I started this blog on Boxing Day 2010, just over 6 years ago. I created the accompanying Twitter account on the same day. I could never have imagined just how much of an impact either would have had on my life.
I blogged after chairing my first panel, at Waterstones Piccadilly last October, about the incredible journey of the last 3 years or so. I was thinking about doing a post today looking back at all the amazing things blogging has brought to me – and there HAVE been a ton of amazing things – but I think that post covers a lot of them, to be honest. For me, the huge thing has been that I’ve made so many incredible friends on Twitter and through the blog who’ve grown to become really close friends offline as well as on.
So I thought maybe I’d share a few things I’d learned over 1000 posts, and some advice to new bloggers or people thinking about blogging.
I’m no longer really worried about what other people are doing. At the start of the blog, I was writing full length reviews, taking part in memes, and posting author interviews, because that’s what everyone else I was following was doing. Over the past few years, I’ve realised I don’t enjoy writing long reviews, but I love ‘shelf talking’ books with quick quotes – and Litsy is perfect for doing that, so I’ve shifted to posting brief reviews on Litsy then collecting them here. Publishers seem happy, as I’m getting them exposure here, on Litsy, and also posting on Amazon, Goodreads and Twitter. I’m not generally keen on memes and other people’s features, with the exception of the wonderful Top Ten Tuesday at the Broke and the Bookish, but I love a couple I’ve created myself, so it’s great to have regular weekend things. And I’ve started writing many, many more personal posts, rather than always talking about books.
Advice: Your blog is YOUR blog. Do what you want with it, whatever works best for you. It’s great to be inspired by others but don’t feel the need to do something/not do something JUST because you think that’s what everyone else is doing. And don’t be afraid to try different things; my blog currently is incredibly different from what it was this time last year!
Reading and listening is more important than writing and speaking. The amount of knowledge I’ve gained over the last six years from incredible people like the Safe Space UK team, Justina Ireland, Wei Ming Kam, Juno Dawson, Nikesh Shukla, Dahlia Adler, Vee, Celeste Pewter, Ava Jae and so, so many others is phenomenal. About books, definitely – but also about so many other things, including feminism, racism, religion, gender and sexuality. One of the things which has really changed the way I look at the world is I’ve gone from being someone who would speak without thinking, to someone who wants to use their voice appropriately. There are some topics close to my heart that I really want to talk about – and I’m so glad that people have responded well to lots of my personal posts over recent months! However there are also lots of topics where I’m not a great person to speak out (partly due to my own understanding not being good enough at times) and I’m so glad to be able to signal-boost people and learn from them.
Advice: Listen carefully to people, especially those with significantly different life experiences to you. Do your research, use Google and Twitter search rather than asking people questions they’ve been asked dozens of times before, and apologise if you screw up. Lots of us do, and a sincere apology and doing whatever you can to put things right is definitely the best way to follow up a mistake.
And the most important thing I’ve learned, I think, is that I’m a more social person than I previously realised, and finding wonderful friends who support and inspire me has pretty clearly changed my life. I don’t want to go into a long list – mainly because I’ll leave people out! – but a very very VERY big thank you to the people who made me incredibly welcome in book club; Asti, Caitlin, Caroline, Charlie, Daphne, Faye, Julianne and Stacey. And most of all to Debbie, who as well as being queen of spreadsheets and an awesome blogger is the person I turn to most often for advice, guidance, and to tell me if I’m screwing up.
Advice: Find your people. Whether it’s through your blog, on Twitter, elsewhere on social media, or meeting up with them offline. (Cheap plug; if you’re London-based and you’re over 18 check out @meetUKYA and come join me, co-organiser Julianne, and lots of other fabulous YA lovers at a #drinkYA!) And make sure they’re people who will lift you up, but who will also call you out if you’re messing up. Then do the same for them, obviously!
Thank you to everyone who’s read my blog over these past 1000 posts, and who’s followed/interacted with me on Twitter. Hopefully, there’s still a lot to come from me yet!