Feb 21, 2013

Blogoversary: 2 Years Strong

I cannot believe it's been 2 years since I started The Irish Banana Review. Two years. Those two years have held so much personal and professional growth for me, it's amazing to think of where I was and where I am. It also makes me think of all the new blogs popping up daily. It also made me think about things I've learned the last 2 years, so here they are, in a somewhat condensed form:

The Myth of Why We Blog
This is the point where I should say I got into blogging because I love spreading the word about books and I just love being immersed in literature, right? I'm going to say what few bloggers will admit to, but I suspect we all felt at one point in time:

I wanted the free books.


I had heard about these amazing things called ARCs and heard publishers gave them to bloggers. Like, for free. Sometimes? You even got finished copies for (again) free. I am fully admitted that two years ago I jumped on the blogging bandwagon because I was a girl with limited finances and a big book love and the allure of free books sold me.

However, the truth is, bloggers who are in it just for the free books don't last long, and I was no exception. If you look at my first year, around April I got tired and frustrated. I stopped posting, I quit caring, and my blog was about to be one of those blogs that just fizzled away into cyberspace. After a couple months of dragging my feet, I came to the moment where I realized I had a decision to make: Either I was in or out, no more half-assing it and expecting people to magically adore me and my blog. If I wanted it, I needed to be willing to work for it. 

So I did. I started reaching out into the blogging world and I met some amazing people who encouraged me and kept me going. And yes, eventually I did start getting those "free" books I had to desperately desired in the beginning, but by that point they were icing on the cake. I was having a blast discovering books I probably never would have heard about or read had it not been for blogging. I loved the times when my friends and family would ask me for book recommendations. I loved spreading the word about a book or author I had fallen in love with.

The Myth of the Friendly Blogger
When I started blogging all I heard about was how friendly and open the blogging community was. This was a group of people (mostly girls) who loved to giggle and talk about books and book boyfriends and cupcakes and - Yeah, you're not buying it either, huh?


The truth is I quickly found blogging was like any other social order with its own cliques. There were bloggers who had been at this for years - well before anyone really knew what book blogging was and they didn't particularly care for the 100 new blogs popping up daily. You had librarians who resented bloggers period. You had newbie bloggers tripping over each other every day (several of whom had the same blog name) ... It was exhausting and it took me forever to find a niche in this world.

After two years, I can honestly say I have made some awesome friends. I've found a group of bloggers that I have become friends with both online and offline. These are people I have met in real life and text daily. People that when I say I'm having an off day actually care about why that is. I love these people, and it's such a great feeling knowing they feel the same way.

The Myth of Perfection
I wanted to be that perfect, elegant blogger from the beginning. I strived to make my blog be everything I thought it should be: My reviews were flowery and filled with adjectives, I kept everything straight and neat and organized. I spent close to a year trying to be the blogger I thought everyone else would enjoy.

And then I realized that I was hurting my blog by not being me. I started writing reviews the same way I would verbally tell you a review if we were face-to-face. I started adding pictures and discussion posts to my blog about things I cared about, and you know what? Turns out other people cared about them, too.

My blog may have a few typos, and may SQUEEEEEE!!!!! during a review, but that's me. It's who I am, and my blog stats improved dramatically when I started being myself.

So there you have it, my friends: Things I've learned since I started blogging 2 years ago. Now, it HAS been a fun two years, and what better way to celebrate that than with .... A funny cat GIF:




OK, and a giveaway. Open internationally so all of my followers can participate. I love you guys. Thank you so much.



55 comments:

  1. HAPPY 2nd BLOGOVERSARY!!! Congrats! It be a great feeling to reach that 2 year mark.

    And what a fab post too - one reason I always come back to your blog. I love the way you tell your reviews (like they are face to face, it's so much more personal, and personally, I think you connect more with readers that way!) and that you've made the blog your own.

    All the best for the future and thanks so much for the giveaway! Keep on bloggin!

    ReplyDelete
  2. *applauds your honesty* You are just writing fabulously honest post after fabulously honest post Hannah, and I adore you for it. I was definitely aware of ARCs when I started my blog as well, and as a book lover, it's hard not to be drawn in by the promise of getting to read books early and have them magically show up in the mail. After a few weeks though I realized just how much work blogging really is, and I was suddenly very determined to stick with it and make the blog grow. The blogging community, while amazing most of the time, is also a bit like high school like you said, there are cliques and people who have very vocal opinions about the rights and wrongs of blogging, but I was lucky enough to find my place and a group of bloggers who make me smile every single day. I count you as one of those bloggers and I absolutely adore your face. My "Hug Hannah" countdown has commenced:)

    HAPPY BLOGOVERSARY!!!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, Jenny!!! I kinda feel like I'm jumping off the deep end lately, but I'm so tired of reading posts where it's obvious the blogger is just saying what they know they should say or what everyone expects to hear. No one is perfect and we're all flawed, but I'm sick of pretending to be perfect. LOL. Lord knows I'm not.

      I love your face, too, and I cannot WAIT to see you again!!!

      Delete
  3. Happy Blogoversary! You've been so sweet and helpful to me as a newbie and I appreciate that so much! Can't wait till we get to meet up :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Christina! I cannot WAIT to meet up in person!

      Delete
  4. Congrats on the 2nd BLOGOVERSARY!!! I am also having a blast discovering books through bloggsfera.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Happy Happy Blogoversary!! Great post. Love your honesty and insight AND your blog.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Happy blogoversary, congrats 2 years is important^^

    one reason i love your blog is your honest and this time again you didn't disappoint. thank you a lot and i hope you keep having a lot of pleasure in blogging and yes stay yourself! we are here for that

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks! Would you believe I almost forgot my blogoversary? O.o

      Whoops. ;)

      Delete
  7. Happy Blogoversary! I look forward to many more wonderful posts.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Two years! Congrats from someone who just celebrated two weeks. :)

    I've enjoyed chatting with you on GR recently, and I look forward to meeting you at BEA!

    Stephanie

    ReplyDelete
  9. Happy Blogoversary! 2 years is amazing!

    ReplyDelete
  10. Happy blogoversary! I'm glad to find someone else who admits to starting a blog for the free books. :) Not that I don't also enjoy spreading the word about books I loved (or spreading wonderment about why everyone loves books I hated), or simply using the blog to help myself keep track of what I thought about what I've read.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Susie! I was a little worried about copping to that, but everyone seems so happy I finally acknowledged what it seems like we all felt. LOL

      Too much judging in blogging. Just have fun!

      Delete
  11. Wooo! Happy 2nd! I remember when you just started, and now look at you! I'm so glad that you're still blogging, and even gladder that we've actually gotten to meet in person. Love the cat gif, btw.

    Wishing you many more happy years of blogging!

    Oh, and the thing about blogging cliques. YES. They can make this world feel like high school all over again. Thank goodness there are nice, down to earth girls like you ;-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm so sad you won't be at BEA this year! But I am SO tackle-hugging you in Philly next January.

      And you were one of the first bloggers I really felt a connection to. Thank you, thank you for being so awesome. :D

      Delete
    2. Awwww *blushing*

      And yes! You'd better be at the next ALA MW, or else!

      Delete
  12. I totally agree with you about the Myth of Perfection. My reviews have gotten a lot more casual and more "me" since I started. Congrats on 2 years! That's fantastic!

    ReplyDelete
  13. Happy 2nd Blogoversary! *throws rainbow confetti everywhere*

    "However, the truth is, bloggers who are in it just for the free books don't last long, and I was no exception."
    I also admit that it was the lure of free books that made me want to start a blog--because I was jealous of other book bloggers and their shiny, towering book hauls. But then I gradually stopped being a greedy pig when I realized I have more unread books than I can read and review anyway. And I realized that I should stop making blogging ad reading a chore. This is probably reflected in my blogging schedule (don't have one,) in which I only blog when I feel like I have something to say.

    Lilian @ A Novel Toybox

    ReplyDelete
  14. HAPPY BLOGOVERSARY HANNAH! I freaking love you so much for your honesty in this post. :) One of the things I hate about the blogging world is the cliqueiness (I just made up a word :P) to it. I'm so glad you found your group of friends though and I am SO glad that I am one of them. You make me laugh so much! :) I would be so lost without you!!! Here's to at least two more years of awesomeness and fun bookish times. :D

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. THANK YOU, BAILEY!!!!! *HUGS*

      I love, love being your friend. If the internet crashed tomorrow or I never blogged again, I know we would still be friends and I love you muchly! You have the biggest heart of anyone I know.

      Delete
  15. Happy two years! Thank you for your honesty about the book blogging world!

    ReplyDelete
  16. Christina K. in the rafflecopter

    Happy Blogoversary!! Your blog is awesome:)

    And thanks for sharing all the secrets you learned through blogging. Too bad there are cliques there too.

    Thanks again:)

    ReplyDelete
  17. Happy Blogoversary! That was an awesome blog post! Never knew how much it takes to be a book blogger. Thank you so much for the giveaway :D

    ReplyDelete
  18. Happy Blogoversary!! And thank you! :)

    ReplyDelete
  19. Happy Blogoversary!!! I was just like you in the first place, just in it for the ARCS.. also had that FUCK DIS moment and then came back.
    I wonder how many bloggers start like this :))))

    ReplyDelete
  20. Happy Blogoversary! I think it's always best to let your real voice come through in your blog.

    ReplyDelete
  21. Happy 2nd Blogoversary! and Thanks for the amazing giveaway :D

    ReplyDelete
  22. Cheers on 2 years! Keep up the good work!

    Thanks,
    Leanne

    ReplyDelete
  23. Happy 2nd Blogoversary! Long may you continue with the good reviews.
    Irene

    ReplyDelete
  24. Happy Blogoversary!!!

    Love your honesty, I can totally relate to this entire post :) I'm still trying to find my niche and meet friendly bloggers and it's been over a year for me.

    Thank you!

    ReplyDelete
  25. Congratulations Hannah! And many more! Great post, I always enjoy your blog and your reviews. I hope to finally meet you at the Frederick Book Festival in May :)

    ReplyDelete
  26. Happy Blogoversary!
    Great post :) Love those gifs!

    ReplyDelete
  27. WooHoo 2 Years....Congrats on all the hard the work you have put into your blog!!!

    ReplyDelete
  28. Two years is a huge achievement! Happy Blogoversary!!

    ReplyDelete
  29. Have another wonderful year! Congratulations on reaching two years. Woot!! :D

    ReplyDelete
  30. HAPPY ANNIVERSARY!! OMG TWO YEARS! *HUGS*

    Isn't it also your birthday today too? At least that's what LJ says. ;) If so, happy birthday!

    ReplyDelete
  31. Happy Blogoversary!
    And "perfection" is overrated. You're perfect the way you are, with SQUEE and all :)

    ReplyDelete
  32. Congrats on your 2 year Blogoversary! Thanks so much for the awesome giveaway! Your blog is amazing, by the way! Can't wait for the 3rd year!

    ReplyDelete
  33. Happy Blogoversary. Two years is so awesome, how I wish I will last like you. God Bless.

    ReplyDelete
  34. Happy Blogoversary. Lovely post, by the way- I love all the insight into book blogging :D

    ReplyDelete
  35. 2 years? Wow! What an amazing milestone :D Congratulations!!!!!

    ReplyDelete
  36. Congrats on your 2 years of blogging!! :) I admire your posts, for being honest and revealing what really goes on in world of blogging.

    ReplyDelete
  37. Congrats on 2 Years! So Happy for you!

    ReplyDelete
  38. Happy Blogoversary! I love your gifs!


    Thanks!

    raffle name: Nikki O

    ReplyDelete
  39. I was very behind in my google reader, so I just came across this post. YAY, congrats on 2 years!! I still remember when you first said you wanted to start a blog, and wow, I can't believe it's been that long since then. You've definitely created an awesome space, and it's clear that it represents you -- I think that's really the best thing any blogger can do, so kudos to you on that! =)

    ReplyDelete

I hope you know that every time you comment, an angel gets its wings.

OK, not really, but thanks for popping by!