Reading & Ranting: For the Love of Blogging Part 1 – Moving Forward

readingranting

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?

Forthelove

 

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. 

 

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17 Responses to Reading & Ranting: For the Love of Blogging Part 1 – Moving Forward

  1. Leona says:

    Agreed 100%. I started blogging for fun and to share the great books I read with friends. I do more old book/retro reviews than new books, so review copies don’t really matter to me. It’s purely for fun and to meet the people who read the same sort of books. I made some great friends via blogging (and my blog has been up less than 2 months!) and got some awesome readers too. I don’t participate in all those challenges and competitions (except for the TBR challenge, I really need to tackle my TBR!) cause I think too much competition takes the fun out of everything. I am in this for fun and chatting with great people, and learning about some superb new books to read, and as you said this should be the main motivation (not competing with others).

  2. Sandra says:

    Thank you for writing such an honest post about book blogging. It’s nice to hear that blogging can be a lot of work, but also fun and fulfilling. Sometimes it is hard to step back from trying to be recognized and popular and just be yourself.

  3. I agree with you whole heartedly. Some times the blog feels like hard work and it should be fun. That’s the reason why I started my blog in the first place. Blog tours can be easy posts to fill in an empty day. I’m trying to avoid taking on many these days to bring the fun back into blogging and keep my blog to be exactly that….MINE!
    It feels like a business and not fun. I’ve been blogging almost 2 years now and I can’t believe how much it’s all changed in that time too.
    Great post!

  4. jen ryland says:

    Great post, Michelle! I think a lot of us have had the trajectory you describe: 1) start blogging for fun, 2) enjoy it and want to improve and set goals, 3) start feeling a lot of pressure that you aren’t keeping up and getting all the ARCs and reading all the books and posting every day, 4) feel burned out and think about quitting, and then hopefully 5) remember why you started blogging and get back on track.
    Jen @ YA Romantics

  5. WOW Michelle! I actually wrote a massive essay post about this this afternoon, and a lot of what I say resembles what you feel as well. Which is good, because I’m actually quite nervous about posting my thoughts and opinions about how the blogosphere has changed lately, but I know I need to do it. All of the drama becoming a bigger deal, the us vs them, people’s elitism and everything is really starting to get me down. I definitely want this community to stay positive and happy. My post will be going up on Friday.

    • I think a lot of us have been taking the negativity rather hard lately. I just want everyone to go back to helping each other out and being friendly. I was pretty nervous about how the post would be taken, but the response has been really positive so far. 🙂

  6. Great post, it can be hard to remember what we love about blogging if we get too caught up

  7. :claps: great post.
    I’m so sick of all the drama. I don’t really keep tabs on it unless it’s literally blowing up my twitter feed. Then I kinda have to notice. The only one I was ever “eesh” over was the one where the obnoxious blogger wound up with a stalker author at her door. That one was a little creepy.
    I never ever expect to get approved on NetGalley so when I do, I do a happy dance. Getting physical ARC’s is like spotting a unicorn for me. Well, maybe that’s not true since I have received a few over the years but I”m definitely not rolling in the books like some bloggers. Do I get a lil bummed when I see another blogger flashing a physical ARC of a book I’m dying to read, when I was denied a ecopy on NG or Edelweiss (which by the way hates me)? Yeah… but then I dust myself off, pick up one of my books that have patiently been sitting on my shelf waiting to be read, plop down on the couch, and read. 😉

  8. Hear, hear Michelle! I found anytime I ever tried to play the numbers game in blogging, I just got depressed. So now I just do my own thing and try to never compare myself. It was a hard lesson but nowadays I’m glad I’m a small blog. It means it’s easier to manage and less of a time commitment (and even at that, it’s still a huge one!).
    And I hate the negativity. So much so that I’ve avoided twitter lately as that seems to be where so much kicks off. Now I’m just oblivious to it all and much happier that way!

  9. This is such a great post! I agree pushing for followers and focusing too much on marketing has a tendency to take the fun out of it. However, it is hard not to because without the followers, you don’t get the conversation and discussion going as much which is the fun part. Such a dillema.

    • I definitely understand the dilemma. In some cases the push for followers is necessary to get those conversations started. Memes are a fantastic way to get some traffic on your blog, especially the ones that allow you to show off who you are. It’s definitely hard to juggle it without losing yourself in it completely.

  10. “Stop trying to be the most popular, and work on being the most happy. ”

    THIS!! I love this. It is so true. This year (and I’ve been blogging for almost 5 years now!) I have finally grasped this. Honestly, I don’t know what took me so long. I also realized that I didn’t want to be the most popular blogger because I’m very introverted. I cannot imagine dealing with all that attention and pressure. It would give me the warm fuzzier but after awhile I would need that alone time.

    I’m happy to stay in my tight knit circle of bloggy buddies and just hang out. No fame needed here. 😉

  11. Great post! Very well said! I went through a little blog burn out recently and have decided to start making it fun “for me” again and mixing things up a little. Like you said “it’s a lot of work” and we definitely need to remember it’s supposed to be a hobby and FUN! Thanks for posting it!

  12. Yes! Brava! I agree. Twitter has become like a carnival midway with books being barked out everywhere. My first problem came when one of my close book blogging buddies got sucked into socializing with an author on Twitter and started promoing her book BEFORE SHE READ IT! I questioned it because it was a YA Paranormal Romance, and she hates that genre. Next she was doing book blitzes and blasts for all kinds of books out of her reading tastes. Now she tells me I am not going to get anywhere unless I “mainstream” my blog, well no thanks. I only want more followers because I want more readers to see the great under the radar books there are out there, because right now, in actuality, I have too many review books. I am not interested in having the huge numbers for getting the high profile ARCs. Those authors don’t need my help anyway. Some bloggers are saying that they only started blogging a couple of years ago, so they don’t see any change, but I started less than two years ago and I have! The carnival barking has at least doubled since I started my Twitter account a year and a half ago. I have had to mute a lot of blogger that I used to enjoy conversing with, and that is very sad.

  13. Huh, I guess I just follow blogs that don’t have many promo posts? I do always check to see if any recent posts interest me before following a blog I guess, so I just keep track of the gems and ignore all the promo-filled ones, haha!

    I’m starting to get to a place where I don’t crave more followers or pageviews. I love having a consistent set of about twenty or so people that comment frequently and I comment on their blog and we bond and share our love of sci-fi and fantasy books and I’m really okay with that. I make sure to reply to every comment, so if I had ten times the number of pageviews and comments I wouldn’t be able to do that! This is the strategy I’m using in my brain currently ;-).

    I’ve been having some definite issues with desperately wanting some ARCs and being right at the cusp of “I have a fairly good chance of getting it but it’s obviously not guaranteed” and then not getting it. It’s been pretty crushing, but a good opportunity to remember what my priorities are and enjoy the many many books I am dying to read that are already on my shelves. It seems like this is a continual battle to remember why we blog and not get sucked in to the pain of ARC envy!

  14. Best post of the week Michelle, that’s exactly how I have been feeling in the last few weeks and scaled right down and try not to worry about followers and page visits. We do this for ourselves 🙂The Pegster Reads

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