Blogging Know-How: How to Handle the Stress of Blogging

Hello and welcome to Blogging Know How, a weekly feature here on Books, Biscuits, and Tea. The aim of this feature is to answer some of your blogging/ reading/ reviewing/ social networking related questions. If there’s anything you’ve been wondering about, you can’t figure out or just want me to help you out with, you can send it to me via email or the little contact form I’ll post at the end of these posts.

“How do you handle the stress of blogging? I have so many emails and contacts to make or respond to, on top of my own blogging duties, that I’m a bit overwhelmed by it all!” – Angieleigh

Great question, Angelieigh! It’s actually one of those topics I’ve wanted to talk about for a while, so here’s my story and what I think.

I’ve always loved reading. I’ve always preferred a quiet night in with a good book and a cuppa tea to going out, no matter how sad it sounds. But there was a time when I realised that none of my friends read as much as I do and even if they do pick up a book, it’s not something I’ve ever heard of or would ever pick up. It would have been nice to know someone who had the same passion as me. A few years later I discovered someone’s blog while I was searching for a book on Google – and I thought, that’s what I need! So I signed up on Blogger and joined the blogging world.

During the first few weeks and months of blogging, we all went through a phase where we had no idea what an ARC or a blog tour meant. We loved reading and we wanted a place where we could talk about these things without people telling us that ‘no one cares, love’. Then, slowly but surely we learnt the meaning of these words, discovered NetGalley, and requested our first ARCs. In short, we were in book heaven and we had no intention to leave.

When people start noticing your blog and you become “known” in the blogging word, life gets a bit hectic. You get lots of blog tour invitations, review requests, reading challenge invites, and you get a bit overwhelmed. And of course, you know you’d feel bad for saying no so inevitably, you say yes. At least that’s what I did and that’s where I made a huge mistake. I know you want me to shut up now and tell you how to handle the stress of blogging, so here’s what I’m trying to do. :D

1. Don’t feel bad about saying no.

I think this is the most important thing we need to keep in mind. Just because you get x review request a day, it doesn’t mean you have to say yes. You probably have tons of books in your TBR / review pile so would you really like to add another one? When you get a review request, go through the synopsis and only accept books you’re interested in. If you’re like me and you know your free time is limited but your review pile is endless, just update your review policy and let people know that you’re not accepting any requests at the moment. If someone still emails you with a request (because I know they will, even if your policy clearly states that you won’t say yes…), just send them a message saying that you’re sorry but you’re not accepting any requests at the moment.

2. Think before you act

I know it’s super hard to resist the urge to request a review copy from a publisher but before you send that request, stop for a second and think it over: do you really need that book? Can it wait for another month? Try to cut down on these requests and only ask for/accept books that are really a must.

3. Be methodical

I think we’re pretty much in the same boat here – you get a couple of review requests each day, on top of everything else you need to remember and respond to and you just don’t know where to start. Here’s what I do: I’m trying to organise my messages into different folders. I have a separate folder for review requests, for blog tours, etc. When I respond to a message, I put it into one of these folders so that I know I’ve already responded.

4. Schedule posts

This is one of the things that worked for me the best. When you have a day off or a weekend you can spare, you can sit down and dedicate some time to your blog. For example what I did was, I sat down and scheduled 4 WoW posts for the next 4 weeks. It saved me a lot of time since now I don’t have to worry about these posts until May. You can do the same with discussions or reviews you still need to post. Of course it doesn’t work with certain weekly memes, but that’s when my next tip comes in handy:

5. Use a cheat sheet

This one is a definite time saver. Danielle @ There’s a Book has a wonderful article about what cheat sheets are and how you can use them so I’m not going into details, but all I can say is, it works. I’ve started using it about one or two weeks ago but it makes blogging much, much easier! You’ll find the article if you click here.

6. Nothing is compulsory

Just think about it this way: are you going to lose your job is your post doesn’t go up on time? No. Is anyone forcing you to post it? No. People won’t hate you if you don’t post every day. As long as you don’t disappear for months without letting your followers know, I don’t think people would mind. If you have too much to read, just post whenever you have some time, even if it’s just one or two times a week. We’ll understand.

7. If everything else fails, take some time out

If none of these help and the pressure is just too much, it’s time to take some time out. Let your followers know you’ll be away for a week or two and relax. If you read, read something you’d like to read, something you purchased a while ago Blogging supposed to be fun and not another thing we’re required to do. We have enough stress to deal with in our everyday lives that we don’t need an extra burden. When it becomes too stressful, it’s time to stop for a while and relax.

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Are you a stress-free blogger? If not, how do you unwind at the end of a long week? How do you make blogging less stressful?

Do you have any blogging/reviewing related questions you’d like me to answer on my blog? Something related to ARCs, social networking, or anything else? Don’t hesitate to let me know. :)

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38 Responses to “Blogging Know-How: How to Handle the Stress of Blogging”

  1. Nicola says:

    Excellent post! I definitely struggled with this when I first started blogging and then blogging felt like a job when it should just be a fun hobby! I’m much better about it now though. I have lots and lots of books to read, sure, but… they’re not going anywhere! I just read what I want, when I want to. I feel a lot more relaxed now and I’m getting more reading and reviewing done than I did when I was stressed. :)
    Nicola recently posted..Review: Intangible by J. MeyersMy Profile

    • Vicky says:

      I agree! I’m going through a stressful period blogging wise but it’s because I don’t have much time and the books I accepted in the past have piled up. :/ But at least I learned from my mistakes and I don’t let it freak me out or stress me out too much. I know I’ll have to catch up with myself but if I don’t make it on time, I won’t worry too much. :)

  2. Excellent, well thought out post. I have sooo many books, I have rarely requested a book for review. This definitely keeps my blogging life less stressful.
    Midnyte Reader recently posted..Monster JokesMy Profile

    • Vicky says:

      Definitely! That’s why I’m not accepting any review copies from indie authors at the moment. (I have way too many to catch up with and literally no time) Reading your own books gives you a huge amount of freedom!! :)

  3. Great post Vicky! I have to say when I first started blogging I was all over the place too but now I keep a diary and write down everything I need to remember, like release dates, blog tour etc… and I found that helps a lot! But I totally agree, if it gets too much it’s best to take some time out because otherwise people will stop enjoying reading/blogging. Donna xoxo
    Donna’s Reviews recently posted..A Review for Chosen Ones (The Lost Souls #1) by Tiffany TruittMy Profile

    • Vicky says:

      Agreed! I’m still all over the place and keep freaking out when I realize that some of my books have been sitting in front of me since November but I try to be positive about it. :D It’s supposed to be fun, after all.

      And I totally need to get a diary sometime! I have these sheets printed out but a diary sounds like a much better idea. x x x

  4. Jac @ For Love and Books says:

    EXCELLENT post!! Saying No is something that used to be VERY hard for me, it took me awhile to learn that it’s ok to say no. I over-committed myself and read every book that came my way. I read a lot of indie books that I wouldn’t have otherwise read (and finished when I should have just put them down) this way.

    Also, thanks to the link for the cheat-sheat!! I somehow missed it during Bloggiesta, and I could definitely use it!!

    -Jac @ For Love and Books
    Jac @ For Love and Books recently posted..Review: Duma Key by Stephen KingMy Profile

    • Vicky says:

      I know, I’m the same as you!! When I started blogging, I found it really hard to say no. I accepted books that I would’ve never picked up otherwise. I’m trying not to make the same mistake again now. :)

      You’re very welcome!! I was so happy when I found this article during Bloggiesta, it helped me so much! I’ve been using it ever since. x

  5. Celine says:

    Saying “no” was one of the hardest things for me to learn. I’ve said yes to some ridiculous books that I will never read and those caused me a lot of stress.

    I actually already have a cheat sheet, and I love it to bits! It has all of my review layouts and stuff that I use on my blog every day. (:
    Celine recently posted..Review: Ripper by Amy Carol ReevesMy Profile

    • Vicky says:

      Same here! I accepted books that I would have NEVER read under normal circumstances. Some of them are still on my TBR pile .. :( Learning to say no takes a lot of time but it saves you a lot of time and headache in the long run. :)

  6. Bonnie says:

    This is an excellent post, thanks so much for all of the tips! I am still working on saying no and I read this at the perfect time. I was sent a review request yesterday (even though my policy states that I am not accepting requests at this time) for a book that would be ok, but would mean putting off reading some books that I REALLY want to read and I was gonig to say yes because I would feel bad. Thanks for helping me find my backbone! ;) LOL
    Bonnie recently posted..Guest Post with Suzan Battah: My Experience as a Self-Published AuthorMy Profile

    • Vicky says:

      Hehe, you’re more than welcome! :) I’m the same as you! I get requests almost everyday, from people who clearly didn’t read my policy or don’t give a heck about whether I accept books or not. Many of these people just go through a long list of bloggers and email every single one of them – they’ll probably have some other people who will say yes anyway, so why should we feel bad about it? :)

  7. LuKa (Lubna) says:

    This is a wonderful post. I have only in late 2011 ventured into the field of book reviews. Earlier, I just reviewed books that I’d read or won in giveaways. Yes, I’ve learnt to say no. Especially since I have to be away very shortly for two months. I had to sigh deeply to give up the opportunity of reviewing a fantastic book, but well, it is best to be honest and not commit when you cannot. I do have review guidelines up on my blog.
    Hmmmm… I don’t yet know what cheat sheets are, so will go and take a peek at this article.
    I’m glad I am following you and get your updates via email.
    Cheers
    LuKa (Lubna) recently posted..We Interrupt our ProgrammingMy Profile

    • Vicky says:

      I hope the article helps, Luka! :) I found it really helpful! I only discovered it about 2 weeks ago but it saves me a lot of time.

      And absolutely! I started requesting/accepting review copies a few months ago but the first thing I had to learn was saying no. I just wish I realized it a bit earlier, before my review books had piled up.

      I’m glad you enjoyed my post! (:

  8. kimba88 says:

    Great post, I follow most of these and find it helps with time management.
    kimba88 recently posted..The Taker (The Taker #1) by Alma KatsuMy Profile

  9. I’m a stress free blogger. I don’t want my blog to feel like a bunch of work. Reading is an escape for me and if it feels like homework then I don’t want to do it!

    I schedule 2-3 weeks in advance on everything for my blog. I have all my reviews, blog tours, giveaway’s, discussions, meme’s scheduled in advance. I’ve got a 14 month old and I just can’t drop everything and write up a post for the next day. I always write my reviews the day I finish a book, and I have a few rainy day posts ready to go. This helps so much. It just feels a breeze now!

    Saying No is a must!! It’s so hard when you first start because you want them to send you more books later. But it needs done or you’ll end up with 50 books on your TBR pile faster than you can say blogger. Then you actually have to review them.

    • Vicky says:

      Whoa, you’re a pro Mary! 2-3 weeks in advance? That’s amazing!
      I find it really hard to write and schedule them, especially posts like this one or discussions like “Bookish Ramblings” because these take much more time than a simple IMM or a WoW post.

      And saying no is something I learned a bit too late. And that is exactly what happened to me – last time I checked my TBR list, I had 45 books in there. Some of them have been there for months and I simply don’t have enough time to read them all. So ever since I realized how huge my pile is, I don’t accept or request anything. I hope I’ll be able to catch up with myself soon (:

      • This is after 3.5 yrs of blogging! It took me awhile to get here. I’ve had my TBR pile so out of control and it just stares at me on the shelf or NetGalley. So, I am much more selective.

        Every Sunday I take a look at what I’ve got scheduled for the next week and double check it. I touch up and I might have 1 post to write. But I keep it under control pretty well. It feels good. I take some time every couple of weeks and write a bunch of posts etc. Works better for me that way. Then I’m not so worried about it all. I can concentrate on my family and enjoy reading in the evenings. BUT, it wasn’t always like that. This is just what works for me!
        Mary-Sweet Bookshelf recently posted..Review: Grave Mercy by Robin LaFeversMy Profile

  10. Leah says:

    Thank you for posting this. It’s good to know others feel the same stress I do! I have said no to a few requests. I feel bad, but I’d feel worse if I gave the book a bad review because it’s not my type of book or I sped through the book just to get it done.

    • Vicky says:

      You’re definitely not the only one – and I agree! There’s no point in reading it if it’s not something you’d enjoy. I mean, it’s not good for anyone. The author will get a bad rating and it’ll be a waste of time for you as well. It’s better to say no – they’ll understand. :)

  11. Great post! I’m not a stress blogger. Since I live in The Netherlands, I don’t expect to get any requests from publishers. Although it would be great to accept ARC’s, I’m doing fine now by working my own TBR pile away.

    I did have a couple of authors asking me to review there books, but they were simply not the books I would enjoy. I felt bad about saying ‘no’, but I decided that it would be a waste of my time to read and write a book I know I won’t like.

    Reading is my passion and I won’t let anything take that away. I’m enjoying blogging, but I’m not going to let that ruin my pleasure of reading :) I always try to have some reviews waiting to post, just in case I don’t have time to post a new blog.

    But, I never thought about making blogs for stuff like Waiting on Wednesday. Haha, I don’t know why I never thought about making them. Perhaps because I enjoyed myself so much by having the thrill to find a nice book on the day you’re supposed to post it :)

    Before I keep blahblahblah, I tend to do that I’m sorry :p, I just wanted to say that there were a couple of nice tips I’m definitely going to use. Thanks! This is such a great feature :)
    Melanie @thedailyprohecy recently posted..Review 13. Suzanne Collins – The Hunger Games.My Profile

    • Vicky says:

      Thanks Melanie! :) Yep, I’m the same as you – I live in Hungary at the moment so my opportunities (ARC-wise) are quite limited. I started out writing about my own books and in a way, I miss that. I’m much busier now that I have my ARCs – but I still consider myself lucky.

      Reading your own books gives you a huge amount of freedom so if I could give you an advice, it’d be to stick to this and stick with your passion. :)

      And don’t worry about talking too much, I love it when people have an opinion about something I posted about. :)

  12. Tabitha S. says:

    Great post! I have a hard time saying no when I get review requests. I’ve only been blogging for a few months, but I’ve already read a few books that I wouldn’t have read otherwise. And thanks for the link to the cheat sheet! I’ll definitely be making one of my own later today.
    Tabitha S. recently posted..Junk Miles (Brenna Blixen #2) by Liz ReinhardtMy Profile

  13. Theta Sigma says:

    A great post and some great tips there.

    I had all the stress “thing” when I was writing review postings for Rotten Tomatoes. I felt that I had to write a review or I felt that I’d be disappointing people. This led to me taking a break as I felt like I wasn’t enjoying it, plus I had cases of writer’s block.

    Since I started my own blog, I’ve realised that I can enjoy this. I have the support and friendship of a lot of old and new friends. I also get to set my own rules and agenda, which also takes the strain away.

    The key thing about taking the stress off though is, to some extent, be selfish. Write the blog for you, because the more you enjoy it, the more your readers will.

    • Vicky says:

      What a great advice, and how true it is! I definitely agree with you on that – the more you enjoy doing it, the more your readers will enjoy reading your posts. :)

  14. Jess @ Gone with the Words says:

    This is such great advice, Vicky! Thanks for sharing your thoughts and experiences. :) This past week I started feeling stressed for the first time since I started blogging 18 months ago! I know that it’s because I have so much going on right now, and once I realized that my blog would just have to come second this time, the stress lifted a little. I also realized that nothing bad will happen if I don’t post every day for a couple of weeks. It was all about giving myself a reality check, haha.
    Jess @ Gone with the Words recently posted..Tune in Tuesday: TransatlanticismMy Profile

  15. Em says:

    Excellent advice. I only blog once a week and find it more than enough. I want to keep in touch, keep sane while doing it.

    :-)
    Em recently posted..Review: Mended HeartsMy Profile

  16. Shelver506 says:

    Am over here swallowing huge chunks of envy. I’m still too new and too unknown to worry about being overloaded, much less dare to hope for ARCs and overflowing inboxes. Still, you’ve given me something to strive for, and I know I’ll be very grateful for your expertise when the time comes! So thank you very much for your advice; it was excellent.
    Shelver506 recently posted..Hunger Games With My PeepsMy Profile

  17. Wow, thank you so much for this! It’s perfect for how I’m feeling lately, what with school and work coming first. I only started receiving requests a little while ago but I still have a huge pile of books that I’ve bought to review! I’m teaching myself to say no!!!
    Kristy Frenken recently posted..Review: Across the Universe by Beth RevisMy Profile

  18. A cheat sheet is a MUST! I have a stickie note that’s permanently on my desktop with all of my most commonly used HTML, and copying/pasting it has saved me SO MUCH TIME! I’ll definitely have to see if some of the other things she listed would help me.

    I’m working on scheduling posts, but it definitely makes me feel good to see my week is already planned if I need a little break. I definitely need to work on saying no! I did state in my review policy that a non-answer in 5 days can be taken as a respectfully decline, and I find there’s some emails that just aren’t worth replying to (like the time I received a request to review an autobiography about some sports player?!).

    I’ve learned with time that a lot of what you suggested is the only way to deal with the pressure blogging can impose. Once it becomes more of a job then a passion is when I need to take a minute to just breathe. I’ve definitely found the email folders has helped me stay better organized and feel like I’m in better control.

    Great advice Vicky!
    Kelly @ Radiant Shadows recently posted..Some Words of Wisdom from Lauren DeStefanoMy Profile

  19. Rebecca @ Kindle Fever says:

    Oh my gosh, saying no! I made a HUGE mistake in the beginning of saying yet so most books I thought sounded okay, but I realized if I’m already quite full bookes, okay is just not good enough! I offer those interviews, guest post or other features instead though!

    To make it less stressful, I try to mix out feature posts with reviews as much as I can. The non-reviews are just not as time-consuming (and I’m basically right at the heels of my schedule at the moment! I so need to catch up so I can start scheduling posts! Lol) Speaking of: SCHEDULE! Best thing I’ve ever made. I have an overview of everything and even reminders set, so no more forgetting things and having to search for e-mails and posts a few minutes before it needs to go up! It’s lovely.

    I think we all have to find the balance in our own ways and it can take some time to get there. After a year, I’m finally catching up on my schedule. ;) I make it now, but it would be nice to be a step ahead!
    Rebecca @ Kindle Fever recently posted..Review: Half-Blood by Jennifer L. ArmentroutMy Profile

    • Rebecca @ Kindle Fever says:

      LOL, and I have a little note stuck on my desktop with all the commonly used HTML codes or other things I use often. *nods* Perfect!

  20. Lianne says:

    I think my only source of stress wrt my blogging is that sometimes I just don’t feel like writing a review. Maybe I’m having trouble articulating what I want to say, or I just have a general feeling about a book and can’t think of specific things to say about it. In the meantime, I’ll read a couple other books, and suddenly I’m 3 reviews behind! And haven’t posted on my blog in almost 2 weeks! (This is totally me right now, by the way…)

    The time when I feel the best, the least stressed, is when I’ve written several reviews, and have them scheduled for over the next week or two. That is a nice feeling.
    Lianne recently posted..April Random Reads selectionMy Profile

  21. Sophie says:

    GREAT post, Vicky! I’m actually going to favorite it so I can look it from time to time so as to not forget anything. Sincerely, I was wondering about that same issue. These last few days have been hectic, and since I’m quite new and everything…

    I haven’t tried scheduling posts, but now that you mention it, it seems like a very good solution!

    Thank you for the advice! I really appreciate this blog feature :D
    Sophie recently posted..Follow Friday (11)My Profile

  22. such a great post Vickie! I completely agree. I have the same problem saying no, but I have learned the hard way that you just have to do it! I really like the way you lay out your answers. it’s neat and organized.

    I use different folders in my mail too! It really helps, and I use google calendars for my blog schedule. I have a little bit of trouble pre-sceduling posts like reviews bc I like to update my review archives as soon as I post a new review, and if I pre-schedule the posts sometimes my review nd giveaway lists don’t get updated. So I need to think of a system that allows for all of that. But i am working on it.

    Thanks for the tips- you rock! :)

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