Hi friends! We’re back for yet another post I get asked for a lot. I’ve talked about how to blog before on my How To Write A Great Review post and my Newbie Blogger Page (#shamelessselfpromo) but today I want to talk about the nitty-gritty parts of being a blogger, everything from what to post to blog design… and even posts by other bloggers! Let’s get started.
Obviously, it’s hard to know what to get started posting and how often to post. I also get a lot of questions about how I write so many posts! So I thought I’d talk about that a bit.
Here, you can see my calendar of posts and how much I post. I post reviews, which I crosspost to Goodreads, on Tuesdays and Fridays. I post actual content on Mondays and Wednesdays.
Now, you do not have to post this much. Seriously. I post this much because I am not good at shutting up and I have a lot to say, and I read a lot, so I write a lot of reviews. But no matter what, you’ll be writing a lot of posts, so here are my tips!!
First of all, there are blog memes, which are one of the most common types of posts in the blogging community. If you’ve been around a while, you’ve probably seen these posts.
Another thing to get started with is monthly blog posting. I used to do five monthly blog posts but currently do four: a monthly reading wrap-up, a monthly TBR post and wrap-up, a monthly book haul & blog post wrap-up, and a monthly personal discussion. [The links lead to examples of my posting format, which I copy over each month; I would recommend this strategy, as the formats then have the chance to improve over time.]
I also write a lot of my favorite post type: blog discussions. This is actually my favorite type of post to write, and they tend to be my most popular posts. It’s really important to remember here: your first few discussions probably won’t be your best and that’s fine. Just write your feelings and see where it goes. I would also recommend doing research when you write discussions and seeing what other bloggers have to say, or if other bloggers have discussed your topic. A lot of my discussions, actually, are inspired by my disagreement with discussions I see on Twitter or in Goodreads reviews: an example of this would be The Myth of the Not-Like-Other Girls Trope. More are inspired by thoughts I have while reading: an example of this would be Ten Books That Describe Me.
Two other post types I write a decent amount are recommendation posts and blog tip posts. My recommendation posts tend to be based on things I’ve been asked over Twitter; I haven’t actually written as many as I probably should! This is an example of the latter!! Usually, I start writing these posts when I think about what posts *I* would have wanted six months previously. An example of this is Confessions Of A Former Audiobook Hater.
references for reviewing, posting, reading and all that
- How To Write A Great Review —me, and isn’t this great to promo!!
- Blogging Tips #7: How to Blog When You’re Not Reading —Marija @InsideMyLibraryMind
- Blogging Slump? Masterlist of Topics You Can Write About!
Blog Engagement Tips & Support Strategies —Aimee @AimeeAlways
Book Blogging Tips: How To Write Reviews & Other Post Ideas —Heather @ The Sassy Book Geek
- Tips On How to Get Cheap/Free Books —Sara @TheBookLife
- How To Improve Your Book Reviews —Emma @EmmmaBooks
First of all, make your blog look good!! I will say this has been a journey for me. I prefer white backgrounds, personally, and black text. I use the theme Sela, which is free, and looks like this on my page:
To customize any theme, first go to your page, and click on the bottom right corner Customize button. Most of these bars either 1) make common sense, or 2) I don’t use, so I’ll draw your attention to two areas: Menus and Widgets.
The first area, Menus, will contain two areas for menus. As you can see, I have two areas: Primary and Social Media.
I currently am not displaying my social media menu (as I link my platforms at the bottom of each post), so I’ll discuss primary menu here. The primary menu is displayed on the top of the page, right here:
For me, most of these menus are dropdown menus, and I’ve set them up to link to categories. You can see above how the dropdown menus work: when you’re on the menu page, you can simply begin maneuvering your links into place. I’ve moved some into an area indented below a link.
Under Widgets, you’ll find several options for bars; main sidebar, and footer widgets (these depend on your theme). It doesn’t matter which you select; I use main sidebar. Once you click on one of those sidebar options, you’ll find yourself on a list of options for what to put on your main sidebar.
As you can see, I have several widgets on my sidebar! I have a Text widget entitled Get To Know, in which I describe myself. I have a Search widget, which allows people to easily search my blog; this is a great thing to have! I have a Categories widget, as I use the categories section on all of my posts. You can find the categories section in the settings tab in all posts, as I did here:
Also on my main sidebar, I have a Follow Blog widget, which I highly recommend. I have a Goodreads widget, which I have linked to display what I’m currently reading on Goodreads. I also have an Instagram widget, displaying my Bookstagram, mostly because I think it looks really pretty:
On each one of my posts, I use designs and section headers that I have created via Canva.com. I would also recommend making a post header that you can use for each post to make your blog look pretty and coordinated. The wordpress blog header size is 820 x 310. I, personally, use a default blog header that I designed via Canva and really really like.
references for designing a blog aesthetic
A Few of My Not-so-Secret WordPress Tips & Tricks —May @ForeverandEverly
Blogging Tips #8: How To Make Your Blog Pretty a.k.a. All About Blog Organization & Aesthetics —Marija @InsideMyLibraryMind
5 Free Blog Design Resources to Spice Up Your Blog Aesthetic —Aimee @AimeeAlways
First of all, it’s time to diversify your platforms!! On each of these, it is so so important to make yourself available. Make your goodreads account public, for sure, so that your reviews can be seen. If you have a book instagram, make it public. If you have a book twitter, make it public. And if there are specific platforms you want to keep private, make clear boundaries for yourself. I keep my Facebook private, and my personal Instagram private, because when I got started with blogging I really wanted to keep my book life and real life separate.
There are many platforms other than blogging on which people talk about books and create book content. You could join Booktube, Goodreads, Book Twitter, Book Tumblr, or Bookstagram. Most people join multiple platforms.
pros: good if you enjoy talking live and face-to-face. a very, very loving and positive community. the more popular booktubers are more popular than any bloggers.
cons: difficult if you’re shy. editing requires a lot of work. often a bit too much emphasis on book hauls within viewership (although thankfully, actual booktubers tend to be very aware and respectful of this by my perception).
pros: best if you enjoy flexibility and personal interaction. feels very personal compared to some platforms. the easiest platform on which to make friends due to the direct messaging system. less emphasis on what-arcs-you-have, for the most part. very easy to get started on. a lot of fantastic discussions!!
cons: far more drama due to the nature of tweeting; this community is full of fantastic people and yet everyone has fights. you also can’t write reviews on Twitter.
pros: good if you enjoy creating content, graphics, music mixes, or fanart. the best platform if you enjoy memes about your favorite books.
cons: content only gets popular if it’s for a popular book, which is kind of sad. this platform is somewhat dying off.
pros: good if you enjoy writing.as the entire website is about books, it’s often very easy to get started. Goodreads is about reviews, so if you just want to review books, it’s a great platform! good for tracking book reading. a lot of popular users on other platforms overlap to this platform. I got started here and it’s still my most popular platform.
cons: the community contains a perceptible amount more homophobia and racism, partially due to the large presence of anonymous trolls.
pros: great if you want to take beautiful photos!! Instagram stories are easy to connect with your audience on, but you also have the option of keeping the platform less personal.
cons: emphasis on the beauty of books and on how many books you own; many get around this and still produce fantastic photos! I perceive this as being hard to get popular on.
references for getting started on other platforms
- How to Start a Booktube Channel: Series —Lauren @LaurenWade
How I Got 40,000 Followers On #Bookstagram —Cait @PaperFury
- Tips For New Booktubers by Booktubers
Advice For New BookTubers —Zoe @ReadByZoe
- Advertising Yourself on Booktube —Sara @TheBookLife
- How To BookTube —Katriona @LittleBookOwl
So for Edelweiss and Netgalley, the name of the game is to grow your approval rating. The way to do this is to start by requesting less-in-demand titles. There are some galleys on Edelweiss that you can be automatically approved for. On Netgalley at least, there’s a specific section!! Download one of those, review it, download another of those, review it, and it’ll show Edelweiss [and especially the publishers you’ve just requested from] that they can count on you.
Another way to get arcs is via book events!! I have not attended many of these, so I don’t have a lot of tips for this, but I will link a few.
Sadly, both of these methods are a lot harder when you’re an international reader and blogger; discussion about this has been more common recently, but I still think this is worth mentioning.
references for attending book events etc etc etc
- How To Survive BookCon —Emma @EmmmaBooks
- Attending YALC: My Tips —@ASimpleCupOfTea
- A Ten Step Guide to YALC —@AccioReviews
- Guide to BEA (aka Book Expo America) —Sam @ThoughtsOnTomes
- How To Survive BookCon | Tips and Tricks —Bryn @BrynnsBookshelf
references for playing the arc game & making requests
- All You Need to Know to Start Using Edelweiss
Discussion: The Eternal Frustration of an International Book Blogger —Marija @InsideMyLibraryMind
- How to Approach Publishers —@AllonsyThornRaxxBooks
- How to Get Author Interviews —@BigScreenBooks
- The Buying & Selling of ARCs
Sponsorships and ARCs? (+ tips on how to get ARCs) —Sam @ThoughtsOnTomes
- How To Conduct Author Interviews
How BookTubers Work With Publishers —Emma @EmmmaBooks
First of all, it is so important to make friends! Like, if someone is commenting on your reviews, DM them and get a conversation started! Don’t be too pushy about things, but just always be friendly.
Literally the most important part of this post: do not expect fame. if you are in the book reviewing world because you want to get the most followers, it will not go well. I know I’ve personally seen people treat friends badly due to jealousy, but most likely, you’ll just end up miserable because you’re not getting famous quickly enough, or you didn’t reach your follower goal. here’s a secret: your follower goal does not matter.
I mean, yeah, it’s fun to have people follow you!! but you have to always remember that it’s not about how many people follow you: it’s about how much of an impact you make on the people who do. and more importantly, it’s about you. I review because I love reviewing and because I love the friends I’ve made, not because I love fame. if that’s not you, or it’s not you anymore, I say this out of the goodness of my heart: either try to get back into it or find something else to do.
Once you’ve done all of these things, the main thing to do is 1) keep posting great content and 2) keep engaging with others in a friendly way. Will fame happen overnight? No. But you’re on your way!! Congratulations.
references on engagement & making friends
- Seven Tips to Increase Blog Engagement —Yoast.com
- Blog Engagement Tips & Other Strategies to Get People to Support You & Your Blog! —Aimee @AimeeAlways
Getting Started On BookTube [Making Friends & Getting Found] —Trina @BetweenChapters
- your own self, and all the ways you make friends in real life!!