Super Late 3rd Anniversary Post & Book Blogging Q&A
I've been meaning to write this post since the end of February. My third year of blogging came and went of March 18th (I checked my domain renewal receipt). As you all know, there was a lot going on at that moment, and none of it included me blogging. I didn't even post on social media about it. But I didn't want to just let it pass because I'd actually planned a cute post, and I'd made one every year in the past. So here we are in May, but better late than never.
Last year, I interviewed myself, so I thought I'd change it up and let you guys ask me the questions. I'm going to share a mix of both. I'm also going to check in on some of my answers from last year because I'm reading that post and while I mostly agree with year old me, I'm also kinda laughing. If you want to check out the other posts, you can read them here (year 2) and here (year 1).
Let's kick it off with two great questions from Instagram and Twitter. I'm putting up the handle of the question askers because they also run great bookish social media, so go check them out! If you have questions that I didn't get to answer, send me a message on social media, and I'll do my best to answer it.
What's your favorite book you've blogged about?
Okay, this is like the impossible question when it comes to book blogging! There have been so many books that I've developed super deep connections with. I've managed to fill a whole shelf and a half with absolute favorites over the course of the last three years. I'd have to say it's You'd Be Mine because it went so far beyond just the one (amazing) book. I had a great time writing the review, but I also genuinely enjoyed doing the photoshoot and promoting it on social media. The review and subsequent Into YA post I did let me get to know the author, Erin Hahn, a lot better, and she asked me to do her cover reveal for her forthcoming sophomore, More Than Maybe. It was an honor to get to do that, and she's one of the most supportive, wonderful people I've met in the industry. I have tons of other books that I could tell similar stories about, which is why I love what I do so much.
How do you find the time and continued inspiration to do a blog, IG, and Twitter, all while having a job and home life and still put out great content?
I love how Sam mentions both time and inspiration because they're both key, and it's really hard to get them to both line up! When I can't get them to align, I have major blogging slumps just like everyone else. But I've definitely managed to blog through some really hectic periods in my life. I think that the key for me treating it like a job and framing it that way in my mind. I've never made any money off the blog, but it has given me tons of opportunities that require that amount of dedication.
If you're a blogger struggling with creating content regularly or you're wondering about more details, my top tip is to take advantage of the good days. When I find myself with a pocket of time and I have ideas, I'll sit down with my blog journal and write it all out. I make a schedule to visualize what's coming up, and I have mental lists of blog and social media posts I want to make. It's hard to keep a balance on a ton of different platforms, but it's always great when you can combine a couple steps. Multitasking and planning have been huge for me.
Some Other Quickfire Questions:
What part have you grown to love more?
Up until now, if you'd asked me about my least favorite part of blogging, I would've told you social media without a second thought. And that's because I had the totally wrong mindset with it. I love my personal Twitter and always have (if you're curious, I'm @mslaurenbrice on there). Why? Because it gives me a sense of community. I love my blog socials now too because I've cultivated them to feel the same way.
For a long time, I thought of my Instagram and Twitter accounts as purely a promotional device. A way to say "Hey! I wrote a blog post!" I always found it awkward and like an obligation every time I logged in. That's a great mindset to make it absolutely miserable. Over the last few months, I think we've all been looking for an extra touch of connection, and I turned to my bookstagram for that. I posted more often, engaged with others genuinely a lot more, and found myself wanting to both spend time there and cultivate better, special content for it. Unintentionally, I've managed to grow it more in the last month than the last year of meh effort. If you needed proof that you get what you give out of the online world, let this be your proof.
If you want in on that extra content make sure you're following @readingwritingandme on Instagram.
Best tips for growing a social media following?
I touched on it above, but my biggest tip boils down to "stop trying so hard". I know how annoying that sounds because if you're wondering this, you'll want to be able to go do something about it. All the tips you've already read online are good and will get you somewhere, but if your heart isn't in it, you might get a few more followers, but they won't be as invested in your content.
Mostly, post photos you're genuinely excited about, ask questions your followers will want to answer, and go through relevant hashtags and find posts you think are super cool and leave a sweet comment you really mean. Stop stressing about the numbers so much.
How important are your blogging stats?
This is something I struggle with a lot. I think it really comes back to What is your goal? If you want to try to make ad revenue from your blog (though I've never met anyone who's had much luck with that in book blogging) or get a sponsorship, you're going to need huge numbers. But that's where having a ton of clicks matters most. If you want to work with major publishers, it's also helpful to have competitive stats. What that means, no one really knows because it's not really talked about. Not having amazing stats doesn't rule out getting an opportunity, though, so don't count yourself out. Once you've formed relationships with authors and publishers, you get asked to do things without having to be selected again based on your past work.
Improving them never hurts, but the quality of your content is always more important than SEO or getting clicks. And, the better your content, the more likely your site is to grow organically. There are ways to help yourself out, but you should only look into them when you've already mastered everything else.
So... college? What do you think about that?
*Why did I write this for myself*
I clearly don't know how to answer this because I don't totally know how I feel. I'll update you when I get there. I'm excited for school and for moving to New York. I'm so happy with where I ended up, and I'm starting to already get to know a couple classmates on social media. The idea of not getting to leave for college has definitely made me totally confident that leaving for New York is the right choice. I feel less afraid than I did back in January.
I'm nervous and apprehensive because I feel like I'm reaching the peak my life has been building to. Not like I'm going to peak in college but that since I was like eight, I've been thinking and dreaming about this moment. Every bad day, every doubting moment, every hard moment, I always pictured myself at college, usually in New York, in a better situation. Most adults I've met have told me that college will be where I thrive. I'm scared that school (even an amazing school) can't live up to that level of expectation. Also, I've never pictured my life past college. I have no clue what's next. That's scary.
Favorite authors lately?
I've been loving so many new books. My favorite authors list is ever growing. I'm still obsessed with Look by Zan Romanoff at the moment. She's done a lot of interesting pop culture writing that you can find on her website too. I need to read her other books. I've also recently enjoyed Marissa Kanter, Dana Thomas, Phil Stamper, and Liz Lawson.
Thoughts on hyped books?
I planned this question before the new Twilight book got announced, but it feels fitting now. I'm generally not a fan of hyped books. Not because they're bad, just because they build so much expectation that even the most brilliant book could never live up to the expectations they build. I love discovering a book that I'd never heard about before and slowly realizing just how brilliant it is. I also really dread disliking popular books because I feel like I'm raining on people's parades, so a lot of the time (unless the book sounds absolutely amazing), I just skip it.
The other part of it is that I blog because I want to champion the books I love. I find it a lot more satisfying to talk about books that aren't getting enough attention in general or from their marketing teams. I just feel so much more connected to it and invested.
Do you have to buy a ton of books to make it on bookstagram?
Nope. I threw this one in because I wanted to drive that point home. When things reopen, the library is an amazing resource for endless books to take pictures of. Having a giant home library definitely makes it easier, but it is by no means required. I recently gave away tons of books, and it's left me with two shelves worth to work with. I have to get creative to make the same books feel fresh and new, but I love the challenge. Even if you only have a handful of books, don't let that stop you! Your phone makes the perfect, easy to use camera too.
Checking in with Second Year Post:
Hardest Part of Blogging?
Now: Figuring out how to keep it exciting and engaging for me and all of you.
Tips for Starting Out?
Then: 1) Use the library 2) Put Yourself Out There
Now: I stand by those answers. Don't be afraid to talk to authors you admire or email publicists if there's an opportunity you want. The worst thing that can happen is that you get ignored. Also, just make content that makes you happy, and don't feel pressure to read a book because everyone else is.
Don't get in your head about it. Just start.
What Do You Want To Learn for the Future?
Then: Graphic Design/Digital Art
Did I do it? Kinda? It took me almost a year, but I am making all of my graphics from scratch now to force teach myself graphic design. I'm forcing myself to learn through doing (so sorry for all the messy stuff you have to look at while I'm figuring it out). I've been using Affinity Photo because you don't have to subscribe monthly. To add to that, I've also been learning more about photography and photo editing to apply it to my blog photos. Again, I'm taking a very learn as I go approach because that's the only way I stick to things, but I'm trying.
New Goal: I'm not totally sure. I think I just want to keep improving and innovating in spaces I'm already working in. To branch out from specifically the blog, I want to learn more about video.
What's Coming Up On The Blog:
Then: More guest posts and author interviews; a fourth day for the schedule
Now: It's actually about the same now! I want to post more often, and I love getting to work with authors. The different, special posts are the ones that make me most excited, so I guess look out for more creative posts.
Sooooo... The Future of the Blog?
I'll be here giving it my all for the foreseeable future. I'm not sure what the blog will look like as I get older and as my life gets busier. I know I'll always have it in my life in some capacity, though. I've been a dedicated reader my entire life, so I doubt that will change. And I've gotten too used to having other people to talk about books with. It would be so weird to finish a book and not come up with something to say about it. What I read might. I'm already seeing my tastes widen which I think is super cool. And how often/how long I post will probably shift. It's changed a lot over the last three years, and that will continue. For the next couple months, at least, this blog and MusicMusingsandMe will be my focus because they do make me really really happy and fulfilled when it comes down to it. I put in a lot of work here, and I'll continue as long as someone is out there enjoying it.
If there's something different, new, or extra you want to see going forward, don't be afraid to comment, and if you're an author, reach out to me! My favorite part of blogging is working with authors to get their work out there. Just send me an email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or send me a DM.
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