I started blogging pretty much on the spur of the moment. At the time, I was a final year undergraduate student and I was reading a lot of books that were not related to my university course and found that I had things to say but nobody to really talk to about them. And so my Little Blog was born on a Monday evening in March 2012 right at the time when I should have been revising for my final exams (fortunately, I did alright in the end but it wasn’t really an ideal time to start it).
So I have been blogging for quite a while now. I am, of course, still learning new things but thought it would be useful to reflect on what I’ve got out of it so far. Here are my top 5 observations/tips:
1) It takes a long time to develop a decent amount of quality content. There are already squillions of book blogs out there so getting an audience does not happen overnight. The eventual rewards, like being Freshly Pressed or getting a positive response from other bloggers, are always worth it though.
2) It’s important not to just write stuff for the sake of it. My book reviews are rarely more than 400 words long and I usually only post about once or twice a week. After I have finished reading a book, it often takes me a while to gather my thoughts together so I might not publish my review until several days or even weeks later. I still envy the people who manage to post every day but I do what I can manage.
3) Reading other blogs is very useful. You can learn a lot about what makes a good blog and which features, layouts and other aesthetic details are the most eyecatching as well as which debates and topics are the most interesting to read. For a book blogger, other blogs are a brilliant source for recommendations as well as alternative perspectives on books you have already read.
4) Blogging has made me more confident about expressing my own opinions. Reviewing books, or anything else for that matter, is fairly pointless if you don’t have clear views about what you liked or didn’t like about them. My writing isn’t perfect but I hope it is improving. Despite my blog tagline about extreme procrastination, blogging has actually made me more productive in that I now write a lot faster than I used to as I know that I only have a limited amount of time that I can spend on doing stuff for the blog.
5) Stats don’t mean everything but they can be very interesting. I am not really preoccupied by the numbers but I do have a little obsession with filling in all the countries on the map of the stats page – I love getting hits from obscure places! This week, I got my first hit from Honduras. The search terms that lead people to your blog can also be intriguing. I felt bad for the desperate person who was recently directed to my blog after googling the phrase “why am i finding wolf hall so difficult?”. Sadly, blogging doesn’t always provide definitive answers to the big questions in life but I hope this person appreciated my review anyway.
What have you learned from blogging?