odds and ends: starting a book blog?

Hi! Finally cleared my blog email inbox today, and I found 2 really sweet emails from you guys!! *does awkward happy dance* I’ll be embarrassed to admit the number of times I read and reread them. Blogging can be an emotionally draining hobby, it’s the people (and arguably, books) who motivate me to keep writing, thank you so much Zoe and Sharni ♥

There was a question about starting a book blog, which I’ll respond to on the blog, hope it helps!

I have just started a blog and to be honest, I have NO idea what I am doing. I started it through my Google account. Anyway, I don’t know how to get my blog out into the world. You seem to be doing really well, and I thought you might have some tips. Should I do a Google blog? Or is there another way better? I started it because, as you, I love books and I would love to talk about them. I hope you can give me a few pointers. – Sharni

I am by no means a book blogging expert – I started out just like you 3 years ago – I’m not sure if I’m even qualified to give advice!! How you should set up your book blog really hinges on your choice. I’ll share what I chose, and there will be amazing bloggers out there who can tell you how they did it with other ways.

finding your blogging platform

This is pretty technical i.e. I have not much clue. From what I know, the commonly used blogging platforms are:

• Blogger
• WordPress.com
• WordPress.org

There are great articles evaluating the pros and cons of each platform, which I recommend researching on before you ever take the plunge, my personal favourite is Ashley (Nose Graze)’s posts. I know, I know, she ranks WordPress.com as the lowest in the hierarchy of blogging platforms but I still use it!

+ It’s free. Self-hosted blog on WordPress.org is not that expensive: about $10 yearly fee for the domain name and $4-$7 per month for web hosting. But I’m a non-working student and blogging is only my hobby. I don’t earn anything from blogging, I do it because I love it, and there are times when life gets busy and I leave the blog empty for months (sorry)! I’m not ready for that level of dedication to the blog so for now… I’ll stick with free wordpress.

+ It has pre-made themes. I am maladroit at the art of web design and coding; pre-made themes are my bae. You can also install pre-made themes on Blogger and WordPress.org, but you’ll have to do more actual writing of  codes.

– The customizations are very limited because you can only choose whatever wordpress offers you, and it does not support Java plugins such as Rafflecopter. If you want a highly personalized blog, free WordPress might not be for you. Somedays when I want to do something special for my blog, I tear my hair and regret my choices.

+ The layout looks cleaner and more professional! I might just be biased but wordpress > blogspot any day.

Your choice may differ depending on how serious you intend to be about blogging. You’ll do well hearing from others using Blogger or WordPress.org, or maybe you want to try Tumblr/Weebly/other tumblog sites, whatever works best for you.

getting your blog out into the world

Even though we like to say that blogging is for ourselves, I believe that we start public blogs because we want to interact with an audience. Where’s the joy in talking about books when talking to the void? I like to talk to people! I like to hear what they think! Feedback! Discuss! I understand this desire, but this audience has to be EARNED. Running a freshly new blog can be daunting, and I’m sorry to say that I know no shortcut to getting your blog “out into the world”. I can, however, share some rookie mistakes I made when I was overeager to gain fellowship on the blog.

1. follow backs. “Follow Backs” basically means “follow me and I’ll follow back!“.  I joined many Follow Back Forum in my early blogging days. What I did was leave my blog URL, follow other blogs, alert them of my follow, and wait for them to follow mine. To be fair, it was a very effective at increasing followers and for a period of time my page views soared… so what? Most of them weren’t interested in what I write.

2. participate in many many many many many many memes. I did Musing Mondays, Teaser Tuesdays, Waiting on Wednesdays, Follow Friday, Sunday Post… pretty sure I overkilled it x_x There is nothing wrong with memes themselves, they are great open discussion threads and a way to meet new blogs. How I did it was wrong. I felt the pressure to post something everyday and when I REALLY had nothing, I picked a meme to fill the space. I felt guilty afterwards because I hadn’t put much effort or thought into the post. The bottom line is to join when you have something to write, not when you don’t!

3. mindlessly signing up for blog tours/cover reveals/book blitzes. I don’t even know where this came from! I signed up for mass cover reveals and blitzes for books that I’ve never even heard of/ have no intention of reading, hoping that somehow it’ll make my blog look cool. nah, it didn’t. My blog became overcrowded with things I didn’t even care for, and content that is replicated on hundreds of other blogs.

In the end, the most important thing to be sincere about interacting with others (don’t do it for a follow back) and have consistent, interesting posts that keep people coming back to your blog. It’s like making friends, you need to start by saying hi, and share some similar interests to continue from there. Cliché truths! Ultimately, you want to grow your blog by building a community of passionate people :)

Hopefully this post has been of some help to those who are still unsure of how to start book blogging :) If you have any questions, comments or suggestions, do not hesitate to leave them in the comments or email me at stayhappynsmile [at] gmail [dot] com. Don’t be afraid of book blogging. If it’s what you want, go ahead. We believe in you!

If you have great blogging tips and would love to share… THANK YOU OODLES ♥


13 thoughts on “odds and ends: starting a book blog?

  1. Woah, Alicia.Where did you disappear to? It’s been weeks since you posted.
    Loved this post by the way.Like you, I learned a lot of things the hard way when it comes to blogging.I wish I read more posts like this before I started my blog.

    • hi mishma! so sorry i hadn’t been posting much because i had to prepare for a national exam last week but *phew* now it’s over! like you, i jumped into blogging right away after a friend started one, and i had zero clue on what to do. googled things and learnt from mistakes on the way, that’s also part of the joy of figuring things out on your own i guess! you must have gained experiences no one else can ever write about/replicate, they are yours and yours only :)

  2. This post is so, so, SO helpful! <3 I wish I had this when I started blogging – ha! I'm definitely pro-Wordpress all the way (I love all the customizations and plugins available), and I'm glad you do too. :) And participating in blog tours / memes and commenting on other blogs definitely helps put you out there. Thanks for sharing Alicia! <3

  3. Yep, check, check, and check. I did the same things when I first started blogging as well. I actually only just recently gone through all my subscriptions of blog tour hosts to reflect what I’m interested in, so that I don’t get tour info emails like crazy. I’m still feeling the pressure of not doing daily posts though, but I’m way too busy to do anything about even if I want to at this point, so… I will go with post whenever I like :) Much better blogging style!

    • oh YES i need to clean out my blog tour host subscriptions. i signed up for so many (that i weren’t even interested in) when i first started blogging and thought blog tours were the “IN THING”. i’d love to be able to write a post a day but i’m so lazy and to come up with quality posts takes a lot of time for me, so all wells, i’m going for the laid-back style like you :)

  4. You have some fantastic points in this post, Alicia! Honestly, my biggest regret is not being with wordpress but the whole move over daunts me so I don’t think I’m going to attempt it any time soon (although leaving it for longer will probably just make it worse LOL) The interactions and different opinions is what I love the most about blogging. I used to purely write reviews on GRs but the interaction was limited, you know? I have so many different opinions and random thoughts and whatnot and I just couldn’t post them on there. Fantastic post! x

    • thank you, jess! i’d recommend you to GO FOR IT when it’s still early (and there’s not as much to lose i guess), but the choice is yours! when you ever decide to make the move, we’ll all be really excited!! also, i highly recommend reading ashley @ nose graze ‘s posts about her moving from blogspot to wordpress, she’s quite the pro.
      it really is harder to interact with people on GR, especially people you don’t know yet, and i’m so happy for you that you found what you wanted in blogging! :)

  5. Couldn’t agree more. I love immersing myself with other bookish people and bloggers are among the most passionate out there. Commenting is a brilliant way to discover new blogs as well, that’ how I’ve found you (and your blog is absolutely adorable!) I tried to use WordPress when I first began blogging, but didn’t understand how hosting worked and what I needed to do to customise it all beyond the few templates they had. So I ended up with Blogger. I find that I can do almost anything I like with the platform, the only downside being the cool plugins you get with WordPress.

    Great post, and congratulations on three years of blogging. Awesome achievement <3

    • thank you!! <33 i use blogger for my personal blogs, but i am terrible at coding! it was only after a friend kindly helped me with all the technical things that i could use it. for me, wordpress works better because many themes are pre-installed and all i need to do is to press a button. i could do that. plus i'm a really fickle person and i have changed my blog designs multiple times… can't imagine all the heartache and pain and late nights if i had to code them manually on Blogger =P of course, the limitations would be that there isn't much to customize and when that happens, i really envy you all who have blogger and can do almost ANYTHING with your blog :)

  6. I like that you shared your rookie mistakes, I made a lot of the same ones. You just learn more about what you like and what you prefer to do with your blog as time passes :) I liked wordpress.com too, easier to switch to self-hosted when we were ready and got us used to the WP platform.

    • oh yes, we all learn from our mistakes! i rmb a quote that goes– “never regret what you’ve done because at a certain point, that was exactly what you wanted.” so i’m really grateful to make mistakes, and have a very accomodating community that helped me learn from them =) i’m not sure if i’ll ever take the plunge and swich to self-hosted, but it is a dreamy possibility. thank you so much for visiting, Julie!!

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