My blog turned four years old last week and I’m amazed at how quickly the time has flown by and yet how it feels like I’ve been blogging forever all at the same time. After four years of blogging, I feel like a lot has changed in how I approach my writing and reading habits!
So many bloggers have excellent, creative features! When I was just starting out, I wanted so badly to be one of those creative people. I tried to create some new features (whether with other bloggers or on my own) and I’ve seen so many things come and go until something finally stuck. I almost don’t even want to tell you what “failed” because I’m still so embarrassed by some of my newbie posts but I will say that the things that stuck were things that were naturally me! Features like Book and a Beverage and Pub Date incorporate other parts of my life that I wanted to share and My Latest Bookish Addiction easily fell into the theme of my blog. They were easy for other people to relate to (although Pub Date less since it was a bit more specific of a focus) and things like Book and a Beverage invited other people to join in which really kept it going!
Things that ended up “failing” or fading ended up either being too much work (Book Blogger Organization Challenge) or just things that were interesting in concept but really hard to execute (Freaky Friday lasted a whole two posts, I think. I will not even link you to that. It was awful). Read Alongs also really ended up in this sort of realm where I started an epic read along but by the end of it, people forgot/didn’t have time/didn’t care to keep up so the interest really waned.
I can’t really offer advice on what works or what doesn’t as far as your own blog feature goes but I will always advise to shoot for something that already fits with what you love! If you’re involving participants, my best advice is to keep it short so you don’t lose people who forget that things are going on. And make sure it’s something that you can keep up with in the long run too! If you can only think of a few ideas when you start it or if you foresee it’s going to be a lot of work, really think about if that’s something you want to start as a feature and maybe instead do it as a one-time post.
I didn’t even know ARCs existed when I started blogging. I found out about Netgalley and LibraryThing and I was like “Whoa, whoa. You can request to read books for FREE? And EARLY?” Four years later, I will admit that ARCs are still shiny things for me. It’s hard to resist the offer when I see a book on Netgalley/Edelweiss or get an email from a publisher. I’m really bad at saying no anyway and when it’s a book that I have interest in, it’s so hard to turn down if I think I might enjoy it!
So has my opinion on ARCs changed in the last four years? A little bit. They are still shiny and exciting for me but I am able to be a bit more selective. (I said a BIT more, those of you who know me well. I’m trying!) I’ve gotten better at not saying yes to every opportunity because I do take the commitment to read them seriously. I’ll be totally honest and say that there are a lot I haven’t gotten to but I do still hope to read them some day. I do request them with the intent to read them and although some don’t get read before their publication dates, I do still want to be able to review them and share my thoughts.
I’ve really gone back and forth many, many times on making an ARC “schedule” for myself. I’ve gone from telling myself I have to read X amount of ARCs each month to trying to read as many as possible to saying “screw it, I’m reading whatever” and now I’m sort of back to trying to do a good job of reading some before pub date. I’m not going “in order” any more which means I’ve been able to read quite a few long before the pub dates and then I don’t have to worry about them later!
I’ll admit that I do still get a little ARC envy but nowadays it’s more for the authors that have become my favorites and I’m dying to read their next book. Other than that, nothing is really insanely urgent with the exception of some buzzed debuts. When it comes down to it, my issues always lie with overcommitting so I’m really trying to be more mindful of what I accept to review.
I’ve never really had a set schedule on what I post on which days but in the past year or so, I’ve started posting every week day. I don’t feel like I have to but for a while I had a lot of content and was able to work ahead so I had a post for every day of the week. Lately I’ve been feeling… not burned out but less creative so it is starting to slow down a bit but it’s more on the creative side of things. I feel like there’s SO much out there and there are so many book bloggers that I’m really trying to come up with unique posts and it can be hard! I don’t want to get in this unbreakable rhythm of review, Top Ten Tuesday, review, Book and a Beverage, freebie day but my posts have started taking on a bit of a pattern when I’m feeling uncreative. It’s actually kind of nice to fall back on sometimes but the struggle is real to come up with new and exciting ideas! I don’t feel like I HAVE to keep up the 5-day posting “schedule” but so far I’ve been able to keep up with it. It feels weird when I skip a day but I know that it’s my blog and there are no rules I need to keep up with!
I have gotten SO. BAD. at commenting on other blogs and commenting back on my own. Honestly between reading and writing posts and keeping up on social media and making candles and you know, my full-time job… it’s just so hard to keep up with comments. I truly cherish every single comment made on my blog and I feel so bad that I have such a hard time replying! I remember a few years ago, I used to comment on some big blogs at the time and I got so frustrated when I kept commenting and commenting and the blogger never replied to me or came to my blog to leave a comment… And now I’ve become that person!! The time gone by and experience gained has really shown me that it wasn’t because this blogger was snubbing me — she was just a blogger with a lot of followers and at a certain point in time, it’s just hard to keep up!
I do try to visit my blog feed and click on any good posts I may see on Twitter and go comment right away. It’s gotten a bit overwhelming, especially with the amount of friends I’ve gained over the years!! I’ve been fortunate to get to know so many people that it’s impossible to keep up with everyone’s blog and comment all the time. Now I know that it’s not something to take personally because I’ve had the experience where I’m trying so hard to stay in touch on social media, continue creative posts, and keeping up with all of my actual work that comments somehow ended up being the lowest thing on the priority totem pole. It doesn’t mean that I don’t care! I always love comments and I do try to stop by people’s blogs so if you’ve ever been feeling like I’m not replying to you, please don’t feel ignored! You can always hit me up on Twitter because it’s easier for me to reply there, especially when I’m on the go!