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A couple of weeks ago I hit my one-month blogaversary (yay!!). This is a huge deal for me because I’ve literally been thinking, planning, and sitting on this idea for six years.
Why so long?! Well, I’d like to say life got in the way (kids, job changes, divorce, going back to school) but more than anything it was my own mind that held me back.
Fear, uncertainty, and what I felt was a lack of qualifications were the primary culprits. Let’s dig into these, *ahem*, EXCUSES a little more.
I was scared of being judged, disliked, or even ignored. Also of failing, failing is a big fear. But you know what? If you never DO it, if you never GET OUT THERE and try your damndest, nothing is ever going to change.
Yes, trying something new and putting yourself out there can be extremely terrifying, but that’s because it’s something you really want to do! If you weren’t so passionate about it, if you didn’t care, that sense of fear would vanish. Fear is a good thing, so embrace it.
My biggest uncertainty was not knowing what the heck to write about. Not only did I like too many things to choose a genre, but there are already so many blogs about every genre out there so what could I possibly bring to the table?
The answer is: a lot.
If you pick a topic, or a couple related topics, to write about you need to make sure you’re passionate about it. It needs to be something that you’re happy doing every day, non-stop, forever (or for as long as you want to).
And as far as worrying someone else already has that specific niche under control, they are not going to do it like YOU. There are many aspects to a blog that you can customize; writing styles, overall aesthetic, photography, etc. Add your own flare and personality to make it unique, just like the individual that you are.
Here are some great examples of bloggers that blog about books in their own unique way…
– Christine of The Uncorked Librarian: Christine combines books, vino, and travel to give her readers some amazing content (and massive wanderlust).
– Beth of The Books Nest: Beth’s branding is very bright and reminds me of sunshine! She’s also very present on Instagram and uploads a lot of entertaining reels.
– Hayely of Happily Ever Homebody: Hayley’s site was one of the first I stumbled upon when I first joined the bookish community. I was immediately drawn in by her bubbly personality that is perfectly reflected in her site branding.
– Anika of Chapters of May: Anika has a gorgeous blog. The colors, photography, and writing style are very sophisticated and I always enjoy stopping by.
– Rachel of Booklist Queen: Rachel specializes in the beloved booklist. She has a very straight-forward way of reviewing books (which I love and appreciate) and each book post comes with recommendations for similar books.
– Joel of Fictional Fates: Joel is (from what I can tell) primarily a BookTuber. I’m not usually big on watching YouTube, however his videos are very upbeat and enjoyable.
Lack of qualifications
You may see that there are many book bloggers who majored in English Literature or similar, but that is definitely not always the case. While you don’t have to be a professional writer, you do have to have a decent writing style. But more than anything, this takes practice.
If you’re writing every day for your blog, reading fellow bloggers’ posts, reading books (as we book bloggers tend to do sometimes), that’s all relevant knowledge that will help you build your skill.
For me personally, I have a Bachelor of Science. Aside from the many, many papers I had to write, I’ve never had any formal training in writing.
BUT, if you are that concerned, there are a lot of great resources and writing classes you can check out to hone in on those skills. I suggest checking out Pinterest or connecting with other bloggers for tips and recommendations.
Since I was able to shake off those concerns and actually jump into the world of book blogging, I’ve learned a few things along the way that I’d like to share.
- Join the community. Booktwitter and Bookstagram are bustling communities where you can quickly make many acquaintances, and even friends. Also, start following various publishing companies.
- Start writing. Assuming you already have your blog set up (if not, check out some helpful guides here, here, and here) just start writing! A great start is an introductory post and then maybe a couple reviews about recent books you’ve read.
- Get books. If you’re looking to acquire new books to read and review, there are many options.
– Not looking to spend any money? The Libby app is great for ebooks and audiobooks if you have a library membership. Also NetGalley and Edelweiss+ are great for digital copies of advanced reader copies (ARCs).
– Willing to invest some cash? Book Outlet is one of my favorite online bookstores because they offer a lot of great titles at bargain prices, they may just be discreetly marked or slightly damaged and their stock is ever-changing so not all titles can be found here.
– Want to receive books on a regular basis? Subscription boxes! Book of the Month, OwlCrate, and Illumicrate are some popular ones but there are LOADS more.
- Protect yourself legally. I had no idea when I first started looking into blogging that there are certain things you have to disclose on your blog in order to prevent any type of legal action against yourself.
This is especially important if you plan on earning money with your blog, but even something as simple as creating an email list and having people subscribe to your site requires certain privacy statements.
One of the best investments I’ve made with my blog was purchasing a legal bundle from Amira at A Self Guru. Amira is a lawyer and she sells legal templates that cover all your bases from privacy policies and disclaimers for basic blogging or selling services, forming contracts with clients, and being a brand affiliate. (That all sounds scary but her templates include helpful guides on how and where to upload what you need.)
- Be yourself! This is probably the most important thing to remember. Just be yourself and make your blog your own. For one thing, it’s really crappy and wrong to copy other hard working bloggers. For another, we don’t need two of the same blog! Show the bookish community what makes you special.
– Pick brand colors that reflect your own personality. A great way to do this is to find a picture you like, any picture (field of your favorite flowers, delicious looking food, landscape or city skyline, your favorite book cover, etc.) and upload it to Image Color Picker. It’ll break down the main colors in that picture and provide you with their HEX color codes.
– Have a game-plan for your Instagram. This could mean sticking to a specific filter or choosing a grid pattern. For instance, my grid pattern is in groups of 4; book stack, book quote, book review, selfie/misc. Using a planning app is also a great idea so you’re not just posting all willy-nilly. I’ve been using Planoly and I love it!
– Read the books you want to read. Don’t read a book simply because everyone else is. Sure, throwing your opinion in about a popular book is good every once in awhile but it’s important to introduce your readers to books they may not have heard much about. This is also great when looking to get ARCs from publishers because you’ll have a proven track record of keeping an audience engaged because they want to see what you write about next!
If you’re a newbie book blogger, I hope you found this helpful! If you’re a well established blogger, what are some other tips that newbie bloggers should know?