- Are you thinking of starting a book blog or any blog for that matter?
- Do you crave a platform to unleash your creativity or to make some extra income?
- Would you like to be involved with a highly interactive, passionate and warm community of book lovers who love to discuss all things bookish?
- Did you know that book bloggers receive free books in exchange of an honest review and you can too?
If any of the above questions spike your interest, let me tell you, book blogging can be your answer.
Book blogging is an extremely fun, rewarding and creative way for book lovers to unite. In this article, I will give you a step-by-step guide on how you can start your book blog within minutes. In the course of the next couple of months, I will also give you useful and actionable tips on growing your blog traffic, making it stand out and strategies for social media.
This post contains affiliate links. This means that if you purchase through such links, I will receive a small commission at no additional cost to you. It’s okay – I love all these products anyway and only recommend products/services that I approve of. These commissions help me provide unique content to my readers and I greatly appreciate your support! To read my full disclosure and more boring legal stuff, click here.
Before we get into the details of starting a book blog, let me give you a small introduction on what it is, who is it for and my background on how I decided to start My Bookish Blog.
What is a book blog?
In simple words, a book blog is like any other blog with the theme of books and reading. It is a place for avid readers to discuss about their latest reads, share bookworm passions and review books. It can also be something personal that readers create in order to journal their reading experiences and keep track of their reads.
Who is it for?
Book blogging will work only and ONLY if you love reading! If you do not share this passion, trust me, it will be a monumental effort to come up with post ideas and to simply be motivated to continue. Although book blogs can just include book reviews, there are many other topics (specific to reading or books) that a book blog can entail.
If you feel that book blogging alone is not appealing to you, go ahead and mix it up with one or two other niches – like beauty, travel, well-being, lifestyle and so on depending on what you enjoy. My Bookish Blog contains posts on reading motivation, reading related lifestyle posts, articles on book blogging and book reviews.
My Tip: Don’t get carried away and make your blog too wide in terms of niche selection. This will confuse your audience and they will not know what your speciality really is. Although, don’t make it too specific either that not enough people would share the same interests as yours.
How did I decide to start My Bookish Blog?
Well, I have been an absolute book nerd since my childhood. I remember reading Goosebumps, The Secret Sever series and Archie’s Comics in the 90’s when I was growing up. Of course my genre choices changes along with time but I guess what I’m saying here is, that I can’t remember going to bed without a book in my hand. I’m still pretty much the same.
While doing my 353748 MBA assignments (they were a lot!), I realised that I like to write as well and kept saying to myself: I wish I had something more interesting to write about. And that’s when it hit me: Book Blog!
After doing some research, I sadly found out that there isn’t enough information on the internet on how to start a book blog. There’s loads of stuff about blogs in general but not much about book blogging. So I decided to write this step-by-step guide for all those who want to start a book blog and are looking for some useful information. I will be posting many more articles on book blogging which I hope will help you throughout your book blogging journey.
Ready to start your own book blog? Let’s begin:
Starting a blog in any niche can be a daunting thought, but does it have to be so? Blogging can certainly be that side hustle that you’ve been looking for and can turn out to be a full-time income as it has for thousands of bloggers around the world. Although I must add, even though the content and marketing are vital for the success of a blog, true passion is also a must have ingredient in the recipe. Still unsure? Read this article first on Why You Should Start A Book Blog In 2019 and then come back here.
So now that you’ve read the other article and you’re certain that book blogging is your thing, let’s dive in and see what are the 8 easy steps to starting your own book blog:
Step 1: Pick Your Blog Name & Domain
This is the first and in my opinion, the most crucial step of starting a book blog. You need to be very selective in choosing a name for your blog. Think of it as naming your child. How much thought are you going to put into that? Naming your blog is similar.
This is going to be your brand name, so it should be unique, descriptive and catchy. Let’s take My Bookish Blog for example, the moment you read the name you know it’s about books. Now let’s say you want to blog about books and travel – then you can choose something like The Traveling Book Blogger (just an example). Another way to name your blog and not go wrong with it is to add your name to it, for example, Crystal’s Book Blog.
Make sure you absolutely love the name before finalizing it because once you’ve established yourself as a book blogger; it will be extremely difficult to change it. Moreover, it will just confuse your readers.Make sure you absolutely LOVE your domain name before registering it. Changing it later is a total #NIGHTMARE !! #domainname #bloggingtips Click To Tweet
Check whether the domain (which is your url or www.YOURBLOGNAME.com) is available. If you’re extremely lucky, it will be. If not, just try to tweak it a bit. Don’t register the domain yet. Check if all social handles are available. These should be as close to your blog name.
My social handle everywhere is mbb_ayushi and on facebook it is mbb.ayushi because FB does not let you put an underscore (mbb stands for My Bookish Blog and Ayushi is my name). Now you can go and register your domain or get it free with your hosting platform (explained in Step 2). When you have secured all handles, it’s time to celebrate with a glass of champagne!
Tips To remember:
- The name should be easy to remember.
- Think about your niche (if you want to blog about a certain book genre) and your audience (young adults, mature readers, readers from a certain part of the world) to help you choose a name.
- Avoid having numbers or extra letters, it looks unprofessional (like, mybookishbloggg56783).
- If you really love a name but the domain is unavailable, try adding ‘the’ or ‘a’ at the beginning of the name.
Step 2: Choosing Your Hosting Platform
A hosting platform is basically a virtual space in which your blog resides. Think of it as the engine of a car. You can have the car model ready but there’s no point of it without an engine to make it move.
Now there are a lot of hosting platforms like Blogger, Squarespace, Wix, etc. but I will only and only recommend WordPress because it is highly customizable and easy to use with tons of support guides available all over the internet. It has both a free hosting with wordpress.com and self-hosting with wordpress.org.
Let me explain.
If you want to blog just as a hobby and never want to make money from it, go ahead with wordpress.com. What it does is it adds an extension to your domain name. So if we take my blog for example, had I chosen free hosting, my domain would be www.mybookishblog.wordpress.com
Plus you have no control over it as you do not own the platform. God forbid if something goes wrong, you might end up losing all your hard work. Also, if you intend to make money from ads and affiliate marketing, a free host will not let you do that. I have opted for paid hosting from the beginning because I did not want to get into the hassle of changing platforms later on. Plus, I wanted to monetize my blog.
Search engines like google and authors/publishers prefer blogs that have professional domains like, www.crystalsbookblog.com instead of www.crystalsbookblog.wordpress.com.Self-hosting allows you to have professional domains which search engines like google LOVE!!! #bloggingtips #selfhostedblog Click To Tweet
The best and cheapest host I can suggest is Bluehost. They offer hosting for as low as $3.95 per month. You can easily recover this amount with affiliate links. They have an amazing customer service and whenever I have a query, they respond with solutions almost immediately. Plus, they give a FREE domain name and FREE SSL Certificate so it is a total steal!
Steps on claiming your domain and hosting:
- Go To Bluehost
Click here to go to Bluehost website. You will reach a page that looks like this:
- Click on Get Started and select your hosting plan
- Enter your domain name and click on Next
- Put in your details and payment information then click Submit
- Create a password for your account
- You’re almost done, click on Log In
- Pick a theme. You can change it later from your WordPress dashboard
- Lastly, click on Start Building and follow the prompts
Simply follow them and you’ll be set with wordpress installation. If you get stuck somewhere, read one of their many tutorials or simply contact them. They are a bunch of helpful techies.
Step 3: Select Your Blog Theme
WordPress offers a bunch of free as well as paid themes. Choosing a free theme to begin with is absolutely fine. I started out with a free theme too. There are limitations to customization but some free themes have more than enough options that you will need at the start of your journey.
Think of the tone of your blog when you’re selecting a theme. Do you want your blog to be fun, serious, mysterious? Whatever you choose, ensure the text is easy to read. Not having clear text is one of the major reasons why people hop out of blogs.
The important thing to remember is to make sure that your theme is:
- Easy to navigate
- Pleasing to the eyes
- SEO compatible
- Responsive! This is crucial!
A responsive theme can adapt to different screen sizes. You’ll notice that most of your readers will view your blog from a mobile device and an unresponsive theme will make your blog look sloppy and unorganized.
There are other vendors that create themes for WordPress although they most likely won’t be free. You can do some simple google search to find out more.
I will soon be writing a post on designing your blog, choosing brand colors and making it look cohesive and professional. Keep an eye out for that.
Step 4: Create The Essential Blogging And Legal Pages
There is a difference between pages and posts. Pages are static in nature that can be used to describe yourself or other terms of your blog. Posts are the blog article you write. Before you start writing your posts or book reviews, you need some essential pages on your blog.
Pages You Need As A Book Blogger
- Meet Me/About Me
Think of this as a page where your readers can know who you are. You can talk about your background, why you started your book blog, your hobbies, what your readers can expect from your blog, etc. You can also include some fun facts.
Readers love to know the person behind the blog and it’s a great way to connect with your audience. You don’t have to share your personal life but just enough so your readers can get an idea of you. Consider adding a picture of yourself for an even more personal touch if you feel comfortable.
- Book Review Policy
Having a Book Review Policy page set up in the beginning is an excellent idea because even as a new book blogger you will start getting requests from authors and publishers to review their books. They can also contact you for other things like guest posts, author interviews, book promotion, etc. On the contrary, you can contact them too instead of waiting for them to find you.
Although it’s kind of impossible to cater to all review requests even if you want to and might end up turning down a lot of requests. I have turned a lot of authors down simply because the genre didn’t fit in with my tastes or I didn’t have enough time. If you have some guidelines, then people will know what to expect and will reach out to you accordingly.
Things that you can include in your Book Review Policy Page:
- What genre you will review and what you won’t?
- Do you have a rating system? If yes, mention it.
- What form of books will you accept, hardcover, paperbacks, e-books or audiobooks?
- Where will you showcase your reviews? Only your blog or social media as well? Will you post it on GoodReads or Amazon?
- How many requests will you accept per month? How quickly can you read and review the book?
- If you come across a book that you didn’t enjoy, will you post a negative review or choose to not review at all?
- How can they contact you? Should they email you or fill up your contact form?
Legal Pages For Your Blog
- Terms & conditions
- Affiliate Disclosure (if you are putting affiliate links)
These are pretty much standard documents and can easily be found on the internet. It’s best to review your country’s laws and follow them so you do not get in any trouble.
Step 5: Read Other Book Blogs
If you’re not reading other book blogs, I highly suggest you start doing that. It will help you get an idea of how others write their reviews and articles. Although there’s always room for creativity in the blogging community, there are also conventions. DO NOT copy other’s styles (it’s not considered cool in the blogosphere) but gain inspiration from them.
Step 6: Read More Books and Request ARCs
Now that you’ve started a book blog, you need to double, even triple your reading appetite (especially if you want to be noticed in the book blogging community). The more you read, the more you’ll have things to write about. You’ll also get many more post ideas from the characters you read about.
If you’re new to ARCs, it’s a book world jargon which means Advance Reader’s Copy. Authors and publishers give out ARCs to tons of book bloggers so they can read and write reviews which helps them market the book and increase its popularity before it’s even launched. There are also other sources that do so and also give free titles.
You can start requesting free titles and there are various sources to do so:
- Contact Authors/Publishers
Don’t wait for them to contact you, try reaching out to them through their websites where you will find their contact details. Write a compelling e-mail highlighting why you’re a good candidate to review their book. Add a few links of your articles for them to have an idea of your style.
- NetGalley or Edelweiss
These are basically forums for authors/publishers to make their books available to reviewers and advertisers. Visit their website to know more. I would suggest to first have your footing with a solid 4-6 months of blogging and have a number of articles in your blog before going this route, just so that you have more credibility when you request free titles.
- Your Local Library
You’ll be surprised what you may find at your local library. To get your hands on those coveted new releases, make sure you book them in advance.
- Other’s requests to review
Sometimes new authors or self-published authors will contact you for a review in exchange of a free book.
Step 7: Post Your First Article Or Review
Many people say you must have a certain number of posts ready before you start blogging. I do not believe in that. When I started my book blog, I only had one post in it. What’s important is to be consistent. Have a posting schedule and stick to it. Your readers will know when to expect a post from you.
I try to post on the last day of the month which is usually a Wrap Up post for that month, and every Mondays and Thursdays. It’s a good idea to schedule a few posts in advance which will reduce a lot of your stress of trying to be on schedule. Also have a content plan ready for at least a month. I know what I want to write for the next 3 months.
When writing your first article or review, consider the following:
- Write something that you think will help your readers
- Look out for typos
- Keep SEO in mind
- Write short paragraphs so it’s easy to read
Step 8: Start Marketing On Social Media
I cannot stress enough on the importance of social media. If you’ve put in so much effort into your book blog, I’m sure you would like people to read it. Start posting about your articles and reviews on social media. Do not overwhelm yourself by joining each and every social platform. Stick to a few and grow them steadily. This will help bring the majority of traffic.
The social platforms that I suggest are:
Choose all or select a couple of them. It completely depends on how much you can handle because you will also need to create graphics for them. I will be writing a detailed post about social media soon.
These steps are all you need to start your book blog at a beginner level. I know it seems overwhelming in the beginning but just start following the steps and keep ticking them off. It is a great way to get things done.
I hope this was a useful tutorial for you. Do you have questions? Go ahead and ask me below, I don’t bite 😉 Already blogging, do share your tips below so we can all learn.
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