How to Start a Successful Book Review Blog?
Do you enjoy curling up with a good book more than going to a party during a Saturday night? Do you love the idea of making a living out of reading books and writing about your experiences? Well, running a book blog or a book review website might just be your thing.
You can choose to run a book reviews site as your full-time job or you can do it to achieve various other results. You can promote your book business if you have one and increase your audience. You can build a community around your favorite hobby and promote your favorite author.
But even if all you want to do is review books and share your opinion with people, you can make the most of it by using affiliate marketing. Promoting books you’ve enjoyed reading is the perfect way to make money from what you love. If this sounds like something you want to do, here is a guide that will help you make that happen. We will also share a few things you should know about before you start.
Step #1: Create a Plan
„If you fail to plan, you’re planning to fail“
One of the key things that separate successful blogs from unsuccessful ones is their plan. A lot of beginner bloggers don’t even think about creating a plan because they get consumed by the technical aspects of creating a blog. However, they forget the goal of their blog and how it should run.
You should first figure out the following things before you jump into building your blog:
- The genre of books you’ll be focusing on.
- Your target audience (what demographics will you be focusing on). Who enjoys reading the same kind of books?
- Are there any kinds of book review websites you like? If not, do a quick search and see how the successful ones do it.
- How are successful book review websites structured and how regularly are they posting reviews.
- How often do you have planned to publish fresh content and how many books can you read?
- How will you monetize your website and make money with it?
The more time you spend with answering these questions and creating a plan for your blog, the more other questions will arise. It’s dangerous to jump into building a blog without the necessary planning and establishing all the most important aspects.
Step #2: Choose a Domain Name
You will need a name that accurately describes what you’re doing and what your readers can expect to find on your blog. If you’re writing about a specific genre or a movement, the best way to convey that is through the domain name / brand.
Once you have a brilliant idea, do some research and come up with some good names. The name you just come up might already be taken, but don’t give up. Just head on to GoDaddy or NameCheap and search for existing domain names and see what is available. You can purchase the domain through your hosting company too. Usually you will get one for free if you buy a hosting plan (please read step #3 to find out more on this).
When it comes to the domain name’s extensions, you can either go with one of the top three extensions: .com, net. and .org. But if you think that unique domain extensions like .reviews or .club would work well with your domain, these might help you come up with a much more compelling name. Personally, I recommend going for the top level domain extensions (com, net, org), but this is only my opinion.
Step #3: Get a Good Web Hosting Plan
BlueHost is one of your best bets when you’re looking to start out with a blog. It offers hosting plans for as low as $3.95, which will minimize your upfront investment. BlueHost offers a free domain name with every new hosting plan. So if you don’t have a domain yet, you might want to register it with BlueHost for free.
Their services are also optimized for WordPress, the platform you should use for building your blog. BlueHost is one of the top recommended websites on the official WordPress.org. BlueHost is a powerful hosting solution when you’re using WordPress. I highly recommend BlueHost, because they are reliable, have amazing customer support and great uptime. Please read our in-depth review on BlueHost to find out more about this company.
Step #4: Install WordPress
WordPress is the best platform for building blogs. It makes it simple for any non-tech savvy user to launch their site as it’s incredibly user friendly. After you have registered and account on BlueHost, all you have to do is find WordPress on your control panel and install it. You will only have make a few clicks and enter some relevant information. It will take about ten minutes to install (maybe less) and you’ll be greeted by the base theme of a WordPress site. From there, you can start building your blog and making it into what you envisioned it to be.
If you might need help installing WordPress to your BlueHost account, you can always seek help form BlueHost’s amazing support, or you can follow our step-by-step tutorial on how to start a blog in under 15 minutes.
Step #5: Install the Necessary Plugins
WordPress has a highly convenient extension system that makes it incredibly easy for users to add new features. Even though the platform is powerful out of the box, there are more than 42,000 extensions available for it. Whatever feature you need, you can add it with a few simple clicks through the Dashboard or by visiting CodeCanyon. To make things simpler for you, here are some of the most important plugins every blog should have.
Yoast SEO – Search engine optimization is an integral part of your blog’s success. You’ll have to optimize each content piece that you release on the web. Yoast SEO makes it incredibly easy by scanning the content and helping you manage important things such as the SEO title, your focus keyword, meta description and a lot more.
It will even check your text’s readability with the Flesch Readability Checker and give it a score. Furthermore, it will scan the content to find any optimization issues that you should correct, enabling you to release fully-optimized posts on your blog. For this reason, Yoast SEO is one of the best SEO plugins out there. To top it off, it’s even free to use, with the possibility to upgrade it for premium features.
Jetpack – Jetpack will supercharge your blog by adding all the necessary features that WordPress’ core can’t. It has huge variety of features such as a spell-checker, contact forms, widgets and a lot more. This plugin is packed; no doubt about it and it will serve most of your needs perfectly. To top it off, it’s also free to use, so what’s there not to love?
Google Analytics For WordPress – You’ll have to spend a lot of time with analyzing your audience and your website’s traffic. It’s one of your most important tasks as a webmaster. Google Analytics is the place to go for analyzing where most of your audience is coming from and figuring out their demographics. However, constantly having to switch tabs or log into your Google Analytics account can be quite bothersome. It’s way easier to do by installing the Google Analytics plugin.
Akismet – Whatever kind of blog you run, there will always be spam comments on it. It could take hours of your day to delete all those comments and nobody wants to put up with that. That is why Akismet will eliminate most of your spam comments automatically through filtering them.
BackWPup – Once you start making money with your blog, losing anything on it will be a lot more dangerous. If you don’t want to risk it, then use BackWPup to make scheduled backups of your entire website. You can save everything on a regular basis, so you’re not vulnerable to hacking.
Relevanssi – WordPress is good, but it’s not perfect. It even lacks a basic feature like search, without which your book review site wouldn’t be quite as usable. Relevanssi can help you with that and provide your readers with relevant search results.
Step #6: Install Your Theme
Once you have your WordPress site up and running with all your plugins, it’s time to actually build a website that your readers will want to see. Note that your new visitors will take only seconds to decide whether your blog is worth reading or not, and the first thing they see is your website’s design. It has to show your unique character and somewhat describe what your blog is all about. Figure out what feelings and ideas you want to convey and build it.
Easier said than done, right? Well, not exactly, because WordPress has plenty of professional-looking themes that are incredibly simple to install and customize. The process of a good design was also made a lot simpler with the Divi Theme. This theme comes with a visual drag and drop page builder that can help you customize your book blog as you wish. It has an insanely comprehensive interface that allows you to piece together the individual elements of your website without having to touch even a line of code. It’s the simplest way I have found that non tech-savvy users can build and customize their own website to look exactly the way they want it.
Here is a short video about the Divi Theme:
If you are on a budget, you can install and use a free WordPress theme, that is available on the WordPress.org repository. There are plenty of amazing free themes that you can use for your book blog, but they offer less features and customization options than a premium theme.
Step #7: Monetize Your Website
Making money with your blog isn’t a secondary task. In fact, you should figure out how you want to do it before you start building it. There are numerous options you can take when it comes to monetization, here are 5 of them.
One of the oldest ways to make money with a blog is through traditional banner ads. With a consistent amount of traffic, you can make a decent amount of money with it. You have two main options when it comes to getting paid for advertising products, services and brands.
- Ad Networks – There are plenty of advertising networks like Google AdSense that you can register to and have their ads show up on your website. You’ll get money from them for each click and they’ll display whatever kinds of ads are best suited for your audience. If you go this route, you don’t have too much control in what ads show up on your website, and the Advertisement Network will take its cut as well.
- Direct Ad Sales – The larger audience your blog has the more valuable it becomes and the more money you can make with it. If you’re willing to rent space on your book review blog for ads, you can do it on your own terms as well. You can rent space for specific companies for the price you decide and you also get to keep all the money. It’s definitely a fair way to play the game.
Through affiliate marketing, you can promote another company’s product or service and receive a commission when someone buys it. This monetization method is one of the most profitable ways to make money online. A lot of major booksellers such as Amazon, IndieBound and The Book Depository all have affiliate programs. You can register, select the books of your choice, review them and start promoting their affiliate links within your text.
Furthermore, you can also promote courses if you find any relevant ones. Maybe you could sell some in writing
Selling Your Own Products
You can launch your own product or service too, which is the most lucrative way to make money with your book blog. If you’re crafty enough, you can create your own eBooks or merchandise like T-shirts, coffee mugs or any of the thousands of branded products you could sell. You just need to know what your audience would most likely enjoy and which of those things you can provide. Maybe you’ll want to start a service like the TLC Book Tours, which was started by a blogger couple.
Once your blog has some authority within your niche, what you say will have a lot more value, you’ll become an influence. Numerous companies are constantly on the lookout for influencers who could promote them through posts. These companies are willing to pay good money for sponsored posts. In the specific case of a book blog, you could do sponsored deals with publishing companies.
Maybe a lesser known author is publishing a new book and needs a bit of promotion; he or she will gladly pay you for the time it takes to review the book. Once you make it as an authority, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to make write sponsored posts.
Since you’ll be basing your blog entirely on writing, you’ll probably be good in writing yourself. Once you have gained some authority, it will provide the perfect opportunity for you to promote your writing services. Your blog will be perfect for showcasing your wit and your writing skills. With it, you can easily reach out to companies and offer them writing services or have them reach out to you. Either way, you’ll be able to ask a hefty price for you writing.
Step #8: Driving Traffic To Your Blog
Building a well-designed blog and filling it with high-quality reviews is only the first step. You’ll have to spend and equal amount of time, if not more on marketing each of your posts. Depending on what your budget is, you’ll have various options, but you’ll definitely have to choose a few if you want your book review site to be successful. These are the following:
- SEO – The fact that you will always have to work on your SEO is a given fact. You have all the tools, information and resources to make it happen, but it’s something that you’ll have to put plenty of work into as a blogger. Search engine optimization is what gets organic traffic to your website for free if you do it well. However, even though it’s a great long-term solution for gaining a consistent amount of traffic, you’ll evidently experience some fluctuation. Furthermore, it isn’t the only good way to gain traffic for your website.
- Social Media Marketing – You’ll also have to invest time and energy into showing off your posts on social media sites like Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest. These are great sources for organic traffic and you can also use them to promote your posts in case you have a marketing budget as well, which brings me to my second point.
- PPC and Paid Promotions – One of the quickest ways to get a great load of traffic to your site is through paid advertisements. You can find plenty of niche-specific ad networks that will direct a specific amount of quality, high-converting traffic to your blog. However, you have to be careful with using PPC, because it has a learning curve. It takes some experience to make the most of it, but it can be a highly valuable traffic source for your blog. For example, Facebook’s paid ads are highly targeted and allow you to reach out to the specific demographic you want to reach. While PPC is the quickest way to bring traffic, this might not be your best choice, because it requires a huge budget and might not worth using it.
There you have it, the magic recipe of launching your own book review site. It’s a great option for anyone who loves reading and writing and would like to turn this hobby into a profitable job. You can even earn a solid living off it, so if this is what you want to do, I highly recommend doing some more research or getting started with your blog right away. Life doesn’t wait for anybody, so you better get busy!
If you are ready, then click here and setup your blog today!
If you have questions or suggestions, please use the comments section below.