Do you love to read? Do you constantly get asked for book recommendations? Have you wanted to start a book blog but don't know how? About two years ago I decided to focus my blog on book reviews. Since then, I have met so many fellow bibliophiles and learned a couple tips I'd like to share with anyone just starting out.
Image: Melissa Ford
1. Choosing a name for your blog: I picked something easy to spell. Misspelled words make searching for your blog difficult. (For instance, 1Luv, OneLove, 1Love, etc.) I also wanted my title to reflect the type of blog I had and to include the words "books," "reading," or "reviews." After much deliberation (and availability checking on Blogspot), I decided on Ivory Owl Reviews, named after the porcelain owl that guards my TBR (to be read) pile.
2. Plan your reading schedule and write a review policy: I originally thought you just post a review whenever you completed it, but once I received more requests for reviews and then discovered NetGalley and Edelweiss, I found myself getting overwhelmed. Starting out I was so excited and I accepted any and all ARCs (Advance Review Copies) and eventually had to figure out how to streamline. I fulfilled my obligations and drafted a review policy. As I read, I found it easier to revisit the policy and update it with what I was and wasn't interested in reviewing. I also found that I had accepted ARCs that I was unable to post a review of by the release date. I now know that I only want to accept ARCs releasing after a certain date a couple months from now. Expect a few bumps and edit your review policy as you go to fit how you want to blog and review.
3. Plan your posts: I was very sporadic at first but have become more constant. My goal is to have 4-5 reviews/week. Because I can save my posts as drafts to publish once they are complete, I can easily start an outline of a review and return to complete it when I finish the book.
4. Statistics: You can dissect and analyze which posting times and topics work best for you by checking your blog statistics. I personally get super excited if a post gets over 100 views, but I know some of my book buddies look for numbers in the thousands. To get more views you need to promote your posts so people know to visit your blog and hear what you have to say. I put links on Twitter and Google+ maybe three or four times/post. You want it to be seen, but you don't want to bombard your friends and audience. If you aren't on these sites several times a day and don't want to manually post throughout the day, use services such as Tweetdeck to schedule your tweets.
5. Interaction: At first, I couldn't figure out how to get comments on my blog. I was getting views but no comments. What was up with that? Then I began commenting on other blogs and whaddayaknow... I start getting comments. Simple really. Interaction. Also, Blogger allows you to compose your own reading list of blogs you follow. (If you want, you can post this on your site as a "blogroll.") After checking out someone's blog, I decide if I want to keep visiting. If so, I add them to my list so I can find them again.
6. Press all the buttons: "What does this button do?" "What about this one?" I tinkered with all the links and widgets on my blog to find what I liked. Don't be afraid to play around and see what your blogging software can do.
7. Google it: "How do I add social media buttons?" "How do I change my template?" Anything you want to do with your blog, someone has probably already done it... and written a handy how-to tutorial.
8. Ask your new friends: Once I started having constant interactions on my blog and social media, I could reach out to another blogger and ask "How'd you make that picture look like that?" or "Where'd ya get that widget?" The book blogging community is very friendly and helpful.
These are just a few of the things I've learned, but I feel these tips are good groundwork. Hopefully you can take a few tidbits to start your own book review blog or integrate them into your already established blog. Either way, come visit me at Ivory Owl Reviews or tweet me @IvoryOwlReviews to tell me if any of my suggestions helped you, or add your own tips below in the comment section.
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