What 7 Years of Book Blogging Taught Me (and a #Giveaway!)

POSTED ON January 3, 2018 BY Austine IN Discussion

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, if 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 meIt’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 see. 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.

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.

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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!

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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!

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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?


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86 responses to “What 7 Years of Book Blogging Taught Me (and a #Giveaway!)

  1. Ok question time! Do you think it’s necessary for a blogger to have a presence on all social media (Facebook page, book twitter, book instagram, etc.) or not? I have all but a Facebook for my blog right now and am not sure if I should make one or not, or if it’s even needed/worth it!

    • I think that’s completely up to you as the blogger! You should do what you’re comfortable and what you enjoy.

      For me, I have a FB page that my posts are automatically sent to but other than that I don’t use it. But because I don’t have to do anything with it, I just keep it. I’m on the other social media sites because I enjoy it. Some people like certain platforms over others. Some only use one, some all of them. It’s really up to you which, I know, isn’t very helpful.

  2. What a great post, Austine! First, congratulations on 7 years of blogging!! As a relatively new blogger, I sometimes look for ways to make my blog bigger or “more successful,” but I like your tips a lot more! It’s important for us to be ourselves in our blog – that’s the best way to stand out!

    • When I started out, I tried every tip and trick I read to make my blog “bigger” and none of them really worked. After I started just being me and doing what I was passionate about, things changed. There aren’t “big” or “small” blogs out there so just do you and you’ll do great! 🙂

  3. Kel

    Great post and congratulations on 7 years! I’ve been blogging for 4 years now, and I completely agree with all of your advice. It really is an individual endeavor and can go so many different ways. Congrats again!

    • 4 years? That’s awesome! And yes, it really is! I think that makes bloggers so cool to talk to too because everyone has had a different experience they can share.

  4. Congrats on making it this long and still wanting to blog! *throws confetti* Super happy for you.

    Also I agree with everything you said there! Definitely do what makes you happy first.

  5. I absolutely love this post Austine!!! All of these points are so true, and I really love the idea of your Dear Teen Me project – I can’t wait to read them!! Your blog was one of the ones that inspired me to create mine so I love this post!

  6. I’ve been blogging since 2004. At this point I can tell bloggers who aren’t going to stick around. They tend to come in all excited and determined to be the best. A lot of time they meet some initial success (which can be momentarily disheartening if you’ve been doing this forever) but then they disappear just as quickly. I think they try to do all the things all at once and they aren’t in it to have fun. That isn’t sustainable.
    Congrats on your anniversary!

    • I’d agree with that. I was one of them once, when I first learned that book blogging was a thing, but soon figured out that you can’t go on like that. As you said, it’s not sustainable. But at least now there are some great resources out there for those who jump in excited to keep that momentum going and the community grows!

      Thank you!!

  7. Seven years, wow! I’ve been blogging on and off for a few, but only (semi)reliably for about a year – and one of this year’s resolutions was to keep a proper schedule. Cos I haven’t made that one before… Anyway, my blog is half writer’s blog, half book blog but your tips are all great, so thanks for sharing!

    • That’s great! I don’t think I could keep to a schedule myself lol. I schedule reviews but that’s about it, the rest just happens. . . whenever lol. Glad you found the post useful!

  8. Jessica @ Strung out on Books

    I started blogging when I was 16 too! It’s been a lot of ups and downs (the downs involving forgetting to blog for, like, a year), but it’s all been a learning experience. I love this post so much. I think this is absolutely something that every blogger (new or experienced) can appreciate and needs to hear. Congrats to 7 years!

  9. Happy Anniversary!!! Oh my gosh, you were 16. Well, I was 15 the first time I saw the internet (like, publicly available, only rich families had it, dial up via Prodigy internet – nothing like what we have today) and I’m only (nearly) 42. 42 is NOT old. 42 is NOT old. 42 is NOT old. :/

    • Thank you!! And lol. I was in elementary school when my gram got a computer. I played Solitaire a LOT. But yeah, had my own laptop when I was 15-16 and started blogging! Crazy how time flies like that.

  10. Mable

    Congrats on 7 years! Isn’t it funny how the things you do because you love them end up being the most popular?

  11. Ahhh! Awesome advice, Austine! I think blogging has been going really well for me so far, and I personally try to avoid those advice posts because half the time I end up getting jealous or putting myself down 😦

    • Advice posts are definitely hit or miss. There are some great resources out there, just have to find what works best for you!

  12. Congratulations on 7 years of blogging and all that you’ve achieved! While I’m not participating in the BtB Challenge this year (I’m trying SO hard not to let my enthusiasm lead to over-commitment), I am really excited to watch everyone’s progress through the year. It’s so admirable that you took a difficult first year and turned it into a learning experience 🙂 Hopefully next year I’ll be along for the ride too!

    (Also- yay for fellow scientists!)

    • Thank you! And I totally understand that haha. I set myself a goal for BTB but not really holding myself to that this year. I’m really glad I had the chance to turn it around and bring it back this year.

      (Yay!!!!)

  13. Congrats on 7 years! It always amazes me to learn people have stuck around for so long. I haven’t been blogging for long. I actually went hiatus for about a year before I revamped my blog. Before, I use to mostly blog about travel. But I’ve been really liking the book blogging community so far. And, one of the things I’ve learned about blogging is that consistency is Very important. Coming back to the blogosphere actually helped me stay motivated and positive about many things, and I hope it will stay this way!

  14. Congrats on seven years! I’m hitting five this month myself (sometime this month, I really don’t know the date). Your advice rings true to me, but I think that’s because it rings true in real life as well.

  15. Reese

    congrats on 7 years! This post is very interesting from an outsider’s perspective too, because it’s cool seeing what goes into making a book blog. I’d guess that having at least a general idea of why you want to do it is key, but that alone would take some thinking, right? do you just want to share your thoughts, influence people, make friends, get into the book business,…? so many aspects and so many things to have in mind.
    Anyway, thanks for the great post and for the giveaway!

  16. Lauren Becker

    Great post! Bloggers should definitely do what they love and not worry about what is or not working for others. As for me, I’ve been blogging for 10 years this past August and I was 17 when I started, so I love your Dear Teen Me idea. I’ve definitely learned a lot in these past 10 years but I blog because I love it and I have found a great community.

    -Lauren
    http://www.shootingstarsmag.net

  17. This is great advice! Specially about being yourself, and asking questions. A lot of us don’t really know what we’re doing and are kinda ‘fake it till you make it’, and we also love helping out so nobody should be afraid of asking questions!

  18. andeburriola

    This is absolutely amazing! If everyone would take even just a smidge of your advice, the world -as a whole- would be a better place! Congrats on your 7 year reign in book blogging! I look forward to your series and am about to binge read all that you’ve currently written! Excited to follow along, read a lot, learn a lot and submerge myself into this wonderful community! Thank you!

  19. Amen – especially the “be polite.” Everybody googles these days, and it’s not just your name. That doesn’t mean be devoid of personality – but not everything has to be on the internet.

  20. Great tips! I think the biggest thing for me to recognise as a blogger was why I was blogging. I saw people distraught they didn’t have 1000+ followers or polls about visit counts that seemed astronomical at every level… and I realised I didn’t care. I blog mostly to capture my thoughts, because I read so many books I can’t always remember why I did/didn’t like them – it gives me a point of reference and I have fun condensing my impressions into a review. If that entertains other people too from time to time, bonus! I bounce between loving having a publishing schedule to keep me going (because I’m better with deadlines) and setting it on fire because this is a hobby I do for love and fun, not a duty. As you say – you do you, and don’t be afraid to change it – and question why you’re doing something.

    • Knowing why you blog is probably one of the most important things to learn about yourself because it really determines how you go about blogging and being a member in this community! I’m happy you figured it out and have found a way to do what you love!

  21. I’ve been blogging for around four and a half years, I’ve learned to welcome change and to try different things, some work, others don’t, but unless you try you’ll never know.
    Blogging takes time and social media to help spread news about your blog takes longer too. I focus on using Twitter, which works for me, being seen everywhere quickly leads to burn out, so I try to pace myself.
    Best wishes for your next seven years of blogging.

  22. Congrats on 7 years. That is such a great long time. I’ve been blogging for 2,5 years now and didn’t start until I was nearing the end of my twenties. (I’m 30 now, le gasp) I think that has helped to be able to stay in the blogging game as I don’t lose interest quite as quickly as when I was still in high school.

  23. I loved this post, it gave me such hope for my blogging career knosing that you started as a teen. In reference to your question, no, I don’t think we need all the social medias, but generally a bookstagram or twitter feels almost manditory.

    • I’m glad you liked the post!! And I would agree to a point. There’s definitely a large community on both Twitter and Instagram but there are other book communities on other platforms too to take part in, as well as blogs 🙂

  24. I love reading posts like this where you reflect on everything that’s gone into your blogging and how you’ve grown. I can’t agree more with your very first point. I wrote a post last year called “Everything I’ve Ever Told You About Blogging is Wrong (and Also Right)” for just this reason—so often, we worry about doing things the “right” and “wrong” ways, and once you’ve been doing this for a while you start to realize there’s no such thing. What’s right for one person might not work for someone else. Heck, what’s right for you right now might be completely different six months from now. Flexibility is key!

    Thanks for sharing your wisdom and congrats on 7 years of blogging!!!

    • So very true! It’s so easy to fall into the trap of doing what someone says is “right” and then you get frustrated why it maybe doesn’t work for you because it isn’t right for you as a blogger. But it might be right for someone else. I think the more people realize that, the less stressful blogging is because there’s no need to put extra pressure on yourself trying to conform to something that doesn’t fit you.

  25. Thanks for the post and the future posts in your new DearTeenMe section! I’ve wanted to start a blog for a while now and I’m hoping to make it happen this year! I’ll definitely be paying attention to your posts to help with that! Congrats on your 7 years!

  26. Congratulations for 7 years!! I have less than a year since I started blogging and at first it felt overwhelming, still does, but I try to remember that things take time. I am enjoying being part of a community and hopefully, bringing something back to it as well 🙂 Thank you for sharing your experience with us!

  27. This is a great post! Love all the ideas. So many are ones I learned as well in my years of blogging, but you don’t know them when you start. Happy blogoversary!

  28. Congrats on your 7 years of blogging! I always enjoy reading your discussion and advice posts, so I’ll definitely be keeping all of this in mind. Wish I had enough time to go through all your advice posts all at once because you’re always so helpful and your blog is one of my favorites.

  29. I loved this post! All your words of advise are so accurate, I’m pretty sure they’re gonna be super helpful to new bloggers like me 😀 I definitely agree on trying out new things. Setting up a blog is basically setting up a little hub for ourselves in the Internet and we should do take up things that might not work, simply because there’s no harm in trying. Failing would help get more experience so it wouldn’t be that bad, either, haha 😀

    Of course, being polite both in the real and virtual world is super important and wish more people could understand that. Also, I think many feel like arguing is the best way to get their voice heard (especially on social media) but it’s no use if it causes stress to oneself and just makes your little hub get filled with negative vibes. It’s better to just block/mute the ones that are stressful-ly mean.

    Great post, Austine ❤