I’ve been thinking about this post for a long time, about all the lessons, trials and tribulations that I’ve learnt from my 2 years of blogging. Some have been made from trial and error, others have been made by learnings over time and others through analysing the statistics and talking to other bloggers.
You only get what you put in.
Book blogging can be a very rewarding and exciting experience, but it also requires a lot of time and effort into reading, reviewing, writing posts and engaging with the community. If you are passionate and persistent about what you do and you stick with it, chances are your blog will continue to grow, especially if you connect to others. Similarly, if you start and stop all the time, only put up a post every few months or don’t take the time to interact with others, then you can’t expect to have lots of page views.
Your blog doesn’t grow overnight.
When I first started blogging, I used to check my WordPress statistics all the time to monitor the number of comments and views. While it’s important to celebrate the milestones, I realised that followers and page views don’t just appear overnight. Get to know other book bloggers through their blogs and Twitter, don’t be afraid to promote your blog on Goodreads and sign up to giveaway hops so you can spread the word.
Comment often and comment freely.
It took a full year of blogging before realising that the reason I wasn’t receiving many comments back then was because I wasn’t going out and actively commenting on other blogs (even though I read them). Signing up to Bloggers Commenting Back was a fantastic way to discover other bloggers who wanted to build up a community of people who commented on their blogs and returned the favour. Have you ever left a comment on someone’s blog, only to never hear a thing in return? Don’t comment by expecting a comment back, as this isn’t a priority for everyone, and similarly, it’s important to reply to your own comments on your blog to interact with your loyal followers.
Make friends and talk about your passion.
While it definitely seems daunting that everyone in the blogging community seems to know each other, if you take the time to say hi and connect with people, chances are they’ll probably do the same as well. We’re here because we love reading and books, and the more people we have to fangirl about things, the merrier. Getting to know other bloggers is also a great reason to build a network and to support each other. You never know what opportunities may arise, like starting a meme, event or group together.
Blogging is not a competition, but some will treat it as one.
This was a hard lesson for me to learn, while I’m naturally a friendly and social person, there are others who will take notice of your success and try to bring you down. Whether they do this through subtweeting, shamelessly promoting themselves, bitching or making rude comments, the important thing to remember is to hold your head up high and not stoop to their level. There are also going to be people who will be elitist or judgmental or not return the favour when it comes to commenting but you know what? There are plenty who will, so just focus on the ones that do.
Book blogging is not about free books or making money.
When I first started book blogging, I took the time to review all the books that I could, including the ones that I purchased and those from indie authors. It wasn’t until I built up a consistent track record of reviewing for authors before I contacted publishers and joined Netgalley and Edelweiss for ARCs. Publishers are able to tell genuine requests for reviewing from those just looking for free books, and it’s important to show that you’re a reliable blogger. You’ve also probably heard stories about famous bloggers being able to live off the ad revenue that they make from their blog which sadly, doesn’t apply for book blogs which Nose Graze explains here.
It’s the internet, don’t be surprised when others take inspiration from you.
The best thing about the internet, is that we get to see everyone’s creativity. The worse thing about the internet, is that others can do the same to you as well. Most of the time people get their ideas from the internet and other people and yes – that includes you. While I’m certainly not encouraging blatant plagiarism, there are things that I see bloggers get worked up about which is associated with something they posted on their own blog. If you have actual proof that it is based off your own blog, contact the blogger privately, wait for them to reply and chances are it will be dealt with quickly. There is no point making a fuss about it, starting a tweeting war or shaming them out on social media, before you find out whether it was intentional or innocent.
Most importantly, remember to have fun.
Plenty of bloggers including myself, have highlighted the pressure of book blogging, but it’s important to remember that we started one to have fun. The moment we start viewing it as a chore, it’s important to re-evaluate why we are book blogging and what we are doing that we are not enjoying. Whether you don’t reply to all of your comments, miss a few posts here and there or don’t get around to reading all of your review reads, it’s okay. The only person pressuring yourself is you, and this is a hobby, we do it for fun.
Have you had any of these experiences? What have you learnt from book blogging?