Over 5 years ago, I stumbled into the book blogiverse and was immediately swept away. I’d never imagined anything like this could exist which is funny to me now because I have a blog, I have followers, I follow other blogs, keep up with authors, all of it. But I think back to those first few years and there are definitely things I wished I’d done (or hadn’t done). Tonight’s chat is a bit more personal so bear with me.
Don’t Be Afraid To Change Your Blog
I began reviewing on the blog The Magick Pen, using Blogger. It was my writing blog that I wanted to attract more readers to so I started to write book reviews. When it quickly became a book blog instead, I changed the name (this was pretty early on so it didn’t really make any sort of impact) to Red Reader Reviews. This was my blogging home for quite some time until the middle of my undergrad career when my workload and blogging conflicted too much.
One had to go.
I took everything offline, or made it private, and closed it down. Once I had more time I was able to bring blogging back but I realized that though I loved the blog and it was the me from high school, it wasn’t the me now. I’d kept up with posting on and off privately in the case that I wanted to come back to blogging but I knew it wouldn’t be on Blogger and it wouldn’t be with Red Reader Reviews.
Have you ever needed a clean slate? I did, and I started fresh with NovelKnight on a self-hosted WordPress, moving all my reviews over and making a new name for myself that finally fit who I was. I hadn’t found that until now so I suppose the timing just worked out.
But here’s the deal: don’t be afraid to change your blog. I was so afraid that I would lose all the new friends I’d made because they wouldn’t be able to find me again, because I had been on hiatus for so long. But in the end I’m happier with my website and it makes blogging better. Everyone grows as a person and you don’t have to get it right the first time.
Social Media: Get Involved!
5 years ago, I wouldn’t say that social media was as big as it is now but it was still prominent and would’ve made life a heck of a lot easier. I didn’t start media pages for MONTHS after getting the blog up initially and I wondered why no one came to visit.
Followers and page views aren’t everything. Blog because you love to do it. But it does bite a little when there’s no one to read the work you put into reviews and other posts.
Eventually I got the hang of it and created pages/profiles. People started stopping by and commenting. I could finally comment back and talk books (a blessing considering who my friends were at the time). It gave the blog traction and provided a little recognition for the work I put in.
Get involved with social media early on! Put your stuff out there. If you’re smart about it, it can only help.
Comments Are Friends, Not Food
This is something I’m still working on but I wasn’t the best at leaving comments in the early years. I didn’t follow many blogs at first and the posts I read, I would then leave the site without a word. When people started commenting on my blog, I tried to make an effort to comment back at the very least and if they left a link, check out their site.
More recently, I do comment and comment back but when it comes to reviews, I’m still pretty bad. Typically I read them on my phone in the store, looking to buy a book and needing that extra push. Often enough I don’t keep the phone on long enough to leave a comment, just to read the review and make my decision about the book. The only time I actively don’t comment/reply are giveaway posts I host here on the blog so I can keep track of entries easier.
It’s a work in progress but I’m trying to get better at it.
Leaving comments is like leaving gifts all year round. I love reading someone’s thoughts on my reviews (whether they agree or disagree doesn’t matter), or jumping in on a discussion post, etc. It’s an excellent networking tool and makes the book community that much better.
Don’t EVER Let Anyone Tell You How To Run Your Blog
This might sound a bit counter-intuitive based on the rest of this post but in the end, your blog is your blog. It’s for you. I made the mistake of trying to be like the rest of the book blogs I saw for so long. They did well so I thought if I was like them, I would do well too. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, right?
In the end, it didn’t work and I wasn’t happy with how things were going. It took a long time to figure out what I wanted to bring to the blogiverse. I wanted to write reviews for readers by a reader, not all summary but things that stood out to me that I think other readers wanted to hear. I wanted to participate in the weekly memes because they’re run and a cool way to get to know other bloggers. I wanted a lot of things and every website said something different. What a book blog should and shouldn’t have. Are there certain aspects that are pretty standard across the blogs? Yes. Should that matter? Depends, does it matter to you, or just the success of your blog? In the end, think about what YOU want first.
Blogging shouldn’t be a chore. It shouldn’t be something you dread doing. If it is I suggest re-evaluating why you started in the first place and go from there. Blog for you and you alone. What’s the point if you’re not happy with it?
Alright, that’s my spiel. Take from it what you will. I made a lot of mistakes along the road to where I am today but I can’t say I’m not happy about where it brought me.