I’ve just completed my first year of book blogging so I thought it was a good time to review the journey so far. It’s been a fascinating year and I still have lots to learn. I am in AWE of bloggers who can produce posts more than twice a week. Keeping a book blog going requires dedication and time as well as huge amounts of patience. Sometimes I’ve felt as if I’ve been shouting into the void, and other times have been overwhelmed by the response to posts. Here are my top 5 reflections about the last twelve months as a book blogger:
Book Blogs Provide a Base in a Changing Digital Landscape
I started this blog after a year of being on Instagram because I wanted to write longer posts. At first, I didn’t update it very often but as time passed, I realised how it important it was to have our own website. Although Bookstagram is amazing, the ever-shifting algorithm is hard to keep up with. I recently wrote about how building this site has been one of the positives from our drop in Instagram reach. On Insta, I often feel as if I’m at the mercy of a landlord who could lock me out at any second whereas here I have the keys to lots of different doors. I’m also able to extend my property whenever I fancy.
On the interior design front, I started out with the basic Personal WordPress package. This gave us our essentials – a domain name and a neat theme but after 9 months of blogging, I decided we needed a few more luxuries so upgraded to a self-hosted Pipdig package. I can now totally understand why people advocate going down this route. Our site is now more aesthetically pleasing and traffic has tripled. We also have access to detailed analytics which helps us to monitor our activity and maintain security.
The Book Blogging Community is Huge
I’ve been amazed by the variety of book blogs out there. They cover all styles and genres. They have their own memes, tags and themes. For a newbie, it’s been quite bewildering, and I’m just beginning to find my own communities now. I started off trying to connect with other bloggers through WordPress Reader but that wasn’t particularly successful. Ditto Instagram. So where did I find everyone? Twitter! If you’re looking for book blogging friends, I recommend heading over there and joining in the conversations.
Blogging is an Art Form
As with any form of writing, blogging is a craft. During my first year of book blogging, I’ve noticed that some techniques work better than others and that long-standing bloggers have a more compelling voice. It’s not simply a case of banging out a few words. Digital copy follows different conventions from other forms of writing. Luckily, there’s a ton of information on this subject. I recommend Copyblogger and Hubspot for general advice – plus of course, reading lots of blogs!
Obviously book reviews are crucial for a book blog too and I had some experience of writing these before launching this blog, but I’d by no means say I’m an expert. What I’ve been trying to do is write more objectively although in the rare event that I really haven’t enjoyed a book, I’ve not posted about it. Authors work hard and taste is subjective.
Growing A Book Blog Takes Work
When I started out, I thought that people would immediately flock to our blog. Who was I kidding? I was only writing 2-4 posts a month at most and I wasn’t doing any meaningful SEO (Search Engine Optimisation). Our monthly page views climbed to 800 then plateaued so five months ago I decided to see if I could boost our visibility. Now I’ve written 61 posts and views are at 2.5K per month and climbing.
So what did I do?
I could write an entire post on this, but the main factors were as follows:
- Going self-hosted so I had access to plug-ins (these are tools which allow for extra customization on a website)
- Installing Yoast (an SEO plug-in – see above)
- Doubling my post output.
- Building a Pinterest account with backlinks to the blog
- Establishing a Facebook page
As a freelance digital marketer, I find this part of the process really interesting, but realise it’s not for everyone. If you’d like me to write a longer feature on this then please let me know.
Being a Book Blogger is a Vocation
Even with my first year of book blogging under my belt, I’m conscious that if I’m to continue then I’ll need to make significant space in it for my life.
I’d estimate that I probably spend 5 hours a week writing blog posts in my spare time. Is this worth it? At the moment, yes. Promoting everything bookish is really important to our family – whether that be championing a bookshop, or sharing a fantastic read. In these days of uncertainty and change, I totally believe that reading is essential – for empathy, patience and learning. I’m proud to be a part of many online bookish communities and feel encouraged that so many people are still keeping the faith. Having a voice, no matter how small, keeps the libraries of the world alive.
So what happened after the first year of book blogging?
Good question! Life has taken some major twists and turns since I first wrote this post. I started a dream job just after this was published, which absorbed those 5 hours that I mentioned above and I had to pause blogging for month.
Covid-19 had its upsides for us though and I was able to start again in May 2020. It’s still only July and our views have already exceeded our highest back in 2019. I’ll write about how I did this very soon.
In the meantime, thank so much for supporting us on our bookish journey! xxx