Third Blogiversary

Blogging Highs and Lows on a Third Blogiversary

Third Blogiversary

Whenever my blogiversary rolls around, I’m forced to take a deep dive into my archives (you know, to find the February date it falls on) and always come back cringing. If I didn’t think there would be some regret, I would delete nearly everything from my first year and even a bit beyond. It’s not quite as bad as stumbling on your LiveJournal from high school, but gives me almost the same feeling.

When I shared my goals for the year at the start of last month, Lauren from Malcom Avenue Review asked if I would share some of the blogging mistakes I hinted at in the post. So, here we are! Since I’ve started to sort out many of them, it won’t be quite as depressing as it sounds. I’m still hanging on after all.

Growing Pains

One of the things that I hate the most about looking back is seeing my reluctance to break away from reviews. I didn’t read book blogs before starting my own, so I unknowingly treated this as an extension of Goodreads and didn’t really know there was room to write about anything else. This isn’t to say that reviews are bad, they’re just not great for me. There are some bloggers capable of writing the most beautiful, unique reviews about every book they read, but I often struggle unless I have a really strong opinion (good or bad).

Going along with that, I had to learn how to be uncomfortable. I knew early on that I wanted to write content outside reviews, but wasn’t sure how…so I turned to memes. Participating in memes gave me a prompt for a post nearly every day of the week and blogging felt easy-peasy. Until everything felt like repetition. Why would anyone want to read my Top Ten Tuesday or Waiting on Wednesday when there were dozens of posts just like it? Learning how to come up with my own ideas and break away from that safety net was really uncomfortable, but felt so good in the end.

It also really bums me out to go back and see that I didn’t know how to say no. I wasn’t hoarding books, but I definitely accepted books that wouldn’t otherwise interest me because I felt like I had to. I had a super confused understanding of the relationship between bloggers and publishers with the assumption that turning down one book meant that nothing else would come my way. That’s just not true and discovering that it’s okay to say no was a huge revelation.

I nailed down the power of no pretty quickly, but it took me longer to realize that it’s okay to skip the buzzy books. Just like the memes, I started to feel like most of my reading was the same as every other book blogger and grew desperate to break away from that. I started focusing more on nonfiction and titles that were flying a little under the radar to mix things up. There will always be big, buzzy titles that grab my attention, but it’s been so nice to discover other books, too.

Honestly, I could go on for pages. And I’m sure I’ll look back at this phase of blogging with the same questioning cringes at some point, but we’ll cross that bridge when we get there. Thanks for hanging on with me through all the learning and (book) loving.

 

  • Oh my goodness, YES to every.single.point in this post. Yes.

    Happy blogiversary!!!

  • Congrats on 3 years! And – I’m so glad to know you also had never read book blogs before starting your own…I was the same and honestly don’t think I ever would’ve started my own blog had I known how many great book blogs were already out there!

    On the buzzy books – I think you do such a great job finding under the radar gems…and you’re definitely one of my go-to sources for those types of books. Of course, as soon as you rave about something, it’s no longer under the radar…at least in blog world!

    • Thanks, Sarah! In a way I’m glad I hadn’t been reading blogs, because there wasn’t really any pressure to meet a specific standard, but I do wish I had done a bit more exploring early on.

  • Kay

    Happy 3rd to you! I agree with several of your thoughts here. I think each of us has to come to find our own comfort zone – our place in this blogging world. And sometimes there are growing pains. For me, having a blog, getting to where it wasn’t fun, stopping blogging, deleting that blog, years passing, missing blogging, beginning again, and then making this second blog what I wanted it to be has been wonderful. I know that I don’t attract a lot of readers and I’m OK with that. I talk about what I want to talk about, share what I want to share, and take breaks when I want to. I’m finding that ‘kay’s reading life’ is becoming an extension of my library self – the one that loved working there and loved reader advisory so very much. I love, love, love suggesting books to people that they might not have heard of and might want to try. And lately, I’m loving talking about books that may disappear from knowledge if we don’t keep them ‘on the shelf’, so to speak. Older books that deserve to be remembered. Well, I talked too long, but again, congrats on finding your ‘comfort zone’.

    • I love that you’re able to take everything you loved about your job and put it into blogging – you can totally tell, too! It feels like a genuine labor of love.

  • Happy blogiversary!!! These are some really great reflections, many related to or spot on to what I’m still working my way through (and probably will be for awhile). I think you do a fantastic job about highlighting books that are more under the radar, in addition to throwing in your input on some of the buzzier books. I know I have picked up many a book based on your recommendation alone, and often feel like I’m your reading twin (except in the nonfiction arena… which I’m working on this year) :)

    One thing I still REALLY struggle with is my relationship with publishers… I can never seem to predict which books I’ll actually get advance copies of, and which of my emails will go ignored completely. I also REALLY struggle with requesting a book, and then either not getting to it, or not having enough to say about it to warrant a review… I feel like I won’t even get another book if I let it slide by…

    On the flip side lately I’ve been getting TONS of emails with random pitches of books that make no sense to me and my interests, or from self-pub authors… and I feel guilty, but I usually tend to not reply at all to those emails… not sure if that’s the best tactic, but eh…. not sure on the correct etiquette there. Is ignoring better than replaying and saying no thanks, not interested? I’m not sure.

    P.S. I wish you WOULD go on for pages and pages, so here’s me asking for a part two of this post :)

    P.P.S. Sorry for the rambling soliloquy in your comments :)

    • I love the rambling! I’m still in the same spot with most publishers, but finally got to the point where just giving a book I requested a shot is good enough for me. I don’t review everything I read, but do often post about books I’ve read in other ways. Maybe that’s not enough for some publishers, but if they aren’t willing to send me more, there’s always the library. It’s felt much better to let go of that “I have to read and review this!” mindset.

      I totally know how the random/self-published requests go, too. Maybe a year or so ago I finally decided to be super explicit in my review policy about the books I will/won’t read and clarify that I don’t review self-published books. And like you, I choose not to respond to the pitches outside that parameter and it’s helped keep me sane.

  • Happy blogiversary! I’ve experienced many of these same things; especially the learning to say ‘No!’ I still struggle with that some time. I really do try to keep reviews as the major part of my blog though, as the main reason I started blogging was to capture my thoughts about a book. (I actually started out with a blog about scrapbooking, but when it became more about books than scrapbooks, I deleted it and started a new blog!)

    • Not saying no still plagues me at times, too! But I feel like a happier reader when I do, so I try to keep it up :)

  • Happy blogiversary! I love your list. I think all bloggers struggle with some form of the things you mention but you seem to have figured out a way to move past it. I definitely struggle with saying no and the reviews game seems to be getting harder and harder.
    But still we’re here. I’ve learned so much from you and I can’t wait to see what else you have in store!

    • Thank you so much :) Saying no is HARD, but I really try to remember that I have to if I want to be a happy reader.

  • I’m glad to hear I’m not the only one who cringes when looking back at some of my first posts. Sometimes I wonder if I should go back and try to ‘fix’ them, but who has time for that? I don’t want to get rid of them, though, because they’re part of my blog, so I just can’t.
    Loved hearing about your 3 year journey. I’m with you on trying to find those gems that fly under the radar – it’s feels so much more satisfying. I do also like to join in the conversation of the more talked about books from time to time, though. Sometimes it’s tough to find that balance. I think you have definitely succeeded in creating a great blog with fresh and interesting posts. Looking forward to another 3 years of following your blog! :)

    • Thank you! You find so many great books that I’ve never heard of, so it’s always a treat to see you raving about something.

  • Happy blogoversary!!!

  • Bryan G. Robinson

    Break away from reviews – yes. I rarely do reviews. Learn how to be uncomfortable- yes. Memes. Blech. Only one here for me (usually): The Sunday Salon and I don’t even call it that anymore. Know how to say no – yes to the no. I have to say no to blogging events too sometimes, often, because I’m just not very good at them. It’s okay to skip the buzzy books – yes. Also why I don’t do reviews sometimes, because everybody else already has said what needs to be said about the buzzy books that I don’t skip. And hopefully you will go on for pages and pages, for us to continue to read your blog. It’s been an enjoyable journey in the short time I’ve been reading your blog and I’m sure it will continue to be so.

    • That’s such a wonderful compliment, Brian, thank you. It definitely feels good to come around and make positive changes…just have to hold on to them!

  • Happy blogiversary to one of my favorites. Your well of great content ideas, thoughtful reviews, and trusted recommendations always keep me coming back, and cheers to many more years.

  • Happy three years! :) Your post hits the nail(s) on the head each time. I think that your points are precisely why you’re still at it, and no doubt will continue on with book blogging.

  • Heather

    Happy blogiversary! Thanks for sharing your growing pains – it’s so hard when you first start blogging and having no clue what to do. And I ALWAYS cringe when I look back at some of my earlier posts. I cringe even more when I see that someone has recently read them…
    I’m always amazed at how much blogs evolve over time – the blogger as well.

    My biggest issue is moving past focusing on reviews. I’d like to include other content (aside from the couple of memes I do), but I don’t have a lot of interest in other things. So I guess in that respect, sticking with the reviews works for me and it’s what I’m comfortable with.

    Anyway, happy blogiversary again. I’m so glad I found your little corner of the internet – it’s been one of my favourite places to visit in the last few months (even if I rarely have anything constructive to add to conversations!). Here’s to loads more blogiversaries :-)

  • Happy blogging birthday!! It’s funny — I feel like I’ve gotten far more into reading at least some of the buzzy books (though that’s not my guiding principle). It took me a while to really discover how much fun it is to read some of those books at the same time everyone else is. But in the early days, I think way more of my reading came from long-ago years, whereas now I do read predominantly from the last, say, five years. Though like everything, that’s probably a pendulum that will, at some point, swing back the other way.

    • It definitely swings for me, too! I keep trying to find a good balance and it seems like mixing ARCs with library books is totally helping.

  • Pingback: It's Monday, January 15th. What Are You Reading? - River City Reading()

  • Happy bloggiversary! I love this post and am so glad you shared these challenges. I’ve struggled with the concept of reviews as well. It’s always been a challenge for me, and writing very traditional reviews is not something that I greatly enjoy. I’ve had to accept this as well, and accept that I can pass on writing a full review of a book whenever I don’t feel the inspiration. Saying no is so important. Also – I think you’ve done a fabulous job of creating a unique style of book blogging and bringing attention to the books you love. It’s a joy to know you, and to read your blog! Cheers to the next year!

    • Thank you so much! I love how you combine your thoughts on books with so many other aspects of your life/personality – it’s such a great way of reflecting.

  • Happy Blogiversary to one of my faves! We started around the same time and I loved you then and love you now! But I know, looking back at old posts makes me cringe also. I’m with you on all of these reflections and the struggle is real. Here’s to many more years and awesome posts! xo

    • I’m so glad to have a little cohort of 2-3 year olds – you’re all so great :) Glad I’m not alone with the cringey old posts.

  • Happy anniversary! And yeah I totally feel you on the growing pains-heck, I ended up totally deleting my first book blog (after investing all the time and money to set up a self-hosted wp one, at that!), because the whole thing was one big (growing) pain lol :) Now I’m back a bit wiser and with a much different perspective on how I want to actually blog! There’s definitely a learning curve with blogging though and we all go through it :)

  • Happy anniversary! I’m just going to say it- I don’t like this post. Why? Because it doesn’t have anything in it about all the great and amazing things you have done as a blogger! You are easily one of the most creative bloggers I know as evidenced by all the different types of content you post and how your themes and formatting just keep getting better and better.

    And then there’s the fact that you are such a sharing person- always willing to help other bloggers. That is a big deal because there are plenty of people out there who hoard knowledge and expertise in the same way of books.

    So, celebrate! I’m thrilled for all you’ve done and all that lies ahead.

  • This is all good advice. Interesting that you were reluctant and uncomfortable breaking away from reviews, because as much as I like your reviews, you are probably the most imaginative person I know regarding non-review posts. I have trouble with reviews but also lack that imagination for non-review posts – not a great combo. :) Thanks for posting this, we can all stand to be remind to push our respective envelopes a bit.

    • Thank you! It really took me a bit to figure out how to write about books if I wasn’t reviewing them and it was kind of awkward at first, but it’s definitely gotten easier.

  • Happy bloggiversary Shannon! My commenting has been abysmal the past several months (or longer) but I love seeing your posts pop up in my Feedly because they’re always so clever and smart. You’ve done a great job of getting creative with your posts and are definitely an inspiration to other bloggers!

  • I like the reviews (doing them & reading them) but I’m sure they’re not for everyone. I think learning to say No is a good one you mention. We all sort of evolve as we go on about this hobby of blogging. Hopefully there have been highs for you too.

  • Happy blogoversary! I love how unique your blog is and the content you share with readers about books. Growing pains are definitely part of it but it’s interesting to see what comes out of it with your blog through these lessons. Thanks for sharing what you learned with us, wishing you another wonderful year of blogging and amazing books to read and share :)

  • Jennine G.

    Happy blogoversary! I agree with the review writing. Sometimes it’s just not working and I used to think I had to review everything I read (because I wasn’t reading a whole lot to begin with). I’ve started this year with not attempting to review every single thing I read.

  • Congrats on the blogiversary! Thanks for sharing some of the ways your blog has changed over time. I know I love the unique post ideas you come up with now :) I still would like to get to doing more non-review posts, but I enjoy writing them and often am reading enough ARCs that they keep me busy. I might need to do some soul-searching for my next blogiversary myself.