Now that that is said and done, I want to speak to the little bloggers. The upstarts. The stagnant. The in-betweeners. The ones losing hope.
I am you all. Or I was. Or I turned into.
I have been in these shoes, is what I mean to say.
I began blogging back in 2011 when I was hitting my senior year of high school. I went in with the craving of these advanced readers copies. These gems. They, as bloggers knows, are the trophies that publishers grant us. And, as I wrote my reviews and part-took in a plethora of blogging memes, I wanted those trophies badly.
And that's when it slapped me in the face. I transported myself back to ballet class, to the dance recitals. To the trophies I wanted to receive, but needed 5 years of recitals to obtain. And I quit. After two years, I quit because I didn't want to put in the effort to receive that trophy. I could have grown, and grew extremely limber, and extremely toned, and fluid if I continued. A better dancer. If I understood the heart and soul behind art rather than the shiny trophy that would collect dust later on. I could have been great.
ARCs were my dance trophies back in high school. Now, it wasn't the be-all-end-all reason I started blogging. I took pride in the sites that I read. Kristy at The Story Siren got the ball rolling. Rolled me into a community of passionate and artistic and outgoing people of all ages and backgrounds. I read so much more than I ever did. I joined fandoms and went to book signings, met with fantastic and intelligent authors all across the country, and learned more and more about the publishing industry.
It rolled a stone inside of me. One that pushed my desire for English. For poetry. Blogging became an outlet for my creative thought. For me to learn coding, to advance my knowledge of Photoshop and graphic design.
There is so much to the online community. To your own website. A place where people share your interests and likes, who strive for you to succeed and piggy-back on one another.
I plead with the bloggers big and small; write. Engage. Build. We are nothing without the words we instill unto others and into ourselves. Make them positive. Constructive. Find your voice. This is the place to do it, on your own website, your own blog. You can write about books, you can instagram, you can vlog. Be creative. Be wild. Be you.
So don't get discouraged with viewership, with followers, with the number of packages waiting in your mailbox. This is so much more than all those things. It is a time warp. Read what you wrote a six months ago, a year, five years ago--watch yourself grow. Is that not the most magical thing? Your blog is a time capsule. Whether you just began or are a veteran with a thousands following, your blog is your notebook with all the bits and pieces of you documenting how you have grown as a person, as a writer, as a reader. These are your doodles turning into portraits.
To me, that makes all the difference.
So keep the words pumping. Keep networking. Keep reading. Pay it forward with other blogs. Grow the community, grow yourself. Email publicists. Meet with authors. Outreach. Ask questions. DM your favorite writers, favorite bloggers. Engage on social media. Go to conferences. Write your words whether someone agrees with them or not. This is your space. Just don't give up, don't lose hope. You will be rewarded for the time and effort you put into every post. Just keep doing what you love. You don't need to be active every day. Make your own schedule. Don't sweat about it.
This is your website. Just do you.