Wednesday 16 March 2022

, ,

Guide to Book Blogging: Getting Started Part 1 - Setting Up Your Blog

A photo of a tablet propped up on it's side, facing the bottom left corner of the photo. It's open to Once Upon a Bookcase's homepage. In front and just to the left of the tablet, to the left of the photo, is a pale green, hardback notebook with a pink biro on top. They're all on a light grey, fluffy duvet.

Guide to Book Blogging: Getting Started

Part 1: Setting Up Your Blog

On Saturday, it will be my book blogging anniversary! I will have been blogging for 13 years. It's mad, it doesn't seem like quite so long. Blogging still brings me a huge amount of joy, and I can't see me giving up any time soon. I've learnt a few things over the years, and as I've had some questions about blogging recently, I thought I'd put together a few guides to book blogging for anyone thinking of starting.

This first post on getting started with blogging ended up being far too long, so I've split it into two parts. This one is on setting up your blog. Once you've read this, you can check out the second part, which is on Creating Content & Engagement.

Before I get into this first post, it's important to mention that you should only start book blogging - or BookTubing, Bookstagramming, BookToking - for the right reasons. Those reasons boil down to a joy of creative expression - whether that's writing, making videos, or taking photos - and a passion for reading and talking about books. You absolutely should not start just to get free books. Getting free books is a bonus, a privelege, but it's not a guarantee. There's a lot of work you have to put in before publishers will even consider sending you ARCs and proofs, so you've got to love doing what you do. If you don't, and you're not putting in the proper time and effort, it will show. From publishers' perspective, we are a publicity tool, and they're not going to invest their proofs in a blog that isn't going to help sell their book. So make sure you're in it for the right reasons, because it will be a while before you get sent any ARCs, if at all. Now that's out of the way, let's get started!

Email & Blog Name, Choose a Platform, and Your Theme/Template

Email & Blog Name:

The first thing I would suggest you do is set up a free email account especially for your blog. Keep it separate from your personal one to make it easier for you. At some point down the line if you do start contacting publishers and authors, you'll need a way to do so. An email account is a must. I suggest your email address matches your blog name, so it's time to think about that, too. I can't help you too much with this. I would suggest coming up with a title that reflects you but also what you like to read. Think about who you are, you're interests, and what genres you like to read, any other reading preferences. I chose Once Upon a Bookcase for several reasons. Obviously, it's a play on, "Once upon a time..." I adore fairy tales, and fairy tale retellings. I also read a lot of YA fiction, which are technically children's books - fairy tales are considered to be for children, even if that's not technically correct. I read a lot of fantasy, and I'm quite dreamy and whimsical, and if you think about it, fairy tales are fantasy stories, and there are a lot of whimsical happenings. It just works for me.


You need to have a platform before you start blogging, so you've got to figure out which platform will work for you. I know of Blogger, which I use, and Wordpress. Some people even use Tumblr. I'm sure there are others. Most people prefer Wordpress to Blogger as it gives them more control, but when I tried, I found it really complicated and confusing. Blogger works for me, and has done for 13 years. Check them all out, and choose one you're going to be happy using, and use your new email address to sign up.


Next you'll want to think about what you want your blog to look like. As I use Blogger, I have used New Blogger Themes numerous times as I've changed Once Upon a Bookcase's look over the years. But a quick google will bring up various sites that share free blog themes or templates. You want your blog to be aesthetically pleasing to you, so think of the colours you like, the layout (do you want sidebars? how many?), and so on. Search through until you find something that works for and what you want for your blog. Pay attention to the instructions for uploading it to your blog, and the things you will have to change and personalise, like social media buttons and navigation bar.

Social Media:

Speaking of social media, as an aside, if there are other places you're likely to talk about books or blogging - maybe you'll tweet links to your reviews? - Be sure to link to those places somewhere. In your sidebar, in your About or Contact page (I'll get to them later), but have them somewhere. I also recommend thinking about the social media you already have, what you discuss on there, and whether you want separate account specifically for blogging. For Twitter, for example, you might have people who follow you specifically to hear about what's happening on your blog, but if you're tweeting about other things they're not interested in, they may unfollow. You don't need to have separate accounts, it's just something to consider. I mainly only tweet about books anyway, so I just have the one. You might also want to think about book-specific social media, too. Goodreads is popular, but people have issues with it. There's also The StroyGraph, BookHype, and BookSloth. You can cross post your reviews to these sites. Your friend/follower counts can also be helpful later on.


A point on domains. You don't need one. At all. And I highly suggest not investing in one until you're sure you actually enjoy blogging and are going to keep at. You don't want to spend money on one to realise later you don't actually like blogging, and you've forked that money out for nothing. Give yourself a good period of time before you even start thinking about it. If and when you are starting to contact publishers, not having a domain won't go against you.

Now we can get to actual blogging and writing.

Your First Few Pages

Before you get to actually writing content, I do think there are a few pages you should have set up first. On Blogger they're called Pages, not sure what they would be called on other platforms. But these are basically posts that don't show as part as your blog's feed, they need to be linked to, and are seen by clicking on the link. So all of the pages you can access through my navigation bar along the top. You can create your pages, and then following the instructions for your template or theme, edit your navigation bar to link to those pages.

About Page:

An "About" is a must. It's your readers' introduction to you and your blog. Don't over think it, just tell them a little bit about you, about why you set up your blog, and what they can expect to read about on your blog. You might want to talk about some of your reading preferences; the genres you like, maybe those you don't, other types or categories of books you're interested in (for example, for me, it's fairy tale retellings, and diverse books, particularly LGBTQ+ YA, especially if they're sapphic), who some of your favourite authors or books are. It just gives them an idea of what to expect on your blog.

Contact Page:

You should also have a way for people to contact you. You can either create a page with contact information - some people use a contact form, but I personally feel if you want to make it easy for publishers to reach you, having your email address readily available is better. Publishers can't send their formatted emails in a contact form; they can't include hyperlinks. Make it easy for them and anyone else to get in touch. I put my email address at the bottom of my About page, and I also have a button at the top of my sidebar.

Reviews Page:

You're also going to want to have a page to link to all your reviews. At some point, someone may want to see what you have reviewed in the past without scrolling through all your posts. Mine lists the alphabet, and every time I write a new review, I update it, adding the author's name - surname first, first name last, and then the link to my review underneath.

Privacy Policy:

You'll also need a review policy, but I'm going to create a separate post for that. Because of GDPR laws, you'll need a Privacy Policy. At the very least, if people will comment on your blog, you need a privacy policy. You can see my one here, but I'm not going to attempt to explain it, because I don't think I'd do a good job of it. Nose Graze has a great post on it that explains it especially for book bloggers, but particularly for those using Wordpress. Here's another that's for bloggers in general. I also used Iubenda's free tool to create one. It's a lot, and it can be kind of confusing, but it's the law.

There will probably be a few other pages you'll like to add in future, especially as your blog grows and evolves, and you get ideas about specific blog features, or take part in reading challenges, but for now, those are the ones you need to start with.

So that's is for the first part! Now head on over to Creating Content & Engagement to really get moving.
If you enjoyed this post, please consider following / supporting me:
Bloglovin' | Twitter | Goodreads | StoryGraph | Ko-Fi


Post a Comment