When I first started book blogging, I wasn’t entirely sure that I was going to stick with it. I decided to give it a trial run and take stock of things at the 3 month mark. After 3 months, I’m happy to report that I absolutely LOVE blogging and that I plan to stick with it. Thanks so much to all who have taken the time to stop by my blog and read my posts. It means the world to me 🙂
I’m still new to the game and so don’t proclaim myself an expert by any stretch of the imagination, but here are some highs and lows and lessons that I’ve learned at the beginning of what I hope will be a long journey.
1. It takes a lot of work, so don’t give up. Unless you get really lucky, building a book blog is not like the old Field of Dreams ‘If you build it, they will come’ scenario. Creating your book blog is just the first of many steps in reaching an audience and hopefully leading them back to your site. Once you’re up and running, you have to get out there and start interacting with the book loving community to build those relationships where people want to stop by and see what you’re reading and writing about.
I spent a lot of time in my first couple of months just tweaking my blog, adding content, etc., and am just now really getting around to interacting with the book blogging community. If I had it to do all over again, I think I would have started interacting much sooner. Why? Because of #2.
2. One of the best resources for a new book blogger is the book blogging community. As I say, I’ve just really started working on reaching out to them and interacting more, but what I’ve already found is that these are some of the NICEST, most helpful people on the planet. Like me, they WANT to meet and chat with others who share their love of books. They also want their fellow bloggers to succeed and what that means is that many of them are quick to hand out helpful hints and tips. If you have questions, definitely ask a fellow book blogger. They’ll set you straight.
3. ARCs and Galleys and Patience, Oh My! Yes, to be sure, ARCs and Galleys are amazing and I’ll freely admit I get a little giddy each time one of my Netgalley requests is approved. That said, however, it’s important to be patient and to be realistic when it comes to these little gems. As a new blogger, again unless luck is really on your side, you’re going to get rejected more than you’re going to get approved. You have to pay your dues, so to speak, and this all goes back to number 1 – hard work. You have to put in the time to get your blog established, show that you’re going to stick around, and that you can build an audience.
Sure, go ahead and request a few, but do so realistically, and don’t take it to heart if you are not approved. You can always blog and write book reviews about books that have already been published while you’re building up your audience and paying those dues. If you’re like me, you probably have a huge TBR pile of books that you’ve already purchased, so blog away about those! If money is an issue and you can’t purchase many books, don’t forget about the Library.
If you are still dying to get your hands on ARCs, try entering giveaways. Goodreads has tons of them everyday, and if you pay attention on social media, many members of the book blogging community frequently do giveaways as well.
4. It’s important to be organized. Try to come up with a blogging schedule that you can keep up with. As much as I would love to be able to blog every single day, I know my schedule won’t allow it. I try to post about 3 times a week, usually somewhat spaced out, to make sure there is always new content when visitors stop by.
And not only come up with a blog schedule that’s doable, maximize your free time and write posts in advance and schedule them. If I have a block of time where I can write uninterrupted, I try to write out 4 or 5 posts ahead of time. That way they’re in the queue and ready for posting for those times when I’m too busy to come up with anything to post.
5. Book blogging isn’t just about reviewing books. Book reviews are just the tip of the iceberg. You can expand beyond those and create more original content by participating in some of the great weekly features that are hosted by other bloggers in the book community. So far I’ve tried and liked Waiting on Wednesday and Top Ten Tuesday, but there are tons of others as well. These are great because they tend to generate more interaction with fellow bloggers, at least for me anyway, than the book review posts do, and they’re great for coming up with a posting schedule like I mentioned in number 4 above. Because of the weekly features I participate in, I automatically know what I’m doing on Tuesday and Wednesday each week.
Aside from participating in weekly features, you can also write original content like discussion posts where you can blog about anything of interest to you. After all, it’s your blog. Write about whatever you want to. This is actually my very first discussion post, so fingers crossed that people actually want to discuss the topic, haha.
6. The Agony and Ecstasy of Social Media. Social media can be awesome. I love twitter in that, aside from blog hopping and directly commenting on people’s blogs, it seems to be the easiest way to reach out and start that all important relationship building. That said, however, OMG. It seems like every other person who follows me is just trying to get me to buy their books. I don’t even read DMs anymore unless I’m sure they’re from a fellow bookblogger.
7. Read what YOU want to read. It’s easy to give in to the pressure of so many people contacting you to promote their books. At first it’s exciting to be wanted, but for me at least, I have to stick to my guns and only read what I truly want to read. Otherwise, the blog becomes a chore and boy do I hate chores, haha.
8. Comments are LOVE. When I first started my blog, I told myself that I was just doing this for me, that I’d be cool if no one ever commented on my posts. Boy, how wrong I was! I think getting my first comment on a post stands out as one of the major highlights so far. Starting out as a new book blogger can be a lonely experience. You’re the new kid on the block and at first it can feel like you’re on the outside looking in at this awesome community that you want to be a part of. Don’t get discouraged though because in time, that first comment will appear and it will be the most glorious thing ever to know that someone actually read what you wrote. I’m thankful for every comment that I get and I do try to go back to that person’s blog, if they have one, and comment back.
9. Stats. As a new book blogger, I think stats can be one of the most discouraging things and so I try not to focus on them too much. Again, as with all other aspects of blogging, be patient. In time the stats should follow. And regardless of the stats, if you love what you’re doing, keep doing it.
10. Your blog, your rules. Don’t be afraid to experiment. If you try something and it doesn’t work, change it up and try something new. Again, it’s your blog so you have the ultimate say so in what you do there. There’s no right way and no wrong way to blog.
11. No matter what, just be yourself. This is probably the most important thing I’ve learned so far is that no matter what you do, just be yourself. Don’t try to be someone you’re not. We all have those bloggers that we admire and it’s cool to draw inspiration from them, but ultimately, trying to be like someone else is because you think it might make you more popular with fellow bloggers, is just going to end up making your blog a chore rather than a pleasure.
So, there you have it in a nutshell — my first 3 months as a book blogger. Let me hear from you now. What are some highs and lows you’ve experienced and lessons you learned as a new blogger?