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Random Thoughts: On Making a Difference

randomthoughts

Each year it seems that more and more marketing is done online and the “value” of the book blogger as a marketing tool is becoming more apparent. And while that may be true, what hasn’t seemed to change since I started blogging way back in 2010 is that a book blogger’s worth isn’t tied to how much of an asset they can be to a publisher or for a book’s promotion. What gives book bloggers their drive to keep blogging day after day, month after month, year after year, is the idea that what they’re doing makes a difference.

As most bloggers make little more than enough to purchase the occasional book to read or for giveaway, the drive doesn’t come from the money generated from their efforts. The drive to produce fresh content each week comes from the interaction they have and the feedback they get on their blogs and other social media outlets. A single comment stating that their review prompted someone to either purchase or walk away from a particular title will give most bloggers enough motivation to keep blogging for weeks. Feedback from an author telling them that they loved the review or that it made their day will keep them smiling for months.

Even though most bloggers blog for themselves or for their readers and not for publishers, not for authors, not for “free” books, it’s always a boost to know that their opinion is valued, their participation makes a difference, that they matter.

In this crowded landscape, that’s getting more crowded every day, it’s getting harder and harder to stand out, to get noticed, to even be discovered. It’s getting harder to find an audience that will continue to visit a particular blog when there are so many to choose from. It’s getting harder to come up with original content. It’s getting harder to be that “go to” blogger for publishers, authors and blog tour companies.

It’s getting harder to feel like what we do makes a difference.

When we’re one of any number of bloggers participating in a blast, blitz, reveal or promotional spotlight, as individuals we don’t matter. And while we may be excited to participate, to help an author with their book’s promotion, it does little for us in the way of making us feel invested in our blogs. Without content that fulfills that desire to make a difference, we are, in essence, phoning it in, becoming disconnected from our blog, our blog’s readers. We’re not doing something that brings us joy or makes us feel like we’re contributing anything of value.

If we were to miss that scheduled generic blast post, our absence would go unnoticed. It is only collectively that our participation matters.

So how are we supposed to stand out? How can we try to find meaning in what we’re doing? How can we make a difference with so very many other bloggers trying to do the same?

Be persistent. Be consistent. Speak in our own voice every chance we get.

Even if we aren’t getting the feedback we need to make us feel better about our blogs, we have to keep blogging. They say that persistence pays and it does… eventually. Even if eventually is a far way down the road, it will happen. Someone will stop by and leave a comment. Someone will opt to follow. Until then we just have to keep in mind that we’re doing this for ourselves, that we’re accomplishing something by just putting it out there every week.

Even if it’s hard to come up with something new or interesting to say, write reviews or share our thoughts about all things books, we have continue to do so. Posting erratically gives us the appearance that we’re unreliable. And being seen as such will make those publishers, authors and tour hosts less willing to take a gamble on us. Disappearing for weeks and months at a time will cause our audience to disappear, drive traffic to our sites down, and thus make us less “valuable” as a resource. And if our goal is to make a difference by being a valued resource, our less than consistent behavior will destroy that.

But the best hope we have of making our mark in the blogging community is speaking in our own voice on our blogs. It’s our thoughts about books, about authors, about the industry and about the bookish community that will help us to achieve that goal. Posting generic content, or content that doesn’t allow our voice, our thoughts, our personality to come through will never let us differentiate ourselves. It will never give us that sense of accomplishment. If we want to make a difference we can’t just be a number.

Now, this is not to say that our contributions always have to be masterful or meaningful or wholly unique. Sometimes just a silly, gif-filled post can make a difference. Or creating a “Team” banner for a bookish boyfriend, or a countdown widget to show our support for an upcoming book. Or sharing a particular book-related experience, or photos from a book signing.

We don’t have to be wordsmiths, coding experts or social media mavens to be valuable assets to the book community. We only have to be ourselves – book lovers who love sharing our thoughts about the books we adore.

And by doing just that we are making a difference.

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