What I’ve learned from five years of blogging

#1. That I will always click on a post titled “what blogging has taught me” or “blogger confessions” or “blogging life lessons,” even though:

#2 Those posts always say the same fucking things.

So this is not that. I’m not going to tell you to have an editorial calendar or to be consistent or to do guest posts or to use SEO techniques.

Life lessons were on my mind when I was asked to appear on Seen and Heard in Edmonton. The premise of Seen and Heard is brilliant, and will probably take off in other cities before you know it. Karen Unland interviews local bloggers about what they do, and why, and where they’re going. Not only is it fascinating for bloggers, but it’s a great way for people to find local perspectives on whatever they’re into. I’m guest #5. The other four have included bloggers who write about theater, business, food, and history. Seen and Heard also rounds up the best weekly blogs and podcasts every Monday morning, which is just a great way to start the week.

So – what wisdom could I impart to the Seen and Heard audience? I thought back to my biggest blogging moment this year, attending Book Expo America. Then I read this interview with burnt-out mega-blogger Dooce about why she’s quitting:

In 2004-5, I was the first personal website to take advertising. Now it’s why you start one. If you’re doing it for fun there’s nothing to worry about. If you’re looking to make an income, this is not a good way.

I rolled my eyes a lot at the BEA blogger con. So many panels about growing your audience and doing sponsorship and MORE content FASTER… featuring panelists who do not making money from blogging. The only ones making a living either work for Book Riot or spun their blogs into books. I heard “fun money” and “champagne money.” I heard bloggers admit that they were uncomfortable with affiliate links and that they didn’t even make any money from them. And book bloggers burn out all the time due to demanding schedules and publishers and expectations.

What’s the point? If you’re a hobbyist, like the vast, vast majority of book bloggers are, why kill yourself to post weekly, or get all the latest ARCs? Why not post when you want, when you really have something to say? Unless you’re out to make serious money or advance a career in the same field as your blog, none of this stuff matters.

If it all gets too heavy, just remember... (from Douglas Coupland's new book The Age of Earthquakes.)

If it all gets too heavy, just remember… (from Douglas Coupland’s new book The Age of Earthquakes.)

Click here to listen to Karen interview me and to read my list of blogger/podcast recommendations. Also check out the first half hour of the latest Write Reads podcast for more in this vein – Kirt and Tania talk to recently-burnt-out Rick of Canon Fodder/Through the Pages about what’s wrong with book blogging, and I wanted to jump through the computer screen and say “yes!” to all of it.

Okay, one Life Lesson: Whatever you’re worried about when it comes to your blog, no one cares as much as you. Do you think the blogosphere will grind to a halt if you don’t post that weekly meme? Do you think your readership will unfollow and denounce you on social media if you don’t participate in the latest hashtag? I promise you no one will notice. Keep blogging when you can, until you don’t want to anymore. That’s my plan.

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16 comments

  1. Karen

    “Whatever you’re worried about when it comes to your blog, no one cares as much as you.” Ugh, this is really such a good reminder. Thank you!

  2. Pingback: Edmonton blog roundup: Aug. 17, 2015 | Seen and Heard in Edmonton
  3. Geoff W

    “Keep blogging when you can, until you don’t want to anymore. That’s my plan.”

    Ditto. I also refuse to buy into the hype of creative post titles and different perspectives. I still think of my blog as a journal of what I’ve read and find it fascinating (and cringe-worthy) to go back and read some of my early posts.

    • lauratfrey

      I got advice once to NOT do creative titles, so I did plain one for a long time. But I *love* creative titles, and my most popular posts tend to have oddball titles anyway. So it wasn’t even good advice 🙂

      Oh yes! I read posts from my first year or two and I’m like… no…. no, that’s not how to blog at all… just stop…

      • Geoff W

        Yeah the creative ones make sense for a lot of things. I just want to know what I’m reading when I’m reading about a book, not “The best book I’ve read in the last 12 days.” haahaa 🙂

    • lauratfrey

      You’re welcome. PS I related to your “just nice” post a while ago. One of the worst blogging things is trying to force myself to write about something that was “just nice” in a way that’s interesting, while still being honest. You figured it out!

  4. ebookclassics

    Congratulations on being featured on Seen and Heard in Edmonton! That’s so cool. I always remember the discussion we had about how your blog still gets decent stats even if you don’t post for months. I recently had a break and found it so liberating to stop giving a damn about the whole blogging/social media thing.

  5. emilymullaswilson

    This post makes me feel ridiculously good about myself and blog. So, so, so liberating. When my blog was my own, entirely, with few readers except my mother-in-law, it made me ridiculously happy. When it got posted on a popular website, it started making me miserable, because it became an obligation. No. I have a job and a life and a true love, and none of them is blogging. Thanks so much for the boost.

    • lauratfrey

      Which website?? Just curious! And yeah, much of the happiness for me is the late-night writing where you’re so into it you forget to eat or drink, and you realize your foot is asleep from sitting in a weird position too long – you know, in the zone 🙂 and not writing for anyone but yourself. And then comments, which are pretty much always from the insular little book blogger world. It’s a good feeling!

      • emilymullaswilson

        This one: http://www.equip.org.au. It’s an Australian Christian women’s conference that I had never heard of before. But because I post so much random stuff on so many different topics, it only boosted my numbers for about a month. Back to pretty much just my mother-in-law and a few comments from the “insular little worlds” you aptly describe. And that’s just fine with me. 🙂

  6. tanya (52 books or bust)

    Great post. I always have to remind myself that the reason I started a blog was for me and to record my thoughts on books. At the end of the day that is what a blog is – a web log. The problem is once you get followers you want more and more and more.

  7. Brie @ A Slice of Brie

    Yes yes yes! And one of the most annoying things that bloggers do is apologize constantly for not posting. Post when you post and the people will read it. That’s why we have apps and email to be notified of when you post. Personally, I prefer when bloggers DONT post everyday because it’s just too damn hard to keep up with reading them.

  8. Kristilyn

    I remember doing some of the affiliate links and yeah, no money whatsoever. Maybe it’s lucrative for some bloggers? Giveaways was another thing. I don’t get how some bloggers can do so many of them! And if you need to have a giveaway on your blog constantly to get followers, I think you’re doing it wrong.

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