For What It's Worth

For What It's Worth

Friday, January 19, 2018

the friday 5




I had meant to do a series of posts for my 8 year blogging anniversary but ended up taking the whole month off – which is soooo me, I will always do the opposite of what I decide to do if I make a plan. lol

I’m going to do it as a series of Friday 5 posts instead. I’m kicking it off with the 5 things I wish I new before I started blogging. I have a few topics in mind but feel free to offer suggestions.

5 THINGS I WISH I KNEW BEFORE I STARTED BLOGGING

1. HOW TIME CONSUMING BLOGGING IS: Blogging takes up so much time. SO. MUCH. TIME. Between reading, reviewing, FORMATTING (the bane of every bloggers existence), cross posting reviews, responding to emails, answering comments, visiting and commenting on other blogs, social media & a million little things you never thought you would be doing – like finding the PERFECT graphic or font. Even if you don't do all of that - just basic reading and reviewing/commenting can become a full time job. Easily.

Blogging really is hard to keep up with long term and sometimes life gets in the way or your mood/tastes change. Go easy on yourself and understand that almost all of us struggle at some point.

2. I WISH I KNEW PEOPLE WOULD READ MY BLOG: This sounds like a dumb one, but I honestly, never in a million years, thought anyone would even find my blog – never mind interact with me or care what I have to say.

This wasn’t even supposed to be a book blog when I started. It was more like…Hey, I went to the movies today and saw___, I heard this cool song on the radio this morning, or I read a book and it was good. lol

This is not a bad thing, of course! I’m thrilled that my little old blog was successful and has lasted this long – but I was totally stunned to that anyone would read it. I think I would have planned things  a little better - or like - had a plan at all - had I known this was going to become a long term thing. Viewed by actual people. Or maybe been paralyzed by fear and not started a blog at all.

Sometimes ignorance is bliss.

3. I WOULD HAVE COORDINATED MY BLOG AND SOCIAL MEDIA BETTER: Kind of related to number 2, but since I didn’t think anyone would read my blog, I signed up my blog on one email – quickly realized I needed an official blog email and created a different one, used @teamsheltie as my social media handle instead of the blog name, but used my real name or blog name on other things. It’s sort of a hot mess lol

I'm intensely shy and I had never intended to use my real name. I planned on doing all of this anonymously. Again, thinking no one would read it and never imagining that I would actually meet or be friends with any of you in real life!

The first few years I went to BEA, I would meet other bloggers and they would ask where I blogged. I would tell them For What It’s Worth and…blank stare. Then they would look at my badge that had my Twitter name on there and be like “OH TEAMSHELTIE! I know your dogs! I love them and I do read your blog!” I learned that my pets are way better ambassador's for my blog than I am. lol

Yes, I could fix some of it now but honestly, it kind of works for me at this point.

4. THAT I CAN’T READ OR LOVE ALL THE BOOKS: This was a real shocker for me. I read fast and can easily read up to 200 books per year and before blogging, I loved almost every single book I read – regardless of genre.

Once I started getting review requests, I accepted them all. Yay! Authors like me and are giving me books! Book cons – FREE ARC’s! OMG, are you serious??!!! Grabs all the ARC’s.

If you blog – then you know what happened next. I was completely overwhelmed by review books. I didn’t love them all and I didn’t have time to go back to my own books that I would have enjoyed. I didn't want to read at all.

This is probably the hardest lesson any new blogger will learn. Don’t say yes to everything! Don’t grab every book at a book con. I guarantee, for 99.999999% of you, you will not read or love most of those books.

Just the act of blogging will ruin your love of books. Once you turn on that reviewer gene – you can almost never read a book in the same way again. Even if you read a book for fun, some part of you will be mentally cataloging flaws or things it does well.

4. I WISH I HAD A BASIC UNDERSTANDING OF HTML/CODING/SEO: You absolutely can have a blog without knowing code but it will be limiting if you do anything other than straight up text. Oh the nightmares of weird spacing/font changes/uneven picture alignment. *stabby blogger*

I was lucky. My husband does know some coding and worked night shift back in my early days. I would be practically crying at home and he would work his magic and have my post ready to go in the morning. But I could have saved myself a lot of headaches if I took a beginner’s class or read a book. At least now, there are literally hundreds of helpful posts out there.

I still don’t get SEO. I’ve read articles. I understand what it is and how it can help my blog – but incorporating it? It’s gobblygoop (as my dad used to say) to me. I need someone to stand next to me and do it so I can see lol

I could probably be here forever with this, which is why I tried limiting it to five - but please, jump in with the things you wish you knew before you started blogging…

*Related: My friend Amber has a fun post up called Thoughts Every Blogger Has

65 comments:

  1. I definitely agree with your whole list here!! So many things I wish I had known before starting a blog too. It took years of mistakes and a wide learning curve. I wish I had known more about design and html, more about how social media works. And yeah it can be really time consuming for sure, it also has great benefits as well.

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    1. It really is a process of trial and error. There are a LOT more tutorials and people to ask for help out now than when I started.

      It does have a wonderful side as well! Which I'll get to lol

      Delete
  2. Great post, and all of it is so true! I especially agree with #1, I mean it takes ALL the free time lol. Kinda crazy. We have to really love this to keep doing it! And I am not a coding person, which frankly is why I've stayed with Blogger as a platform for so long. I really should learn some... social media as well, that's been a learning process. :)

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    1. Even if you're not hyper focused on growing your blog - it takes up so much time!!!

      You want SOMEONE to read what you post so that takes effort with reading and commenting on other blogs, connecting with other people and just the reading and reviewing.

      Delete
    2. And I stay with blogger for that reason too. My problems came from having a Mac and for some reason it didn't play well with blogger at the time. I would right a post and while I slept -t eh coding would change and there would be double/triple spacing, pictures would move...it was the weirdest thing. And I would have no clue how to fix it. Thank god for my husband and night shift!

      Delete
    3. I know the feeling! Picture issues, spacing... ugh. so irritating! But if I switch to WP I'll have to learn coding lol... at least to some extent probably. Not that that would be bad I guess...

      Delete
  3. I def did not realize how time-consuming it would be either. But then, when I started, I kinda just figured I'd post a review a week or something. I don't even know. I don't know what my goal was or when I got involved in the community or what. You'd think I'd remember, but I don't lol.

    My blog and social media are... mildly coordinated lol. I mean, I didn't want to use my blog name as my social media because my social media isn't, like, JUST books, and I know I can be indecisive, and what if I want to start a blog about something else one day, or what if (this is such wishful thinking) I ever published a book? I wanted to be able to put everything on one social media, so I used my name. Same for my URL. It is what it is at this point *shrug*

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    1. I had no purpose at first either. Then when people started reading it - it was so easy and fun. I posted 7 days a week, started hosting events, participating in everything. It felt effortless. Until it didn't lol

      Same with SM. I didn't mean to be a book blog and I talked more about my dogs. It never occurred to me to connect it all like it that.

      And I wanted to hide. I didn't want anyone to know it was ME posting lol

      Delete
  4. I agree with all of these. I had only hoped to have a few readers, and I feel so lucky to have found such a great community. I wish I were more tech savvy. I think I could do more if I paid for my website, but I'm too cheap!

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    1. Yeah, it was shocking to have people find me lol

      I just use regular blogger too. I do everything myself (& it shows lol) but it's a way for me to learn new things and be creative.

      Delete
  5. Yes it so true that blogging is way more time consuming than I thought it would be!! I also wondered who would read my blog. I am so happy with who visits and I get to interact with now. Ugh I fell to the too many ARCs. I am just coming down from that still!!

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    1. We ALL learn that lesson the hard way! lol

      In the early days, I'm not even sure how we found each other. SM wasn't a big thing. It's so mind boggling to me.

      Delete
  6. I agree with all of this. HTML is like a foreign language to me. There was a time where I was pretty sure the hosting company knew my number by heart because I called them so much.
    I'm also a quiet person and the one big convention I went to, no one knew who I was either. They loved my blog name, Book Sniffers Anonymous, but had never heard of it before. I've had one author know me by my handle/blog but not recognize me in person, and it was mainly because of the wigs I wear to keep my anonymity. She was expecting to see a girl with green hair when I said I was going to her book signing. Sometimes I feel like that all works against me, but at the same time... I don't want people all up in my business. LoL

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    1. I've been to a few cons and in those earlier days people knew me (after seeing teamsheltie lol) but most people don't now. There are just so many blogs and I haven't been as active. I'm shy and don't join in a lot of the twitter chats etc. so I'm not in the latest blogger loop.

      In some ways I like the teamsheltie thing because if I don't want to be known in person (at cons) I just use my real name and fly under the radar.

      The hair is a good way to do that!

      Delete
  7. You're right, these are all things that we just don't realize when we first start blogging. I also am completely clueless when it comes to coding, but luckily my husband is going to school for it and he is very knowledgeable about it.

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    1. Yay for husband's coming to the rescue!

      I can do some basic stuff now and the tutorials out there go step by step but for bigger stuff like SEO I'm just WHAAAAA??? lol

      Delete
  8. Do you know how many times I wish I had changed my blog title. omg so many times!

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  9. Ooh yes, all of these, and I wish I knew more about creating pictures so that I could make my blog more attractive. Also more about proofreading to stop all my cringe-worthy typos.

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    1. Eeek! Yes, the typos. My husband used to do that for me when he worked nights but can't anymore and it shows lol

      Have you tried Canva for making graphics? It's free. I use PicMonkey and they used to have two tiers (one free) but I think it's subscription now but you could check.

      I'm not great at it but's a lot of fun. I buy a lot of "digital clip art" on Etsy then play from there. It's very inexpensive if you find sales. I've even gotten ton of free graphics and fonts over the years.

      Also, PEXELS has free stock photos you can use - license free.

      Delete
  10. Number 2 made me snort but it's trruee! It's terrifying having people read your words! I think that's why I barely tag pubs/authors in my posts, I'm afraid of judgment.

    I go back and forth on trying to understand SEO. I'm at the point where I don't care, it's so time consuming.

    <3

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    1. It is! I had intended on doing all of this undercover lol

      Delete
  11. This is just so dang true, Karen! Whenever I talk to non-blogging people about my blog, the thing that they always fail to understand is just how time consuming it is. Sometimes I feel like I only have the time for one hobby, since blogging takes over everything. Over the past few years I've really developed my HTML/CSS game (my guy taught me, too) and it's helped a ton!

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    1. I'm much better at being able to fix things when coding goes awry.

      I gave up so many hobbies once I started blogging. I'm just now making time for them and finding the right balance. But even so, it takes a LOT of time. I spent at least 3 hours on it today and haven't even had time to read - which you need to do to blog lol

      Delete
  12. Luckily when I started my book blog I had already been blogging in another format, so I knew some of the basic blogging stuff. I'm still struggling with the whole ARC/Review scenario... I am so behind on reading and reviewing my ARCs! And after blogging for a combined total of 4 years, I have absolutely no idea how to put SEO into action either!

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    1. I think every blogger who accepts ARC's goes through this at least once. It took me years to get back under control.

      Quite a few people seem not to understand SEO, so I don't feel so bad now lol

      Delete
  13. Great list and I agree with all of it. I think that like you I just wanted to talk about books and then added other stuff (social media) in a haphazard way. When I started attending events I also realized no one remembered the name of my blog but when I said Jen Ryland, they were like, "oh right." It's hard to know what will be memorable (except dogs always are!) So when I revamped the blog, I went with what people latched onto.....

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    1. Pets are always memorable lol

      I think people would know *me* now because I interact more on SM but in those early days...well, it's a good thing I had cute dogs lol

      Delete
  14. Oh yep, yep, yep. Guess we all have the same learning experience unless we get lucky and have a blogging mentor or start out as someone else's associate. I need to get a book on basic HTML coding and SEO? Ummm.. yeah, probably won't happen. ;)

    Great Friday Five, Karen!

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    1. I think it's harder to break through now for new bloggers but there are way more resources available to learn how to do everything than when I started.

      Delete
  15. I have no skills with coding which is probably one of the reasons we haven't switched to wordpress. Blogger seems to be much easier, although not without issues. My husband has been a great help too. I do totally agree that after accepting and doing arc reviews, you don't ever read books in the same way. There's a critical eye that comes out no matter what you read. And yes, at first you accept and request all the books! I'm so much more picky now. I look up the author's average rating on GRs before I accept/request a new to me author. I don't want to waste my time on some crappy, or even underwhelming read. And I don't like writing a negative review. I will do it, but it just feels like such a waste of time and probably not what any author wants to hear, lol. :)

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    1. I had a lot of issues several years ago when I had my Mac. It was such a nightmare and I don't even understand why.

      I would write a post, schedule it, and the coding would change while in draft. It would all be apple coding for fonts - spacing etc and I had to have my husband fix almost every post.

      I got a new computer lol but I also understand the basics better now.

      I'm MUCH pickier about review books now.

      Delete
  16. I agree with all five reasons. I am still trying to come from underneath all the review requests I accepted so enthusiastically. As for number 2 I never believed persons would find my blog much less read what I post.

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    1. It took me YEARS. I'm caught up on current reviews but my really old arc's from cons...that's why I'm going to deal with this year.

      For What It's Worth

      Delete
  17. Back when I started I had no idea anyone would read my blog either. I did it for fun and now that I'm more comfortable with sharing whatever is on my mind, I do have fun. I blog ahead at least 30 posts so I always have something ready to go if I can't think of something that day.

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    1. That's great!

      I feel mow comfortable sharing now too. I started out blogging about everything then it became a book blog and I got burned out. I'm getting back to my original reason for starting it though and it feels fun again.

      Delete
  18. For me it is the amount to time and the whole thing with the requests and ARCS. I have gone through both of those. I used to spend hours and hours every day on the blog. Now days it is one to two hours a day max and that’s it. No weekends. I have cut way back and I am so much happier. I dont accept review requests anymore, and I am desperately trying to really cut back the requests, I am doing well with it so far.

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  19. Oh my gosh, time consuming for sure! Even a simple post can take me ages. And if it's a review... forget it. And yes, replying to comments and then visiting other blogs and commenting... I swear it could easily be a full time job. With zero compensation, sadly.

    Ugh, html... the bane of my blogging existence. I know *very* little (barely enough to get by) and to be honest I just don't have it in me to learn more. Yeah, I could do all sorts of cool bloggy things if I did but whatever. Sometimes you've just gotta know your limitations. LOL

    Tanya @ Girl Plus Books

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    1. I don't think I'll ever really learn html the way I probably should. I take it one coding disaster at a time. Google is my bff lol

      Delete
  20. So so true! I have MOST of my social media under my blog name, but probably because I didn't sign up for a lot of social media for awhile. lol But it would have been helpful to have everything more cohesive. I SO wish I understand more about SEO/HTML, etc.

    -Lauren
    www.shootingstarsmag.net

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    1. Even if I understood SEO - I doubt I would do it because it takes even more time lol

      Delete
  21. Yes to all of these, but most of all 1 & 2! I had no idea that blogging would basically become a job when I wrote my first review! Granted, it's something I really love, but man, is it work! I also had no idea that I should actually be writing it for people to read! Shocking!! Great post :D

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    1. Exactly! It's great that people are reading but...now what? lol

      Delete
  22. Haha I know the feeling! I taught myself basic coding after I started blogging. I would get SO FRUSTRATED when my pictures and posts looked weird. I knew what I wanted it to look like, and then the thing in front of me would not be it. I've gotten better over the years!

    Your blog is ALWAYS adorable and I LOVE it. I also love that I met you at BEA and again in Texas! (And yes, your dogs are wonderful ambassadors!)

    Do You Dog-ear?

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    1. I think blogger has gotten better too and I don't have the same issues anymore but I also figured out some basics and use Live Writer to draft my posts now.

      That takes care of about 90% of my issues.

      Delete
  23. I'm also weird about my name. Everything on the blog says "L", but Twitter shows my full name. I'm weird. I don't care if people know my name, I just need to work on things being more uniform.

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    1. I didn't realize your name is on other things. lol I thought you were blogging on the dl. I always have to catch myself from using your whole name lol

      Delete
  24. Quote:
    "like finding the PERFECT graphic or font".
    Yep, that too! Or in my case, the perfect gif LOL. I used to have a hard time finding them, but I got better at it (also, I have a collection of them for the bad days...).
    And formatting. Gosh. I don't know about the other hosting sites, but Blogger seems to have a mind of its own sometimes.

    That BEA story was funny!

    Back when I started, I knew exactly what my blog name should convey, since the very reason why I decided to open a blog was to give less-known books a spotlight. And when I finally caved in and joined Twitter, I only did it because of my blog - so I used the same "brand" on there. Of course, I didn't know back then I would end up talking so much about Doctor Who LOL.

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    1. I had NO idea what my blog wanted to be when it grew up lol I didn't even know book reviewing was a thing.

      It's funny, because I did start out with a lot of the same intentions as you - to talk about books people weren't paying attention to. Then came the cons and I fell into the rabbit hole of reading mostly what everyone else was.

      I'm really varied when it comes to romance though. I read about 90% self pub/small pub authors.

      I'm glad you finally caved and got Twitter!!!! lol I know you didn't wan to at first.

      One trend I love is that everyone seems to be mixing it up a bit on their blogs/SM. It's not always books these days.

      Delete
  25. All so true for me as well...except that mine was always destined to be a book blog. There are so many things I'd love to do with my blog and social media...but I just don't have the time...maybe when I retire in 35 years! lol

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    1. Tiiiiiiiime No one has enough of it and blogging requires s much of it.

      Delete
  26. Couldn't agree more! I knew nothing about coding and stuff back when I started (I had a wordress free blog that had no widgets at all and I had to do everything on my own which helped me find my way around it). And yes, if I knew people would be reading my blog I would have put a bit more effort in it for sure. As far as social media goes, I'm the worst but oh well..

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    1. I actually started with a political WP (free) blog. SO glad I didn't keep up with that!

      Why oh why did we all start blogs without realizing people would see it??? lol

      Delete
  27. LOL at your hot mess social media. I managed to get all of mine with herdingcats in them but they all have the year I started so a 2012 tacked on. Eh.

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    1. I'm Karen - no I'm a dog - no I'm a blog....it's a hot mess lol

      Delete
  28. A-freaking-men! I knew some of these things, like a little bit of html coding because I had a webpage before I turned it into a blog. But, I didn't know any of the other stuff and that has been a learning curve! Sometimes I still don't think I've learned it, lol.

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    1. I'm still winging it at times. At least the resources are easier to find now.

      It's mostly trial and error.

      I'm glad you're back blogging Jenni :-)

      Delete
  29. Yes to all of these things. You totally hit the nail on the head with the amount of time it takes to a be a blogger and all the minutia that goes into responding to comments, and pitch emails, and sending pitches, and being on top of every.little.thing.

    I wish I was better at the coding and techy stuff myself... but thank god for people who are who can help out in a pinch :)

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    1. The help is out there now at least! I remember when I first started and I couldn't figure out a thing! Thank God for my husband lol

      I used to blog full time and host memes and events but I just couldn't do it anymore. It was so time consuming there was nothing left of me for non blogging life. I struggle at times with what I'm doing now and it's only 3-4 days per week.

      I always see new bloggers say that they have no problems keeping up the pace then a year later they're ahhhh lol

      it happens to us all. You just brush yourself off and come back at it with more knowledge and more reasonable expectations for yourself

      Delete
  30. I laughed when you said you wish you'd known people would read your blog because I feel the same. Sure, I started a book blog, it is what I intended it to be but I still kind of didn't expect to get comments at all. I sort of thought I'd just be saying my thoughts and occasionally someone might see but only if they stumbled across it.

    I wish I'd realised the importance of social media when I began blogging. I am still terrible at using it but I wish I'd learned how to utilise it more when I started because I'm too lazy to learn anymore now. The biggest thing I wish I'd known is how much time blogging takes up! I mean, I love it, I wouldn't do it otherwise but it is like a job and that's why I take hiatuses because it's kind of like taking a holiday isn't it?

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    1. It's so weird. I mean you would think you would expect someone to read something posted on the internet but...it didn't really occur to me? lol

      I love Twitter (even though it's not so fun anymore) but I backed away from a lot of it - and the blog somewhat. I have to avoid burnout if I want to keep at it.

      I used to blog 7 days a week for years and I was FRIED. I couldn't even attempt to do that now. I didn't have a life outside of blogging and I don't want to go back to that.

      It definitely hurts me with page views etc but I'm ok with that.

      Delete
  31. Hell yes to all of the above! Especially number 4...

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    1. At least there are more easy to understand posts out there now. It was all tech speak to me back int eh early days. I would read the post and still be like Whaaaaa???? lol

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  32. If the numbers are low, maybe you need to link to a different post. Is the post you're linking to closely related? CF backlinks

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