Book Blogging: How To Start A Book Blog

Book Blogging: How To Start A Book Blog

This post may contain affiliate links: If you purchase through my link, I will receive a small commission at no additional cost to you. I only recommend products/services that I approve of. Purchasing through my links allows me to continue to provide unique content and pursue my business dreams. Thank you for supporting me.

Book blogging is fun and rewarding. Learn how to start a book blog with this book blogging for beginners tutorial, including creating your own domain and receiving free books.


Are you considering starting a book blog for fun or as an extra side hustle?

Did you know that you could receive free books from authors and publishers in exchange for honest reviews?  Authors talk to you and work with you.  

Have you wanted to join a kind and bookish community to discuss your favorite reads?

Do you just want everyone to know your bookish opinions and covert them to steampunk YA lovers?


If you answered yes to any of these you should know that…

Book blogging affords you:

  • The opportunity to connect with like-minded people
  • READ TONS OF NEW BOOKS and even receive coveted advanced reading copies
  • Earn a little extra side income, if that’s your jam

As an original hobby book blogger, in 2018 I decided to convert my book blog and website into a full blown LLC.  While this may not be your personal book blogging goal, this article will tell you how to start a book blog as a hobby, which you can also use to make money.

Learn how to start a book blog with this book blogging for beginners tutorial, including creating your own domain and receiving free books. #bookblogging #bloggingtips Click To Tweet

Non-book bloggers may find relevant blogging tips and tricks too.

Please note that I do prefer paying a small sum of money for self-hosting, which I strongly advocate.  If you ever want to monetize with ads and affiliate marketing (have profitable links to Amazon and Barnes and Noble), this will save you SO much time and tears in the long run.  Trust me, I was there.  I will talk about free hosting and self-hosting in this post.

How to start a book blog pinterest pin cover with open laptop, candle, and book laying on computer keyboard

Book Blogging: How To Start A Book Blog In 6 Steps

Step 1: Choose Your Blog Name And Domain (This Is A Long One)

How To Pick Your Book Blogging Identity

You want everyone to know who you are and what you are about.  This title is essentially your brand.

As you consider a blog name and domain (meaning your www. address), you want a title that is catchy, descriptive, and unique.  Before you claim a brand, you want to make sure that no one else is using the name, has trademarked any part of the words or phrase, and snatched up all of its social media handles. 

For example, I am The Uncorked Librarian, which tells you that I love books and booze.  Everything I write about is related to books, booze, and travel.  I own all of the social media handles like instagram.com/theuncorkedlibrarian and facebook.com/theuncorkedlibrarian.  You don’t want to use someone else’s established name or add numbers to your handles–that just looks spammy and is poor blogging etiquette.

Brunette woman drinking a glass of white wine while holding up a book in an antique store

Clearly living up to my boozy book blogging niche…

Extras To Consider When Choosing Your Book Blog Name:
  • What is your book blog reviewing niche?– Will you focus on just young adult books or all adult fiction? Are you hoping to add other topics besides books?  For example, I am a book and travel blogger.  My friends blog about food and books.  Some solely write LGBT+ YA book reviews.

 

  • Who is your book blog audience?– Who are you hoping will read your posts?  Mature readers? Teachers? Readers who travel?  Readers who cook? Aspiring writers?

How To Create Your Domain/Web Address

This step is where people freak out.  DO NOT freak out!

There are a ton of free platforms to choose from like WP .com, Wix, or Blogger.  Those sites are free, especially if you use a domain that ends in wordpress .com.  This is completely acceptable if you are a hobby blogger, never want to make money from your blog, or don’t have or want to spend the extra $50 this year to dedicate to a site.

However, if you want to be a more serious book blogger–even as a hobby blogger–I highly recommend using SiteGround to buy a cheap domain using your selected blog name.  You don’t want to be tispybooksandcake.wordpress .com.  That domain looks long and somewhat amateur these days. There are a ton of book bloggers out there.  You want your domain to be tispsybooksandcake .com. Clean. Professional. Serious. Easy to find.

Authors, publishers, and search engines like Google will see you more like a ‘professional’ with your own customized domain.  I also always recommend using .com versus .blog or .org.  Studies show that people prefer and trust .com.  This tip is more personal opinion/preference, though.

The Basic Steps To Claim Your Domain

If you decide to take the leap to self-hosting and invest in your book blog:

  • Head over to SiteGround.  They have 24/7 chat support and are my favorite techs alive.  I’m not kidding.  I love to play around with my site and sometimes things go wonky.  I am amazing at crashing my site.  These people save my blog for free every time.  Their tech support staff consist of magical faeries.  A domain name with SiteGround will cost you around $15.95 a year.  I also self-host with them starting at $3.95 a month.  Even as a hobby blogger, you can earn this investment back with affiliate links.  Plus, if this is your serious hobby or one day career, why not make your site nice and fully functioning?

 

  • With SiteGround, you also need a free web-hosting platform–they will walk you through all of this.  I use WordPress .org.  WP .org looks exactly like .com, but you have the freedom to include ads, download plugins, and pick any theme that you want.  TUL Blogging Resources page mentions helpful, free plugins that you will love.

Step 2: Pick Your Blog Theme (AKA Make It Attractive)

via GIPHY

Once you have your name and domain secured, you have to design your blog.  How do you want your posts to look?  Do you want a sidebar?  What colors do you want to be associated with your brand?

  • This step is incredibly easy.  Platforms like WordPress, Blogger, and Wix offer free themes.  Pick a theme that:
    • Is visually appealing and you like
    • Is desktop and mobile friendly
    • Boasts of working well with Search Engine Optimization (SEO)–basically tools that help search engines like Google index your site so others can find your reviews
  • You can also invest in a theme:
    • I use Pipdig, which I love.
    • Many of my blogging friends use themes found in StudioPress that equally look great.

Step 3: Build Your Book Blogging Pages

Domain secured, CHECK!   Attractive blog in place, CHECK!  Let’s get book blogging.

Before you create book review posts, you need pages.  Pages are more static posts that can describe who you are and your book review policies. A few pages you want as a book blogger:

  • ABOUT ME/MEET ME:

Use this About Me page to tell people who you are.  Why did you start this book blog? What is your blog about?  How are you qualified to review books?  You want your audience to be able to connect and relate to you.  Tell them fun facts: Do you binge watch Netflix?  What is your favorite book?  What else do you do besides read?  I drink wine.

 

  • BOOK REVIEW POLICY:

Your Book Review Policy is such an important page.  Once you become well known in the book community, authors and publishers will swarm you with requests to review.  You cannot possibly review every book, even if you want to.  Plus, you want a specific book niche so readers know what they will find on your site.  Your Book Review Policy should include:

  • What genre you accept for review:  Do you solely read YA?  Is nonfiction your favorite?  What won’t you review?
  • What types of posts will you write: Single book reviews? Book lists?  Will you interview authors or accept guest posts?
  • Where will you showcase reviews: Goodreads?  Amazon? Twitter and Facebook?  Will you pin the review to Pinterest?
  • What will you do if the book is awful or boring: Do you retain the right to decline a review after receiving a free book?  Will you write a negative review or choose not to review at all?
  • Will you have a rating system: Do you use stars? What do they mean?  P.S. I do not use a star-rating system on my blog.
  • How do authors and publishers contact you: Should they email you or use a contact form? What information do you need from them?
  • What book formats do you accept: ePUB, physical copies only, or PDFs?

Looking For More Book Blogging Advice And Examples Not On The Blog.  Sign-Up For My Monthly Newsletter


Step 4: Start Reading Books And Requesting Free Titles

Source One- Your Local Library

As a newbie and if you want to get started book blogging right away, you can head to your library and peruse the latest titles to review.  Not that I am happily biased towards using your local library or anything.

By already having books reviewed, your site will have samples of your work for authors and publishers to see in order to decide if your blog is worthy.  Trust me, publishers screen your content and quality.  Why give a free book to a blogger who writes poor reviews and has endless typos?

Source Two- Professional Book Reviewing Databases

These are two free databases where you can apply for Advanced Reading Copies (ARCs) of books:

  • NetGalley– Personally I love NetGalley as they have great new releases, publishers can auto-approve you, and once you are established, publishers rarely deny you for a title that you want.  I scored Jodi Picoult’s newest title, no problem.
  • Edelweiss About The Treeline– Full disclosure: I have yet to use Edelweiss because I have way too many books sent to me directly from authors and publishers.  I can barely keep up with my NetGalley queue.  My librarian friends love Edelweiss, though.

Source Three- Publishers’ Websites/Forms

You can also directly request books from publishers.  Many have forms to fill out vs accepting email requests because they receive thousands of offers.  For example, this is Penguin Teen’s Book Blogger Request Form.

Source Four- If You Write, They Will Find You

Not even 3 months into book blogging as a beginner, I started to receive author and publisher requests to review directly through my site and work email.  I rarely request books these days as they find themselves on my desk directly from the source.  Sadly, I turn down many authors.

2018 Book Blogger of the Year Award badge with brown and gold lettering

I love working with publishers as a book blogger. In 2018, one of my favorite publishing companies named The Uncorked Librarian as Book Blogger of the Year.

Step 5: Write Your First Book Review Posts

I am not going to share advanced tips since this is the book blogging for beginners guide.  After trying to learn all of the blogging tricks, I know from experience that too much information is overwhelming and stressful.  Starting a basic book blog is hard work.  I will tell you some of the basics for having a solid blog post.

Once you have read your first book, you are ready to review.  Everyone chooses to format their reviews differently.  A review should include:
  • An engaging summary of the book in your words.  Do not cut and paste Amazon and Goodreads summaries
  • Points that you liked and disliked about the book without sounding like a third grader
  • Information about the book: publisher, publishing date, author
  • Information about the author and a link to his/her site is always nice
  • If you star-rate, go for it
  • A cover of the book

Other fun ideas to include in your book review: read alikes, links to purchase, links to Goodreads, and quotes from others’ book reviews.

As you write a post remember to:
  • Check for typos.  A few will sneak past you.  I use a free version of Grammarly to proofread my work.
  • Keep your paragraphs short.  Many people read my blog on their devices.  Shorter paragraphs are easier to scan.
  • Think about SEO.  Although this is a book blogging for beginners post, you want to have searchable keywords.  Place keywords in your blog post title, headers, and image alt tags.  A keyword might be the book title and author.
  • Write a meaty post.  Publishers will judge your work based on past posts.  Make each book review long, worthwhile, and well-written.  Google likes longer posts too, and you want your audience hanging around on your page.

I highly recommend reading others’ book review blogs to get ideas.  The Uncorked Librarian facilitates a group book blogging Pinterest Board where you can see some awesome book lists and book reviews.  Check out that Pinterest book bloggers’ group board here.

Step 6: Begin To Think About Social Media And Where You Want To Share Your Posts

You spent time on that book review: No one wants a book review post to go unread.   Although you will slowly build a list of blog subscribers through an RSS feed, WP reader, or a newsletter (all advanced tricks that you can learn about later in your book blogging career), you still need to advertise your book blog book reviews.  You may also want to add a sharing button on the side of your blog if your theme doesn’t have one you like.  I use and recommend Shareaholic, which is a free plugin.

A few social media platforms that I love for book blogging:
Book Blogging Bookstagram picture of Thomas Wildus book laying on two open books with world book ends

Example of advertising your book blog on Instagram with a bookstagram

An Extra Note On Pinterest:

Pinterest is my number one blog traffic source these days.  Each book review that you create should have a pinnable image so that readers can pin that review to Pinterest.  This image may be a book cover or a pin you create in Canva or Adobe Spark.

Marketing on Pinterest is slightly advanced Book Blogging 101, but I highly recommend making Pinterest a priority.  Over one million users view my pins MONTHLY.  Imagine how many of those users see my book review pins and come to my site. It’s A Lot.  You can see The Uncorked Librarian Pinterest account to get a better idea of how the platform works.

I did not go at Pinterest alone, though.  In order to have almost 1,000 daily blog page views, I took this Pinterest marketing course by Boss Girl Blogger, Ell Duclos.  She’s a Pinterest goddess.  In that link, you will also find a free traffic-driving for your blog course.

One Advanced Tip For How To Make Money As A Book Blogger

How To Make Money Blogging About Books

Since I recommended a few book blogging tips and tools that cost money, you probably want to make that money back.  Right?  I will not go into advanced marketing, sponsorships, ads, etc, but one way to make a few dollars per book review or book list is through affiliate marketing for book bloggers.

Affiliate marketing involves applying for affiliate programs like Barnes and Noble, Amazon, and Book Depository.  At the end of your book review, you use these links for readers to purchase the books.  If someone clicks your link and buys the book, you make a commission.  You also earn a commission if that person buys other items through that link within a certain timeframe.

Easy Affiliate Programs For Book Bloggers To Apply For:

  • Amazon –  Amazon takes seconds to sign-up for and is easy to understand and use.  They have a lot of rules that you should read first.  Links must only be used in blog posts and not directly on social media.  You must make three initial sales within a certain timeframe to become fully approved. Don’t list prices, and don’t change their links.
  • Barnes and Noble – Barnes and Noble has an affiliate program through CJ Junction.  This one is slightly trickier to learn, and I use a browser plug-in to create my affiliate links.
  • Book Depository – You can apply through Book Depository directly or use Awin.  I prefer
    Awin because not only do they include Barnes and Noble, but they have great vendors like Etsy.  As you gain book blogging skills, think about all the fun links to Harry Potter wine glasses that you can add to your book reviews.  Example here:

Harry Potter Wands
Harry Potter Key Holder
Harry Potter Lip Balm
Harry Potter Butterbeer Tea
Harry Potter Coasters
Harry Potter Bracelet
Harry Potter Pouch
Harry Potter Wizard Scarves
Harry Potter Hoodie
Harry Potter Glass
Harry Potter Bath Bombs
Harry Potter Wands
Harry Potter Key Holder
Harry Potter Lip Balm
Harry Potter Butterbeer Tea
Harry Potter Coasters
Harry Potter Bracelet
Harry Potter Pouch
Harry Potter Wizard Scarves
Harry Potter Hoodie
Harry Potter Glass
Harry Potter Bath Bombs

Book Blogging For Beginners Quick Recap:

I hope you refer to this post over and over again as you get started.  As a quick recap, these are the steps for starting a book blog:

Step 1: Choose Your Blog Name And Domain 

  • Pick a unique blog name and consider self-hosting on WP .com through SiteGround

Step 2: Pick Your Blog Theme 

  • Use a free WordPress theme to start

Step 3: Build Your Book Blogging Pages

  • You need a solid Book Review Policy and About Me page

Step 4: Start Reading Books And Requesting Free Titles

  • Head to the library and request books through professional reviewing databases like NetGalley

Step 5: Write Your First Book Review Posts

  • Remember to use keywords, write your own summary, and include book information

Step 6: Begin To Think About Social Media And Where You Want To Share Your Posts

  • Share your newly published book review posts on Pinterest, Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram

Do You Feel Like You Know How To Start A Book Blog Now?

These are the basics of book blogging.  Once you start playing around with all of the tools mentioned, you will slowly learn more about starting a book review blog.  You can also check out The Uncorked Librarian’s Blogging Resources in order to learn more about the topics discussed.

Never hesitate to ask me any questions in the comments below or drop me an email at hello@theuncorkedlibrarian.com.  You can find examples of book reviews, my review policy, and meet me page on The Uncorked Librarian homepage.


You can also sign-up for my mailing list to get the latest blogging tips and see what I am reading. I’d love to have you in my community.


Loving This Book Blogging Advice?  Sharing Is Caring: Pin It!

Book Blogging For Beginner Pinterest Pin Cover with 4 squares including bookstagrams and an award

Follow:

16 Comments

  1. January 29, 2019 / 10:40 am

    This is an amazing resource for beginner and advanced book bloggers. I love that you did a recap at the end too! I have a question though; do you make some money from affiliate links? I’m an affiliate for Book Depository and I haven’t made any money despite the fact that I promote a lot. Of course, I don’t have as many views as you do 😅
    Taiwo x

    • Christine
      Author
      January 30, 2019 / 8:25 pm

      I do make money from affiliate links. Book Depository isn’t huge for me, which is I why I now monetize it through Awin and not the site itself. Awin is great for a bunch of affiliates (like Etsy and Book Depository). I don’t make a lot from Barnes and Noble either, but I do make consistent sales with Amazon, Awin, and ShareASale.

      Thank you! I hope this helped, and thank you for reading, too!

  2. January 29, 2019 / 2:12 pm

    I’m not a book blogger but if I wanted to be one, I sure know how now. 😉 Great post! Your guides are always well written and easy to understand. Hope this inspires and helps others to start a book blog.

    • Christine
      Author
      January 30, 2019 / 8:29 pm

      Haha, if you ever join the dark side, I am here for you. LOL. Don’t tell my travel bloggers, but I love book blogging A LOT.

  3. January 30, 2019 / 10:01 am

    I ran a book blog for about 6 years and it took me forever to figure some of these things out. I agree that a lot of these tips can be used for any type of blogging. I wish I had have known many of these when I first started my book blog because it would have made things easier. I did the blog for fun, but even so knowing this before would have made it less stressful at times.

    • Christine
      Author
      January 30, 2019 / 8:33 pm

      Yes, my first year as a hobby blogger was fun but a mess. Then, I converted that hobby blog to a monetized one, which was such a disaster to clean up. Although I was getting decent traffic and engagement, I knew that by 2019, I had to take more courses, talk to other bloggers, and just try to learn all that I could. I wish I had seen the how-to’s laid out like this. Of course, there is a lot more to add in (and you can go about it differently), but learning how to blog properly can be so overwhelming. For me, self-hosting made the world of a difference to start, especially since I could play with plugins. I had NO idea.

  4. January 30, 2019 / 3:57 pm

    As always Christine, you did an amazing job with this post! I love to read, and I love to write about what I read, and it is a secret goal (is it secret now?) of mine to start doing book reviews on my blog. I didn’t want to put that out there in my blog post on goals because that would practically force me to do it, and although I’m determined to do so, that just seemed to daunting :’) I’d like to move my blog in the bookish direction and make it a nice mix of lifestyle/books, and you provided some great resources. I’m totally going self-hosted this year and will definitely be investing in a Pipdig theme; these have been two goals of mine for awhile now. 2019 will certainly be exciting for me in terms of blogging!!

    • Christine
      Author
      January 30, 2019 / 8:42 pm

      Yay, I always love seeing another blogger talking about books! So excited for you!

      You will definitely love self-hosting as it is a complete gamechanger. You have so much more freedom to add plugins to your blog, make it look good, and add fun features that you want. I barely notice a difference in upkeep with self-hosting. When I was researching self-hosting, it sounded so intimidating and scary. The switch definitely wasn’t hard at all.

      I love pipdig. They have great support, and they keep coming up with great new designs.

      Good luck with all of your 2019 goals!

  5. January 31, 2019 / 8:13 pm

    This is such a great post and honestly still useful for people with a book blog already! I will probably switch to SiteGround once my year with WP .com ends because it’s cheaper (!) and I will be able to finally use Google Analytics.

    • Christine
      Author
      February 1, 2019 / 11:09 am

      Thank you, book bestie!! I love SiteGround, and you are right: it actually ended up being cheaper than the higher plans of .com. You will love the switch. Good luck, and if you have any trouble, let me know. I’ve probably been there. You will LOVE all the data you can pull. ; ) Have a great weekend.

  6. February 3, 2019 / 10:19 pm

    Thank you! This is very helpful! You’re such a great teacher. I still feel like a beginner especially due to my lack of time because of my current job. I’m crossing my fingers I get this new job I interviewed for! Send good vibes! I will hopefully find out this week! Ahhhhh!

    I’m still working on gaining traffic and then I’ll see if I can tackle monetizing my blog. 😬

    • Christine
      Author
      February 6, 2019 / 9:07 pm

      Ohhh I want to hear all about this potential job. Sending all the good vibes. Xxxx You deserve it! Update me when you find out too!

  7. February 5, 2019 / 2:16 am

    This is such a wonderful, well composed, and informative resource, love! I’m currently working on the making money part of my blog, but am hoping to use more affiliates in the future! ❤️

    • Christine
      Author
      February 6, 2019 / 9:11 pm

      Thank you so much! I really like affiliate marketing. It’s not too in your face, you can advertise what you truly love, and it’s great passive income.

  8. February 6, 2019 / 4:47 pm

    When I decided to start a blog, I was so torn between travel and book blogging. I wanted to focus on one or the other. In the end, travel won. Of course, my love of books is pretty obvious in my blog and I still sneak in posts about books when I can relate it to travel. These tips are awesome and so easy to follow. If I were to start a book blog, I would know exactly what to do!

    • Christine
      Author
      February 6, 2019 / 9:20 pm

      Thank you!

      Personally, I LOVE that you write about travel related to books. Your blog has definitely inspired me to make sure that I cover more bookstores in the future. You do a great job!

      Merging the two (well, three with boozy drinks) this year has been challenging and a small hit to my traffic on all channels. My followers have to get used to the niching down and decide if it’s still for them. I picked up a bunch of new community members too. Pinterest just jumped back up after some work, and I am hoping that my IG family gets on board too. Not every traveler wants books and not every reader wants to travel…but I’m working on it ; )

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

%d bloggers like this: