As my last post of 2017, I’ve been thinking back on my time as a blogger and what I’ve learned throughout those years. How long has it even been now? Four years? Five? I’ve lost count. WOW I JUST REALISED THAT IF I’VE BEEN BLOGGING FOR 4.5 YEARS OR LONGER, THAN MEANS I’VE SPENT A QUARTER OF MY LIFE DOING THIS. I can barely even remember a time before WordPress. Wow. That’s kind of scary.
BUT ANYWAY. Let’s move on before I have another existential crisis and stare off into the distance for three hours lifelessly. Help.
So today I thought I’d share 10 things I wish I knew when I’d started blogging. Just, you know, to look back on how terrible and embarrassing I was in my first few reviews. Well, more like my first 200… Nope, I’m still awkward and embarrassing. I’m not past that stage yet.
Yes, my first ever review is still on my blog. No, I’m not linking it here. If you scroll back far enough, you can probably find it. Or, if you’ve been following me from the very beginning, you’ll know what I’m talking about. Let me say something to those people: I’m sincerely sorry for everything I’ve put you through. Thank you for supporting me, despite my colossal spelling and grammar errors, constant forgetting of characters’ names, and unreliable posting schedule. You are the real angels of this world.
ANYWAY. Let’s get into my advice! Although my advice is usually dubious at best, I do hope this helps a new blogger out there. Blogging can be tough at times, but we’re all in this together. And please know that you can always chat to me or ask me anything! It’s so scary starting off, so please reach out if you have any questions or you just want to talk about your favourite books! I don’t bite. Unless you’re a red velvet cupcake, and then you should be very afraid. And you shouldn’t be reading my blog either — it’ll only make you feel bad about not having eyes. Or hands. Or the capability to read a book.
Practice makes perfect (and “I really enjoyed this book” doesn’t make a review).
That’s right, let’s start with the most cringe advice I could think of! But it’s true. You can’t expect to be a perfect blogger the minute you start out. And let’s face it, NO ONE is a perfect blogger. That doesn’t exist. Everyone is just trying their hardest to share their passion for books, and that can be HARD at times. Don’t take someone’s blog as face-value — there’s so much work and perseverance that goes into making what you see, and that process is never stress-free. What you see is just one tiny aspect of blogging that a person chooses to share with the world, and all the work, blood, sweat, tears, and the occasional sacrifice that goes into that remains hidden.
Oh, and you can also learn from my first review. All I said was “I really enjoyed this book”, so if you’ve written more about a book than that, you’re already so much better than I was back then. And even if you don’t feel like you’re a good reviewer yet, that’s okay! What you see on my blog (and so many others) is a culmination of years of hard work, reading other blogs, and trial and error. You can’t expect to get it right on the first go. You’re going to make mistakes — that’s inevitable. But what matters is that you’ll be able to learn from those mistakes and work towards creating a blog or a platform you’re really proud of. It will take some time, but with hard work and perseverance, you’ll get there.
Don’t compare yourself to everyone else.
When you start off blogging, all you’ll be able to see if how much BETTER everyone else’s blogs are. You’ll think yours can’t even begin to compare. You’ll think that you’ll never be able to create something as amazing as that. But know that those thoughts are NORMAL. It’s impossible not to have a little self-doubt when you’re starting out and seeing everyone else’s platforms. But guess what! They’ve been blogging for longer than you have. They’ve made more mistakes, spent more hours trying to make their posts look good, and you know what? They started out in the same exact place as you. No one can decide to start a blog and be brilliant from their very first post. You can’t compare yourself to everyone else, because they’re not YOU. And that’s kind of amazing. You have the ability to create something unlike any other blog out there because your voice is unlike any other. Don’t strive to be just like your favourite blogger — strive to be the best blogger YOU can be. If you’re being true to yourself and blogging about what you’re passionate about, the rest will follow.
Leaving a nice comment on someone’s blog can really make their day.
I’m honestly so lucky to have all of you that read my blog and leave lovely comments. I know that you don’t have to do that and it takes time out of your day, but I really appreciate you taking the time to write something back to me and have a little chat in the comments. So comments DO make a difference! If you’re reading someone’s blog and really love it, tell them! If you decided to pick up a book because of their review, tell them! Sometimes just one nice comment can really turn someone’s day around. And if you want to grow your audience, commenting on other blogs also helps with that! So even if you just take ten minutes out of your day to comment on a few of the blogs you read, it makes a huge difference.
Most people don’t have it together either. Confidence is key.
As I said before, what you seen on a person’s blog is such a tiny part of their blogging life and what goes in to creating that content. Writing a blog post takes hours upon hours, as does taking photos and making graphics. But most bloggers don’t talk about the hard stuff much because we do all this because we enjoy it. But guess what — other bloggers don’t always have it together. They might not stick to a blogging schedule or they might not be on top of all the latest releases, but that’s okay. You might be feeling the same way. So you know what you can do? Just be confident. Be confident that people WILL enjoy what you post, and don’t worry about anything else.
Content is much more important than appearances.
I know that making your blog look pretty might seem like the most important thing in the world sometimes, but trust me — people would much rather read a passionate review or a blog post you’re really proud of that have nice graphics with colour-coordinated font. In the end, people will be reading your blog for what you write on it. Your opinions. Your passions. While I won’t deny that appearances do also MATTER, it’s the content that you should be focused on. You can always change what your blog looks like later.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help. 99 out of 100 people will totally be willing to provide assistance.
If you don’t already know people who blog before venturing out into the internet to share your thoughts with the world, it can be very daunting. When I started, I hadn’t even heard of WordPress before. I thought people still made websites by physically coding EVERYTHING themselves. I was pretty clueless, and the first year of blogging was basically just me trying to find the “publish” button on my posts. I was laughably terrible at all this.
But as I got to know more bloggers, I gained the courage to ask about the things I was unsure of. How to make graphics, how to make a blog look somewhat aesthetically pleasing, and how to edit photos for my bookstagram. And while most things you can learn from Google, it’s really important to have people that you can talk to. And not only that, they might even want some advice from you about certain things. But the most important thing to remember is that most people in this community are really friendly and approachable, and if you’d like to know something or have a question, almost all of us will be happy to chat. So don’t be afraid to reach out!
You don’t have to follow trends. Just blog about what you’re passionate about.
When you start blogging, you might have seen people doing Top Ten Tuesdays, Waiting on Wednesdays, and various wrap-up posts — but guess what! These posts aren’t mandatory for bloggers. No matter what content you see other bloggers creating, it’s important to know that you don’t have to do the same thing as them if you don’t want to. What makes your blog so unique and one that people will want to visit is that it’s YOURS. If you’re not especially passionate about something, people will be able to tell. So just… you do you.
Remember that reviews are for readers, not authors.
When reviewing a book, write like the only other people reading the review will be other readers. Don’t think about what the author would think if they read this. While most authors are at least somewhat curious to know what people think about their books, reviews aren’t for them. It’s important to respect the boundary that some authors try to establish between themselves and their reviews, and to usually not tag them in reviews, good or bad. Sometimes authors don’t have a problem with being tagged in positive ones, but it’s important to keep them out of negative ones for their own sanity.
Reviews aren’t there to praise or bash an author — they’re there to assist other readers in choosing what books they should pick up.
Don’t be scared to reach out and chat to other bloggers. Making connections is important, and blogging can be tough sometimes — having friends within the community is important.
As I mentioned before, it’s important to reach out to other bloggers if you have any questions or need advice, but it’s also important to just make friends and chat about books with people that have similar interests as you. Things don’t always go to plan when blogging and the bookish community can be an intense place at times, and having a group of people you can trust and talk to is essential. These are the people that are going to have your back in the hard times.
Always be a little kinder than necessary.
If blogging or writing is something you’re really passionate about and would like to do for quite some time to come, the people that you meet along the way are most likely still going to be in the blogging community in the future. Being a little bit kinder than necessary to the people you meet will make sure you’re in a good place for whatever you want to go on to. And, of course, it’s just the decent thing to do. The worst thing you can do is go around making enemies in this community. We’re a tight-knit bunch and attacking one of us often means attacking all of us, so instead, choose to be kind. People are always going to treat you the way you treat them, so aim to be a blogger you’re proud of.
Do you have any other advice you wish you could tell your past self about blogging? Have you been blogging for long? Do you have any questions that either myself (or other friendly bloggers in the comments) could help out with? Don’t be afraid — we don’t bite!