How To Start Your Own Book Blog
by Karen Green
Book blogging is a fantastic way for readers and writers to share their love of books and thoughts on the literary world. Blogging forges connections with other bloggers as well as followers and, with just a little bit of outreach, allows people to get to know each other through various social media channels. And when it comes to book blogging, forget everything you know about the dreaded comment section: even dissenting opinions seem to remain courteous, respectful and productive on book blogs.
Don’t be overwhelmed by what may seem like a complex, technical process; blogging these days is not complicated (as evidenced by the sheer number of blogs on the internet), and there are no real rules (outside of local and international laws that apply to everybody) on how to be blogger. Read your blog platform’s terms of service, content and ethics agreement, and how to comply with the FTC’s endorsement guidelines, and you’ll be golden.
So get started!
Before you choose your platform or attend to the technical details, it’s a good idea to write an outline, mission statement and maybe even a business plan for your blog. Here are a few questions you need to answer before you begin:
What is the focus of your book blog?
Your blog might be centered on a specific genre, like science-fiction, YA or romance, or perhaps you just want a general book blog. It’s up to you, though people generally search for specifics when looking for book content.
What kind of content do you want to publish?
It might be reviews, news, author interviews, industry tips or all of the above. Think about, or even draft, a few posts to get an idea of how your blog will evolve.
How often do you want to post?
There’s no real point in starting a blog if you’re not going to post regularly; you’ll disappear into the ether before you even begin. So put together a schedule and stick to it. One or two posts per week is a good place to start.
Now you can get started.
Choose your platform
WordPress, Tumblr and Blogger are very popular, free/cheap platforms to start on. Unless you have money to burn, there’s no real point in paying much money for a blog until you know you enjoy being a blogger and want to stick with it.
Choose your blog’s name
The one you want is probably already taken, so make a list of your top ten—or even twenty—choices.
Choose your layout
You have a plan, a platform and a name. Now you can design your space, customizing it to your little heart’s desire (and your budget). It’s your space, so make it reflect the work you want to do. Look around at other book blogs to make sure your design is somewhat original. (We all know there are a finite amount of free looks available, so don’t stress too much about this, but still, you want to do you.) Again, you can consider paying someone to customize a website for you, but I’d recommend waiting at least six months if you are new at this blogging thing.
Create your supporting social media accounts
Yep, you have to, if you want anybody to read what you’re posting, that is. Because readers don’t necessarily come to you, you have to go to them, and that means broadcasting your blog posts where your readers are (more on that later). So for now, familiarize yourself with Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and Snapchat, and create profiles connected to your blog at two of those places at least. (I’d suggest Twitter and Insta to start.)
You can start writing now
Yay! Write away. A good guide is to keep your posts to around 400–600 words or so, but that’s not a hard-and-fast rule. Write whatever kind of posts float your boat: long form, bullet point, top-ten lists, etc. But whatever you do…
Edit yourself. Get a dictionary. Read a style guide; take a writing class—whatever you write, write it well. Your readers will not stick around to deal with grammar and spelling mistakes or sloppy sentence structure. But you knew that already.
Add some pictures
The wonderful thing about book blogging is that book covers (from publisher, bookseller or Goodreads sites) are not subject to copyright and may be posted on your blog without image credits. So include images of covers when you talk about books, take (decent) pictures yourself and include those, as well. You can also consider linking each cover to a site where the books can be purchased—this is a good opportunity to boost the signal of your favorite publisher or independent bookstore.
Speaking of boosting…
You need eyes on your posts, so it’s time to utilize those associated social media profiles you’ve already made. Broadcast your new post with links through those channels. There are lots of reports on boosting metrics out there, so feel free to become an expert, but if you want to keep it casual, post your links twice a day for two days and then just keep track of it with your site’s built-in reports. Play with your schedule to see when your readers are active online.
Be an active participant yourself
Read other great book blogs, follow them on Twitter and Instagram and Facebook and Snapchat, and engage. Like, comment, share and watch the mutual love grow.
There are lots (and lots) of additional details to consider when you’re a blogger, but those will come up as your blogging journey progresses. For now, take the plunge, get writing and have fun!
What are some of your favorite book blogs? Have you ever considered blogging? Let us know in the comments!