I remember (almost!) 3 years ago, when I started my first book blog. Actually, at the time it wasn’t a book blog. It was a site for young writers, since I wanted to connect with other young writers my age, so I decided to start a blog.
It was called Young Writers Cafe (yikes!) and I set it up on the WordPress.com platform, not even bothering to customize the theme. Originally, it looked like this:
Yep. I put up about 10 posts at once when the site launched, and then blogged on and off for the couple months. I made several mistakes, like:
- I barely knew about any other blogs for young writers, and I rarely checked out other blogs in my niche. Little did I know how massive the community really is!
- I thought I had to put my blog title in every single post title. I really don’t know why I thought that, but it’s interesting to look back on.
- My posts were short. Like, around 300 words each.
- The posts had zero formatting. Random words were bolded, headings were the same size as the text, and I typed out every single link instead of embedding them.
The traffic was terrible, but I managed to make some really great blogging friends. Shout out to all the people who knew my blog from all the way back in 2013 and read it anyways! Eventually, my blog turned its focus to reading books instead of writing them. I was on WordPress.com for around a year before I eventually made the switch to WordPress self-hosted, taking the opportunity to change my blog name during the switch.
Over the past few years of blogging, I’ve learned a lot about book blogging. It’s crazy to look back to 2013 and look at how different my posts were, and I’m sure in 2019 I’ll think the same think about my current content.
As a blogger, I’m always evolving and trying new things. Sometimes they work; sometimes they don’t. Blogging is a different experience for everyone, but there are a few things I’d like to suggest to every new book blogger.
1. Get on Twitter!
Twitter is where the cool kids hang out. Okay, I’m kidding (I’m sure you’re dying of laughter right now) but seriously, Twitter is such a game changer. Commenting on other blogs is great, but Twitter provides an opportunity to connect with book bloggers on another level. Even if you feel like their blog is too intimidating when it comes to commenting, you’ll be surprised by how friendly book bloggers are on Twitter.
I’ve met some of my best blogging friends on Twitter, and I likely would have been too shy to approach them without social media. Twitter is a great way to stay up to date on the book blogging community as well. If you’re thinking of joining Twitter, I seriously recommend it. I’m @BookishSC on Twitter, so if you have any questions feel free to shoot me a tweet or DM!
You can also read my post about why I love Twitter, or my suggestions on how to use it for your book blog.
2. Comment, comment everywhere!
Commenting is a great way to get yourself out there as a book blogger! Before I was on Twitter, commenting was how I met several of my book blogging friends.
I have CommentLuv (a WP plugin) installed on my blog, so when someone comments on my blog, their latest blog post link appear beneath their comment. I try to click on those links and comment back (I’ve been absolutely terrible at this lately, though), which has allowed me to start so many great friendships!
3. Choose a schedule and stick to it
Book blogging likely isn’t your job. It’s a hobby and if you don’t create a schedule for blogging and fiercely protect your blogging time, you’ll find yourself only putting up post once a month or so.
How detailed your schedule is depends on you. Some bloggers like to have a pre-determined theme for each blogging day (ex. Wednesday is “blogging tutorials” day), while others prefer to just have a rough plan for the week. I’m huge on scheduling and organization, so I’ve created a chart with each of my blogging tasks for each day. It’s really detailed, but it works for me.
At the very least, create a goal for how many times you want to post each week. If you’re struggling to come up with a blog schedule that works for you, read this post.
4. Use your first few months to experiment
As your blog grows, it becomes harder and harder to make big changes without throwing off your audience. That’s why I definitely recommend that you use your first few months to experiment with your blog.
Think about where you want your blog to be in a year, or two years. Do you want to have a certain design or theme? Do you want to move to self-hosted WordPress? Do you want to be covering multiple topics on your blog? It’s harder to make those changes later on (This is coming from someone who changed her blog name + host after a year of blogging!), so go for it now.
Use your first few months to figure out what works and what doesn’t, and try new things.
5. Do your own thing (No, really!)
This is the most generic advice out there but for book blogging in particular, I like to break it down into 3 sections.
- Do all the other book bloggers do memes, but that’s not really your thing? Don’t do them! The only type of content you should post is the type of content that you’re seriously interested in.
- Read and write about the books that you’re interested in. If a hyped book doesn’t interest you, you don’t have to pick it up or read it.
- Write in your own voice. If X Blogger uses a certain tone or jokes and is really popular for it, that doesn’t mean you have to write like that. I like to write the same way I talk, because that’s what is natural for me. Write in a tone and voice that feels natural for you!
I’ve learned so much from these past 3 years of blogging, and I’m sure I will learn so much more over the next few years. Instead of struggling like I did, use the tips above to get ahead and avoid potential mistakes later on. Trust me, it’s worth it!
What is your biggest blogging struggle?