BLOG BIRTHDAY – ONE WHOLE YEAR!

A year ago today I started a blog!!! It started as a bit of a whim. I had no expectations that’s many (any!) people would follow, that anyone would read it and I certainly had no idea how important the blog would become in my day to day life.

But here I am; one year on and I can honestly say I am loving running this little book blog! 87 blog posts in and the novelty isn’t yet wearing off!

One year of blogging feels like a milestone that needs to be marked. So today I have decided to write about the top 10 things that I have learnt, appreciated and loved about growing this blog over the last year.

#1. You meet some flipping wonderful people

I honestly never expected to have my life enhanced by so many genuinely lovely people on this journey. Literally from the moment I hit post on my first review I was welcomed with open arms into the book blogging community. I cannot put into words just how supportive so many people have been. Book bloggers are literally the kindest people in the world! Every day they make things just a little bit brighter with the online recommendations, banter and encouragement. And the fact I have got to meet up with some of these beautiful people in real life is the icing on the cake.

In addition I still haven’t got over the thrill of interacting with authors, publishers and publicists. And do you know what…I hope I never do!

#2 Your blog, your rules…

This one has taken a while to sink in! And in all honesty I am still reminding myself of it fairly regularly!!

There are literally hundreds of book bloggers out there, and there is room for each and every single one. Because everyone has something different to offer, a different take on a book, different tastes, a different style of writing…

It took me a while to grasp that there are no rules. I can review what I want, when I want. It is my blog, and I make the rules !

#3 It’s not all about the numbers…

In fact it is nothing at all about the numbers!!

I learnt pretty quickly that I would drive myself daft constantly checking followers, site traffic and likes. Don’t get me wrong, it is lovely when they happen but I am very aware that a tweet about the dog will get more attention than a book review!

Doesn’t stop me reviewing books though!

#4. You can’t read everything

I am not going to lie I still have to tell myself this a billion times a week!!

It only takes 20 mins on Twitter for me to become convinced I am missing out on fabulous books of all shapes, sizes and genres. Sometimes it seems that the whole world is reading at an impossible rate and I am being woefully left behind.

Of course it is tripe! Nobody can read everything! And it is madness to even try!

#5. You can’t review everything

You just can’t! So don’t even try!

My reality is that blogging is a sideline, a hobby, an escape. I have a demanding job, a family bursting at the seams with teenagers and animals. Much as I would like to hole myself up with a job lot of Thornton’s and my TBR pile it isn’t going to happen. And even if it did I would drive myself daft trying to review it all.

Reviewing can be hard work and sometimes you need to read a book you have actually no intention of writing about! No notes, no nothing, just enjoy.

#6. It’s OK to take a break…

When I started this blog I set myself an impossible timetable. I was going to blog twice a week, come hell or high water about really fantastic, individual books.

And pretty soon I was in danger of burning out! Managing real life and a blog is harder than it looks. It didn’t take me long to realise I had to relax my own daft rules or go under.

I chatted to a few bloggers, gave my head a wobble and realised that having time out is sometimes essential to keeping some you treasure alive!

#7. Don’t bite off more than you can chew…

This one is an extension of points 4,5 and 6. Blogging is exciting and addictive! In my heady first days I was completely overwhelmed and overexcited by all the opportunities out there. NetGalley seemed like the most miraculous invention in the world! And I couldn’t believe that I could request books from generous publishers and publicists and they would actually gift them! Don’t get me wrong I didn’t and don’t want to hoard books, I genuinely want to read them all!! And I am and remain so so grateful for every single piece of lovely book post I have received.

However, it is fair to say I was like a kid let loose in a sweet shop and quickly in danger of becoming overwhelmed.

And Blog Tours…who doesn’t want to be involved with every exciting new release?? This year I have taken part in 28 blog tours. I honestly don’t regret a single one, and I love the fact I can do my small part to support authors. But I am slowly learning to pace myself!!

So let’s loop back to points 4 and 5 ; You can’t read and review everything!!

#8. Don’t under estimate the thrill of sharing book love…

Long before I started blogging I have loved chatting about books, pretty much to any poor soul who would listen . I love sharing opinions, finding out people’s reading tastes and both receiving and giving recommendations.

This joy is now extended through social media, where I interact daily with so many interesting and devoted book people.

And the thrill I still get when someone says they have read and enjoyed a book they picked up after reading one of my reviews is priceless. I feel privileged to be sharing the book love!

#9. There are so many undiscovered gems in the world of books…

Before I started blogging I had no idea just how many books were out there!!! This sounds completely daft I know but a year on and I realise just how mainstream my tastes were. They were largely driven by big book shops and mainstream reviews. All of which are of course wonderful but when I started blogging as whole new world opened up.

It was a world of independent publishers, debut novelists and dedicated book bloggers and promoters. So much of the fantastic stuff I have read over the past year I would never have discovered without the connections of the blog.

And for that I am so grateful.

#10. There is still so much to learn…

A year seems a milestone to me, but I am acutely aware that my blog remains very much a youngster in the book blogging world.

I am so lucky to be surrounded by other experienced and fantastic book bloggers, who willingly share their time and support and from whom I still have a great deal to learn. I remain in awe of their skill and beautifully crafted reviews.

This blog post is merely my attempt to sum up my thoughts on the year. I know I have made some classic mistakes along the way and I am under no illusions that there is so still much to learn!!

Finally

Thank you! Just that…

Thank you to every single person who has read a post, retweeted, shared, liked, commented, engaged or messaged .

Thank you for every kind word, every blog tour invite and every piece of book post.

It has all meant the world, each interaction has been gratefully received and whole heartedly appreciated.

And here’s to the next year!

Rachel xxxx

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