So here are some of the more significant things I've learned (in no particular order):
-Blogging always takes up more time than you expect. It seems really easy, like you should be able to pump out content in about 20 minutes per evening, tops. But it's a dirty, dirty lie. Writing one review can take me hours, and that's when I already know in advance how I feel about the book in question. (Which is not always the case; sometimes the act of writing the review clarifies my thoughts a lot.) Regular posts can suck a surprising amount of time, too, and then there's all sorts of blog-related correspondence to keep up with. And, of course, most bloggers like to keep up to date with what's happening around them. If something big's happening in blogging or in publishing, it's helpful to be on top of all that, and when you add it all up, if you're blogging every day or close to it, you're coming close to working an unpaid full-time job on top of the rest of your life. It's a fun and rewarding job, and I loved it, but the reality is that not all of us can devote that kind of time and energy.
-Set yourself a schedule. If you plan on blogging very regularly, as in more than once or twice a week, you'll be amazed at how quickly you can burn through conversation topics, newsposts, and reviews. It helps to cut down on the number of times per week you find yourself staring at the blinking cursor on a blank page, thinking "I really need to get a post in tonight, but I used all my good material already this week..." if you work out some semblance of a schedule for yourself. I wound up with reviews on Monday or Tuesday (depending on how long it took me to write said review), book deals on Thursdays, and fun or interesting videos on Fridays. The other days were full of news or links or rants or discussions, and having some sort of focus for that day's post ahead of time can be a surprisingly big help.
-When you don't love it anymore, it's time to reassess. Of course if your blog has any longevity, you're going to go through dry spells, but when you find yourself struggling to come up with content on a daily basis, you need to ask yourself why. Do you need to change things up a bit? Would you be more comfortable blogging with a partner or a group? Have you had the bad luck of reading several terrible books in a row and need to step back to read a few fabulous comfort reads to remind yourself why you enjoy books in the first place? Do you need to take a quick hiatus? You can fiddle around, reinvent, add new features, lose some of the old ones, jiggle things around until you can find yourself enjoying it again.
-The blogger police won't come and haul you away if you miss a day. Or even a couple of days! Sometimes life happens, and you just don't have time to make your regular update one day. Or your cat dies. Or you give birth. Or you're so sick your eyes can't even focus on the computer, let alone make sense of letters on the screen. It's ok, take a day here and there, and don't feel guilty about it. You're allowed to be human, too!
-The buffer is your friend. If you can, work a few days ahead. Obviously this doesn't work for newsposts, but for rants, conversations, and reviews, it's helpful if you can have a few sitting around, waiting to be posted. Working in the future isn't always possible, and sometimes you have a bad week and find yourself using up your entire buffer. But that's ok, the lovely thing about a buffer is that you can always build it up again! It relieves some of the stress of constantly coming up with new content when you know you have a post ready to go that day, and if you wind up blocked on that thoughtful post you've been working on for the past two and a half hours, it's ok, you can finish it up tomorrow and let it be the one sitting in the buffer. Magic.
-Not everyone is going to love you or get what you're doing, and that's ok. Most of the people who find their way to your blog are going to be kindred spirits, which is one of the real wonders of the internet. Occasionally people will decide they really really don't like you or anything you've done and will feel the need to let you know this in no uncertain terms. (This is especially true if you're doing anything popular and/or controversial.) Screw those guys. The whole point of a blog is having space to share your thoughts and opinions, and letting someone stifle your voice, the very thing that drew all those far more awesome people to your little slice of the internet in the first place, defeats the purpose of being here in the first place. Let them have their rant and move on. They'd probably whine even if you gave them a box of kittens and a life supply of chocolate, because some people are just crazy like that. You're great just doing what it is you do.
-The only person putting pressure on you is you. If keeping up to date on all the publishing news, all the blog news, all the recent releases, trying to keep ahead of the growing pile of books and ARCs, and responding to every comment or e-mail the instant you receive it is too much for you, congratulations, that means you're human. Shift your priorities a bit or you'll burn out within about two weeks. Pick a focus, whatever makes you the most excited, and run with that. Because, and I know I'm repeating myself a bit here, but this needs to be fun for you, or what's the point?
Bloggers, man. Crazy folks, amirite?