Calling all readers – have you ever wanted to share your love of books with others and connect with those who feel the same? You’re a voracious reader and your To Be Read pile (physical or virtual) is a literary mountain. You’ve read some book blogs, maybe have a few favourite bloggers you follow, and think you could do the same.
Are you ready to be a blogger? Here are a few pointers to get you started.
1/ What are you signing up for? What is a blog?
It’s short for weblog, and the Oxford English Dictionary defines it as:-
Noun: a regularly updated website or web page, typically one run by an individual or small group, that is written in an informal or conversational style.
Verb: add new material to or regularly update a blog, as in “it’s about a week since I last blogged”
Therefore, a book blog is an informative, informal website about, well, books.
2/ Why do you want to start a book blog?
Knowing why you’re doing something and understanding what you hope to achieve is critical.
Is it a hobby, something to keep you occupied, and pass the time? Maybe you’d like it to be your paid job one day, or perhaps you think blogging would be a great way to communicate with like-minded people about your love of reading? You may stay at home for long hours at a time and crave an interest that you can do without leaving the house.
3/ Choose your platform
You should, preferably, have a website. There are various formats, but WordPress is popular with the blogging community. You can also post reviews on Goodreads and Netgalley (more on that later), and use social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest.
4/ What’s in a Name?
What will you call your blog? It could be your name, e.g. Fiona’s Fave Reads, or something bookish, First Line Hooks, or genre-specific, Romantic Crime Thriller Fan. Take your time, it’s not so easy to change the name once everything is up and running and you have the website address, Facebook and Twitter accounts and actual followers. Yes, real people who read your words, are interested in your opinion and look out for your latest post! Choose your blog name wisely.
5/ What’s it all about?
Are you going to review books? You could start by reading and then writing reviews on the books taken from your own To Be Read pile. Concerned about how to write a review? Some people write exactly what they think of a book, warts and all, others have a policy that if they can’t award a 4 or 5 star, then they won’t post a review. It’s up to you what you do, you’re in control.
If you’d like to know how to get started with writing a book review, then take a look at our blog post on this subject.
What if you want to get lots of free books, the latest books, the not-even-out-yet books? Then join something like Netgalley, a site that allows you to request free digital books to read before they are published and then review them. This is a way of recommending brand new material to your own network.
What if you don’t want to review books, or at least not to begin with?
Then just post about books. You can chat about books you’ve loved, the worlds they’ve introduced you to, your favourite characters and what they mean to you. Perhaps you could list the sequels you’d like to read – only they haven’t been written yet! Talk about books that changed your thinking, opened your eyes to something new or made you fall in love with a fictional character.
List your 5 top reads of the year, of all-time or those you want to read. Post book title puns. Share pictures of your current read, your, we are sure, towering To Be Read pile or your bookshelf.
Whatever you do – have fun.
6/ Build a Community
You have a name, a website, and you’ve read a load of books. You’ve written some brilliant reviews and posted them on your site. And then . . . Well, yes, what now?
You need an audience, followers; you need to be part of a community. Social media is a great place to meet like-minded people. There are online book clubs, Facebook groups dedicated to different genres, or reading in general, you can use hashtags on twitter that will potentially place your content in front of millions.
For many people using social media and blogging go hand in hand. Don’t try and cover all the social media platforms, choose a couple that you enjoy using and concentrate on them.
7/ Content, content and – more content
What can you do to make sure followers keep coming back to your site? A good start is having a regular flow of new blog posts, and making them as visually appealing and enticing as you can.
Images are essential, as we all know, a picture paints a thousand words. There are plenty of free tools available to help you get started. Whether you are posting on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram or Pinterest, the right image is vital.
The picture needs to be relevant to your post. Make sure the copyright allows it to be used for free on social media. This is vital, as copyright infringement can be costly. You preferably need to source free images, and this can be achieved on several platforms such as Unsplash and Pixabay.
Or create your own. Don’t worry, though, you don’t have to be a professional photographer to produce eye-catching images. Some websites provide templates, pictures and a whole host of fonts, allowing you to build a polished post image. Canva is an excellent place to start, and you can use the free version.
8/ Writing help
Worried about using the same word too many times? Maybe you think your spelling could use a helping hand? Perhaps those pesky apostrophes have a life of their own? Fear not, and don’t let it stop you and quieten your voice. The internet is your friend. You can use online dictionaries and thesaurus, or use the free version of Grammarly, which bills itself as a writing assistant.
9/ Be respectful
We can all have a voice on the internet, if we want, so the recommendation is to use it wisely. The words you unleash will potentially be visible to many people.
10/ Enjoy yourself
Have fun. Make a new friend, or two. Discover whether you like the writing part or the social media connections, or sharing your thoughts to people who love reading just as much as you do. You may enjoy all three. If that’s the case, good luck and successful blogging.