I think I’ve learned a lot in the 1.5 years I’ve been blogging, and I’m really happy with where I am now! But it wasn’t always rainbows and butterflies…
I’ve gone through three “why I blog” stages:
- My initial hopes and dreams: categorizing, indexing, and alphabetizing.
- Tumbling down into the dark abyss: a world of sex, drugs, and alcohol (a.k.a. “free books”)
- The light at the end of the tunnel: growing up, and new priorities
Stage #1: Categorizing, indexing, and alphabetizing
I first started blogging for somewhat nerdy reasons. I used to be a big COLLECTOR of books. Meaning I loved signed copies, first editions, old books.. things like that. I was constantly counting, organizing, and alphabetizing. I wanted to know how many books I had, what type they were, whether or not they were signed or first editions, etc.
At the time, I had no idea what Goodreads was, which probably would have done that exact same job for me. But instead, I thought of the idea of a book blog. I knew I was going to use self-hosted WordPress, which is database driven. Database driven sites are perfect for that kinds of categorizing and sorting, so it was perfect for me! I thought I could review books and tag those books with certain properties (like “Signed” or “First Edition”) and then I’d easily be able to use queries to determine how many of each kind I had.
Stage #2: Succumbing to a world of sex, drugs, and alcohol…. I mean… free books
A couple weeks into my book blogging career, I kind of tumbled. I got drawn into this magical world of FREE BOOKS. Free books take many forms: ARCs, conventions, and giveaways. My eyes lit up at the thought of free advanced copies from publishers! I wanted to be one of those big blogs that got piles of ARCs in the mail every week. I wanted to be invited to publisher offices and conventions.
I stalked giveaway hops like a crazy person, entering almost every single one… even if I didn’t really want the book. I lost all sense of reason.
Current Me: Ashley, why would you enter to win books you don’t really want?
Past Me: Uhh, who cares? They’re FREE!
It wasn’t until I actually won one of those books I didn’t want that it finally hit me… why was I doing this? I just took that book from another person who may have really wanted it.
After this revelation, I stopped entering giveaways for books I didn’t want.. but I didn’t stop entering. I was still addicted to getting books for free. I requested ARCs, I went through a crazy downloading frenzy when I got auto-approved for HarperTeen books on Edelweiss, and I got buried under a huge mountain of TBR books.
Stage #3: Growing up and new priorities
At some point – I’m not even sure when – I stopped entering giveaways. I just stopped. I think it was because I’d gotten to a point where I had easy access to eARCs, and there weren’t many books I wanted to buy after that. Or if there were, I wanted ecopies and people always give away print copies from The Book Depository. Whatever the reason, this was a HUGE step for me.
Then came another turning point: the success of my Bitchin’ Book Blog feature. This is a feature I run on my blog where I post blogging, coding, and WordPress tips. It has become a pretty huge hit. With the rise of that feature, and the slow realization that ARCs are not “all that”, my priorities have shifted.
I’m no longer addicted to getting ARCs. I no longer want huge piles of books on my doorstep every week from publishers. I no longer want freebies or gifts or review obligations.
Although I do mostly post reviews on my blog, I now see my blog as so much more than just a book review blog. I get the most pleasure out of posting my discussions and blogging tips. I love coming up with new ideas for those, I love answering peoples’ questions, and I love seeing the reactions to those posts.
I think discussions are what make the book blogging world interesting. They get people thinking and engaged more than book reviews do (at least on my blog). I love sitting down and having chats with people about something we both love: books.
If you want my advice: don’t get caught up in the world of ARCs and giveaways. In the beginning it may seem like they’re “all that” – like they’re something the ‘cool’ bloggers get, or like they’re something to aspire to receive. Yes, getting ARCs now and then are still nice, but don’t get addicted. Don’t request (or enter to win) anything and everything. If you do this, you’ll find yourself drowning, unable to keep up, and with a shitty NetGalley “books reviewed” ratio.
Why do you blog? Have your reasons changed since you started blogging?
A very special and genuine thank you to Ashley for this insightful and fun post!