So today’s date (or, at least, around today’s date!) marks my sixth year of running Writing from the Tub! I started this blog shortly after I graduated from university and it’s been one of the most fulfilling hobbies I’ve ever had.
When I first sat at my rickety old laptop in my rented flat in Bath, a recent creative writing graduate in the height of the recession (you can imagine how fun the job hunting process was!), I never dreamed that this blog would lead onto the amazing opportunities, brilliant events and incredible new friendships that I’ve made. While the blogging scene has changed a lot since I started (when blogger events barely existed and blogs tours, NetGalley and BookTube were just a twinkle in the internet’s eye), I still love writing about books just as much as I did this time six years ago. Long may it continue!
To celebrate this milestone, I want to share my top six blogging commandments to help you a happier, more relaxed blogger:
1. Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s proof copy
‘Comparison is the thief of joy’ – truuuue. Don’t let yourself get sad/stressed/hellbent on rage just because a round of proofs have been sent out and you didn’t get one. Marketing departments are stretched thin and can’t send books out to everybody – it’s that simple. It’s not a reflection on you or the quality of your blog so don’t get passive aggressive or start tagging the publicity department in beggy tweets. If you’re desperate for the book then pre-order that sucker and start counting down the days.
2. Thou shalt not get bogged down with deadlines
Remember, you’re doing this as an unpaid hobby – for fun! You’re not part of a marketing department and your job is not to sell books. If you’re too busy studying/working/socialising to work to deadlines – don’t! Make it clear in your review policy that you don’t review books to deadlines and don’t let yourself get put under pressure to take part in blog tours you don’t want to. This is your space on the internet so you’re in charge.
3. Thou shalt respond to all emails in a timely manner
Seriously, this is one of the hardest on the list, I know. It’s so tempting to leave tens of emails in your inbox to respond to when you ‘have time’ but, let’s face, none of us have enough hours in the day. If you can reply to it within two minutes then knock out a reply there and then and move the email to a sub-folder. Tidy inbox, tidy mind.
4. Thou shalt create content you’re proud of
Because if you’re not proud of what you’re creating, what’s the point? This is a piece of advice I really need to take on board myself, as I’m guilty of getting overwhelmed with review copies and churning out reviews that I’m not particularly proud of. I can totally hold my hands up and say that I go through phases where it feels like I’m just going through the motions, and it’s not a good feeling. If you’re feeling like your blog’s in a bit of a rut then say hello to commandment number five…
5. Thou shalt take blogging breaks
If you can write up three posts a week for six years and not get blogging burnout then I seriously need to know your secret. It’s totally natural to feel uninspired every so often and when blogging becomes a chore, it’s best to take a step back and have a little break. Whether that break lasts for a week or six months, that’s up to you but taking time off can work wonders for your creativity. And never panic that you’ll become irrelevant and nobody will read your blog when you come back. Plenty of my original blogging buddies have taken breaks of more than six months and I’m always first in line to read their posts when they come back.
6. Thou shalt not become a slave to stats
To be clear, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with monitoring your stats. In fact, I think you should – stats are great! However, do not become obsessed with looking at them, and don’t determine your blog’s worth on your stats. Some months mine are wayyy down and sometimes they’ll triple for no apparent reason. Everything from calendar events to the weather to what’s on TV can impact your stats so don’t get stressed if you’re not growing and growing every month or if your favourite posts don’t get the most views – if you loved creating them, that’s what matters. Write posts because you enjoy it, not because your happiness depends on 1000s of people reading them.