In the early months of 2018, I decided to create my own blog. I’d been blogging with Slutty Girl Problems for years, and loved writing and editing for someone else’s website. I decided I wanted to give things a whirl myself. For the past year or so, I’d been uploading pictures to my bookstagram account, @bitchbookshelf, and so BitchBookshelf.com was formed.
After a little over a year of blogging on this site, I kinda quit. And there’s a reason for that – a few reasons, really. I made some serious blogging mistakes that led to burnout and a sense of failure. I’m going to tell you about the mistakes I made so that you can avoid them.
Note: This post contains affiliate links. When you click on and/or purchase from some links, I make a portion of the sale. This helps keep Bitch Bookshelf running.
THEN: I didn’t have a vision.
First and foremost, I knew that I wanted Bitch Bookshelf to be a book blog, but I also had 900 other ideas about what it should be. There are so many other things about me other than liking books, so I didn’t want my person website to be about just books. Instead, while most of my posts were about books, I also posted about random things that had nothing to do with my central theme. Usually, those posts didn’t get many hits. However, one of those posts did get a ton of hits – in fact, the most my site got. I neglected to focus on the why it got hits and instead kept using that as fuel for writing about more and more “random” things. (The real reason is I have pretty good SEO skills, and that post was very SEO-friendly.)
NOW: I have a central theme and I’m sticking to it.
I was right in that I’m so much more than a “just books” person, but there are many things in my life that do revolve around books. I won’t just post book reviews here, but will still focus on a bookish theme. My posts will focus on book reviews and other bookish posts, library “lesson plans” and trends, writing and blogging, and how I use my planner for blogging, writing, work, and reading. These topics all kind of fall into the topics of reading, writing, and library which are all pretty central ideas to the main theme of books.
Because, duh, my website is called Bitch BOOKSHELF.
Pick one theme. If you want to blog about stuff outside of that theme, do it, but make sure it sticks with what your central topic is.
THEN: I didn’t monetize right.
Even though my work with Slutty Girl involves monetization, I just wasn’t doing it right. Once I signed up for affiliate portals like Amazon and Share A Sale, I got click happy. I kept joining affiliate programs left and right, and at one particularly manic point when I was avoiding finals, I even littered a sidebar with cute and flashy ads, much like the blingies I used to put on my MySpace in 2006.
I also wasn’t smart about my use of Amazon links. My main form of advertisement is through blogging groups on Facebook. I talk with other book bloggers and we share links, then comment on one another’s posts to help each other with traffic and foster a sense of community. Well, of course these people are also Amazon affiliates!
Of course, this website is more for fun than making money. But I still wanted to make enough to cover the cost of running it at the very least.
NOW: I’ll be smarter.
I actually left a ton of affiliate programs that I never got paid out on because I never earned enough money through them. I’ll give that another go, and when I link to Amazon, I won’t just do it in blog posts. I’ll make sure to include links in my newsletter and social media as well.
So don’t litter your website with ads no one’s clicking on, and make sure you know your audience and how to reach them.
THEN: I didn’t dedicate the time.
That’s not to say I wasn’t blogging, because I was, but I wasn’t doing it consistently. When I finished a book, when a Top Ten Tuesday prompt struck my fancy, when I had (what I thought was) a brilliant post idea – I logged on and posted. I was even more inconsistent with my newsletters.
NOW: It’s all in my planner.
I filled out my planner to the extreme with consistent dates for publishing blog posts and sending out newsletters. I know things inevitably will come up and I may miss a date or two or ten, but the point is I’m going to try, and I’ve set some visual goals to make myself try hard.
Speaking of, for planning I use The Happy Planner. It’s an affordable counterpart to the Erin Condren planner with a lot more flash and something for everyone. While shopping online is super convenient, I also recommend hitting up Michael’s if there’s one near you. Every one I’ve been to has an entire isle dedicated to planners, a huge chunk of which is contains Happy Planner items.
So, regardless of what planner you use and whether it’s physical or digital, I really recommend planning and setting aside time to work on your blog. For me, that visual of a written date in my planner is extra motivation.
I know I still have a lot to learn, and I’m prepared fully for another possible year of feeling like I’m not the best blogger around – because really, I’m not. But I also plan to make 2020 the year I really use my website, and make it usable for my readers.
And before I go, since this is a book blog…
If you haven’t already, follow me on Goodreads!
I also highly encourage you to read my favorite book of 2019, Bringing Down the Duke by Evie Dunmore. It’s a super steamy historical romance with a really great plot. It’s evident why my most anticipated book of 2020 is A Rogue of One’s Own by Evie Dunmore, book two in the series.
I hope everyone had a fabulous New Year’s Eve, and that your 2020 is epic!