Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Finding a Place in This Book Blogging Community


I've been blogging about books since 2008. I have a personal blog and my family and friends were always asking what I was reading. So, I started to add what I was reading to my personal blog posts. Then I felt like it was taking over everything else I wanted to say. My family asked me to put the books in a separate place so they could find what they wanted right in one place. I started The Sweet Bookshelf in June 2009. I will have been blogging about books for 5 yrs.

I didn't even know there were other book bloggers for quite some time. Then one day Lenore, from Presenting Lenore commented on my blog. She even sent me my choice of two ARC's. {she's so nice!} I didn't even know what an ARC was. I didn't even know what a book blogger was. I had no idea what I'd gotten myself into.

Through the years I've watched blogs that started years after mine take flight and become "the big wigs" in book blogging. I've watched bloggers turn authors, more drama unfold than you can imagine, and blogs increase their following all the while The Sweet Bookshelf has stayed small and inconsequential. I've watched this book blogging community start from a tiny town and has become this giant city with more bloggers than anyone can imagine. Where does one fit in? How can one's voice be heard in such a loud place?

I'm sure I don't have the slightest idea. I don't have the answers. Not what you wanted to hear I'm sure. But, it's true. I'm a small book blog. There are tons of blogs out there telling you how to increase your following. Have I done them? You bet. Am I still small? Yep.

One thing I have done in these past 5 yrs is remain true to myself. I review the books I want to read. I post the kind of content that I want to read about. I don't take more books than I can read. When I need a break, I take it. I've never participated in a meme solely for the purpose of getting more follower's or to have "filler" content. I want those who follow this blog to do it because they like what they see and read. I love what I do and I do my own thing. I'm OK with being a small book blog!

Maybe it is time to leave the big city and move out to the country to blog.

28 comments:

  1. I enjoy your blog and it's okay to be small as long as you enjoy it. I've only been blogging 2 years and have learned along the way what my followers like and what helps to make me grow. But that changes as the blogging community changes too.

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    1. Thanks Natalie! It is so true. My readers expect new and changing content and I change it when the time comes. I like to keep it fresh. This community is always changing.

      I'm OK with being small. It works for me just fine. I hope others enjoy it too.

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  2. I'm okay with being small too! I think having a small group of awesome followers is more important than having an enormous amount that we can't possibly connect with on a personal and emotional level.

    I'm always up for more followers but only if I can really touch them with what I'm posting.

    I just want my blog to be a "cozy" stop for readers. I hope they enjoy their time on my site and if they come back, awesome. :)

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    1. I think it is OK to be small. Not always worrying about how many follower's I have. I'd rather cultivate what I have here in hopes of making a fantastic blog that people want to read. I'm always up for more follower's but I don't let it dictate what I post and how I run my blog.

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  3. I'm four years this year and I'm ok with still being small, too =) Your blog is your home, and you need to decorate it as you see fit. Content that works for you, and loyal readers will appreciate that. Small doesn't mean non-existent. Just small! And hey, isn't is said that good things come in small packages ;)

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    1. Go 4 yrs!! You are so right. Small doesn't = non-existent. It just means small. I don't have to be "the next big" book blogger to have a great blog. AND being a small blog doesn't mean I don't have a quality blog. I'm just small. Not many people have found me. And that's OK.

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  4. Personally, as someone who is brand new to book blogging, I tend to admire smaller but more established blogs than the "big" blogs. I definitely read some big blogs too, but most of my favorites I've found so far are smaller but have been blogging longer. I really like the encouragement that gives me because even though I've loved it so far, there's a chorus in the back of my head of, "Is this going to be one of those projects you start and then just lose interest in?" I tend to do that often, so it's encouraging to see that it doesn't HAVE to be like that.

    I've also seen "big blogs" that obviously get a lot of page views but little actual interaction with readers, and small blogs that might not be as popular but every time I read a post I know, in general, who will comment and are much more discussion-based, which is what I gravitate towards.

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    1. Keep going as long as you are having fun. I think when people start worrying about followers and doing what everybody else is doing that people get burnt out. Go at your own pace not what you think you're supposed to do and you'll stick it out. Good luck!!

      I like being small. I really do. I'd love to be able to share my love of reading with anyone and everyone but that just isn't going to happen. I'll share it with whomever wants to come and listen here at The Sweet Bookshelf. It's OK to be small. If I'm making an impact I'm OK with that.

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  5. Mary, I adore you!! And I adore your blog just as much! You are the person who helped me to realize that it's ok to be small. I'm doing this because I love it. It's my hobby. It's my time and my fun. (I even quit worrying about ARC's for the most part!) Because? It's my blog. And I'm ok with being small. :)

    So keeping being you! Because your devoted following (ok, me!) adores you and your blog for what it is!!

    -Jac @ For Love and Books

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    1. Thanks Jac! It is been so much fun being blogging buddies! I know I can always talk about books with you and I trust your recommendations. YOU know what I like!!

      ARC's stare at me on the shelf...mocking me for not reading them.

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  6. This really made me feel better. Thank you.

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    1. YES! Feel better. It is OK to be a small book blog. Do your own thing. Make yourself happy and people will read. Then you'll have a little pocket of bookish friends to chat about books with. Small book blogging is still fun!

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  7. I agree with you, it's okay to be a small blog. I've had my blog for almost 2 years now and I'm small. But I kinda like it. I don't have the pressure of having to read the latest & greatest books as soon as or before they come out like people expect from large blogs. I can read what I want and at my own pace. Example, I still haven't read Divergent or City of Bones, but I'll get around to. My followers appreciate the reviews of books I do read.

    One good thing to being a big blog though is that when you post discussion posts, you get a lot of comments which doesn't always happen for a small blog.

    Overall, I'm happy with my blog. If I grow then great, if not I'm okay with that.

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    1. You are SO right! I love just reading whatever I want. I feel the pressure to read ARC's and NetGalley books. I just do them on my own time. If something else looks better to me then I grab it.

      You should SO read City of Bones!! OMG. SO GOOD!

      I'm so glad you're happy with your blog. That is what it is about! That's how I stay stress free in blogging!

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  8. I really enjoy your blog! Stay true to yourself, and post what you love! =)

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  9. It's hard when you feel the pressure to "grow your blog" and watch others who started after you seem to pass you by on their way to "blogging success". However, I think small is GREAT and I enjoy reading your blog very much. Keep doing your thing!

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    1. Thanks Mandy!!

      You know, it isn't as if I haven't tried to grow my blog. Of course I have! I've read all those posts about increasing your following etc. I take what I want from them and move on.

      Sometimes we do all the things right and we still don't grow huge numbers. That's OK. I'm doing my own thing and loving it!

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  10. Great post! I think the thing that has always been important to me is having a group of loyal readers who come talk with me on my blog and that's where I feel like MY place is. My own little corner where my readers laugh at my really silly discussion posts and will agree and disagree about books with me. I think that has always helped to keep my perspective when I get mopey about other blogs who are more successful than mine! It's so hard to not feel that pressure of having my voice heard and feeling "up to par"..but the way I feel this amazing connection to my readers and all of the discussion I get to have makes me realize that "success" is so relative. My success is putting up a post about how I love reading but it makes my butt hurt and people aren't like WTF is wrong with you but they laugh and share their own woes with me! Success is getting someone to read a book that I LOVED and they loved it too! Success is having someone who isn't a blogger tell me that they use my blog to make lists for their library. Success is soooo relative and I learned that when I stopped caring about what "success" meant to others and to publishers and what not..I was a lot happier.

    I'd say you have a great voice in the blogosphere and have carved out your own space where your readers feel connected to you! :)

    Really great post!

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    1. "Success is getting someone to read a book that I LOVED and they loved it too! Success is having someone who isn't a blogger tell me that they use my blog to make lists for their library."

      I could not have said it better myself! It is all relative. There is a place for big book bloggers and there is a place for small book bloggers. People follow the people/blogs that they feel connected to. Whomever that happens to be.

      I think it might be my favorite thing when non-bloggers use my blog. I love it when HS friends get on here and find their new favorite book. It makes all the hard work worth it!

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  11. This is actually something that I was thinking about recently. I think it has a lot to do with how you interact with other bloggers. It helps to become friends with them, like on Twitter or via chat!

    However, I do think "small" blogs with quality content are better than "big" blogs with generic posts. There's a lot to be said for a good post!

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    1. You are so right. I love Twitter for that reason. It is like a hive of book action! So many different people to connect with and talk books.

      I think there is a place for big and small bloggers. Both have their own pros and cons. But it is important not to count the small book bloggers out. Just because we're small doesn't mean we don't have quality content!

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  12. Mary, I adore your blog and you! Seriously, I agree. I can't stand constant promo posts for filler content, its annoying. If you have nothing to post, it is OKAY. So is taking a break. We do this because we want to. If it was for anything else, we'd all have stopped a long time ago.

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  13. Thanks Cass!!!

    I seriously take breaks all the time. And I don't feel bad about it. I was my blog to stay stress free and I don't EVER want reading to feel like a chore. I read when I want to and I don't when I don't want to.

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  14. I've been blogging since June 2009 too and I've never really gone big either. I like the freedom.

    I've only done the kind of memes I want to see. I always ask myself, "Would I want to read that?"

    I love how you used the city analogy. Would that make me like the suburbs? ;)

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    1. Ha! You are totally the suburbs Juju!

      I think that we need to give ourselves the permission to be OK with the fact that we're a small book blog. I knew a long time ago I would never be one of the big guns. Am I always seeking for my voice to be heard? Of course I am! But, I need to be OK with the fact that my voice may only be heard by a few instead of many.

      Big book blogs are great and they have their place. But, I have a place too. Just because I'm small doesn't mean I don't have quality content or am inconsequential.

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  15. I can't tell you how much I love this post. I'm a very new book blogger, and I'm astounded every single day by how hard it is to get a single new follower. Sometimes it's hard to rememeber that we all put our time and effort into our blogs, that we all want them to do well and want others to love them as much as we do...and by forgetting, we ignore other bloggers who pour their hearts into their blog, adding to the viscious cycle of blogging.

    "One thing I have done in these past 5 yrs is remain true to myself."

    What I love about that sentence is...well...everything, really. I can't stand people who sacrifice their own voice, their opinions and genuine efforts, for generic posts and disinterested followers. What's the point in thousands of followers if none of them actually care about what you post? In my very short time here, I can already tell that you're a blogger whose posts I'll care about.

    So thank you, so much, for this well-written, thoughtful post. I really needed it.

    -Kelly @ Paper Fantasies

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