Getting my Blogging Mojo Back
SERIESous Discussions: Every once and awhile I will post my random ramblings about a bookish or blogging topic. Feel free to join in by making a comment below or linking back!
I started this blog in April 2013 and that seems absolutely bonkers to me! I can’t believe it has been that long!
I’ve done and experienced a lot in those 8 years. I moved my blog to a self-hosted site (and contemplated moving back to a free site); changed my review format and posting schedule; I started reviewing ARCs; did some blog tours… In that time, people I started blogging with years ago have either changed their blogs to suit other interests/hobbies or have just stopped posting altogether.
I can understand that last part a lot. It can be hard to come up with fresh content all the time. One of the nice things about being a book reviewer is that your posts come from the content (books) you read on a regular basis. I don’t have to travel somewhere exotic or chronical my daily life (which is not that exciting). I can stay home, read and volia! A post for my blog!
(We all know it is a little more complex than that simple statement.)
But, that can become monotonous after awhile. Sometimes I feel like I say the same things over and over again in reviews. Other times, I’m in a reading funk and my source of content just isn’t there. In the last 3 years, every time my self-hosting comes up for renewal, I contemplate if I’m still interesting in keeping my blog self-hosted. Perhaps going back to a free site is best for the number of times I blog…but I end up paying my dues and pressing on because I still love to blog and promote books I love. (And moving my site back seems like a big chore)
I’ve only ever gone on one other hiatus in my blogging career and that was in the fall of 2013 when I had a tough academic semester in university and stepped away to focus on school. Otherwise, I’ve always had enough content to keep posting months ahead of schedule so I didn’t need to write posts all the time but could still generate content for my blog.
Until the COVID-19 pandemic hit in March 2020.
I explain more about why this was a particularly rough time for my reading with my How I Fell in Love With Reading Again post last month. The gist is: I work in healthcare and my attention span just couldn’t focus on books to finish them. So while I wanted to write posts for my blog (because I found I physically had to do something), I didn’t always have the content for my blog.
For the next few months I’d go through blogging sprees and managed to schedule posts up until mid-April 2021. However, from about November 2020 to June 2021, I didn’t log into my blog at all except to write my Year in Review Summary and my Reading Plan for 2021.
My hiatus wasn’t something I consciously thought about. It’s just something that happened as my area of Canada went into a 3rd, more intense wave of COVID-19 and work once again consumed me. Netflix became my go-to stress relief. (I also had some issues with my site hosting)
Eventually, I got back into reading around May 2021, which I detail in that previous post about How I Fell Back in Love With Reading. I gave myself the rest of that month to really focus on my reading and told myself I would come up with a plan for blogging in June/July 2021 once I was satisfied with my reading progress.
Here’s How I Got my Blogging Mojo Back:
1. Using my Bullet Journal
I first brought up the idea of a bullet journal in my Reading Plan for 2021 as a way to keep myself accountable for my reading habits. And it has really worked for building up a lot of healthy lifestyle habits and routines thanks to its flexibility to be tailor-made to whatever you need it to be.
I created a habit tracker and give myself a point every time I log into the blog. I aim to login to my blog 3 times a week. Sometimes I set specific days, other times I just go with the flow. Now, it doesn’t have to be just writing reviews to get a point; cross posting reviews or updating my series spreadsheet also gets a point. While I don’t reward myself with something physical every time I get a point, just seeing that tick makes me feel like I accomplished something I set out to do.
2. Hone in on the Backlog
At first, I couldn’t remember what reviews I had written for my blog and which ones needed to be drafted. I’m a Type A person so I get excited by creating lists and that’s what I did for the first two weeks of my “get into blogging again” mission. I had a list of tasks that I set out to do:
- Update my personal Excel “Books Read” tracking sheet with the titles on Goodreads
- Focus on ARCs that had been read in the last few months
- Create posts and cross-post if overdue
- Go through books read and see if review posts have been drafted or not
- Update Trello (how I keep track of review posts) with reviews that:
- Needed to be Written
- Needed Sequels Read to Complete
- ARC due dates
I would work on these a little bit at a time, often getting really focused on one task a day before moving to the next.
3. Create a New Posting Template & Due Dates Tracker
One of the reasons it took me a while to get back into blogging was that my main blogging laptop suddenly crashed and I lost all my files. I keep my posting templates, blogging schedule, common book themes, books read spreadsheet and more as Word documents on my laptop. So I was really at a loss there for a bit but I was able to recover the files and reinstall Windows so I could use my documents once again.
From my professional job, I’ve really become obsessed with Microsoft Excel. I always appreciated the program but after learning more about what it can do (and taking a certificate course in it), I loved its potential for maximizing my efficiency when it came to formatting an all in one calendar for my blogging life.
Now, I have an Excel Workbook that is super easy to maintain and incredibly easy to read thanks to some customize formatting (lots of colours!) and keeps track of everything I need when it comes to library due dates, ARC due dates and posting schedule. I’ll share what it looks like in a future post!
4. Focusing on Different Aspects Depending on my Mood
I’m a mood reader so it shouldn’t be a surprise that I’m also a bit of a mood writer for my blog. If I’m really inspired to write a post or a review that day, that’s what I do. If I don’t feel like that, I’ll do something else for my blog: like cross post old reviews to Goodreads or Amazon; or create a brand new Series tracking sheet.
Just doing these tasks a little bit at a time helps me feel productive. I find that if I force myself to write a review post, I don’t enjoy it which in turn creates animosity–not what I want to do at all. If I don’t feel like doing anything or don’t have the time, then I don’t. Every little bit helps in the long run, even if it isn’t directly writing the review.
5. Scheduling Posts
One of the biggest lessons I learned for my personal blogging (in the last 8 years) is that I don’t need to post every single day. (Kudos to those that do!). Because of the nature of my blog, I condense the reviews of 2+ books into one single post, whereas some bloggers would post individual reviews of each book. That means I reduce the number of posts I can write in a month. So in order to keep content generating, I schedule posts way in advance.
I created a generic monthly template for how I want my blog posts to be scheduled within a month. Because I have certain features for specific days of the week, I find planning those posts out in advance keeps things fresh and stops me from posting 30 “Fresh Friday” posts in a month and keeps posting content spaced out.
But what scheduling also does is give me breathing room if I can’t log into my blog for some reason. Because I work shift work, I don’t always have the time to login to my blog. But because I usually have posts scheduled 1-2 months in advance, I don’t have to worry that I need to finish a post by tomorrow. Chances are, that post was written a month ago and the post I’m currently working on can be finish sometime in the next 2 weeks stress-free.
Right now, my returning blog mojo is pretty self-centered. I’ve been focused on my content and I haven’t been exploring the blogosphere like I used to. That one really hit close to home when I was browsing my library’s new additions and realized that I knew nothing about the titles that have been released in the last year or weren’t written by an author I am already familiar with. By the fall, I hope to be blog hopping once again!
Overall, I’m just taking this all day by day and not putting any pressure on myself. It feels good to write again and get those creative juices flowing.
How has the last year affected your blogging habits?
Let me know in the comments below!