Today this blog turns five years old. Five years old! That’s practically ancient in Internet time.
Like any blogger who has been at it for more than five years, I’m looking for a new direction. I think it must be a little like writing a second novel—all the stuff I most wanted to write about, I have written about already, so there’s less sense of urgency.
I’ve been tossing around ideas for this post for a few months — ever since I got started thinking about blogging milestones when I celebrated 1,000 posts — but it took Jeanne’s comment for all of my fleeting and tangled thoughts to come together.
Despite the feeling that everything has been said before, I think can be useful to revisit where we’ve been once in awhile. The book blogging community is growing so big so quickly that it’s impossible to know or remember where we’ve all come from. It’s nice to be reminded of our “origin stories” once in awhile. But part of surviving online for five years is also to not get bogged down in what we were, to constantly be evolving to fit better into the virtual and real life landscapes we exist in.
I started this blog on Saturday, May 10, 2008, one week before I was set to graduate from a small liberal arts college on the prairie of Minnesota with a B.A. in English. I had kept various blogs through high school and college, but they were of the angsty rants about how boys didn’t like me, I was too chubby, and my life was really hard (all things that were untrue, even if they didn’t feel like it at the time). I decided I wanted to put useful and interesting things on the Internet, and that my degree in English made me qualified to write about books.
I didn’t really know there were other book bloggers out there. I mean, I assumed there were other people who wrote about books online, but I didn’t know that book blogging was going to become a thing for me personally or for the book community at large. The idea of advance review copies or going to a book conference or writing about books on other websites wasn’t even a calculation. If you want an idea of how much I didn’t know anything about this book blogging thing, check out this post from June 2008 — I was excited about getting 20 hits per day and wanted to know about what things other bloggers put in book reviews. How simple things were back then, am I right?
Since May 2008, I’ve gone through many big life changes, the kind you go through when you’re just out of college and trying to figure out what to do with your life before a mid-life crisis hits. In my case, I went to grad school, panicked about the future of the journalism industry, interned for the summer, adopted a cat, finished my master’s degree, got my first job, then quit my first job to move back to the town where I went to college (and move in with a boy for the first time) to be the editor of a small town newspaper. Aside from my family and some very close friends, this blog has been the most constant thing in my life since I started writing five years ago.
There are lots of pieces of advice that I’ve seen veteran bloggers give about how to maintain your blogging energy. And lots of that advice is good. But the only piece of advice I can give at this moment about keeping up a blog is that you have to be willing to let the blog evolve with you. As my life has changed, the way I blog and think about blogging has changed too. The bloggers that I love to read embrace that change and incorporate it into their blogging lives rather than letting their blog remain stagnant while they change behind the scenes.
I don’t think embracing change has to be a big deal. Recently, for example, I decided to change up the regular posts I do on Sundays. I had been doing The Sunday Salon, a sort-of meme on Sundays I joined several years ago, but I’d lost my interest in the non-format. In February I started doing Currently posts every Sunday using Instagram photos, which has really given me some of my blogging energy back. It’s a little change, but one that I made after realizing that I needed to do something to give me a slightly different direction. Evolution is what helps a blog survive.
Well, evolution and people. If I had 800 more words, I’d talk about how grateful I am for the friends I’ve made through this community and because of this blog. It’s genuinely amazing and I feel honored every day. As much as it’s hard to believe that this blog is five years old, I can’t imagine any parts of the last five years without the community I’ve found because of it. Book bloggers are my people.
As a thank you for being a wonderful community (and for reading all the way to this very long post), I’m going to end with a giveaway. Fill out your information in the form below to be entered for a $10 electronic gift certificate to the online bookseller of your choice/ One week from now, I’ll draw five winners. There are a couple of extra survey questions, but you can ignore those if you want.
Thank you, thank you, thank you. The last five years have been truly wonderful.