There comes a time in every book blogger’s life when you realise just how much time it takes to blog, and you realise you simply can’t do it all. Not only do you have to read books (especially new releases), write reviews for them, format your blog and create new content – on an ongoing basis – but you also have to interact with the community to keep up with the latest news in the publishing world. Some bloggers seem to do everything flawlessly – yet other bloggers prefer to focus on one element, like writing brilliant content, or being superstar networkers in the blogging world.
For those of you who have been following Happy Indulgence Books for a long time, it’s no secret that things have changed around here. We used to write a lot of discussion posts, post more frequently, and also – which is what this post is primarily about – comment on a lot of blogs. Sadly, over the years, the ball has dropped somewhere, and it’s something that I’ve definitely felt guilty about. Inspired by Rhiannon’s Youtube video, that eloquently described what a content creator owes to their community, she hit the nail on the head – the fact that we feel guilty about not being able to leave and even respond to comments, despite doing what we can.
Blog hopping and engagement
Don’t get me wrong – blog hopping and leaving comments on my favourite blogs, and everyone who leaves a comment on Happy Indulgence used to be something that I did regularly, and dedicated hours to every weekend. A few years back, when each post used to get about 15-20 comments, this took me about 2-6 hours a week. It’s something that just came with the job description – I wanted to reward anyone that left a comment on Happy Indulgence, but I also loved discovering new blogs, following along with my favourite blogs and not missing a post – as well as getting to know you guys. Sadly, this came with a lot of guilt for weekends where I didn’t have enough time to keep up with everything, or when I left a comment unanswered for a while. As Happy Indulgence grew, and we received more followers and engagement, what seemed like fun at the time actually started to become a chore. Responding to comments would start to take longer and longer, and even between Aila, Jenna and myself, it was difficult to keep up with everything that seemed a bit easier when we first started out.
Expanding my platform
It’s been a few years now, but I’ve also expanded from being a book blogger, to a content creator over time. Not only do I blog at Happy Indulgence, I also keep an active booktube channel, Twitter and Instagram account. I review new release #LoveOzYA books on ABC radio once a month, host a monthly book club, run two Facebook groups (Aussie YA Bloggers & Readers and #LoveOZYA Buy Swap Sell), am actively involved in local Brisbane book events and am lucky enough to host author panels and be invited on interviews. And that’s just the part of my life that I dedicate to book blogging – like the rest of you guys, I do have a life outside of book blogging including working full time (and becoming a soon to be mum!). I’m lucky enough to be afforded these opportunities, to have such amazing followers, and to have met so many amazing people as part of this hobby. But I digress. Book blogging has become so ingrained in my life that sometimes I feel like that’s all I have time to do – and maintaining self care is something that is so important to an all consuming hobby.
Maintaining self care
So what does it mean to look after yourself as a book blogger? There’s so many things that this hobby lends itself to. There’s countless hours we could spend just on one element of blogging, and that could just be reading books, taking book photos, or spending all your time on Twitter (*cough* sounds familiar). But at the end of the day, the most important thing we can do is to set boundaries for ourselves when it comes to this hobby, and realise that in itself, this is only a hobby that we contribute to as a labour of love. There have been times that I wished it could evolve into something that was paid, simply because I love and dedicate so much time to it, but sadly this isn’t a popular opinion – especially since so many other bloggers and content creators offer publicity services for free. We already get free books, promotional items and advance copies and to some, that’s enough. (It’s only when you are asked to promote a company with a specific request to publicise them that I believe should be paid, but that’s another story).
What this means for you
Just to come full circle, if you leave a comment on Happy Indulgence and we don’t reply for a while, or if you’re wondering why we no longer comment on your blog, or interact with you as much as we did before. It’s not because we think we are better than you, or because we no longer care about our followers and fellow bloggers. It doesn’t mean that we don’t read every comment – or appreciate the time that you’ve taken to interact with us. It just comes down to the time we have now that we’ve expanded and have different life priorities (fun facts – Aila started here when she was a school student, and is now in college. Jenna was studying her PhD in Australia which she has now completed and has also lived in Canada. And I wasn’t married or expecting a child then too)!
As a book blogger and a content creator, I choose to focus my time and energy on creating content on a regular basis, no matter what platform you follow. That doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy watching other booktube videos, or read your posts or blog hop every once in a while. It just means I’m not able to keep up with it on a regular basis. While it’s not ideal, and I definitely feel guilty about it and wish I had time for it – I can only hope what I do is enough.
What do you think our content creators owe us? Do you feel the guilt when it comes to commenting as well?