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My One Year Blogoversary: Goals

Well, it’s official. Today is my one year blogoversary. It’s hard to imagine that I’ve been doing this for an entire year, but it seems I have. I do not count the false start back in May 2010, which wasn’t really a start at all, just a test run.

But on November 9, 2010 I posted my very first official post on Fiktshun.com and it was my review for Torn by Amanda Hocking. Since then I’ve posted 151 reviews and have had a total of 524 posts. Wow. I would have liked to have a few more reviews than that, but I didn’t quite realize just how much more to blogging there was than reading and reviewing.

When I started blogging back in November 2010 I had no real goals. My only goal at the time was to have a blog to post the review of Torn so that I could get an eARC to beta read for the author.

It was the catalyst I needed to get my blog up and running. I was so thrilled when I was chosen that I decided I’d like to keep it going and see what could happen. Maybe I could beta read a few more books? I had no idea at the time that there were things called ARCs. I also didn’t even know what a beta reader was until I Googled it. I was just a stalker-y fan of the author and the idea of reading her book early sounded enormously exciting.

I had no idea what I was doing in those early days, but I did know that I couldn’t possibly write a review every single day. My guy told me that bloggers needed to update their content regularly. And to me, regularly meant daily.

So, I enlisted my friend Nic to help me out with a few guest reviews. I also thought about what I could add to the site to sort of fill in on those days when I didn’t have a written review and my very first thought was creating a post called “Book Watch” in which I mention a book coming out soon that I was excited for. Of course I posted it the same day as my Torn review, rather than on the 10th, because I didn’t know much about scheduling posts… I didn’t really know much about anything back in those days.

And without going into the day-by-day details of how my blog evolved, because this would be a really, really, really long and boring post, I will just say that it was a learning process. And a slow one. I didn’t know enough about the book blogosphere at the time and so I had to fight for every little thing I got. I did not have hundreds of followers in my first weeks or months. I did not have site traffic in the hundreds for my first months. And I did not have a clue about what I was actually doing for at least the first few months.

But I did it. And slowly I figured out some of the goals I had for my blog, and slowly I achieved a steady following on my site, for which I am eternally grateful.

What I’ve been up to this past year on the blog(s)…

I’ve created a few features – all of which I’ve done without knowing if they were already in existence – so I think they’re unique, but if not, I’ve tried to make them my own. And the one (My Reading Pile) that evolved from where I intended it to include a discussion of what arrived in the post, I’ve given credit to the blogger who started it all.

I’ve also participated in a few blog tours, conducted a few author interviews and had a few author guest posts. I’ve had a few guest reviewers visit the site. And I’ve interviewed one blogger.

I took part in a few community events like Armchair BEA and BBAW, took part in the 2011 Debut Author Challenge, and participated in an epic a tournament over the summer which turned me into a crazed Soul Screamers fan and semi-stalker-y fan of the author.

Oh, and I’ve been known to have a giveaway or two.

I’ve enlisted the help of a designer to create business cards and bookmarks, and also asked for her help to create some custom elements for my site – new header, new sidebar headers, new blog button, post headers, buttons – like my blogoverary button above – and avatars.

And I ended up creating a few other blogs because one just wasn’t enough. (All those were designed by Parajunkee, too.)

I joined a few social media sites like Twitter, Facebook, Klout, and Google + and I took my existing Goodreads account which I’d started in 2007, with my six real life friends, and switched it over to one I use for my blog’s reviews.

And my very favorite thing that happened over the past year is that I met some of the most amazing online people with interests similar to mine, a few of whom I consider very good friends.

I’m sure I’ve been up to a bit more than that, none of which I can recall at the moment. I may be a YA blogger, but that doesn’t meant I’m the Y part of A and my memory tends to fail me now and again.

So, before I forget the point of this post… I thought I’d share some of the goals I’ve had during this first year of my blog’s existence – many of which still stand – and share a few of my goals for this next year.

To post content daily – I believe I’ve met this goal aside from the November 10, 2010 scheduling mishap.

To read and review as many books as humanly possible – I’ve changed this goal a bit. It’s now to read and review as many books as a blogger can possibly read and review. Very different.

To create content that is interesting and informative – Well, I’ll let you be the judge of that. I’m way too self-critical.

To write original, helpful and sometimes fun to read reviews – Again, I’ll let you decide.

To share my love of books with my blog’s readers – I like to think I do this, through my reviews, featured posts and giveaways and my over-excited Tweets and FB status updates.

To promote the books and authors that I love – Again, as above, I like to think that I do this as much (and as often) as I can.

To discover new authors, books and genres – I definitely try to keep an open mind and keep expanding my world of books. I may not have reached out as far as I’d like to, but it’s only because of time constraints and not limits I’ve set.

To learn as much as I can about the community – It’s a huge community and I don’t have nearly as much time as I’d like, but I have tried to participate in events which will allow me to be an active participant in this community.

To learn as much as I can about the industry – I think this will have to be a goal for year two, because I haven’t had time to attend events like BEA or really learn as much about the publishers as I’d have liked.

To develop, and grow, a steady readership of my blog – I haven’t been such a success at the “growing” part of this, I stalled out at around the six month mark, but I feel like I have some really amazing and loyal readers of my blog that I absolutely adore.

***

My goals have never been (and hopefully never will be) to reach a certain follow count or get as many free books as possible from publishers. While I’d love to create relationships with publishers – which I’m going to try and do by attending industry events in year two – it has never been about the free books for me. And while I love getting books early, what I’ve learned is that the pressure to read them before release date is sometimes more stressful than just buying a copy and reading it on my own.

And while I love seeing that my “follow” count says nine hundred some-odd followers, the most important followers I have are those that interact with me out there in the blogosphere. They make me feel connected to something and make this feel a lot less like a girl sitting alone at home in front of her computer. As I said on The Annex, I’d much rather have fifty followers that read my content, that leave comments or say “hi” on Facebook and Twitter, rather than one thousand listed on GFC that visit my site once and never return.

My Goals in a Nutshell

To me this has never been about it being a popularity contest. I’ve never envied anyone their success. It’s always been about me doing the best possible job I can with my blog, being happy with the content I write, being proud of the product I create, spreading the excitement I have for books and authors as far and wide as I can, and meeting as many amazing people who love books as much as I do.

To continue to post content daily – Though I might want to take a brief vacation at some point. Doubt that will happen.

To create a cache of posts that keep me ahead of the game – Being a last minute blogger is stressful!

To improve on how I write my reviews – I believe that there is always room for improvement in this world.

To continue to create content that is interesting and informative – And maybe come up with a few new features.

To learn more about the technical side of blogging – After my first few months I’d stopped learning new things. I need to learn more.

To share my love of books with my blog’s readers – A forever goal.

To promote the books and authors that I love – A forever goal.

To discover new authors, books and genres – A forever goal.

To learn more about the community – I know there are other community-wide events and I’d like to be a more active participant and meet new bloggers.

To learn as much as I can about the industry – A priority for me in year two.

To develop relationships with the publishers – I haven’t done much outreach and as a blog that’s been around for a year, I feel that maybe I should. And again, it’s not for the freebies, but to be in the know about upcoming books and new authors.

To grow the readership of my blog – More senior bloggers talk about SEO as part of increasing traffic to their site. I have to research this a bit, because unless people can find my blog, they won’t be able to read it.

Take stock – I need to take a look around my site and see what works and what doesn’t. See what features aren’t of interest or what I can do to improve them.

Limit my giveaways – This will be hard. I am an enthusiastic book buyer and book pusher. I like to give things to other people. But apparently giving away tons of books gets expensive, and I’m not made of money, though I’d love it if I were.

***

Well, there you have it. And I’d be impressed if you actually made it to the end of this really long post. I have heard that blog readers generally like things short and sweet when reading online or on their mobile devices.

So, maybe as part of that “taking stock” idea for year two, it would be to decrease the amount of blathering I do in each of my posts.

Well, I also imagine you’ve scrolled down this far in hopes of finding my giveaways, but I’ve decided to post them separately, and if you wait for just a few more minutes, the Giveaway Extravaganza post will be up shortly.

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