By: Sandy Nene

What inspired the name of your blog The name of my blog is a mixture of the suburb I’m from and the lotus flower. I grew up in a little working-class suburb called Lotus River in Cape Town, where I lived for most of my childhood and have so many fond memories. The lotus flower symbolises growth as it grows from murky waters to bloom into something beautiful. The personal connection I had with the word was fitting in that I wanted something meaningful, unique and descriptive enough to give people an idea of what the blog entailed, hence the creation of Lotus Book Blog.

How long have you been blogging for? I have been blogging for just under 2 years now, with my 2 year anniversary happening in September 2018! I initially started blogging because I wanted to connect with people who’ve read similar books as myself to discuss certain stories and ideas. The blog has given me more than just that as I’ve met many people within the bookish community and made some really good friends.

What difficulties did you come across when you first started bloggingOne of the difficulties I came across were the naysayers, people who constantly had something bad to say. They would criticise small things about the blog like my writing style, forgetting that I was just starting out. There was also a stigma against bloggers, as blogging was seen as a popularity contest or something used to get free products from businesses by giving fake reviews. I soon overcame those issues by using the critiques to improve my blog, focusing on the writing style of my posts for a bookish reader. While I publish reviews of new books received from book publishers, I also publish reviews of books I’ve bought at bookstores and ensure that every review is an honest personal depiction of the book, whether good or bad.

What do you think new bloggers need to know about blogging that most people don’t? Blogging takes up a lot of your time! While most people write for themselves, you want your readers to be happy with the content you post. You thus want to give your audience well-edited, helpful content that is a joy to read/watch. I enjoy reading so naturally, I would make time to read but now that I’m blogging about it, a lot more effort is required. I spend a lot of time doing research on authors, other reviews, etc. before I post about a book or event. For example, I recently published a post about gift ideas for book lovers, where I checked similar posts to ensure that I wasn’t just copying other people’s work and was providing original content. After tons of research, editing and going around to different bookstores, I published: 10 Amazing Gift Ideas for Book Lovers.

What would you say has been a highlight of your blogging career thus far? Being able to share my bookish knowledge with people has been the biggest highlight of my blogging career. Whenever I’ve read a really good book, I would recommend it to friends and family that I thought would enjoy it. The blog was thus my way of recommending a book to a wider audience on the internet, social media, etc. Before I started my blog, I loved going to different second-hand bookstores across Cape Town. I then decided to share that knowledge on the blog by publishing a series of posts titled: The Best Second-Hand Bookstores in Cape Town. Many people liked it and some even came to social media to thank me for the list!

Who are your favourite bloggers? One of my favourite bloggers is Melinda from The Book Musings (http://thebookmusings.com/). Melinda is one of the long-standing bloggers from Cape Town who loves historical fiction books about war times. She’s also a francophile so you’ll definitely find many books about stories set in France! She often posts book reviews of poetry and adult fiction, with pretty pictures to match too.

I also like following Munira from A Touch of Starlight (http://www.atouchofstarlight.com/). Munira is a Muslim, astrology student from Cape Town who blogs about her love for books. The blog is a lifestyle and book blog which posts book reviews from the YA (young adult), astrology and non-fiction genres. She also posts useful content for her readers like her recent post about Ramadan Printables (http://www.atouchofstarlight.com/2018/05/14/ramadan-printables-2018/).

Which is the most read blog post on your blog and why do you think people like it? My most read blog post is titled “5 Great Books for Young South African Investors“, which lists 5 introductory books for people interested in investing. The books listed include books that are aimed at a South African audience and easily applicable in the South African context. I wrote the post to tell others about books that have helped me understand the investment market and made me quite a bit of money too. I think the reason for its popularity is because people want to better themselves financially through investing and want to know how they can go about making a passive income. I think the people also like it is because the blog post is quite informative as it explains why each book is important and tells the reader where they can purchase the books from too.

What else do you do besides bloggingI recently completed my articles of clerkship so I am a lawyer by profession. In law, we often have to read long cases and journals so reading has become a part of life. I usually spend my weekends with friends and family going wine tasting or to music events. At least once a month, I make an effort to go to book sales and second-hand bookstores looking for deals on good books!

Where do you see your blog in the next two years? In the next two years, I hope to have my blog be a well-renowned member of the bookish community in the city! I want the blog to be one of the go-to’s for book reviews of Adult Fiction and Non-Fiction, especially for South African books. I also want the blog to be a part of a thriving bookselling business, offering reviews of books for sale or interesting books for the reading community. Within five years, I want the blog to be a cause for helping others including illiterate youth and other community organisations and charities such as those in my recent post: 5 Charities You Can Donate Books and Other Goods to.

Do you look at your blog as a business, hobby or as a portfolio? Currently, my blog is a hobby. However, the blog has shown me what potential there is for making a business and for helping others in South Africa. I want the blog to be the start of a thriving business and a successful non-profit organisation educating people about the benefits of reading and teaching illiterate people to read and write. While there are similar charitable organisations around, South Africa still has a literacy issue which I believe can be addressed by those with the right skills and insight into reading such as Lotus Book Blog.

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