March Notes

I don’t know if I’m alone, but I felt like March was such a long and busy month. The blog kept me extremely busy. Even with spring break, I felt like there was not a lot of time for a breather. If I wasn’t working on blog posts, I was working on my bullet journal, doing Red Cross training, applying for jobs, or cleaning house if I wasn’t at my part-time job.

I like having a lot to do, but I do think I need to start making more time for myself so that I don’t feel so drained by time the weekend rolls around. I think April will be a lot less stressful, even if it’s not less busy. I have all my bullet journal’s weekly spreads set up for the month and I know what I’ll need to do for Red Cross work.

I feel like I was doing a lot of soul-searching in January and February, trying to figure out what I wanted out life and this blog. Now I feel like I know what I want to work towards. I feel less frantic and more focused.

Bookish

Bullet Journaling

Blog Tags / Awards

Blogging / Life

  • Disrupt You! by Jay Samit | I read the bulk of this book on the road during spring break. I’m really shocked I was able to read it, because I’ve not been able to read in a moving car without getting a headache since I was a child. Anyway, this book was all over the place. The author jumps back and forth with examples from his life and other famous entrepreneurs to exemplify how different parts of value chains (e.g. production, distribution, etc.) were disrupted to the profit of the disruptor. I did not feel like I got what I was hoping out of this book (i.e. specific self-help advice), but it was a fascinating read at times.
  • Akata Warrior by Nnedi Okorafor | After completing my Spring TBR, I decided my next read would be Akata Warrior. I haven’t finished the book, but I am enjoying it thus far. It had a really useful recap of the past book, so I was able to jump right back into the story without missing a beat.

Last month I shared my blog stats for the month of February. I wasn’t sure if I would continue to do so in this specific format, but I decided it was a still a good fit. It makes sense right now while my stats are still not that impressive or complex. If I ever have a remarkable month, I will dedicate an entire post to blog stats.

March was a record-breaking month for The Inky Saga. The blog grew from 288 to 363 blog followers, a net gain of 75 followers. And for the first time since last September, my blog reached 1,000 blog views! There were also 604 visitors, 383 likes, and 130 comments. I think it was the first time I reached 100 blog views in just one day. For posting just fourteen blog posts, I don’t think that’s too shabby!

September 2018 was my last really good blog month, but I did not keep up with blogging after that. I’m really optimistic that the blog could see significant growth over the rest of the year if I keep blogging, blog hopping, and promoting my blog via Pinterest, Instagram, and Twitter. It’ll be really excited to see if my efforts pay off over time.

My two most popular blog posts this month were How to Avoid Blogger Burnout + New Blog Schedule (45 Likes) and The Wanderlust Tag | Blog Tag (38 Likes). They are also two of my most recent posts, but the next most successful posts are other tags/community memes. My personal favorite was probably my Leslie Knope TBR.

Moving into April, my blog strategy will be to publish least one evergreen post (e.g. how-to or advice) and one community post each week and then something extra, like a book review, job search update, or a compilation post. I will also try to stay on my schedule and get a lot done well in advance. I also want to start up my YouTube account for content I don’t want to write and post regularly on Instagram.

Sunday morning I sat down with my April bujo planner and started jotting down blog post ideas. I looked at the Top Ten Tuesday and Top 5 Tuesday prompts and picked out a few I was interested in, thought about the books I would like to read and review, and re-listed some of the blog posts ideas I’ve had in mind for a while. I’m actually thinking I may pick a few days I can spare this week and front load a lot of the work for the more time-demanding blog posts.

I’m not exactly sure yet what will be up on the blog this week. I know what I’d like to post, but realize I may not have time to finish anything I don’t manage to start this weekend. I don’t want to have anymore publishing mishaps in April, so I’m not scheduling anything that’s not complete!

How was your March?

What was your favorite blog post this month (mine or yours)? ^_^

Thank you for reading!
Follow my blog via Bloglovin’. Also find me on Twitter and Instagram.

February’s Inky Notes

Life Lately

February always seems to fly by, probably because it is the shortest month of the year. Somehow it’s managed to be a time of sadness, annoyance, and optimism. My family lost Apollo this month and I can still scarcely think or talk about him with out my eyes watering up, but it’s getting easier. They’re bittersweet tears for the most part.

I will also remember this month as the one I lost a bunch of money, between my smartphone coming down with the “black screen of death” and discovering I had cavities I needed to fill before I got bumped off my parents’ insurance. Thankfully I had enough money in my bank account to pay off my credit card before my statement period ended. I’m also thankful my tax return came in this month, so my bank account will be back in good shape before long!

I think I will look back on this month as a time when I worked super hard to learn how I might ultimately be able to support myself without the need for a full-time job. I feel like I’m on the cusp of something strange, new, exciting, brilliant, and I don’t want this feeling to fade!

On the Blog

Bookish

Bullet Journalling

Lifestyle

Blogging / Tech

Read But Not Reviewed

  • Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston | I decided to pick this book up in honor of Black History Month. The book spans the protagonist’s life from her relatively privileged childhood through becoming a woman and going through her three husbands. It’s a book of self-awakening and ultimate empowerment. At times it’s funny, relatable, and heart-breaking because the protagonist is a dreamer, a woman ahead of her time. I feel like this book very much deserves the distinction of being a classic. I highly recommend it to anyone interested in the life of black women at the turn of the century in the rural South.
  • Disrupt You by Jay Samit | I’m not finished this book, but it’s one I started in December that I still wanted to try to finish. I’m enjoying it right now. I feel like it’s a good time to read this inspirational book as I’m trying to build up my blog.

Blog Stats

I don’t know if I really qualify as a book blogger anymore, but book blogs are still primarily what I read online! One insightful piece I read by Marie @ Drizzle & Hurricane Books this week inspired my decision to start sharing my blog stats. In her post, she so aptly describes the book blogger’s complicated relationship to our blog stats. Almost everyone says they don’t let their stats define them, but I think everyone cares more than they are willing to admit.

Around the time I decided to upgrade my blog to a Premium account (February 17, 2019), I also decided that it was time I start treating my blog like my job. I’ve slowly been branching out what I talk about on this blog, in the hopes of growing my blog and staying true to myself. I feel like a lot of book bloggers out grow this community and I want to be a shining example of what can come next.

I’m monitoring my stats a lot more carefully these days, if only to see what types of blog posts do well and where my views are coming from. I’m a little shy to share these screenshots, because I know I do not have a very “successful” blog. I’ve never really been one to chase trends, blogging only when I had an abundance of time on my hands and when I felt like it. I’m also not super out-going when it comes to making and sustaining blogging friendships.

monthly-trend-feb
Monthly Blog Growth of The Inky Saga

February’s views and visitors clearly correlate with my blogging schedule. I wasn’t very active the first week after I upgraded my blog, so the 18th–25th is very low. Tuesdays are generally my highest performing days if I participate in a bookish meme (e.g. Top Ten Tuesday). I was shocked how many people read my February 26th blog post (Top Five Tuesday: Hogwarts House Reads!). I was actually a little worried if half of them were spam views because after I upgraded my blog I discovered I had a little more random blog followers (i.e. not book bloggers or creative types) and almost half the visitors were from India, which is not normal for me.

daily-feb

The last weekend of February I saw a lot of brand new blog followers, bringing my monthly total from 240 to 288. While it’s nice knowing people are finding my blog content worth following, these new followers are not exactly in my target demographic. Which is to say young, millennial creatives! Like me! But obviously anyone who is truly interested in everything this blog has to offer is welcome here. I figure anyone who’s not can be weeded out with more bookish/lifestyle posts. ^_^

In March I’m hoping to learn more about how to better promote my blog across Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest. I’ve decided to be ambitious and aim to reach 400 blog followers by March 31st. I’m hoping that comments and likes continue to grow at a parallel pace, comments especially because I love feeling like my blog posts are just a conversation starting point.

If you’re interested in more of my blog stat analysis, I plan to do them each month for the foreseeable future. I may also have some more posts during the month if I feel I have any sort of wisdom to share on the topic.

endnote

I hope you enjoyed this post! It’s been a while since I did a monthly-wrap-up-type of post. I didn’t really know if I wanted to revisit my old format (e.g. May Notes ➴, June Notes ➴, July Notes ➴) or do something more minimalistic. It was a last minute decision to add my blog stats, so I hope that didn’t make this post too much of a slog!

Next up I will likely be sharing my March bujo and goals. I’m also aware I still need to reintroduce the blog for anyone who’s wondering who the heck and I am and how they ended up following me! I feel like I also need to do it for myself, just to have record of my intentions for this blog going forward.

Thank you for reading!
Follow my blog via Bloglovin’. Also find me on Twitter and Instagram.

July Notes ➴

July is the month I feel like I finally became a true blogger.  I’ve never been prouder of the blog posts I’ve made and how successfully I’ve balanced being both a blogger and a blog reader. Additionally, I started up two new weekly series: Novel Progress (in which I share my writing updates + topic discussions) and Weekly Reviews (in which I summarize the week’s blog posts and reading progress).

That being said, I did feel like I was edging towards burn out. Exiting July I came away with ideas for how to make things a little easier on myself, but I’ll save those ideas for my August Goals + TBR ➹ post, which should go up tomorrow!

Revisiting My Goals

This month all my goals had to do with my blog. I’ve started to take my blog more seriously not just as place to share my bookish thought but also a portfolio of my writing and individuality. I have wanted to treat my blog a little bit as a job to see how I like it.

Here are the goals I set for June:

  1. DEDICATE M/W/F TO WRITING BLOG POSTS
  2. DEVELOP A UNIQUE BLOG THEME
  3. CONDENSE MY BOOK REVIEWS

One of the best things I’ve done for myself is decide to dedicate specific days to blogging. I didn’t stick strictly to M/W/F, but for the most part I think I kept the spirit behind this schedule alive. I didn’t want to feel like my blog was taking over my life, so if I felt like I did a lot of blog work one day I didn’t do that again the next day. I’d like to increase my productivity on these blog days so that’s something I’ll be working on next month.

So this month I wanted to create a unique blog theme for Betwined Reads. By that, I meant blog imagery, meaning reusable blog headers, featured images, and blog logo. Basically, I wanted to work on my blog identity, the stuff that people remember when they think about the blog. I feel like I got a good foundation started. I have some color schemes I like a lot and my use of special characters has become something of staple. Also after writing my blogger aesthetics post, I have an idea of the stuff I can focus on in my future designs.

As for my final goal, I feel like I did find a book review style that I like. However, I’m not really sure I condensed them. Instead I feel like I just broke them up a bit more attractively so they’re less intimidating on the surface level. I think I’m satisfied for now, but I will keep an eye out for cool ideas on how to make them both useful to readers and satisfying on a personal level.

June’s Blog Posts

||      BOOK REVIEWS     ||

||      BLOG TAGS     ||

||      NOVEL PROGRESS     ||

||      MISCELLANEOUS     ||

What I Read

In July I only managed to read three books. I’m not someone who reads a lot during the week, and this month I took a lot of time in between reading books to work on other things. I would like to make reading a better part of my day next month. All the books I read this month had me thinking a lot in between reads, so I don’t feel too bad about how seemingly little I read.

  1. Vassa in the Night by Sarah Porter | ★★★★½
  2. Ceremony by Leslie Marmon Silko | ★★★★
  3. Summer of My German Soldier by Bette Greene | ★★★½

My favorite read was definitely Vassa in the Night, but that was a reread! So I guess I’ll go with Ceremony. I walked away from that book each time thinking about Tayo and his pain. I also felt it was a very spiritual in a way that anyone from any culture could appreciate. My least favorite was probably Summer of My German Soldier, even though it was a perfectly fine read. My biggest critique is that it didn’t resolve everything that goes down in the book in a way I found personally too satisfying.

☙ ❧ END NOTE ❧ ☙

Sorry this post is coming late! I was out of town last weekend and didn’t prepare much in advance, as I explain in yesterday’s A Quick Update | August 9th. Tomorrow morning I will publish my August Goals + TBR ➹, where I’ll talk about some of my goals for the month and the books I plan to read.

I feel like this year is winding up pretty quickly and I’m excited to see where I take the blog by the end of the year. Fall is my favorite time of year, so I’m getting really excited for what fun opportunities and reads that life will have in store.

Thank you for reading!
Follow my blog via Bloglovin’. Also find me on GoodreadsTwitter, and Instagram.

June Notes ➴

With June over, we are officially halfway through 2018. How crazy is that?! This month looked very different for me as I was house-sitting for most of it while my mom visited my dad in Israel. I was home alone, watching our dogs, and essentially living my best life of my inner hermit. I wish I had gotten more done (as always), but I consider it a productive month.

I learned a lot about myself. I work much better if I spend my days working mainly on one big project, instead of bouncing around between different ones. I’ve found blogging and writing are two very different tasks that pull my mind in different directions, so it’s better to stick to doing one of those per day instead of dividing up my day. Blogging and writing are not the only things I do with my life, but they do tend to require the most from me.

I’ve gotten a lot better at striking a healthy balance between my time spent online and off, but I know I could do even better so I this is one of my goals for next month.

Goals Revisited

In case you’re new around here, I like to set myself goals at the beginning of each month that I share on the blog for accountability’s sake. It works sometimes, but it most definitely did not work this month! I’m was a little too ambitious with what I wanted to accomplish, and I feel like I didn’t do anything too well. But, nevertheless, I think I did do a lot, so it’s hard to be too hard on myself. It was a fun month.

Here are the goals I set for June:

  1. READ MORE BLOGS
  2. WRITE FOR 30 MINUTES EACH DAY
  3. GET ORGANIZED

I consider my biggest success this month was in reading more blogs. At the end of May, I realized I wanted to find more blogs that I love. I was already following so many, but a few have become inactive since I followed them. I also realized I followed quite a few for their visual aesthetic and not because I loved their posts or the books they talked about.

So this month I made it habit to look at the posts that showed up in my feeds and comment on posts if I could think of anything worthwhile to say. I’m happy to say I discovered some blogs, old and new, that I really enjoy and I became closer to some of my fellow bloggers! I still intend to do a post with everything I learned and showcase some of my favorite blogs at the moment. I just need some time to get all my thoughts straight.

With regards for writing, I was less successful. Writing used to be my biggest priority and this month I found it shifted as I began to put more focus on my blog and reading those of others. I still want to write, and especially finish this novel, but I’m going to give myself a break from deadlines and see what happens when I’m writing because I want to and not because I feel like my time is running out.

As for my final goal, I did get a little more organized. My books tend to end up all over the place as I read and muse about what to read next. I had intended for them all be returned to their respective places on my bookshelves. But then I realized there are reasons for them to sit where they are so there is an organizational structure in place, even if it doesn’t look like it! I also forced myself to go through all my MacBook Pro’s desktop files and put away stuff that didn’t need to still be cluttering my digital workspace. Soon I’ll transfer stuff to my portable hard-drive.

This Month on Betwined Reads 

What I Read

June was not a very successful month for reading. I only read four books, but they were all in line with my TBR and all reviewed! The only outlier was City of the Beasts, which I opted for in place of The Young Unicorns, a much better book saved for fall.

Screen Shot 2018-07-01 at 2.53.16 PM

  1. The Arm of the Starfish by Madeleine L’Engle | ★★★★
  2. Troubling a Star by Madeleine L’Engle | ★★★½
  3. Dragons in the Waters by Madeleine L’Engle | ★★
  4. City of the Beasts by Isabel Allende | ★★★★

My favorite read was definitely The Arm of the Starfish. It was such a fun summer caper with international-thriller vibes. My least favorite was Dragons in the Waters, because I didn’t really connect with any of the characters and felt like the plot was a bit of a mess. It also took me a long time to read. I probably would have DNF-ed it if I wasn’t such a big fan of Madeleine L’Engle.

End Note

Next up on Betwined Reads, I will be sharing my plans for July! I actually began that post earlier this month as I realized things I want start doing, but I need to look it over and make sure I’m being sensible so that I don’t overload myself again! I also have a few other blog posts in the works, but I don’t want to say exactly what those are because I don’t know when they’ll be done. Does anyone else have a problem looking at screens when your allergies are bad? I do…

Thank you for reading!
Follow my blog via Bloglovin’. Also find me on GoodreadsTwitter, and Instagram.