On Slow and Steady Blog Growth | My Book Blogging Journey

Hello everyone! Some of you have been on this journey with me since practically the beginning, but I think most of you are pretty new (to me, at least). I’ve officially been a book blogger since March 2015 which means I’ve been doing this for almost 4.5 years (yikes). I originally started my blog because I was at a time in my life when I was reading A TON of books, but not retaining much about them. I had just graduated with my undergrad and was working part-time, but my husband was still in school/doing homework, so I had a lot of free time on my hands (thus the much reading).

I was frustrated that I would read a book, but then couldn’t remember anything about it. So I started this blog so I could have a place for my reviews and could hopefully remember more about what I was reading. I had (briefly) run a personal blog before this (super embarrassing and long deleted) so I sort of knew what I was doing, but not really.

My blogging journey since then has had a lot of ups and downs. I would go through spurts where I would post EVERY DAY (sometimes more than once) but then others where I wouldn’t post for weeks. This is what my yearly blog stats currently look like:

Yearly

2016 was clearly my most productive year, but that’s also when I started Library School and I had to do blog posts for some of my classes. Thus, a lot of those views are actually from classmates and don’t really count since, you know, they were doing it for a grade.

My next (and biggest) dip came right after I had my baby in April 2018. Some of you might remember that he came 5.5 weeks early and then we promptly moved up to live with my parents in Seattle for an internship. That summer was a HUGE dip in reading and blogging and it’s been hard to get back in a rhythm since. As soon as I whip out a book, my baby MUST come over and see what I’m doing, so it’s been harder to get reading time in. Despite that, in the beginning of 2019 I recommitted to this blog.

But then, life happens again. Another turbulent April. My grandmother unexpectedly passed away, we had three weddings around that time as well, plus my husband was graduating from Grad School, and then the next month I was trying to wrap everything up at work since we were moving to a completely different state…it was a lot.

Now we’re here. Life has calmed down significantly as we find our new rhythm in California and as I figure out what it’s like to be a full-time stay-at-home mom. I’m hoping to be able to dedicate time to reading and this blog again on a more consistent basis (fitting blogging and reading in at naptime/bedtime).

From a mildly seasoned blogger, I just want to convey the message that it’s okay if your blog isn’t growing as fast as you want it to or think it should. I cannot count the number of posts I’ve seen where someone is like, “OMG I’ve been blogging for 6 months and just hit 1,000 followers thxsomuch!!!” Which is fine, good for them. Honestly, I have no idea how they do it. I’ve been blogging for years and currently have 918 followers–at least half of which I’m SURE are either bots or inactive accounts. Here’s a look at my monthly views since this blog’s inception:

Monthly

So if you’re a new (or old) blogger and you feel like things aren’t happening for you just…don’t get discouraged, okay? Remember why you started your blog in the first place. It’s a journey and it can be frustrating, but in the end you started your blog for a reason and I’ve found significant comfort in regrounding myself in that reason.

I have no idea how my stats compare to other blogs, but those are real numbers and I’m only looking to compare my blog to where I’ve been in the past. This June has been looking much better than last June, so that’s enough for me.

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BLOG TOUR: The Beholder by Anna Bright

The BeholderThe Beholder
by Anna Bright
Release Date: June 4th, 2019
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult, Retellings

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SYNOPSIS: Selah has waited her whole life for a happily ever after. As the only daughter of the leader of Potomac, she knows her duty is to find the perfect match, a partner who will help secure the future of her people. Now that day has finally come.

But after an excruciatingly public rejection from her closest childhood friend, Selah’s stepmother suggests an unthinkable solution: Selah must set sail across the Atlantic, where a series of potential suitors awaits—and if she doesn’t come home engaged, she shouldn’t come home at all.

From English castle gardens to the fjords of Norge, and under the eye of the dreaded Imperiya Yotne, Selah’s quest will be the journey of a lifetime. But her stepmother’s schemes aren’t the only secrets hiding belowdecks…and the stakes of her voyage may be higher than any happy ending.

EXCERPT:

The Beholder: 1
Once upon a time always began on nights like tonight.

Candles flickered in the trees that grew up through the marble floors of Arbor Hall, setting aglow the faces of the partygoers beneath them and the garlands of shattered glass sparkling in their intermingled branches. My heart beat like a hummingbird trapped between my breastbone and spine.

I ducked behind an old oak climbed over with ivy, hiding for a moment from the music and all the people, careful to avoid the gap carved around its trunk.

Tonight wasn’t truly a beginning. I’d loved Peter forever, even if I’d never told him so. Tonight was growth—a page turned. Tonight, I would reap from seeds I’d sown and tended half my life.

Tonight, I’d go to sleep with a ring on my finger and my future clear before me. Confident in the promise that tomorrow and the next day and the next would be happy days, always the same, always close to the ones I loved. Ready to do my duty by Potomac and take my place as its head someday, with someone strong and trustworthy at my side. Just as soon as Peter said yes.

I tugged an ivy vine loose with shaky fingers, looped it into a wreath, and pinned it over the loose ponytail I’d made of my curls.

Tonight, whispered my heart. You’re getting engaged tonight.

My breath came fast at the thought, my knees practically knocking together.

Momma had told me the story of my birthday a hundred times. On the night I was born, she paced here in Arbor Hall beneath the trees, pleading with me to leave the safety of her womb and enter the world.

It was a wild, wonderful, magical place, she said. Back aching, ankles swollen, she walked through the forest sheltered beneath the hall’s marble dome and whispered stories to where I waited in her belly, as if to prove it to me.

The tale of the Beauty and the Beast, of the girl who rode off into danger to save her father. The story of the girl so kind to a fairy in disguise that her voice rained flowers and pearls all around her.

Through the years, Momma would tell me those stories again and again. Those, and so many more, as we sat in the shade of the trees outside or in the cool of this very hall.

I only wished she were here to see what would happen tonight.

A hundred couples in wreaths like mine and their finest clothes danced under the great Arbor at the center of the room. Hundreds more wove between dogwoods veiled in bridal white and river birches sloughing off their bark like old paper. Here and there I spotted people I knew. The designer who’d made my gown was radiant in her own, its pale pink silk looking soft as a rose petal against her gleaming dark skin as she danced with her husband, a well-to-do farmer. Nearby, a group of boys and girls I knew from school were laughing, faces flushed as they kept up with the music. Dr. Gold and Dr. Pugh, my father’s physicians, stood beneath a willow to one side of the room, debating something I couldn’t hear.

I took a long breath, squeezed the rosary in my pocket, and stepped out to join them all.

So many people—but of course I bumped into him. Into Peter.

Finding him in a crowd was inevitable, like everything else about us.

Peter flashed a tight grin as he regained his balance, steadying the laurel crown in his tight black curls and straightening his jacket. “Hi, Selah. You look nice.”

He didn’t look nice. With his skin glowing smooth and soft brown in the candlelight beneath the oak, dressed in tweed and smelling like springtime, he was so handsome I could hardly meet his eyes. My nerves flared, and I fought the urge to hide from him like a child.

We hadn’t exactly talked before Daddy extended the proposal, and I’d acted bright and busy and distracted when I’d run into him in the fortnight since.

I could never have told Peter outright how I felt.

Peter Janesley. Six feet tall, black, with curly hair and a strong nose and full lips. Shoulders that tended to round when he was thinking, his father’s light brown eyes, his mother’s careful hands. Peter, the boy who was brilliant at math and at sports and didn’t feel compelled to pretend he was bad at either. Who could’ve been friends with anyone, but who never made anyone feel invisible. When I was fourteen, I’d learned how to graft roses from his mother just to spend time at his house. The day Sister Elizabeth scolded me till I cried over an algebra test, he’d helped me at their kitchen table until I understood everything I’d gotten wrong.

“Perfect!” he’d said. “I knew you could get this.” He’d tapped the problems with his finger, a smile stretching wide beneath his broad cheekbones. I’d tried not to blush.

Peter was smart, and earnest, and kind. After we’d finished studying, he’d cut us both a piece of cake and we’d sat for half an hour on his porch, cross-legged opposite from one another in the rising twilight. Cicadas hummed and buzzed as the light melted off the facade of the Janesleys’ home and the abelias and roses brushing the porch rail.

Once, I made him laugh. Peter had rocked back, lovely fingers clasping his knees, mouth open to show the perfect gap in his teeth, and I’d wanted to trap the moment in a jar like a firefly.

After that, we were friends, and I clung to the fact like a trophy. After I made a perfect score on my next algebra test, he hugged me in front of everyone and ruffled my hair. “Knew you could do it,” he’d said, pointing at me as he backed away, making for his next class.

My feelings built themselves from a hundred little moments like these, rising like a castle in the distance, every humble stone growing into something I could already imagine. Into something on the horizon I’d eventually reach.

And here he was. My past and my future, standing right in front of me.

“Peter!” I blurted. “Ah—thank you. You look nice, too,” I added, remembering his compliment. He huffed a laugh and put his hands in his back pockets. The jacket strained a little over his shoulders. “How are you?”

“Fine. Good.” He nodded. “You?”

“All right,” I said.

Maybe if I said it enough, I’d believe I wasn’t shaking like a leaf.

I wanted to come out with it all—to blurt out exactly what I was thinking and feeling, to explain why he’d heard it all first through our parents and not from me, to see easy confidence in his eyes again. But somehow, I couldn’t say any of it.

Later, I thought. Once we were alone, with the public spectacle over, we’d talk. There would be nothing but the truth between us, and the future ahead.

The music quieted, and Arbor Hall’s doors swung open. Peter dropped his voice. “I need to go find my parents before it starts.” He raised his eyebrows, as if asking for my approval. I sent him away with a nod and a smile.

Soon enough, we’d have all the time in the world.



Anna BrightABOUT THE AUTHOR: 
I believe in woods, mountains, highways, cobblestones, roller coasters, dancing, concerts, cherry Pop Tarts, books, and magic.

When I’m not reading or writing on my couch, I’m dragging my husband off on an adventure, communing with Salem (my kitten/spiritual familiar), or causing trouble at One More Page Books, where I work.

Website|Goodreads|Twitter|Tumblr|Instagram


Fantastic Flying Book Club 2

Note: I received this book free from the author/blog tour in exchange for an honest review.

Pinterest & Blogging

When I first started this blog almost four years ago, that was kind of all you did–blog. Now, I’ve noticed that bloggers are also using Twitter, bookstagram, booktube, and Pinterest to promote their blogs. So, as one does, I’ve decided to give Pinterest a shot. If any of you would like to follow me, I’m just over at www.pinterest.com/whatsshereading. I created a board for my monthly TBRs (all two haha) and then another where I pinned a bunch of cool/cute/amazing book nooks (so jealous of all the home-owning people who can create something like that).

But now, I’m looking for tips (because I, honestly, have no idea what I’m doing). Do any of you guys use Pinterest for your blog? What type of boards do you suggest? Do you find it difficult to keep up with? I’m a little intimidated by the number of graphics I feel like I’ll need to create. Is there anything you wish you knew before you started using Pinterest for your blog? Please give me all your advice in the comments!

I disappeared! Here’s why.

I owe you guys an explanation. I was just getting my blog up and running again, but something happened that made me need to take a quick, unexpected break:

Some of you may have already known I was pregnant, and my due date was May 11. Well, this guy decided he wanted to be an April baby instead and he made his appearance on April 3rd. He was in the NICU for a couple of weeks and then we were able to bring him home. My husband and I were COMPLETELY unprepared (we didn’t even have his crib set up). Luckily we had a little bit of time to get things together while he was in the NICU, but we’re still getting the hang of things with him home.

The next thing that’s happening is that we’re moving for the summer. My husband has an out-of-state internship that we’ll be leaving for soon. So, with the baby and moving, I’m not sure when exactly I’ll have time to start blogging again, but I am planning on coming back! It just might take me a bit. In the mean time, what are you guys reading right now? Let me know in the comments!

Blog posts to share | March 2018

Here are some of my favorite blog posts from other bloggers for the month. Enjoy!

Shanah @ Bionic Book Worm talked about staying motivated to read – I definitely have periods of my life where I read less than others. Sometimes I get home from work and all I want to do is eat, watch Netflix, and then go to bed. And that’s okay! It’s okay if I don’t read every day, because I know that some days I will literally spend 6 hours reading.

Angelica @ The Book Cover Girl discussed how YA is moving away from the trilogy to other formats This is definitely something that I’d noticed. For the most part, I agree with what she’s saying and I definitely agree that the duology is underrated. I also think that single books are underrated, but that might just be me.

Jess @ Reads and Dreams reconsidered some books that she had previously DNF’d – This is something that I definitely need to look into doing as well. It’s hard because I already have so many other books that I want to read, but I think it’s worth doing every once in a while. Sometimes you start a book and it’s just not the right time for YOU even though the book might actually be great.

Savannah @ The Book Prophet talked about why she likes reading negative reviews I wholeheartedly agree here. I LOVE reading negative reviews. For some reason, those reviews just feel more honest to me and it’s always fun when you’ve got an unpopular opinion about something and find someone else who shares it. I also like reading negative reviews when I’ve really enjoyed a book because a) Sometimes it opens my mind to things that I hadn’t considered before, b) Sometimes I just have an argument with the reviewer in my head.

Cristina @ Girl in the Pages gave some non-traditional advice for getting into audio books – Again, my struggle with audio books. This post really got me thinking about how I choose to listen to audio books and which books I choose. I already know that I’m very picky when it comes to narrators, but I didn’t even consider that some genres might be better suited for me than others–I just assumed I would listen to the same kind of stuff that I read, but that may not be true.

Kristilyn @ Reading in Winter talked about some reality checks when it comes to blogging – I really loved this post because it’s SO TRUE. I can’t really do it justice, so I’m just going to say GO READ THIS POST. If you’ve ever felt overly pressured as a blogger, you need to read what Kristilyn has to say.

Krysta @ Pages Unbound discussed why she limits the amount of books that she owns – This is similar to the previous post in a lot of ways because I think it tangentially touches on pressures that bloggers have. I think sometimes we think if you don’t have a gorgeous shelfie on your Insta, are you even a real book blogger? The answer is YES. You can still be a great book blogger and not own that many physical books. If you know you’re never going to read a book again, there are so many other places that it can go!

Marty @ The Cursed Books talked about how blogging might be bad for your reading and what we can do about it – This is definitely something that I’ve struggled with and I think she gives some really good advice about dealing with the pressures that blogging brings. The struggle is real!

To monetize or not to monetize?

Hi Everyone!

I’m still on my semi-hiatus and it’s felt really good. I took a step back from NetGalley and have almost completely disconnected from the blogosphere. I’ve just been able to relax a bit and not really stress about getting ARCs read on time, etc. I’ve also been able to read some books that I’d been meaning to read, but hadn’t been able to get to (and even reread a couple of old faves!).

But there are some changes looming on the horizon. Baby is due in May and at that point I’ll be quitting my full-time job to become a full-time mama. I feel that at this point I will need some kind of project for myself and I hope that reading and this blog can be that project.

Now I come to the question in my title. I’ve briefly thought about upgrading my WordPress account in order to monetize in the past, but I didn’t feel that I posted regularly enough or generated enough views for that to really make sense. Now I find myself thinking about it again and I just wanted to find out what experience you guys have had with monetizing/not monetizing.

To those who decided not to monetize:
What made you decide not to monetize? Do you ever see yourself monetizing in the future?

To those who did decide to monetize:
What made you decide to monetize? Do you feel that it’s worth it? How much time per week do you spend working on your blog? (And if you don’t mind my asking) how much do you generally make per week?

Thanks for the help!