After a year of blogging, I’ve had some time to recognize and reflect on some of the mistakes I made. I’ve combined those mistakes and a couple other ideas I conjured up to bring you a list of tips for new book bloggers! Hopefully this will be of some help. 🙂
Choose your name carefully
When I was first thinking about making a book blog, I came up with the name BookNook. I really liked it! It was short, sweet, and I could buy the booknook.me domain name. But one mistake I made was not checking to see if other people came up with this exact same name. It’s perfectly reasonable for two (or more) different people to come up with the same name without copying or plagiarizing each other. That’s why you need to check!
As it turns out, there are about a million and one other BookNooks out there. The more people there are with your name, the harder it will be to establish your brand in the blogging community. Because names are brands; they define you as a blogger. When someone sees “BookNook” on Twitter, they probably don’t immediately think of booknook.me, because there are so many blogs it COULD be.
So the key thing here is to check to see if other people have the name you want to use. Google it and see what results come up. You want to pick something unique and original that only you have. When people say the name on Twitter or Facebook, you want people to IMMEDIATELY think of your blog.
Use your brand on all your social media accounts
As a blogger, you should at least have a Twitter and Facebook account to help advertise your posts and drive traffic to your blog. But in order to create an established brand, you need to use it everywhere! You should incorporate your blog design into your Twitter and Facebook logos and cover photos. That way people will instantly look at the graphic and know that it’s your blog!
Do not enter every single giveaway
When I first entered the book blogging community, I was overwhelmed with the sheer amount of GIVEAWAYS. I just thought “FREE BOOKS” and everything else went blank. I entered giveaways for books I wasn’t that interested in, just because the idea of getting free books was so appealing. This is a huge mistake. It only resulted in me getting a huge pile of unread books on my desk and I was doing other bloggers a disservice. Maybe there were people out there who really wanted those books but didn’t get them because of me…
Don’t go crazy requesting ARCs
This is very similar to the previous point. When you sign up on NetGalley, don’t think, “Free books!” and let logic fly out the window. Especially as a new blogger, your “Requested to Reviewed” ratio is very important. Publishers can see your statistics of how many books you’ve requested vs. how many of those you’ve actually reviewed. I think it’s extremely important to prove to publishers that you review the books you actually request. Maybe they’d be more likely to take a chance on you if there’s a better chance you’ll review the book.
So do yourself and the publishers a favour by only requesting books that you are REALLY interested in reading and reviewing.
If you can, start a new feature for your blog
I know that not everyone can have a unique feature for their blog. But if you can think of one that works for you, do it! Do not hesitate, just go for it! I think that starting my Bitchin’ Book Blog feature was the best move I ever made. It allows me to join my greatest passions into one. I can blog about some non-book topics (like WordPress and web design) but still help book bloggers at the same time!
I also think that my BBB posts give me an edge. No other book bloggers that I have come across write about WordPress coding. It gives people more of a reason to follow my blog!
Spend time on your design
Unless you’re a designer yourself, hiring a designer is the best thing to do. But at the very least, you should spend a lot of time personalizing your blog. Part of making your brand is making something on your blog YOURS. You should have a logo, graphic, or even typeface that defines your blog. It should be something that people will see and immediately identify as being YOU.
But make sure you spend plenty of time on your design so that it looks good and stands out from all the other blogs out there. Using a pre-made theme is perfectly fine, but make sure you do something to customize it. Upload your own header or background. You don’t want to look exactly like another blog; you want yours to be unique!
Don’t go crazy with memes
I would suggest limiting your memes to 2-3 per week (ideally 2 so that it doesn’t feel like half your posts are memes). Remember that if you’re a book blogger, your blog is about reviewing books. Yes we can showcase books and have giveaways, but if you just have 7 memes a week then people will get tired of your blog. It will feel like you’re not coming up with enough original content.
Most importantly.. have fun!
Most book bloggers create their blog because they love books. Make sure it stays that way! Don’t worry about having perfect reviews or posting “the right” way. Make your blog 100% your own. Let rules fly out the window! (Except for obvious ones like “no plagiarism” and “be respectful”.) Turn your blog into your own personal space that you love coming back to every day.
If you do start to feel overwhelmed, then take a break! Let your readers know what’s going on, and then pull back for a couple weeks. For some people this might mean reading less intensely and more for fun, and not worrying about review books or deadlines or blog tours or commenting. For others it might mean a break from reading all together.
Blogging shouldn’t feel like a job or a chore. You can make it into whatever you want and completely mold it in such a way that it makes you happy!