Becoming a book blogger is easier than you think. It is becoming a “successful” book blogger that is probably the more important inquiry.
Let’s go through the steps:
- Start a blog (or have a place to post your reviews)
- Get the books you want to review
- Read the books
- Post your reviews
Now, obviously, each of these to-dos is more than what I described simply above. But let’s talk about each point.
Starting Your Blog (where will your reviews go?)
To be a blogger, you need a blog, or a website, or even a social media space to post your reviews. Is a blog the only place to share your book reviews? Definitely not. You can post reviews on Tik Tok in short clips, provide a longer explanation on Youtube, submit guest posts to major news websites around the world, post your reviews on Facebook and Instagram.
Many people love the idea of having a blog. So let’s talk about how to start one.
There are two routes to a blog. Free or paid.
If you want to get a free blog, you can by signing up with Blogger, Weebly, Wix, WordPress, and more. There are many options and all of these groups will provide you with the minimum functionality you need to post reviews.
One of the main reasons people go with a paid blog (over the free option) is the ability to customize it. If you pay for your blog (meaning buying a domain name of your choice and for hosting), you can choose the name of the blog, install the theme of your choice, and have total control over the look and content of the blog.
While this is debatable depending upon who you ask, a paid blog may perform better in search results, thereby resulting in more visitors to your website.
Picking a Domain Name
I could write a whole post about domain names (and maybe I will later). But in general, it is best to pick out a domain name that is easy to say, easy to spell, as short as you can make it, and ends with a .com or .net.
It is also better to choose a name that is a little generic that gives you room to grow rather than something specific like fantasybookreviews.com. This way you’ll be able to review books across tons of different genres if you like.
I have bought domain names with both GoDaddy and Namecheap.
Between the two, I recommend Namecheap. With Namecheap, you can often get WHOIS Guard for free (which Bluehost charges you for), and Namecheap offers tons of promos and coupons.
(This link is an affiliate link, meaning that if you click on the link and spend money, I might get a commission at no additional cost to you).
Picking out Hosting
In general, I like Siteground. It is what I use for this website right here, and I think it performs well. I have also used Bluehost, which I think is easier for beginners and tech-phobes to use for their first website.
(Heads up…these links are also affiliate links. Please note, I only recommend products that I use or have used myself.)
Getting the books you want to review
What kinds of books do you want to review? Books that haven’t been published yet? Books that are newer that you can find on the shelf? Older books that people should be reading but aren’t?
First things first, decide what you want to review.
Once you’ve done that, go and get them.
For me as a book reviewer, I’m not that interested in spending tons of money on books. I like to go to the library and grab just released books off the “new” shelf and read them, then review them.
I do know that you can review ARCs (advance reader copies) from self-published and traditionally published authors. I have received copies of books to review directly from traditional publisher websites, through giveaways, even through Reddit.
Here are some options to get ARCs if you want to review books before they have been published:
- Goodreads (they do lots of giveaways and there are review groups)
- LibraryThing giveaways
- Shelf Awareness (lots of emails but lots of opportunities)
- Facebook review groups
- Direct from the author (get on their email list or ARC list)
- Blog Tours
- Twitter (I wouldn’t have thought of this)
Posting Your Review
There are a couple ways you can go about this.
One, you can just write up what you think about the book, without any thoughts of getting people to the site to read the review (SEO, social media promotion, etc).
Two, you can write with generating traffic to your site in mind. This means doing some keyword research in advance of writing your review, and making sure to include keywords and search content that will bring readers in.
We know as book reviewers that we’ll be competing with established sites like Amazon and Goodreads when readers go looking to find out about a book. There’s no getting around that. But I do think there is room for a more in depth review of a book than what you’ll find on Amazon, especially since so many reviews on Amazon nowadays are bought and paid for by the author/publisher, even though it is supposed to be against the platform’s terms of service.
How Do I Become a Successful Book Reviewer?
Well isn’t that a loaded question? Do you mean a blogger that earns a lot of money, or a blogger who is well known and publishers want to work with?
The primary way to gain notoriety/money with a blog is to build up the interest and traffic to it. You can do this organically, by doing a lot of work to SEO your posts. You can build up your social media following, so that people jump on your new posts right now.
You can also do a lot of networking, and I suspect this would be especially important for a book reviewer. You are more likely to get opportunities in the publishing world if you know a lot of people. The more your name can be associated with high quality work, the more likely that people will want to work with you.
Should I Start a Book Blog?
I honestly have questions about the viability of a book blog as a career/money making opportunity. I review books on my websites, but in general not as the primary type of post.
I do think that a lot of people go to Amazon first to learn more about a book online, though I doubt Amazon is really the best place to get an honest review. After that, Goodreads has a pretty decent rep for posting high quality reviews, and I trust them probably more than Amazon.
When you are a new site competing with two massive juggernauts, it is hard to say that a book review blog is THE THING.
As a hobby, I say go ahead, no problem, fire away.
But as a primary source of income…..can be done. But it will be a challenge.
To learn more about blogging, check out my growing repository of posts about blogging, getting started blogging, growing a blog, and succeeding as a new blogger.
Emily Anderson is a mother of three children, all under the age of 10. Located in the Pacific Northwest of the US, Emily is a mom and part-time blogger, jumping in front of the computer when the kids are sleeping. She started this blog in April of 2019 and is proud that the blog is now paying for itself. If you want to know about her journey as a blogger, check out out her personal digital journal or her post about failing her way to blogging success.