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SERIESous Tips: How I Track my Book Series in Excel

I’m highlighting some of the ways I use Excel to help my blogging productivity. Today, I’m sharing how I keep track of all the book series I have on the go!


Why I Keep Track of My Book Series Progress

Another spreadsheet I keep in my Books Read Workbook is my Series Tracking Spread. Because the bread and butter of my blog is book series, I needed something to help me keep track of all the series I had on the go and where I was in those series sequel-wise.

My first version of this spreadsheet was pretty basic. I basically just typed in things as I went and formatted along the way. But once I learned more about the drop-down boxes and conditional formatting features of Excel, it has made this spreadsheet super easy to maintain.

Series are sorted by the year I read the first series title. # TBR = number of books that have been published that I still need to read. Series Titles are listed with their position in the series. I also note when the sequels will be published; where I can access the title and if I have a blog post already made. Unknown status is for series that I suspect will have sequels but don’t have official publishing dates.

On this spreadsheet, I keep track of what series I have on the go, how many sequels I have to read, their publishing statuses, and the year that I started the series. I don’t track what year they were published in because I don’t really care for that.

From that information, I can get:

  • how many series I have on the go
  • how many series are waiting for sequels to be published
  • how many series I started in a particular year and have yet to finish
  • the total number of series I had on the go at the end of a calendar year

Why do I love using Excel for this spreadsheet instead of a Word document? It is super easy to add titles as sequels are announced by inserting new rows and letting the worksheet shift equations and entries automatically. A Word Document would still be great to use because you can add headings to quickly find a Series Name. But I like seeing my stats and having Excel automatically run those statistics as I add titles is the key.

This concludes my Excel Tips Series. I hope you found it interesting to read and perhaps I’ve inspired you to try some Excel Spreadsheets yourself! Let me know if there is anything else you’d like to see in the future.

How do you keep track of the book series you have on the go?

Excel Tips: Why I Love Excel  |  Post Calendar  |  Books I Read in a Year  |  Tracking Book Series

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SERIESous Tips: How I Track my Reading in Excel

I’m highlighting some of the ways I use Excel to help my blogging productivity. Today, I’m sharing how I keep track of the books I read in a year!


How I Track My Reads for the Year

While I do keep track of everything I read on Goodreads, I like to keep a separate document for my own records of all the books I read in a year. I did this wayyyy before I started blogging and it’s a habit I’ve never stopped. But when I got into blogging, I started to get more interested in my reading statistics (like how many books I read in a month or how many audiobooks in a year) and I found Excel made things much easier to find out those statistics with very little effort (ie not counting all the books in my Goodreads Read list).

This is what my spreadsheet looks like:

The main data entry portion of my Reads in a Year Excel Spreadsheet.

In this spreadsheet, I keep track of all:

  • the book formats I read (ARC, audiobook, novella, book, rereads),
  • where I got the book from (library, hoopla, subscriptions, own)
  • what # it is in the series or if it is a standalone
  • when did I start that series sequel (last year, current year, completed all books in series)
  • how many books I read in a year, month and season
  • rating for the title

Thanks to the formula features in Excel, any stats I want to run on these values auto-calculate with the formulas I’ve created! Before I used to count up each line in my Word Document table and do the math with a calculator. So now it’s so easy for me to whip up stats anytime I need them for my blog posts because the spreadsheet does it for me!

Some of the stats that auto-calculate based on the main data entry of the spreadsheet

How I’ve Updated It Over the Years

My first Reads in a Year documents simply listed the books read within a seasons. Then it evolved to months and then eventually separating the titles out by their formats within a month.

I used to manually calculate the totals for each month by creating the formula every time but know I’ve learned how to name cells for calculations, allowing the worksheet to do the work for me, even if I add titles to the month after the fact.

When I started doing more analyses of my reading, I added columns for book sources, series tracking and eventually ratings. Only in the last year have I made the Series Tracking a drop-down menu instead of obscure text codes that would calculate in another part of the spreadsheet.

Do you only use Goodreads or another online service to track your annual reads? Or do you use something else? Let me know below!

Excel Tips: Why I Love Excel  |  Post Calendar  |  Books I Read in a Year  |  Tracking Book Series

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SERIESous Tips: My Excel Post-Scheduling Calendar

I’m highlighting some of the ways I use Excel to help my blogging productivity. Today, I’m sharing my Blogging Calendar!


Why I Needed a Blogging Calendar

Back in the day when I first started using WordPress for my blog, the posting calendar wouldn’t tell you if a day already had a post scheduled. Which was a real pain for someone like me who schedules posts well in advance! (Now, WordPress does show you on the publish calendar upcoming posts but I like to know what the post is.)

The New WordPress Calendar indicates days with previously scheduled posts with a blue dot.

I tried a paper and pen method with a spare planner when I first started blogging, but I was constantly shuffling posts around for different deadlines so it wasn’t ideal to erase things all the time. I also tried Google Calendars but didn’t really like it because it felt like a lot of steps to add things. In the end, I had great success with a Word Calendar template and used this for years.

My Old Word Calendar

On this calendar, I kept track of all my ARC due dates, library book due dates and blog posting dates in a Word Document Calendar Template. Depending on what the items was, it was colour coded accordingly for quick glances:

Here’s what my old calendar looked like. Red text = library due dates | Blue text = ARC due dates | Black text = blog posts | Purple text = planned blog post | Crossed Out Text = Completed reads | Italic Text = renewed reads

This calendar was great and I used it for years with only a few colour changes over the years as my blogging and reading schedules evolved. Using a Word Template meant that the basics (table/month/dates) of the calendar were already formatted so it wasn’t a lot of work for me to set up intially.

Though for anyone who isn’t me, I’m sure this looks uber overwhelming and a lot of work. Eventually I came to the same conclusion: I found I was spending so much time formatting it–from adding new months to changing text colours by hand–that it became more cumbersome than helpful and I needed a change.

My New Excel Calendar

When I discovered how conditional formatting (rules for how data in cells should appear based on their values) worked in Excel for cells, I knew my next calendar had to be done as a spreadsheet. Using Excel meant I could create a system of rules to continuously format my data cells without me formatting each cell individually. Basically: I could type and go, letting the worksheet do the formatting for me. And once I found a template that worked, all I would have to do is copy the worksheet for additional months over and over again.

So, I found a generic Calendar Template in Excel that I could format to my liking and for what I needed it to do. I was able to have the program add the dates to the correct day of the week based on the Month I selected on the top. I added two rows for each date: one for reading due dates and another row for blog posts. I also created a button for to clear all scheduled posts without deleting each one. It took me some time and some trial and error with the formatting, but I finally found a master template that worked and this is what it looks like:

My New Excel Calendar. It features a Blog Row for Posts and a Due Row for ARCs and Library Book Due dates. Pale Yellow Boxes = Scheduled Posts | Bright Yellow Boxes = Theoretical Blog Posts | Red Boxes = To be Finalized Blog Posts | Light Blue Text = ARCs | Red Text = Library Book Due Date

My calendar tracks all the same due dates as my previous calendar. I’ve also included a pre-determined template so I know where I should be posting (since I do certain posts on specific days of the week). But the key is that I have a master formatting template that I can copy for every month that I need. Then, when I use it, all I have to do is enter in my text and the spreadsheet does all the formatting work for me! It honestly saves me a ton of time by just plugging and chugging as I go.

One of my favourite features of this calendar is that it can show me the scheduled blog posts from the last and/or the next month (dates in gray). That has saved me a few times from scheduling posts too close together since I can see it all on one screen.

When I’m done with a month, I just hide the tab from view. I’m not sure if I will delete the old tabs at the end of the year or not, I’m still deciding. But for now, I’m enjoying my simple calendar–even if it took a lot of work to find what I like!

How do you track your blog posts? Paper, digitally or wing it? Let me know below!

Excel Tips: Why I Love Excel  |  Post Calendar  |  Books I Read in a Year  |  Tracking Book Series

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SERIESous Tips: Why you Need to Use Excel for Your Book Blog!

I know that lots of people love using a pen and paper to keep track of their books and blogging posts but I’m a digital girl. Way before I discovered Goodreads and even in the time since, I’ve always kept a list of the books I read in a Word document on my computer.

While I use a lot of other online tools–like Trello for blog posts in progress and Goodreads to track my reading dates–over the years, I’ve upgraded from my basic Word Documents to Excel Worksheets.

Just a note: I use Microsoft Excel simply because I have the program from my university days on my laptop; but I have used Google Sheets in the past too which is free if you have a Google account. It has very similar features and works in a similar way so it is a great option if you don’t have the Microsoft Office Suite.

I love reading my fellow bloggers posts about how they stay productive and so I thought that I would share how I do the same. Over the next few days, I’m going to share some more Tips posts about my experiences using Excel to help increase my blogging productivity and track my reading.

But in this post, I want to share some of the reasons why I love using Excel and how you can learn to love it to!

Don’t Be Intimated!

You don’t need to be an Excel Wizard to create a good spreadsheet! I really only knew the basic features of the program when I first started using it a few years ago. Honestly, my first spreadsheets were pretty simple and were really just me typing things into cells because it was easy to create tables in Excel than in Word.

It really has only been in the last year that I’ve learned a lot more about using Excel thanks to my job where I’ve started to use it more. I did take a basic Excel course through my library (for free!) but Google and Youtube make it super easy to teach yourself how to use Excel to its max potential. If you want to know how to do something, a quick Google search will usually do the trick!

Why I Love Using a Spreadsheet (or Two) for My Blog:

Easy to Format Cells

I’m a very visual person so I love colours in my agendas and calendars. Excel makes it super easy with its conditional formatting features to have cells or text change colours based on their contents. You can also create drop-down boxes with preset values which makes it easy to create tables for tracking things and updating them as needed.

The Worksheet’s page itself is very open unlike a Word Document. I like to think of it as a blank canvas that allows you to freely add text in any of the cells and then merge, move or erase anything you want.

An example of the conditional formatting you can apply to Excel cells

Calculate Statistics Automatically

Within an Excel cell, you can create formulas to calculate values or even create charts based on information you’ve entered. It’s a great feature for bloggers who want to see their progress at a quick glance once they’ve set up the equations. And you can really calculate anything you want in one way or another.

An example of a table that calculates stats for me based on entries to the main document table

Have Multiple Spreadsheets Within a File

I love that I can have multiple tabs within a single file! A lot of my spreadsheets are created for the year so it’s great that I can keep previous years within the same file to easily compare contents without having multiple files open at one time.

Lots of Templates To Play With!

From budgets to calendars and more, the beauty of Excel is that you can create whatever you want and need in a workbook!

Examples of Spreadsheets I Have Used for My Blog:

Here are some of the ways I’ve used Excel spreadsheets in the past and present:

Stay tuned for future tips posts where I share my Posting Calendar, Annual Reading Lists and Series Tracking spreadsheets!

Do you use spreadsheets for your blog? Let me know below!

Excel Tips: Why I Love Excel  |  Post Calendar  |  Books I Read in a Year  |  Tracking Book Series

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SERIESous Tips: How I Read 200+ Books a Year!


Since 2014, I’ve read more than 200 books in a year…

I really struggled with a way to start this post without sounding like I was bragging because I know that the number of books people read in a year varies–whether you’re a book blogger or not. Everyone reads at a different pace; not everyone has the time; and that’s what makes it such a personal number.

I read a lot of books in a year–it even shocks me–and that’s why I want to share some tips with you on how to increase the number of titles you read in a year! You might not reach 200 but wouldn’t it be great to fit in 4 more books in a year?

Years ago, I wrote a Guide for my blog: How to Read MORE! I wrote that guide back when I was a full time student. But since then, I’ve left school behind and have a full time career (complete with shift work, a dog and a house) on my hands.

You should still check out that post though because I have recently updated it! But I also wanted to highlight the 3 main reasons why I surpass the 200 books mark every year.

#1 – Get Into Audiobooks

I’ve shared my audiobook experiences many times over the years on my blog. I didn’t have the greatest start with them but they’ve become such a staple to my reading life that I can’t help but share my joy now.

> > SERIESous Discussion: How I Fell in Love with Audiobooks

Why are audiobooks so great? The fact that you can multitask while you listen!!! You can’t do much while you read a physical novel besides eat and ignore the world around you. But with audiobooks? You can drive your car to work; walk your dog; do laundry and chores; etc.

How It Helps Me: I choose to listen to an audiobook instead of music while I’m doing my chores or driving for more than 10 minutes. (I listen to the radio when I’m at work so I get my fill of music in a day.) I always have one audiobook on the go in addition to the physical book I am reading. There’s a reason why 33% of the books I read in 2018 were audiobooks and that’s because I could complete some of my daily responsibilities while listening to them. (Plus, I had a 2 hour commute to work 5 times a week!)

> > SERIESous Tips: 5 Ways to Get Into Audiobooks

#2 – Set Deadlines

This can be interpreted to be many different things and I mean it in many different ways. Deadlines could be anything from blog tour dates, to ARC publication dates, to simply the date the book is due back at the library. But by setting a “deadline” to finish a book, you have a goal in mind and you can start to plan for it.

> > SERIESous Discussion: Why I Love Participating in Blog Tours

How It Helps Me: Approximately 40% of the books I read in a year come from the library and another 40% come from review copies. Having those due dates allows me to focus on what I need to read and when. I get more motivated to find the time to read that particular title because I have to finish it by a certain date. Even just telling myself that I want to finish a book I own by the end of the weekend reminds me to pick it up when I have the time.

#3 – Embrace Novellas

For simplicity’s sake, I classify anything under 140 ebook pages to be a novella. And did you know that they count as a book read for your Goodreads total even if it is only 20 pages long? Novellas made up approximately 8% of my total reads for 2018.

How It Helps Me: I think novellas (or short stories) are super underrated as a book form. I love novellas for a lot of reasons besides inflating my reading stats for the year. For one, they help me overcome reading slumps. For another, they don’t require as much time as a full novel; so when I’m short on reading time, the shorter book helps me feel accomplished by finishing it.

I’m not entirely sure if I will reach 200 books read this year. I haven’t been reading as much as I usually do by this point in the year. But I do know that these 3 habits have helped to keep me on track and keep my numbers consistent from month to month. So we will see what the summer brings. That’s usually when I can kick things into gear since I spend every free moment outside reading when I’m not at work.

What habits do you think contribute to your reading numbers?

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SERIESous Tips: Post Templates

I have a set way I like my posts to look.

I knew very early on when I created my blog that I liked my posts to look uniform. I didn’t want my readers to have to search for the details throughout the post or have to read a different format all the time. While my blog is a blog, I’ve always viewed it as a bit of an archive for series reviews so people can use it as a resource for all their book series needs. Which is why consistency is a huge thing for me.

Of course, over the years my blog has changed its formats. Series reviews used to be big chunks of text where I described what I liked about each installment in different paragraphs. Now, they are broken up into various component subheadings to provide more of an overview. The stats about each novel (like publishing date, author, etc) now appear at the top of the post, as does the book’s synopsis. I’ve also included new graphics along the way and updated the colours scheme.

Writing blog posts can take a long time; especially book ones!

You’ve got to include book images, synopsis and stats; and if you’re doing a blog tour, there are certain aspects you have to add as well. So how do you make sure you include everything in your posts?

Answer: Templates.

I started creating and using templates back when my blog was still on the free WordPress.com platform but I continue to use them even now that I’ve become self-hosted because they are so easy!

I know that self-hosted blogs have various plug-ins to help you blog faster–especially ones that import from sites like Goodreads–but I have a certain look I like and I just find it easier to add the details myself.

>> SERIESous Tips: My 5 Favourite WordPress Plugins

Which is why I use a Word Document to keep and create my master post templates. I do have my basic templates as a saved draft on my blog for when I don’t have access to Word, but the master copy is a Word Document. I use Word for a variety of reasons:

  1. I can create Headings that make it easy to jump to a particular template
  2. I can access the document without WiFi
  3. I can access the document anywhere via my OneDrive Cloud
  4. It keeps things in HTML format
    • There is a setting to make sure the ” ” marks are correct so be aware!
  5. It’s easy to Find and Replace things in bulk
    • Perfect for updating annually!

Here’s an example of the template I use for my standard Series Review posts:

A portion of my Book Series Review Template.

Everything is written in its HTML code so all I have to do is paste the full template into the “Text” section of the WordPress processor (I’m not sure how other blogging platforms work but that’s the HTML coding section for WordPress). It includes all the styling I want (like heading styles or if the text is italicized); image placeholders for covers; review heading images; and also includes the default internal links I use. Anything that needs to be customized to the specific post is written in CAPS so that it is easy to spot within the code or if I am looking on the “Visual” page (the post builder that shows what the HTML looks like).

Once the template it in, I just build everything accordingly!

I also use Word templates for other, everyday things I do/use on my blog including:

  1. Code for updated reviews
  2. Review Conclusions
  3. Subheadings for DNF or Nonfiction Reviews
  4. Text Disclaimers for Cross Posting on External Sites (source is author/Netgalley/etc)
  5. Disclaimers for conversions of reviews (formerly a post about first book…)
  6. Netgalley Notes to the publisher (when blog post is released; cross post to other sites)
  7. Reading Challenges

Everything is in that one Word Doc with the appropriate heading so I never have to search for it. I’ve shrunk every template to a single page to make for an easier select and copy. And while I compose my posts, I often have my template document on my second screen (I have a second monitor attached to my laptop) so that I don’t have to minimize and maximize the windows all the time. It makes it easy to move back and forth.

I also have template documents for my Series Recap pages and custom HTML codes for plug-ins that get updates and change.

Why do I love Templates?

Templates are great for a forgetful person like me. I never have to worry if I’m forgetting to add something to my Blog Tour posts (though I do use checklists in Trello as a double-check) or if my end signature is included.

It also saves me a ton of time because I don’t have to code/format everything from scratch every time. Instead, I just put the bones of my post down and fill in what needs to be filled. And by making it obvious what I need to fill in, it’s great for creating drafts that I will be finishing later on.

Do you use templates for creating your blog posts? What tips do you have to share?

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SERIESous Tips: Book Blogging When on Vacation

Finding the right balance between relaxing and being productive while on vacation isn’t always easy.

I’m a huge fan of travelling. I love exploring the world and experiencing new adventures. I’ve been very fortunate to see so many things over the last few years and I always try to go some place new every year.

I do a lot of prep before I go on a trip. Of course I do all the stuff pertinent to my trip (like packing clothes and printing itineraries) but I also get my reading and blogging habits in order as well.

>> SERIESous Tips: Picking the Perfect Travel Read!

My Philosophy:

I didn’t travel across the world (or wherever) do to things I do at home. I want to embrace everything about the place I’m travelling to and that means busy itineraries in order to see everything that I can. I travel with the philosophy that I might never return to that place and I never want to regret not doing something.

So that means I won’t be spending hours blogging or reading like I would at home. Sure, I do that stuff in my downtime or while en route to a new location while away; but I don’t plan for me to have those moments during my trip. If I do manage to get some stuff done it’s a bonus.

Basically, my blog gets neglected in the sense I’m not visiting daily while travelling but I do think about it and my content while I’m away.

Here are some of the things I do before and during my vacation to keep up with my blog’s content and reviews:

Scheduling Posts

I schedule all the posts on my blog well in advance of their posting dates. I’ve been doing this since my first year of blogging and it has paid off immensely. As I write this (February 2018), I have posts scheduled well into October 2018! (And at the time that this is published in October 2018, I have posts scheduled well into April 2019). That means I can leave my blog for a few days and not worry about posting new content on a regular basis (or getting internet access to do so). You probably didn’t even know I was away because I had been posting regularly 😉

Learn More: Scheduling Blog Posts |  How to Start Scheduling Posts

So of course, I recommend that you schedule some planned posts while away on vacation. Sure, they can be reviews but I recommend special content like tags or memes instead. This is the stuff that isn’t necessarily date specific and you can write well in advance and keep in your draft folder until you need them. It will require a bit of planning and time on your end to write some extra posts but you’ll thank yourself later when you find out you won’t have the time to hit “publish” while away.

Access to my Schedule via OneDrive

I keep track of all the book deadlines I have as well as my blog’s posting schedule in one Word Document. If anyone but me opened that document, they’d probably be confused out of their minds but it makes sense to me!

>>SERIESous Tips: Keeping Organized

OneDrive is basically a cloud for Microsoft products–it’s like DropBox or Google Drive. Now that I’m no longer in school, I don’t use it as much but I still use it for my blog. In it, I have my blogging templates, common book themes, book summaries/recaps, and my master schedule. It syncs anytime I have internet to any of my devices and I can also access it via the web. I can even access the documents offline on my phone if I need to.

My point here is that I like having my Master Book/Blog schedule handy so that I know what books to read and when. Can I start a random book or do I need to read something else for review purposes? Having that document handy wherever I go has really helped me be more productive when it comes to reading both before and during my trip.

I do have post templates saved as draft posts on the blog as well but the master/most-up-to-date file is the Word document.

Avoid Deadlines / Posting Commitments

Most of the time, you know well in advance when you are going to be on an extended vacation. Sometimes you don’t but that’s ok. My point here is make sure you don’t schedule yourself for any blog tours or promotional posts while you are away. I make sure to keep track of all tours/ARCs I’ve requested so I have a general idea of what I might be committed to reading and posting in the future.

>>SERIESous Tips: Keeping Organized — ARCS

Not only will you create pressure for yourself by creating a deadline to read something but you might find yourself in a bit of a pickle in terms of content. While most blogging tour groups provide you the necessary media and such a week in advance of a tour, some don’t! So take that into consideration before you hit request–especially if your time and/or internet connection is up in the air! You might not be able to fulfill your reviewer obligations and that may dampen future opportunities.

>>Discussion: Lessons Learned from Doing Blog Tours

Jot Down Reviews/Thoughts After Finishing a Novel

One of the biggest factors in terms of blog maintenance is my internet connection. I don’t always have one wherever I go or one readily available at all times. That means I can’t access my blog or even the Goodreads App on my phone. In the last two years, I’ve come to rely heavily on the Goodreads App to jot down some of my thoughts after finishing a novel so I have a base to create my review. But without an internet connection, I can’t really do that.

What I started doing was using my Note App on my phone and writing my thoughts there. I’d mark my start and end dates; write some common themes; note some similar reads; and write my full review. Basically, I’d do everything I normally would do in a post just without the HTML and the book’s metadata. Then, I send that to myself via email when I return home or have internet connection and copy and paste into my templates.

When I came back from my trip in February, I had 7 reviews to write. Normally this would take me hours and I would be pulling my hair out because I wouldn’t remember everything about the books I read. However, thanks to my notes, I was able to churn out reviews like a boss. All I had to do was paste in my thoughts (tweak them a little but not much) and format the post accordingly. What should have taken me a full day only took 2 hours! Amazing!

Keeping Up With Emails / Requests

I don’t get a lot of emails pertaining to my blog but I do subscribe to a lot of email lists for blog tours, book deals and author newsletters. I never realized how many until I didn’t check my Gmail account for a few days and found my inbox stuffed!

One of the nice things about Gmail is that you can separate your inbox into 4 folders that emails are automatically filtered into upon arrival. I’ve sorted mine like this:

  • Primary: Publishing contacts; request submissions on my blog; other
  • Social: commenting feeds; Bloglovin’; Hellobar updates
  • Promotions: author newsletters; book deals; giveaways; Netgalley
  • Updates: blog tour lists; review opportunity lists

I’ve found that this helps me tackle my inbox when I have to go through lots of emails. First, I glance through and delete anything that has “expired” (ex. deals for a specific day). Then I go through and swipe my way through all the emails and star anything that needs follow-up. Then I do a massive delete and work my way through the ones that need my attention.

I have a plug-in for Gmail called Boomerang which lets me pause my inbox (though I’ve never used it). I also use that plug-in to schedule emails to send out. This is especially helpful when I have some review opportunity follow-ups that require the emailed links when the post goes live.

Creating a Worklist via Trello

I’ve praised this online tool before but I wanted to share how I use it while I’m away. The great thing about Trello is that you can use it offline. I’ve got it on my phone so I can create review cards and file them accordingly offline and they will be synced when I get an internet connection. That way, I have a worklist of sorts to complete when I return and I know what I need to do for my blog.

>>SERIESous Tips: Using Trello to Keep Track of Reviews


I hope you found some of my tips and tricks helpful!

What do you do while away on vacation when it comes to reading and blogging?

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SERIESous Tips: Cross Posting Reviews

To Cross Post or Not to Cross Post, isn’t that the question?

 

In my early days, I used Goodreads a lot to discover new blogs to follow. That’s how I found out that book blogging was a thing actually. So I always made an effort to at least mention my blog somewhere in my review and give a link back just to get the word out once I started blogging.

But actually cross posting? Like many blogging/reviewing things, it was something I never really thought about until I started doing review copies on a regular basis. It was always “encouraged” that you posted your review on book buying sites and Goodreads in addition to your blog post to help get the word out. Makes sense right? That’s why I started to be more proactive and conscientious about it.

Does cross posting work?

I think from a publisher/author point of view it does. When buying books I think people like to see ratings and reviews before making the decision. More reviews means more people who have read and likely enjoyed the title, thereby increasing the chances that the purchaser will actually buy it. I know I glance at the reviews before deciding a book is worth the investment of my money to see if it will be enjoyable.

As a blogger, I’ll be honest and say that very (and I mean very) few of the “referrals” to my site are from Goodreads. I get more hits from search engines and blog tour participation links than anything else in the grand scheme of things. In other words: it doesn’t increase the traffic to my blog.

That being said, I still make an effort to cross post my reviews on a regular basis because I believe that the exposure (for both the book and my blog) is important. I mean those few hits linking readers to my site still got people to my site!

What Do my Cross Posted Reviews Look Like?

I think this is the biggest thing people struggle with. Do you post your full blog post? Do you just show off the highlights? Do you simply leave a link to your blog?

Given the format of my reviews (series reviews meaning multiple books generalized within separate headings), I’ve never** posted my full blog post on third party sites. It just doesn’t look nice and it doesn’t always work as an individual review. So I usually leave condensed reviews on Goodreads. Usually these reviews are just a few sentences describing my initial thoughts after reading the novel and marking the book as “finished” on Goodreads.

The other reason I do condensed reviews is because of something I read in a Goodreads 101 blog post by Brittany @ Book Bumblings. In that guide, she emphasized the idea of “repurposing” your reviews on Goodreads in an attempt to drive readers to your blog. The idea is that the shorter post will catch the attention of Goodreads users and it leaves people wanting more so they will hopefully visit your blog. Again, I don’t think this has really worked for me (if you look at my referral numbers), but I like to hope my shorter reviews and links appeal to people enough to visit my blog for more or at to least see what else I’ve reviewed.

>> I don’t know about you but I love having the reviews of my friends on Goodreads when I look up a book title. I often look at those reviews to see if it’s a book I’ll like or to see how others felt about it once I finish reading. That’s why I make an effort to post on Goodreads no matter what because I find those reviews (no matter their length) to be extremely helpful!

**The only exception to this condensed rule is for review copies. Because I’ve been asked to write a review, I try to make it as full as possible for Goodreads and book retail sites. If the book I’m reading is a sequel for a review on my site, I often post a condensed version on my own blog instead in the hopes of reducing spoilers but use the full review everywhere else.

>> Tips: How I Use Trello to Keep Track of Cross Posting Reviews

When do I Cross Post?

For a little while, I tried my hardest to cross post all my previously published blog reviews on sites. But after seeing it didn’t have a huge impact on my stats and discovering how much time it took up, I stopped with my backlisted reviews.

Now, as soon as I publish a review on my blog, I cross post it on all the sites so I don’t have to dedicate hours of time to a cross posting blitz in the future! If it’s a review copy, I cross post to all the sites on release day or the due date.

Where do I Cross Post?

When it comes to cross posting, my methods for posting my review vary depending on the site. So I thought it would be easier to break it down by website and explain what I do and why.

The only one I didn’t explain was Netgalley since that is just you submitting your review (which is the same as my Goodreads one minus the HTML portions) and the links to your cross posted reviews.

Goodreads

What I Cross Post: All reviews regardless of source
How I Cross-Post: Full reviews for ARCs and Owned reads; mini reviews for others & sequels; links to blog

Posting on Goodreads is a little complicated for me given the nature of my blog. You see, because my blog posts are usually one review for an entire series, I don’t often have individual reviews for each book in that series.

One way I’ve attempted to solve that problem is by writing a mini review of my thoughts after finishing every book I read. That way, I’ve got a few lines I can use as a base for sequel reviews and add my links to read the series review on my blog. For inaugural novels, I pick and choose lines from my series review and put them together for a little fuller review (without spoilers of course).

The only exception is when I review ARCs. I always write full reviews because that’s what I got the book for!

When do I Cross Post: As I submit my ARC review on Netgalley; when blog post goes live

I always follow the publishers/providers guideline for posting reviews. If they don’t want that review going live until two weeks before publication, I follow that. Otherwise, it’s as soon as my blog post goes live (or within 48 hours of it).

Riffle Reads & LibraryThing

What I Cross Post: All reviews regardless of source
How I Cross-Post: copy and paste the review’s HTML code from Goodreads review directly to site
When do I Cross Post: As I submit my ARC review on Netgalley; when Goodreads review is live

Riffle Reads is a site very much like Goodreads though it has a smaller user base and community. It doesn’t have a ton of bloggers on there yet so I make an effort to leave reviews for anything that I can so people can learn more. Thankfully, it follows the same coding scheme (for the most part; it doesn’t do images) as Goodreads so I simply copy and paste my Goodreads review when it goes live.

I do the same thing for the site LibraryThing. I just joined that this year but it’s a site similar to Goodreads and Riffle Reads. They have an Early Reviewers program that does look at your review postings so I make an effort to put my reviews there as well. I was also able to import all my Goodreads reviews when I joined the site so that helped immensely.

Amazon.com (Amazon.ca)

What I Cross Post: ARCs & Owned Kindle Titles

Amazon is a bit of a stickler for reviews. They have a pretty rigid review policy so I try to be conscientious of that when I post reviews. I know from some of the review groups I belong to that they will take down your reviews if they don’t comply with terms. So, I make it a point to only add reviews for titles I’ve received for review purposes as well as titles I’ve purchased for my Kindle in order to keep the reviews “legitimate” in Amazon’s eyes.

How I Cross-Post: copy and paste Goodreads review with unique disclaimer

Basically, I remove all the HTML from my Goodreads review (you can’t have links to your blog in an Amazon review which is what my HTML portions are) and post the text. I then add a disclaimer that multiple authors/publishers have told me to use at the bottom of my review. In case you’re curious, here is the disclaimer I use:

**I received an ARC/review copy of this book and this is my voluntary review.**

When do I Cross Post: As I submit my ARC review on Netgalley or when book is published or blog post is live

If I finish my review before the book is published I have to wait to add my Amazon review. Once the book is live, I make sure I go back and post my review. I also add my Amazon link to my Netgalley review (even if I’ve already submitted it) to show that I have actually cross-posted for the publisher as I mentioned I would in my notes upon my submission. Otherwise, I wait until my blog post is live and cross post to Amazon when I post to the other third party sites.

Kobo Books

I rarely cross post on Kobo anymore. Only if it’s a review copy and it has been requested that I do so by the provider do I make the effort. I own a lot of Kobo books so I always rate them when I’m finished but it isn’t linked with my blog so I never write full reviews for them. I find Kobo doesn’t have the easiest reviewing system for someone like me who is posting a lot and so I don’t do it.

Audible

What I Cross Post: All audiobooks provided via Audible
How I Cross-Post: copy and paste Amazon review with unique disclaimer
When do I Cross Post: when my Amazon Review is live

Audible has a great way of providing copies for review purposes. So when I review most audiobooks, I get them via Audible with a special gift code to add the book to my library for free. That way I’m able to review the copy as if I owned it. Audible also has a prompted review option (with headings you answer to) but I always do the freestyle review box and paste my Amazon review.

Twitter

What I Cross Post: All reviews regardless of source; blog posts
How I Cross-Post: built in tweet option on WordPress; tweet archived-post plug-in
When do I Cross Post: new posts are published; updated series reviews; daily archive throwbacks

This isn’t something I consciously do thanks to plugins that make the whole thing automatic. That being said, you can definitely use platforms like Tweetdeck to schedule tweets for promotional purposes if you don’t have a WordPress.org blog.

Barnes & Noble, iTunes, Google Play and Other Retailers

We don’t have Barnes & Noble in Canada (we have Indigo-Chapters) so I don’t see the point in my posting there as a Canadian. As for the other retailers, I don’t use their sites so it’s not of any benefit to me unless I’ve been asked to by a publisher/ARC provider.


Do you have any tips for cross-posting reviews?

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SERIESous Tips: A List of Blog Tour & Review Opportunity Groups

Back in February I created a discussion post where I talked about the lessons I learned in the past 2 years of being a blog tour host. In it, I listed some of the tour organizers I’ve used in the past. But those are only a fraction of the groups out there and that didn’t even include groups that only provide review copies.

So I decided that I should create a comprehensive list of companies to help my fellow bloggers out. These are just some of the few I’ve stumbled upon over the years (and in most cases, I literally just stumbled on them by blog hopping or Googling). I’ve sorted them into Publishing House Catalogs, Review Opportunity Groups and Blog Tour Companies just to make it a little easier. I’ve also included some comments about my personal experiences with these companies.

**NOTE: There are no affiliate links on this page and these are in no way endorsed by the respective groups. My comments are based on my personal experiences and research. All the images link to the group’s homepage for you to bookmark or learn more about. Also, all of these distribute ARCs digitally. Some of these groups do provide physical ARCs but not all do. I didn’t include any programs/groups that focus exclusively on physical ARCs.

Publishing House Catalogs:

These are independent sites that publishing houses use to distribute eARCs to readers.

Image result for netgalley logo First To Read

Edelweiss

I have never tried Edelweiss (it seems really complicated!). I’ve had the best intentions to check it out but never seem to find the time.

Genres: All
Formats: ?
International Availability?: ?
Limited Copies Available?: Majority but some instantly available
Blog Required? ?
Deadline: ?
(If you have these details, leave a comment below and I will update this!)

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Netgalley

I use NetGalley though I try to limit the number of titles I get on there for my own sanity. It really is a great source for digital eARCs and the interface is very easy to navigate. The keys to Netgalley success (ie not getting declined for requests) is to check Publisher Criteria (a lot need the reviewer to have X number of followers or limit international availability) before requesting and to update your Profile on a regular basis. Also, keeping your review ratio high by completing your reviews is a HUGE aspect. Even if you didn’t finish or like the book, submit your review!

Genres: All
Formats: digital eBooks (mobi, ePub, PDF)
International Availability?: Yes though there are clearly label restrictions
Limited Copies Available?: Majority but some instantly available
Blog Required? Not Required
Deadline: Publishing Date or Archive Date set by publisher

>> Examples: titles I’ve read via Netgalley.

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>> Check out this super helpful How-To: NetGalley and Edelweiss for Newbies post from The Book Bratz to learn how you can get started with these two sites.

First to Read

I don’t have anything to say about First to Read because it is only open to residents of the United States (and I live in Canada). But it’s an ARC system for Penguin Random House. It looks like they add books at least once a month and members are emailed when new titles are available.

Genres: All
Formats: digital eBooks (mobi, ePub, PDF)
International Availability?: United States Only
Limited Copies Available?: Yes (first come first serve / draw)
Blog Required? No
Deadline: ?

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***Don’t forget that you can often sign up for email review notifications for your favourite publishers and/or authors as well! Check out their website (or even Twitter) to see if they have a review newsletter you can join. They often include sign-ups for ARC and Street Team recruitment a couple times a year.***

Review Opportunity Groups:

These are groups that offer ARCs/review copies of titles for the express purpose of having reviews on book-based sites. Usually it’s authors or smaller publishing houses that provide the copies with the intention of having the reviews posted by a certain date.

    Booksprout  

Review 4 Me ~

 Audiobook Jukebox

New Adult Book Club

The New Adult Book Club is a group on Goodreads that focuses on the New Adult (NA) Genre as a whole (contemporary, fantasy, etc). They have this great Read It and Review It (RiRi) program for its members. Each week, they have a limited number of copies for 2-3 NA titles and give you a deadline of 3 weeks to post the review on Goodreads (& sometimes Amazon). They also do monthly RiRi titles as well where you have until the end of the month to read the featured title (and, usually, be entered for a giveaway).

Genres: New Adult (all subgenres)
Formats: digital eBooks (mobi, ePub, PDF) (some are sent directly to Kindle only)
International Availability?: Yes
Limited Copies Available?: Yes (some exceptions)
Blog Required? No – Goodreads Account (Occasionally Amazon)
Deadline: 3 Weeks

>> Examples: titles I’ve read via the RiRi Program

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Hidden Gem Books

Hidden Gems Books is a great site I only just discovered in the last year. They have ARCs for nearly every genre (romance, cookbooks, horror, etc) and you can pick and choose what genres you get notified about via email. Again, they have a limited number of copies and you have to sign up within 48 hours of the notification to be considered. They also have this great dashboard feature that helps you keep track of all the titles from them you have on the go and what are still available for request.

Genres: All
Formats: digital eBooks (mobi, ePub, PDF)
International Availability?: No
Limited Copies Available?: Yes
Blog Required? No – Amazon Account Only
Deadline: 7 – 14 Days (clearly specified when signing up)

>> Examples: titles I’ve read via Hidden Gems

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LibraryThing

LibraryThing is a site I’ve only just discovered this year. They have an Early Reviewers program with select publishers for its members (which is free to join). Every month they release a batch of books (with limited quantities) for review. Your odds as getting the title you’ve requested is a mixture of chance, availability, number of reviews on LibraryThing (which you can boost by importing your Goodreads ones) and other factors. They have a variety of genres available and a variety of format options (audiobooks, eBooks or paper books). Availability varies by country but it is clearly indicated in the title information and they have great sorting options so you can see only titles for your location. Reviews are expected to be posted within 90 days pending the arrival of the book. They have a great FAQ section to help you understand everything as well.

Genres: All
Formats: digital eBooks (mobi, ePub, PDF), physical, audiobooks
International Availability?: Yes though there are clearly label restrictions
Limited Copies Available?: Yes
Blog Required? No – LibraryThings Account
Deadline: 90 Days after receipt of copy

>> Examples: titles I’ve read via LibraryThing Early Reviewers

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Audiobook Boom

Audiobook Boom is a review program for audiobooks (they also send out audiobook deals as well). Once a week (on Tuesdays), you receive an email about new audiobooks available for review from the genres you have pre-selected. In their emails, they tell you about content warnings (like violence, sex and language), length of the title and even provide you a link to listen to a sample. You then have 30 days to post a review on Audible, Amazon and/or GoodReads.

Genres: All
Formats: audiobooks (usually Audible versions)
International Availability?: Not specified
Limited Copies Available?: Yes
Blog Required? No – Audible and/or Goodreads Account
Deadline: 30 Days

>> Examples: titles I’ve read via Audiobook Boom

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Booksprout

Booksprout has two main features that will appeal to readers. One is an app for your phone to follow your favourite authors and be notified of new release and/or book sales. Their website however has an ARC catalogue that you can browse (no email alerts for new additions so you have to check regularly yourself). You can’t sort by genres so you will find yourself scrolling through page after page. BUT, if you do end up requesting multiple copies at a time, they have great sorting features for books you’ve “promised” to review, ones that are due soon, DNF’d and completed reviews. Before you request the book for review, they give you the details of when and where to post the review (some authors only want it on Booksprout, others want it on Amazon as well) as well as note from the author about their book (or what type of reviews they are looking for like beta reviews).

Genres: All
Formats: digital eBooks (mobi, ePub or PDF)
International Availability?: Yes
Limited Copies Available?: Unsure
Blog Required? No – Booksprout and Amazon or others specified
Deadline: Usually two weeks or whatever is specified

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Book Review Buzz

Book Review Buzz has books of all genres available for request. Some of their titles are listed on Netgalley while others are just files sent to you. I’ve never used the site but I subscribe to their weekly newsletter (which also includes a list of eBooks on sale as well so read carefully!). I couldn’t find any information about the timeframe for your review but they want you to review on Amazon and Goodreads for the most part.

Genres: All
Formats: digital eBooks (mobi, ePub, PDF) (some via NetGalley)
International Availability?: Yes
Limited Copies Available?: Unsure
Blog Required? No – Amazon or Goodreads
Deadline: Unsure

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Review 4 Me

Review 4 Me is a review request website where authors post their books for review. The copies provided are in eBook format and in a variety of genres. I don’t know how long you have to review the titles but they do have a mailing list you can subscribe to when copies become available.

Genres: All
Formats: digital eBooks (mobi, ePub, PDF)
International Availability?: Yes
Limited Copies Available?: Unsure
Blog Required? No
Deadline: Unsure

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Solid Gold Reviewer Program

Solid Gold Reviewer Program is an audiobook review program hosted at Audiobook Jukebox. They have a catalog of a variety of audiobook genres (minus erotica) that you can request titles from. They will then contact the publisher/author on your behalf. There are some international restrictions but they are clearly listed as such in the postings. Reviews need to be posted within 3 months of receiving the title and there are a few other basic guidelines to follow. They don’t have an email subscription list so you will need to check this on a regular basis and they don’t follow up with you if your request has been denied.

Genres: All (except erotica)
Formats: audiobooks
International Availability?: Yes though there are clearly label restrictions
Limited Copies Available?: Yes
Blog Required? No – GoodReads or LibraryThing otherwise
Deadline: Publishing Date or Archive Date set by publisher

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Blog Tour Groups:

These are groups/companies that organize blog tours for publishers and/or authors. In addition to organizing blog tours, they also host promotional opportunities (like Blitz and Cover Reveals) and some also provide review opportunities year round.

Companies I Have Experience With:

YA Bounk Tour Button ButtonXBT  

I’ve had great experiences with all these companies in the past. Some of these groups have their own little niches. For example, YA Bound Book Tours and Chapter by Chapter mostly do Young Adult titles; Audiobookworm does audiobook tours/review opportunities. A few of these provide copies via Netgalley which can count towards your feedback ratio.

>> Examples: past blog tours I’ve hosted

Note: Some of these groups look at your blog statics (like Rock Star Book Tours) to determine who can be a host for a particular title. Signing up for a tour doesn’t mean you will automatically be accepted so just be aware of the requirements for each company (they usually ask any time you sign up for a tour or when you first subscribe to their email alerts).

Other Companies:

Jean BookNerd Pump Up Your Book Tour HostBuoni Amici Press, LLC  Goddess Fish Promotions Related image Image result for bewitching book tours   TLC Book Tours

I didn’t even know some of these companies existed until I did a Google search for blog tours while compiling this post. A lot of them have some great opportunities so be sure to check them out! I know I’ve signed up for a few 😉


Why Request a Review Copy or Join a Blog Tour?

For me, the most rewarding aspect of joining blog tours and review opportunities has been discovering new authors and titles that I might not have otherwise seen. There are so many books out there and sometimes it can be hard to find them. And now with the growing popularity of self-publishing, there are a lot of amazing titles just waiting to be discovered. I’ve also been very fortunate to have some great networking opportunities with publishers and authors arise from doing blog tours as well. All and all, I see blog tours as a win-win for everyone involved and I plan on continuing to do them in the future.

>> Always remember to disclose the fact that you received a copy in exchange for an honest review! For more information, check out this great post about FTC compliance by Briana @ Pages Unbound

Did I miss any groups or companies? Leave me a comment below and I will add them to the lists!

PS: If you can fill in any of the blanks on the review opportunity groups, please leave a comment and I will fill the information in for others to see!

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SERIESous Tips: Using Trello to Keep Track of Reviews

*I want to be clear that this post isn’t affiliated with Trello in any way, this is just my personal experience!*

I first talked about how I use Trello in 2016 during a Keeping Organized Tips Series I ran. At the time, I mostly highlighted how I use Trello to keep track of ARC Requests and only briefly mentioned my Review Board. That’s about to change here!

Back in university, a co-coordinator for an event I was running showed me Trello as a tool for keeping organized. The list-maker in me loved it and I used it a lot while organizing various things. But I never thought about using it for book blogging until I read a post by Brittany @ Book Bumblings about Trello. After that, everything just clicked and I created my own boards to keep track of things!

>> Check out Brittany’s guide here!

Trello is great for a number of reasons. First off, it’s free (there is a premium version you can buy with more features) and the options are endless for the free version. It is a very fluid web-based program. It’s super easy to move things around and has a ton of customizing features (which I’m going to highlight a little more below). It also has an app for your phone so you can use it on the go if you are so inclined.

Let me introduce my Review Board:

Every post that is created for my blog has a card on this board. I have 7 main lists I use to keep my reviews/posts organized depending on what stage they are at.

What are you looking at?

These are my lists I used to keep track of reviews and blog posts. I’ll break it down for you:

  1. To Do
    • This is my brainstorm list where I keep track of ideas for blog posts I might want to do in the future
  2. ARCs
    • This is where I create review cards for Request copies I have received
      • I’ll detail what’s on those cards below
  3. In Development
    • These are reviews/posts I am currently writing
  4. Started
    • These are reviews that are finished, they just need something else before they can be published
  5. Cross Post
    • This is where review cards go after I’ve finished writing my blog post
    • This is where I keep track of what other review sites I need to post my review to
  6. Pending Sequels
    • These are drafted series reviews that I’m holding off on posting until I’ve read all the available sequels
  7. Done
    • This is where all review and post cards go after I have completed all their requirements

As I’m sure you can predict, when I’m writing a post from my To Do list or from my ARCs list, they get put in the In Development column. After they are complete, they either get put in the Cross Post, Pending Sequels or Done columns depending on their posting requirements.

What’s On a Review Card?

An example of a review card for an ARC request

There are 4 features I use the most when it comes to creating my review cards.

  1. Labels (colour codes)
    • This is great for seeing things at a glance. I colour code all my reviews based on their source (ARC or Blog Tour), if they require a Recap, if I need to Cross Post or if I need to Update a previous review and/or stats. I also have a special colour for Promo posts like blitzes.
    • If a card gets a certain label, it usually has an accompanying checklist (see #3).
  2. Due Date
    • This is the date I plan to post on my blog, not necessarily the book’s publishing date.
    • This is super handy because you can sort lists by their due dates chronologically. I do this for posts that I have to cross post to external sites.
  3. Checklist — My FAVOURITE Feature!
    • We do a lot of repetitive things when it comes to blogging and sometimes it’s hard to remember them all.
      • See the section below for more details!
  4. Comment (not pictured)
    • I use this mostly for post cards for Tags or posts inspired by other blogs and I want to remember the source or ideas for the post

Why the Checklist Feature is the BEST!

Certain reviews require certain things. For example, when I write a series review, I need to make sure I’ve added a recap section (if applicable) to my Recap Page and put the series on my Series Sequel Spreadsheet. If it’s a review for Netgalley, I need to make sure I’ve added my review to the site as well as the links to my cross posted reviews. I even have a list for those cross posts! And the lists go on and on…

What I love about Trello is that you can create unique checklists for every card and you can see at a glance how many items you’ve completed from that list.

But the greatest thing is that you can copy checklists from other cards to your current card!

I have a card I’ve titled Master Checklist. On it, I’ve created all the checklists I use on a regular basis and when I create a new card, I import the lists from this card. If I need to make a change, I do it on this list so that a new cards going forward have this newly changed list.

Other Notable Features:

  • Assign Tasks by Team Member
    • This would be great if you have multiple blog contributors!
    • You can leave notes too for each other on the card and see what others have done.
  • Calendar
    • You can enable a calendar that will put your cards on those respective dates
      • I don’t use this feature as I use a Word Doc do keep track of my dates for everything (posts, library due dates, etc). Learn more here.
  • Tracks Activity
    • Any changes you make to a card (and when) are noted at the bottom

This way, I always know where I am when it comes to my reviews!

While I try to do a little bit of blogging each day, I don’t always get the chance to with my job. But Trello makes it easy for me to pick up where I left off and to see what I need to get done and when. It truly has become an essential tool to my blogging experience.

>> See how Carrie @ Reading is My Super Power was inspired by my other Trello post!

How to you keep track of the reviews/posts you have in the works?

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