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Interview with a Book Blogger | Zoe Ward | Pen2Paper

Zoe Ward Pen2Paper

Zoe Ward

Q. 1 Please introduce yourself - Where are you from? How long have you been blogging? What's the name of your blog? What made you decide to start a book blog?
A. I'm Zoe Ward, and I run the site Pen2Paper. I'm a teenager based in Indiana, and I have been officially blogging for 1.5 years now! It's funny; I feel like I've been blogging forever. In about third grade, I started a Blogspot site called Zoe's Daily News, mostly for my family. I called it a "book blog", but I really just wrote about whatever I wanted that day. I wrote about smoothies, being yourself, books...whatever popped into my head at the time! It's so embarrassing to look back at these posts, but I'm glad I started something I had a passion for and played around with having a blog. 

1.5 years ago, I decided that I really wanted to be a serious blogger. I've loved reading and writing for as long as I can remember, so book blogging felt like a natural transition for me. I joined Wix, bought a domain, wrote some posts, pulled my hair out over SEO...all the good stuff! It took a while, but now I've fallen into the rhythm of book blogging and I wouldn't change it for the world.

Q.2 What is your favorite genre and book?
A. That's hard! I love just about any YA book, especially a good romance. I've been getting into poetry lately as well (Billy Collins is my favorite). But the genre I love best is probably still the cozy, classic books that make you feel right at home. The Anne of Green Gables series and the Betsy-Tacy series are my two faves.

Q.3 What one piece of advice do you wish you had when you first started blogging?
A. Don't be shy about your blog! For the longest time, I didn't want to tell people I knew that I was a blogger. Which is understandable...putting yourself out there like that is scary! But especially if you're a new blogger, your family and friends are going to be your biggest support. Like it or not, they'll be the ones pulling in the most page views and spreading the word. So don't back down! Like Filipinos say, "why shy?" Next time your grandma asks you about what you're doing these days, spread your news.

Q.4 What piece of advice would you like to give to other bloggers?
A. This is something you'll hear a lot, but that doesn't make it any less important: be consistent. You have to create a posting schedule and stick to it. For me, I write a book review every Tuesday, a bookish post every Saturday, and occasionally a lifestyle or discipleship post on Wednesday. For a while, I tried to post every day. Some bloggers can do this, and it works great, but this just isn't plausible for me. Blogging isn't my full-time job right now, as I'm still in school. If I tried to post every day, I got burned out quickly and actually ended up posting less. So my advice would be to start small and figure out what works for you!

You can't be consistent without a posting plan. If I don't know what I'm going to be writing about, it is SO much harder to write a blog post on Saturday. I keep a Google Doc full of blog post ideas. Then I just pick one I think I have enough inspiration to write about at the start of the week and write it down in my planner. A little bit of planning goes a long way!

Second, don't be afraid to get serious. Buying a domain really scared me. But if you are serious about blogging and have been doing it for a while, don't be scared to invest a little! In my case, barely anyone was able to find me without a domain. And I knew that I was ready to take the next step and I can do it financially. Your decisions should still be smart, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't have faith in your website!

Q.5 How many books are actually on your bookshelves right now?
A. I actually just went and checked, and I have 257! My family actually owns more bookshelves around the house too so who knows how many we actually have, haha!

Q.6 If you could be a character from a book for just one day who would you be and why?
A. This is such a hard question. I think I would pick to be Tella from Caraval. I relate to this character a lot and I'd love to see Caraval. It would be so fun to meet everyone from the books. Besides, she has beautiful dresses!

Q.7 Is blogging your profession or just a hobby? Does your family support you? What is their take on this?
A. Like I said before, I'm still in school so I view blogging as my hobby. However, I completely agree that blogging can be a job. Right now, I'm working on building up my website so that by the time I need to get a full-time job, blogging can be at least a portion of my income. I was blessed with a completely supportive family. My extended family is always reading my blog posts, and encouraging me. My parents will sometimes actually proofread my blog posts. My dad is an author (his name is David B. Ward and you can check out his book, Practicing The Preaching Life, here). He's pretty savvy and has helped me multiple times with writing and affiliate programs. I think they are all on board with me blogging. They've supported my writing ever since I was little, and I'm very lucky to have them!

Q.8 What do you think is the best strategy for getting more visitors to a blog?
A. Definitely social media! Pinterest and Instagram are wonderful assets that bring in the most page views to my blog. Instagram is the fastest-growing social media platform in the world right now! Piecing together a beautiful feed and promoting my blog posts has helped me immensely. Pinterest is where users go to find blog posts. Pinterest is basically a search engine and users are constantly searching for how-to articles and inspiration. It will pull so many more people to your blog! Facebook can also increase your page views, but keep in mind that most Facebook users are seeking relationships with family and friends, not brands. A few good social media accounts are better than being on every platform with little to no content. Also, keep in mind the demographics of the users you're trying to attract when you pick a social media to account to create.

Q.9 What are the top three characteristics you look for in a good book?
A. This sounds cheesy, but the book does have to be appropriate. If I love a book, I want to tell everyone about it. One thing I love in books is dialogue. It can reveal so much about your characters and we all love good witty banter! Probably my favorite thing in a book though is imagery. Like I mentioned before, I adore the series Caraval. This is a quote from the second book: "The air tasted like wonder. Like candied butterfly wings caught in sugared spiderwebs, and drunken peaches coated in luck."

Q. 10 What are your favorite Instagram/bookstagram/Booktuber accounts?
A. @littlemeadowreads@britishbookreader@bethsbookshelf, and @julietslibrary all are beautiful bookstagram accounts! @oliviajoymarmolejo is a lifestyle blogger, and also has a beautiful feed. @jordankathleen_ posts gorgeous dance photography, and @kcruz012 is a mommy blogger!

A few words for our readers and Books Charming -
Thanks for letting me speak to you today! Hop on over to my Instagram and I'd love to talk more about books with you. Happy reading!

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