The Ultimate Guide to Start a Book Blog
What do you get when you combine a passion for reading and sharing your favorite reads with others? A book blog!
Book blogs have been around for as long as blogs themselves have been around, and they’ve only gained popularity as more people have embraced and found success with self-publishing.
And now you’re thinking about starting your own book blog. That’s great!
But where do you even start? What makes a good book blog? Do people still even read those things?
Don’t worry, dear reader; we’ll go over everything you need to know about starting a book blog in this article. This includes:
- What a book blog is for
- Where you can make one
- What you should include in your book blog
- How to get people to read your book blog
- How to use your blog to promote your work (if you’re an author)
- Best practices for book blogging
This is called an ultimate guide for a reason. By the time we’re done here, you’ll have everything you need to start your own book blog. Let’s get started.
Book Blog Basics
Before we dive too deep, let’s cover the basics of a book blog. This section will give you a strong foundation for creating your own blog and let you know if creating a blog is something you want to pursue.
Because there’s no point in reading a guide like this if you know you don’t want to start blogging.
What is a Book Blog?
As the name suggests, a book blog is… well, a blog about books. It’s a website (or at least part of a website) that is dedicated to highlighting, reviewing, and sharing books with a wider audience.
Book blogs range in size and scale from a hobbyist posting every once in a while to someone whose primary income comes from their website.
More than anything, book blogs start from a love of reading. If you’re thinking about starting one of these websites to get rich quick, you might as well quit now. It takes more work than meets the eye and consistent time and effort to make a living.
But if you’re willing to put in the work, even if only at a hobby level, a book blog can provide many benefits.
Benefits of a Book Blog
These days, it’s easier than ever to take something you’re passionate about and turn it into a fun, viable project or job. If you love reading, channeling your passion for books into a blog can return a handful of benefits.
Read more books - This might be a little cheesy, but running a book blog gives you an excuse to read more books. Not that you need an excuse, but it’s there just in case.
Get free books - If you grow your website big enough, you can start to receive advance reader copies (ARCs) of books to review and share. These could be books that haven’t been published yet or free review copies of already published books (despite the “advance” part of the name).
Connect with your favorite authors - How cool would it be to chat, interview, or meet your favorite authors? The more you grow your book blog, the more authors you will connect with.
Potential income - If you get enough traffic to your blog, you can start making money from it. This includes advertising, sponsorship deals, and review packages you can sell.
I want to be clear, though, that success isn’t guaranteed. You can’t just start a new blog, throw up two or three reviews every now and then, and expect any of the above to happen.
Success only comes with hard work. What defines your success will be unique to you, but we’re going to go over everything you’ll need to get to that level with your blog.
How to Start a Book Blog
With the basics out of the way, let’s talk about starting your book blog. There are a few things you’ll want—and need—to accomplish before posting your first book review or feature.
We’re going to cover each of these in more detail, but here’s a sort of “Step Zero” checklist you need to follow to start your book blog:
- A theme
- A name
- A website/domain
- A hosting platform
- Blogging equipment
- Social media accounts
What I don’t have listed on there is “passion,” but that’s equally important. You need to start your blog with the right mindset, which is driven by a love for reading and sharing your favorite books.
Before you pick a name or buy a domain, you should be okay with the idea that your book blog might not generate substantial income or connect you with the greatest authors of all time.
Sure, it can if you work at it hard and long enough, but thinking that level of success will come immediately will set you up for failure from the beginning.
Enough of that, though. Let’s talk about each item on that checklist.
Your Book Blog’s Theme?
Unfortunately, saying, “I’m going to start a book blog,” isn’t enough. There are already many of these websites out there, so you need to develop a specific theme for yours.
Instead of trying to appeal to the masses, you want to carve yourself out a niche. My first piece of advice? Start by choosing a genre.
Which books do you love to read the most? Romance? Fantasy? Historical fiction? Choose one—heck, even choose a subgenre of one, like urban fantasy—and focus on that.
Once you’ve established your book category, you will want to go a little deeper into your theme. Consider things like:
- Website color choices (what fits your personality and your chosen genre?)
- Aesthetics (book blogging works very well with visual social media, but we’ll get to that)
- Font choices (again, think genre)
- How you’re going to incorporate your voice and style.
Don’t feel like you need to nail down every aspect of your blog’s theme right away. A lot of it will develop over time, but it doesn’t hurt to develop some ideas before getting too far. This includes…
Your Book Blog’s Name
For something that is only a few words long—or just one word long—the name of your blog does a lot of heavy lifting.
Put some serious thought into your name. This isn’t something you really want to change later since it will negate most of the brand and community building you’ll put under the original title of your blog.
When choosing a name for your book blog, consider some of the following:
Your genre - You want your blog name to be both alluring and informative. If you review romance books, you might want “romance books” in your blog name. If you’re reviewing fantasy, include a trope or well-known term in your name to let people know what kind of stuff you read.
SEO - Search engine optimization (SEO) can be a scary term, but it’s one you’re going to want to get familiar with when running a website. When it comes to your name, you want something unique enough to stand out but also something that uses keywords related to books, your genre, reading, reviewing, etc., that can start popping up in organic searches like Google.
Clarity - You don’t want to confuse potential readers or visitors about the purpose of your site. “A Wander Through Wine Country” is not only a random name I came up with, but no one in their right mind would think it’s a book blog. Pick something that makes it obvious what your book blog is about.
Unique - In this case, unique doesn’t mean “celebrity baby names” levels of outlandishness. Rather, you want to make sure you aren’t infringing on someone else’s copyright or accidentally boosting another brand. The easiest way to make sure your name is unique is to use a website like namecheckr (unsure if namechecker was already taken).
Whether you already have an idea about what you want to name your blog or not, I’d suggest jotting down 5-10 possibilities and refining them as we go.
Your Book Blog’s Website and Domain
Blogs exist on the world wide web, so you need to stake your claim on the internet and find a place to host it.
First, you need something to help you build your blog. There are a few options out there, but I’m going to give you three of the best: WordPress, Squarespace, and Wix.
WordPress is by far the most popular and powerful of the three options. More websites are built with WordPress than any other platform, and it allows for near-limitless customization. But with that great power comes the need to learn a lot more. Using WordPress will mean learning some basic coding and paying for the best plugins, but the result will be a website exactly the way you want it.
Squarespace and Wix are similar in many ways, though Squarespace has more features beyond basic website building. Both offer drag-and-drop website building that nearly anyone can master in a short period of time. Both have templates and professionals out there to help you. Squarespace takes the edge on marketing, analytics, customer service, and built-in tools, while Wix has a larger community base to draw knowledge and resources from.
WordPress offers an unparalleled level of customization, but both Squarespace and Wix can create professional sites to host your blog. I’d suggest checking out all three and seeing which one is best for you.
Securing Your Book Blog Domain
In order to have a book blog, you need to purchase a domain and have it hosted by a service provider. A domain is the website address (i.e., www.dabblewriter.com is Dabble’s domain).
Usually, you want your domain name to be the same as your blog’s name or a condensed version of it. Super long URLs are a pain for people to type and remember, so it’s best to keep domain names shorter.
For example, if your book blog was named “Hack and Slash Books: A Fantasy Book Blog,” you might want to consider something like hackandslashbooks.com.
Bear in mind that your preferred domain might be taken already. If this is the case, you have the option to purchase the name from the owner (though this is usually outlandishly expensive) or try a different name.
Platforms like Squarespace and Wix have options to purchase domain names, keeping all your payments and information in one environment. But you might find a better deal or more perks using services like GoDaddy, Lyrical Host, or Bluehost.
Shop around and see what you can find. Either way, you’re going to be paying an annual fee for the domain and a monthly or yearly subscription for the hosting services.
If you decide to stop paying for your domain, it can get purchased by another user and make any pre-existing links to your blog useless. So don’t forget this payment!
Your Blogging Equipment
You don’t need anything beyond a computer (and a book to read) to start your blog. That said, there is some equipment you can get to give you a head start.
Again, these aren’t mandatory, so don’t spend beyond your means. These pieces of equipment can be added to your book blog arsenal as you get going.
A decent camera - This is usually included with any modern smartphone, but having a decent camera means taking decent pictures for social media and sharing your book blog. You can use stock photos you pay for or royalty-free images, but original pictures are always better.
A webcam and microphone - You might want to add a video or audio component to your book blog. You can use your phone’s camera to record, but a webcam and microphone will produce more consistent results.
Decorations - Getting some decorations that go with your color scheme and theme is great for incorporating your branding into your visual elements. Check out some of the top-performing posts on #bookreview to see what people are doing with their decorations.
As you find your niche, there might be other equipment you want for blogging. These three things will help raise your blogging game, but remember, the only things you need are a laptop and some books to read!
Your Book Blog Social Media
Social media isn’t the best or only way to get people to read your latest blog posts, but it can certainly be an effective one.
Social media also allows you to foster a community around your book blog. Rather than just posting articles for others to read, you can participate in discussions and share more content than just what you write (because that just feels too salesy).
You don’t want to stretch yourself too thin, though. Focusing on one or two social platforms is much more effective than kind of posting on six of them.
We’ll discuss some social media best practices in the next section, but for now, think of some social platforms that work well with your genre and the people who read the books you’re reading. At the time of writing (March 2023), TikTok and Instagram are the best social media platforms for book blogs.
Whichever socials you go with, you’re going to want to make sure the name and handle (the @ name) are consistent across all accounts and relate to your blog name.
Book Blogging Tips
Now that we’ve covered everything you need to start your book blog, let’s talk about some best practices and tips to make your new blog successful.
We’ve broken these tips up into sections so you can quickly reference them whenever it’s most relevant to your blogging journey.
Blog Writing Tips
Up first is our most important group of tips: how to actually write your blog articles. Here are five tips to help you out.
Be patient - Unless you have a background in content marketing, it’s going to take some time to find your voice and creative style that will make your book blog stand out. “Some time” could be weeks or even months, but don’t stress. Like any skill, you’ll become better at blogging the more you do it, and finding your authentic style will only lead to more success in the future.
Consistency is key - We can talk about algorithms all day long, but consistency is the first step to finding success in blogging. Not only is it better for your mental health, but search engines and social media platforms all prefer continuous once-per-week posts to six posts in one week, followed by five weeks of nothing because you’re burnt out.
Just start writing - There will never be a “perfect time” to write an article. You’ll always come up with an excuse to not write your first or next blog, so just start writing and get that content up.
Batch and schedule - One of the best ways to set yourself up for success is to get ahead of the game. In the beginning, just treading water will lead to anxiety and frustration, so try to write your blogs in chunks and then schedule them out over the next few weeks. Try to avoid the stress of last-minute writing a posting.
Frequent other blogs - There’s no reason you need to reinvent book blogging. Check out book bloggers in your genres and top-performing blogs across other genres. Read their articles. Bookmark them to revisit every now and then. Note what works really well, what doesn’t, and what you can change up to fit your own style.
Marketing Your Book Blog
Once you get going with your book blog, you want to get more eyes on it, right? Here are some tips to promote your new book blog.
Email marketing is king - You should start building your email list right away. It’s as simple as signing up with a service like Mailchimp (or a built-in email marketing system in Squarespace or Wix) and setting up a form on your website to capture email information. You’ll want to add email marketing best practices to your marketing know-how, and this is a great guide here.
Consistency is… also king (again) - When it comes to all marketing—emails, social media, etc.—consistency is just as important as it is to your content schedule. People don’t need an occasional glut of contact. Rather, posting once every two or three days and emailing your list once a month creates an expectation they can look forward to.
Pace your marketing with your growth - The most popular book blogs post daily and email weekly. But if you’re balancing a full-time job and kids and hobbies and emergencies and vacations and school with your blog, that’s unrealistic. Don’t overextend yourself and only start adding more to your marketing as your blog becomes a bigger part of your life.
Content is marketing - Just like writing stories, writing your articles is the biggest driver of your marketing. Don’t sacrifice a content schedule with an excuse of making social posts or reading other blogs. Search engines will reward more content, and it will give your readers something to return for.
Finding Free Books
One of the reasons people start a book blog is to read free books! There’s no shame in that.
But where do you even find free books? I’d suggest signing up for Reedsy Discovery, which is a great way to get access to upcoming books.
But want to know a little secret? Check out these massive lists of websites authors can use to promote or give away their books for reviews. While the lists are meant for writers, the services need readers to get the books (usually for free!):
- 50 Best Free and Paid Book Promotion Sites
- List of Book Promotion Sites
- 127+ of the Top Free and Paid Book Promotion Services
- Book Promotion Services
Eventually, as your blog and social presence grow, people will start reaching out to you for interviews and book reviews. Once you think you’re getting closer to that level (and it might come closer than you think), you’ll want to iron out a submission process for authors and agents.
Making Money from Your Book Blog
There should be no shame or guilt in having aspirations to make money off your book blog one day. It takes a lot of effort and consistent hard work to make a book blog successful, so you deserve to be rewarded in a way that you like.
Plus, a full-time (or however many hours you’d like) job reading and writing about books is pretty sweet.
While it will take some time to make your blog profitable, here are a few things you can keep in mind to make money from your book blog.
Affiliate marketing - This is the most common method for book bloggers to earn income from their websites. With affiliate marketing, online stores like Amazon will give you a custom link to a specific product (i.e., a book). If someone clicks on your link and buys that product or browses around and buys another product, you’ll get a percentage of the sale. This fits nicely into a book blog since most articles can mention and link to specific books.
Advertising - The second most common method of revenue, some book bloggers host ads on their website that will earn money based on either the number of views or the number of clicks they receive. These ads could be from bigger advertisers like Google or Amazon, but they could also be specific ads for a product. Unlike affiliate links, which are easy to integrate into text, advertisements take up space and can turn readers off if there are too many or you haven’t optimized your site for them.
Sponsorships - It’s very rare that a publisher or author will spend money on sponsoring a single book. It happens—and should happen more, as it does in other industries—but that’s not the case. However, if you grow your audience to a specific size, especially on a social media platform, you might be able to land sponsorship deals for companies interested in your audience’s demographics.
While there’s nothing wrong with thinking about money now, remember that only high-quality, proven blogs can generate any sort of income. So focus on nurturing your community and writing great content before adding affiliate links or ads.
Book Blog Article Ideas
Last but far from least, let’s talk about what you’ll be writing. You’re going to want to fill your content calendar with book-specific articles and posts, but you also want enough variety to keep you and your readers from losing interest.
So here’s a whole bunch of article ideas for your new book blog:
- Book reviews - The staple of any book blog, a review shares your opinion on a book you read. Consider coming up with a scoring system or template of categories (i.e., character, plot, genre-specific scenes, etc.) to add some consistency to your reviews. And don’t be shy about your opinion! A vague, middle-of-the-road review isn’t what people want to read.
- Series reviews - The same as a book review but for an entire series of books.
- Book haul - Did you just spend five hours and $200 at the bookstore? Show off what you got, what made you pick it up, and when your readers can expect to hear about these new books.
- Author interviews - Connect with authors in your genre and interview them! Some bloggers interview with a document of questions, while others have live conversations. Live interviews with customized questions are usually more interesting but come with more complicated logistics.
- Your favorite… - Articles focusing on your favorite “whatever” are great for connecting with your community. These could be your favorite books, character, romance tropes, quotes, etc.
- Highlight your peers - Book blogging isn’t a cutthroat industry. Highlight other great book bloggers, bookstagrammers, etc. Your readers will appreciate the honest reference, which means they’ll trust you even more.
- Reading challenges - Come up with a reading challenge (i.e., read ten romance books in February). You can post articles introducing the challenge, updating your progress, and celebrating its conclusion.
- Behind the scenes - Share a tour of your bookshelves and reading space or post about your unique reading routine. Readers love this glimpse behind the curtain.
- Compare - Compare two similar books or authors, analyze a movie adaptation, or talk about how the audiobook totally enhanced a particular story.
- Listicles - While some people love to hate these types of articles, they’re popular, and search engines love them. And they’re pretty easy to write. Think about the best books of a year/season/genre, your TBR list, ranking an author’s works, etc.
- Book-adjacent - Every gift-giving occasion causes countless people to search for “best gifts for readers.” Come up with some guides for gifts, subscription boxes, and accessories for readers.
Is Book Blogging Right for You?
That’s the most important question to ask yourself. You’re allowed to “just” enjoy reading or “only” post reviews on Amazon and Goodreads. That’s absolutely fine.
But if the idea of running a book blog, putting in that work, and nurturing your community gets you all excited, then take everything you’ve learned here (and bookmark it) and put it to good use.
If you’re looking for resources to understand storytelling better, check out our articles over at DabbleU. While written for authors, these articles can make you an expert on all the important parts of a book.
And if you’re looking for a community of readers and writers to join, head on over to the Story Craft Café. No matter your genre or stage in your book blog journey, there’s a seat for you in the Café.
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