DISCUSSION: It’s all about YOU!

The other day, Amanda posted an awesome discussion about what it means to blog for yourself. It was a post that really reminded me why I started blogging in the first place. I didn’t start because I wanted free books, or because I wanted fame and glory within the book blogging community (<– does this even exist?). No, I started because I had the memory of a walnut.

But walnuts don’t have memories!, you say.

Exactly!

There happened to be a few instances where I’d take a book off my shelf, start reading, start really enjoying the book only to ask myself, Have I read this already? And the answer was a resounding, Yes.

Feeling foolish, I’d put the book back on the shelf and take another one down to read. In that moment I realized that I had to do something, something drastic and crazy so that I would never be fooled again! I would start a blog.

<insert Braveheart music here because this is obviously an epic story>

When I started my blog, it was what it should always be — it was for me. I’d write my “reviews” (which, now that I look back at them, were really just rehashes of what I had read, with very little actual reviewing) and post them up on the blog and go back to my next book. No one really commented on any of my reviews and I had no idea that there was an actual community out there. Because of this reason, my book blogging dwindled and faded as the years pressed on, until the Fall of 2011 when I realized I had been reading a lot of books quite regularly. I recalled that dusty book blog I had out in the blogosphere and decided to brush it off and use it again.

The best parts about me book blogging now was that I actually realized there was a community out there, with memes and discussions and things I could be a part of. Slowly I started making my book blog what I thought it should be — not necessarily what I wanted it to be. I had a lot of memes, reviews, signed up for book tours, got review books (read: accepted way too many review books), and tried to really get into the community.

While I thought this was the best approach, what happened was that I totally got burned out. The one thing that held strong was some of the relationships I was making within the community, but trying to be superwoman, trying to make everyone happy made me take an entire month off where I only read three books.

Things had to change.

When I started back up in June, I decided to work my way through the review books I hastily accepted and then to cool it. I changed up my blog and kept only the things I really enjoyed doing, nixed some of the memes I was participating in, gave the blog an overhaul and told myself ten things:

1. You will only read books you want to read.
2. You will not accept every review book that comes your way.
3. You will try to keep posts to one per day.
4. You will not overcommit yourself.
5. You will embrace the blogging community and ask for help, if needed.
6. You will not try to do everything and stress yourself out.
7. You will be yourself and not worry about the opinions of others.
8. You will not feel like you should host tons of giveaways.
9. You will learn to say no.
10. You will have fun.

Now, I feel like I’m actually going back to blogging for myself. I have found a few handfuls of blogs I love to read and comment on because the bloggers are being true to who they are and they’re not trying to overdo it. I realized through them that I don’t have to post something every.single.day, nor do I have to participate in all the memes. In fact, I’ve found two memes that I really like participating in and one of them is a mailbox showcase. The rest of the stuff on the blog is my own content, which I have a lot of fun coming up with.

How am I being sticking to being me on the blog and in the blogging community?

1. I am being that awkward person you love to chat with on Twitter.
2. I am continuing with my Musical Saturday posts, writing quirky bookish songs.
3. I am writing more discussion posts about bookish things I think about.
4. I am continuing with my Cover Love feature, which I personally love.
5. I am not commenting on ALL THE BLOGS, but trying to stick to the ones run by bloggers I love and look up to.
6. I am not letting myself think that I have to read only one genre, or post only reviews on one genre on the blog. I like to be eclectic.
7. I am reading what I want when I want, and not accepting all the review books I see.
8. I am reminding myself that I’m not superwoman. I take breaks and try not to read all the time.
9. I am continuing to do crazy mailbox vlogs where I get overexcited about books.
10. I am reminding myself that blogging is fun and that it’s okay to just be me.

I’m sure there are other things that I could have included, but the main thing is that one little reminder of why I started blogging — it was for me. Like I had commented on Amanda’s initial post, if my blog were to disappear tomorrow, I’d still have my books, I’d still read, and I’d still have these wonderful friendships that I’m cultivating. The blog is not a be all end all — it’s fun and I really enjoy doing it.

It’s too easy to get completely wrapped up in changing yourself to make yourself look cooler, or to make your blog look cooler, or to befriend all the cool people, or to feel like you have to please everyone, but just as this doesn’t work in real life, it doesn’t work in the blogging community. If you’re constantly trying to change to please others, you will never please yourself. I like to think that I’m finally pleasing myself.

What are some important things you remember when it comes to blogging? Have you ever tried to change to please others?

© 2012, Reading In Winter. All rights reserved.

25 thoughts on “DISCUSSION: It’s all about YOU!

  1. You know, I used to feel like giveaways were a necessary part of blogging. That somehow, that was the way to gain followers, or attract people to my blog. And maybe it does accomplish that, but I don’t think they were the kind of people I wanted, because they never interacted beyond entering giveaways. (if it’s not obvious, I have a very love/hate relationship with giveaways).

    I am glad that my post inspired this one, and I am glad that you are blogging for yourself. I think it’s one thing that attracts people–the genuineness. *thumbs up* Keep being awesome! :)

    • I felt the same way about giveaways! Now I give some of my favourite books to bloggers I like, or I’ll host a giveaway for a book I really love just because. I’m actually kind of sick of seeing all these giveaway hops, or giveaways where you must follow the blogger in every way, shape, and form.

      I think I’d rather post discussions or meaningful thoughts on the books I read to get followers — at least then when they follow, they’re following because they (hopefully) like the content.

      I’m happy you wrote that post! It really made me think about why I blog … even now, AFTER taking the whole month of May off, I feel like I’m trying to creep back into my old ways. I have to catch myself.

      One of the other things I should’ve mentioned is the community. I mean, you blog for yourself, but when you find the people who are like kindred spirits in their blogging, it’s nice to give them a boost and help each other out. I’m really finding that with my Edmonton group of bloggers right now — a lot of them are now following each other and commenting on posts. It’s great!

      I guess what I’m trying to say (in this comment that’s reading like another post) is that while I went into blogging for myself, I don’t think I would’ve kept it up without the help and love from other bloggers — i.e. the ones who comment and share my content, and the ones that have helped me build bloggy friendships over the past 10 months. I mean, that’s why I wasn’t a great blogger in the time before that … I had no idea there were such wonderful bloggers out there! I think when you find the good ones you have to remember them.

      • Addressing giveaways and how they relate to followers is a discussion post idea I’ve had rolling around in my head for a few months.

        One thing that mentioned on Alissa’s (The Grammarian’s Reviews) post about this was that blogging for yourself means to blog for your own purposes. So if your purpose is to meet others in the community and interact, you’re still blogging for yourself. I think blogging for yourself doesn’t mean you make it all “me me me.” It all depends what you want out of blogging.

      • That would be a great discussion post. I think that some bloggers think it’s the only way to gain followers. It WILL gain you followers, of course, but I think it’s better to gain followers who actually read your content, instead of those who just come for the giveaways.

        When I first started blogging I entered a TON of giveaways, then I realized how much it was taking away from my reading time (some of those hops are LONG!). I also realized that I only went to a lot of these blogs FOR the giveaways and very rarely did I go back. Or I would add them to my reader because they hosted giveaways all the time, but then I wasn’t reading any of their content. Now I have only the blogs I love in my reader. I mean, if I’m going to spend my time going through all these blog posts, I might as well like what I’m reading, right?

        My initial reason for blogging was strictly to keep track of my reads and my thoughts on my reads, BUT I started it back in 2009 and had no idea there even was a blogging community. I don’t even know what made me find it my second time around in 2011, but I’m sure thankful I did. One of the things I love is that I can post my thoughts on a book and then have someone else talk with me about my thoughts. I don’t get that when it’s just me. And the dogs just don’t listen.

  2. I adore this post, simply because just about every single thing you said is something that I agreed with. I started my blog in April 2011, gave up on in June-ish 2011, and got back into the swing of things October 2011 (whew!). I did a lot of memes and participated in a lot of giveaway hops at the beginning, mostly because I thought it was the “right” thing for me to do. Plus, I got super excited about getting contacted to review books that I accepted nearly everything that was offered to me (which was a mistake and one that I’m currently working on fixing!).

    But nowadays, I blog the way I like to – mostly reviews, with a few fun things tossed in here or there. I don’t pressure myself to read when I don’t want to, and I’ve even learned how to DNF a book, which is VERY helpful. And I love leaving comments for other people, so I do it for the bloggers and blogs that I really love :)

    • Alexa, we could be twins. :)

      I thought I HAD to do the giveaway thing, too. I now do them once in a while, but more for special occasions or for a book I’m really excited about. And I never require people to follow me anymore.

      Same thing with the books! I accepted so many books! I’m doing the Review Copy Cleanup this month to work my way through the pile. Now I’d rather be in charge of what I’m requesting, through publishers or NetGalley, though I’m also trying to wean (ween?) myself off of requesting so many books. Maybe I’ll try and do a few a month — I really need to work through all the books I own!

      The hardest thing for me is marking a book as a DNF, especially when it’s a review book — I always feel like I MUST finish and review it, even if I’m not liking it.

      I love leaving comments! I really need to weed through my Google Reader and leave only the blogs I really like — no point keeping ones in there that I never comment on.

      Thanks for commenting!

  3. Again, such a great discussion!

    I started my lil blog for pretty much the same reasons as you. I didn’t (don’t) have trouble remembering if I had read a book, (but I don’t read nearly as many books as you do!), my problem is, that’s all I CAN remember. Yes, I read this book, but I can’t for the life of me tell you anything about it other than, “I loved it/I hated it.” I want to be able to talk about the books I’ve read in more detail and have a much more convincing argument for why I think my friends should read said book. (Or at least a place to send them to read my thoughts!)

    I think the thing with comments is, if they are meaningful, it just adds to the experience. I don’t have a lot of people in “real life” to talk books so I’m glad to have discovered some great blogs during this process where I can talk about books! This is also why I appreciate so much when the blogger responds to comments! I get that some blogs are really popular and get a ton of comments each post, but often I don’t see the blogger responding to even ONE of the comments. It kinda bugs me to be honest. Obviously not every comment needs a comment, but some discussion is nice (which is why I often read all the comments on blogs I love).

    I was so worried about about my blog not living up to “book-blogging” standards, but I quickly reminded myself that that’s not why I was blogging in the first place. My favorite book blogs are the ones that talk about different types of books and themselves and even not so bookish things once in awhile. So I figured that was a good representation of who I am as a person (I read all genres, I like to talk about my dog, but I also like to talk about bookish things, not always books). You’re so right – if you are yourself, people will stick around :)

    Ok – last point, I swear! I also worried about needing to blog a certain number of times a week or on the same days every week, etc. But with a job and a husband and a dog, and a naturally lazy personality lol, this just didn’t work for me. And then I realized that thanks to twitter and google reader and bookmarks, etc, it doesn’t matter (in my opinon) when a blogger blogs. If I follow their blog, I will see the posts.

    • That was totally me! Actually, it still kind of is now. I think the problem is that I read so much that when someone talks with me about a book we’ve both read, I can contribute so much from my immediate memory, but when they’re like, “Oh, and what about this part?” I can’t immediately recall it. Blogging has definitely helped me talk MORE about the books I’m reading. I’m not great at it, but I’m getting better.

      It bugs me, too, when bloggers don’t comment on their comments! This is something I learned during Bloggiesta, I think. When I started way back in 2009, I never commented back on anything — nor did I really when I restarted in October. I think it was this year that I really got dedicated to commenting on comments, and checking back on comments that I’ve left on blogs to see if the blogger wrote back. I mean, I love the discussion and the community of it all — it makes blogging so much more fun!

      One big thing for me is stats — sometimes I get so wrapped up in stats that I forget that that’s not why I started blogging. And that’s so true about posting! I have a crazy amount of reviews already written up that I HAVEN’T posted, so until those run out, I’ll be posting pretty much every day — and that’s not including the books I’m reading now, which usually take posting priority, or the discussions and other fun stuff I like to do. But you’re right, with a husband, a dog, and eventually a job, I know I can’t dedicate SO much time to the blog. I’m lucky that my husband has some shows that he really enjoys watching, so I can take the time to work on blog stuff then.

      • Haha, sometimes I think I should’ve started writing some “reviews” before I started my blog so I could post more frequently. Unfortunately, I read faster than I write the reviews, but I’m working on it ;) And yes, it’s great when hubby has other things he likes to do in his down time.

  4. I love this!! I totally agree, and I think I need to remember those first ten things. It can be easy to get caught up in things, and I do sometimes get stressed out about not reviewing books on time… but I am definitely getting better, and I’m also reading more for myself this year. I think I shall bookmark this and look back at when I’m feeling overwhelmed. =)

  5. Cue Braveheart music!

    I started my blog because I wanted someone to talk to about the books I’m reading, and because I wanted to remember more about them, too. I just wish I started WAY sooner. I started the 1,001 Books list was back in 2007. It would have been amazing to document that right from the beginning.

    I also wish I’d started anytime before having kids, because the only time I can get on a computer is after they both go to bed, and I’m usually so tired by then I just want to zone out and read (twitter, forums, blogs). Having to form coherent thoughts and make comments on blog or, if I’m feeling particularly ambitious, writing a blog post myself, is a serious undertaking. It’s really hard to justify anything that takes away from sleep when you average 4 or 5 non-consecutive hours per night!!

    Now, I want to make a few confessions. While reading this post, it occurred to me (not for the first time) that I don’t know anything about book blogging. For example:

    1. It took me a long time to figure out what ARC stands for
    2. I have no idea how one would go about getting an ARC, or how you would be asked to do reviews
    3. Mailbox Wednesday (?) posts confuse me too. If I get books, it’d because I got them at the library. I also read about one book every 1-3 months, so most weeks would be “nothing!”
    4. I have no idea what a blog hop is
    5. I don’t really know what memes are – well, I know what a meme is. I don’t know how you get involved in book blog memes :)
    5. I have no idea how people do giveaways. Like, do you just buy the book yourself? Or do you get it for free somehow?
    6. I don’t know how people post so often. Once/week would be a huge stretch goal for me. And it’s not just because I’m a mom; I know a bunch of mom bloggers who are doing a post/day for the month of August. I SERIOUSLY don’t know how… they must do it from their phone. I’m just not in “writing mode” unless I’m at a keyboard (is that old school?)

    Okay, I’ve outed myself as old and/or ignorant about blogging now… haha… great post anyway, and I absolutely agree that there’s not point in blogging on anyone’s terms buy your own!

    • I have to butt in here, gawd Laura, you’re hilarious! This is why we like your blog – because it’s totally you and you’re not trying to be someone else! It took me awhile to figure out what ARC was and POV had me confused until recently lol. And I have no idea how people post once a day. I’m only a mom to a 4-legged guy and I can’t blog that often, PLUS, when do people read then? Kristilyn mentioned that she has like 40 reviews already written but not posted, so I’m thinking a lot of other book bloggers do the same? Or they are just really quick at getting their thoughts out? I take FOREVER to write a “review”.

      • I think every blog, where the person is just being who they are, is fantastic. I tried to be like everyone else in the beginning, but am happier just being myself. I love it when a blog has an “about the blogger” page, too … I like getting to know the person behind the blog! Makes it a little more personal.

        I’m a “mom” to three dogs! It’s tough even with them … and I want to have a life AND read AND volunteer AND get house and yardwork done AND just get out and do the things I like. I admit that I do stay up late reading and get up early so I can blog with my coffee in the morning. I think that so long as you stick to some kind of schedule, blogging will just come naturally. The biggest thing for me is just the formatting of reviews — looking up all the author info and whatnot, getting the picture, synopsis, etc. But once I start writing, it doesn’t take too long. And you don’t have to post it right away — write it up and save the draft. Come back and edit if necessary. Plus, my reviews are really just my thoughts on the book — what really helps is to take down a note or two when something comes up while reading — really helps to look back when writing your review!

        Like I said to Laura, you don’t have to post every single day — that’s just what I’m doing now since I have so many reviews stockpiled. I’ve been reading so much lately that I haven’t even had to use one of those reviews. Plus, it’s not like you have to have a review every day of the week — maybe have a feature post, a discussion, a few reviews, a day off, and a mailbox post or something. Another great thing to do instead of a mailbox post is a recap of the week, with links to other bloggers’ interesting posts — that way you help out the other blogger and post something. Just an idea.

        I do admit that I’m not currently working, so once I do start working things might change drastically! We’ll see, though. :)

        You guys are great — thanks for all the wonderful comments!

    • Laura, I’m sure there are TONS of things that I don’t know about blogging, either!

      I wish I had discovered the blogging community when I first started blogging — I think I would’ve read a lot more and would have posted a lot more quality posts.

      I don’t have kids, but I notice that I rarely feel like blogging when the husband is home. I just can’t think straight when I get on the computer. That’s why I try to do as much as I can when I have free time — though I don’t want to spent ALL my time on the blog, since I do want to read, too. One thing that helps me is to write down ideas as they come to me. Like, discussion posts or something of the like. I do Waiting on Wednesday posts sometimes but will write them up 3 or 4 at a time.

      Anyway, to answer your questions:

      1. ARC is Advance Reader Copy, or sometimes there are ARE’s, which is an Advance Reader Edition.

      2. I’ve emailed publishers about ARCs, but don’t do it too often and only for books that I’m really, really looking forward to. There’s also NetGalley, which is great if you have an eReader.

      3. I do a mailbox post on the weekend and it usually involves books I get from NetGalley, the library, the bookstore, or other bloggers. I’ve won books from contests and have participated in RAK (Random Acts of Kindness) the past few months, or sometimes a publisher has sent me a complimentary ARC in the mail. I have a bit of a book-buying habit (read: problem), so I usually ALWAYS have something coming in each week — even if it’s just eBooks.

      4. Blog Hops take a few forms … there are some that are like a social networking thing, where a question is posted and bloggers answer it on their blogs, then visit other blogs (usually following the blog in the process) to see other bloggers’ answers. OR, there’s giveaway hops, where bloggers sign up and host a giveaway on their site during the duration of the giveaway hop. When you sign up for one, you usually enter your blog address into a Linky form on the site hosting the hop, which makes it easier for other bloggers to visit all the blogs participating.

      5. A meme is like a hop, but is something that usually happens once a week. Popular ones include Waiting on Wednesday (hosted by Breaking the Spine), which is where the blogger posts an upcoming book they’re excited about — usually one that hasn’t been released; Top Ten Tuesday (hosted by Broke and the Bookish), which is where the host posts a topic for a top 10 list and the bloggers post their own lists on their site; and there’s a TON of mailbox memes, like In My Mailbox, or Stacking the Shelves, or the like, where bloggers post their incoming books from the week using a blog post or a vlog. Memes are usually meant to be social, a way to get to know other bloggers. Personally, I’ve been stepping away from them and trying to make my blog have only my own content. It’s too easy to clutter up your blog with just memes.

      6. I usually write a review for every single book I read. And I read anywhere from 3 to 7 books a week. I don’t write my reviews immediately after, but will take a morning here and there to write my reviews and drink my coffee. I don’t post them immediately, but schedule them throughout the week. I also write discussion posts as they come to me (or write the idea down in a folder), as well as Musical Saturday posts. I try to do a mailbox vlog on Saturdays, but if I don’t have time, I’ll just write up a regular post. I don’t have kids, so I don’t have a huge issue with time, but I do want to actually read during the week, so I try to write up reviews, step back and read, then go back and edit, if necessary. But really, there’s no rule that you MUST post every day — though, I do think there should be consistency. I have a ton of reviews that I’ve written up but haven’t posted yet, so for the next while, I will be posting every day, but plan to have at least one day off once I’m caught up.

      I hope this helps! I’ve learned a lot from the blogging community in the past 10 months and my blog has changed quite a bit since last October. I think it’s just a matter of scheduling in blogging and reading, like you would anything else. For me, blogging is a great way to discuss the books I read with other people and I’ve met some wonderful people along the way!

      If you ever want to talk blogging stuff over coffee, let me know! I’m usually available. :)

      • Thanks for such a great response! You have a wealth of information to share and I appreciate you sharing it! I’ve been thinking I need an “about me” page, but I have no idea how to add a “page”.

        As for memes, I just feel weird jumping in on them, and often, there’s no way I can think of 10 things under the topic to talk about. And I don’t want to do them just to get more people to my blog or whatever, unless I find one that I find really fun or fits who I am as a person/blogger. I’m still trying to find my groove and post more consistently.

        Anyway, thanks again for the awesome discussion! :)

      • Well, there’s nothing wrong with that! I think I started doing memes to be more social AND to get more people to my page. But now I’m backing off of them, trying to do more of my own thing. With memes, I like to do them at least every other week and sometimes it’s just not possible … I’ll start doing one and then I get tired of it, or I come up with some original content to fill that day. As always, do what best suits your own preferences! :) If you start doing things you don’t like, or start doing things because everyone else is doing them, but you don’t really enjoy them, then blogging might not be as fun.

        I think you’re doing great! :)

  6. When I first started I thought that I was supposed to impress other people, it’s hard to find yourself in blogging using other people as examples especially when they’re trying to be flashy and have thousands of followers. I realized that it’s not the amount of followers, but the quality of the people, like you commenting on my posts when you get the chance, that’s better than 20 people “liking it” but not contributing. I hope a lot more bloggers read this, because not everyone acts like themselves. I also like that you read what you want when you want! It makes it a lot more fun, and I think that’s why most of use are still here :)

    • That’s it exactly, Kelsey — the quality of people. I have a few handfuls of people who consistently comment on my blog, so I return the favour to them — and they all have awesome blogs, too!

      I have a hard time not thinking about stats lately, but am really trying to get out of that mindset. I’d rather have meaningful comments on my blog, rather than something like, “This is great!” That’s one reason I started blogging again — to have meaningful discussions with people about books and bookish things. I’m just happy to finally be getting into that place where I’m happy to be me and where I’m finding other bloggers who are the same way.

      As for reading what I want, I’m working through all my review books this month, but plan to be in control of my reads come September. I can’t wait — I have some gooders on my shelves. :)

  7. What a fabulous post! I think it’s easy to get disoriented by all the shiny books and publisher connections, and forget why you want to blog in the first place. For me, I love my blog because it forces me to perceive literature and art critically, it gives me a community, and it acts as a record of both my writing style and book consumption. Some days I forget that, and it leaves me frazzled. Your list is brilliant – I might care to say that I think it would be a fun Bloggiesta mini challenge. Having personal, not business or community oriented, goals for your blog is awesome. I think more of us ought to write ours down. It almost acts as a mission statement for what we want to get out of the experience.

    Thanks for reminding me why I love writing blog posts.

    • Thank you, Emma!

      Those are great reasons to love blogging and I think we need to remind ourselves of our reasons when we feel stressed or bogged down.

      I’m just getting to your comment now (sorry!) or I would’ve considered it for Bloggiesta! Next time! :)

  8. Pingback: Clock Rewinders on a Book Binge [62] | On a Book Bender

  9. Pingback: Sunday Reads: Volume 36 «

  10. Pingback: BLOGIVERSARY FEATURE: A Little Bit About Me | Reading In Winter

  11. Pingback: Discussion: Writing Discussion Posts | On a Book Bender

My home is where my books are. - Ellen Thompson

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s