What Am I Doing Here?

May 15, 2013 For Discussion, On blogging 35

The Problem:

I woke up this morning, and I thought, “What am I doing?”  Specifically, “What am I doing with my blog?”  I started this blog on a whim just over three months ago.  As occasionally happens when I throw myself into something, it quickly progressed from fun past-time to a full-blown… well, obsession isn’t quite the right word, perhaps, but it feels incredibly excessive.  For the last 3.5 months, I’ve spent nearly all of my free time on this blog.  That’s problematic for several reasons.  First: Well, geez, this is a hobby, right???  So why do I feel this crushing obligation to post, post, POST???  Which leads me into my second point: I’m not sure I like everything I’m putting out.  Is it meaningful?  Is it thought-provoking?  I scroll down the sidebar of my past posts, and I’m not so sure.  I see clutter.  I see lots and lots of posts, but should I be proud of this?  Probably not.

The Fix:
  • Memes: Memes…you know ’em, you love ’em, but do you need ’em?  I think that it depends.  I currently participate in 4 – 5 memes per week.  It has been a fantastic way to get to know other bloggers, but I’m overdoing it.  I’m going to cut back to 2 or 3 per week, and I’ll only do it when I feel I’ve got something worthwhile to share.  Of course, my idea of worthwhile might be very different from YOURS. 🙂 
  • Giveaways: If you look at my Giveaways tab, you’ll see that I’ve done a ton in a short period of time.  The main reason for the giveaways is simply because…I love giving books away!  So, I’m not going to stop, but I will cut back.  I’m not kidding myself; I’m sure the vast majority of my followers came here because of a giveaway.  Hopefully, they found something else they liked, and they’ll stick around.  If I don’t have multiple giveaways going on simultaneously, will any of those people come back?  I’ll soon find out!
  • Interacting with other bloggers: Because of the time I spend on my own blog, I don’t spend enough time visiting others.  And you guys have wonderful blogs!  Expect to see me visiting more often. 🙂
  • ARC’s: Before I started blogging, I didn’t even know what an ARC was.  And then I went on a binge.  And then I binged some more.  And I still haven’t stopped.  I think about the unread ARC’s I requested, and I get stressed.  This is insane, because reading is FUN!  So why am I stressed???  Take a look at these beautiful books:
These are just some of the books I’ve acquired over the last 3 months.  Would you like to know how many I’ve read?  FOUR.  Every day, these books call out to me.  Every day, I must say, “Nope, sorry.  Maybe some other time.”  I keep a schedule of upcoming ARC’s to be read and their publication dates in my phone.  I look at it daily, and any purchased book or library book gets shoved aside when I see the commitments I made to these publishers.  Fortunately, most of these ARC’s have been good or great.  But there have been some rotten apples, and I think that if I had been a bit more discriminating, I would have been able to read something I might have loved instead.  So, I’m going on an ARC diet.  I’m going to be more cautious in my picks.  I may wait until I see reviews from GR friends.  But I WILL get a handle on this!
The Outcome:
A happier me!  A return to a reading experience that is 100% pleasure!  A blog that is hopefully more fun to read!  I’ve got a few other ideas that are percolating in my brain.  But these above will be implemented immediately.
YOU:
Yes, you!  If you’ve taken the time to read this post, please know how much I appreciate it!  I am so grateful for every comment, every tweet, and every blogger buddy I’ve made.  Aside from ALL OF THE BOOKS, the connections I’ve made with fellow book-lovers have been the most rewarding part of this experience.  So, THANK YOU!!!

Stephanie

35 Responses to “What Am I Doing Here?”

  1. Kylee McGowan

    This post pretty much sums up to what happened to me when I first began blogging. I think with the changes you’ll be much happier with your hobby of reading. 🙂

  2. Robyn Jones

    You’re one of my go-to stops because you’re a cool blogger! Here’s to finding a balance. I’m always struggling on that point. Oh, and giveaways are addictive can’t hardly blame yourself there. hehe

  3. Tyler Jolley

    An ARC diet right before BEA? Maybe you should delay your diet until June, lol! In all seriousness it is such a freeing thing to know your limits and find your happiness. I’m excited to see how the blog evolves.

    • Go Flash Go - Read, Rinse, Repeat

      Wellll… an e-ARC diet. I know I’ll be loaded up on the physical ones very soon!

      Thank you, Tyler. I get stuck in my routines, so it will be a struggle to change things up, but I know it’s for the best.

      Steph

  4. fs1

    I’m almost certain I came here initially because of a giveway.
    But your blog stand out of others (and I follow many of then) because of your reviews. 🙂
    Still you shouldn’t really feel blogging as a source of more stress and schedule.
    Blog is suppose to be fun.
    Have more fun. Read more. And come back full of stuff to share with us 🙂

  5. BookCupid

    Of course you are supposed to have fun, not feel like you are working. Hope you find your balance 🙂 Love the blog!!

  6. Suzy Turner

    I think a lot of bloggers get bogged down with all the extra stuff blogging entails, so good for you for making it fun again. It was quite refreshing reading your post, actually. I like it when book bloggers take a ‘break’ from posting about books to tell us something different 🙂
    Suzy Turner, YA Author

    • Go Flash Go - Read, Rinse, Repeat

      Thank you, Suzy. I’m glad to hear you say that! Of course, I love to read other bloggers’ book posts, but some of the posts I’ve most enjoyed reading are when they write about things a little off the beaten path. I don’t know why it took me this long to realize that if I enjoyed it from others, perhaps I should start doing it myself!

      Steph

  7. anyluck

    I don’t have a blog, but I recognise myself in the tendency to overdo it. I get involved in all the shiny things, only to eventually get burned-out.

    Anyway, have fun, I say. Enjoy climbing that tower of books in the photo. 😀

  8. Kbaby81

    When I’m done with school, and start working from home (hopefully), I’m gonna try blogging. I can’t right now, as I work 10-12 hrs and go to school. I highly value your reviews. Since I started following blogs, I’ve added to my TBR pile, but only great books. If you or any of my other 4 favorite bloggers don’t give a book a good review/ rating, I won’t read it. Especially if I already have the ebook, I gift it to my cousin. I know everyone likes different things, but I’ve read great reviews from others in the past but the books never met my expectations. A classmate of mine suggested book bloggers because, and I quote, “they have a knack for great books”. Glad you are getting sorted out with your books and know that your reviews are helpful!

  9. Lectus Read

    Oh my god! I feel the same way! I blog for fun but when I don’t post anything I feel like I am obligated and I have to.

    That is way too many arcs you have!

  10. Victoria Hooper

    This pretty much sums up my own thoughts after a while of blogging. A realisation that a) this needs to be fun, not stressful, and b) it’s MY blog, so I don’t need to feel obligated. And an ARC diet… yes! I think your solutions are great for getting de-stressed and spending more time on the things you want to be doing. Go you! 🙂 (p.s. just found your blog through bout of books, and am a new follower)

  11. Sandy

    At our review site, we were initially invited to participate in a few memes but after a couple of weeks it became apparent that we neither had the time nor the space for the daily memes. Most were redundant and we discovered that readers did not really care =>1. What we bought. 2. What we won. 3. What we had to read.

    We did participate in a couple monthly challenges, which in ONE case, it was personally successful but overall, we had come to the decision, that we were too busy with requests, reviews and interviews to participate. Most memes are part of the ‘blogging’ community and are promoted as a way to attract members through Google.

    As you have said, memes are a tool to attract more members but in most cases, they are similar to ‘blog hops’ for bloggers-the members you gain are other bloggers who, as you have pointed out, rarely if ever, revisit the other blogs. Blogspot and bloggers are part of the Google family and this is a way to gain membership.

    Currently, our website responsibilities ( posting reviews at 6 review sites including 3 Amazon sites, Shelfari, B&N and Goodreads, interviews, scheduling, research, mailings, contacts, social media including Twitter, FB, Pinterest, Tumblr, Google+, LinkedIn etc) requires several hours per day due to the high demand of requests and scheduled posts. This of course, does not include working part to full time, having 10-12 contributing reviewers, raising families and having a real life outside of the virtual online community of a website owner/administrator. We are scheduling August and September reviews, interviews and tours as we speak and are still receiving requests for May and June.

    Some days, the website feels more like a job than a hobby. My TBR pile is over 200 books and growing. Yesterday I discovered 3 books that I promised to read for this month and forgot, but fear not, I read until 2am this morning trying to catch up.*yawn* We do not have the time for memes.

    And like Lectus said–if we do not post something new each day (which is rare) we feel guilty and obligated. Those days are rare and it is more than likely we have 2-3 scheduled posts per day. There are not enough hours in a day for all of the posts we schedule or would like to schedule. Our list of new release reviews is long and yet we have no time available to post due to the numerous requests from authors and publishers.

    This will be two part…lol

    • Go Flash Go - Read, Rinse, Repeat

      Thank you so, so much for your post, Sandy! Both of them. 🙂 I’m curious – did you start out as a solo blogger?

      It still amazes me what bloggers do…for free! And all for the love of books. Everything that you typed above – wow. I don’t think I could possibly keep on top of that, even if I blogged full-time. I imagine you all have a good system down for managing your blogging responsibilities and balancing your “real” life.

      It’s all a bit of trial and error. I’m sure some bloggers start with a clear idea of what they want to do and how they’re going to do it. I admire the hell out of those people!

      Regarding memes: Stacking the Shelves is one I want keep up with, at least for now! I find them helpful, if for no other reason than, “Oh, yeah, I forgot that book was out!”

      Steph

  12. Sandy

    PART II

    But, I digress-back to memes. Yes, memes may be helpful if you are looking to gain ‘numbers’ only but the numbers are few. A blog site that I was once affiliated with participated in several weekly memes and 2 years later their membership has just topped 200 so in my opinion the meme blog hops are not successful. Authors and publishers look at ‘number counts’ before assessing the viability of a review site and whether it is worth their time and effort to send an ARC or agree to an interview.

    When we first started, we were told by a few publishers, that they would like to see 500+ Facebook, Twitter and site members before agreeing to an ARC copy of their books. Publishers on Netgalley ask for numbers and statistics before ‘granting authorization’ to reviewers.

    As for giveaways, we too have discovered, that the posts that attract the most attention usually contain a giveaway. Author and cover model interviews are very popular, but if there is no giveaway, the comments are few and far between. That does not mean we do not have traffic because the numbers say we have 25,000 to 28,000 hits per day meaning it is rare for people to comment. We can all agree, that all of us visit many sites daily and rarely do we comment unless something catches our interest…like this post. 😉

    We have also found that many review requests are coming from indie authors and publishers and a number of the books and storylines are difficult to read due in part to formatting problems, spelling and grammar errors, poor writing or in many cases the premise is a direct rip-off of some of the more popular books on the market. In two cases the premises were a direct knock-off of Twilight and Mortal Instruments. When confronted, the authors asked that we do not post a review.

    After all is said and done, we are review websites. Our love of the written word has brought us together as a community of reviewers-to let everyone know what we think about the books we read, but the infiltration of questionable storylines and books has made us reconsider some of the selections we have agreed to read and promote. We are reading books that we would have never thought to read and in doing so, putting aside the ones we love and covet.

    So, I apologize for my rant but I agree – memes are useful when first starting out-getting a feel for what is out there, but in the long run, they outlive their usefulness.

    • Go Flash Go - Read, Rinse, Repeat

      Please do not apologize for your fantastic comments! It’s wonderful to hear from someone who has “been there, done that.”

      Regarding indie requests, I had to put a note on my Amazon profile stating that I could no longer review them. I feel like a snob, but I’ve read much more bad than good, and like you said, I cannot waste my time with bad spelling and grammar. There are too many good books out there! Nevertheless, I get several of these requests per day (most are spammed out with me bcc’d, call me the wrong name, and/or are riddled with misspellings.) Fortunately, those are easy to ignore.

      I do get a good amount of page views from memes, but I know it’s all relative. I’m a small fry blog, so 50 or so hits on a post is good for me!

      Thank you again for taking the time to read and comment. I sincerely appreciate your thoughtfulness!

      Steph

  13. Kate Phillips

    I did this…twice. I got myself all stressed out then pulled back, then got myself all stressed out again then pulled back again. I am doing better now but still spend far to much time doing blog things. Just updating and sorting my reading lists take so much time, then their are emails and the actual writing of reviews, it all takes so much time. I have ARCS coming out of my ears, everytimes I get close to cutting them down more arrive and sometimes I want to scream.

    But, the thing is that I love it, I love doing this but sometimes I need a break and I step away for a week or to and have a holiday. But I wouldn’t change a thing and no matter how stressed I get or how many times I attempt to quit I always come back cos I love this and I look at my blog and I am proud because somehow I achieved something.

    So really its all good : )

    Kate @ Reading Under the Willow Tree

    • Go Flash Go - Read, Rinse, Repeat

      Oh, I love this. Especially “ARC’s coming out my ears.” If I was the creative type, I would make a gif of that. 🙂

      I am glad you have stuck around! And the reading lists are crazy, I know. For every one that I finish, it seems like three get added. But it’s HARD. EW and NG are like drugs. I guess there are worse vices, though, no?

      Thank you so much for visiting and commenting, Kate!

      Steph

  14. malvoliosStockings

    I want you to know that you quickly became on of my favorite bloggers. And actually, your’s is one of the few blogs I actually like to read from start to finish whether I’m interested in the book your reviewing or not. A lot of times I get bogged down reading an entire review. There is one blogger I like but I never get past her first paragraph because she’s way to flowery with her words. I actually have to stop to think to figure our what she is saying. Anyways, Its like that with a lot of blogs for me. Something or other keeps me from reading the entire post. I just get the gist of the review, look at the rating, and then I’m done. Not with you though. I personally don’t think you need to change anything about your blog. But of course I wish you the best of luck with the changes you do plan to implement. I hope it makes things less stressful for you. But before I go, I just wanted to let you know it is you and not your book giveaways that keep me coming back!

    • Go Flash Go - Read, Rinse, Repeat

      It made me feel so good to read this comment. THANK YOU!! I know everyone says to just blog what you like, do it for yourself, etc. But don’t we all like to know that just one person is reading it and enjoying it? I could not have imagined when I started that even one person would pay attention when I started this, and since reading is my big passion (along with spouting off my opinions), I can’t think of a bigger compliment than what you wrote. Thank you for making me feel when I was lacking confidence in all of this!

      Steph

  15. Trish Hannon

    I visit often and not for the giveaways! I enjoy your reviews and we often differ on our opinions but I love hearing your thoughts as they are well thought out. I find it stressful enough doing 2 memes, I have no idea how you were managing so many. I think we all struggle a bit in the beginning to get a balance and I have an addictive personality so have to work even harder not to over commit. No answers for you but I think you have a plan and it sounds good to me. Just remember, this is meant to be fun 🙂

    • Go Flash Go - Read, Rinse, Repeat

      Aw, Trish: We do differ, but that’s what makes this fun! But who is RIGHT??? 🙂

      I think you do the answers. You’re obviously doing this right! And I guess if you’re going to get addicted to anything, it’s good that it’s books, right?

      Thank you so much for commenting. 🙂

      Steph

  16. rivie bleu

    I was really obsessed with my blog for the first couple of months. I was literally there all day, well, all the time I spent on the computer. Even if I visited others, I had mine opened and would go back to it every couple of minutes. It was the time when I was getting used to the idea of blogging, changing backgrounds, learning HTML and how to make a template. Now, I only open it about twice a day to write posts and update things.
    I hope you find what you want to do with your blog so you have fun and not see it as work.
    It’s really fun and a great way to meet new people and find books, so it shouldn’t feel like a chore. I’m sure people don’t come here just for the giveaways, your posts are fun to read

    • Go Flash Go - Read, Rinse, Repeat

      I don’t think I can even calculate the amount of time I’ve spent with HTML, the template, and all the rest. It was an insane amount of time, and there are still lots of things I don’t know how to do. But when I think about what I knew back in February (nothing) and what I know now (a bit more than nothing), it’s pretty amazing.

      And, thank you, Rivie. Your comments here and your posts on your own blog are always fun to read!

      Steph

  17. Girl!Reporter

    Sometimes you just have to pull back and rediscover your love for reading just for reading’s sake, rather than for blogging’s sake. It sounds like you’re going to be doing that, so happy reading!

    Sarah

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