With one year of blogging behind my belt (plus a few years of aimless wandering), I feel like I can finally talk about the things that I’ve learned being a blogger. I can see myself writing a whole new list a year from now, but I thought I would share some of the things I’ve learned in the past year. If you’ve been blogging for a while, you’ll probably nod in agreement for some of these, or if you’re a newbie blogger, you might feel a bit of anxiety over some. This is what’s working for me.
1. It’s OK to not accept review books.
There are always reasons we do the things we do. When I started book blogging, the reason was two-fold: I wanted to talk about the books I read, and I wanted to remember the books I read. You know what wasn’t the reason? To get review books. Sure, it’s awesome receiving review books and getting that email from NetGalley saying you were accepted for that exclusive title that everyone wants, but this isn’t why I started blogging. There’s no written rule that says you MUST accept or even request review books. Books are timeless; they’ll be around FOREVER! This is why we still read classics hundreds of years after they’ve been released. ALL books should be open for bookish discussions!
2. It’s OK to not buy books.
Before I started book blogging, I bought books. When I started to get into book blogging, I started to buy MORE books. Eventually, close to the one-year mark, I realized that I didn’t have to buy ALL THE BOOKS. While it’s awesome to display these books on my shelf, I found myself wanting to be pickier about the books I buy – I want to buy books I’ve read and loved, or books by authors whom I love, instead of buying books just to bulk up the shelves. In the same sense, the LIBRARY IS YOUR FRIEND! If your library does interlibrary loans like mine does, you will find that there is a HUGE selection available! Use it!
3. It’s OK to throw books away.
For most of the time I’ve been book blogging, I’ve coveted books. They stay on my shelf, piling up on top of one another. But sometimes, you need to throw a book away. Take ARCs for example. If I have an ARC and buy the finished copy of a book, I will throw the ARC away – or, if I have an ARC that I didn’t like and that no one wants, I’ll toss it. Or, there are the books that are way past their prime, old and decrepit, and falling apart. These can get tossed. DON’T FEEL BAD!
4. It’s OK to NOT finish a book.
This is something I’m still getting used to. When I’m reading a book, even if I find that I’m hating it, I feel like I MUST finish it! This doesn’t have to happen – there are so many books published each year, with a new book being published every 30 seconds, that we shouldn’t feel like we need to waste our time on bad books! If you feel like you must finish a book, maybe take a break and read something else. Then see if you want to come back to that not-so-great book. Maybe then you’ll realize that you don’t want to continue reading it and shelf it. It’s OK.
5. It’s OK to not LIKE a book.
So there’s this book – everyone loves it and everyone is talking about it, so you MUST pick it up! But then you read it and you think that it sucks. It’s OK to feel this way. I’ve read a few books that everyone loved and it’s brought up great discussions about the book. You know what else? If you hate a book and talk about it, you might find that OTHER people also hated the book! You’re not alone!
6. It’s OK to WANT to buy the books.
Yes, I’ve said that you don’t have to buy all the books, but it’s OK to want to. I have so many books on my wishlist and love to look at the pretty books in the bookstore. This doesn’t mean I have to buy them all, but it’s OK to dream about buying them all and just gushing over how pretty they all are.
7. It’s OK to not want to read ALL THE TIME.
Being a book blogger, you will get to the point where you feel like reading should be your life and that you should spend every spare minute reading the books to review on your blog. You don’t have to do this! There are other awesome things in life that you can – and should – be spending time on. What do I do? I like to play my piano, spend time with my husband, watch my TV shows, do some baking, and other things. Sure, there are times when I’ll listen to an audiobook while cleaning or baking or something, but there are times when I just don’t feel like reading.
8. It’s OK to break the rules.
When you start blogging, you will have those bloggers you look up to. You may try to emulate these bloggers in your own blog, trying to do what they do, to be just like them. But you know what? It’s OK to be different. This is what makes certain bloggers unique – they’re comfortable in their own skin and want to stick out from the crowd. This doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re the most popular blogger, or that they get all the traffic, but they get those dedicated followers who stop by all the time just because you stand out from the crowd. There are so many book bloggers out there that it’s awesome to find those ones that stand out and be themselves, the ones who seem to blog to a different beat. There are no written blogging rules – stand out!
9. It’s OK to reach out to other bloggers.
It can be so intimidating being a newbie blogger. There are so many bloggers out there and some of them get so many page views and so many review books and they just seem so unbelievably intimidating. But you know what? Bloggers are people, too. Even if they’re part of a big-name blog and seem to have all the right contacts, they still have the same insecurities you may have. Don’t be afraid to reach out to them for a chat about a book or even to ask about blogging advice. The best part of book blogging is the community and this is how we build the community!
10. It’s OK to take a break from blogging.
No one says that you must blog every day, all the time. If you feel like you need to take a break, TAKE THE BREAK! It can be a few days or an entire month (which is something I did), but whichever one you choose, it can be refreshing. Take the time to read that guilty-pleasure genre, or to not read at all. You may think that you’ll lose all of your followers by doing this, but if you have dedicated followers and take the time to be yourself and post original content, those followers will be there when you get back. Rather than feel like you’re burning out from blogging, taking the break can make you a better blogger.
What have you learned being a blogger? Can you add anything to my list?
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