Many Paths, But No One Right One: On Blogger Development

Because yesterday was my Wordless Wednesday Link-up, I didn’t talk about Armchair BEA’s Day 2 discussion topic, “Development,” then. But since I won’t be talking about the Day 3 topic, “Giveaways,” at all, I’m taking the opportunity to backtrack:

“Day 2 we talk about how we develop ourselves as bloggers.  Have you branched out into your community? Do you partner with other bloggers?  Have you gone “pro” or begun supplementing your income through your blog?  Are you a long-term blogger, and how has your online personality developed over the years?”

I’ve been doing this since 2007. If I never changed up the way I do it, I doubt I’d have stuck with it this long! Granted, some things have changed more than others. The basic format of my Book Talk review posts has stayed pretty constant for quite awhile, and I haven’t made any major changes in the look of the blog for nearly four years. (That said, I did make a change a week or two ago; after almost five years, I left the BlogHer Publishing Network to join the Riot Ad Network.)  However, my posting frequency has varied from daily to “almost daily” to “three times a week if I can manage it” and back again; I’ve introduced, and dropped, recurring features; and at times the content has skewed so much more toward the “randomness” than the “reading” and “‘riting” that I’ve had mixed feelings about even identifying as a book blogger.

Rose Reading Room, NYPL, June 2012

The biggest thing that helps me keep hold of that identity is the community of book bloggers, and the opportunities I’ve had as part of that community. I’ve teamed up with other bloggers on several projects over the years (including organizing Armchair BEA), and I’ve had the great luck to meet quite a few bloggers in person, both locally in Southern California and in New York City at BEA 2011 and 2011. (And in some cases there’s been overlap.) Face-to-face connection has cemented some friendships born online, and helped to sustain a connection even when the common bond of blogging has faded. The composition of the community changes as bloggers come and go, but the concept of it endures.  

I’ve always hoped that blogging would help me grow in new directions–and I believe it has–but sometimes it seems that growth as a blogger and growth of the blog don’t line up perfectly. In my first few years, I tried to follow much of the popular advice for growing a blog–recommendations about content, posting, promotion, and all that. I think I learned a lot of value from that, but it took me much too long to understand that advice aimed mostly at “professional” bloggers might not always fit the approach of “hobbyist” bloggers–and I’ve had to accept that my life’s not in a place right now where this really can be anything other than a hobby (although it has led to a little side job). That understanding leads to another one, which may the most important lesson of all:


My best blogging advice is “Read a lot of other blogs.” You’ll see what you like and what you don’t, and as you learn what inspires you, you’ll figure out how those inspirations can shape your own blogging. And sometimes, stepping back for a bit ends up being the best way to move forward.

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