Yesterday, I realized that this May will mark my fourth year of blogging. I know, I can’t believe it either. This blog has seen my move from someone planning for high school to someone planning for college, and it’s made its way through 810 posts, four major redesigns, a host transition, and a name change. I’ve gone from 40 scheduled posts to 4, and back again, and I’ve reviewed some of my very favorite and very least favorite books here.
While blogging is a fundamental part of my life and I have much to thank it for, it isn’t perfect. There’s the huge fights over diversity, Twitter drama, ARCs, publisher policies, FTC guidelines, and everything in between. On top of that, there’s the perpetual personal struggle of playing the numbers and stats game, thinking about your audience, having to choose between reading backlist books or covering the new releases, feeling overshadowed by major bloggers, falling behind on your posting schedule, and not knowing how to change any of it.
Believe me, I know how difficult it can be, but I’ve been really blessed to finally have found some peace in 2016. The year was still a rocky one for the blog, but I hit many personal milestones and found out how to stop worrying and love the blog.
Find a feature you love
In 2016, I started experimenting with different features and challenges. I wanted to break up my schedule a little bit so I would have more time to breathe between reviews, but I never expected how much fun it could be. I attempted the Around the World Challenge, the #Commenting365 Challenge, WWW Wednesday, and the Monday Musts, and I started being a part of Top Ten Tuesday again.
Of the features I tried, the Monday Musts was the biggest winner. It’s the one feature that I try to post every week regardless of if it falls on my schedule or not, and to date, I’ve published 41 entries in it. I love that it allows me to capture snippets of my life at the time by taking a snapshot of what I’m looking and finding interest in week to week. I can go between throwbacks and the newest releases with relative ease and, best of all, I can talk about music.
Blog about something other than books
One of my favorite hobbies is searching for, finding, and recommending music I love. I keep up with Korean music, and I’m also into oldies, instrumentals, rock/pop rock, and a little bit of alternative and indie. I also do rap from time to time (Hamilton counts as rap, right? ;)). It’s something that I love, but I wouldn’t want to run a blog on it. The Monday Musts and, on occasion, Top Ten Tuesday, provide the perfect-sized window for me to talk about what I’m listening to or what’s going on through my view of the music scene. I also post lyric edits on my tumblr. It’s a lot of fun, especially when you find book bloggers with the same music taste as you.
Find bloggers who love the same things you do
This was one of the bigger parts of my blogging life last year. After BEA was long past and things had calmed down a bit, I felt isolated within the blogosphere. Many of the people I talked to actively no longer blogged or had left the community entirely, and I found myself back where I was when I first started blogging. I looked for people to reach out to, and people I knew from past events were fun to reconnect with. I also began talking to Kaitlin @ Mismatched Reader, who was one of the very first blogging friends I made and whom I actually ran a feature (Keepin’ it Real) with wayyyyy back in 2014 when she still blogged at Reading is My Treasure and I was still at RealityLapse.
Kaitlin blogs about anime and manga as well as YA lit, so I thought that she may be interested in kpop and showed her some of the songs I love. Having even just one or two close friends in the blogosphere can change everything, and she was one of the people I was the most thankful for in 2016.
Start a challenge and take it seriously
If you’re a new blogger or you don’t know a whole lot of people in the blogosphere, I would recommend finding one or two blogs that blog about the same things you do and start commenting actively. People in the book community are generally very friendly, and it’s not hard to strike up a conversation.
Alternatively, if you’re shy or don’t want to start talking to people for whatever reason, a good way to get to know people is by participating in twitter chats, blog tours, features, readathons, read-a-longs, or other well-known online events like Bout of Books, Armchair BEA, and OTSP Secret Sister. There are also plenty of groups on Goodreads. Even just being a part of #booksfortrade will get you out in the community. You should also think going to things in real life.
Go to IRL book events
Going to BEA 2016 was the culmination of so many things, and I learned and saw a lot while I was there. It’s one of my most memorable blogging experiences, and I know I won’t forget the people I met while I was there. I got to connect with many of the bloggers I knew even just casually, and it was a great way to see what the blogging community can be all about.
Before that though, I’d been to events from time to time. It’s hard for me to go to launches and signings often, but when I do, it reminds me how amazing the bookish community is, and I get to see authors that I know and love. Altogether, it’s well worth the effort to see what’s happening in your area.
Find ways to get what you want out of blogging
Finally, I would suggest first figuring out what you want from blogging and attempt to get that. For me, there came a point in the late summer where all I wanted to do was slow down, relax, and start thinking about my backlist books. #Slowathon came at just the right time. I came back to books that I’d loved but had no reason to post about again or didn’t have the time to reread. In the end, I was able to take part in reading challenges over the course of a week that was the perfect break for me. Once you know what you want out of blogging, it’s just a matter of going out into the community and seizing one of the many paths to achieving your goal. In other words,
Find a feature you love. This can make all the difference in helping you blog about whatever you’re passionate about. There’s no rule that it has to be all books, all the time. Your blog can be whatever you want it to be, whether it’s 2% music and 98% books or half fashion, half lifestyle, and so on. Taking on challenges and features and participating in IRL events can be a great way to meet the community and get to know bloggers who love the same things you do. If all of that isn’t for you, then mix it up! Figure out what you want to get out of blogging, and go for it using all of the resources of the bookish blogosphere. We’re friendly people, and we’ll most likely be more than willing to help you out if you need people for an event of your own or a tag you want to start.
Thanks for everything, 2016. It was a year of ups and downs and many lessons, and I’m looking forward to what 2017 has to offer! So far, it’s off to a great start. These won’t be the right answers for everyone, but they helped me, and I hope they work for you too! What helps you get through blogging slumps?