Welcome back to another Blogletters interview!
Today, I’m interviewing Ayla who blogs about both books and lifestyle. Let’s get started.
Ayla is a 23-year-old books & lifestyle blogger from the Netherlands. She loves books, plants, espresso’s, early morning walks and the colour pink. You’ll find her blogging on DamnMysterious.
Hi Ayla! What inspired you to start blogging? How did you come up with your blog’s name?
I’ve been blogging for as long as I can remember. When I was little, I created blogs on any topic I’d like at that moment; tv shows, nail art, makeup, lifestyle… Literally anything, really! I’d only keep up with them for a short amount of time and then neglect them. I was 16 or 17 years old when I created a lifestyle blog that I actually kept up with. Due to a personal conflict, I had to delete that blog right before going to college for an editorial study. Months later, I started a new lifestyle blog called ‘Damn Mysterious’, inspired by the song ‘Freak Like Me’ from my favourite band Hollywood Ending. I blogged on and off for years, until I found my favourite hobby: reading books. My lifestyle blog turned into a book blog, so I decided to create a separate blog, ‘Books & Babbles’. I kept the domain for Damn Mysterious just in case, simply because of its name. Last year, I decided I wanted to blog more about lifestyle as well as books, so Damn Mysterious was reborn as a Books & Lifestyle blog!
Other than posting, what do you think are the most important aspects of blogging and why?
Ohh, hard one! There’s just so much that goes into blogging for me. I did an editorial study and then also studied Communications in college, so I look at blogging as both a hobby and a “job”. Content creation is an important aspect for me, as well as scheduling. Content creation is more than just posting. It’s making sure the blog as a whole looks good, that my pages look amazing with photos, great copywriting and shareable quotes or pictures. Scheduling is part of this, as I write about different topics. Balance between books and lifestyle posts is important to me, so a solid schedule for creating and publishing content is something I can’t go without. Also, being involved in the community is essential, just like social media. I haven’t been very great at it lately, and it shows! Being part of a (blogging) community is just as important as maintaining your blog!
How would you describe your blogger identity? Is it different compared to who you are in real life?
I think my blog reflects who I am. When my hobbies and interests change, so does my blog. My blog is my own personal space on the internet, so I can’t ever imagine it being different to who I am in real life. I’m honest about who I am, and how I feel every time I post. I will never force myself to blog if I don’t feel like it. When life’s crazy, blogging isn’t a priority for me. When I think about it, I actually feel like myself the most when I’m blogging, if that makes sense? I’m always a very open and honest person, but when I’m blogging it comes out even more.
What does it mean to be a book blogger? Does your definition match the public image of the label?
For me, being a book blogger means you’re blogging about books. I don’t think I can call myself a book blogger 100%, since I also blog about lifestyle, but I still write about books a lot. When I look back at when I did actually feel like a “proper” book blogger, I’d say being part of the community, taking part in conversations and being present on social media are important aspects of being a book blogger. In my book (hehe) you’re a book blogger just as long as you talk about books. Whether those books are ARCs, backlist or library books doesn’t matter to me.
Do you think it is important for book bloggers to have social media profiles?
YES! Everything in the book community happens on Twitter and Instagram. Your blog is nowhere without it. I can post a billion great bookish posts on my blog, but if people don’t know about it, no one will even see them. Twitter helps spread the word about you and your blog. It’s also the best place to make friends and find your community. When it comes to book blogging, being in a community is almost essential. I think it’s best explained with an example: When I’m personally looking for any kind of lifestyle blog, like home decor, baking or whatever, I’ll usually find them through Google, Pinterest or Bloglovin’. But if I’m searching for a book review, recommendations or anything bookish, I’ll use my community to find it. I’ll go through Twitter or Instagram to find that one blogger who writes amazing reviews, or who I know has a similar taste to mine. With lifestyle blogs, I usually don’t really mind who’s “behind the blog” if that makes sense. But when it comes to book blogs, I think it’s really important to know the blogger, not just the blog.
You are a book and lifestyle blogger. How do those two categories go together and does one ever overtake the other?
I chose to blog about books and lifestyle because just blogging about books wasn’t really working for me anymore. I absolutely love books, don’t get me wrong, but blogging about it became a struggle. Part of this struggle was wanting to blog about different topics, but not being able to fit them into the blog the way it was back when it was a book blog only. I love writing about plants, mental health and other lifestyle related topics just as much as I love blogging about books, so combining the two niches made perfect sense to me. I try to keep the books and lifestyle posts balanced. I’ll make a schedule and try to publish a lifestyle post for every bookish post and the other way around. Sometimes there’s a little more lifestyle or a little more books, but in the end I think they’re equa
If you could go back and change a part of your blog/blogging journey, what would it be?
Ah, my biggest regret was deleting my first “successful” lifestyle blog. There’s a very painful, almost traumatizing reason behind it I’d rather not share, but I’d be in such a different place right now if I didn’t have to delete that blog. Besides that, I don’t think I’d really change anything about my journey. I do wish I was better at time management when it comes to the blog, though. Sometimes I’ll spend hours – even days – on end working on my blog and then I won’t be doing anything for weeks or months. There’s different reasons why this happens, like my work schedule and mental health, for example. I’m trying to be consistent when it comes to blogging, but I haven’t really achieved that yet.
What are your favourite and least favourite aspects of blogging?
My favourite part of blogging is definitely creating content and making everything look nice. I’m so proud of my photography and just the way my blog looks! Also, I love brainstorming and drafting content. I love bringing my ideas to life and sharing them with the world.
For my least favourite aspect… probably the need to be consistent, if that makes sense? And my perfectionism. That’s more a personal thing than a blog thing, but it affects my blog all the same. I want to be consistent, because that’s when I love my blog the most and it has the most chance of success. My perfectionism has a hand in this, too. If my photos don’t turn out right, it can mess up my entire schedule because I feel the need to retake and edit them. It’s kind of funny actually, my least favourite aspects are also my favourites. I get so happy when my photography is amazing and I’m consistent about posting!
What are your biggest takeaways from blogging so far?
Omg, where do I even begin?! I genuinely feel like a blogger grandma sometimes if I think about how long I’ve been blogging! I’ve tried different blogging platforms, tried different ways of blogging, wrote about a bazillion different topics… After all these years, I’ve found a way that works for me. I could literally write a book about it, so I want to spare you the details. Instead, I want to share something else I think is super important: make your blog a reflection of yourself. I mean that in every way possible. Are you a planner? Or do you do things on a whim? Create your content in the same way. Don’t post on a whim when you’re actually a planner working with a schedule. And do you only blog about one topic because that’s what you did when you started, but now you like different things? Blog about them, too! Your blog is yours and yours alone. Create the content you would like to read. If you’re happy about your content, it will show. But it’ll also show if you’re actually unhappy with it. You have to love your blog first, before anyone else can.
Name some bloggers who inspire you!
To be quite honest, there haven’t really been any specific bloggers that I follow or like. I can’t find the time! I’ll occasionally read a post I find on Twitter and leave it at that. It might sound a bit cliche, but I’m inspired by almost all bloggers on my Twitter feed. They create wonderful content, are genuinely nice people and whenever I do find the time to read a post, they always make my day.
Thank you for doing the interview, Ayla!
You HAVE to check out her blog. I adore the design and the look of it, and I especially love her voice in the posts.
If you’d like to find more bloggers, here are all the Blogletters interviews that have been published so far.
Talk to us!
Ayla mentioned how lifestyle and bookish content are found in different places. Would you say it’s the same across blogging genres? That certain areas are best to find certain content? Let’s discuss in the comments!