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Blogging about books is both 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. Discover how to write a review, market your book blog on social media, and earn a little extra income, too.
This post has been updated for the end of 2019.
Are you considering starting a book review 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. Really!!
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 convert 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 (ARCs)
- Earn a little bit (or a lot) of 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 or business, which you can also use to make money.
Non-book bloggers may find relevant blogging tips and tricks too.
How To Start A Book Blog: Steps You Will Find In This Book Blogging Guide
- 1: Choose Your Blog Name And Domain (WordPress Book Blogs, specifically)
- 2: Pick Your Blog Theme & Setup Your Site
- 3: Build Your Book Blogging Pages Such As “About Me” and “Book Review Policy”
- 4: Start Reading Books And Requesting Free Titles From Professional Reviewing Databases
- 5: Write Your First Book Review Posts
- 6: Begin To Think About Social Media And Where You Want To Share Your Posts
So let’s get onto learning how to make a book review blog.
Book Blogging For Beginners: How To Start A Book Blog In 6 Easy Steps
Step 1: Choose Your Blog Name And Domain (This Is A Long One)
How To Pick Your Book Blogging Identity: Brand Time
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, or 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. Copyright is another issue that you can run into, says this uncorked lady who recently had to send a Cease and Desist letter to a copycat book blogger, cough cough.
Book Blog Names
What Else To Consider:
- What is your book blog reviewing niche?– Will you focus on just young adult books or all adult fiction? Do you want a book club blog? Will you discuss what new books to read? Will you write about books on blogging? Do you want to write romance book reviews? Are you solely a book reviews blog? Are you hoping to add other topics besides books? For example, I am a book and travel blogger. My blogging friends have food paired with their book summary blogs. You get the idea…
- Who is your book blog audience?– Who are you hoping will read your posts? Mature readers? Teachers? Readers that travel? Readers that cook? Aspiring writers? Teens? Families? Homeschool moms? Fitness fanatics?
Where To Start A Blog
How To Create Your Domain/Web Address For Your Book Review Blog
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. This part will not tell you how to start a book blog on tumblr. Sorry.
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’ book blogger 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 Book Blogging 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 book blogging will be your 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.
*Uncorked Extra* Blogging About Books Self-Hosting Tip:
Don’t forget that if you self-host with SiteGround, you can also create your own free and professional email address. For example, my email is email@example.com. Doesn’t that look more serious vs a gmail account?
Book Blogs WordPress Favs
These are a few of my favorite WordPress .org book blogs that I follow:
Step 2: How Do You Start A Book Blog That Looks Great? Pick Your Blog Theme
Once you have your book blog name and domain secured, you have to design your new blog site. Before you start book blogging, you have to ask yourself: 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 book blogging 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 book blogging theme:
- TUL is currently using Genesis Framework with a Restored 316 design.
- Many of my travel and book 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 started 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.
How did you start this book review blog? Why book blogging? What is your blog specifically about (your niche)? 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 BLOG 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 books. You are now blogging for books. You cannot possibly review every book, even if you want to. Plus, you want a specific book blogging 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 book 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?
NECESSARY LEGAL PAGES ON YOUR SITE FOR BOOK BLOGGING
Know that whenever you accept free items as gifts or make money blogging, if you earn over a particular threshold, you have to pay taxes either as self-employed or as a business (if you registered as such like an LLC or S-Corps).
Plus, as soon as you start writing your opinion, you have to think about book blogging legally and ethically. There is Copyright to worry about and you must disclose when you received free items. Once you start monetizing, especially in the U.S., you want to read FTC regulations.
I am not a lawyer, but a blogger in my community is. Amira from A Self-Guru is a lawyer and blogger who helps bloggers protect themselves, even if you only make $1000 a year from your blog.
So where can get you one that’s legit?
Step 4: Start Book Blogging! Read Books To Review And Request Free Titles
Free Book 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 book blog 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?
ARC Source Two- Professional Book Reviewing Databases
These are two free databases where book bloggers 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.
ARC/Galley Source Three- Publishers’ Websites/Forms
You can also directly request books from publishers. Publishers obviously love blogs about books. 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 For Free Books For Book Review Bloggers- If You Write, They Will Find You
Not even 3 months into starting my book blog as a beginner, I received 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.
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 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 write a book review. So now onto how to blog the book… Everyone chooses to format their reviews differently.
A Book Review Should Include:
- An engaging summary of the book in your own words
- 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, optional bookstagram, and Pinterest pin cover
- Basically, tell people why they should care or why this book would interest them. Provide value.
Other fun ideas to include in your book review: read alikes, links to purchase, links to Goodreads, and quotes from others’ book reviews.
How To Publish Your First Book Review Post:
- 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. I like using Keywords Everywhere (it’s free) to get me started.
- 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. Do not copy them, though. Be sure to check out this list of 67 blog post ideas for book bloggers.
Last, 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.
A Few Of The Best Book Blogs That I Love & Blogs For Book Lovers:
Romance Book Blogs
Book Blogs UK
Jenniely (awesome graphic designer too)
Step 6: Thinking Past Book Blogging: Social Media Accounts For Your Brand
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:
- Instagram: Learn how to start a book blog on Instagram as #bookstagram
Social Media Accounts For Blogging About Books: 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 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: How To Make Money Blogging About Books
How To Make Money Book Blogging With Ads & Affiliate Links
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. So how do you get paid by blogging?
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.
Since this isn’t an affiliate marketing how-to guide, do know that are rules about affiliate marketing. I learned a lot from this affiliate marketing course. Be sure to read up on disclosures and nofollow links.
Easy Affiliate Programs For Starting 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:
Book Blogging 101: How To Get Started Recap:
I hope you refer to this post over and over again as you get started book blogging. As a quick recap, these are the steps for how to start a book blog:
Step 1: Choose Your Book Blog Name And Domain (www.)
- Pick a unique blog name and consider self-hosting on WP .com through SiteGround.
- Don’t forget to consider a strong niche, too. Be the expert in your field.
- It helps to have your brand name reflect your niche, too. Make it bookish from the start.
Step 2: Select Your Book Blog Theme & Design
- Use a free WordPress theme to start or make an investment in one like Restored316 using Genesis Framework.
Step 3: Build Your Book Blogging Pages
- You need a solid Book Review Policy, About Me, And Legal Pages.
Step 4: Start Reading Books And Requesting ARCs
- Head to the library or request books through professional reviewing databases like NetGalley.
Step 5: Write Your First Book Review Posts
- Remember to use keywords, be engaging, and include book information. The goal of any blogger is to provide value.
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
Step 7 (Extra): Monetize For A Little Extra Income
- Don’t forget to properly disclose and follow all program directions. Amazon is easiest to start with.
Do You Feel Like You Know How To Start A Book Review Blog Now?
These are the basics of book blogging for beginners. Once you start playing around with all of the tools mentioned, you will slowly learn more about starting a book review blog.
Never hesitate to ask me any questions in the comments below or drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you are still unsure about blogging, check here for fun reasons why you should book blog. Remember, creating a book blog should also be fun.