Friday 2 October 2015

7 Tips For Newbie Book Bloggers

When I first started blogging, I knew absolutely nothing about the online book community, but through the help of other bloggers and their advice, I was able to turn my blog into something I’m super proud of! I’m am by no means an expert in the world of book blogging, but I have learned a thing or two since creating The Queen of Teen Fiction in 2011. So I figured it couldn’t hurt to share my own tips with you.

7. Learn the HTML Basics
Ah, how I wish I’d known anything about HTML when I first joined blogger. If you’ve bought, or are planning to buy, a custom or pre-made blog design that includes support for any problems that might occur, then you don’t really need this tip. But if, like me, you can’t afford to purchase a professional design, you’re going to need to learn a bit of blog DIY. 

Google some tips to familiarise yourself with basic HTML and CSS coding. Although it might seem like a foreign language (and a complete bore), you will thank yourself for it later. When I first started out, I didn’t even know what HTML was, let alone what it could do! But through trial and error, lots and lots of error, I’ve learned a great deal. I still mess up all the time, but I love being able to say I designed my own blog!

Here are a few of the websites I used for tips, tutorials, and free features for my blog: 

6. Find Your Design Resources
If you want a header image, a pretty background, or even a rating system that offers something a little more personalised to your blog than a basic star, you either need to design them yourself, or use images from the web. You can buy commercial-use images on sites such as Shutterstock, but there are also plenty of free alternatives. Search around for websites that offer free vector images, but make sure they are free for commercial use! 

For a blog background, if you’re just looking for a simple pattern, you can customise one yourself on the awesome site COLOURlovers – it’s were I created my own background!

5. Join in with the Community
There are so many book bloggers out there, and they’re super friendly! Make an effort to chat to other bloggers and writers on Twitter and Goodreads. Make sure you read and comment on other blogger’s reviews. It can make a blogger’s day to know that someone has read their opinion and wants to share thoughts! If you want to be involved in the book blogging world, you have to make the effort to join in. We don’t bite. I know lots of bloggers who appreciate a good Twitter conversation about their favourite fictional characters. *cough* me *cough* 

4. Don’t panic over review requests!
You’ve started a book blog, so why aren’t you swimming in review requests? The answer? It’s not going to happen straight away, and authors aren’t going to magically appear in your inbox. Authors and publishers need to be able to find you and your blog. Make sure you sign up to be listed in the Book Blogger Directory, or if you only review young adult novels, you can sign up for the YA Book Blog Directory

Goodreads is also a great place to find authors looking for book reviews. Try searching through various book blogger groups and introduce yourself. It’s also a great way to meet other bloggers and gain some followers!

This is super important when writing reviews. Of course your blog is to share your own opinions, but you don’t have to be rude whilst doing so. Never be purposefully cruel about a story you don’t enjoy. Remember that you are reading someone’s personal creation that they’ve put a lot of time and effort into. I try to be constructive in pointing out the parts of the book that didn’t work for me, explaining what I wished had been different. Simply stating that a book was awful and you’re sorry you wasted your time on it isn’t a very polite way to give feedback to authors who have willingly handed you their book.

2. Take part in challenges
There are all sorts of bookish challenges out there created by other bloggers, especially on other social media platforms, such as Instagram. There is a huge book presence on Instagram, with bloggers taking all sorts of pretty book pictures for themed challenges, such as rainbow arranged books, or the book-through-phone: 

Looks out for these hastags and get involved! Make use of as many social media sites as possible to get people noticing your blog.

1. Do it because it’s FUN
This is so important. Don’t start a blog because you want it to be popular. Don’t start a blog because you’ve seen exciting books get sent to other bloggers. Start a blog because YOU WANT TO TALK ABOUT BOOKS. Otherwise, where’s the fun? Don’t let your blog become a chore for you. Don’t feel pressured into blogging a certain way. Always remember that you’re doing this because you want to share your bookish opinions with others! 

Also, please try not to suffer from blogger envy. I know it’s difficult when everyone else seems to have a super pretty blog and really exciting opportunities, but you have to remember that they’ve worked hard for it! They’re passionate about what they do and they're dedicated to their blogs, and you need to feel that way about yours. Support other bloggers, and you’ll get support in return.

Happy Blogging! 

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