A huge THANK YOU to Danielle @ Books, Vertigo & Tea for not only revealing her own personal blogging experiences but also for inviting others to share their experiences as well. ❤
With her kind invitation to post on social media and tag her, I thought it would be a much wiser idea to use the space here instead of ending up in social media jail… again ( because I´ve seen the walls in social media jail once too often. It isn´t pretty. Not going back. )
I advise you all to hop on her to her blog and shower that woman with virtual flowers and love for her commitment and contribution to the book blogging community. She´s a gem. ❤
For months now I´ve tried to think of clever ways to create a post where I can reveal all my deepest thoughts and experiences I´ve had ( or still have ) in my 8 year blogging career…. I haven´t come up with a clever idea yet. I can´t come up with anything because most of my experiences weren´t positive ( yes, I´ve often fallen flat on my face in the blog learning process ). Mistakes have been made. Thankfully, I´m older but none the wiser but I have learned that….
Dealing with people never was, is, and never will be… always easy.
In the 8 years I´ve been book blogging ( minus the 1 year creative break ) I´ve had lots of interactions with authors, fellow book bloggers, followers and readers. Sounds overwhelming, right? It used to be. There was a time when I let many people run over me / my blog for the sake of the blog´s reputation. I used to blog professionally. And with that came hours of hard work and interaction. And because my blog was on a well successful professional path I let authors, fellow bloggers and readers do as they pleased. I became a people pleaser when in reality- I´m nothing close to being a people pleaser. Unthinkable now. It took me 5 years and a 1 year break to understand that I am my blog. No one else. While I have had the pleasure of interacting with beautiful people during by blogging years, there were many rotten eggs in my interaction repertoire. To this day I cross paths with rotten authors but I deal with them in the real, non pleasing fashion. Makes life so much easier for me.
Here´s a real Before & After scenario.
“I didn´t like your review. Can you change it?”
“What exactly needs changing? Maybe I can reword the review.”
“I didn´t like your review. Can you change it?”
“Well, I didn´t like your book. Will you change it?”
What I learned: You don´t have to bend over backwards to run a blog. Just take it all a day at a time. Deal with it or not. It´s up to you and no one else. Just enjoy what you do.
2. Reading Should Be Fun. Not A Chore.
This is probably one of the biggest mistakes I´m happy I´ve learned from.
Being a professional book blogger ( or a non professional one ) you have to read because reading is part of the book blogging deal, right? And with a blog consisting of 3 adult women, we were able to read & review at a quick pace. It sounds like a perfect plan but in reality it´s a mess. I´m a very organized person who goes by the clock. I always knew what I was capable of doing so reading 3 books a week and pushing reviews out was the least of my problems. My biggest problem was with the co-bloggers accepting arcs and not being able to keep their schedule due to life ( not life issues. Just life.) and I was there to pick up the pieces. Without fully comprehending the situation I was suddenly buried under a large pile of unread arcs and my own personal reads. This lasted over 2-3 years and during that time I had lost my love for reading.
“No, honey. I can´t go to the movies / have friends over for dinner. I have 2 arcs that need to be read & reviewed by Tuesday.”
That put a damper on my social life quicker than I thought it would. Reading was a passion turned into a chore. I let it happen. For the sake of the blog and it´s reputation ( which was at that point extraordinary )
Now, I read what I want, when I want, how I want. I hardly ever accept arcs now and always ditch the blog for a chance to have a date night with the husbutt. Because I want to keep my passion. I want to be able to get excited before opening a new book or anticipate the next chapter of my current read. Not dread it.
What I learned: Life is too short to fuss over the ( dare I say ) unimportant stuff,… like shoving arcs in an already stuffed schedule. Keep the passion going. Don´t kill it.
3. Reviews Are Opinions. Not An Academic Paper.
I have to laugh at this one because this was a short-lived struggle from my side. When we started our blog back in…. 2010…. we had no clue what we wanted to do or what direction we wanted to take. Should we keep it girly? Informative? How about the layout? Should we do simple or go all bling bling? Well, we winged it for a year then we decided to go pro. With that decision our reviews also changed. All of the sudden, my usually super laid back and loud mouthed friends were throwing huge words in their reviews. Sentences were crazy perfectly constructed. Guess what we all ended up doing? Super clean, polished reviews every author loved. Even I, the one who normally struggles the most with words, found it in me to publish a shining review.
Not even my own academic paper was as well written as my reviews were ( and that´s a tad worrying ). It took me all but 3 review rereads to realize that I was full of shit.
My friends were full of shit, too. I have a bachelor degree in chemistry. Not literature. What the hell was I doing with my reviews? Things needed to change. I went back to my usual review format. A full-blown emotional rant without big words.
I mean, sure. Authors loved our reviews. But what good is a review when it´s too professional? Shouldn´t a review just help an indecisive reader instead of confusing him / her?
What I learned: Reviews are only personal opinions that should state what or what not was liked about X book.
4. Stay Away From The Reading Mob
Bah. A point I easily slip back in to because the temptation is far too great- Interacting with the book mob. ( NOTE: there is no such thing as an actual group of readers who refer to themselves as the book mob. I lovingly nicknamed passionate nutcases that because calling certain readers nutcases isn´t nice )
When you´re a reader and you release your opinion to the public there´s always (!!!) someone who feels offended and immediately drums up more people who could also be offended and then you have a mob wanting to jump your throat. Wonderful.
As I´ve said- I´m not a people pleaser. I can take whatever people dish at me because I´m also one of those people who don´t give a shit ( tough cookie here. ) But back in the day when my blog was 1-3 years old I did care, for the sake of the blog. And it pained me not to defend myself OR my blog. Because people talk. Word spreads fast, especially anything negative. I didn´t want any negative light shining on what I´ve worked hard for.
I can´t recall the exact moment when the switch in my head flipped but I do remember thinking: Whatever I do won´t make a difference. If I say nothing then the mob will still attack me for my 4 star review ( Yes. Because the book they loved deserved nothing but 5 stars ). And if I do say something then they´ll still try to have a go at me. My final thought on the matter: Screw it.
So I attacked back. I had nothing to lose anyways. The real me came out and it felt glorious not to hold back and attack the book mob.
“You are entitled to have your own opinion on my review. Right now, I´m in no position to respond to your comment because I do feel that my time is wasted replying to people who can´t see the difference between their, they´re and there. I will gladly discuss my review with you once your issue has been worked on.”
I provoke, yes. But only when someone says crap like ” You´re a disgrace to mankind.” Who knew a 4 star review could evoke such strong feelings from a reader?! So, I have my fun. I know I shouldn´t, though. It´s never clever to stoop to their level. I, now, sometimes ignore death threats or hurtful comments. They´re not always worth responding to.
What I´ve learned: Despite the fun one can have with the book mob, it´s more wise to just ignore negative remarks and continue doing whatever you´ve been doing. They´re not worth it.
5. Finding Your Voice
Danielle has mentioned this point in her own post and I thought it was a very good point to address.
To find one´s voice isn´t easy. No, wait. It is easy but hard to hold on to. As my fellow blogger has mentioned: You read other blogs and get inspired. And… these blogs also influence you in a way and then POOF… you´ve lost track of your own mark. The slip is easy and before you know it you adapt a strange mixture of style that´s not entirely yours or anyone´s. And then you sit there, thinking about what horrible post you´ve written because it doesn´t match with the stuff you´ve already posted. The stuff that HAS your voice.
What I´ve learned: It´s okay to stray a little. It´s okay to try out new styles and add new features to your posts. If you read a rant-ish post on selfish authors and you can connect with that post then you´re bound to transport that same subtle emotional aggression to your own post. The only difference is- your words aren´t and never will be the same as the words from the person who inspired you ( unless you do a 1:1 copy. Then I can´t help you with that one. Lol )
This is a problem I had when co – blogging. I didn´t have a voice. It wasn´t possible. 3 ladies running 1 blog. That´s 3 individual voices running a brand. So, the brand had a voice. We didn´t. It wasn´t until I left my baby when I discovered how loud my own voice actually was. Whatever I posted wasn´t just the Divas Book Blog ( The old blog ) saying it- It was ME with my new blog.
What I learned: It´s okay. Whatever you do is, and always will be, okay. Unless someone points out to you that you´ve changed for the worse. Then it´s not okay anymore. Lol.
The Point Of All This
It´s okay to make mistakes. In fact- It´s mandatory to fall once in a while. What good could ever come out of being perfect and doing everything right from the get – go?
And although I´m older and have been blogging for what feels like 100 years I´m still in the process of learning new things. I still make mistakes.
The only positive aspect of having so many book blogging years under my belt is- I can now truly pinpoint what it is I want to do with my blog.
In the 8 years I´ve organized and ran virtual book blog tours, I´ve visited many book signing events, acted as a PA for authors, ran social media fan groups / street teams, dabbled into editing, reviewed books for an online magazine, designed book covers, won awards,… I´ve done review videos and even took part in a book review podcast. I´ve been sued and blackmailed once.
And in the process I´ve met and befriended many wonderful people and made lots of emenies.
Trust me when I say: Been there. Done that. Bought the shirt. I´m done with being professional. I´m tired. lol.
I´m at a point in my life where I just don´t care about many things in the book blog universe anymore. I can easily say that I´m good with being a small blog that offers reviews and a little bit of random stuff on the side. I more than happy to maintain friendships with fellow bloggers rather than just adding them. Because THAT is what I care about. It´s what I actually love to do. I love to have a hobby that brings me ( and hopefully others) joy.
Phew! What a night. I´m totally exhausted from my little walk down memory lane. How about you? I can´t imagine you´ve been wide awake while reading through my major book blogging mistakes and what I´ve learned from them.
I will now leave you all with once nice piece of advice ( because I really can´t give you anything else. Books are making me poor, folks ). Don´t ever take any advice from me. 🙂 And, by God, do NOT think that my mistakes will be yours, too. I guarantee you that you will have your own battles to fight and you will find your own ways to success ( should that be what you´re looking for ).
Should you still have questions or would like to add your 2 cents to my 5 Things I´ve Learned Since I Started Blogging then feel free to comment below! Feel free to share your own experiences ( even if you´ve been blogging for only 6 months! ). I´m happy to share struggles or just chat! ❤
With that being said- I bid you all a wonderful day.
Share the book love, people!