Wow! I have been blogging for a year now! I started blogging on April 1st, 2015 and I had NO idea what the heck I was doing. Like many people, I kind of figured it out as I went along! So, now that I have a year to look back on, here are some things I have learned that might help others.
You don’t have to have everything figured out when you start!
I started my blog on the free WP site. Then paid extra to get the domain name. I switched my theme at least 5 times in the first month. Then I made the jump to self hosting and WP.org. Then I changed my theme again. And you know what? It all worked out just fine! Your blog doesn’t have to be set in stone on the day you start it. Those people who tell you to not change your ‘brand’? Yeah, you can ignore those people in the beginning. Heck, even the blogs with over 100,000 followers change their logo’s and look occasionally so me with my 4,000 followers can do it too!
Seek out other bloggers and see what they do!
Check out other book bloggers and find out what theme they use, what plug ins they love, what memes they participate in, etc. I found the UBB plug in from other bloggers raving about it. Then I found my theme from other bloggers. Pretty much everything awesome I have discovered, I discovered because another blogger led me to it! Seriously! If you see something awesome on their page, ask them about it! They are almost always willing to share the love and info!
Find a way to make the tasks you do frequently easier!
So, if you have a specific review format you use, or a specific meme you participate in weekly, create a template to save you time. So, for me, that means creating a template that already has my section headings and stuff loaded so I don’t have to do it each time. When its time to write a review, I select the review template, add the specific book information and I am good to go! For the Sunday Post meme, I have a template as well. And I have another one for Top Ten Tuesday. Seriously, if you are on WP you need to check out the templates plug in. Its a major time saver (and it helps me provide consistency to my blog and my reviews!). Also, I use a plugin to help me autopost directly to FB, Twitter, and Pinterest. So, at the bottom of my blog post when I’m writing it, I can set up when I want the post to push to FB, Twitter, and Pinterest, what I want it to say, and even what picture I want to send with it. So easy!
When I first started, I wanted to ‘get out there’. I signed up for every review I could find, contacted every fly by night tour company, and just generally over extended myself. Did I find some great books? Sure. Did I make some great contacts? Yep! But, overall, I realized within a few months, I had a backlog of books that I wanted to read, but because I had committed to so many ARCs. Do I still sign up for ARCs? Oh yeah! But I am much pickier now. And you know what? That totally works for me.
Okay, so far this post makes it sound like I have this blogging this figured out. Thats so not true! Here are the things I am still struggling with! (PS-share your tips in the comments if you have some ideas!)
Letting Stats define me
I care far too much about how many followers I have on my blog and my blogs social media page. I can’t help it. Yes, I am a blogger who lets my stats determine my worth. I know its not the only (or even the best) way to judge a blog, but when its the thing that publishers and authors look at, its hard not to care. I’m working on it.
Getting thicker skin
I must say, 99% of the interactions I have had have been positive, nice, supportive, and polite (even in disagreement). I work hard to write reviews that express my opinion while not putting down a book. Does that mean I liked every book? Heck no! But even when I write a review for a 1 star book, I try to include the personal reasons I felt it was not for me. And like I said, 99% of the time, people have been super nice. But, there are have been a few times someone has bashed a review on Amazon. Or really cut me down on FB, blog comments, etc. I am a people pleaser so this kind of stuff is hard for me to move past. I can’t help the need to defend myself even though I know better. It never ends well. Hopefully, these instances will continue to be few and far between and I will learn how to not let them determine my self worth!