Thoughts On One Year Of Blogging


I started this blog one year ago this week. I feel like this post should be headed by a photo of a big number one shaped balloon, possibly a bit of confetti, and maybe a cake. Instead you get a photo of a thistle.  Take from that what you will.

So here I am, one year into blogging,  This is what has and hasn't happened.

I haven't acquired hundreds and thousands of followers.  It is much harder than I thought to get people to read my ramblings.  I knew I wouldn't instantly have a huge number of followers but I did think by now I would have more than I do.  I must admit, I get a little envious when I see other blogs the same age as mine that have many, many more followers.  That can make me doubt what I am doing. I am being honest about that feeling because it is easy to feel like you are the only one whose blog is growing at a snail's pace.

I haven't discovered my niche.  Everything on the internet says you need one.  I am not good at sticking to one subject.  Mainly I talk about books because I love books.  They are my comfort, my escape, my education, and my safe place.  However, I also talk about vacations, kids, and random thoughts spinning around in my head.  Maybe I would be more successful if I stuck to one subject but I seem incapable of doing that.  And I will probably continue to write the occasional post about being a parent even though those are the least read things I ever write.  I am not sure why, but any parenting post seems to fall dead in the water.

I haven't gotten to grips with Twitter.  I keep trying but I know I am not using it to the full.  I still find it scary.  It feels a bit like speaking into a void or maybe, even worse, sitting down at the lunch table with the popular kids.  You don't know what reaction you are going to get,  maybe everyone will be friendly but maybe you will be ignored.  No, I wasn't one of the popular kids.  Too shy and quiet.

I haven't told anyone in my real life about this blog.  Well, my husband and kids know but that is it.  Should I?  Shouldn't I?  I can't decide so I do nothing.

I haven't been offered any free books to read and review.  There must be a way you can help that to happen but I don't know it.  But free books?  That would be living the dream.

I haven't convinced myself to write that many book reviews.  I like books, I like to talk about books, I don't necessarily like to write formal reviews of books.  I do it occasionally when I have something I particularly want to say or when I am doing a review for the Classics Club but I am just not motivated to review every book I read.  I don't think I can really call myself a book blogger which brings me straight back to having not found my niche.  Oh well.

But what has happened because I started blogging?

The biggest, and it sounds like a cliche, is that I have created something I am proud of.  It took a lot of work and effort for me to figure out how blogging worked.  I did it.  I fixed my mistakes and I learned new skills in the process.  There is still room for improvement but since I was a bit of a Luddite when it came to computers this is a huge step forward for me.

I found somewhere to use my desire to write.  I have always wanted to write but after several abortive attempts at writing fiction I thought that maybe it just wasn't for me.  Then I found blogging.  It seems this is for me. I enjoy it and I love the sense of satisfaction I receive when I publish a post.

I have a place for all the random thoughts in my head to go.  Not all of them get published but they have a home now and that gives me a clearer head and hopefully a less stressful life.

I discovered an interest in photography.  I am still not very good at it but I am taking small steps forward and that would not have happened if I hadn't needed photos for my blog.

I have found so many new books to read.  I have read book blogs for a long time but having my own has helped me to come across even more and that has introduced me to even more books.  My old method of finding books was to wander around the library but since I live in a small Connecticut town with a rubbish library system that didn't work too well.  Now I have an unending list of books I want to read.

Many kind and like-minded people have read my posts and commented on them.  I truly, truly appreciate that. I still get a thrill every time I get a notification about a new comment.  It just amazes me that people read what I write and then feel motivated to say something about it.

I wanted to write a witty and clever post to commemorate a year of this blog but somehow it didn't come.  Instead I had a head full of random thoughts.  But really, that is what my blog is all about, the random, frequently book based thoughts that swirl through my head.

Thank you for reading.

And now, here are a few of my favorite posts from the last year.

My Love Affair With England  

How To Turn Your Child Into A Reader

What I Want For My Daughter

Mansfield Park by Jane Austen

Tips for a Happy Marriage






13 comments

  1. I've been blogging for YEARS and don't have hundreds of thousands of followers. Or a niche. Although my parenting posts ARE the most popular ones. But here's one secret I can tell you: register on netgalley.com and you'll get free ebooks to review (you'll get some rejections but I was surprised how many acceptances I got straight away).

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    1. Well, your recommendation of Netgalley just kept me happily occupied for quite a while. I had heard of it before but thought you had to be a much bigger blogger to use it. I have signed up and spent an enjoyable evening browsing through the book possibilities.

      I always enjoy reading your parenting posts. They make me nostalgic for when my kids were little.

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  2. Congrats on a year of blogging! I really appreciate your honest thoughts, and I think many of us can relate to them. I was so depressed that I didn't instantly garner thousands (or at least dozens) of followers when I started my blog that I almost quit, but I'm glad I didn't.

    Here are some of the things I did that helped boost my following: 1. Visit and comment on other blogs. This invariably made a difference in my own traffic. 2. Participate in some memes. I'm not a huge fan of memes in general, but there are a couple I enjoy. 3. Participate in some events and challenges. The Book Blog Discussion Challenge has been great for generating more discussion (obs) and visiting among the participating bloggers. 4. Create your own event or challenge. I've done Witch Week, Elizabeth Goudge Reading Day, and the Reading New England challenge, and they have all been great fun for me and I hope for the participants as well. 5. Don't be afraid to reach out. I was super shy about this at first, but if you ask politely (for someone to write a guest post for your event, for example), people are mostly extremely kind and accommodating.

    With all of these, I think it's important not to do anything SOLELY to attract followers. Comment on posts when you have something of substance to say, create an event that you would enjoy even if nobody else came. Real interest and meaningful content shine through.

    I still don't have thousands of followers, and I think it's quite difficult to get the big numbers when there are so darn many of these little blogs out there. But I'm really happy with the relationships that blogging has made possible for me. Unless you want to blog for money, I don't think a "niche" is necessary. Just be you, and you'll find other people who want to meet and interact with you.

    As for free books, ask for them! I was also very reluctant to do this at first, but after a while I just started writing publishers and asking (politely, again) for books I was interested in. Some don't answer, but a good number of them do. There are lots of good tutorials out there on how to write a request letter.

    If you can't face that, another really good source is the Shelf Awareness Pro e-newsletter. In every day's issue there are ads where you can enter your contact info for a chance to receive ARCs. I like the fact that I don't feel so much pressure to actually review these, as I do when I've requested the book. (The danger is that then I over-request -- this is also my problem with NetGalley.)

    I hope your second year of blogging is even better than the first. Good luck!

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    1. Wow, what a huge and detailed response. Thank you and have you ever thought of writing a blog post on how to make a success of your blog? I think it would be a great resource.

      You have given me a lot to think about. I already try to comment on other blogs when I have something to say but some of your other ideas are new to me. It never occurred to me that I could just write to publishers and request books. Oh my. I signed up for Netgalley and the newsletter you mentioned. Both sound interesting.

      I am not solely concerned with followers but it is true that they are an indication of whether or not you are just speaking into a void. Sometimes I am okay with that and I feel good about just having published something, sometimes I would like a little more feedback. But then I write a post were I get long and detailed comments, like this one, and I decide numbers don't matter.


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    2. I'm glad you found my comment useful! And as I was writing it I thought "Hm, I could use this in a post" -- I hope you don't mind if I plagiarize myself.

      I think it's completely normal to want to feel that someone is reading what you write. If not, we wouldn't do it in a public forum like this. How many people is enough? I'd say I have about twenty commenters/bloggers I interact with on a regular basis. It feels like a good size group to me, but others might be content with less, or need more. And it did take at least a year and a half to get there, so don't give up yet.

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    3. I definitely think you should write the blog post. It is the type of thing I kept searching for, especially when I first started blogging.

      I am not going to give up. I really do enjoy blogging. I think I just wanted people to know that it can take a while to find readers. When I would try to research it (because I research everything) I kept finding posts saying things like "if you are a small blog of only a few hundred followers" and I would just read that and laugh because here I was with a handful of followers, if that. A few hundred sounded, and sounds, like an impossible dream. I think it is important for new bloggers to realize that things take a while and that what you really want are people who interact with your blog and who keep coming back to read more.

      I am starting to think I have a lot to say about this subject too....

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  3. I've only just discovered your blog but I think you should just write what you want rather than trying to find a niche. Sometimes it does feel as though no one is listening but then you'll get a comment or someone will recommend a book because of a post you've written & the conversation begins. I think Lory also has some good suggestions. As she says, if you read & comment on other blogs, other people will discover your blog. I don't have thousands of followers at all & I don't really trust Blogger's stats so I'm not sure how many people read my blog every day but I'm happy to keep writing. I love comments but the blog started as a reading diary & it still is mostly that, even though the cats & the garden make the odd appearance.

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    1. I have given up on the niche, it just isn't me. So I will continue to talk mainly about books with a few other things thrown in.

      Really, all it takes is one comment or one conversation to make it feel worthwhile. I just think it is a bit of a shock to realize that it takes so long to build an audience. And Blogger's stats are downright ridiculous.

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  4. Happy 1 year of blogging! My blog anniversary is on Wednesday! so we basically started at pretty much the same time! I understand well your feelings about your blog. I too get envious when I see how many followers some bloggers have or when they get free stays at the hotel or free trips in return for a blog post!:) But I too like you am pretty proud of what I've done with my blog. And it has given me something to do and it's a way for me to relax and do what I like: write and read about travel. I haven't travelled more because of my blog, that hasn't happened. :) take care x

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    1. Congratulations on your one year of blogging. You have done really well. I am sue one of these days I will be reading about your free hotel stay or free trip but even if that doesn't happen we can both be proud of what we have created.

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  5. A whole year! Well done.

    I started my Soliloquy blog in 2002. Until 2013, I had a handful of followers -- fewer than 20. I knew most of them in person outside the blogging world. But in 2013, I started participating in events hosted by other bloggers. I started following a few more blogs myself. I joined a blog party or two, hosted my first blog party, hosted my first read-along, and... I made friends. It's been fantastic.

    I also started a blog dedicated to books and bookish topics, and it's nice having a place dedicated solely to those. But I enjoy my original blog more, the one that's about movies, writing, and life in general. I don't have a focus or a niche there, and I'm fine with that because, as a person, I have So Many Interests that limiting my blog to just one thing would bore me. And be a poor representation of me. Likewise, I think your blog is plenty focused -- you talk about books and life, and those are very compatible subjects :-)

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    1. I am always impressed by people who have more than one blog. That is a lot of work! You do seem to be very actively involved in the blogging world. I am always seeing that you are doing read-alongs etc.

      Much as I love books they are not the only thing I want to talk about. They are just the thing I talk about most often....

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