Book Blogging is a wonderful way to discuss the books you have read and loved, of being a part of the reading community, and meeting people who love the same genre as you. If you don’t have friends who read or prefer a different genre, you’d have probably considered starting a book review blog to talk about your reads.
And there comes the question: How to start a book blog?
Well, I first started a book review page on Instagram @forevershereads in May 2020, and as I am writing this post, it is also my Bookstagram first Anniversary (YAY!). I was pursuing a Digital Marketing course at that time.
I had seen people on Instagram reviewing books, posting aesthetically pleasing photos, and I realised this could be a great way to talk about my favorite books. Later, I got a website and started building it with everything I’d learnt during the course.
This guide is meant for anyone interested in starting a book blog (or any blog) and wants to understand how to go about it.
How to Start a Book Blog
Choose a Genre to Focus on
The first step to plan your blog is to decide on a genre (or a niche). Many book bloggers cover many genres. But with the blogging community reaching saturation and fierce competition, it’s difficult to stand out.
Consider these questions: What do you read the most? If, like me, you love the Romance Genre, what sub-genres are your favorite? Who is your audience? Who should read your reviews and recommendations?
Pick only one genre at the start of your blogging and think of the audience you want to connect with. With just one topic to focus on, you’ll have a smooth time setting yourself up as a go-to book blogger for a specific genre.
Check out Popular Book Bloggers
One of the best ways to get inspired and motivated is to check on your competitors – ahem excuse me – fellow book bloggers.
Find established and new book bloggers, check out their posts, the themes that they use on their website, their aesthetics on social media, the comments they receive. This will give you an overall idea of where you need to start content-wise and design-wise. Do not outright copy them – because that is rude.
Connect with them if you want some advice. When I started Forever She Reads website, I wasn’t sure of what plugins the other bloggers used and I reached out to them. Everyone I messaged was pretty helpful.
Some of my favorite Romance Book Bloggers that I often take inspiration from are –
Decide on a Blog Name
Now that you know what your topic is going to be, you’ve seen the other bloggers in your community and what works for them, it’s time to pick a name for your brand!
You could use your name and add ‘book blog’ after it. Or, you could pick words based on what you’re going to review. Here’s a hack you could try – write down everything you feel about reading. Then check if you can make a name that’s a mishmash of those words.
I chose Forever She Reads because I could see myself reading at 70, all curled up on a couch, with a cup of tea in my hand. I usually take breaks from books but I can’t imagine not reading. Even when book slump hits, it feels weird not having a book in my hands.
Choose the Platform You Want to Blog on
There are several platforms to choose from where you can start your blogging career.
Nowadays Blogging is not restricted to a website alone. You can even blog on Social Media. I’ve seen Instagram pages that are quite successful and they are only active on Instagram.
Some Popular Blogging Platforms:
- Self-Hosted Website using WordPress as your platform
If you want to start a website, you can opt for WordPress.com that gives you a free website with limited features. Or you can start with Social Media Platforms such as Instagram and start building a brand (that’s what I did as well).
Grab the Social Media Handles
In the second step where you researched book bloggers, you must have observed that they are all active on similar Social Media platforms – Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, YouTube.
That’s where your audience is, and where you should be too.
Social Media Platforms are the best way to promote your brand. If it’s the blogging platform you chose, you need to be active and consistent. If you have a website, then you need Social Media to drive traffic to your site.
Once you have your blog name ready, grab the handles on all the Social Media platforms you want to target. Even if you aren’t going to use some of them for the time being, just get a hold of them for future promotional purpose.
This will ensure that your blog name isn’t taken.
Website - Domain and Hosting
Now comes the tough question. If you’ve decided that you want a website – should you go for the free one you get on WordPress.com or a Self-Hosted Website?
If you’ve never worked on websites before, I recommend you try WordPress.com first, or Blogger, or Wix – all three give you free sites. They will have limited features – but it’s a good way to understand how the backend looks like.
I’ve used Blogger and WordPress – but I love WordPress because it is user friendly and easier to understand.
Note that WordPress.com and WordPress.org are different. WordPress is a Content Management System (CMS) and WordPress.org is where you can download the software. It is widely used by millions of website because of the flexibility it offers.
Self-Hosted Websites are not free – You have to pay for Domain and Hosting.
Domain: The address of your website. For example, forevershereads.com
Hosting: The provider gives you a space on a web server that stores your files.
I use Hostinger that offers both the services – and I chose it after thorough research on what is the safest and least costly Web Hosting provider. Do your research, set your budget, check out the services they offer and choose the one that fits your criteria,
After you set that up – You’ll need to install a CMS Platform – WordPress or any other you prefer.
(I’ll do a detailed post on this soon so I can explain it better.)
- With WordPress, you can set up the theme of your website – how you want your website to look.
- Install Plugins that will help you enhance your website and its functionality. There are paid and free plugins you can use to build your book review posts.
- Learn a little about SEO that will help you rank on Google’s first page.
(I’ll be digging into this a bit deeper in another article so you’ll understand how WordPress works.)
Plan Your Content
You have all your properties in place! Your platforms are ready and you know your competitors. The foundation is all set.
Now it’s time to plan your content.
Then, plan out what type of posts you want to publish. You could do Book Reviews, Book Recommendations, Top Book Lists, Blogging Tips, and more.
For Social Media, how often are you going to post there? Are you planning on creating an aesthetic Bookstagram page? What books do you want to cover? How will you click photos and when will you post them?
You don’t need to have separate posts planned for all your Social Media pages, for one, that will be time-consuming. Instagram and Pinterest are visual-based – you can post the same graphics for both and also share them on Facebook and Twitter.
You should plan the posts for a week or two so that gives you the time to take breaks, and not burn yourself out. Have a schedule in place for your posts so you are active and consistent.
Use free graphic design tools like Canva for Instagram stories or Pinterest Pins.
Be a Part of the Community
Blogging doesn’t end with you sharing your posts. It is a continuous process that involves you engaging with other people.
It makes sense right? If you engage with the people in your niche, they will check your posts out and comment on yours. Start reciprocating, build friendships with other bloggers.
Bookstagram is a close-knit community, and I love being a part of it. There are these fun book challenges, readalongs, buddy reads, you can participate in.
I’ve found some great friends on Bookstagram that I buddy read with and constantly talk to. Most of the people are friendly and supportive and they make blogging more fun.
Who says Internet friends aren’t real? 😉
Learn, Experiment, and Execute
Digital Space is ever-evolving. Podcasts are all the rage now. Experts are wondering if Blogs might die one day. Like how newspapers are slowly being replaced by mobile news app and websites.
You should keep up with all these developments — the algorithms, the technology, so you can up your game in your Blogging career. Instagram Reels are the big thing right now after Tiktok.
Experiment with videos, podcasts, or any new format of content. Be creative. Check what worked, what didn’t, and how could you make your content the best.
Monetize your Book Blog
Before you can earn money from your Book Blog, you need to have an established brand, a good amount of traffic on your site, and good engagement on Social Media.
There are several ways you can earn money through your book blog:
- Affiliate Marketing: Affiliate Marketing means you get a commission when someone clicks on the affiliate links on your site and makes a purchase.
- Advertising: By either using Google Adsense or other Ad platforms or direct advertising.
- Collaboration with brands.
- Providing any services
There are probably many innovative ways Book Bloggers are earning money. You should check out the popular ones, maybe you could emulate some of their tactics.
Hopefully, I’ve helped you figure out how to start a book blog! This is a process that will help you plan your career or hobby as a blogger.
Remember: Book Blogging is supposed to be fun – since you probably love reading! So have fun with it and don’t burn yourself out writing posts after posts. Take breaks when you need to.
Do you have any tips for a first-time book blogger? Do comment!