Dear (book) bloggers,
I’m writing in response to posts I’ve come across recently from some of you. Like me, you’ve self-identified as “book bloggers,” but maybe you’re starting to feel a little hemmed in by the label. Maybe you’re itching to branch out in some new directions, but you’re not sure exactly how–or what sort of reaction you’ll get if you do. As Becca said, and I get the feeling she’s not alone:
“I have been trying to decide for myself whether I really want to continue blogging. I have been reading but the thought of writing a review seems boring (gasp!) and I think I need a new approach to blogging in order to kick start my mojo, if you will.
“I am contemplating creating a blog that goes beyond books and book reviews and book news and stretches into all kinds of things I am interested in. I have so many more interests than reading and I would like to explore them. I have thoughts on so many subjects that I have no platform for. I want a blog where I can write whatever the hell I want to and not worry that it is not book-related. I realize this may turn some readers off but you can’t please everyone, right?”
I’ve been preaching this particular bit of gospel all year, and I’ll say it one more time:
THERE’S NO ONE RIGHT WAY TO DO THIS.
There are plenty of people who would disagree. Heck, there’s an entire industry based around How to Blog, and no shortage of “expert” answers to questions about content development, niches, platforms, engagement, and a bunch of other buzzwords. But you don’t have to listen to all of them, or any of them–and you certainly don’t have to listen to me. I hope you will, though, for a minute.
I’m different from some of you. I knew from the beginning that this blog wouldn’t be about books alone. I knew not too long after the beginning that I didn’t want to divide my interests across several blogs–I wasn’t going to find my “niche,” because I wasn’t going to look for it. I blog a lot about books and reading because they’re a big part of my life, but they’re not MY LIFE. For most of the nearly seven years I’ve had this space, I’ve been unapologetic about that–and I’m a chronic apologizer, so that’s saying something.
I can see how it might feel different if you’ve established your blog as a Place That’s About Books, and chosen not to blog about anything that wasn’t at least mildly book-related. You may be feeling as if you’re breaking an agreement with your blog readers if you bring other topics into the conversation. And to be honest, some of your readers may feel that way too…but it doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll lose them. As long as you don’t abandon books completely, they probably won’t abandon you–they just may skip over the posts that don’t interest them. They may even discover that some of your non-book-related posts DO interest them after all. And people who aren’t all that into book-related content may just discover that you’re interesting, period.
In my experience, readers don’t stick with blogs like ours because of what the person blogs about. They stick around because they get to know, and (hopefully) like, the voice of the blog and the person behind it. Opening up your blog to a wider range of the interests and opinions that make you YOU offers us more chances to do that.
I hope you’ll take that chance. Your blog is your space, and the only real rules it has are the ones you make–and break. Do what you want with it, and please don’t apologize for it.
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