This is a follow-up to my article on the lessons I’ve learned after 3 months of blogging.
Blogging is incredibly fun and rewarding, but it will stress you out and wreck you if you let it. Over the past 6 months, I’ve had many successes and failures as a blogger and often I have allowed it to get stressful. But more recently, I have learned to grow personally from these experiences, both the negative and the positive. I want to share some of what I’ve learned with you today.
One of the most important lessons I’ve learned personally was that I had no idea how much more I have to say about bookish things. Even with the narrow focus of a book blog, there are limitless possibilities, only restricted by my ability to find the right words and energy to get something cohesive written up.
I am by no means an expert blogger. What I want to share are personal lessons I’ve learned during the six wonderful months I’ve spent being a member of the book blogging community. I hope some of my experiences with blogging will resonate with a few of you.
Thank you for your time.
Personal Lessons I’ve Learned From 6 Months Of Blogging
Reviews will not bring in huge audiences
Perhaps this does not apply to other bloggers, but book reviews are consistently my least popular blog posts. I can’t explain why, but I surmise that not everyone is going to care about every book you review. That’s the hard truth. Some books will appeal to certain people and others not at all. That’s not something you can change, unless you have built a strong relationship with some of your followers. But even then the audience is limited.
To get your reviews noticed, you will have to make your followers care about you and what you have to say. This is extremely time-consuming and requires you to devote hours visiting other blogs and building bonds with fellow bloggers every week. Sometimes this work will not be rewarded, because not everyone you visit has the time to visit your blog back (or they may not even want to), but if you’re persistent and have the time, you can acquire a secure, built-in audience for your book reviews.
I am not saying I follow this strategy every day, but I have seen it work for other bloggers and it’s what I aspire to do. I try to visit as many blogs as I am able, because I do care about what you all have to say and engaging with you all is the best way to feel like a part of the community. But time is limited, and unless I discover a way to stop time or learn how to live without sleep, my book reviews will continue to be unpopular. I can live with this.
Do not be afraid to monetize your blog
Blogging is a labor of love that is almost like a full-time job if you post regularly. Several months into being a blogger and slowly establishing myself in the community, I decided that I wanted monetize my blog by including ads. I know everyone hates ads, I really do understand that because I don’t like them either. But I dedicate so much time into this blog that I think I deserve a small bit of compensation for my work. I struggled with the decision to monetize, but ultimately I went with the Riot Ad Network because their ads are generally book-related and not obtrusive to the reading experience. I do admit that they are definitely unsightly but, hey, that’s the sacrifice I pay for getting paid per ad impression, not per click.
Thankfully, not everyone has been turned off by the ads because my stats are as great as ever! I want to thank all my frequent visitors and those who help share my blog posts on Twitter. Your support means everything to me and I am genuinely grateful. If you have a self-hosted blog that allows for ad placements, then I encourage you try. You deserve compensation for your fabulous work and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise!
Be a prominent voice in your corner of the blogosphere
For a blog to stand out, you will have to be innovative, creative, loud, and visible. Being a leader in your small corner of the book blogging community is important for your blog’s longevity and success.
How can you be a leader?
- Start a book tag that goes viral
- Host enticing giveaways
- Start a book club or a readathon
- Create a Twitter hashtag and bring it to life
- Host a Twitter chat
There are countless other ways to stand out and be a leader, you just have to put in the effort and not shy away from responsibility. I am still learning how to be the best blogger I can personally be because truly I have so much to learn and am humbled every day by the creativity and leadership of other bloggers.
Do not underestimate the power of social media
Your built-in audience of followers and blogger friends can only get your blog so far. For wider appeal and success, you must harness the power of social media to elevate your brand and your blog. In my opinion, there is a hierarchy of social media sites that will benefit your blog most and bring you the traffic you want.
Twitter is crucial for any blog. If you establish yourself as a leader you will naturally gain more Twitter followers, which increases your potential audience because those followers may not necessarily be blog subscribers. Facebook is still hugely popular, so I’d say it comes second in potential for blog exposure. If you’re good at making gorgeous and “pinnable” graphics for Pinterest, then you can certainly reach large audiences there as well. Instagram is unfortunately not going to bring much traffic to your blog at all. It is a separate blogging platform that requires almost as much time and effort as your main blog. If you manage to amass a following of thousands, some of them may naturally venture over to your blog if it’s linked on your account. But for most people, this won’t happen.
Confidence will bring you opportunities
At around the 6-month mark, most bloggers will start getting the hang of this blogging business and many establish themselves and their brand in varying degrees. I see this milestone as only the launching off point for the rest of your career as a blogger. To catapult your blog into the success it deserves, you will have to be confident in yourself and your brand to reach out to authors and publishers for review copies of books and author features/interviews. Yes, one of the benefits of being a book blogger is receiving ARCs and free review copies. There is nothing wrong with wanting these things because our work matters and publishers/authors understand this.
Let me tell you from personal experience – once I got over my insecurities and gained the confidence to contact publishers about getting on mailing lists for future releases, the results surpassed my expectations. I currently have a series of author interviews scheduled and have received several review copies, which will be a blessing for my wallet. Spending hundreds of dollars on new books alone during the first half of 2016 turned out to be a little excessive even for me. I receive all these benefits simply because I was confident enough to believe in my worth and my voice as a blogger. I look forward to seeing what other opportunities open to me in the future. For now, I must remain confident and so should you.
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