To Blog or Not to Blog

The question we often ask ourselves.

We all have opinions – it’s an undeniable fact of life. We don’t always agree with another’s point of view, and we all have a thought when it comes to a topic. Blogging is one of them. Love them? Hate them? Want one? Not sure where to start? With the easy access to different platforms such as Blogger, Wix or WordPress, creating your own website has become incredibly easy to put yourself out there and have a voice in the huge sea that is the World Wide Web.

Personally, I have both a personal blog website through Blogger and a business page with WordPress. While both have advantages, they are completely different from one another. Blogger has an easy to understand site – what you see is exactly what you get. Really. Although modifying the theme of your site through this platform can be a bit tricky if you don’t entirely understand HTML (or coding), but it’s 100% free if you don’t mind the <.blogspot.com> handle added to your website link. Now WordPress, that’s a whole other ball game. They have thousands of predetermined themes and you can also build your own if you have all the tools required to create it with visual without having to understanding an ounce of coding. That’s their advantage. The biggest down side of it all is that your dashboard varies from the free version (which you will have the <.wordpress.com> handle added to your website link) and the monthly or annual paid versions.

However, discussing the various available platforms wasn’t and isn’t the point to this ‘paper’. No, in fact, the purpose is to make you think and ask yourself whether you’re ready to add your own voice to the blogging life. While I won’t shamelessly plug in my blog website, hopefully I’ll be able to make some sense of it all.

I started my blogging journey back in 2013 after I was injured at work and needed something to keep me occupied during the long days of my recuperation. It began with an email, one that I never knew existed until I took a chance. It was from an indie author (these are the same types of authors that you notice on the bookshelves of stores, only they don’t go through traditional publishing houses such as St. Martin’s Press or Simon & Schuster) asking if I’d be interested in getting an advanced reader’s copy (AKA an ARC) of their upcoming book. I figured, sure, why not? It wasn’t like I was doing anything better with my days. The only stipulation was that I’d post a review of the book once I was done on Goodreads and Amazon or any other book retail site. It wasn’t long afterwards that I came across an ad on Facebook from a group of women who were looking for other readers to join them to form a book club and review ARCs; it didn’t think about it – I simply joined them.

These girls taught me the basics of WordPress, of blogging and how to make an impact with your words. Reviews that you see on Amazon don’t seem like much, but when you’re starting as an author, every single word has the potential to make or break someone. That’s your impact and your stamp on the web. Since 2013, I’ve been part of two book clubs (and bloggers) and started my own back in 2016 since I figured, why help another make it out there when I can make my own stamp? These last two years have taught me so much and when I get a message from an author that I’ve reviewed their books telling me how my review inspires them, trust me, there are is no better feeling than that.

Love it?

Absolutely. I love blogging. I love the community I find myself part of – the Facebook indie community can be as large or as small as you wish it to be, but to see virtual strangers come together to help an author, a reader or a blogger when they face difficult hardships is like incomparable. I’ve also increased my website building abilities, learned  how to read HTML and create coding, how to use Photoshop and PaintShop Pro (not to be confused with Paint) and how to connect with Publishers and be noticed.

Hate it?

There have been days when I’ve debated closing shop, I won’t deny that. It’s hard work. When I first began, I could spend anywhere’s between 1 hour to 6 hours simply posting various promotions. Since my personal blog is about books, I work alongside at least 10 regular publishing companies at any given time and when I get the chance, 5 more can be added if I sign up to review or promote a specific book. Between updating the Blogger website, posting on Facebook, Twittter, Instagram and Pinterest, I didn’t know if there was a way to post in one place and have all the other social media platforms automatically update. Having to cross post to the different platforms doesn’t seem like much, but it does add up after a while. It took a short while, but I did find websites that allow you  to post onto your blog and it will then post to your other social media sites. My time spending posting on my blog went from 1-6 hours a day to 2 hours for 3-4 days worth of postings!

Want one?

Starting a blog stars with one principal: an idea. From your idea, search the different platforms that are available.  Bring out the pros and cons of each one, of the available themes you can choose from and go from there. My best advice: learn the platform that will give you exactly what you need for what you want to discuss.

Not sure where to start?

Take a topic that you love. Mine? Books. Find out what you can do to make an impact and know what your likes and dislikes are. Ask yourself if you’re looking to make an extra income out of it or not. What are you gaining by starting your blog? How many hours a day or a week can you dedicate to adding new information to your blog.

The advantages of having a book blog? I get to received ARCs of books and read them before anyone else – in the past four years, I’ve saved a minimum of 5000$ on purchasing electronic books. Sometimes I’ll discover new authors and buy their books, so that works also for the author (not so much for my wallet though).

How much time can I dedicate to my blog? At first I’d post upwards to 40-50 different posts per day and could spend up to 4 hours posting and making the modifications for my platform. I’ve since changed and put a plateau on how many promotions I’d post: a maximum of 20 posts a day and no more than 2 hours dedicated to updating the blog. Mind you, once I start a full time job, that might change so that I spend less time updating the blog according to my availabilities.

Blogging isn’t for everyone. To make an impact, it takes time and dedication, but most of all, it takes ideas and words to convey your thoughts and emotions about a subject. The minute you start blogging, it’s important to know that on the web, nothing truly goes away. Your words can have an impact that leaves a sour note, so even if the post is gone, screenshots that someone else could have taken can still linger and haunt you in the long run. This is truly the perfect moment to bring up the old adage parents love to tell your children: ‘If you can’t say anything nice, then don’t say it at all’. Understand that you can have a different opinion than others, but the way you deliver your words makes all the difference.

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