Q&A Part I | Photography, Sweatshirts, How I Started Reviewing Books & Monetizing a Blog! {Gen The Bookworm}

Q&A

Q&A Part I

I get certain questions on DMs and emails quite frequently that I thought might make for a fun blog post! These are some of my favorite things to read online because I like knowing random things about the people I follow along with!

I thought I would be able to answer all of these in one post but when I shared I was going to do this on Instagram stories, I received some more questions, so I am going to do a Part II soon!

Q: What kind of photography do you do?

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A: I work for my friend Kristy who is a family portrait photographer! She specializes in family photos, lifestyle newborn sessions, high school senior portraits, and professional headshots. I do a lot of her behind the scenes work including culling and editing her sessions. It’s the best! We also teach photography classes in the late fall through early spring when the photography season in Vermont is a little quieter!

Q: Did you go to school for photography?

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A: No! I majored in psychology and had no plans for going back to school after. I ended up learning DSLR photography kind of by trial and error and a lot of watching YouTube videos and searching things online when our first son was a baby.  I am a visual learning and I learn best when watching others so this was great for me. I fine-tuned some things later on through the workshops on Clickin Moms which is a great resource!

Q: What kind of camera do you use?

#bookstagram

A: While I do have a “professional-grade” DSLR (a Canon 5d Mark III) that I use in our workshops, I primarily use my iPhone!

I am a huge “documenter” and I like that I always have it with me to capture daily life. I do edit them a little, usually, by bumping up the exposure, and adjusting the temperature (warmth) and contrast a bit..all these things you can do right from your phone (I use Lightroom for regular editing).

Q: Do you have a book that you’ve tried to read multiple times and just can’t get through it?

Recursion

A: I usually just DNF (do not finish) books that I am not able to connect with. There are too many books to read one that you aren’t enjoying!

I do have a harder time with this when it is a book that has come highly recommended. I have tried multiple times to read Harry Potter and Recursion because they have been recommended to me SO many times…but I just can’t get into them! I keep trying though…

Q: Do you read any books you don’t like? It seems like you mostly rate books 4 & 5 stars!

I think I kind of answered this one above but I have no problem giving up and moving on to my next book if I am not enjoying something. I also do a lot of research with my book selections and have a lot of a book reviewing friends that have similar tastes in genres so that information helps with my success rate with books!

I do try and finish books that I have chosen to review so that is where some of my lower ratings will come from. You can read more about how I rate books in my FAQs section HERE.

Q: What made you start a blog? I want to start but it seems like it is so much faster(easier?) to just share on Instagram!

That’s a great question! I started my book blog a year ago because I was feeling like I wanted a centralized location for sharing reviews, recommendations, photos, etc.  I had previously just been sharing on @genthebookworm on Instagram. I think because I am someone who likes to write with a lot of details, I really liked the idea of not being restrained by a maximum amount of text and photos.

I also used to be a blogger and I started a decade ago! Some of you were around for that, but I spent the first 5 years of pregnancy and parenting blogging all about my experiences as a new mom. I stopped blogging (and also made it private) once our older son started Kindergarten. It just didn’t feel like it was my story to share anymore.

So blogging isn’t “new” to me but this format is very different than my old one which really was more of an online journal. Blogging has also changed so much in ten years, and so have our kids who are obviously much older now.

I love having a place to share that is devoted to my specific interests (reading, podcasts, favorite products, LL Bean sweatshirts…) and I like that it is my space to do whatever I want even if it is totally random.

And while I LOVE social media, I am fully aware that it can (and does) change all the time. I love the consistency of having your own spot on the internet that you can direct people to no matter where the internet tides go with algorithms, etc.

Blogging does take a lot of work. It isn’t particularly hard(and I kind of love doing it!) but it time-consuming. I have also been trying to implement SEO which takes me forever but I think it is worth it!

My Life Motto…

Done is better than Perfect

@stacieswift

I try not to overthink things too much because when you do that, you end up never doing anything! I  am terrible with typing too fast and spelling a million things wrong so I often have to go back and revise these posts a bunch of times. I do use and love Grammarly and it helps a lot!

Q: What are your favorite books from childhood?

favorite childhood books

Ohh this is a tough one! My favorite childhood picture book is Make Way For Ducklings by Robert McCloskey. I also loved Matilda and The Witches by Roald Dahl! As I got a little older I loooooved The Babysitters Club, Sweet Valley High and basically every book by Judy Blume.

Q: How do you have time to read so much?

I get this question A LOT, and I totally get it, I do read quite a bit. I think it is just like any other hobby or interest, I just really prioritize it. I bring my books (or Kindle) everywhere, and I do a lot of reading while I wait. I also read every night before bed instead of watching TV.

I don’t have any problem with TV, I would just rather read! And when I do watch something (Lucas and I get into documentary series sometimes) I ended up reading less because it is hard to do both!

I also listen to audiobooks when I am working on the computer, doing things around our house (like cleaning or folding laundry)  or commuting to and from work, so this really adds up.

Q: What percentage of your monthly reading are audiobooks?

This depends a little (I listen to a lot more audiobooks during the school year because in the summer I am never commuting alone!) but I would say I listen to 3-4 audiobooks a month and read the rest!

Q: What are your favorite sweatshirts?

LLBean pullover

This makes me LOL because I don’t think there has been a time that I have posted an IG story video without someone asking about my sweatshirt or pullover. My goal in life is to basically be able to wear a sweatshirt or pullover everywhere I go so this makes me so happy that there are other sweatshirt lovers out there. LLBean is my GO-TO!

Goodthreads Sweatshirt

I also LOVE my Goodthreads Sweatshirts from Amazon and I am wearing my Pale Grey Heather one right now!  I posted about these on my Bookworm Gift Ideas post but I have to share about them again because the light blue, medium grey, and charcoal grey are on sale! They are the coziest and I have been wearing them around the house like loungewear, over my tank top on the way to barre and out and about with jeans.

Q: Where do you shop? (I know you want to answer this!)

Ha! I do love talking about Talbots. But seriously, I do buy most of my clothes at Talbots(The T by Talbots collection is THE BEST!) I also get my jeans there and I love that they have petite lengths in the store!

Q: What is your favorite book?

American Dirt

The Most Fun We Ever Had was my favorite book of 2019 and probably ever. I also LOVED American Dirt (publishing on 1/20/20). If you pre-order any 2020 books, this should be it, it was amazingly powerful and I also COULD NOT PUT IT DOWN.

Q: How did you start reviewing books?

The #bookstagram community is very active on Instagram and that is where I first started writing about books (around 2015). In 2018 I started my public IG feed @genthebookworm as well as this blog so I could have a more organized and specific place to share my reviews. You can review books on many different social media outlets but I have found that Instagram is the most interactive and really feels like a community.

As far as how to get books to review, for a few years, I just reviewed books that I either purchased or borrowed from the library or the Libby app. As my readership has grown, book publishers, publicists, and authors now send me books to review which is such a great honor.

In 2018 I also became a member of NetGalley and that is how I get many of my ARC of E-books. Anyone can join and you just request books and you are approved individually by the specific publisher of the book.

The more exposure you can provide the more likely you will be approved. I will say that I was approved for many books just by posting on my @genthebookworm account on Instagram so you definitely don’t have to have a blog to get started. The more you do the higher your reviewing percentage is so that helps too when they are looking to approve you as a reviewer.

It is such an amazing way to read books before they are published and I love providing feedback that not only is helpful to the publisher and author but also helps other readers when they are deciding what to read next.

Q: How do you grow a following online?

I am not sure if I am super qualified to answer this but I really feel like slow and steady is the way to go. Consistency is key and finding your audience. I would rather have people that are really interested that are following along than just high numbers so I really think quality over quantity wins here.

I also love engaging with others and I think it helps when it feels like it is a conversation. Everyone handles this totally different but I will say that the people I know that DO have a large following, put A LOT of work and energy into it.

Q: How do you monetize a blog? Do you make a lot of money with your affiliate links?

I also don’t think I am the person to ask about this question, haha. There are many ways to monetize a blog. When I started blogging in 2009, sidebar ads were the way to go. Now sponsored posts and affiliate links are king and there are blogs and social media feeds that make A LOT of money.

I did add affiliate links this past spring because I was linking to everything anyway and figured, WHY NOT? Of course, it totally depends on what you are affiliate linking, but my links generally are for books.

The commission rates are higher for certain items and lower for others. For instance, higher end fashion and beauty products can have a commission of around 10% of the purchase price! Books are lower, I think around 3 or 4% so this means that if you do buy a book through one of my links, I will make around $.25-.50 as a commission on that sale(it does not change the price you pay!)

So on average, I make around 10-15 dollars a month. While I appreciate it, I definitely am not doing this to try to replace my regular work income. My goal right now is to cover the costs of my WordPress site, hoping this will happen in 2020! 😉


Alright, I am going to do the rest of my Q&A is another post next week, so stay tuned. And thank you for taking the time to send a question, I appreciate it. <3

Disclosure: Some of the links above are affiliate links. This means if you click through and make a purchase, I receive a small commission that helps support this blog at no cost to you. Thank you!