Discussion: What It Takes to Be a Book Blogger (Or, Why It’s Not As Easy As It Looks)

disussion on a bookish topic-01

Last week, I talked about quitting blogging. Not ME quitting blogging, but the feelings I sometimes get towards blogging that make me wonder what it would be like to quit. I started thinking about the topic again as I was replying to comments on the discussion. When you tell people that you’re a blogger, how many people actually “get” what you have to do as a blogger? How many people think that it’s JUST writing a post up, or using a template, or chatting on Twitter?

For today’s discussion, I thought it would be fun to dissect all of the things *I* do as a blogger — as in, everything that makes up my blogging week, or things that I’ve done in the past months. It adds up! There is so much to do, and I honestly wonder where I find the time to get most of these things done. Have a look at my list and maybe you can relate!

1. The blog design

Yes, it’s easy to just use a template, add a title, and you have a blog. But bloggers want to be unique. This is why I take the time to design my headers, find a background, and do my sidebar layout just the way I like it. And these are things I review all the time — my header has been changed three times, and I’ve gone through a few blog redesigns until I finally came up with a design that makes me happy. I’m also always reviewing my sidebar, changing the book that I’m reading, or updating my Goodreads numbers, or adding a new image for an event that might be going on.

2. Reading the books

This takes up a LOT of time. It’s not easy to be a book blogger since reading a book takes a long time! I’m currently listening to an audiobook that is 7 hours long. The last book I read took a few days, only because I had nothing else going on. I’m not a speed-reader, but I don’t consider myself to be a super slow reader, but it still takes time to even attempt to read the books on my list. My EVER-GROWING list.

3. Reading the review books

Some book bloggers request books from NetGalley, Edelweiss, or publishers. There are also the many email requests we receive from authors or publishers. We have to go through the emails, update our review policies, write up professional emails for publishers, keep our profiles on NetGalley or Edelweiss updated to reflect our blog stats and whatnot. We also have to schedule in the review books to make sure we get them read in a timely manner. Like, getting an ARC review up around the time of the book release, or getting a book read and a post written for a book tour. Plus, there’s all the correspondence we do between publishers or tour hosts, letting them know our review is up, or to coordinate a tour post.

4. Writing the blog posts, reviews, discussions, etc.

Just like reading the books, this takes time. We have to reflect on our thoughts of a book and write a review (no spoilers!) for the blog, or maybe think of a discussion post, or a new feature. I feel like I’m always thinking of what kind of features to have on the blog. Maybe an event will pop into my head — which takes planning. Do I want guest posts? Do I need to read certain books for it? Again, I’m putting things in my schedule, maybe emailing other bloggers to see if I can get guest posters (which leads to more correspondence between bloggers to ensure posts are to me and up on time). I have a few features on my blog and I have them all on my schedule, ticking them off as I get them written and posted — for Cover Love, I have to decide what covers to talk about, or I have to write up a book that I want to do for my Book Hoarder’s post or my Weekend Library post (which requires a trip and perusing books at the library). Discussions take more work, trying to come up with something new and breaking down my ramblings into a coherent post.

5. Designing OTHER things for the blog (and other blogs)

Just like designing a header to stand out, there is also the buttons for memes (since we all like to stand out for those, too!), or for features, or for any of thing that might happen on your blog. Like the ‘discussion’ picture at the top of my blog. There is always SOMEONE who’s designing these things. For my blog, I try to design all the things you see! That can take up a LOT of time. And then, there are other bloggers who like the designs you do and want you to do THEIR designs.

6. All the social media

Not only do we write blog posts and think about discussions and features for our blog, but once these posts go up, we also have to PROMOTE those posts. This means getting on Facebook (have you made your blog page on Facebook?) or Twitter and sharing your links — but don’t spam them all the time! You can schedule posts through both social mediums, which is a big help, but still something that takes time. PLUS, you want to chat with other book bloggers — isn’t one of the reasons you started blogging to find OTHER like-minded people? You must talk with them! Find bloggers who read the same books as you!

7. Replying to comments

Some bloggers don’t do this and I’ll admit that I only started doing this about a year or so ago. It has made a HUGE difference. There are days where I get super busy and can’t get online to reply to comments, so by the time I DO get online, I have pages or comments to reply to. I know, cry me a river, right? I’m not complaining about having pages of comments — I LOVE all of my commenters, and this is why I want to let them know that I’m reading their comments and that they matter! Sometimes they come back and comment on my comment and we start having mini-discussions, which is awesome. I love having this kind of connection with my readers.

8. ALL the other things

Do you vlog? Well, you have to record the vlog, edit the vlog, export the vlog, upload the vlog to YouTube, format the post, etc. Are you making it private until the post goes up? You better remember to make it public! Taking part in events like Bloggiesta, or a readathon, or even your OWN on-going events. Adding other blogger’s review links to your own reviews. Making sure your tags are correct. Making sure that your pages (about the blogger, about the blog) are correct — making sure that your review archives are updated. Do you have another blog? Well, you better make sure that you’re posting regularly over there and keeping on top of your schedule. There’s the crossposting — reviews go on Goodreads, Amazon, Indigo … and other places. Make sure you don’t let this pile up! Do you have giveaways? Do you attend book signings? Do you have a book club? ALL of these things take time and planning!

I know I didn’t get it all in this post, but I felt exhausted just WRITING it all out. Blogging is an awesome thing — it’s fun and it brings us closer to other book bloggers, other people who LOVE reading just as much as we do — but there is a LOT of work that can come with it. This is why it’s so important to still be YOU when you blog and to have fun while doing it!

Did I miss anything? What’s something else that makes up being a book blogger? 

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57 thoughts on “Discussion: What It Takes to Be a Book Blogger (Or, Why It’s Not As Easy As It Looks)

  1. I’m exhausted just looking at this list, especially since I don’t even do half of this! I am barely present in social media (no FB page here), don’t request review books, don’t vlog or really participate in many events. Yikes! Of course, my reason for most of that is too help not get overwhelmed by all the stuffs because really, just reading and writing is a lot to handle at times! I admire that you can do all that you do with TWO blogs.

    • It can be so easy to get overwhelmed with all the things! I don’t do all of these things, either, AND I’m thinking of cutting back in certain areas. It’s too easy for it to start to feel like a job.

  2. I definitely don’t do all of these. I’ve been very basic, read-and-review for most of my blog’s short life. I’ve started to branch out into doing review books and going to events, and I’m doing my first readalong event pretty soon. It is very daunting! But worth it.

    • Yes! Definitely worth it! I don’t think a blogger must do all of these things – and I certainly don’t – but I can’t believe that some do even more than this. It can be so hard to keep up! I’m going to cut back some so that I can get back to reading just for me.

  3. Wow, that’s a lot of stuff. I can’t imagine what it must be like for people who do all those things. I don’t do half of them, but I try to comment on new posts of all the blogs I follow, which takes a long time. You talked about ARC reviews and all, so do you read on schedule? Or do you choose whatever you want as you go? Staying on schedule must be tough!

    • Oh gosh, no. I’m actually quite terrible with reading ARCs … I’m almost always getting a review posted way after the book came out. But I do know some people who do read on a schedule! I think the only schedule I have is with my Book Hoarder’s feature, but I don’t keep up sometimes. If I read on a schedule, I doubt it would be enjoyable. I much prefer to read based on my mood!

  4. I don’t do quite all of these things either (for instance, I don’t request review books, so I can avoid that type of stress, at least). Book blogging is definitely time-consuming, however, and I even have a co-blogger! There’s just always something one could do to make one’s blog better. It’s a fun hobby, though, and so far I haven’t felt any pressure to quit. I guess I’ve found some balance!

    Great post!

    (To answer the first question, when I tell my friends I blog, I’m pretty sure they have no idea what it means. Practically no one who knows me in real life follows my blog, or has even ever looked at it, as far as I can tell!)

    • I don’t think a lot of people in my “real life” read my blog, either … but it’s still a fun hobby. I’m actually trying to get out of the habit of requesting review books and trying to read just for me. It’s funny because once I wrote this post I realized that I could be cutting back in areas so I don’t feel bogged down.

  5. Haha I agree with Asti! I’m exhausted just looking at all those things we do as bloggers! I think that just about covers it….. And that’s a lot! Honestly? I love making my own blog banners/buttons/graphics but since I’m such a novice at graphic design and the like, it takes me SO LONG to do all those little things! That as well as my blog’s layout. Something as simple as adding a border to my sidebar took me hours to figure out because I’m changing it through CSS and I have to google and try something. Then it doesn’t work. Then I Google again. Then attempts 2, 3, 4, and 5 don’t work. It’s exhausting! LOL. BUT it’s worth it to make my site look the way I want it on a budget.
    I know this is our hobby, but it really is hard work!!!! There is a LOT that goes into this hobby — both money and time. I’m so glad you made a post about it! I feel like a lot of people who aren’t bloggers could very well easily underestimate the amount of time & energy we put into our passion 🙂

    • Exactly. That’s why it was fun to brainstorm all the things that bloggers do … even if some don’t do all of these things. And design stuff does take forever! But I find it to be fun. 🙂 And I don’t understand CSS … It’s very confusing!

  6. Oh my gosh. I heaved a big sigh at the end of this post. Just being reminded of all this stuff is exhausting! It’s been especially bad for me lately because I really don’t have a lot of time for blogging, but I do want to be a conscientious and friendly blogger, so I try to find the time to do many of these things. I have to say, ever since I started getting regular traffic on my blog (and I’m by no means an even medium-sized blog), I’ve felt much more exhaustion and anxiety regarding all of the time it takes to keep up with it! Whew!

    • I’ve been feeling anxiety, too … time for a break! And it’s easy to think that you have to do all the things, but I don’t think you do. I’m thinking of cutting back in some areas … At least I’d have more time for reading!

  7. When you put it all together, it looks so daunting and overwhelming! That’s why I’ve slowed my blog down a bit. I need to make time for the rest of the things in my life or I’d book blog full time for no money and be poor(er) and cranky!

    • Yes! I’ve been trying to read for me first these past few weeks and I’m amazed at how I get more interested in my library and the books I own, rather then getting review books or buying books. I’m going to cut back some, too … I think it’s time!

  8. Just reading your post has made me realize how much we all do as book bloggers! There is a lot of hard work that goes into it, and that kind of work requires passion and love. It makes me happy that a lot of people are willing to spend time doing all these things for the love of sharing the book love though!

  9. I hear you. Between tech nightmares, organizational challenges, and just keeping up with everything, it’s a lot. I’ve made some changes. I used to respond to every comment. Now I just do the best I can. I don’t feel the need to request (or read) every book. I don’t like watching vlogs (takes way too long) so I don’t vlog.
    I try to focus on the parts of blogging I love, namely, telling people about books that I think are amazing, and meeting other book lovers.

    • Yes! I think it’s important to focus on the best parts … It can be too easy to think you have to do everything. I’ve been doing that for a while now and think I need to change things. Making a list like this really made me realize how much I’m doing! Whew!

    • I don’t think I do all of these things … At least, now that I’ve made the list, I’m going to cut back some! It’s tough to keep up and I think that some people compare themselves to the bloggers who manage to do everything. Personally, I don’t think everything needs to be done!

  10. When you really stop and think about all that goes into blogging, you kind of wish it were a paid job, don’t you? I mean, yeah, it’s a hobby and it’s a great one, but it can quickly turn into a full-time thing. If I weren’t self-employed and working from home, I honestly don’t know how I’d find the time. Half the time I’m supposed to be working I find myself doing stuff for the blog or commenting on other people’s blogs (like right now lol). It’s crazy. It’s fun and rewarding and I wouldn’t trade it for anything but it can definitely be stressful. I swear for every one thing I cross off my to-do list I end up adding two or three more. I keep trying to get ahead – plan and schedule – but it never seems to work because there’s just SO much to do. So for those people who think it’s easy or it’s a silly little hobby…I’d have a few choice words for them! 😉

    ~Marie @ Ramblings of a Daydreamer

    • There definitely is so much to do! It’s funny because now that I look at the list, I feel exhausted and feel like I should cut back. I miss the days when it was more hobby-ish. Right now I have the time, but I think I’d rather spend more time reading!

  11. “All of the social media.” Sometimes I feel like I’m so tired of trying to be EVERYWHERE. I’ve taken a small step back from my blog’s FB page in order to be present more on Twitter/Goodreads, which is somewhere I feel my presence really counts.

    It’s all a LOT of work. A LOT. And I admire so many bloggers who have it together more than I do, who are not just bloggers but designers, wonderful vloggers, or always coming up with ideas. I’m just so glad to be a part of this community.

    Wonderful post, Kristilyn! Anyone who thinks blogging is easy just doesn’t know. 😉

    Molli | Once Upon a Prologue

    • Yes, some bloggers do everything! I don’t know how they do it! I’m thinking of dropping out of Facebook … it’s nice, but I just can’t keep up! There are so many places I feel like I need to be present that I get overwhelmed and just turn it all off and read my book. That’s a better place to be!

  12. This is an awesome list. I admit that I struggle with leaving and replying to comments in a timely fashion. I read posts a few days before I get around to leaving comments. I always plan to come back. I agree that reading books does take ages, especially when life gets busy.
    This list makes me exhausted already. We book bloggers do a lot, don’t we?

    • We really do! And I’m terrible at replying to comments … I’m just replying to some now and haven’t done any replying in over a week. Some bloggers just have it all together … I do not. Oh well, life happens! I love my blog, but I don’t want to feel tied down by it.

  13. Excellent wrap up of what it takes. I eliminated the stress of review copies and deadlines by not accepting them. And social media is my Achilles heel – with only so much time, I spend most of it commenting on blogs and not on Twitter – but I do love Twitter chats and want to participate in more of those.

    • I’m trying to get out of the habit of requesting review books … It can be so hard! But I find that that adds even more stress … I want to get back in the habit of reading just for me, rather than wanting to read all the latest books. I think that I can be good and bad with social media. I can go through long spurts of not being on it, and then spent lots of time on it. Though, I think I’d like to spend more free time reading than anything else.

  14. I feel like we should all link to this post whenever people talk about bloggers being unprofessional, lazy, or book hogs. It really reminded me of the brilliant bloggers whom I read, and how much they deserve to be appreciated.

  15. Ugh, I’m tired just from reading about all of it. There are certain things I’m really bad at, like promoting posts with social media, and I’m terrible with design stuff. Absolutely terrible!

    It’s definitely time consuming being a book blogger, but it’s fun as well!

  16. Great post, no wonder I often feel tired! Reading the books is the easy bit and the only bit the others are aware of. Its a very time consuming hobby but I have to admit I love it. I have skipped the FB page though, I don’t want the work of promoting myself somewhere else and having something else to maintain. The biggest chore for me is battling with html and codes, it takes me forever to figure stuff out and I find that draining.

    • Yes, I’m terrible with codes! I think that’s what keeps me from self-hosting my blog. I just don’t have the patience to learn all of that. And it can be hard to promote posts everywhere! Some bloggers are great at it, but I’m not. Oh well … I’d rather spend time reading the books!

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  18. Oh how I love you!!!

    Seriously – I just am coming off an extended and unplanned blogging break, because I wasn’t blogging for me anymore. It was work. And it sucked. I needed to stop back, stop with the crazy “feels like I MUST do it” mode and just fall back in love with it.

    After nearly two years, I’m finally learning how to blog for myself and not just for the sake of blogging.

    • YES! I must do this, too. I took a bit of a break and it felt nice. I know I’d spend a lot of time doing blog things every day, but it’s nice to just step back and not do it all the time. I’m trying to morph into doing it just for me now. I know some changes will be coming!

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  20. I’m really bad about requesting books from Netgalley but they all look soooo good! But, I don’t worry about it if I don’t get to it right away. I try to request the ones that are either not being published for a long time or that have already come out, which helps 🙂

    • I’m so bad at it, too! Actually, I’m bad with review books in general … I can never seem to get reviews posted in time! But I’m going to try and get out of reading review books and get back into blogging for me and reading for me now. It’s time!

  21. This was a fabulous post and SO true – no wonder I’m always exhausted – I got tired just reading it (and book blogging is only part of what I do!)

    I would LOVE for you to share this at my Inspire Me Monday party at

    Create With Joy
    http://create-with-joy.com

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  23. You’re absolutely right Ellen! I read your article and trust me I almost cried in relief at how I’m (obviously!) not the only one out there struggling with trying to make it all right in one go. Recently started my blog and trust me the learning curve was super steep. And you’re bang on! Reading takes time! (Duh!!) So cheers! And thanks for making what i’m gonna adopt as a checklist for my subsequent posts!

    Warmest,

    j. 🙂

    • I’m glad you found the post helpful! I don’t, by any means, think that bloggers should be doing ALL of these things, but some bloggers do this AND MORE. I say do what works for you!

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  25. Wow! I know blogging takes a lot of time but when you put it up like that in a list it makes me tired just looking at it. I don’t think anyone who doesn’t blog could fully appreciate the time we put into it. Great post! ( ˘ ³˘)♥

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My home is where my books are. - Ellen Thompson

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