you an applause for all your amazing features and while I loved the Pictionary idea, I love the current Bookish Games more. Definitely a lot of fun. Also, I love Bookish Wars especially because you lost it to me. He he.

  8. Ooh, I would love Bookish Itineraries!

    I agree that it’s tough to come up with interesting features… and if you come up with one that’s truly unique – like Bookish Games – it’s easy to think that it might not be popular, because surely all the best ideas have already been taken, so anything not being done must be a bad idea, right? I think that’s why I don’t bother so much trying to come up with something truly original. Well, that and a complete lack of creativity. After all, really my only other passion is music, and there are tons of features already that combine books and music.

    (Oh, and the inspiration for your Pictionary doodle up above is actually sitting in my Bout of Books TBR right now.)

    • Maybe you should make Bookish Itineraries a feature on your blog ;)

      Don’t worry, you’re not the only one who claims to have a complete lack of creativity. I think there’s nothing wrong with that. If you’re happy with the features you already have, then keep doing what you do! I’m just always upset by those people who DO have the ideas but do nothing with them. Go for it people! Explore! Live! Try! lol.

      (Oooh! Read it Charleen! I love A Monster Calls, and it’ll be on our Bookish Guides this month! <3)

  9. Thanks so much for including me on this roundup! Sometimes it’s hard to think of a new feature, since it’s so easy to feel that there’s something similar to your feature idea. However, I think each blogger adds something different so even if it is similar, it can be different.

  10. I always love seeing original features on blogs because I think they add so much personality! I’m always thinking up of new ones myself and it can definitely be hard sometimes to think up of something that is unique, that hasn’t been done yet. I’m always worried about whether or not people will like it because sometimes I feel foolish for putting out something that isn’t getting such great reception but I make sure to remind myself that it’s not all about the numbers. The enjoyment I get out of it is the most important part! And I love all my features so yay! All your features sound so interesting, especially Bookish Challenges and Bookish Parties! Would love to maybe see those one day! :) And I love Bookish Wars, they’re so interesting!

    • Yes, I think coming up with original ones are hard. But even if it’s inspired by another post, as long as you get permission and give proper credit, then you can do it too but with your own twist. Sometimes it’s not just the features that people come for, it’s you! So it doesn’t really matter what you do :) And really, if you do it and don’t get great feedback, you can just never do it again and really, I think people are quick to forget since there’s so much going on in all our lives and in the blogosphere ing general :P

      And thanks! Someday I might try one of these features, but for now I have so much I want to do with the features I already have! Ahhhhh ;)

  11. YES. I do this all the time! One of my favorite features I do, History 101 was born out of my love for books and history. It’s honestly just an excuse for me to ramble on about Hemingway’s less-than-heroic deeds, the real identity of Mother Goose, and unsolved art heists. :) So much fun!

    Then there are times when a post I originally only meant to be a one-time deal turns out to be so well-received that it becomes a regular thing! Get Your Fix is still relatively new and started when I read a somewhat disappointing novel from a sub-genre I adore (art/artists). I didn’t want new readers of my blog to immediately cast off a really wonderful niche due to one lackluster read on my part, so I compiled a big list of novels about art, artists, and fictionalized accounts of the subjects in paintings. I’m a military history major & focused on the Civil War, so for my second installment it was a no-brainer to select novels dealing with both sides as well as some great starting points for non-fiction works.

    The only other consistent feature I have is Books in the Burgh. Pittsburgh is home to a ton of incredible indie shops and this feature is where I get to highlight them (& obvs do a little shopping!) Unlike the others, this one actually requires me spending money/driving around the city, so it’s more of a semi-regular feature.

    Then of course there are ones I thought for sure would be fun only to wind up losing interest or realizing there just wasn’t enough material for a feature. I’m super jealous of those bloggers who are insanely creative and can come up with tons of different features!

  12. Oh wow, it was cool to read about how Bookish Games got started and took off. :D Combining your love for books with something else makes for a great feature. :)

    About books + video games, an idea came to me a few days ago. A feature that went “If you enjoyed [book], why not try [game]?” I’ve been talking about it with another blogger, so hopefully we can get that feature up soon. :D

    One of my *other* features (Ana, slow down!) is something rather unrelated to books, I guess. It’s called Bloggers Beyond Books, and I interview other book bloggers about their non-bookish passions. :D That came to me when I was playing some video games (ignoring my book blog, HAHA) and wondered what do other book bloggers have as hobbies besides books. :)

    • Yay! Books + games recommendations. Can’t wait to see it. I think I convinced Rinn to do her video game inspired feature, but I’m not sure what hers is. Either way – the more the merrier! Even if they’re inspired by the same thing, they’re likely to not be the same, and you’ll each bring something different to it :)

      And yes! I actually have read your Bloggers Beyond Books posts, just haven’t commented because I usually catch up on blogs on my phone these days and just cannot seem to comment using it. But I loved learning about Floorball with Josephine – I honestly didn’t even realize it existed! lol. It’s definitely a neat feature, and it’s always nice to sort of learn more about bloggers behind the scenes. I was trying to think if there’s anything I do that could be featured, but nope. My life is pretty much books books and books these days! :P

  13. I only post one feature a week, and I’ve been introducing new ones, to have 4 in my Friday rotations. My blog’s niche is library books, so three of the features is geared towards that, and I wasn’t sure how they’d go over. But so far, so good :) I’m introducing a new one tomorrow (Library Road Trips), and I’m keeping my fingers crossed that it doesn’t flop, lol.

  14. Great post Asti! Funny that you should mention Bookish Itineraries…I’ve been trying to come up with a book/travel related feature myself. Since I work in the travel industry it makes sense to blend it with books and try and make something of it. For a while I wrote the blog for my work, and was always trying to work books into it, lol! I just need to figure out exactly how to incorporate travel into my blog.

    • You should do it! If Bookish Itineraries sound like something you want to do, go for it! You can look at bookshops and other bookish locations around the world, or maybe take a book that’s set in a place and plan a holiday around it (doing things the people do in the books, along with other activities you want to highlight) or you can choose one place and highlight all the books that are featured there. I’m sure there’s endless possibilities :)

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  20. Ohhh, I have already had a few complete failures of features haha. Book and a Beverage finally hit it off with bloggers and I think that’s because it was about picking something that I really enjoyed (photos and beverages haha) and not something that someone ELSE would enjoy. Your feature will turn out so much better if it’s something you love to do!!
    Back in the day, my first feature was Freaky Friday in which I swapped myself with a fictional character. Bad news was, I never remembered enough about the book to do it well and the results were usually pretty boring putting them in my world haha.
    Then I did The Deja Vu Review (pre-blog reviews) but again, issues with either running out of material to post about every week or not remembering the books well enough to do anything!
    I think in both cases it was just too forced. Sometimes it takes playing around to find the right feature for you! Ain’t no shame in “failing” a few times until you find the one that sticks!

    • Yes! Love that bit – do features that YOU enjoy and others will enjoy it too! And then you get way more enjoyment out of it since you’re not just doing it for everyone else but because you like it. :)

      Haha, I like both those feature ideas but I’d be right with you – unable to remember enough to really make it work! But at least you gave them a try and didn’t let it discourage you from keeping on going. Glad you finally found one that sticks (and thanks for featuring me on it ;) )

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