After seeing this tag on Paper Fury, I knew I’d want to take a crack at it.
I love reading posts where bloggers are open and forthcoming about their experiences, and feelings about blogging.
So, that being said, I was a wee bit excited to kick off my 3rd full year of blogging with this post.
1. HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN A BLOGGER?
I’ve been officially blogging for 2 years and 4 months. I’ve been reviewing online since 2011.
2. AT WHAT POINT DO YOU THINK YOU’LL STOP BLOGGING?
I don’t see myself quitting blogging anytime soon, though I have noticed more and more bloggers stepping away, or ‘losing that loving feeling’ with their blogs. Which, I can completely understand.
I guess I’ll stop when either it becomes too expensive, or if I find that my heart isn’t in it anymore.
3. WHAT IS THE BEST THING ABOUT BLOGGING?
–MEETING NEW PEOPLE: I think the best thing about blogging is having the opportunity to connect with so many fellow book lovers. I love being able to ‘talk shop’ with people who share my book obsessions. I’ve met some pretty amazing people through blogging who I may not have done so otherwise. Case and point: YADC (Young Adult D.C.). YADC is a group comprised of bloggers, readers, authors, and booksellers that are all in the MD/VA/D.C. area. It’s amazing to have a group of people that I can exchange tips and tricks of the trade with, as well as being able to stay in the know about local bookish events, and national festivals/events (like ALA, BEA, etc).
–COMMENTS ON POSTS: I love reading feedback from our followers and peers. Sometimes life gets crazy, which may prevent me from replying to every one, but know that I READ THEM ALL. (And LOVE THEM ALL. Good or bad.) This includes comments on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and of course, on the blog.
-NETWORKING: This kind of goes hand-in-hand with the meeting new people, but I meant for this to apply more to meeting more industry people. By industry, I mean authors, publishers, and publicists. I typically do this at events like Book Expo America, or festivals like YALLfest. Getting to chat with publicists in person is a great way to build a good rapport with them so that they can put a name to a face when communicating via email/online.
4. WHAT IS THE WORST THING? WHAT DO YOU DO TO MAKE IT OKAY?
Burning the candles at both ends. It’s really easy to double, triple, and sometimes QUADRUPLE book yourself blog-wise on any given day. I have become so much better at keeping a better organized calendar system. Time management is key. Another thing that helped me out in a big way: bringing on guest reviewers. They have brought with them a broader range of reviews to the blog, as well as helped me be able to focus on non-review posts. (Which I really enjoy!)
5. HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE YOU TO CREATE/FIND PICTURES TO USE?
I think it all depends on what kind of post I’m doing.
If I’m creating a banner for my post, it usually doesn’t take too long; I have a general template that I go by. It’s usually a ‘plug in the image, type in the title’ process. (Tip: It’s so much easier to find images for post/quote graphics if you subscribe to a stock photo site.)
If I’m using gifs for a post, this takes a wee bit longer. Usually, I open a brand new window, hit up my fave gif sites (reactiongifs.com and giphy.com) and start searching for keywords. When I find a bunch I like, THAT’s when I start writing my review or post. I build my posts around the gifs, which tends to help inspire my review/post writing. Once I secure all the images/gifs I like, it takes me less time to get my words on the page.
6. WHO IS YOUR BOOK CRUSH?
Character-wise: Book Boyfriend – Jamie Fraser from Outlander. Book Girlfriend – Aelin Galathynius from the Throne of Glass Series.
Honorable Mention: Edmond Dantés from The Count of Monte Cristo, Levi from Fangirl, Jake Becker from Sustained, and Garrett Graham from The Deal.
Author-wise: Sarah J. Maas. She is BAE.
Honorable Mention: Rainbow effin’ Rowell
7. WHAT AUTHOR WOULD YOU LIKE TO HAVE ON YOUR BLOG?
Diana Gabaldon. There’s no way for me to not love the woman who gave me my beloved Jamie Fraser. I’d love to have her on the blog so I could selfishly pick her brain, and somehow become BFFs with her. Also, she is my closest link to Sam Hueghan, so there’s that, too. I loved getting to meet her in MD last September, and after hearing her read a snippet from her work in progress, I can’t wait for the next Outlander book!
8. WHAT DO YOU WEAR WHEN YOU WRITE YOUR BLOG POSTS?
Usually my Minnie Mouse fleece robe. It’s the coziest thing ever! I’m also “wearing” a lap desk, cause 99.9% of my blogging happens on my laptop whilst lounging about the house.
9. HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE YOU TO PREPARE?
It depends on the post. But usually, I give myself a block of time each day to dedicate to blog stuff. Whether it’s answering emails, replying to comments, creating graphics, or scheduling posts. I’ve definitely gotten better at it as time has gone on. I’d say the average time to write a ‘long’ review (more than a couple paragraphs) is about an hour, to an hour and a half. To do a freestyle post (like this one), it takes me a few hours off and on. But for my weekly/frequent posts (like Novel Nudity, and other features) I have a wordpress plug-in called Easy Content Templates. This has been a Godsend. With a couple mouse clicks, all the things you need for the post are there: graphics, text, and even the post title. It’s easy to edit and tweak, so if you ever want to alter it, you can do so.
10. HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT THE BOOK BLOGGER COMMUNITY?
It’s growing every day! Every week I’m discovering a new blog here and there, and a lot of them are pretty amazing.
As far as the bloggers I’ve personally interacted with, I have yet to have a bad experience. I’m surrounded by a really awesome group of creative, and talented individuals. I love being able to bounce ideas off each other, as well as having a place where I can vent about my frustrations, too.
My peeps keep me sane.
11. WHAT DO YOU THINK ONE SHOULD DO TO GET A SUCCESSFUL BLOG?
Brace thyself for the slew of Oprah gifs.
Here are some things I wish to pass on:
IT’S OKAY TO HAVE AN UNPOPULAR OPINION.
Have you read a book that everyone loved, but you didn’t? After seeing that other reviewers are hyping it up, and yet you’re all…
Trust me, people do not always want to read glowing 5-star reviews. Variety is the spice of life.
A couple of my most viewed posts have been my unpopular opinion reviews for Bad Romeo and Captivated By You. I’m not saying that you have to always aim to be contrary; you shouldn’t worry about how a negative review will be received by your followers.
Sure, there will be a comment or two from people who do not agree with your thoughts, but that’s the beauty of having a blog. It’s a platform to get your views out there, and to be able to talk about it with others.
NEVER LET SOMEONE’S OPINION OF YOU BE YOUR OPINION OF YOURSELF.
This has been my personal motto since I was 13-years-old.
Don’t ever let someone tell you that you’re not cut out to be a blogger. Your blog is YOUR SPACE. If someone doesn’t like that, they don’t have to click your links, or follow your site. There be trolls all over the internets, friends.
Just remember, Haters to the left.
DON’T LET YOUR NUMBERS/STATS DEFINE YOU.
I think the worst thing that a new blogger can do is measure their success by their numbers. Do not do this.
I’m not going to lie to you and say that I don’t ever look at my stats, cause I definitely do. However, I don’t do so because I have a “quota” I’m trying to meet, or a threshold I want to achieve. I do so because I like to see what posts people are reading and engaging with, so that I know what kind of content my followers enjoy. Not every feature I do or create is a hit. Not every review I write gets a ‘like’, share, or comment. But what matters most to me is that I get my thoughts/words out there, and that I don’t let the numbers get me down.
If you write it, they (the readers) will come. It doesn’t happen the moment your post goes live, or even the day after. Sometimes it takes a while of fine-tuning your bloggy style to bring visibility to your posts. But don’t worry, keep putting out good content, and the numbers will follow.
SAY WHAT YOU MEAN, MEAN WHAT YOU SAY.
This is self explanatory.
Remember that EVERYTHING you post online will stay online even if you delete it. Screenshots are the devil’s cloud storage. It will make the words posted live foreverrrrr.
This doesn’t mean you should censor yourself. It just means you should always remember that your words can come back to haunt you. (But go on with your bad self, mmkay?)
CREATE THE POSTS YOU’RE PASSIONATE ABOUT.
Write the posts you want, not the posts you think you’re ‘supposed to’ write.
I used to participate in the weekly Waiting on Wednesday and Stacking the Shelves posts because I thought that that is what I had to do to ‘pay my dues’ as a book blogger. But by the 3rd week of doing them, I began to dread them. Even with a template, they were a lot of work! (Kudos to the bloggers who stick with it every week!) The dread soon turned to dislike, which led me to take a 3 month hiatus from blogging. In those months, I realized that there were other things I wanted to do with my blog.
THINK OUTSIDE THE BOX.
This point goes along with writing what you’re passionate about. Remember how I said I took a hiatus and did some reflecting? I started to brainstorm some things I loved, and would be passionate to write about.
Waiting on Wednesday? <–I’d do this every now and again.
Stacking the Shelves? <–Nah, bro.
From my reflection, I conceptualized 2 features that I LOVE. Here’s how I got there:
What was I passionate about? Cover design & typography.
Here are some blogs that do some things “outside of the box” that I love:
3.) 100 Days Of Bookish Quotes by Kim at Kimberlyfaye Reads (This was such an awesome idea! And totally stunning. Check out the #100DaysofBookishQuotes hashtag on Facebook or Instagram to see what she came up with!)
ENGAGE, ENGAGE, ENGAGE.
Engage other readers, bloggers, and authors. A great place to do this is on Twitter. Follow hashtags, and trending topics, and don’t be afraid to jump into convos with like-minded people.
This is a great way to get your name out there.
Another great way to engage: follow other blogs.
Did you see another blog post that left you entertained?
Leave a comment, and let them know.
When putting in your name in the comment section, always use your first name and “@/at (your blog name)”. That way, bloggers and readers who engage with that post have a means to put a name to a face…or at the very least, know where they can go to look you up. It’s important to do this as often as you can, as you’ll have an opportunity to get to know your peers.
SAYING ‘NO’ IS A-OK.
It’s really easy to fall into the pattern of being a “yes man”.
Here’s how it happens:
Preface: I LOATHE Release Day Blitzes. (IMO, they’re spammy.)
Them: “Can you do this release blitz?”
Me:*internally cringes* “Uhh…I don’t know…I only really want to host a review stop for the tour”
Them: “The only way to be considered for a tour stop is to participate in the release blitz.”
Me: “Then yes.” *sells soul for an ARC of a book that I ended up hating anyway*
— DONT BE LIKE NEWBIE BLOGGER ME, FRIENDS. —
You shouldn’t have to compromise doing something you don’t like in order to get something in return.
It’s okay to not always get an ARC (Advance Reader Copy), or early access to books. Cause you know what?There’s a lot of pressure that comes with receiving a review copy of a book. You’ll have deadlines, and post times that you have to comply with, and sometimes, it’s not worth it.
Don’t be afraid to say no. Turning down a promo/review opportunity shouldn’t ban you from ever having access to more opportunities in future.
NEVER GIVE UP.
BLOGGING IS NOT EASY. It’s a commitment that is time-consuming, and in most cases, doesn’t pay the bills.
I blog because I love it, but it’s not for everyone.
Sometimes, it’s hard to get into a groove. Sometimes, you’ll get discouraged and question your desire to keep going.
Remember: it’s okay to ask for help from your peers. It’s okay to ‘take a step back’ from your site, and come back to it when you’re ready. The key is to not overwhelm yourself to please others.
As long as you’re passionate about what you’re doing, it’s all worth it.
ARE YOU STILL WITH ME?
I know that was A LOT to read.
Now I want to tag a few of my fellow Blogging peeps:
Debbie & Ali at Black Heart Reviews
Kim at KimberlyFaye Reads
Hannah at The Irish Banana Review
Lucia at Reading Is My Breathing
Cézanne at BCS Reviews
Kayla at My Book Muse
**Feel free to do this even if you’re not tagged!**