Topic of the day: features.
What they are and why they’re helpful:
Features are hard to define for me. I look at them as an interval of sorts, a constant in your blogging routine. A thing you do. It’s like doing a Selfie Saturday, or Middle-Grade Book Mondays. A friend of mine, Xander, does a feature called In My Mailbox. He displays the books he’s reading currently and the books he’s gotten recently.
Features are a healthy thing to do, and within the realm of features, I think there are three main types of bloggers. Givers, Takers and the Wise.
- Givers are people that host features. The bloggers from The Broke and The Bookish host several features, their most popular being Top Ten Tuesday, where they list a theme and people blog about that theme. For example, if the theme of that Monday was Top Ten Books I Wished I Read as a Child, then the rules of the theme would make you do several things. You would take that theme’s button, pin it on your post, provide a link to their blog, explain the feature and put down your list of your top ten books you wish you read as a child.
- Takers are people who don’t host feature, but participate in them. A Taker would be someone who participates in Top Ten Tuesday and other features, but doesn’t host them. It’s not bad by any means to be a Taker, and doing so sometimes helps spark ideas for your own posts.
- The Wise are people who are both Takers and Givers. I call them the Wise because what they’re doing is ideal–in my opinion. By hosting and participating, they’re growing their audience, their support network and their group of blogger friends. They’re also spreading their name in their blogging community.
Why some people can’t do features:
So technically, that title is just dramatic and not completely accurate. I don’t believe that people can’t do features, I just think that there are people who can and cannot do certain types of features very well. Take me for example. I would love to be doing features 24/7, but I can’t. I just don’t remember to do them. And I have friends who have more dramatic situations, like they’re not interested in their feature half-way through or they never plan their features very well.
There’s a certain technique to solving the problem of not knowing what your next week, next month, whatever, of your feature is going to be–and it’s super simple.
You know. Like this:
And there’s the matter of if you’re like me and you just can’t do long-term features. Well, what I decided to do is make short-term features. (Yes, I know, Captain Obvious strikes once again.)
What I’m talking about is taking a good number of days in a row, a few weeks, you know, and designing a feature around that time. I haven’t done this, but one thing I was thinking of doing is my five star books, because there only a handful of them that I’ve ever rated five stars–and I’ve been getting some feedback recently inquiring about the subject. You get what I’m saying?
If you’re going to be a Giver, think carefully about your feature.
Like I said before, there’s no shame in being a Taker. Inspiration from others, bouncing off ideas, those are all very important things. However, if you want to become a Giver, think very carefully about your feature. Quite literally, what I’m saying is for you to know thyself. Plan according to what you know about yourself. If you need to list out your topics for each week or you’ll forget, I would highly suggest you do it. If you know you’re fickle and you are going to get dissatisfied and bored with your feature quickly, make sure it’s fun for you. Shorten the time period.
One thing I like to do before every feature I host is confer with my fellow bloggers and ask them a few questions. What do they think? Would they be interested in joining? How can I make it better? Is my time period just long enough and just short enough? These are good things to be pondering.
One more thing: Buttons.
I talked about them before, and they’re something I look for when I first get on a blog that I know takes place in features. Most of the time, they look like this:
Most of the features I’ve participated in, you have to take a button, pin it on your post, add the link to the Giver’s blog, give the overview of what the feature is and then put down your response as a Taker. Most buttons I’ve seen are fairly simplistic, with the text clear and the main point of the picture. Nothing too complicated. The Giver can choose whether or not to put the link of their blog on their photo. I do, but it’s all up to you.
So whether you’re a Giver or a Taker or trying to be one (or both), think carefully about your features, plan them well and participate in them–because no matter what you do, you’re getting the benefits of spreading the word about your blog, constantly getting better and getting more experience blogging after you complete a feature and getting to know your blogging community.