I warned you on Tuesday that I was blogging about blogging this week. I’ve had a few other thoughts about “trends in blogging” since that post went up–some are in the comment thread there, and some are coming at you now.
Some long-time book bloggers made a deliberate choice, early on, to limit their content to book-related posts because they didn’t want their blogs to be too personal or revealing. Some blogged anonymously or under screen names, and some just didn’t want to expose their lives online. And some of us read–and tried to heed–the advice that a blog needed to “focus on its niche” to be “successful;” if we couldn’t figure out how to make a post work in our niche, we might just have to leave it off the blog.
Regarding that last point, the kind of “success” that advice addresses is largely of the professional/commercial variety, and that’s neither a goal nor a desire for many individual book bloggers. (And even if it is, if it comes at all, it’s usually because your blog was a gateway to other opportunities.) Once I clued into that, I happily realized there were so many blogging “rules” I could freely ignore.
In other cases, those choices were made before social media became so tightly woven into our blogs and our lives. It’s complicated to maintain different personas and communicate in different ways across Twitter and Facebook and Instagram and our own blog spaces…and maybe it’s just not worth bothering. Maybe some of the changes we’re seeing in blog content–more personal, more idiosyncratic–are motivated less by moving away from commercialism and more by wanting our blogs to be a better, fuller reflection of who we are and what we love to talk about.
Bryan tweeted this to me on Tuesday morning, after my post went up. I read Jamie’s blog, but I gave up on Tumblr forever ago, so I never would have seen her feelings on the state of the book-blogging community if he hadn’t pointed me to them. The quote echoes my own blogger credo, which I’ve bolded for emphasis.
People are way too concerned with what other people are doing: I mean, yes, of course we care about what others are doing. But what I mean is this thing that has been going on wherein people try to dtell others how to blog or what a book blogger looks like. Imma drop a truthbomb here….there is NO ONE WAY TO DO THIS. As a blogger, you can do whatever you want (exception: illegal and actual bad things). But here’s the thing…people start their blogs for many reasons. People criticize those who “don’t do negative reviews.” THAT DOES NOT MEAN THEY ARE NOT HONEST. It could mean a number of things. That there blog is a place to talk about BOOKS THEY ARE READING AND LIKE. When I signed up to be a book blogger there was no RULE that said that you must be analytic and critical and post EVERYTHING you read. Some people want to spend time talking about books they like. Some want to be critical. IT IS ALL VALID. We need ALL of it. People who are looking for a reading journal type blog, will find it. People who are looking for new book recs and don’t want to wade through what books people didn’t like, will find it. People who want scholarly, literary criticism WILL FIND IT. It’s all here and that is great. IT IS. So the shaming that happens? IT IS SAD because it makes people feel like they are not valid as book bloggers. Who cares if someone posts all discussions or all reviews or doesn’t do this or does this. If ya don’t like it, click out….there are SO MANY OTHER BLOGS OUT THERE FOR YOU DOING THE THING THAT YOU ARE LOOKING FOR. What I loved about the blogging community when I started was that everyone was doing their own thing. Just be HONEST. DO YOU. Stay true to YOURSELF and do what makes you happy. It’s really simple. Let your blog reflect who you really are as a reader — not who you think you should be or what you feel pressure to be.
Maybe your concerns about blogging into 2015 are more practical than existential–that is, whatever version of you your blog reflects, you want to tweak its presentation. This is a great time to find help with that. BlogHer is launching BlogHer University this month:
“Each month in 2015, we’ll be delving into a blogging or social media topic that will help you improve your blogging and social media skills. Every month we’ll have a new course, and we’ll be talking on Twitter twice a week (follow @BlogHer and #BlogHerU) so you can ask the experts your questions.”
Schooling begins with how to add text to pictures, as follows:
- Thursday, Jan 8: Basic design principles to follow when putting words on pictures
- Tuesday, Jan 13: Font pairing
- Thursday, Jan 15: Best practices and great resources for finding images you can use
- Tuesday, Jan 20: Getting the most out of the WordSwag app
- Thursday, Jan 22: How to use PicMonkey
- Tuesday, Jan 27: How to use Canva
- Thursday, Jan 29: Other resources, tips, and tricks you should know
Before you start on all that, though, you might want to see if you’re making any of these blog-design mistakes. A lack of visual appeal could be one of the reasons that readers don’t share your posts. Design also matters to your blog’s newsletter, if you have one.
Life is so much easier for copyright holders today than it was just 25 years ago. In earlier days, a creator actually had to include a copyright notice on their work in order for that work to be copyrighted. (And before that, they had to actually register their work.) Now as soon as you bring your work into the world, it belongs to you whether you include a copyright notice or not.
But registration and notices still have some utility. A copyright registration is handy if you ever need to prove that you’re the owner of a copyright, especially if you register the copyright within five years of publication, and a notice can serve as a deterrent to copying — and lets people know who to contact in order to secure a license.
If your blog doesn’t already have a copyright notice, you might think about putting that on your To-Do list for this weekend’s Mini-Bloggiesta–time to get your blog all spruced up for the new year!