It’s Tuesday and Day 8 of Blogtober… so that can only mean one thing – it’s time for a Top Ten Tuesday Post!
Today’s post is all about celebrating my top ten achievements since starting my blog. It’s good to give ourselves a pat on the back sometimes. It’s also a great opportunity to talk about my blogging journey so far!
Starting a blog… and then sticking with it!
I will be the first person to hold my hands up and admit that I am TERRIBLE for starting projects and never seeing them through. I like to try new things and before I found my feet blogging, I was always abandoning one project or another.
Blogging is the exception to the rule! It was a slow start in the first four months or so whilst I got to grips with it. Once I had established a routine though, the whole experience became a lot easier and I have never looked back! Having never really done it before, it was a huge leap of faith. I think it helped that back then I was only doing it for me. It was my outlet to talk about books. Now, I still do it for me, but I do enjoy getting a like now and again! I can’t lie…
Getting onto Social Media
I have always been terrible at using social media. On a personal level, I hardly use it at all except to look at silly cat videos on the internet and the like. My Facebook profile picture gets updated maybe once a year. Yeah, it’s like that.
I never liked Twitter for a personal account. I had nothing to post, nothing to say. My blog changed that. I’m not the kind of person to take photographs all that often either… unless it’s books. That is a blog influence as well though. My personal Instagram account never took off either.
I wouldn’t call myself an expert – far from it! I have a reason to make an effort with it now, and that is the difference!
Engaging with a fabulous community of book bloggers
I started my blog as a means to talk about the books I love; it was primarily for me. By starting it, a new world opened up to me. Other bloggers with the same interests as me suddenly came to my attention and I had an audience to write to. Through bloggers, I have been introduced to more books, genres and authors.
Two and a half years on I still enjoy getting a like or a comment on my blog. I don’t think that will ever change. It’s nice to know that somebody cares to take the time to read something you have put effort into.
Switching to Self Hosting
Probably one of the biggest things I did last year was move my blog and domain name to a self-hosted site. I have never done anything like it before, so it was a total learning curve. Thankfully, there are plenty of resources on the internet to make the process as straight-forward as possible!
It wasn’t hiccup-free, but I got there. Eventually. Those few days whilst my domain was being re-registered were the longest ever!
Going “public” to friends/family
I only did this a few months ago. For a long time, I kept my blog private from friends and family. I had no idea how they would react to my hobby (and having kept it quiet so long). In hindsight, I was daft to worry. I guess I was worried about how they would react to it, or that they wouldn’t and I’d be met with a wall of indifference. My family have been very supportive and I feel a lot better for being able to talk about what I am doing more openly. There were some happy moments but also some disappointments when it comes to friends. I had some great reactions from some friends I didn’t expect to back me at all. There are also friends that haven’t acknowledged it or supported me when I really thought they would. It was bound to happen I guess.
Getting onto Publisher Mailing lists
Receiving copies of books in exchange for a review is always an exciting time! Who doesn’t love book mail? When I first started my blog I struck up relationships with some smaller publishers. As I was relatively new to the scene, they were more willing to give me a chance. After about a year of blogging, I decided to chance my luck and contact Gollancz about a new release they were advertising having ARCs for. And I got one! I was expecting my request to go ignored, but no. I have received several other books since then and I am always looking forward to the next one that catches my eye.
Also… working with indie authors!
Working with indie authors is a completely different experience, but I would argue that it is a lot more rewarding. I have struck up some good relationships with indie authors for whom I have written reviews. Many have come back to me with new books to review as well. Indie authors offer a far more personal experience to the book reviewing process. Many of them don’t have the representation others benefit from, so anything you can do is so much more appreciated and ultimately, grants a greater sense of achievement in helping them.
It may seem like a small thing, but I have noticed an improvement in my writing. Not only is it a lot easier to take those first steps and start a post, but they flow a lot better too. I have found my voice. It’s an invaluable skill and one I use a lot at work. Even my work colleagues have commented on how well I can draft an email.
Completing my Goodreads Reading Challenges
I don’t quite know how I have managed to complete every challenge I have set myself (so far)! Maybe it is because I can be stubborn when I want to be. In fact, for two years I have increased the number of books in my reading challenge, in 2017 and again this year. Equally, it could be that I am just getting quicker at reading or better at managing my time. I can’t pinpoint any one thing that decides how I manage, but it works, somehow.
This has been saved for last because I think it is the most important achievement. It’s also been the longest journey as it starts in my childhood. I used to wear my heart on my sleeve; I couldn’t take criticism at all. Friend or stranger alike, I took people’s opinions to heart. In high school, I started Performing Arts lessons as a way of putting myself under scrutiny. It was a safe way of doing it and it taught me, gradually, to accept constructive criticism as advice, rather than someone being hurtful.
Look at me now; I couldn’t stand out any more on account of my green hair and how I pour my passion onto the internet, practically inviting people to disagree with me.
Confidence isn’t something you wake up with one day, but it builds with time. In its own way, starting my blog, sticking with it and sharing my love of reading has helped me discover a greater sense of self. I am happiest when talking about my blog, or what I am reading. I wouldn’t say I am reliant on it, but the acceptance and inclusion of many has helped. There has been the odd time when I have met with less favourable opinions (or a lack of opinion when I expected one) of my hobby. It doesn’t matter, in the grand scheme of things, because I am doing what I love to do.
I still wear my heart on my sleeve sometimes, proven by the fact that I have gotten a little emotional writing this section. I’m not invincible, as much as I try to be. So whilst I am feeling soppy, let me say thank you. Thank you to everyone who reads my posts and drops likes or comments. Thank you to the friends and family who listen to my rambling, whether you are interested or not. And lastly, thank you to those that reminded me that those who mind don’t matter and those who matter, don’t mind.