Bookish talk · Discussion · Personal thoughts

8 Things I’ve Learned Since I Started Blogging

Some people do “Things I’ve Learned in my First Year of Blogging” posts, but I want to do one now. There’s no special occasion or anything. I’ve just been thinking about my experiences while blogging.

 

8 Things I’ve Learned Since I Started Blogging

 

Side note: When I first thought about starting this blog, I spent weeks reading advice posts on different blogs. Not only book blogs, but mommy blogs, lifestyle blogs, any blog you can think of.

I wanted to know everything I needed to do. Because research.

8 Things I've Learned Since I Started Blogging @ Chocolate and Chapters

(I ended up learning a lot and then getting super overwhelmed so I started without feeling like I was really prepared anyway.)

So when you see the words “I read a blog post” throughout this post, you’ll know what’s up. Because I’ll say it a lot.

 

1. First of all, blogging is a constant doubting-yourself game. 

Not trusting yourself, not believing in yourself, and so on. I had no idea. I thought having a book blog would mean slapping out some book reviews and people would love it, just like that. Not so.

Anyway. I’ll go into more depth in my points below.

 

2. Imposter Syndrome is a real thing.

I came across this post a few months ago and it has stuck with me. Because YES, Imposter Syndrome is so real in blogging. (“Imposter Syndrome” being “The feeling that you are a fraud, not good enough, and why should anyone listen to you?”)

I notice it in myself, but I also notice it in other bloggers. Sometimes when we’re still small, we don’t really feel like we’ve earned a spot in the community. We feel the need to include disclaimers in our posts, like “I’m a newbie!” We’re being insecure in ourselves when we say things like that.

And because I was doing this same thing, I decided to start living by the mantra: “Fake It Til You Make It.”

Why yes, authors, I’d be happy to review your book on my oft-visited blog! Why yes, publishers, I get plenty of traffic so I’d love to share your book with my followers! And so on. I just pretended like I knew what the heck I was doing.

8 Things I've Learned Since I Started Blogging @ Chocolate and Chapters

Another facet of Imposter Syndrome for me personally is “Why would they care about ME?” Specifically about my personal stories/experiences.

I read somewhere that when you start a blog, the thing that makes your blog distinctive from others is YOU. There are plenty of blogs out there centered on bookish things, but there is only one you who is writing a blog. No one else has lived your exact life and thinks about things the exact way that you do.

I’ve been thinking about writing a personal post for a long time. A post about me. Who I am, what my life is like, what I’ve been through in my past. But I keep holding off, because do my readers actually care? They’re here to read things about books, so do they actually care about me? I still don’t know.

 

3. There will always be bloggers bigger than you. 

Before becoming a book blogger myself, I followed two blogs closely: Paper Fury and The Book Geek. When I started my blog, I thought, “HOLY COW. I will never, ever in a million blue moons be as big as they are.” 

So the quote I had to repeat to myself (and continue to) is:

8 Things I've Learned Since I Started Blogging @ Chocolate and Chapters

Related to this topic: A few weeks ago on Instagram, one of the Bookstagrammers I follow posted that she got an unexpected box of books and bookish candles from a publisher. And I was like, OMG, yes please.

I messaged her to ask how this happened and she said she has connections with publishers because she always tags them in her posts. I thanked her because that’s an awesome idea and I hadn’t thought to do it.

I clicked happily over to her profile to check out more of her posts. And saw that she had 25,000+ followers. 25,000 freaking followers. And my reaction was…

8 Things I've Learned Since I Started Blogging @ Chocolate and Chapters

Because #discouragement

But again… (See? I told you I’m always having to remind myself) I can’t compare my beginning to her well-earned middle. She has worked hard. Now I need to do the same.

 

4. NetGalley isn’t scary. 

When I first signed up for NetGalley, I was kind of terrified. (For anyone that doesn’t know, this is a website where you can download free books from publishers, with the hopes that you’ll write a review.) 

I read a lot of How To posts about NetGalley, saying to treat your profile as a job resume and that each publisher will approve or decline you, based on what they think of you. Holy cow. I was a teeny tiny baby blogger, why would any publisher want to give me a copy of their book?

8 Things I've Learned Since I Started Blogging @ Chocolate and Chapters

But I soldiered on and requested some (more like 10937..) books. I was declined for a couple, but approved for the vast majority of them. And I slowly realized… publishers look at the amount of books you review and how many you’re already approved for, but… I don’t think they care beyond that.

So that’s been a good feeling to calm down about something.

 

5. The blogging To Do list NEVER, EVER ends… 

Have you seen those blogs that have profiles on, like, all the social media outlets? Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Bloglovin, Pinterest, and so on? When I first started, this was one of the most overwhelming things for me.

So I decided to stick with ONE outlet: Instagram. My anxiety levels can’t handle learning how to work all the social media outlets and keeping them updated. Let’s be real here.

But in the back of my mind, I’m always thinking, “I should figure how to make people see this post other places. I should be doing this. And this. And this. And this.” The list could seriously go on all day.

I know that if my blog were a full-time job, it would be a lot bigger than it is currently. But ain’t nobody got time for stress when you’re not getting paid for it. This is supposed to be fun, right?

 

6. People have different reading tastes.

This should be a “duh” thing, but it still always surprises me.

Like when I come across a blogger who reads mostly fantasy, or sci fi, or bodice rippers (historical romance), or erotica. None of which are my common cup of tea, so it’s always surprising to me?? It shouldn’t be, but it still always is.

But I love coming across bloggers who read different genres from me and I still love reading their content. (Example: Kristen from Metaphors and Moonlight. I don’t think I’ve ever read the types of books she reviews, but I still read every post of hers because I enjoy them.)

Blogging means meeting new people and seeing what they love, both similar and dissimilar from you. And that’s pretty neat.

 

7. Time = Reward

And holy cow, everything takes time in blogging.

Coming up with post ideas. Writing them. Scheduling them. Finding other blogs to link up to so that people are actually reading your posts (because that’s why we’re doing this in the first place, right?). Updating your social media outlets. Commenting back on other people’s blogs. Finding more blogs to comment on yourself so that those people will comment back. Figuring out how to do giveaways or deciding if you want to do giveaways at all.

It all takes time.

But if you sink in the time, you make friends, you get free books, and you find camaraderie with those who love the same thing you do: books.

And that’s a pretty awesome feeling. It feels good to find your people. 

 

8. You can’t make everyone happy. 

I read a post from a book blogger who said she hates discussion posts on a book blog. She only wants to see book reviews. I read another post from another blogger who said she hates gifs because they make a blog dumb.

My reaction to that:

8 Things I've Learned Since I Started Blogging @ Chocolate and Chapters

I happen to love discussion posts and gifs. They’re entertaining and often hilarious. So… I guess those ladies won’t be reading my blog?? You can’t make every reader out there happy.

 


 

So there you go. I’m still flying by the seat of my pants, but that’s some of what I’ve learned so far.

 

What do you think? Can you relate to any of this? If you’re a blogger yourself, what have YOU learned since you first started? 

 

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This post is also posted to the 2017 Book Blog Discussion Challenge, hosted by Feed Your Fiction Addiction and It Starts at Midnight!

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6 thoughts on “8 Things I’ve Learned Since I Started Blogging

  1. I only had a tiny blog, mostly as entries into other giveaways and you are right, it just never ends. Just keeping up with out of date side buttons was exhausting. I admire your resolve to have a book blog, you are doing a great job!

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  2. I agree with so many of these, Rachel! I got over the comparison thing early on. I realized that most of the bigger bloggers with thousands upon thousands of followers basically treated their blog as a full time job. Big presences on social media, daily posts, relationships with the publishers and on and on. Uh, I already have one full time job and I can’t handle another. Especially when it doesn’t pay me. LOL Ever since then I have been totally relaxed about how I blog. If I get new followers that’s wonderful, if I don’t that’s okay. In the meantime, I love the connections I’ve made with other bloggers.

    I follow several bloggers who have very different reading habits than me. Some read only fantasy, some focus on mystery… neither of which I often reach for me. But I enjoy their review style, I like reading what they have to say, I appreciate the personality they put into their posts… the genre just doesn’t seem to matter so much.

    LOVE that gif for #8! LOL

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    1. Yes, exactly. Sometimes I can tell when a blogger does basically nothing but read and blog. Which I’d love to do, if I had an office of my own, a nanny, and an endless supply of pastries. I could blog like a queen! But of course, that is not my life at all. I’ve had to come to realize that, too, and I always have to remind myself when I come across those blogs!

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  3. The comparison thing is HUGE—because you’re right, there will always be someone bigger. There are days where I feel like I’ve gotten to the point in my blogging where I’m exactly where I want to be. The minute I start playing the comparison game, I can squash that so easily. And why do that to myself? I’m happy with my blog and my following and where I’m at, so it really doesn’t matter if there’s someone bigger or even better. Most days I’ve got that down now (but I still forget every now and again!).

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  4. So many truths up there. I was asked to join my blog just this year, but they have been around since 2013. Growth is tough, so we are the small blog that could (someone needs to fill that role). I have been quite lucky with getting NG/EW approvals, and even had Paula Stokes reach out to me for a blogtour (BTW, her post got many views). I am learning that the social media game is super important, but honestly, I don’t have that much time to dedicate to it, unless I give on my reading time (NEVER!). I have started including a discussion post once a week (they are so hard), but I love my memes and book reviews. I was pleasantly shocked with how many views my two book reviews got this week. So, they are not dead. Oh, and gifs, I love gifs. Gifs forever.

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