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[LET’S CHAT] You Don’t Need to Follow All the Blogging Advice

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I know what you’re thinking.

“But, Mikaela, you’re giving all this blogging advice this month! What are you talking about???” But, here’s the thing: all blogging advice does not work for everyone. I know that. In the (almost) six months I’ve been blogging, there’s been some helpful advice I’ve taken or should’ve taken sooner, and there’s been some advice that I just ignored. And I survived.

So, I wanted to talk a little about some of the advice that helped me in my blogging career, and some of the advice that I had different experiences with or just aren’t “me” things, because I love talking about my experiences just in case someone else is panicking about these things and doesn’t feel alone, I guess? But let’s get to it!

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1. You must comment back to create relationships.

I have never commented back. Like, ever. And even though I want to work on doing it more, I know that I probably won’t do it ALL the time. I know that, if I’m being honest with myself, commenting back just isn’t my thing. And I know there are some bloggers that consider commenting back as sacred, which is great for them, and will look down on bloggers who don’t do it all the time, and oh well! But, I feel like I’ve made a lot of close blogging friends and created great conversations in my own comments section without feeling like I’m obligated to go comment on someone else’s blog just because they comment on mine. I just prefer thinking that people comment on my blog because they WANT to, and not because they want to add me as a number in their own comments section, but that’s just me!

2. To get on all the social media accounts.

Before blogging, I was anti-social media. I had zero social media accounts. Zero. So, I was really worried when I saw so many bloggers say that to get your blog out there, you need to promote on social media accounts, and listing all the ones you could use. And it was just SO MANY. So, for the first couple of months of blogging, I had no social media. And I got over 150+ followers and pretty good stats and e-ARCs from Netgalley that I was dying for. So don’t feel like your lack of social media means that your blog will never thrive.

3. To ask for ARCs at the 6-month, 500 followers deadline.

I know when I wanted to request physical ARCs, I was SO NERVOUS. I read, like, probably hundreds of “How To” posts, and so many of them said that you should wait until you’ve been blogging for six months and have at least 500 followers. I ended up requesting for physical ARCs after three months, and probably a little over 200 followers. Though I ended up only getting e-ARCs of some of the physical ARCs I requested, I DID end up getting my first ever physical ARC from St. Martin’s Press, and that was He Said/She Said by Erin Kelly! So, don’t stress about it. Who knows what will happen?

4. Do memes to reach out as a newbie.

Lots of veteran bloggers usually recommend doing memes to reach out, and I tried to do that, but, unfortunately, I didn’t enjoy it! And I was bored with checking out other people’s WWW Wednesdays. And I didn’t even really meet any fellow bloggers that way. So it’s perfectly fine to not want to join in on the meme hype if you’re a newbie blogger. I gave up on it after posting just a couple of them every week in favor of more original content, and, eventually, it increased my readership to what it is today, so it works out in the end!

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1. Make a blogging schedule.

I’m going to talk about this more in a separate post next month, but when I first started out, I didn’t have a blogging schedule. I just posted sporadically, at different times every day, and it was a terrible idea. I once posted three reviews three days in a row, and the third day I posted, my review only conjured up 5 views. 5 VIEWS. It wasn’t until March where I created a blogging schedule, and it wasn’t until mid-April that I created one that I really enjoyed, and I still keep up to till this day! Personally, it’s something that’s really worked well for me, especially as a planner and one who likes to get ahead.

2. Be consistent.

Again, was definitely not consistent when I started out. Oops. But I know that I really prefer posting things that people expect on the days that people expect them. And I know I’m more likely to follow and pay attention to a blog where I know how many posts I’m expecting from them each week or month. It’s always personal preference, because I know there are some people who are sporadic and that’s just who they are.

3. Write a lot of discussion posts.

Okay, not A LOT. But some. Or maybe even one a month. But discussion posts are not only my favorite posts to read and comment from other bloggers, but pretty much everyone can relate to them, and, it’s true, they do a wonder for your stats. I personally love writing them, and I love the discussions they produce, and I probably won’t stop.

4. Get on Twitter.

I resisted getting on Twitter forever because as someone who’s not on Twitter, just letting you know, it’s viewed as a cesspool (other people’s words, not mine!). BUT, I went ahead and did it. Still not my favorite social media, but it’s a very nice platform for sharing things and getting things out there for other bloggers!

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And those are just some of my experiences with blogging advice!

But, really, you don’t need to! Even with my advice you don’t need to listen to it and do EXACTLY what it says, unless you feel like it’ll work for you. It’s YOUR blog, therefore you can do whatever you want with it, whether other people like it or don’t – which is totally awesome.

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Just another quick reminder that we are in Phase 2 of the Big Blogger, Little Blogger Project, where we dedicate an entire post on our own blog to the Little Blogger we’ve been supporting! If you don’t know what I’m talking about or aren’t very clear about it, the link to the instructions is here! Whenever you publish it, just link it back to one of my posts so I can see it and take note of it! I’m hoping to post the masterpost sometime in July, so hopefully you can get them done in time!

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How do you feel about blogging advice? What are some pieces of blogging advice that you followed or didn’t follow?

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[LET’S CHAT] Is There a Difference Between a “Successful” Blogger and a “Big” Blogger?

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Welcome to yet another Let’s Chat!

Today, the topic I want to tackle is whether there’s a difference between a successful book blogger and a big book blogger. I talked about what blogging success means to you in a Let’s Chat a while back, and I guess this is the post where I’m going to expand on the topic a little bit.

(Also, this is officially my 100th post on my blog! Have I really been posting that much? Damn.)

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As I said in my post about blogging success, I mentioned that everyone has different standards for what that means to them, much like they might for what a “big” blog is.

My views on what being successful is are probably much different from other bloggers’ ideas, and that’s totally fine. I don’t really believe there’s a right or wrong way to want to blog or what you aspire to achieve. But because we’re all on such different wavelengths regarding success, that also leads to how we label “big blogs.”

For me, my idea of success would be having a great ability to network (having lots of followers on social media and being friends with authors and publicists) and also having a large readership, especially in terms of comments. I actually don’t think I’m doing too well at the networking, but though my readership isn’t SUPER large, I’m actually quite satisfied with what I have now and the response I get from you guys. So, my outlook on a “big” blog is one that gets a lot of reader interaction and those who always manage to talk to authors on social media flawlessly and get ARCs easily because of their friendships with publicists.

But, for Random Book Blogger, her idea of success regarding her blog might be just getting a few comments on her blog and growing her bookstagram following. So, for Random Book Blogger, a “big” blogger might be one who gets a TON of comments on all of their posts and also manages to post pretty bookish photos twice a day and has over twenty thousand followers on bookstagram. So, obviously, between me and Random Book Blogger, we probably have different bloggers that we look up to or inspire us.

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This leads into a little discussion about what a “big” blogger really is.

Of course, around the book blogosphere, a “big” blogger will mean something different to everyone, like I’ve pointed out earlier. Personally, mine have changed a lot over the short time I’ve been blogging – some of the blogs that I considered “big” aren’t ones that I’d think I’d consider that way now since I like to think we’re on the same level, sort of (though there are still blogs that I consider bigger, and it still freaks me out that they follow me). Someone who has only five followers or just started book blogging will probably have different standards for a “big” blogger than someone who has a large following on social media and their blog and receives a lot of comments or someone who’s been blogging for years and years.

Though “big” book blogs can be different for everyone, we all know those bloggers that anyone can mention, and everyone will say, “Oh, yeah, I love that blogger, too!” Or the blogs that it seems like everyone follows. Or those bloggers that everyone says are super nice and funny and amazing. Or those bloggers that always inspire other bloggers to do things. And no matter what, I’m sure everyone wants to be THAT type of book blogger.

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But does being a “big” blogger mean that you’re a “successful” blogger? Not necessarily. 

I’m not a “big” blog by any means – at least, to my standards I’m not – but I do like to consider myself a successful blogger (and a hella lucky one, as well). I get e-ARCs of books that I want, I have stats that I’m not only proud of but still shocked that I even have, I enjoy writing the posts I write and publishing them, and I don’t think I’m doing TOO terrible on social media (but, then again, that’s just me).

And that’s why I feel like we need to shatter the stigma that “big” blog = “successful” blog. Because even if you don’t get all the hottest ARCs or are friends with amazing authors or get lots of comments or have the best stats or are terrible with keeping up on social media or suck at blogging design and graphics, it doesn’t make you any less successful than the biggest book blogger out there. As long as you’re hitting your own goals regarding your own blog, you, my friend, are definitely successful. And who knows? Maybe those “big” blogs you look up to feel like they’re not doing that great of a job either and that they’re a hot mess or feel uninspired and down about their blog at times.

(Trust me, this is the sort of pep talk that even I need to hear sometimes to this day.)

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And that’s it for all my rambling!

Anyway, I just wanted to take the time to say that I’ll actually be on vacation by the next time I post to New York City, which will be my first time there! I’ll be there for five days, not only for Bookcon, but also just for a family vacation. I will still be active on this blog, probably! I already have all my posts written and edited, so all I need to do is post them, so you probably won’t even realize I’m gone! But if something goes wrong, like I’m not on Twitter much or I’m failing to get to all of your posts, you’ll know why!

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Do you think there’s a difference between a “successful” blogger and a “big” blogger? What is your definition of a big blogger? Do you think you’re successful in terms of your blog goals?

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[LET’S CHAT] Should Book Reviews Be Subjective or Objective?

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Apparently, I’m on a roll with Let’s Chats about reviewing this month!

I thought a nice blogging-related topic would be talking about book reviews, in some sort of capacity. I talked about book reviews earlier this month (and was unexpectedly successful), but this month, I wanted to talk about HOW you should write book reviews. There’s always been a constant chatter about whether book reviews should be written as a subjective viewpoint or from an objective viewpoint, and even some talk about whether you should recommend a book you personally didn’t like.

I review subjectively. Mainly because I like to keep track of my own thoughts and opinions on a book, and I don’t believe that I should rate a book higher or lower depending on how the general public should receive it, but I know there are some people who think completely different on the subject. So, I thought it’d be nice to present some pros and cons for both – subjective and objective reviews.

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1. People can know your accurate thoughts. I know that when I’m reading a review from a subjective viewpoint, it means I know the reviewer’s thoughts on the book. Not only that, but it means I learn more about the reviewer and their likes and dislikes, so I can recommend books to them I think they might like!

2. If you share the same opinions as that reviewer, it will help your decision. If I know that that reviewer has the same taste in books as I do or I just trust their reviews in general, then I know if I should spend my time and/or money on the book! It’s always nice to have people who have the same viewpoints in your Reader.

3. You can keep track of your own personal thoughts on books. I know it’s much better for me to keep track of my opinions on books if I talk about my feelings and ratings regarding them. How would I be able to know how I felt about books if I only rated and reviewed them from a critical standpoint?

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1. They might be biased. I mean, duh. We’re all susceptible to our favorite tropes, a cool concept, or our favorite authors. I mean, do you think I’d be able to resist giving a Sarah J. Maas thriller novel or a V.E. Schwab magical realism novel five stars, whether they’re flawed or not? I don’t think so. I’m weak. We all are when it comes to our favorite things.

2. People might not trust your opinion. This could link back to point number one. If people know you’re biased against or for a certain author or trope or series, they might not be able to trust your opinion on that specific author or trope or series and turn to a more critical reviewer that will look at all sides.

3. We all see things differently. I mean, duh. Books are a form of art, and art is always open to interpretation, therefore all bookworms will see things differently. I mean, even for a hyped book that seems loved by everyone – like Six of Crows – there are still one-star reviews for it on Goodreads if you go looking out for them. So a book that you love might be the worst book to someone else, and subjective reviews might not help others. Not to mention that some books are more important to others than they would be to you, which might not help others either.

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1. Your reviews aren’t biased. Again, another obvious one. I mentioned this point before earlier, but it’ll definitely help others if you’re not attached to a certain series or author to the point where you can’t give them less than five stars.

2. You can observe the book critically. This is always a good thing! I mean, it’s definitely nice to know that you have the ability to separate your personal feelings from reviewing something since it’s hard for SO MANY people to do that in not just reviewing books, but just all facets of life.

3. It will improve your general skills of taking things apart. I mean, this might not be as applicable to those who are already adults, but if you’re still in school, it’s always nice to develop a sort of skill for being able to observe things from a critical standpoint. I mean, I know I suck at reports in general, so this would be a big additional help.

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1. You might not trust the reviewer. I mean, it’s a bit hard to be able to trust somebody if they say the only reason they like a book is because it’s objectively good. I can name lots of books that I think were good objectively, but I still absolutely hated them and gave them a one star, so it really means nothing to me in the long run.

2. It makes reading less fun. I’ve seen lots of people say that blogging has made them more critical regarding reviews, but it’ll probably be even worse once you start reviewing objectively. You’ll have to look at all the details, read carefully, find quotes backing up evidence, keep track of notes, etc. And, personally, I just read a book because I like reading, damn it! And it wouldn’t be fun to have to keep track of all my thoughts while doing that.

3. You’ll have unrealistic expectations for books. I know that when I often followed snarky reviewers on Goodreads, they often had these crazy high expectations for books sometimes, and I feel like we sometimes do, too. I mean, no matter what, there’s no such thing as an objectively perfect book, and it might ruin the fun of reading and reviewing if you have to examine every little flaw and can’t enjoy a book for what it is.

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And those are just a few of the pros and cons I could think of!

We as book reviewers all have different opinions on how we should review, but I don’t think we should stress about it. Contrary to popular belief, I don’t think people who review books owe anything to anyone – they can like and dislike any book they’d like, can rate a book the way they’d like to, or read a book however they want to – and they shouldn’t stop reviewing just because they don’t do a thing you don’t like (I’ve seen people say this and just…what???). Much like how authors don’t owe readers anything whatsoever; it’s their work at the end of the day.

So, it’s all up to you whether you review subjectively or objectively! Though I personally review subjectively, we are free to review however way we want to!

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Do you review subjectively or objectively? Which type of review do you prefer reading? What are your thoughts about both?

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[Let’s Chat] Do You Talk About Your Blog In Real Life?

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Something that probably won’t be a surprise to all bloggers out there is the fact that we have lives outside of blogging.

I know; such a surprise, right? But, it’s always made me wonder how many of us separate blogging and the “real world,” in a sense. I know that I, for sure, compartmentalize. If you met me in real life, I’d be a totally different person than how I act on the Internet.

So, I decided I’d like to talk about my personal experiences with talking about my blog in real life. Obviously, there aren’t too many because I just don’t like doing it at all, but, hey, why not talk about it anyway.

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So, my close family does know that I blog. There’s an accomplishment right there!

I have to say, the only reason my family knows is the fact that I used to have the crappiest laptop that I got when I was, like, twelve or something, so I decided to use my mom’s, and I had to ask permission before I just spent hours and hours on her laptop (and, BOY, did I spend hours and hours on there. Not like I don’t do that now). I ended up getting a laptop a couple weeks later for Christmas that actually works and is totally awesome, which I wasn’t expecting, so it was such a grateful surprise!

I’d say that my mom is the one who cares more than my dad and my younger brother. My dad knows that I blog and doesn’t really talk to me about it (thank God), and you know how siblings work; my brother doesn’t give a damn about what I do, and same I feel the same about his interests (we’re total opposites; he’s an extrovert, and I’m an intorvert). But my mom is the one who has continually always wanted to get into my business. True story: when I used to be on Wattpad, she created her own account, and pretended to be a girl around my age in order to learn more about my stories because I wouldn’t talk to her about it in real life. And you might be thinking, “LOL, Mikaela; that sounds nuts.” BUT IT’S TRUE. Obviously, I don’t think my mom can do that now since it’s harder to start a random blog account as opposed to Wattpad, but she always keeps trying to pry information about it to me and wants to advertise it to all her friends, and I don’t want that. Mainly because I want my success to be my own, and, also, I just don’t want my mom to know everything about my blog.

Maybe it’s just me, but I’d just rather do stuff on my own regarding things I’m proud of, without the help of my parents. And I also just want one bit of myself out there on the Internet that my mom doesn’t know about much about. Maybe it’s the fact that I’m a teenager that makes me feel that way, but I’d just much prefer a little bit of distance. Just a little.

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Now, regarding friends,  it’s a whole different ballgame for me. I have never mentioned to my friends that I have a book blog. Except one. And that’s basically it. 

I’ve already mentioned a million times about how I don’t really have anyone to talk to regarding books, so this place is where I like to go to express that. It’s again akin to the whole thing with my mom; I just want a little corner of the Internet that’s separate from my life in the real world. I actually had one of my friends read my Wattpad stories before I deleted them, and I always found it so amusing that she truly enjoyed reading them. It always made me nervous, but it was nice to know that she really appreciated my writing, but, for some reason, I feel totally different regarding blogging.

Also, okay, I might have a TINY fear that they might find it weird that I take pictures of books, and I consider that a hobby. Or that I have all these people following me because they think I’m cool or whatever. I’m not the only one who has those types of fears, right? RIGHT?

I have to say, sometimes it sucks when something amazing happens regarding my blog, but I don’t really feel like I can celebrate it with my friends because they don’t know about it, but remembering that I can fangirl on Twitter or on my blog and have people who truly understand me is what makes me happy and actually makes up for it, in a way.

And if my blog became public knowledge to my school?

haha no

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For me, those are the only two categories in my real life that I can talk about, but I’m sure there are other people that have some others, such as bloggers older than me who have co-workers and such.

To me, the general consensus is that I just really like to have something private that I’d like to keep to myself. Obviously, it’s not private in the way most people would say it’s private, since I’m still posting my stuff on a public blog, and also promoting it all on sorts of social media accounts, but I consider blogging something that I keep separate from the real life, and that works for me.

Also, to those who are probably like, “Where did the #DregsDiverseathon sign-up go?” I deleted it! Long story short, I wasn’t really ready to post it, but I didn’t really have anything to go up for Monday, so I made a terrible decision to post something for the sake of something. So, the readathon isn’t gone forever; I have it in my drafts, and I probably will wait to host it later this year or something! But everything’s good!

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Do you talk about your blog in real life? Have you had any weird experiences with that? Why do you talk or not talk about your blog in real life?

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[LET’S CHAT] What Makes An Original Book Blogger?

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Ah, yes, one of the biggest questions when you enter the blogosphere: do you have to be an original blogger?

I feel like that’s something that every blogger sees as some sort of requirement. Even in my own post when I talked about what makes me follow a book blog, I said that I really liked seeing original content that would continually inspire me. And, also, who wants to see a blog that looks like pretty much every other blog? We don’t just push creativity and non-conformity in the blogging world, but pretty much everywhere. How many times have you heard someone say that they’re tired of superhero movies and sequels and want an original movie? Or someone saying a song is overrated because it sounds like every other song on the radio? Or someone complaining about how a TV show is using the same old tired cliches?

But, is it necessary to be completely original as a blog? There seems to be a sort of look-down on people who just post memes and tags and awards, and even some people who have pretty much sworn off all of those things in favor of original content. So I wanted to talk about my experiences with all those things, because I am the blogging queen.

(Just kidding, I am 100% not the blogging queen.)

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So, of course, you’ve probably heard of these things called weekly memes, and contrary to what I used to think, memes aren’t just those things that get popular on Twitter and become annoying after a day. Basically, there’s a concept, and you’re supposed to pick books relating to that concept. Some of the popular ones I’ve seen around are Top Ten Tuesday, Saturday Situation, WWW Wednesday, and Waiting on Wednesday. There are definitely a lot more out there, and several for pretty much every day of the week.

If you’ve been around since the very beginning, you’ll know that I used to do WWW Wednesday for the month of January. Eventually, I realized that I wasn’t really enjoying them, and, surprisingly, they weren’t really doing too good in terms of stats (even though I’ve seen so many people say they’re memes do the best in terms of stats), so I ended up quitting. It’s definitely worked for me, since I’ve now opened up a spot that’s been taken in favor of more original posts, but I know that might not work out for everyone.

I’ve definitely seen a general consensus that seeing too many memes when you first stumble upon someone’s blog makes it less likely for them to stay, and I’ve also seen some people say that they just straight up avoid their Reader on Tuesdays and Wednesdays because of the amount of memes. I definitely get it; I feel like with WWW Wednesday and WoW, it’s hard to really say something other than, “Oh, cool; I loved those books, and that one’s on my TBR! Here’s my link!” and “Yes, I’m super excited to read that book as well! Here’s the link to my post!” With TTT, I can definitely find something to comment about, because I’ve seen several people turn those posts into something creative (like what Cait @ Paper Fury does), but even if it’s just a list, I can always find something to relate to!

I don’t know if it’s a way to meet new people, but I have seen lots of people say that’s how they got their outreach when they were first starting out, so I can see why new bloggers like me jumped on the train! Personally, I don’t think I was really discovered by my WWW Wednesday posts, but I guess it might depend on what type of meme you’re doing.

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I guess you can say it’s mixed regarding tags and awards. On one hand, I feel like they’re fun and easy to do, especially if you don’t have something to do that day, and it’s always fun being tagged in an award. But, I’ve also seen some bloggers say that they think that they can get boring every once in a while, which they definitely can be, depending on the tag. There are some tags that I’ve managed to turn into full-blown post ideas, so they’re not completely useless.

I used to do tags a lot, and those who’ve been here around since the beginning, again, know that all I used to do were tags and reviews, before I got sick of it and opted to do more original content. And, as you guys know, I’m a huge planner when it comes to my blog, and even though I’ve been nominated in so many blogging awards and tags, only about three or so tags are on my agenda until August of next year, and don’t even get me started on blogging awards. I just feel like I’d rather post a Let’s Chat or a recommendations post or a list over a blogging award, because even though they’re nice, I don’t get excited about posting them. So, I decided that since I’ve been nominated for so many, why not just combine them all into one huge Q + A post? That way, I don’t have 248028 awards to do, and it’s fun and creative!

I’ve seen some people say that they don’t do tags and awards anymore, which I can totally understand if you want more original content on the blog. I think some tags are definitely fun to do since they reveal more about yourself, and same with blogging awards because you usually have to list facts for those, but I feel like they’re best in moderation, so I reserve them for every once in a while or when I just have nothing to post (which will probably never happen, so there’s that).

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As you guys probably know, I freaking love lists. Basically, for me, what falls under the “List” category are Monthly Recommendations, Anticipated Releases, Monthly TBRs and Wrap-Ups, and Book Playlists can be put under this category.

I did a lot of lists in February when I was trying to branch out in terms of more original content, and I was very happy to see that it gained so much popularity. I thought it was not only a great way to try something new on my blog, but I also got to share a lot about myself (my favorite ships, my favorite series, some facts about me, etc.), and I love doing that since it reminds everyone that there is a human being behind the blog. I also got a lot of comments from those types of posts, so they obviously push people to talk and share about themselves as well!

I’ve never done monthly TBRs, and I have an entire post dedicated to that whole subject that you can find right here if you’re interested. But, you’ve probably noticed that I don’t do much in regards of Wrap-Ups anymore. I realized during the month of March I really didn’t feel like doing a Wrap-Up post, and I realized that I don’t HAVE to do them at all. It’s my blog, and I can do whatever I want with it, so I chose to just skip out on it and just continue on with the month with more original content that I was really excited for. I like seeing other people’s wrap-ups, but it’s just something that I don’t really like doing, so I decided I wouldn’t.

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Ah, yes, the real money-makers. It seems to be that everyone in the book blogging community agrees that discussion posts are what’s really good for your blog and are what rake the numbers in, which is definitely true. When I posted my first ever discussion post – which I was incredibly nervous to do – I was blown away by how many likes and comments I received from it! And I realized how much fun it was to write that discussion, so I thought, why not keep doing this?

People seem to worry a lot about the topics they discuss, though. Some people never know where to get their ideas from or don’t really know how to get their thoughts into a blog post. Some feel like so-and-so topic has already been talked about by SO MANY PEOPLE, that their input will mean nothing in the long run. But, I definitely don’t think you SHOULDN’T talk about something just because someone else already has, and I don’t think that you have to be completely original to write up a discussion.

Personally, when I started out blogging, after getting frustrated with my lack of original content in January, I ended up brainstorming. So, really, pretty much all the discussion topics I’ve come up with have been thought up months ago. I don’t think I’ve ever thought up a discussion post the month of, basically. I use Discussions to talk about things that I don’t think too many people in the blogosphere have already talked about, and Let’s Chat is more for topics that have already been discussed by a range of people, but I just want to put in my own two cents anyway. Obviously, I post several Let’s Chat posts a month, but only one Discussion per month, and that works for me. They tend to get noticed a lot, and also generate conversation, which I love.

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So, that’s basically all the categories I can think of.

Hopefully, there aren’t many more than that. For me, the answer to the question is no, you don’t HAVE to be a completely original blogger. It’s pretty hard to come up with an idea that someone hasn’t already thought of and written down. But, it does seem like the general consensus is that bringing something new to the table can push your blog to several heights and even get better stats!

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What are your thoughts on each of the categories? Is there one you prefer over the others? What do you think makes an original book blogger?

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[LET’S CHAT] What Do You Blog For? A.K.A. Blogging Success

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So, I know this is probably a topic that’s been talked to death already (the woes of entering the book blogosphere late so all the good ideas are taken), but, hey, maybe I might have something awesome to add to the discussion.

I wanted to ask the question: what do you blog for? An alternate title could be: how do you determine blogging success?

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So, it seems to me that the book blogging community has lots of things you shouldn’t blog for.

For example, the amount of times I’ve gone to a post titled “How to Get ARCs” and it says in some form, “Don’t blog just to get ARCs” is a lot of times. So, apparently, we as book bloggers frown upon people who want to blog for the free books. And, as I discussed in another Let’s Chat last month, there’s a lot of stigma and taboo around people who blog for popularity or based off of numbers and good stats. But book bloggers do think that blogging for the love of the community and for yourself are good reasons to blog, which makes me wonder is there really a “good reason” to start a book blog.

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We’ll start with the whole controversy around ARCs first.

I don’t know about you guys, but I’ve yet to stumble upon a book blog that solely blogs for ARCs. I mean, how could you even really TELL someone is blogging for ARCs just by looking at someone’s blog? I say that mainly because blogging takes a lot of someone’s time and you have to put in SO MUCH EFFORT. Are ARCs worth it for all the time I put into the blog, whether e-ARC or physical copy? Definitely. But for someone who just starts a book blog because, “Hey, free books!” it might be a hard process. It’s not just trying to make your blog look pretty, reading enough books to write reviews, thinking up good content, and then actually writing that content. It’s also maintaining several social media accounts, having the time to do other non-blogging things, and then actually get people to read, comment, and like your posts, which is an effort in and of itself. And then you have to look at other people’s blogs and comment and make a presence. I mean, you have to get a good amount of stats before asking for ARCs. Sure, you might get lucky, but if you have 10 blog followers, and virtually no people reading what you write, you’re more likely to be declined than anything.

BUT, is it wrong to blog for ARCs? I guess some people see it as a greed sort of thing, but as I said earlier, I love being rewarded for my hard work not only with followers and comments and shares and likes, but also being blessed enough to get to read a book early and hype it up for others. It always feels good to know a publisher or a publicist looked at my blog, and thought I was good enough to read their book early. Since book blogs aren’t as big as fashion blogs, food blogs, parenting blogs, etc. – where they can make serious money off of it – and because sponsored reviews are so frowned upon in the book community, really, we’re “paid” in awesome stats and free books. And I have to say, the allure of getting to read a book early is totally awesome. Just saying.

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And then there’s the frown upon of people who blog for popularity.

Again, bloggers seem to have this mindset that we should never, ever care about our numbers, which I don’t think is true. I mean, seeing all these super popular book blogs and hoping to get on their level someday shouldn’t be something that’s looked at as bad. I sure wish that I could be that one blog that has all the followers across all the social media accounts and the one that people mention and others go, “Oh, yeah, I love her blog, too!” Probably because I’m quiet in real life, and “Internet fame,” in a way, would be much easier to handle. And, to me, a successful blog is the one where all the popular bloggers comment on, and they get all the ARCs, and they handle social media perfectly, and they’re on everyone’s favorite lists, and they always inspire people. Other people might look at a successful blog as one that just has a good enough readership and lots of comments because that person wants a sense of community. Success is different to different people, and I don’t think there’s any “wrong” way to go about it.

BUT will blogging just for popularity become frustrating? Indeed it will. Personally, I’m very impatient. Like, about everything. I’ve talked several times about how I quit things, and I feel like the reason I so often do is because I always build up these unrealistic expectations in my head – on Wattpad, my story is going to blow up and I’m going to be spotted by a publisher; on Goodreads, I’m going to make the best reviews and become super popular like Emily May and have all the friends and followers – and then I’ll peak in success and get super excited, but as soon as that peak slowly descends, or I’m not doing as well as before, I start to get deflated and lose interest. I don’t want that to happen with blogging (and, so far, it hasn’t!). I’m one of those people who starts things, puts a lot of work into it, and then waits for success to come to me RIGHT NOW, even though there’s a part in my head that’s telling me that it’ll take time before I reach that status. So, for someone like me, it’ll be rough to start out and realize that you could work so hard on a post, and only one person likes it. The road to popularity success is a bumpy one, but I don’t necessarily think that you’ll crash and burn because of it.

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Then we move on to the “good reason” for book blogging – the community.

And not just the book blogging community in general, but just a community of bookworms. This could apply to blogging, to Book Twitter, to Goodreads, to bookstagram. It’s awesome how there’s an endless amount of platforms to talk and share our love about books nowadays! I’ve said this before, but in real life, I don’t know too many people who read. So, it’s always a little disheartening when I finish a great book, and I have nobody to talk to about it. Hence one of the reasons why I started this blog – I wanted to talk about books, but I also wanted to talk about other bookish-related topics, as you can see by my word-y Discussion and Let’s Chat posts. So, for me, book blogging seemed to be the best way to go, and I haven’t looked back since.

I’m guessing the main reason why this is seen as a “good reason” to start a book blog is because it’s less greedy, in a way? Like, I’m sure to others, blogging to get free books or to gain some form of popularity makes you seem like a vain person, but you’ll think better of a person if they say, “I started blogging to join the wonderful community,” if that makes sense?

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I’m not saying that people who say that are fake in any way, because I said it just earlier, but why does it seem like I can’t blog for all three reasons?

I blog because I love the community and I love sharing my thoughts with people who will finally understand me. I blog because I like to be rewarded for all the work I put into my blog with free early copies of books. I blog because I’d love to be an inspiration or a favorite to others. I blog because I don’t feel comfortable expressing my feelings all the time in real life, and knowing that there are people out there who listen and like those thoughts always warms my heart. I blog because even though a comment might be super long, it’s always nice to know that someone thought my post was worth it enough to leave one. I blog for all these reasons, and that’s why I like to think my blog is successful. Not just because I’ve met so many awesome people, but because I get to read some amazing books early and for free and I know that there are people out there who care enough about what I have to say. I honestly don’t think I’ll ever blog for just ONE reason. And I think that’s okay.

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Also, just wanted to take a moment to say that I’ve sent out e-mails to all the Big Bloggers as to who you’re assigned to! The project starts today (YAY!), and I hope you guys are as excited as I am about the whole thing! I have three book blogs that I’ll be supporting, so that’s fun! I just wanted to let you guys know in case you happened to not get an e-mail or something. But feel free to ask me any questions or if you haven’t gotten an e-mail in your inbox!

Let's Chat

What do you blog for? Do you consider your blog successful and why? What is a successful blog to you? Any blogs that immediately come to mind when you think “successful” (just because I’m interested if anyone picks the same person lol)?

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[LET’S CHAT] The Pros and Cons of Writing Book Reviews

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Yeah, it’s time for another edition of Let’s Chat! This one centers around a pretty interesting concept to me, and some thoughts I’ve been having.

I really got this idea from a super old discussion post from Briana @ Pages Unbound, where she talked about some blogs considering running without book reviews (obviously, I highly recommend checking it out).

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This honestly got me thinking because confession time: I don’t like writing reviews.

Yes, some of my reviews are easier to write because I have a lot of feelings – whether those feelings are positive or negative is up to how I feel about the book – but what do I do for books that are just meh? Or if I continue a series, and I feel as if I’m repeating the same things about each book over and over again? Or for an ARC I DNF?

As you guys know if you’ve been around for a while, I still do reviews! I post reviews once a week, and then something non-review for the other three days. Personally, this schedule has worked for me, and I will probably continue with this schedule unless something changes or I do something drastic with my blog out of nowhere. But I wanted to look at some reasons as to why people would give up doing reviews and some reasons why people would continue doing reviews (a.k.a. I basically sort out my thoughts through writing).

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Keep Writing Reviews

1. I want ARCs. I’m sure everyone in the book blogging community knows about Advanced Review Copies, and, as you can tell, you sort of have to review them. I can’t imagine publishers are going to be too happy if you request a book, and they find out that you don’t even write or publish reviews anymore. And, yes, I love getting ARCs via Netgalley, and I’d love to eventually delve into the world of physical ARCs, and I have to review books to get there. I know; I’m shallow.

2. I want bookworms to broaden their horizons. Really, this can mean anything. Personally, my reason for starting to blog was the fact that I wanted to sort of bridge the gap between YA and Adult, since I’ve seen so many people see they’re tired of YA, but don’t actually go out to read adult books, because they don’t know where to start. So, I’m here to read and review some blog posts since I took the plunge last year and haven’t looked back. I don’t know if anyone has ever read said books because of my reviews, but if you do, that’s awesome! For other people, I know it’s reading fantasy or dystopian if all they usually read is contemporary, or maybe reading some YA after reading so many adult novels.

3. We want to share our love of books (or rant). I mean, nothing is more fun than raving about a book that you feel isn’t getting enough attention, or reviewing an ARC that you’re so excited to come out so everyone can get their hands on it. And there’s also the other side, where you get to rant about a book that really disappointed you or you want to warn someone else about something that you know that person won’t like, such as the dreaded insta-love.

4. It brings the book community together. I always anticipate posting reviews for popular books everyone has read except for me (which happens so often, and way more than it should) because I can finally gush about all my ~feelings~ without sounding weird to everyone else. In real life, I don’t know too many people who are fans of books, so this is pretty much one of the few places where I feel like I can talk about books, and people understand what the heck I’m talking about. How else would I be able to talk about horrible cliffhangers or heart-breaking deaths or how good a book is.

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Stop Writing Reviews

1. I can still get ARCs. I know I said this in the previous part, BUT you really don’t have to have a blog anymore to receive ARCs. If you have a large enough following on Instagram, for instance, you can receive boxes of book mail and early releases, and a large majority of those people don’t have a blog at all. I will say, I think it’s ten times harder to get over 50k followers on Instagram than it is to get some traction on your reviews. In fact, I think Instagram is the hardest place to get connection and interaction, because you can do literally nothing wrong, and six people could unfollow you overnight, so there’s that. But, still, you could do it!

2. No one really reads reviews. I know there’s sort of a stigma in the book blogging community that people don’t really read reviews. I will say that this sort of rings true. Honestly, unless it’s a book I’m anticipating or I’ve heard a lot about, I’ll probably just like it and move on. And, personally, reviews are the least interesting thing on blogs for me. I do follow some blogs that primarily do nothing but reviews, but those are mostly niche ones – thrillers and mysteries, to be exact – and I think it’s a bit harder to do that for YA books and keep people coming back, probably because there’s a larger audience. I’m a bigger fan of advice posts, discussions, recommendations, etc.

3. I don’t like writing them. Like I said earlier, I just don’t like writing reviews. I can do them, of course, but I’d rather spend my time writing any other type of blog post, and it’s definitely something I have to be in the mood for. So, I can definitely understand if someone just stops doing reviews, because if they hate writing them, and only 20 people are actually reading them, then why continue writing them?

4. You have to be reading. I think a problem for some people is the fact that they might not read too fast, or they could read a book and not find it good enough to review, but don’t have anything else to write about or can’t think up any good ideas. Of course, you could totally take a break from reviewing, but for some people who want to have a couple of reviews up per week or the ones that their entire blog is dedicated to just reviews and blog tours, it might be a challenge finding the time to read a book and then finally write a review for it.

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These are probably some of the more basic pros and cons for continuing to write reviews.

In the end, though, I’ll probably still keep on writing reviews, and, honestly, I’ll probably mainly do it so I can at least have a shot at getting ARCs. And I occasionally enjoy blabbing about my thoughts as well.

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How do you feel about reviewing books? Would you still keep up with a book blog that doesn’t review books at all? What are your reasons to review books?

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