Ten Lessons I’ve Learned from Ten Years of Book Blogging

Posted October 24, 2019 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Writing / 10 Comments

Ten years ago, I started this blog, as a was a way to work through my thoughts; the ten lessons I’ve learned from ten years of book blogging. So much has changed with the way I approach blogging and I wanted to share with you what I have learnt and my current mindset. Originally this blog was documenting my journey into philosophy, literature and culture. I had another blog called Literary Exploration that was my book blog, I was a new reader and used the blog to review every book I read. As a literary explorer I approached literature with the intention to find great books in all genres. However, the main motivation for having a book blog was trying to get ARCs (advance reader copies) and interact with the thriving book blogging community. That blog is now gone, and I have merged the two blogs here. While I mainly use this for my book blogging my approach to literature is different now, so I wanted to share my current attitude to blogging.

Blog for yourself and no one else

While researching what others say, I think my advice here is opposite to everyone else’s. I find that it is important to make sure you are writing content that you would want to read. While I do not like much of my older content, there was a time I would create content that I thought would get views, even if it did not interest me. Things like tags and blog hops often bored me but it was useful for getting people to view my blog, however often I got a hit spike on that one post and nothing else.

Do not feel obligated to anyone

As a book blogger, I often have people asking for reviews and publishers sending unsolicited books. For a time, I tried to read anything I was sent, as a literary explorer, I wanted to give everything a chance. However, these people were asking for product endorsements, and while I was getting free books, I had to learn not to put pressure on myself to please others.

Find your niche

After years of being a literary explorer, reading books in all genres, I eventually figured out what I liked and did not like. I think it is an important step to find what you are passionate about and focus on that. While trying something new is a great way to keep things fresh, it can be very difficult if you are changing who you are to suit the readership or the books you have been sent.

Change happens

In the ten years of blogging, my tastes have changed, and this comes from finding your niche, but also being aware that it might not always be your niche. As you grow and develop you start to understand what you like or don’t, but you also develop new interests, that can send you on a completely new path. Be willing to adapt and follow your own interests.

Don’t fixate on the numbers

I think book blogging is very different now than it was when it was in its prime. You might not get the traffic you would like but I think the most important thing is to continue writing content that you like writing. I noticed a big dive in views and comments when Google Reader ended, and over the years people have changed the way they approach content. Comments may be a thing of the past, they can be rare, and if you are writing for the interactions with people, you need to actively go out and interact on their blogs, because that is where you are likely to find those conversations.

You will hate your old content

Part of growing and developing comes with a negative; you will hate all your old content. I constantly fight the urge to delete everything and start again and while I think this might be healthy, I still worry I would regret deleting. If anything, archiving your content is the best option. One of the main reasons I don’t remove the old content is mainly because it shows how much I have changed.

Slumps happen

I feel like I am in a creative slump at the moment and while I feel bad for not writing, I am very aware that this happens. I am confident that this slump will end, and I try to think of my blog as a collection of my writing rather than something that I need to update every few days. This helps me, but it might not work for you, sometimes forcing yourself to create content is the most effective way to get out of slump. I know the more content I make the more I want to keep making.

You don’t have to post everything

When I first started reviewing books, I wrote a review for every book I read, and sometimes I wish I still did that. However, not every book needs a review. Not all books are meant to be criticised or analysed, sometimes a book is just for pleasure and doesn’t have to go any further. Also, there will be times where you write something that you are not sure works, you don’t need to make them public. I have written a lot of content where I am trying to figure out my own thoughts or understand what I feel, most of those get posted because I want a record of my thoughts and my writing, but many of these cases should have been kept off the internet.

People read differently

One of the biggest lessons I have learnt is that no book is read the same way by two different people. Some people find something unique to them and their writing follows that thread. Some people want to write a synopsis and call it a review, while others have some great insights. Finding your confidence in what you have written can be hard, but your thoughts will always be different to everyone else.

There is always someone better

I hate to say it, but there is always a better writer out there than you. This doesn’t mean you should quit; it means you have something to strive for. I know I have a long way to go in my own writing, but I find comfort here. I have to remind myself daily that I will not improve unless I practice. I wish I was as talented as the people I admire; I wish this came easily to me, but I know that without practice I am never getting any better.

Blogging has been a great experience for me, it has been a big part of my literary and personal growth. Without my blog, I feel like my passion would have run out of fuel a long time ago. The blog is a way to express my thoughts and feelings but most importantly it is a place for me to practice my craft and improve. This is the main reason I blog; this is the main reason I keep my old content there. I have learnt so much from the mechanics of blogging that I would probably do things differently if I was to start again, but I think this blog has become a big part of me.

10 responses to “Ten Lessons I’ve Learned from Ten Years of Book Blogging

  1. I really enjoyed reading this post. Clearly, you’ve learnt some valuable things and have some good advice to pass on to others. It’s weird, isn’t it, that TEN whole years have gone by since we both started book blogging? I hope you get your blogging enthusiasm back and stick around for another decade or two. Whatever you do, don’t ever trash your blog, because you *will* regret it – take it from one who knows. 🙂

    • The queen of trashing blogs has spoken! While the idea of starting fresh is always appealing to me, I think I would archive my blog before doing that, rather than deleting. You never know, I might want an old post in the future.

      I hope I get my enthusiasm back, I miss it, I want to write more. I need the practice

  2. I love blogging. I do it mainly for myself, it’s a supplement to the book journals I’ve been keeping for years and I love to be able to look back at what I read a while ago, even if the reviews are not as good as they could be. (You’re right, practice does lead to improvement but it’s also that your experience as a reader grows. !)
    But I also know that authors really appreciate someone taking the time and trouble to engage with their book. This obviously doesn’t happen (obviously!) with classics and books from long ago, but it’s a real pleasure to me to know that some books haven’t had the attention they deserve and that my review has cheered the author who thought the book was being ignored altogether.

    • I hate being in a blogging slump, while I don’t review all the books I read, it’s still useful to have some of them. I am not happy with my reviewing style, I feel like I want to evolve, talk about books in a more essay style, rather than a straight review (if that makes sense), but I’m not happy with my current attempts

  3. I’m another long term book blogger and I enjoyed your article. I’ve never considered deleting old posts though, I’m really proud of the bank of book reviews I’ve built over the years. I love knowing I can re-visit my reviews every time I want to remember a reading experience. I don’t blog for views, but I do remember the high I experienced when I surpassed the 1M mark and it gives me great joy every time I receive a new subscriber.

  4. Very interesting – lately I have received a few books that I didn’t request and don’t really look like my thing – so I’m debating whether to review one that arrived today but is only out in Feb next year. It kind of looks interesting but at the same time, I’m not 100% sure about it – and I can’t put my finger on why.

    • Trust your instincts, you know what you like and what you would want to read. The pressure to read books that are sent unsolicited can be a struggle, on one hand you want to continue to receive books but then again, you want to read what interests you. In the end I found it better to stick to my interests then to have my reading dictated by the publishers

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