I’ve written and rewritten this post so many times it’s not funny. Seven years seems like an awful long time to do something so you’d think that I’d have something to say about it, right?
Yeah, I thought so too but turns out I’m just really good at rambling.
Back in January 2011, I launched my first blog, The Magick Pen. Which became Red Reader Reviews. Which became NovelKnight. I’ve jumped in and out of the social media communities, I’ve taken short breaks and long ones. Each time something big happened in my life, it was reflected in my blog (the BIG big events were the name changes, you were curious). So I’m sitting here on what is the anniversary of 7 years of book blogging, wondering what the heck I’m going to talk about or how I’ll celebrate.
Seven is a magic number. I should do SOMETHING.
Then I thought, “hey, in that time you’ve probably learned a few things, so why not share them?”
Harder than it sounds, folks.
Because, first lesson learned time and time again:
There is no “right” way to book blog.
How can I tell people what I’ve learned and expect it to make any sort of impact if there’s no “right” way to do things? There are easier and harder ways, sure, but everyone finds their own path here and that’s just how it goes. And I realized that that was lesson in itself.
Whether you’re a new blogger or have been at this for a while, I bet you’ve looked up tips and tricks, maybe an advice post, something to help you out. Perhaps you’ve even written a few. That’s great! I’m not bashing tips/advice posts at all. I write them too! Just remember to take advice with a grain of salt. Each of us brings our own experiences and backgrounds to the table when we do anything, including talking about ways to do things “better” or differently. None of us are wrong! But we might not be “right” for you either.
When I started out, I read as many helpful posts that I could find on book blogging. For the most part, they said variations of the same thing (there were way fewer bloggers around at this time compared to now, mind you) and I thought I was a failure because I wasn’t doing those things, or reaching those achievements. You will find your way as a book blogger. I wish someone told me that so I’m going to tell you in case you want/need to hear it. Just because someone does something one way or hits a certain milestone before/after you makes no impact on who they are as a reader and blogger (or booktuber, bookstagrammer, y’all are always included in this whether I list it every time or not).
It’s so easy to get bogged down thinking, “Oh, well they did it that way so I must have to do the same thing or I won’t be as good.” If you’ve never doubted yourself in comparing to another blogger, TELL ME YOUR SECRET! I do it all the time! I’m constantly questioning what I’m doing and if there’s a “better” way but in the end, I always end up doing something the way that works for me. It’s all about you. Do what’s best for you as an individual first.
And while you’re at it. . .
Don’t be afraid to try something new or different.
Do you know how many times I’ve changed this blog theme this year alone?
Me either. I already lost count.
I’m always trying new things out. Themes, content, whatever comes to mind! Sometimes it goes well. . . sometimes it doesn’t. If you think you’ll regret NOT doing something, do it. There’s no room in life for regrets, especially with such a supportive community here already to help you through the successes AND the failures.
Allow me to give you an example. Have y’all visited my pre-order incentives page before? Let me tell you, the reason I made that was purely selfish. I wanted a place to keep track of them all because I could never remember them. So I put it together, posted it on social media, and it didn’t really go anywhere which was fine. I did it for me. A few months later, it’s one of the top visited pages on this blog. With the exception of Beat the Backlist right now, it gets the the most views on any given day. People now tag me on new incentives or submit them through the form. It was something I wanted to do, I did it, and it went well.
. . . unlike the Beat the Backlist reading challenge. If you were around last year, you probably know that the challenge was a huge failure. Nothing seemed to ever go right. I was way too ambitious in what I wanted to do with it. All around, it was BAD. So very bad. . . And yet, from that experience I learned what did and (mostly) didn’t work to fix for this year and there are over 500 people signed up now.
The point here is no matter if your idea works or not, you’ll grow from it. Treat every experience as a chance to learn something new. What works. What doesn’t. What you enjoy doing, or maybe what you thought you’d enjoy but didn’t. Be true to YOU and what YOU want to do.
Just remember that you’ve now created a public space, which means dealing people that you may or may not agree with (and who may not agree with you).
Be polite. And if you can’t, mute/block.
Yeah, that’s right, I said it. But in all seriousness, when you become a book blogger, unless you’re posting to a private blog, everything you say is out there for the world to say. This means your blog posts, your social media posts, all of it. We live in an age where employers check those types of things. We’re in a pretty small community. People talk. It never hurts to be polite, or at least civil.
Someone upsets or angers you in the public eye? Think about it before responding. The great thing about the internet is that you can walk away. You don’t have to say anything, and if you want to, you can wait a few minutes, a couple hours, a day, however long you need. There’s no rush and it’s better to wait than say something in the heat of the moment you later regret.
People screenshot stuff, y’all.
And honestly it’s great that the book community is so close-knit, but it also means that angering one person often has a ripple effect (have you seen what happens when people outside the blogging community do something “bad?” It doesn’t end well). It’s just a good practice to be polite. You can always go and rant to a friend later.
If you just can’t stand someone, they’re posting something you don’t like, whatever the case, don’t be afraid to mute or block someone. You need to put yourself first in this case. Those options are there for a reason so take advantage of them. It’s better than causing a big scene or putting extra stress on yourself, etc.
Because, honestly. . .
You will never please everyone and that’s okay.
There’s always going to be someone that disagrees with a review you wrote or an opinion you shared. Some will be quiet and you’ll never know, others will be loud and shout into the void that they think you’re wrong. It can sting but it’s only one person.
You do YOU.
Don’t let anyone make you feel bad just because you don’t see eye to eye on something. We all come from different backgrounds and have different experiences. It makes us individuals and this community so great because there are so many voices! You’ll find people who do agree with you and support your content so hang on to them.
So yeah. You know, thinking about stuff.
Wow this post is long. I’m sorry y’all. I still have two more things I wanted to talk about so if you stuck it out this far, have a cookie:
Alright, slightly more positive talk:
Ask ALL the questions.
No, seriously. Do it. Questions are great! In my science education program, we tell the students we work with that there are no wrong or stupid questions. And it’s true! If you don’t know something, ask! Reach out to another blogger, do a quick Google search.
No one expects you to know everything.
I mean, if you did, that’s freaking awesome and I bow down to you but most of us probably have a question or two. So ask! This week I had a couple people reach out to me asking about a few aspects of book blogging which was kind of totally amazing because a couple years ago, that was me asking someone else. Reach out and talk to people! I’m like 95% sure that most people in this community would be happy to answer your question(s) or at the very least, refer you to someone who can/would!
And finally, if it wasn’t clear from before, we are a part of a community.
Support each other.
There are some absolutely wonderful people out there and all it takes is a simple “Hello” to get the ball rolling. Book blogging is kind of a thankless hobby. We put in out time, energy, money, and probably more that I can’t think about into talking about books because WE LOVE IT.
“But how can I support other bloggers?”
You could try any of the following to get you started!
- Comment on someone’s post/video
- Share their content on your own platform/social media feed
- Recommend their blog to a friend
- Like/RT their content
- Subscribe to their content (follow on social media, via email, etc.)
- Strike up a conversation
- Shop using their affiliate links
- Support via Ko-fi/Patreon/etc.
There are plenty of ways that you can get involved and support each other in this community so figure out a way that works for you and give it a go!
Okay, WOW that was a lot of things but also not. . . because I think it only came out to 5 points total but still. Words. Yeah.
Alrighty, so those are my grains of “wisdom” I wanted to share from 7 years of blogging. I hope that you found something enjoyable in that rambling mess and I look forward to another year with y’all!
Oh, fun fact! This post and thinking about the last 7 years actually inspired a blog series for this year called Dear Teen Me. Through a series of discussion posts, I’m going to break down aspects of blogging, tips and tricks, and other advice that I wish I could tell my teen book blogger self because I started in this community when I was 16! So keep an eye on the blog for the first post in the series, and you’ll be able to find them all linked on the feature page in the blog menu!
I want to know more about y’all! How long have you been blogging? What are some of the things you’ve learned since you started? Or are hoping to learn in the future?
And because you were so awesome and stuck through this post with me, I have a little something extra to thank y’all!
As a thank you to everyone who’s supported me over the years, I’d like to offer y’all a chance at some great bookish prizes!
For US/PR residents
Enter to win ARCs of REIGN OF THE FALLEN and REIGN THE EARTH
For INTL friends
Enter to win a book of your choice worth up to $12 from the Book Depository/Wordery
(If you know of another site that ships free to you and the above don’t, I’d be happy to use that instead!)