9 Things I’ve Learned As a Blogger
I can’t be the judge of what I might have learned in almost five years.
I’m a blogger. A book blogger. I’m happy to say I’m a book nerd. Which probably makes some people wonder what I’m doing floating around Medium when I have my own blog that I can post whatever I want (I don’t just have a book blog after all… I have my own site).
About a month ago, Bookwyrming Thoughts (my own blog) passed its fourth blogoversary. As a blogger myself… I’m heading onto five years. The math sounds wrong. Bear with me.
The past almost five years have been an interesting journey. It’s been a ride of ups and downs, successes and epic fails, and a vastly changing sphere regardless of the topic I’m blogging about.
And in those five years, there’s definitely a few lessons I’ve taken from blogging. Perhaps a golden nugget of wisdom or two will come out. Sharing nuggets is caring (unless they’re chicken nuggets, in which so case the nuggets are mine).
Be passionate about what you blog about. One of the earliest lessons I’ve taken from blogging is actually enjoying what I blog about. Approximately five years ago, I started as a gaming blogger. (The math makes sense now!) I enjoyed it and it was fun. But…
Blogging shouldn’t be a chore. Even as a blogger of five years, I sometimes struggle with this. But a little over four years ago when I was a gaming blogger, blogging became more like a chore rather than something I enjoyed. And because I started to not enjoy my blogging topic, it started to become more of a chore to do. And because it became more of a chore… that blog ceases to exist today.
(Also because I think of it as an embarrassment to my existence. I was 13. I’m embarrassed over current blog’s first posts, which has weird formatting because I’ve gone through 3 designs and haven’t actually updated 350+ posts.)
It doesn’t just apply to blogging, it carries over to real life as well. But that’s a story for another day.
Finding your voice isn’t easy. And it might never be easy. It could take months, it could take years. For me, it took me about two years and then some before my “voice” actually started showing up in my blog posts. It took playing around with different writing styles and tones before I found the one that fit me well — which I label as sarcastically dry humor with cheesy puns when I feel like tossing cheese around. Whether or not everyone else thinks the same I have no clue about. (I mean, there are some who make it obvious they hate my existence from the beginning.)
In fact, I still play around with my writing style today. It’s a constant work in progress. But if I keep editing and editing, I’ll never live to see a post go up.
But once you find your voice, writing those essays in school might not be that bad (still a pain in the side, though).
Unfortunately, reviewing will come and go. I meant for the blogger who is doing the reviews, not the reader who is reading them. Since early 2016 (and basically since my fabulous life went up into drama world and back), I haven’t been up to reviewing. Compared to some of my past reviews, some of my reviews in 2016 are crappy as fudge (although there are definitely some that didn’t go bad) — they’re short and bland and vague… Definitely not my best.
I’m still trying to decide how to cope with that. Does that mean I will be passing on the torch and administrative responsibilities over to one of my cobloggers? Nope! I’m still around and I intend on being around.
Blogging is full of trial and error. I’ve been through so much trial and error, it’s not even funny.
The first Bookwyrming Thoughts design was horrible. The second is probably outdated but it is definitely better than the first. The third (the current one) I chose to not make and decided to edit a pre-made template.
The first time I looked for a coblogger it was hard — because I wasn’t that active in the blogosphere (I’m a shy bean!) and it took me two months before I found one. The second one got kidnapped shortly after. The second time when we found our third coblogger, I had better luck because I bugged the crap out of everyone everywhere. I promise I wasn’t spamming.
The first event I hosted was the Summer Reading Challenge in 2013 and 2014. Not exactly successful, so I didn’t continue it in 2015. The second event, Novel Newcomers, which I hosted with Nori from ReadWriteLove28, was much more successful compared to SRC. That, however, does not say whether or not Novel Newcomers will be successful next year. I suck at spreading the word. (But if you are a book blogger who started in 2016, you should totally sign up. That, of course, is just shameless self promoting. Onward!)
Be active if you want to be [somewhat] known/heard — AKA don’t be a shy bean. I am a naturally shy bean in person. Of course, there are signs that I am certainly a people person… if I had been raised differently. And that shyness certainly leaked through into the online hemisphere, because I didn’t talk unless someone spoke to me first. I promise it’s not because I think I’m a better blogger — I was completely shy about reaching out to a random stranger. (In person I’ve been told I look intimidating and miserable.)
That still happens today, but it’s less often. I’m a little more willing to reach out first now than in 2012. (I’m going to have to if I want to continue Novel Newcomers, which I really want to continue.)
If there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s to be loud. Politely loud, but loud. Join Twitter chats. Don’t be afraid to email or tweet a veteran blogger, no matter how popular they are, for advice. The worse they will do is a) tell you no (most of them won’t do that, honestly), or b) tell you they don’t know the answer, which happens and it is completely normal.
Practice does make perfect… Or at least better. Back in elementary and middle school, I was good at math. Numbers came easily. Okay, I got entered into advanced math when I moved in sixth grade, sucked on the first homework assignment and then got shipped to regular math.
Regular math was too easy for me because I already learned it in fifth grade, but advanced math was a little too advanced for me, so… I guess my teachers had no clue what to do with me so I got stuck in regular math for the rest of year being really bored and sighing internally (I didn’t really show it).
But anyways, I was good at math but I sucked at English and writing and everything related to the two subjects. Primarily because I just hated writing (my mother made me write reading comprehension on a daily basis and as punishment for my mischiefs throughout my elementary years…), and I didn’t speak English most of the time at home (I assure you my English was decent enough that I tested out of ESL).
Long story short, my English and Math skills somehow got switched over the course of my blogging years. English is now my strongest subject, I’m horrible at math and I failed my first Calculus final, much to my mother’s dismay. (I still passed the class, though.)
I tried to get her to tutor me. She refused. What’s it that everyone says these days? I felt salty?
Indie books are not bad. Something I’ve noticed after years of blogging: if you get published traditionally, at least one copy of your book is most likely at a library. If you go through a small publisher or self-publish, your book is not likely to appear at a library. And school libraries most likely does not have a speck of indie (I’m sure there are some that do) unless you go to my high school, because I know there is one small press book.
I was the one who recommended it, the librarian read it and loved it, and now there are maybe three copies or more of Jennifer Anne Davis’s Cage of Deceit. I HAVE LEFT MY MARK! My mission is accomplished and I have left my legacy in the form of a book. I also recommended Red Queen and Snow Like Ashes and Zeroboxer. All great books.
I digress a little. Indie books being “bad” is a stereotype. Most of them are fishy, which is probably why the stereotype originated in the first place. But there are definitely a few amazing gems out there worth reading.
You might become more creative, even a little. As a blogger, I constantly have to come up with ideas and topics to post about, and a lot of those ideas come from virtually anywhere (sometimes I think of it and forget about it later unless I mull over it for a few minutes).
My GIF collection for Halloween (I wanted to do one for Thanksgiving, but I’m a tired college student) were inspired by a weekly GIF feature on a website my professor showed to my class when we discussed blogging. (I really enjoyed that assignment. I mean, blogging! My territory!)
Novel Newcomers was inspired by Meet the Newbies hosted by A Perfection Called Books and The Debut Authors Bash hosted by YA Reads. Instead of debut authors, why not debut bloggers?
Sometimes I don’t want to write a review and just want to write a top five reasons why I really want to slap [insert annoying character name] from [insert book] or top five reasons why you should drop everything and read this book. Much more entertaining, methinks. I blame Bustle and Buzzfeed for the idea, though I’m not sure they would like the first topic of choice.
For a school project I totally suggested a Whodunnit version of a dorm cleaning company. I’m not sure how that would work, but it was out of the box and I just threw it out there, because who knows? It might have worked. It got smacked down with a half eye roll, though. But to each their own. I refuse to apologize for tossing in an odd idea.
Well, now that I think about it… It could definitely work. WHO MADE THE MESS?!
And for my advanced composition class senior year of high school (AKA English101 in college), I wrote an argumentation essay on why I wanted a Pikachu army. Screw wanting the latest technology like everyone else (although latest gadgets are nice) — I want to take over the world with Pokemon! (Yeah, that essay isn’t public. Maybe one day.)