So I know tons of people have done posts like this, but I ALWAYS read them. I think we all have lovely insight and you never know when you will learn something new! These are my lessons learned, but I want to thank all of you for your help. Especially @Kal for templates and answering all of my silly questions, @Dev for helping me to understand that Instagram is actually insane, @Loretta for offering her professional design eye and explaining self-hosted and widgets, and primarily Teagan for still talking books even when the pressure of blogging AND having a life got to be too much.
So here are some things I learned in a year (actually 1 1/2, this post is late…oops):
Twitter is your friend
If I had known how much fun I would have on Twitter I would have started there months earlier. Yes, there is drama and occasionally, I take a twitter break. But there is so much love and support on there that I find the positive to far outweigh the negative.
Ask Another Blogger
We don’t bite! Honestly, I wouldn’t have made it this far if I hadn’t just put myself out there and asked the questions I think are dumb. Just the word “self-hosted” confused me. I think Twitter is also the best platform for this because WordPress loses messages sometimes.
Statistics are WEIRD
I got twice as many views on a day when I posted nothing compared to a post I thought would be really successful. There is a rhyme and reason, but there are also just some really weird days. Don’t let ONE post get you down. Because some of the posts that didn’t do well on day one have given me great overall ROI.
Stay out of the drama
I am super Slytherin and am a fairly confrontational person. But, I try to stay out of all internet drama and it makes me a happier person in general. Otherwise I would dwell on things that I cannot control. Yes, there are times when you need to stand-up and say something, just remember that once it’s out there, someone has screen-shot it, even if you delete it.
Don’t over-request ARCs
We all do it. I still do it. Netgalley and Edelweiss are WAY too fun to window shop. Really it should be illegal to tempt me with such things.
I made a goal for myself to only request books that I truly want to read. Not just pretty covers from window shopping. This way, I don’t get severe anxiety over due dates.
Don’t accept every ARC an author pitches to you
It’s flattering as hell. You know, when you get that first author email. A real author is asking ME to review their book? I’m still flattered by these requests. I mean I have not written a book. I haven’t put that time in. It’s truly a gigantic accomplishment.
100% read the ones you are interested in and promote small authors. Just don’t guilt yourself into reading books you aren’t interested in. Especially if they aren’t even in your genre. Again, this leads to DNF, which leads to more guilt and the cycle never ends.
*Quick note: Many bloggers only accept review requests from managers, publishers or authors they have worked with in the past. I have seriously considered doing this based on some of the safety concerns that have come up lately.
Tags are cheesy, but can be really fun
I was stuck up at first. I thought tags were stupid and wanted no part of them. I was wrong. They give you traction and engagement and ended up being really entertaining. So give in to the tags.
You get out what you put in
I’m sure for some people, they magically get a lot of followers. Not me. We worked tirelessly building relationships and maintaining those. I didn’t just make a cool logo and get followers. It was work, but extremely worthwhile and I’m so happy to have these friends. They are far more valuble than the number in the corner.
You have to take breaks
Take breaks. Even if it’s one per month. So many people burn out because they over-schedule themselves. This is a hobby for 99% of us. Don’t burn yourself out and ruin all of the fun. Yes, your numbers will dip on a break if you don’t post content. Do yourself a favor and write one extra post each week and soon you will have a whole week’s worth of content to pre-schedule and free time with less anxiety.
Start with one platform and work from there
This may not be true for everyone, but it’s a lot of work to start up a twitter and a blog and an instagram, pinterest etc. all at once. Start small, grow and then expand to other platforms. We started the blog, two months later the Twitter, 6 months later the instagram. I just now started a pinterest because I feel like I have the others under control. (Not instagram because I don’t think I can tame that beast).
I hope this helps some of you. I know that we all seem to offer very similar advice, but that is because it works. I’m always here for questions or support and I just hope to keep learning like I have in the last year.
I can’t thank this community enough, you are smart, funny, kind and so welcoming.