Greetings and salutations my fellow bookish people, or if you prefer the informal version yo or even the currently popular sup! 🙂
I was bored and so I decided to knock one out, a blog post that is, take your minds out of the gutter please people, this is a respectable blog. Yeah, like anyone is going to believe that! We all know it’s a lie now don’t we! This blog is actually a mad house of sordid anything goes debauchery run by a sarcastic degenerate but it’s a fucking cool place and you all love it! 🙂
I’ve been doing this shindig for over a year now (nearly 15 months to be precise) and so I thought I’d offer some blogging tips to people thinking of starting a blog/new bloggers.
So, you want to be a book blogger, which means that you’re a lover of books and want to take that love to the next level, again, minds out of the gutter please, book love obviously isn’t the same as people love and taking it to the next level doesn’t mean taking it to the bedroom, it means starting a blog!
Maybe you’ve recently been hearing voices in your head telling you to kill and you have decided that you’re going to choose your victims through their blogs, starting your own blog to befriend and lure them in, then bam, the book blogger butcher strikes!
Perhaps you’ve just been released from a white-walled padded room and while the Doctor says you are cured you find that all you really want to do is something crazy. What’s crazier than starting a book blog?!? No, I can’t think of anything either!
Or did you take part in a drunken bet where the loser has to do the most embarrassing thing that they can think of? Obviously, you lost and have now chosen to start a book blog.
If you’re a fan of music maybe you decided to take the advice of Disturbed and ‘get down with the sickness‘ and you realised that the best way to do that, was to join the awesome book blogging community.
Anyway, enough of that, whatever the reason you’ve decided to venture into the world of blogging and here I present to you 25 tips for starting a book blog.
1. Blog name.
Give it some thought, you’re going to be stuck with it so make it something that is either personal to you or just a name that you like.
WordPress free, WordPress self-hosted, blogger, weebly Wix, etc. There are lots of different blog platforms out there, check out the blogs on all and decide which you prefer and want to use.
I use the free version of WordPress, it suits me and my blogging needs fine, it’s very easy to use and is user-friendly. I’m not tech savvy enough to want to attempt to mess with coding or anything like that and find that there are plenty of options available.
3. Blog theme.
For WordPress, there are lots of themes, a vast range of them each with various different aspects and aesthetic qualities. If you have been checking out blogs before you jump in the deep end and actually start blogging chances are that you will have seen lots of the various themes. You can also easily browse the complete selection of themes to find one that suits you and your blog when initially setting up your blog.
4. About page.
Bloggers are a nosey bunch, write an about page and tell us about yourself. We can get a feel for you and your blog then and it’s always interesting to read why you decided to start blogging.
5. Review policy.
This is important, granted, authors on occasion will ignore it but then we just ignore them (it’s not rude to ignore them, people, as they ignored the review policy first). Make sure you have a review policy that clearly outlines what genres you review, if you review to set deadlines, what ratings you use, your preferred book format and if you are currently open to or closed to review requests.
You’ll want to include some way for people to contact you too, be it an email address on the page or a contact form.
6. Archive pages.
Archive pages for book reviews, author features and discussion posts are a necessity!
Trust me on this, I didn’t have any for months after I first started blogging, stupid boy that I am! And they really are a godsend, helpful for yourself and easy for visitors to your blog to see what you’ve reviewed and featured.
You want to incorporate these as soon as you start blogging. It is a nightmare when you have loads of reviews/posts that need archiving and you finally realise that you should have been doing it all along, it really will be one huge oh shit moment followed by copious amounts of cursing!
7. Take inspiration from others.
See blogs that you like, be inspired by them and take inspiration from the blog and blogger to create your own unique blog style and posts.
8. Don’t steal from others.
This point ties into the above, take inspiration from other blogs and bloggers but don’t blatantly copy or steal their blog style or the bloggers personality, no-one wants an exact carbon copy of a blog that’s already out there and stealing is just wrong, you wouldn’t pirate a book, movie or CD, don’t pirate a blog.
9. Be honest.
When reviewing please be honest, if you liked the book then sing its praises and tell us why you loved it. If you disliked the book then be honest, tell us you didn’t like it and explain why.
Publishers and authors both want and need honest feedback on books don’t lower your integrity by being dishonest.
Don’t pimp yourself out by giving glowing reviews just to get ‘free‘ books, it’s wrong and is very uncool!
10. It’s OK to say No.
That request button on NetGalley, it’s OK not to press it, that press release for an ARC that came through by email, it’s OK to delete it and you know that review request that came directly from an author, it’s OK to say no to it.
You don’t have to feel pressured to accept a review request from authors who contact you, you might not have time to read the book, you may not read that genre (then they should have looked at your review policy, see why you need one) or the book just simply might not interest you in any and every case it is OK to decline.
We are not a free service for authors, there is a person behind the blog and it is OK to say no.
11. Read what you want.
If/when you are lucky enough to receive ARC’s, read what you want, when you want, no-one (other bloggers, authors or publishers) expects you to read everything before it’s release date and nothing bad will happen if you do miss the actual release date. The mythical ARC police won’t come and arrest you!
Even if you do keep on top of your ARC’s and manage to review them all before release, it can sometimes get too much constantly reading to review for specific dates. It’s OK to just read something that you want to.
A review is a review whether it’s before the release, a month after or even a year later, it’s all promotion for a book.
12. Post what you want to/Post when you want.
You have a book blog, it doesn’t mean that everything you post has to be book related, just like with the mythical ARC police there isn’t a book blog police that will come and arrest you if you stray from the path of bookishness.
I write and post poetry on my blog. If you want to write personal posts, life updates or reviews for movies, TV, games and music then go ahead. It’s your blog, your rules.
Also, don’t feel like you have to post every day, some bloggers do and some don’t, only posting once or twice a week. It doesn’t make you a ‘bad‘ blogger if you only manage one or two posts each week but if you want to and can post every day then go for it, do whatever you’re comfortable with.
Weekly memes are a good way to help build a following for your blog as they are a popular type of post. There is an abundance of them out there, most bloggers like them, some don’t but no-one can deny their popularity and that they gain exposure for your blog. Find some that you like and do them, but I will say, don’t overdo them, no-one wants to see a blog that only contains memes, they are a good post idea but we also want to see some reviews and creative content, not a meme posted each day of the week.
14. Don’t stress over stats.
See that blog with 10,000 followers who gets 1,500 likes per post and yet you are stuck on 50 followers, don’t stress it! While you might well question why you don’t have the following of other blogs, there are a lot of factors to factor in, the length of time blogging, how vocal they are in the community, what is their target audience, etc.
It can be hard and demoralising if you think your blog isn’t doing well, especially if you see others doing well. Honestly, we’ve all been there, hell, I’m writing this post and I still think that my blog sucks – yeah, real technical term there!
But really, don’t stress stats, they aren’t important in the grand scheme of things and you shouldn’t be blogging for stats anyway, you should just be blogging for yourself.
15. Social media.
Twitter, FB, Pinterest, Google plus, Tumblr, Instagram/Bookstagram, there’s a lot of different social media outlets out there to choose from.
Instagram/Bookstagram is very popular with bloggers. While lots are great at taking pictures, some of us absolutely suck at it and stay away from using it but if you’re artistic then give it a go.
For me, I’d say that Twitter is the best for blogging. Lots and lots of book bloggers have Twitter it’s a vibrant place for us to share each other’s posts and interact – it’s good for the banter! 🙂
Tagging publishers and authors in the review of their book on Twitter often ends with various retweets and blog exposure, but more than that, on occasion you’ll get a reply from the author thanking you for the review, it’s wonderful when you get to connect with authors and they acknowledge you and your review.
16. The community.
The book blogging community is great, get out there and follow other blogs (you can’t just expect them to come to you), like posts and comment on blog posts and along your blogging journey, you will make blog friends (or at least those who put up with your sarcasm) who you will bond with over your mutual love of books regardless of genre.
Don’t be afraid to ask for either help or advice if you feel that you need any. Predominantly we are all a very friendly bunch apart from the ever so awesome but very rare foul-mouthed and sarcastic blogger and we are happy to assist our fellow bloggers.
18. Blogging takes time.
This is something that you need to factor in when starting a blog, life, adulting, work, reading and then add blogging to the list as it also takes up your time. Not just writing your own posts but formatting them and then reading other blogs too, it’s worthwhile but it certainly takes up your free time.
19. It’s OK to take a break.
Blogging can be stressful and at times it might get on top of you. It’s just life, we all get fed-up and despondent with most things every now and then.
On occasion we all need to switch off and chill, your blog and followers will still be there when you come back, if you feel the enjoyment waning or it getting too much then take a step back, have a break, even just a day off and recharge.
20. Be prepared.
It’s only a small thing, but in hindsight, I wish that I’d been prepared before I jumped into blogging. Having some reviews and posts written before you start means that you have something to post, you’re not left with a brand new blog that has nothing posted.
This also works when you already have a blog too, preparing posts and having them drafted and scheduled in advance helps is really helpful.
Canva and picmonkey are both great sites with free versions for creating blog graphics. I use the free version of picmonkey as I find it simple, easy and straightforward to use and I fully admit that the Canva layout baffles me!
Copyright laws, blah blah blah, yadda yadda yadda. There’s plenty of copyright free stock image sites on the Internet for you to use. I use Pixabay for my images and have found it to be a really decent site with a vast selection of various different images to choose from.
I’ll slip this one in – sniggers, I slipped it in, the gutter level smut is alive today! 🙂 I don’t bother with organisation, boring! If I agree to post on a specific date then I’ll jot it down in my phone calendar but other than that, Nah, I like to play devil’s advocate.
For those of you who take part in lots and lots of blog tours each week, then something to organise your schedule would be useful, diary, notebook, planner, spreadsheet, etc.
24. Personality (be yourself).
One of the most important things to remember when blogging is to just be yourself and allow your personality to shine through.
There are a lot of bloggers out there A LOT and you want to differentiate yourself from them by being yourself as we are all different.
Don’t be plain and vanilla, a cardboard cutout robot blogger, we want personality! It’s what will make lots of bloggers follow you regardless of whether or not you read the same genres. It’s your personality that lets readers see who you are in your posts.
Take me for example, I’m sarcastic, foul-mouthed and often blunt with bad jokes thrown into the mix. That’s me in blog post form and I’d like to think that if people saw a post of mine without either my name, my blog name or any other distinguishing features that those who comment on and know both my blog and me would recognise that it was a post by Drew or at least from The Tattooed Book Geek blog.
You don’t want to be lost in the sea of bloggers by being boring and bland, be yourself and make your blog an extension of who you are.
25. Have fun.
A nice easy one to end with, blogging should be fun so have fun and enjoy it!
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