I haven’t done a discussion post in a long time for several reasons. One, I haven’t had much to talk about or anything that I felt like sharing. Two, because sometimes blogging is stressful and I don’t want to deal with it.
Which sort of made me think that I NEEDED to do this post. Blogging is a hobby and a hobby should not be stressful, so why is it?
I started blogging 4 years ago in June. I had discovered book blogs during my time in college and had really found some amazing books, but the community was smaller and sometimes it was hard to find a blog with the same book interests. So after noticing that I was reviewing on Goodreads with regular frequency, I just decided to start my own. I had several misconceptions.
I assumed it would be easy. Blogging in itself is ‘easy’ if you have content you want to share, but that content doesn’t just come from nowhere. So I started reading more, definitely a plus to it. I assumed that publishers would send me books. YEP, I fell into that category at first. It took me 2 and 1/2 years to get my first publisher sent ARC. (does not include Netgalley). I assumed that followers would pour in. Yeah, it so doesn’t work that way for most of us.
It took me a couple of years to let some of those assumptions go, and another year to get to a place where I could honestly say I was happy with my blog no matter what. But now there is a new challenge I hadn’t expected. The drastic change in the community. Change happens, and sometimes its for the better. The community has gotten much bigger, the publishers are willing to approach bloggers more, and no matter where you are you can log on and chat with friends you’ve never met. So what is the problem? Not all change is good.
Marketing vs Connecting – Blogging use to feel personal, in some cases it still does. We could pop on to twitter and connect with other bloggers and authors, with only the occasional promo tweet. Now? Now the promo tweets are everywhere. More and more blogs post marketing packets as opposed to how they felt while reading a book or hell just posting about how they want to read something. I’m not saying you have to change your blog to suit my sensibilities, but I do feel that your blog should be an extension of you. Promo posts are fine, they help us find new reads…but I think it’s become the default. I miss finding that connection.
Pushing for Follows – I’m not going to lie to you. I worked my butt off trying to get more followers. I’ve done giveaways, I’ve signed up for all the major social networks, and I try to post content in a constant manner so people have more to read. Comment for comment, like for like. I’ve done it all, and I’ve gotten lost in that race for page views. But guess what? It sucks the fun out of it. As you can see my blog is still small compared to others, and while there are times where I wonder what I’m doing wrong, I’ve learned that it truly doesn’t matter if you have thousands of followers if you’re not enjoying what you do. Stop trying to be the most popular, and work on being the most happy. Followers will come in their own time. Just be you.
Drama & the Us Vs. Them Mentality – Drama is inherent to human nature…it’s expected, no matter how large a group is. Unfortunately the more this community grows the harder it is to avoid. We have a very loud voice and it’s done great things, like push for more diversity in YA books, but it’s also done some fairly terrible things. While we are more connected to authors than we have ever been, we have also created a very unique rift between authors and bloggers. Sometimes it’s all out war on twitter, because an author/blogger has done something someone else doesn’t like…the next thing you know it’s snowballed into a bigger deal than it ever needed to be. Instead of sitting down and acting like adults, the community explodes. The bottom line is, book bloggers need authors and authors need readers. We’re in this together. There is no us vs them, we are two sides to the same coin. If you don’t like something/someone then sometimes it’s simply best to move on and close the browser.
Herd Mentality – It’s easy to see a successful blog and immediately want what they have, hell it’s completely normal. You can learn from larger blog. You can take what you see, like what the community is responding to and you can grow from that. However I find that instead of learning from, we’re simply copying and conforming. Individuality is what sets us apart, so why would you want to become more of the same? I’ve seen people read books they knew they would hate simply because others were reading them. I’ve seen people lie in reviews simply because they didn’t want to be the odd one out. Instead of fading into a drone of voices saying the same things, we should be screaming out with our own unique voices. Read what you want to read! Share your real opinions! Be you!
Review Book Gorge – This has always been a thing, especially for new bloggers. We all go through it, and that’s not really the problem. I don’t know a single blogger who hasn’t seen all of the shiny review copies and went a bit crazy. The problem is when this desire to have all the review books continues on. When it suddenly becomes about what can pack most books on their shelves. It’s a bit of a competition for some. Instead of being a source of happiness (because OMG I finally get to read it this), it becomes a source of vanity (I have this book when others don’t). We all know our limits, and there is no shame in knowing what you can and can’t handle. There is no shame in not getting review copies. Review copies do not equal or signify success. Yes, they are super amazing and everyone remembers the moment when they received their first one. You should be proud a publisher took the time to send you something, because that is awesome. However you’re blogging success does not hinge on that event. It’s like getting your driver’s license. You should be proud that you passed that test and can now drive whenever you want, but your life’s success doesn’t depend on that event in the slightest. Your success in blogging community hinges on you being happy, having fun, and reading books you enjoy.
It’s easy to forget why we blog. But it’s essential to our happiness and continued existence in the blogosphere to take time to remember that. In the past few years I have learned to let go of that desire to be as big as everyone else and focus on making myself happy. If that means taking a break here and there, then so be it. I love reading and I love blogging, and I want it to stay that way for a long time. I want people to know who I truly am, as opposed to simply knowing that I exist. I want my voice to stand out against the herd, for the right reasons. I want to be able to log onto Goodreads or Twitter any time I want and not feel like I should leave because of the animosity flying back and forth. Blogging shouldn’t be a competition, it should be fun and we should all feel welcome to join in on that fun. The community is one of the BEST things about blogging, and I don’t want to see that change.