Blogging Expectations and Why I Hate Them

POSTED ON June 17, 2017 BY Austine IN Discussion

I am a book blogger.

Pssh, no, really? Would NEVER have guessed that.

Well, with blogging comes certain… expectations. It didn’t used to. I started out in 2011 and the only books I reviewed were ones I owned or borrowed from the library. After the first year, I would receive review requests here and there for primarily indie titles, some traditionally published, but mostly I still read and reviewed and promoted books I bought. There was no expectation to read the latest releases or review ARCs. At least, not like there is now.

Before any of y’all comment that you think I’m terribly wrong for saying that or anything else I mention in this post, please keep in mind this is my opinion, not me stating a fact. Agree or disagree all you want but I’m not lecturing here.

Why do we do this to ourselves?

 

For a time, bloggers who received ARCs were like the “best of the best,” at least from my perspective. They were such good bloggers that people wanted to send them books to promote. How cool is that?! As a newer blogger, I aspired to that level of greatness.

Jump ahead a few years and we’re to present day. ARCs are pretty widely distributed. We have ARC trading now. No longer is it strange to receive ARCs as a blogger. NOW it’s all about WHICH ARCs you have, and even whether you have a print or electronic version. The status symbol has changed but, with it, the expectations I feel as a blogger have too.

To keep up with everyone else, to be relevant, you have to review the newest books and be on top of your book news game. You’re not JUST a blogger anymore. You’re a social media manager, a reviewer, a book pusher. And when it comes down to it, why are you doing all those things?

I love blogging. If I didn’t I wouldn’t continue doing it. But what are we putting in all that work for?

Frankly, I don’t have an answer for you. I’ve been questioning this myself. Why do I request books? Why do I prioritize ARCs above all other books? Why do I even care? What’s the point?

I see the blogging community as competitive, always attempting to stand out whether you realize it or not. Always trying to reach the next goal, trying to figure out what it will take to get that book you really want. And at the end of the day, it leaves me an unhappy and stressed blogger. But I keep doing it.

So what is that driving force?

Recently, I polled the book community and asked what they thought was a “good” blogger as well as what kinds of expectations they think bloggers deal with (from the community, the industry, themselves, and so on). These responses were completely open-ended, voluntary, and anonymous. I wanted to share a few of the responses with you that captured the general consensus submitted:

What is a “Good” Book Blogger

I think as long as you’re blogging honestly about books, you’re a “good” book blogger. Beyond that, everyone has different preferences for what they like or dislike and I don’t think there’s a “right” answer. For example, I personally don’t like to read (or publish) promo posts or blitzes. But that doesn’t mean people who do post those things are “bad” bloggers.


1) Interaction. I love seeing bloggers that take the time to comment back, actually view other people’s posts, comment on their posts, reply, etc. I think that people who maintain great interaction with viewers, other bloggers, and authors is a great blogger.
2) Great, well-thought posts with pictures. Timed every few days but not frequently, or timed on specific days of the week. Professionalism and thoughtfulness is key.
3) A pleasing web design. Not just something that looks like it started yesterday. Something that looks like it’s been there for a while. I want a blog that makes me want to surf the page more!


I think what makes a good book blogger is quality content (original, discussions, etc), interacting with followers and replying to comments and having a distinct style.


When they actually read and write reviews. I’ve seen quite a number that seem to only “collect” books, getting so many per month, but only read and review 1 or 2. What’s the point? To anyone reading the blog or looking at their pictures, it comes across as a very passionless way to just get free books, and I prefer blogs/bloggers who actually take the time to read what they’re sent and write a thoughtful review. “I liked it because of x, y, z” sucks.


A good book blogger, to me, is someone who genuinely enjoys the craft and will blog about whatever makes them happy — not just for or about ARCs. A good book blogger is someone who loves the community and does it because they enjoy it, not just for free stuff.


A good book blogger is someone who is completely open and honest about what they read and their views on it. I think personality is important to make a book blogger successful.



On Blogger Expectations

Of course. There’s an expectation for the blogger to always be correct in their book choices (problematic vs not, for example) and then their own expectations are to gain a certain amount of followers/notes, etc


Always reading the latest releases, and posting regularly. There’s a lot of focus on taking good photographs too which, while pretty, doesn’t really add much to the community. But I think a lot of the most popular book bloggers are the ones with good photography skills on tumblr and instagram, while the less popular ones are the ones that don’t post many photos


Absolutely, it seems like every blog has author reviews and ARC reviews. I think it gives this image that EVERYONE is in contact with all the authors and are so big they get all the ARCs, but that’s not true. Honestly, the only thing I expect people to do is actually post on their platform. Other than that, hopefully they do it for themselves (I know that’s an ever uphill battle); do it for your writing and personal growth; do it because you like it. Hopefully that’s all anyone expects.


I think we get focused on numbers to meet (books to read, festivals to attend, free ARCS received, etc) and it’s a false indicator.


I think there is too much pressure to be popular. YA bloggers in particular seem to be on a non-stop battle for popularity. That on itself makes blogger over do the effort and can easily burn them out.


There are definitely expectations about being successful. There’s always another milestone to reach (followers, followers on Twitter, pageviews, x # of arcs, contacts at publishers, etc). There’s always someone else who has been doing this longer who seems to know everything; there’s always someone else who has been doing this for a SHORTER amount of time who seems to be “rocketing up the blogger ranks”. It can be incredibly frustrating because sometimes it feels like you’re doing all the work but not getting half of the attention being a blogger used to get. I think it’s just a matter of the community growing larger…. which makes you feel even more like you’re floundering in a crowd, unable to stand out. Most of this pressure is definitely internal. I know I put way more pressure on myself than anyone else places on me, and I expect other bloggers feel the same way.

 

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It was interesting, for me, after reading all the responses to my poll about these two subjects. What people considered “good” blogging conflicted with the expectations that we feel we have to meet. It makes me wonder if maybe we need to shift the focus as individuals, and even as a community, but I’m just one person with some thoughts.

And I’d like to hear yours! What do you think makes a “good” book blogger? Do you feel like you have to meet certain expectations set by yourself or the community? Thoughts on this post?

Leave your thoughts and opinions in the comments!


Austine
About Austine

Well hello there! I see you've reached the end of the post. Bummer. But perhaps I may interest you in a comment? And in case you were wondering, I'm a 20-something college grad with a piece of paper that says I know about wildlife. Reviewer of books since 2011, amateur photographer by day, and aspiring author by night. I believe animals (and books) are better than people.


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18 responses to “Blogging Expectations and Why I Hate Them

  1. Those are great responses! I just love bloggers that you can tell enjoy themselves. I love what I do and I love to read, and though I’m not usually able to do discussions or lots of giveaways, I’m glad ppl like to read my reviews! I feel wonderful just talking books with people. Some days I feel a little down bc I don’t have the time or resources to make my blog “pop,” but I do hope it’s memorable to those that stop by!
    I know your blog is one I use for inspiration. I love your aesthetics and I envy your ability to review and post so often…you are definitely a model for blogging I look up to!
    TeacherofYA recently posted…You Choose, I Read – Review of The Bear and the NightingaleMy Profile

    • I definitely see blogging as a lot of personal investment and love of what you’re doing and that’s what it should be! But sometimes it doesn’t feel that way.

      And you’re so sweet! To be honest I have no idea how I keep up with it because I feel like my head is just going to explode with so much going on all the time, but I’m glad to hear it’s worth it <3

  2. I love this! Just last night as I was trying to comb through my makeshift TBR, I found myself overwhelmed with a sudden feeling of despair. I do not post and review the most current books all of the time. I read what I normally feel like reading and share what I want to share, but I have seen the growing trend. There seems to be a constant need to feature what’s new and assure that everyone knows you have it or received the arc. I thought on this for a while. I have not even been sharing my book hauls (although I am not complaining about those who do) and I am reading older titles. I am not living up to “expectations”. But then I finally realized that those “expectations” defined everything that I did not want to allow dictate my blog.

    I think that if the best of the latest is your true thing, then wonderful! But it really shines when bloggers feature content they are truly passionate about. You can feel it in their work and there seems to be a deeper connection. Sometimes this will not always be the popular or the new. I really do hope the focus shifts as you mentioned. I would love to see more of everything. Some bloggers (such as yourself) seem to have that dialed. Those are the blogs I really enjoy.

  3. I love this post and that you got responses from other people. My blog foremost is for me and I have really decreased the number of things I post over the last year. I really just enjoy blogging and I want to remember the books that I loved every year. I think it is great when people read my blog and I have met some great people through the blogging community. I love having people to talk about books with and share my love for books because I don’t have many people like that in real life.

  4. I would consider a ‘good’ book blogger to be, as some of the responses said, someone who loved reading and who wanted to share it for others. I want someone who recommends me good things to read and who writes good, clear reviews that help me decide whether this book is for me or not. I also love bloggers who are friendly, funny and interact with others in the community! Lovely discussion Austine!

  5. I think everyone goes through a stage where they are all about the numbers – pageviews, rankings, etc. Bloggers who stick around get over it. After that they blog for their own enjoyment – whatever that may look like. I like bloggers who have distinct personalities on their page.
    Heather recently posted…How Dare the Sun RiseMy Profile

  6. I enjoy blogs that are more varied and not JUST about all the books. It’s nice to see a blogger’s interest and life here and there, the humanness. And interacting with other people, growing community. I know we are all busy, but I think it’s important to acknowledge the people who are taking the time to actually read your posts.

    As for me I am a bit newer to the ARC scene, I think it is actually healthy to revisit the “backlist” books… I don’t think when a book has been published changes it’s relevance

  7. Really enjoyed your post! I admit that I am a strange kind of blogger! I don’t request ARCs, I no longer do blog tour things, I never meet authors, I don’t read popular genres, I’m not on things like FB, Instagram, Tumblr etc (I’m on Twitter a couple of days a week for maybe twenty minutes but I’ve love more time on Pinterest!) and I’ve never cared much about my blog stats. I like posting on my blog, answering comments left there and visiting other blogs to leave comments. I enjoy the interaction but I don’t feel under pressure to live up to anything and I don’t worry if a blog post gets no responses! I like blogs where there are discussion posts, memes and other things in amongst the reviews, making it easy to find something you can comment on when you visit. I also like interaction with my fellow bloggers. My blogging goal is to find a few more blogs to follow and a few more followers who share a few things in common, and interact with them.

  8. This is a thought-provoking post. I don’t request ARCs, and I do whatever I want on my blog. Maybe that’s why I don’t have a ton of followers. I don’t put too much pressure on myself to do what the community expects. For me, a “good” blogger is someone who is insightful. I love when a review or discussion makes me think about something in a new way.
    AJ Sterkel recently posted…The Sunday Post #101My Profile

  9. This is an interesting discussion, and it touches on something I’ve been struggling with recently: WHO am I blogging for? Because most of the things you mention about “status” and what not, the average reader knows NOTHING about! It’s all the blogger stuff. The average reader doesn’t care that you received an early copy, and hell, they may not have even realized it. I recognize that bloggers are a huge component of our audience, though, so those status things inherently become a big part of blogging. Lately, I’ve been trying to remind myself that I’m not blogging for the bloggers, but rather all the readers (which, luckily, bloggers are included so they won’t be excluded!). So if I want to review a book that came out 2 years ago, WHO CARES! If the reader hasn’t read that one and it sounds like a book they want to read, I’ve accomplished my goal (:
    Ali (@thebandarblog) recently posted…Characters Whose Lives I Want to LiveMy Profile

  10. I agree with this post. In a lot of ways these are limitations that we put on ourselves, but it’s hard not to—even when we know we’re stressing ourselves for no reason. I’m actually more relaxed about my blogging than I used to be, but I DO tend to review mostly ARCs and that automatically adds a layer of stress, whether I like it or not.

  11. Hi! I reached this blog via the latest Sunday Post by Nicole (see above). Very on-point analysis about how the ARC weight shifted in time, and yes yes yes to this:
    “What people considered “good” blogging conflicted with the expectations that we feel we have to meet. It makes me wonder if maybe we need to shift the focus as individuals, and even as a community”.

    I’ve been blogging since 2012, and I’m still a very small fish in the sea. Lack of time is to blame, but the fact is, I started my blog with the very purpose of spotlighting those books that, in my opinion, aren’t as popular as they deserve to be. And that’s probably not the right recipe for conquering the blogging world ;). It’s not that I purposely avoid the books that everyone reads – it’s just that, more often than not, they’re not the ones that pique my interest. And the only reason why I regret not being popular is that, if I were, I could probably do those “forgotten” books more justice – draw more readers towards them.

    I try not to stress over popularity – I have indeed accepted my position and my limits. But that doesn’t prevent me from feeling guilty when I go for a lenght of time without posting, and from feeling like I’m losing opportunities, and from thinking that I could do better if I tried harder. On the other hand…I made a few friends through blogging, and I enjoy interacting with them. I introduced one of them to one of my favourite authors. I sometimes get to work with a few small pub/indie writers and help them out as a beta or proofreader. It’s a very unglamourous life, but it’s not so bad ;).

  12. I’ve been thinking about this topic a lot. I definitely have days where I’m beating myself up because I’m not popular, I’m not skilled at bookstagram, I don’t have a lot of followers, or people aren’t commenting on my discussions the way I’d like them to. But then I have days where, somehow, I stop comparing myself to other people for a hot second, and I’m able to appreciate what I’m doing, how I’m doing it, and why I’m doing it.

    I think anyone can be a “good” book blogger if they’re doing it for the right reasons: for the love of books, to encourage other people to read said books, and because they enjoy interacting with other readers. If love of books isn’t at the forefront of a book blog…then why? Why bother? Because it takes a lot of work to read, review, post regularly, and keep up with blog hopping. If you’re not doing it because you love it, then there really isn’t a point to putting forth all that effort.

    That being said, I don’t know that we’ll ever be able to rid ourselves of book blogging expectations. As humans, we’re constantly comparing ourselves with other people – it’s human nature, to an extent. Now, it certainly helps to become aware of it, and maybe focus on things we like about our blog, things we’ve accomplished, rather than comparing with everyone else. But that’s just my opinion. 🙂

  13. Hi Austine! Great discussion.
    For a time I was so excited be part of the YA blogger community but I quickly realized the market is pretty saturated and I am competing with long standing bloggers that are much closer to YA age to get those ARCs. Now I read more adult fiction and I am happier. I have figured out which publishers usually grant me eARCS and on which platform. If I love the book, I pre-order or just buy it for my shelf. As an adult with a job, I can just buy the book and not have to deal with paperback ARCs, which don’t look half as good on my shelf. I don’t think getting ARCs makes someone a better blogger. I have known shady bloggers who get ALL the ARCs and so that image is shattered for me. So my ARC envy is a thing of the past.

    I think a good blogger is someone who posts kinda consistently. I like to see reviews, recs, and personal-ish posts. I like someone who reads both new and backlist books, but I take whatever they are offering. As long as it is an honest opinion, no review is wrong. I like people that reply to comments and/or comments back but as long as they post stuff I want to read that doesn’t even matter to me.

    As for people’s expectations of me as a blogger, that’s all in my head. I literally took a month off and came back with only backlist books to review and no apologies. People still stopped by and commented on those posts. I needed that break and really proved that no one has any expectations from me. I share, maybe more than I should, about myself. I try to always reply and comment back. I am only human though, and this blogging thing is a hobby. You won’t find much of me on social media because most of my time is spent blogging or blog hopping.
    Karen Blue recently posted…Book vs Show: THE HANDMAID’S TALE by Margaret AtwoodMy Profile

  14. This post is wonderful! You made such fantastic points. And you are a phenomenal blogger. No need to change what you’re doing. I won’t post all my reviews to my blog, because there’s just too many, but if they don’t go on the blog they do at least go to Instagram, or just GR on the rare occasion that I just run out of time ,so they’re somewhere out there at least. It does feel entirely overwhelming and wonderful at the same time. And I do feel like the most important part about blogging is actually interacting with the book community both on your blog and on SM.

  15. AJ

    In my opinion, what makes a “good” book blogger is someone who actually has fun with what they do.

    It can be easy to loose sight of why you started blogging in the first place when ever thing becomes about ARCs and numbers. Those things are great and fun to have, but if you’re at that place where you’ve become robotic in how you blog, I don’t think it’s worth it.

  16. This is such an amazing post! I do agree with everything here. I know that sometimes it is super hard not to get caught up with all the biggest ARCs and statistics. I know that there’s bloggers who have launched much faster than me in a shorter time and ones that are more experienced. As a teen in high school, it’s tough being a book blogger. I don’t have the time and resources that others do. I can’t read a book a day, nor can I make really great bookstagram posts. But the important thing I keep on remembering is that I do this for the authors and the readers to impact and help someone’s life and career. The biggest thing I cherish from my blog is all of the connections I’ve made to other bloggers and authors- something I’ll never throw away. And I know I have my own specialties. I’ve seen bloggers who are skilled at making discussion posts. I, on the other hand, prefer to work with authors in interviews and guest posts. I like creating questions that they’ll enjoy. It helps me a lot since I don’t like to spend half my day blogging since I have other things to do. I think being a good blogger does not matter about the statistics but the passion. Thanks, Austine, for such an amazing post. It truly sheds a new light on blogging!

  17. This was such an amazing post! I absolutely loved that you asked the community for feedback and we got a round of perspectives throughout the whole post. I agree 100% with everything that was pointed out. I definitely believe that blogging has changed over the years. I’ve been blogging since 2010 and back then, before Bookstagram and all these cut-throat popularity contests, it was just a group getting together to talk about books. Sure, ARCs were coveted and I totally agree that nowadays, it’s more about what ARC you get and in what format. I think it started to change when book publishers opened their doors to bloggers. Through the years, I have gotten the sense that publishers are much more open to the fact of working with bloggers, whereas back in 2010, publishers didn’t really reach us yet. And that’s why I think ARCs reach so wide now is because publishers have somewhat accepted us into the industry. And I think in doing so, it has put a lot more expectations on bloggers to read the recent books, to take cute pictures, to get more pageviews and followers. As you said, there is always another milestone to reach. Thank you so much for this post; it is such a thought-provoking read! Happy reading!

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