It’s hard to believe, but I’ve already been book blogging for over 6 MONTHS! 😮 I honestly never could have guessed when I first started my blog that I would still be going strong 6 months in. I’ve adored being a book blogger so much that now I couldn’t imagine NOT being one.
But there’s still so much I never could have anticipated when I posted my first blog entry on a whim 6 months ago…
And I’m not talking about making sure you have a review policy, because authors/publishers/promoters WILL contact you – yes, YOU, no matter how small your audience – or making sure to use free stock photos and vectors, because copyright infringement is legit SCARY.
I’m talking about the stuff that no matter how much googling “things to know/do before starting a book blog” I could never have prepared for. Because they were lessons I had to learn over time. 😌
So to celebrate my 6-month blogiversary I thought I’d share with you a few lessons I never could have anticipated learning when I clicked ‘publish’ on my very first post.
You don’t owe anyone free promotion.
This one is a lesson I still struggle with TO THIS DAY. 🙈 A. LOT. Actually.
Honestly, I think it might be one of those ones I ALWAYS struggle with, just because of the type of person I am. I constantly have to remind myself that at the end of the day, this blog, the one *I* created, is MY blog – one I intended to be fun and to share my love of reading with likeminded individuals – and I don’t owe anyone anything.
And when I say “owe anyone anything” of course I don’t mean the general expectation that everyone is owed a certain amount of common curtesy. I’m referring to all the amazing opportunities book blogger’s get offered that come with a (mostly internal) pressure to take them.
I was super surprised – and elated! – to realize how many opportunities book bloggers are actually offered. I had barely any followers and authors, publishers and blog tour companies were already contacting me about reading their novels in exchange for reviews. But my excitement quickly turned to apprehension when I realized HOW MANY offers of a similar nature started coming my way.
It feels entitled to say this. But the reality is I can’t accept every opportunity that comes my way.
Even if every single one was specifically tailored to my literary interests, I wouldn’t have been able to accept them all. Book blogging is just a hobby for me, and my regular life is pretty busy usually, so it’s not as if I’m drowning in free time. Actually, I usually have to specifically set aside time to get through all the reading I’ve already committed to. (Sometime I very much enjoy doing, and wouldn’t do if I didn’t love… but uses up my energy nonetheless.)
And even while knowing all that… I still find it incredibly hard to NOT accept every offer that comes my way. It feels rude to turn down an opportunity. I mean, I’m lucky to be even thought of! So I always try to find excuses as to why I should take it… even when I know I don’t have the time to give it the attention it deserves!
I also try to remember that this is my online space to curate the way I way to. So just because I’m approached with offers, doesn’t mean I have to take them, even if I have the time to, for the sole reason that they don’t meet those personal expectations of what I want my online space to be. And it’s not coming from a place of entitlement.
So that’s why I always try to remember this first lesson: I don’t owe anyone free promotion. As much as I want to, I don’t physically have the ability to. And even if I did, that wouldn’t be fair to myself to agree to things that don’t fit with my personal preferences in an online space I’ve curated specifically with myself in mind. Nor do people expect that of me. It’s okay if I have to say no to some offers. That’s just the way it goes.
It takes time to find your place.
This one is a hard lesson to learn!
When I joined the book blogging community the first thing I saw was many, I mean MANY, successful book bloggers out there, publishing posts together, doing buddy reads, supporting each other, and just being friends.
I IMMEDIATELY wanted that. I wanted blogger friends to promote my posts, and I who I could promote in turn. I wanted people I could buddy read with and gush – or complain! – about all the books I was reading. And most importantly, I wanted friends I could share my love of literature with.
That’s why I made this blog after all!
So it was a little disheartening when I first started to publish lots of posts and not have a lot of interaction with other book bloggers. Not only that, but I was SUPER intimidated by the book bloggers who had proved to be already established. How could I ever compare?
But I quickly learnt that the majority of book bloggers out there are doing it for the same reason as me: they want to find others who love reading as much as them and are as passionate about the books they love as much as they are. The whole point of book blogging is to put your thoughts out there with the hope they’ll ring true to someone else! Or at the very least, leave an impression. ☺️
That realization helped me to understand that: one, people are often more friendly and less judgemental than my mind would make me believe, and two, that it takes time to find your people. It’s so easy to see people who’ve been blogging for so much longer than you and be envious of all they’ve achieved. What’s harder to do is recognize that they were once like you too and it takes time to get to where they are.
Since then, I’ve gotten a bit more confident. And I’m much more willing to comment on other people’s blog posts and try to make friends. (In fact, I love to comment!) I regularly keep up with a number of bloggers’ content, I get tagged in a lot of super fun book tags and blog awards, and I’ve even been a part of a book club over on Instagram where we read one book a month together! So even though I now know it may take time to really ~find my place~ in the book blogging community, I’m loving where I’m at. ❤️
You get back what you put in.
I don’t know if this is a common misconception, or just something I misunderstood.
But before I began book blogging I was under the (very silly, truly) impression that as long as I was making content, people would interact with my blog. I never even once contemplated that people would be much more likely to interact with my blog if I made a point of getting out there and interacting with theirs.
I know. Ridiculous, right?
Thankfully, I just naturally wanted to check out other book blogs, and in that way quickly found myself immersed in the book blogging community. And quickly learned about the concept of “blog hopping!” And the minute I started interacting more with other blogs, I saw more people interacting with me! (Crazy how that works, eh? 😉)
Now that my life outside of blogging has gotten pretty hectic, I have a lot less time to blog hop and comment on other people’s content. And, not surprisingly, the content I’ve put out since then has definitely seen a drop in activity. And that’s okay.
It makes sense. Everyone has a lot going on in their lives, the least of all book blogging, and not everyone has the time to always devote to engaging with your content. (Just like you won’t always have time for theirs, even if you wish you did!)
Book blogging is really one of those hobbies where you get out what you put in. It’s your prerogative to interact with other book bloggers as much – or as little! – as you want. But you’ll definitely see a spike in your own activity if you take the time to interact with the community around you. And that’s just the way it goes.
Luckily, the book blogging community is one of the most friendly and welcoming online communities I’ve ever been a part of! So if you want to try and reach out to more people, have an impact, and make meaningful connections, this is one of the best places for you to be! 🥰
It takes time to figure out your online identity.
This final lesson is definitely a personal one!
When I first started my blog I had only just recently gotten back into reading. I’d always loved it when I was younger. But ever since college I had never really had the time for it, so I didn’t do it very much. Being forced to coop up during the pandemic gave me the chance to fall back in love with reading. And ever since I’ve been smitten!
But since it had been years – and I mean YEARS – since I had read more than one or two books a year (let alone at once!) I didn’t know who I was as reader anymore.
I knew in the past I’d loved chick lit and romance novels, but most of those had been aimed at teenagers, since that’s how old I was when I read them. And I was definitely interested in reading more mystery/thrillers and fantasy series since those were the titles that had piqued my interest the most. But I hadn’t actually read too many of them, so I couldn’t be certain.
Really, I just wasn’t sure what defined me as a reader.
But jumping into the book blogging community head first showed me truly how vast the options available to me were. And believe you me, this girl was pumped about that!
Since then I’ve found myself naturally gravitating towards certain types of books. I’ve always been a more feminine girl, and I think that’s definitely reflective in not only the books I tend to read, but also my blog’s design and graphics. It’s inadvertently helped me create an online identity as ‘The Inharmonious Heroine’ that’s cohesive and comprehensive of who I chose to be in this online community.
I think some people – the very productive ones! – already have an idea about the sorts of books they want to dedicate their blog to reviewing and promoting and the identity they want to share with the online bookish community. But I honestly didn’t. And even if I did, knowing me it likely would have shifted and changed as time went by. (As I’m sure it will in the future).
I’ve gotten to the point where I like the identity of my blog. But how it is now is by no means how it started off as. Over the past 6 months my blog has gone through a number of transitions. Yes, I’ve finally found one I’m happy with and plan on sticking too. But if you compared the first iteration of my blog to what it looks like now, there’s a BIG difference. 😅
It may have been prudent for me to realize all this before starting a blog online. It definitely would have helped me determine what books I wanted to highlight on my blog and my overall design. I didn’t even realize when I started that most bloggers pick a certain look/theme and stick to it. I had already written (and published) a number of posts before I figured out a signature, decided on graphics for my header, dividers, feature images, etcetera.
Hindsight really is 20/20. 🤷🏻♀️
But I’ve realized that whether you decide everything in advance or learn as you go, it’s always going to be a process that takes time to hone. The more you do it, the more you learn. You can’t find your grove until you start looking for it. 😝
In the end, a big part of this experience has been learning for me. And honestly, I wouldn’t have it any other way. I’m more than certain that in 6 months from now (or even longer!), if I’m still at it, then I’ll have a whole new list of lessons I would’ve learnt.
And that’s good! Because that means there will always be more posts to write. And many more things to share~ ✨
What about you? Do you blog? If so, how long have you been at it?
What are some lessons you’ve learnt?