Oh 2013 was a strange and wonderful year for blogging (for me!) For each high I hit, for each time I had this bloggy thing figured out- there was a low (not always- but enough lows to keep me humble & knowing the bloggy thing was still not figured out!)
2013 was my first full year as a book blogger (yes, in 2012 I’d blogged about books- but I was still finding myself)- so 2013 was a test. Did I pass the test or not? All depends on how you want to grade the test (which is a lesson!)
I “met” new Twitter friends, I got to go to great bookish events ( hello, Louisiana Book Festival, Meeting Rita Leganski, Meeting Jill McCorkle, Meeting Jenny Milchman, Meeting Cassandra King, Hanging Out with Susan Gregg Gilmore and Lisa Patton, Meeting Anton DiSclafani, Meeting Susan Crandall, Meeting Stephanie Evanovich, Meeting Marie Moore, & Meeting Ashton Lee.), and I was named the She Reads Online Discussion Book Club Leader and Twitter Host (yes, still pretty jazzed over that!)
I felt my blog grow, change and evolve- into something that not only did I like- something that I was proud of. I started asking authors for interviews, using the terms #literaryconfessions & #literarycrush, and began spotlighting other bloggers with a Bloggers Made of AWESOME feature!
I gave advice (or at least opened a dialogue for discussion) on these topics: Reblogging, Giveaways, & Are You a Commenter or Lurker?). I thought hard about what I wanted as a blogger- how I wanted to be known. I created a Review Policy (thanks Bloggiesta for that push!), I started a Facebook page for Traveling With T, I tweeted (and tweeted some more!) and I even went over to G+!
Branding was a hot topic that I read more about and began thinking about more- as Traveling With T evolves. I’m still working and learning more about it- but and I know that some people disagree with this: As of now- I’m not turning all my social media into 1 big brand. Why? I was @rockstar1023 on Twitter way before I even considered being anything else- and for me, that works. I’m known (not like Madonna or Kardashian’s known- but known) and I’m cool with my level of followers and my tweets. Although, one day- in the far off future, in a galaxy far, far away- I would use my knowledge about branding in a different way.
I was interviewed twice this year- once by Katherine Scott and the other time by Pages Unbound– both interviews were super fun and allowed me to give some of the best advice to bloggers: Blog, baby, blog. I even confessed my part in literary hijinxs at Eudora Welty’s house!
Important Things I Learned in 2013
1. You are going to have days where you feel on top of the world and all the bloggy gods are smiling upon you and the air is thick with glitter and sparkles. Then some days, it’s not. It’s terrible. You go through a bloggy slump. A reading slump. No publicists are contacting you. You get denied for the tour of the year. You will survive. You will overcome. Maybe you need to reassess. Maybe you need to realize that not every day is going to be a GREAT day. But, you can and will find your groove. Find your happy place. And, while it’s tempting to listen to everyone’s advice when you are feeling insecure- just take a deep breath and don’t make drastic changes- #keepcalmandblogon. Trust. Because, seriously, and I say this with all the love, kindness and sparkles I can- while, yes, blogging is social- if you aren’t happy with the blog, the content- then it’s going to show. And you have to take time to find your voice. Find your groove. Trust.
2. Tours- oh the allure of blog tours. Getting free books, getting to interview authors, getting exposed to other bloggers. I participate in a few tours- and I do love them. But, not all are created equal. Make sure you feel good about the tour/blog relationship and know that if you don’t- it just might not be the right place for you.
3. Find your bloggy group- but always make time for new experiences, new bloggy friends. You want to have bloggy friends you can trust and that’ll be honest with you- but make sure to make time for other bloggy interests. Or welcome a new face to the crowd- be a big sister to a new blogger.
4. Blogging can be a 2 way street. Share blog posts, comment, nurture that 2 way street- don’t be a taker. Give and take. Give and take.
5. Honor bloggy commitments and be honest. It may not affect your bloggy reputation immediately- you may never face any fallout- but you want to have good bloggy karma.
6. Manage your schedule! Things WILL come up. Life will happen. It’s better for you to be generous with time allowed for reading and posting than to feel rushed.
7. Understand that you are not going to get every ARC (you can’t read them all if you did anyway!) Nurture the relationships you do have with publicists.
8. In fact, NURTURE all the relationships you have with publicists, bloggers, authors and more book-ish people by being authentic. Because, after all, being the real you is the one thing that never goes out of style.
9. Take chances. Break rules. What works for others may not work for you. Find your own bloggy beat and march to that rhythm.
10. Take advantage of bloggy services: scheduling your posts, etc. Will make life easier.
11. Take some time monthly or quarterly or every 6 months to assess the blog, to think about features, to schedule posts. To plan!
12. Most importantly: HAVE FUN.
For more bloggy advice and a shout-out to bloggers who might be questioning things or having a bad day- read Traveling With T’s A Million and 1 Ways To Be A Blogger.