Readers love talking about books, and many find that creating a book blog is a fantastic way to swap recommendations, connect with the bookish community, and share reviews. Many NetGalley members are also bloggers—including librarians, educators, and booksellers! Starting a blog might seem intimidating, but the tips below break it down into easy-to-follow steps. If you need some inspiration, take a look at some of our favorite bloggers here.
Decide on a name
There are seemingly limitless options when it comes to what to name your blog. You could use your own name (like Alexa Loves Books does), draw inspiration from your favorite genre (like The Infinite Limits of Love), or use it to show the authors and books you prioritize in your reading (like Literally Black). Think about who you are, what you want to say on your blog, the books you like to read, and the ones you want to promote. Don’t stress yourself though. Bloggers have been known to change their blog names as they grow and evolve. You can always do the same.
Once you have a name you feel strongly about, Google it. This will ensure that you aren’t using the name of a book blogger who already exists—which is both considerate and avoids confusion for readers.
Find the perfect platform
WordPress, Blogger, Tumblr—there are tons of free blogging platforms to choose from. My advice is to take a look at blogs that you like and follow. Make a list of the ones that you find easy to read and are visually appealing. Then look at which platforms they use—which can usually be found in the blog’s URL or at the very bottom of the page. If you have friends who blog, ask what their opinions are or what their experiences have been.
Once you’ve decided on one, give it a spin! Try to create an article and post it (don’t worry, you can delete it later). Giving the platform a test run is a great way to discover if you’ll be comfortable using it.
Pick your theme
Blog platforms like WordPress have free themes that can be used and customized. This makes it easy for new bloggers to pick a theme they like and get right down to blogging. Those who want to use a theme as a foundation to build on can easily find tutorial blog posts and videos that can help take your blog to the next level.
Just like you did when selecting a platform, look at other book blogs to get a sense for the kind of features their themes have. You’ll want to have the basics (a search bar, visible social media icons or feeds) and some platforms offer features like the ability for readers to follow your blog and receive post notifications.
As you customize your theme, think about what you want to showcase. Do you want to show off your NetGalley badges in the sidebar? Is sharing your Goodreads account important to you? As your social media presence grows, you may also want your Instagram or Twitter feeds to appear on your blog.
Design a logo
A banner or logo at the top of your blog tells readers who you are and helps your blog to stand out. Some bloggers use photographs (such as Utopia State of Mind), others use beautiful text (A Kernel of Nonsense), and some have artwork (Bookshelves and Paperbacks). A free Canva account, which offers graphics and photographs as well as design templates, will allow you to create something that perfectly fits your blog. Canva also allows users to upload their own files—but make sure any images you’re using in your design or on your website are free to use, or that you’ve obtained permission from the artist.
Some readers commission art for their designs—though I’d recommend first getting your blog started and considering custom artwork once you’ve found your rhythm.
Set up contact info
Publicists often reach out directly to book bloggers that they want to work with. Setting up an email account associated with your blog offers them a way to contact you and for you to reach out to them. This email should also be associated with your NetGalley account, making it easier for publicists to send you pre-approved widget links.
I’d recommend creating a page, or post on your blog, dedicated to review request inquiries, such as this page from Bookish Wanderess. This will be extremely helpful to publicists because it shares if you’re currently accepting review copies, the genres you cover, the formats you read in, and a list of the platforms you use to promote books.
For your very first post, introduce yourself to the community! Share your favorite books, what you’re reading at the moment, the authors who inspire you, and more. This is also a great moment to discuss the kind of content you’ll be featuring so readers know what to expect.
Don’t forget to also create an About page that new readers can easily find to learn more about you!
Think about your content
Reviews are an important part of any book blog. If you’re reading this article, chances are you’re already a member of NetGalley (though if you’re a newbie I’ve got some tips for you here!). As a member of NetGalley, you’re expected to share reviews for the books you’ve been approved for. Consider the format of a review you’d submit on NetGalley, and if there’s anything you want to add or change about that review when it’s shared on your blog. For example, will you follow NetGalley’s rating system or create your own? Do you want to include your favorite quotes? If you aren’t sure where to start, I have some tips here on writing reviews, writing critical reviews, and writing audiobook reviews. And don’t forget to include the link to your review on your blog when you submit your Feedback in NetGalley!
For book bloggers who utilize NetGalley, review posts are a given. But there are tons of other creative ideas you can fill your blog with: listicles, reading challenges, book tags, blog tour stops, character roundups, or interviews. As a new blogger, you may not be able to tackle all of these posts straight away. You’ll need time to build relationships with publicists and authors to participate in things such as blog tours and author interviews. But it’s important to get a strong sense of the kind of content you want to feature and to have a vision in mind of what your blog might look like months, or even years, down the road.
You can’t have a book blog without books! When considering your blog name, you likely already thought about the kinds of books you’ll feature. You also probably already own a lot of books, which is a great place to start. Some bloggers prefer to focus on their current reads, but if you’re new to blogging that means there are past books you loved that are still well-worth sharing!
You’ll see a lot of reviews of ARCs and digital review copies on book blogs, but there are also a lot of responsibilities that come with requesting and accepting books on NetGalley. I’d recommend focusing on the books you’re most passionate about or are most relevant to your profession. After all, ARCs aren’t the only free books available to you: Goodreads hosts tons of giveaways, and your library and Little Free Libraries are also good options. See if you have a used bookstore in town and pick up some discounted titles. You can also check out BookishFirst, our giveaway platform for consumer reviewers. You don’t need special access to ARCs or tons of disposable income to be an active book blogger. While book blogging can sometimes feel like it’s all about pre-publication books, the truth is that there is more than enough room for backlist books too!
Start a schedule
Once you’ve decided on the kind of content you want to post, it’s time to think about how often you’ll be posting. When you’re first getting started, I’d recommend posting anywhere from once to three times a week and dedicating certain days to specific types of content. For example, Tuesday is a great day to post reviews because it’s the day most books are published. You could then use Thursdays to post listicles (such as book recommendations or your TBR list) and Saturdays for any other features you have in mind. Using a spreadsheet or organization app can help keep you focused and on track. Check out this interview with Lili from Utopia State of Mind to read her tips for organizing her TBR and review schedule.
Think about your goals
As a NetGalley book advocate or industry professional (reviewer, blogger, librarian, bookseller, educator, journalist or member of the media), a book blog offers you a place to review and share the books you’re approved for. When considering requests, publishers are looking for as much information as possible. You can find a specific publisher’s approval preferences on their Publisher page, and you can read this interview with a book publicist to learn more about the stats they’re looking for. In addition to including a link to your blog in your NetGalley Profile, consider which blog stats you’d like to share and how often you’ll update your NetGalley Bio with current numbers (setting a calendar reminder can help you remember!). As you grow more comfortable tracking your pageviews and follower count, you can take time to think about the kind of growth you’d like for your blog.
Your blog is ready, the posts are live, and now all you need to do is share! You can always use your existing social media channels, or create ones paired to your blog (here’s an article with tips on creating a bookstagram account). My recommendation would be accounts with handles that match your blog, so they’re easy for readers to find and recognizable to your followers. Having multiple platforms to promote your blog also ensures you reach different audiences. Just be sure to add links to all of them to your NetGalley Profile!
Stay in the know
Following specific publishers and authors on social media is a great way to stay up-to-date on new and upcoming releases. Being connected to the book world also ensures that you’re able to make responsible and informed choices about the types of books that you promote. For example, you might learn that a book you were planning to feature includes harmful representation. When considering a book that focuses on experiences or identities outside of your own, be sure to see what reviewers who share that background are saying about it.
Find your community
We all love books, but the best part of being a reader is truly the community. Follow other bloggers who share your interests or inspire you to read outside of your comfort zone. Find bloggers who are new, like you are, and swap tips. Engage with other bloggers’ content, and when they comment on your posts, comment back. It may take a little while, but before you know it you’ll have an amazing group of friends you can always turn to for recommendations, blogging help, and more!