Thursday, September 17, 2015

A How-To Guide: Book Blogging

Hello, readers! After seeing the incredible positive response to my "How-To Guide: Bookstagram" blog post, I decided to put together another how-to guide for you all: book blogging edition!

First things first, figure out a blog name that you want to use to brand yourself. Maybe you want to have your real name incorporated in it, or maybe you want to make up a different kind of blog name. For me, I loved the idea of Book Baristas because baristas are creators and give fab drink recommendations so mix in the word book and you've got creative people who give great book recommendations!

Next up: what kind of logo/design are you going to have? Get creative and be original!

One thing to consider is whether or not you want to buy your own domain for your blog. It's totally okay to use WordPress for free (I started out like this!) because it's easy to use and comes with free themes that you can work with. If you want to blog professionally, I'd suggest buying your own domain.

Important: Read/review what you love. Your blog is a way for you to promote your favorite reads; it's not an outlet to be used by other people. You choose what you want to read and you have control over what you want to post on your blog. Don't feel like you need to post/read/review certain books if you don't really want to. 

Important: When writing reviews, consider the fact that a lot of authors do read them, so remember to be respectful!

Social media: use it! Create a Facebook page, start up a blog Twitter account, join bookstagram! I love connecting with other bloggers, authors and readers on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. 

Come up with your own ideas – just because one blogger is doing one thing doesn’t mean that that’s the way it’s supposed to be… be original with your ideas!

Lastly, blogging may feel like a full-time job so schedule yourself. Grab a planner and keep yourself organized. Sometimes blogging can make you feel overwhelmed; this is normal. It's okay to step back and remember that you are doing this for fun.

Vilma's Book Blog: Building Your Blog

Here are some questions you should ask yourself if you are planning on creating your own book blog (questions courtesy of Vilma's Book Blog!)

Know yourself  
Figure out who you are and what you offer. What does your brand mean? What do you want to focus on? Killer, honest reviews? Consistent sales updates? What is it that you want people to think when they hear your blog name... and can you deliver that?

Find differentiation
What is the thing that makes you different than what's out there? How do you plan to make your mark in the community? How will you stand out?

Market to the right audience
There are lots of authors and types of books out there... what do you like to read? Who will be your audience and how do you market to them? Younger audiences stalk Instagram and Tumblr while older audiences use Facebook and email more. Know your audience and talk to them in the right way on the right forum.

Build relationships and reputation 
This is a business. Yes, you will make lots of friends, but remember that professionalism makes all the difference. Keep the lines between friendships and work clear, and make sure you are engaging with the right readers and authors. But above all, be professional in the way you act and communciate... ALWAYS.

Grow your brand 
Always have a mind to what's next and how you will achieve growth. It will not happen overnight... the best kind of growth is gradual and real.

Find the right balance 
Blogging can take up every hour of every day if you let it. Set boundaries for yourself and realize early that you can't read every book, or post every thing, or say yes to every author. Forget about what other bloggers are doing and march to your own drum. If you want to last as a blogger, fiercely hold on to your sanity. Learn to say no in a respectful way. Learn to be offline. Don't forget to live your life, because in the end, it's family and friends that count.

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Blogging Q+A

I took to bookstagram to ask you all for some questions that you wanted answered so here are a few of those q's! 

N: I do sometimes feel the pressure of having to review books that are sent to me, but that kind of pressure is all in my head. No one is holding you up to review a certain book (unless you're part of a blog tour and you've got a deadline). But in any case, there's always going to be some form of "pressure" to review, but I'm the one putting that on myself. I'm always stressing myself out; most of the time it's unnecessary stress. 

N: Reach out to publishers via social media! A lot of the people that I know in publishing love interacting with bloggers and are incredibly sweet. If there is a book that you'd love to read/review, don't be afraid to request an ARC from a publisher. Sometimes you'll get rejected, but sometimes your request will be accepted. Just make the first step of introducing yourself -- publishers are people, too!

 N: Write your blog content in advance! I'm usually really bad at doing this, but try and write your reviews right after you've finished reading. Save blog posts in your drafts and schedule them to be posted. That way you'll always have something to post and you've got those drafts as back up. Also, get a planner!!!!! 

N: Hmm, if I ever get into a blogging slump, I like to switch up my blogging content. Maybe I'll post a list of my favorite heart-wrenching reads, or I'll write up a recipe for a fab cold-brewed iced coffee. If I'm in a reading slump, I'll either stop reading for a bit, or reread something that I know will for sure get me out of the slump (THE HOOK UP by Kristen Callihan is my go-to book to remedy any reading slump!)

N: I don't take notes, but I do highlight a lot of quotes, or mark the pages of a book with a little Post-it if I'm reading paperback. That way I can go back & use those quotes in my review, and it helps keep the book fresh in my mind just by reading them over.

V: As a rule, I don’t review a book that would garner less than 3 stars. It’s a personal decision and I want my blog to have a positive slant, recommending books you should read. I do star less on Goodreads, but try to keep reviews for books I didn’t enjoy brief and constructive.

V: Blogging is a lot of hard work. I’ve never counted up the hours, but I would say 50 hours a week or so (reading, blogging, social media, etc).
V: I think you need to think like a reader first… not a blogger. As readers, what do people want to see and read about? The content needs to be compelling, interesting, valuable. I believe that if you have quality content and are not barraging the readers with too many links and posts, the readers will gradually come back for more. And as far as interaction… it’s up to YOU. You must engage, respond and carry on the conversation. The more you do that, the more readers will want to talk to you.
The reader is your customer and the customer comes first :)

V: There are sort of three main parts of blogging – Reading, engaging on social media, posting. This is how I organize myself…
Posting – Sunday is my big work day. I write all the posts for the week and get them scheduled. One very important rule for me is that I always review as soon as I finish the book. I won’t let myself start another book until the review is done because feelings and reactions are best captured immediately after completion.
Reading – I try to read every single night during the week. I’m usually too tired to work on actual posts, so reading is perfect for night time.
Engaging on social media – This is the hardest of the tasks, but because I work full time, I try and schedule most of my posts on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram ahead of time (on Sundays). And then I try to comment and engage during breaks, lunch and in the evenings. I’m perpetually behind, but I do my best!

Overall, blogging takes a LOT of time. It’s WAY MORE than a full-time job, but I find that keeping a schedule both for reading and blog posting, helps me stay on task. Find your own rhythm and stay organized!

V: With time. Be supportive, reliable and engaged. Everyone works so hard to provide valuable information to readers, to be noticed. Be respectful, and despite making friends with people in this community, always keep the line tight between the professional and the personal.

Did this post help? 

I love hearing your feedback! Feel free to tweet at me or comment below what you thought of this how-to guide! Thanks for reading! xoxo


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  2. Great post! xx I really need to plan my posts ahead of time in order to stay active on my blog. Thanks so much for the advice!

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