I can’t believe it’s been a year since I started this blog. I nearly forgot about this anniversary coming up, although I didn’t really have anything lined up to commemorate this feat. I did have an old draft sitting around since last fall, however. I stopped working on it because I didn’t like anything I was coming up with back then, but now feels like a good time to talk about this topic.
If you have been following me long enough, you may have heard me mention once or twice that this is a revival of my old blog that I hosted over on Blogspot way back in 2011. It was a hot mess; my posts weren’t that great, my reviews were trying way too hard to be funny and critical at the same time, and I was trying to do way too much in such a short time. I started it during my college years in the hopes that I could make some money off of it, but clearly that never happened. You can imagine why I left off on writing this post for so long now; no one wants to think back to their embarrassing moments. Ironic considering the majority of my writing mostly consists of sharing said embarrassing moments…
There are some upsides to returning to an old project, though. You remember where you went wrong, at least, and that’s something to spring off from. So what did I learn in the past year about me and my book blog?
Running a blog is friggin’ hard.
Yeah, big surprise there. But it was a big surprise for my nineteen-year-old self. My reasons for starting the blog back then are not that different from my reasons last year, but in terms of my motivation, it’s night and day. I started my undergrad right when the Great Recession went down. The job market was beyond shit and I dreaded going off into the city to look for work because I couldn’t face getting turned down again and again. At that point, running a blog felt like a good way to make some money on the side. All I had to do was find a site to host my blog, post something every day on a topic I want to talk about, and watch the money roll in. Amy Adams did it in Julie and Julia, why can’t I?
There are a lot of holes in this plan of mine, but the biggest one was thinking that this would all be quick and easy to do. Even if I did manage to get everything up and running, I didn’t really consider if I would be able to juggle writing a blog post every week with the massive mountain of assignments I had to do for school. Surprise, I couldn’t.
Quality > quantity with the writing posts.
I didn’t just underestimate the level of commitment I needed to have. I also overestimated my writing skills. I don’t think my writing was entirely bad back then, but it’s definitely better now after completing grad school. But out of everything I have written in my late teens and early twenties, these blog posts were the most cringe-inducing.
No time was spent writing these posts. The humor was not at all great, my reviews weren’t well thought out, and it doesn’t help that I thought I had the best takes. something cohesive down that explains what the book is about and whether or not it’s worth your time. I knew even back then that this was unrealistic, but I think I justified this as practice for when I work for a magazine or website and they give me a tight deadline. I mean, I get it, but I was so focused on meeting this deadline that I wound up forgetting to make sure these posts were written well. I was focused more on getting something, anything up on the site.
I’d like to think I put more effort into writing my blog posts now, but I’m still haunted by those reviews in particular. It’s why you haven’t seen any other reviews aside from the one I posted back in May.
Was I even reading for fun anymore?
A lot of the books I read for my blog back then were all over the place, which was good and bad. There was good in it that I was getting out of my comfort zone, but also bad because I was at that age where I felt that I needed to read more books with adult themes. I was also at that stage where I felt that literary fiction was inherently “better” than popular fiction, so whenever I read something in the latter, I found myself more willing to tear it to pieces. It was an immature and closed-minded approach that made reading feel more like a chore than as something to enjoy.
I also blame this attitude of going out of my way to review bad books on my love for the Nostalgia Critic back in the day. I was trying so bad to emulate him and it just didn’t do me any favors. So glad I stopped watching that guy.
I would even say that I was making this mistake last year, although I genuinely was looking for books that looked like I would enjoy them. The only major difference I would make is that I got carried away with making my TBR and not getting much else done. The one upside I would make is that I got out of that elitist mentality. That was not doing me any favors.
Engaging with other members/bloggers is actually not that bad.
The biggest difference that has made running this blog and the Instagram account more enjoyable is having an actual community to engage with. During the first attempt, there was no time spent looking for other book bloggers and seeing what they were reading, no looking for pockets of inspiration or getting acquainted with other people who share my love of reading. Even though I mostly lurk and leave the occasional like here and there, the fact that I now take the time to see what other bloggers are doing makes running my own blog feel less lonely. The community itself is why I’m still at this.
Who am I writing for?
Going back to why I started my blog back in 2011, the decision was mostly driven by a need to make money in any way possible. There was also a small part of me that saw the blog as a way to carve out a writing routine. Clearly, that didn’t go as planned. School was kicking my ass, and my chronic procrastination was keeping me from getting anything done. The more time passed, the more I felt that my blog needed to succeed. It didn’t take very long for me to see the blog as yet another task to complete.
When I restarted the blog last year, the hopes of making money off of it were still there, but they quickly dissipated. My main reason for starting the blog this time around was less for monetary reasons and more fueled by the need to keep a grasp on something positive. I was already struggling mentally before the pandemic hit, but it got even worse in 2020. Working on this blog did more than creating an outlet to help pass the time during the lockdown. It made me rediscover my joy and love for creating. For the first time in a long time, I was writing for myself again, and it gave me perspective on how I should approach my writing from now on.
And that’s what I have learned so far from running this blog over the last year. I do enjoy putting together these posts and they’re helping me rediscover my creativity again. What have you learned about yourself while running your own blog, if you have one? What has been your favorite part of blogging in general? Feel free to share in the comments.
Till then, happy reading everyone!