Hello everyone! So yesterday was a bit of a special day as you can probably tell from the title. Yesterday, 5 years ago, I started Avid Reader/blogging. For those of you wondering how that is, considering I have about 3.5 years worth of posts on here, well I started on Weebly then moved to WordPress (aka here) after 1.5 years. It’s been one interesting ride for the last 5 years and I’ve met a lot of people and gotten a lot of opportunities so this post is going to a mishmash of things. Read along to go through my journey and then end with a couple giveaways to say thank you to you guys and a mini donation box/link party 😉 Here we go….
Part 1: The Biggest Things That Happened
So, as you can imagine, blogging for 5 years is kinda a lot and, since starting it back in 2012, a lot has happened both in my blogosphere and as a result of blogging. I’m going to name most – if not all – that happened but, for sake of reading time, I won’t really describe them. Really, this is just to highlight all the amazing things that have happened since I started blogging. Also, I’ll try to put them in order of when they happened, but I promise nothing lol:
- started Avid Reader on Weebly
- began writing reviews and learning about blogging and business
- started a Facebook page for the blog
- received my first read to review email and wrote a review
- Got to interview several authors
- moved the blog to WordPress
- participated in WordPress challenges and made a ton of friends including the amazing Michelle from The Writing Hufflepuff who is now one of my best friends
- started group blogs with my new friends called “Literature Blogging Buddy Circle” (LBSquared for short) and “Writer’s Guild: By LBSquared“
- started working on a new site called “YABookishNews” as a writer and fandom editor
- started Twitter and began to join twitter chats like #K8chat and met so many wonderful, like-minded people
- also joined Kate’s (from #K8chat) awesome blogger directory and began to get more read to review opportunities through her email list and through authors contacting me from the directory
- was added to a twitter DM group made of a ton of awesome teen bloggers….we later dubbed the group the ‘Blog Squad’
- started “The Feministas” with 10 other lovely amazing ladies/bloggers from the ‘Blog Squad’
- began to realize I really love blogging, especially the business side of it, and that maybe I should go into that for uni (spoiler alert: I did!)
- got a review request and was sent books from my first ever publisher, St Martins Press
- was added to the Macmillan email list and was sent my first box of ARCs
- was added to the Diamond Sisters street team for Michelle Madow
- became friends with one of the geekiest guys I knew named Ahmad and we started talking over twitter and watching shows together…..now we’ve moved to texting and we watch every episode of Flash together. He became my first blogging/Twitter friend to turn into an IRL friend
- became a part of the Aether Clan, aka part of Susan Dennard‘s street team
- started a Twitter-based street team for Maggie E Hall‘s The Conspiracy of Us trilogy
- started my first ever business with the launch of my Society 6 shop in January of 2016
- …..one month later I started a shop on Red Bubble
- in March 2016, I went to my first ever bookish event at my local library for Kathy MacMillan, Ava Jae, Laura Shovan and Janet Summer Johnson
- in May, I created my first custom graphic design for Cyra from Rattle The Pages
- …..then I made the Design Shop, a custom graphic and blog design shop for fellow bloggers, authors and small business owners….now I also do branding and marketing
- in September 2016, I went to my second event, with a friend, at Politics & Prose for Sabaa Tahir and Renee Ahdieh
- In November 2016, I began to work on a new subscription box centered on diversity
- In January 2017, I launched the subscription box (called Diverse Reads) then closed it due to personal reasons (I’m considering opening something similar up again….let me know in the comments if you’d be interested)
- Also in January, I became a Marketing Fellow at The Tempest, an online magazine focused on diverse millennial women (but everyone should read it regardless!)
- In June, I was promoted to a staffer at The Tempest and became the Social Community Manager!
- Also in June – specifically June 1st to 4th – I went to my first publisher party with Macmillan/Fierce Reads AND went to Book Con (my first big bookish conference!!!) and met several of my blogger friends in real life and met a ton of authors and got a ton of books and swag
And here we are now, August 3, 2017. There’s been a ton that’s happened (even more than just in those 30 bullets) but it’s been one wild, fun, interesting ride and I’m so confused and happy as to how: a) it’s been five years since I first started; (b) I’ve met so many people; and, (c) I’ve gotten so many opportunities! It’s just WOW! Now, in all this, I did learn some things and picked up a few tips so…..
Part 2: Lessons Learned and Tips….Tipped?
5 Lessons I Learned
- It’s not going to be easy – believe me, blogging is not easy and these opportunities didn’t just appear. In between blogging, I’ve been a student and I’ve moved a ton so I’ve had to work hard at everything I do to get where I am today
- Some sacrifices will be made – I’m not gonna lie and say that I’m perfect and that, with hard work, every part of your life will be perfect because psh to the nah. There were times where I neglected my blog so much I considered quitting and there were times where I wanted to just forget everything and be a full-time blogger and, though neither option is horrible, I didn’t stop blogging or being a student. Instead, I learned I have to let go of the little stuff and realize that sometimes I might focus on one thing a bit more than the other. The key is to not do that for too long or too much unnecessarily.
- Everyone’s journeys will be different – there are some people who are where I am now in their first year of blogging and there are some people who have been blogging for 10 years and are way ahead of me and, and, and times infinity. Everyone is different which means that everything will be different in some way. The key to getting ahead is to stop looking to the side. Just move and do as you do at your own pace and you will get where you want to be and more. Oh and btw, where you want to go will change 5 million times and that’s okay too.
- People will hate you and try and hurt you just bc they’re jealous/mad that you did something that they wanted to do – it’s a fact of life that you will get haters. Some people might think they are justified in their hate and as such aren’t doing anything wrong, and some people are full blown trolls for no reason. Don’t pay attention to them. They’re not the people you want to surround yourself and you’re not going to change them so punch a pillow and scream for five minutes then hold your head high and do your thang.
- There will be people who will always support you and there will be people who will hate you, find the middle people because they’re the most honest – secondary to the haters, you will also find the “stans” aka the people who will support you till death do you part (and even then they would fight for you). They will fill your head with sweet nothings and love you forevsies but they probably won’t tell you the honest, God-given truth and that’s wonderful but when you need the truth, they aren’t the people you should turn to. Instead turn to one of your friends who you know would fight for you in a heartbeat but also would tell you when you’re being/doing something horrible (insert thank yous to my lovely friends Sierra and Paige who I trust to do this)
5 general tips
- Don’t be afraid to make friends but always be careful not to trust too easily – the blogging community is not one to be lonely in. It’s meant for you to find other like minded people and connect over the thing(s) you love so definitely connect with people and have fun! Just remember though, you don’t put everything about you on the internet (believe me, you don’t) and the same goes for everyone else so be careful with who you’re friends with and be in control of what info (personal or not) that you discuss
- Be yourself – in business, there is a term called branding and it’s essentially the word for the question “what sets you apart from everyone else?” This applies to blogging with your writing style, types of posts, posting days, pictures, theme, blog name etc. Branding is important because you don’t want to be like everyone else. At least not a complete carbon copy. You want to be yourself so people can connect with you and feel that, to get the content they love from you, they need to stay and only read your blog. They won’t find it anywhere else.
- Take care of yourself. – Be cognizant of your mental and physical health. Sometimes talking to people and constantly blogging can get mentally and emotionally draining – even for extroverts – believe me, sometimes your hand hurts too and in the end you just want to to take a break. Or sometimes, you’re in a rut or a burnout and you just can’t do anything. Be mindful of that! Don’t push yourself so far out that you start to hurt. Know your breaking point and understand it’s healthy and wonderful to take breaks. It’s okay. We won’t forget you, don’t worry.
- Be adventurous and take risks (to a point) – create weird posts you don’t think anyone will like and then promo the heck out of them. Be weird and funny and go out on a limb and do something crazy. Go to an event. Go to a conference. Open up a business and run with it. Take risks. Because, at the end of the day, it’s your life and you only get one of em so live it to the fullest, as you want! Be safe though when doing these things….like take risks and all but don’t endanger yourself.
- Respect those of different opinions – at some point in your life you’re going to meet someone who has the exact opposite opinion of you and it might be based on concrete evidence and it might be the most ignorant/wrong opinion ever. That’s ok. Don’t waste your time trying to change them if they’re that far gone. If you want, see if you can have a polite, respectful discussion and you might learn a thing or two or teach em something new. BUT don’t waste your time if they aren’t going to listen and don’t bash them for their opinion or unwillingness. It’s cool. Their opinion is their opinion. Instead, see if you can talk to someone else and change their mind lol or just ignore that they have that opinion and move on with your life/friendship. If you can’t get over it (and that’s perfectly fine) then either kindly let them know you don’t want to talk much anymore or, if you’re not that close, just mute them on twitter or lessen/stop talking. If they notice and ask why, be honest and polite. There’s no need to hurt your or anyone’s feelings. Seriously, I’ve done all the above and it’s good. You’ll all live. You’ll move on and 1, 5, 10 years from now you’ll randomly think of it and then shake your head and smile and move on bc who cares *shrugs* opinions are opinions.
5 blogging tips
- schedule out posts
- write review notes while you’re reading or right after you read to keep it fresh in your mind
- be relatively consistent with how much you post but also be flexible and know the world won’t end if you miss a post
- get social media and connect with people
- promote the bejeebies out of your things but be mindful not to spam
Part 3: People I Want To Thank
- Michelle – you were the first blogging person I became friends with and you were the first person who I knew would become a forever friend and you are my first best friend who I’ve stayed best friends with for so long. It feels like I’ve known you for forever and every time I think about it, I can’t imagine how there was a time before you. We don’t talk much but every time we do, it’s effortless like there was no break and it blows my mind that I’ve found someone like that. I seriously love you for all that you are and all that you do and wanted to thank you for being the lovely person you are!
- Ahmad – I’ve talked about you so much you already know I ❤ you but just in case you’ve forgotten let me tell you again. You are one of the very few people who I’ve let get close and probably the only guy I’ve ever let get this close to me and for all my weird and 60-texts-in-a-row self, you still are somehow friends with me. There’s never been someone who I’ve wanted to talk to as much as I want to talk to you and never been anyone else I’ll sit and talk to about anything and everything for hours with. You’re also the only person in my life to own a time in my life – every Thursday night – where you’re the only person that matters. I love watching Flash with you and bashing Arrow with you and I want to thank you for you being you and trusting me and being someone I <3. Don’t ever forget how wonderful you are.
- Laila – if a person could be made of simply love and power and badassery, then you would be that person because you are absolutely WOW. You treat everyone with such compassion and you are so strong and you’re not afraid to be vulnerable. You are a boss at running The Tempest and dealing with the ignorant and spiteful and you rock at being supportive and an amazing friend (btw #4 from my lessons learned is something Laila said….isn’t she awesome?!). Seriously, IDK how I was so lucky to become a part of The Tempest and meet you but alhamdulillah because you are amazing and you ought to know that.
- Jenny – okay girl, I know we don’t talk much either but I would like to thank God for you because you are legit awesome! I love talking to you about our writing and fangirling about all the heartbreak we want to dish out and just everything is so fun and it’s so easy to talk to you and it’s just *sighs happily*. You are wonderful and ahhhh I love talking to you and I’m so so so happy we’re friends!
- All my haters – I know this is weird to say but thank you for hating. I mean, it would’ve been/would be nice if you didn’t hate but nevertheless, thank you. You guys made me better, more aware, closer to Allah and my family and you made me know who my true friends are. Those are only a few of the lessons/blessings I’ve gotten because of you guys so thank you. Seriously though, please just stop hating on people. There’s a lot better things to do.
And that’s it I think. I’ve learned a lot over these last five years and grown in more ways than I could’ve imagined. I’ve also gained a ton of wonderful opportunities and, most importantly, found some pretty amazing people I’m happy to call my friends and community. You guys are wonderful and I’ve received so much from being a part of the community that I wanted to do something to pay you all back…..
Part 4: Giveaways!
Yup, that’s right! GiveawayS. Plural. More than one. Two. Now, what is in these giveaways you ask? Welllllll, for one giveaway, check out the pinned tweet on my Twitter profile and follow the rules there. For the second giveaway, well, I’m giving away:
- a sampler of Windfall by Jennifer E Smith
- a mini (fake) lotto ticket from Windfall
- an info card for Moxie by Jennifer Mathieu
- and, thanks to the lovely Mary Van Atkin from Macmillan, an ARC of Moxie which you soooooo need to read!
“How do you win such goodies?”, you ask. Great question my friend! To win all four things, just click here to the Rafflecopter and complete the entries/steps so you have a (higher) chance of winning! The giveaway ends Aug 21, 2017 @ 12 am EST. Also, it’s US only…. *runs and hides* I know, I know but I’m kinda not made of (enough) money so I can’t post to anywhere else except the US. If you do want to see more INT giveaways, though, then……
Part 5: Support???
- donate to my Paypal! I know it’s kind of weird to ask but I figured that I might as well take my own advice and take the risk! To explain a bit more, this PayPal is kind of like the Kofi links you see going around or like the little change jar at the cashier’s in your fave store; if you like what we do, you can drop in as much or as little as you want as kind of like an appreciation thing!
- get something at my shops whether it’s at Society 6 (S6) or Red Bubble (RB)! There’s almost always a sale going on at least at one of the shops so you can get my art for a discount most of the time!
- use my Amazon affiliate links whenever you want to buy something (books or not!) from Amazon
These (maybe to you) little things mean a lot to me as it all adds up and lets me continue doing the things I do! Now, I know not everyone can or wants to do this – believe me, I more than understand that – so please don’t feel pressured to do any of those or all of those things. All I ask is that you keep me in mind everytime you need a new phone case (or pillow or sticker etc) from S6 or RB, or you want to preorder a book or buy a hanger (#random) from Amazon. For those who do that, thank you from the tippity top of my heart (is that how the saying goes?) and for those who RT and comment the bejeebies out of my posts and support me in non-monetary ways, thank you from the tippity top of my heart too! You are all amazing and I wouldn’t be where I am without any of you guys so I appreciate all you do.
Anyways, overall, it’s been one wild ride that I’m so lucky to share with you guys. You make me smile and you’ve helped me grow and I honestly can’t believe it’s been 5 years since I first started blogging, hoping that I’d be able to talk to even one person about books….look where we are now *cries from happiness* Thank you all for being you and being there. I appreciate it more than you could ever know.
Here’s to five more years……