This week’s Top Ten Tuesday’s theme is Thanksgiving, so I thought I’ll do something a little bit different and focus on the blogging end of things instead of just books. I’ve only been book-blogging for almost three months so I’m still a beginner, but here are ten lessons I’m thankful I’ve learned! 🙂
A couple of disclaimers before we continue:
- I have been paid (and am being paid!) by companies to write, edit, publish and market their blog for them, so I do actually have some level of experience when it comes to blogging.
- This list is influenced by what I’ve professionally learned and known to work, and my lingo can be somewhat corporate at times.
1) A regular yet varied schedule helps.
Write up a posting schedule and try to stick to it, but be flexible, as well.
Don’t just post book reviews and call it a day; try including other things as well so your blog isn’t redundant. Personally, I’ve found that my weekly memes, discussion posts, and book tags to be more ‘successful’ than my typical book reviews.
2) It’s not all about the numbers.
I manage social media for a living, and let me tell you this first-hand: numbers have the power to drive you absolutely bonkers. Pretty much every day I have to look at the stats and figure out what’s working, what’s not and why, and it’s so incredibly easy to suddenly believe that your worth is based on that.
I’m here to tell you it’s not. It shouldn’t be, at least.
Numbers might be important, but I argue that engagement is more important. Views are just that—views. What good is it that people visit your blog if they’re not actually reading or engaging with your content? And speaking of content…
3) Good writing is good—and shareable, too!
You don’t have to be a native English speaker (I’m not), but you do have to at least try if you want your blog to be perceived as high quality.
By this I mean use proper grammar and punctuation. There’s nothing that turns me off as quickly as a blog that very obviously didn’t bother to spellcheck or capitalise their ‘i’s when they need to, unless it’s clear that it’s a stylistic choice.
You don’t even need to get everything right on the first try, since you can always come back and edit your posts.
Additionally, when you produce good content, your followers are likelier to share it to their followers. Good writing benefits you, too!
4) Take notes of your thoughts and reactions when you’re reading—literally.
This is a habit I’ve picked up from my editing class, but taking notes of my thoughts and reactions have really helped me write my reviews.
As book bloggers, we read tons of books every month, and doing this can really help keep track of what you’re reading and what you think of it when you first read it. You really only get to experience a book for the first time once, after all, and you only get one first impression.
I’m quite old-school with my note-taking, so I mainly write on sticky notes (I always have some by my bed, which is my reading place), but I know some people use Goodreads as well.
I also highlight when it’s an e-book—it makes it easier for me to find things that stand out to me, themes I want to discuss and quotes I like.
5) Open a Goodreads account.
I’ve had a Goodreads account since waaaay before I started book blogging, and it’s always been a wonderful tool to organise the books I’ve read, am currently reading, and want to read. It’s also a great way to connect with other book bloggers and reviewers out there and see what they think.
6) If you haven’t yet, get on Twitter.
Most book bloggers are on Twitter these days, so it’s an easy and quick way to ask questions, discuss books, and otherwise engage with the community. If you haven’t yet, creating a Twitter account means that you now have yet another channel where you can fangirl (or fanboy, or fanperson) about books and anything related to it!
Bonus points if your Twitter handle or name is the same (or at least similar) to your blog name, by the way—some people might make that connection and follow your blog or Twitter once they’ve followed the other. 🙂
7) Reach out to other bloggers.
I’ve been on the internet for a little over a decade, I’ve joined many communities in my life, and I still have to say: book bloggers are just about the friendliest bunch of people I’ve ever (virtually) met.
However, it’s not enough to simply hang around and hope that they talk to you—you have to reach out to them, too.
Don’t be shy. Mention them and say hello on Twitter. Write a genuine comment in response to their blog posts, and by genuine, I mean well-thought out and specific to what they’ve written. We’re all here because we love books and we love talking about books, so let’s support each other and do just that. We’re a community, after all.
8) There’s no need to worry.
This one is more of a personal vice, but here goes: I’ve always been a pretty private person when it comes to my personal work, and I know many people are like that as well. Sure, I get paid to write for businesses, but I hardly share the things that I’ve written or created for myself, and when I did, I did so anonymously.
My thoughts are usually full of anxiety and run along the lines of:
No one would want to know what I think anyway.
What can I say that hasn’t already been said?
I don’t have anything special to offer.
There are so many wonderful book blogs out there, how can I even begin to compare?
If like me, you’re just as anxious about putting your work out there, here’s a secret: It gets easier. At first you might obsess over every little comment, every little click, every little view, but believe me… you get used to it, and soon you will stop second-guessing yourself.
A tip if you’re worried that people won’t be interested in what you write: ask yourself, Do I want to know about this? If I see this on my feed, will I check it out? If the answer is yes, chances are that there will be people out there interested in what you have to say, too.
9) Having fun is important.
I’ve said this on my Bloggers Recognition Award post and I’ll say this again: when you blog for yourself (i.e. no one is paying you to do it), the key thing is that you have fun.
I’m sure many people can attest to this: blogging can be addictive. It’s easy to get lost in getting the most NetGalleys, publishing the most reviews, and having the most followers, but if that’s all you’re doing this for, you’re going to lose steam very quickly—which leads me to my next point…
10) It’s okay to take a break.
I work close to 40 hours a week and recently, my days have largely looked like this: wake up, work, dinner, more work, sleep. Between blogging at She Latitude and doing some freelance work, I barely have time to relax.
Now, I’m actually one of those weird people who love being crazy busy and get utterly bored when I have no ongoing projects, but even I know that breaks are a wonderful thing, and you absolutely should take a breather when you feel like the world is collapsing all around you. In fact, it’s probably better to take one before you feel like that, just to be safe.
Blogging is one thing, but it’s not everything. It is absolutely not more important than a) your health and happiness, b) school or university or work, and c) your relationships. It shouldn’t be stressful, anxiety-inducing, or something to lose sleep over.
If you’re finding it hard to sit down and read, think of new ideas, or write a post, take a break—whether it’s a day, a week, a month, or even more than that. Write a hiatus post if you feel it’s necessary. Watch television. Go for a run. Bake a cake. And then make a plan to come back, and come back stronger. Who knows? Maybe that break is what leads you to a breakthrough.
What essential blogging lessons have I missed? Let me know in the comments, or link me to your Top Ten Tuesday this week! I’d love to check it out. ❤