How to Start a Book Blog, Review Books, and Make Money
At a glance, book blogging can seem like a rewarding opportunity. You can get free books, connect with a like-minded community, and maybe even make a few dollars.
Behind the scenes, however, there’s so much more to having a literature blog than just recommending good reads.
You’ll need to have the right knowledge and be willing to put in the hours to start a successful book blog — especially if you plan to generate some income.
Over the years, I’ve learned much about what it takes to run a blog in this niche. So, in this article I’ll cover some common questions about the topic, and provide you with a guide on how to start a book blog of your own.
Here’s what you’ll learn:
- Do book bloggers make money? Yes, but how much you make depends on your strategy.
- How do you start a book blog and monetize it?From building your website, planning your content strategy, to ways to make money from your blog.
- How do you write a book review? From what to do when you read the book to important elements to include in the review.
- Is it better to start a blog or write a book?It comes down to you, but book blogging can benefit aspiring writers in the long-run.
Do book bloggers make money?
Yes — but the income varies widely.
In any case, you’ll most likely have to work with more than one channel if you want to make substantial revenue. I’ll discuss some common income streams later on in the article, including placing ads and affiliate marketing.
The important first step is to make sure you set realistic goals and expectations. The fact is, you might have to invest some time and effort in building your blog before you see any real profit.
But as long as you enjoy what you do, book blogging should be a great experience regardless of your income.
How do I start my own book blog and make money?
If you want to start a book blog, these are the steps to follow.
1. Choose a platform to build your website
Begin by selecting a platform to create your book blog with.
There are plenty of options for building a website, each with different features, perks, and drawbacks, so make sure to do your research.
Here are some options I’ve used, which are worth trying:
- WordPress — this popular platform has been the go-to choice for blogs and has a wide range of extensions for growing your website’s functionality.
- Zyro — this website builder is affordable and easy to use. All you need to do is pick a plan, choose a template, edit it, and start blogging right away.
- Squarespace — similar to Zyro, Squarespace has a vast selection of themes and you need to become a premium user to use them. But it lets you try the service at no cost for 14 days.
Feel free to check these platforms out if you don’t know where to start. They’re all perfect for any site type, but what you choose depends on your preferences and priorities.
I find Zyro to be the best overall option. Compared to the other two, it’s much more beginner-friendly. You can just replace the template elements, and your book review blog will look good from the get-go.
The paid plans are also quite affordable. They start from $1.99 a month, and you can connect a custom domain name and get more storage for your website.
2. Come up with a blog name
Next, find a suitable name for your book blog.
Like a good brand name, it should be short, memorable, original, and unique. It will have a better chance of sticking in readers’ minds that way.
Most importantly, it has to communicate what your blog is about. Consider these questions to help you:
- What kind of books will I be writing about?
- What sort of tone will my content have?
- Who am I writing for?
Think of The Literary Edit. It’s unique and evokes a sense of style, which is embodied by the blog’s design.
Or, something like Sci-Fi and Scary, which precisely summarizes the blog’s content.
If you’re stuck, you can use an online name generator to help you.
Once you find the right name, check if it’s available as a domain. Using a custom domain name will make your blog seem more professional, bringing you more monetization opportunities.
As for the domain extension, I’d recommend going with .com if it’s available . It can be pricey, but most users would automatically type that when inserting a website’s URL.
Also check whether the name’s been used in social media networks. Using the same name in all your accounts makes it easy for followers to find you.
Once you’ve purchased a domain name and the platform is set up, move on to the next step.
3. Customize your website
At this point, you should be ready to modify your new blog.
Let’s start by choosing the right theme. Here are some things I generally look for when searching for a blog theme:
- Appearance — think of how the blog should feel. For instance, if you want to establish a playful tone, you can go with a more colorful design.
- Customizability — you should be able to modify the theme easily so you can tailor it to your needs and preferences.
- User-friendliness — it should be easy for readers to read and navigate your blog.
- Loading speed — nobody likes to wait for a website to appear on their screen. Plus, fast loading time can improve your blog’s search ranking.
- Mobile-friendliness — this is important considering most people access the internet with their mobile devices nowadays.
If you need some inspiration, I’ve chosen some options to give you ideas.
I really like this Zyro template. It has a bold colored background which you can change to suit your blog’s brand.
This WordPress theme is also a great option — it has an impressive, full-width banner to welcome your visitors.
If you want to go minimal, this Squarespace theme could be perfect for you. Upon entering the blog, your content will draw attention right away.
Once you’ve made a choice, start editing. Play around with the elements, change the fonts, replace the images, and rearrange the layout until everything looks perfect. Don’t forget to set up your blog’s pages as well, like the homepage, about page, and contact page.
4. Create a content plan
You’re almost ready to write your first post. But before you can do that, you need a content plan.
Planning content first has helped me outline what I want to write about and how often I should publish.
It will give you an idea of what your workflow will be like. For some, it also helps avoid procrastination.
Start by deciding what kind of articles you want to write. Other than reviews, book blogs usually contain:
- Listicles of top books in a certain category
- Roundups of the bestselling or latest publications
- Interviews with authors
- Short essays
- Book reading challenges
Or if you’re running out of ideas, try using a blog title generator. Simply pick a topic, and this tool will generate endless titles for you.
Then think of how frequently each type of article should be uploaded. For example, you can publish book reviews once or twice a week, and bestselling roundups can be published at the end of each month.
It helps if you already know what your reading and writing skills are like, so you can set up a more realistic publishing schedule.
For instance, I can read one book in three days and write a review in less than a day.
I then proofread it for a few hours and send it to someone for feedback, which could take a couple of days. After that, I’ll edit the post again and publish it when it’s ready.
In total, it could take up to five days for the post to be ready. This means I can only publish a book review once a week at most.
No matter the frequency, it’s really important to establish a consistent publishing schedule so that your audience knows when to expect your latest content.
If you have a hard time sticking with deadlines, you can write some posts weeks in advance, save them as drafts, and publish them when the time comes.
Should you need help, use calendar tools like CoSchedule to keep yourself on track.
5. Create a review policy
At some point, publishers or authors will contact you to write content for them. Before that happens, it’s important to set up a book review policy page you can refer them to.
A review policy is a guide that outlines your rules for accepting a book review request from interested parties.
It should contain:
- The type of books and genres you accept.
- What rating system you use to evaluate the books, such as a five-star rating system.
- What formats you accept, such as physical copies, PDFs, ePubs, Audiobooks, and so on.
- A disclaimer that explains your content is honest and specifies whether you will post negative reviews.
- Where you post the reviews other than your book blog, such as Amazon, Goodreads, or social media networks.
- The types of posts they can request other than a book review, such as author interviews, or listicles.
- When they can expect the post to be published.
Feel free to add more as needed. Some book blogs also provide a form instead so that they can easily filter the requests.
6. Make yourself known
Marketing your new blog and building an audience is essential if you want to make money. The fact is, a book blog is only profitable if it has a follower base that can potentially turn into customers.
As an online creator, your best promotional channels are social media and SEO.
Social media networks have made it easy to meet new people. And often, they are more likely to engage with your content thanks to your shared interests.
You’ve probably heard of Goodreads. It’s a community where you can follow other users and see what books they’re reading.
Here, you can write a short book review and direct users to your blog if they’re intrigued to read the rest.
Twitter is another excellent choice. In addition to posting snippets of your articles, you can join a #readingchallenge or make book-related memes.
Instagram is also great, especially since #bookstagram is quite a popular hashtag. However, I only recommend it if you have an eye for design, considering it’s a visual platform.
No matter the network you choose, focus on spreading the word about your name, and growing your following.
Engage in conversations, reply to comments, and gather insights about what your audience likes, so you can provide better content.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
According to Search Engine Land, more than half of internet traffic comes from search engines, which makes SEO all the more important.
If you’re new to blogging, optimizing your website for search engines might sound difficult to master. However, there are tons of beginner-friendly guides I’ve found helpful.
For instance, you can watch this video by Ahrefs, a well-known platform for SEO resources. You’ll learn the importance of using relevant search terms in your content and creating useful blog posts for your visitors.
7. Monetize your book blog
If you’ve made it this far, you’re probably interested in finding ways to make money from a book blog.
Here, I’ll provide an overview of some common monetization channels you can try out.
Affiliate marketing is the go-to method for online content creators. The idea is to make commissions by promoting someone else’s product.
You might have seen this in articles that include links to an online store. Every time a user clicks them or purchases a product through the links, the blogger will get paid.
To get started, you can join an affiliate program. They will provide the links you need to promote their items.
The list below contains some popular affiliate programs among book bloggers:
- Amazon — this ecommerce giant has tons of books and other related products to sell. The signup is straightforward, but you need to make three sales within 180 days to become an official affiliate.
- Book Depository — it’s free to get started, and you’ll get a 5% commission of every purchase made from your links.
- eBooks.com — this long-time ebook seller has various link types you can use and generous commission deals.
Once your blog has a sizable follower base, you can set up space for ads.
Most bloggers work with an advertising network for this. This allows you to focus on blogging while the network finds businesses that want to work with you.
Here are some credible advertising networks you should check out:
- PropellerAds — this option is a good choice for newcomer bloggers. You don’t need large traffic volumes to get started, and it has a low minimum withdrawal of $5.
- Google AdSense — a well-known ad network. It’s a great choice if your monthly visitor count has grown significantly. It has various ad types to choose from and a feature to monitor your ads’ performance.
- AdThrive — if your blog has over 100,000 monthly visitors, this platform can bring you substantial earnings. It’s certified by Google and provides many resources to optimize your ads.
Sell your own products on your blog
These days, creating an online store is as easy as making a website. So, why not sell your own products?
Many bloggers and content creators make their own merchandise line with their branding on it. Some also have written their own books, like Christine Riccio.
One thing to note, however, is that making your own products is not cheap.
Plus, books can take a while before they can really sell. So I only recommend this method if your blog already has a strong brand and a loyal audience.
Create a membership platform
Setting up memberships can also be profitable. You can create exclusive content for your members, such as book giveaways, discussion events, or interviews with a bestselling author.
Sites like Patreon have made it easier for online creators to earn.
Alternatively, you can set up your own membership site if you want more control over the system and income.
How do I write a book review for my blog?
To establish yourself as a credible blogger, your reviews need to be top-notch. Here, I’ll give you a quick guide on how to write a good book review.
First, you need to pick a suitable read.
Though you can pick out any random title from your bookshelf, there are many sources where you can get free books to review. These will come in handy when you need to populate your blog content.
- Borrow from a local library.
- Search for free digital books on platforms like Feedbooks.
- Request advanced reader copies from publishers or sites like NetGalley.
If you already have a book on hand, let’s get started.
1. Read a book
As a reviewer, you’re no longer reading for fun. You’re also helping other readers decide whether a book is worth a read.
Therefore, it’s important to practice active reading. It’s the process of engaging with the book and evaluating its content — from the story and characters, to world-building and style.
It can make your article much more in-depth and interesting for your audience.
I also suggest you take notes of elements that stand out as you read. You can briefly describe what you like or dislike about them and why.
When you’re done, reflect on the book a bit more and scribble more notes, so that your review will be more well-thought-out.
2. Write the review
Everyone has their own preferred review structure, but generally, here are the elements you should include:
Information about the Book
This part can be in bullet points where you insert:
- Book title
- Author name
- Release date
- Number of pages
Most book reviews begin by introducing the book’s content. It doesn’t have to tell the entire story, but it should provide people ideas with what to expect from the book.
This will be the meat of your blog post. It’s where you transform the notes you’ve taken into a coherent review.
Everyone has different writing styles, so you might want to look to other blogs if you need some ideas.
Here are some tips I find useful:
- Be original. Look for reviews of the same book. What has been mentioned beforehand? What unique points can you bring to the table?
- Divide your review into sections. You can use headings for this. Not only will it make your article more organized, but it can also improve its readability.
- Include quotes. It can help with proving why you like or dislike an element in the book. Plus,it can add more credibility to your review.
Here is where you tell readers whether to read or not read the book. You can summarize your overall feelings and list down why this book would be relevant to their interests. If you include a rating system, show it here.
To end your review, you can relate the book to other similar reads, such as: “If you like Stephen King, you’re guaranteed to enjoy this novel.”
3. Proofread and edit the content
Before publishing, you need to check for grammar mistakes, misspelled words, misinformation, and so on.
If possible, send it to a person you trust for feedback, and ask if it’s engaging or informative enough for them.
Remember, your content will be read by not just your audience but also potential business partners. In other words, your review needs to be clear and have the highest quality.
Is it better to start a blog or write a book?
Why not both?
With a blog, you can build an audience first. When the time comes for your book to publish, there will already be people lining up to purchase your work.
In fact, a lot of books by content creators are bestselling partly because they already have a strong fanbase, like Zoella.
If done right, book blogging can also get you to connect with authors and publishers you admire, which can benefit your writing career.
In the end, it comes down to your preferences. But from a marketing and business perspective, starting a book blog can set you up for success.
As you can see, there’s so much that goes on behind starting a successful book blog. From creating a website, coming up with a content plan, to promoting it on various platforms.
However, so long as you enjoy what you do, book blogging can be a rewarding experience.
You can meet people with the same interests, receive new reads for free, connect with writers and publishers, and make some extra income.
In this article, I’ve given you some insights about what I’ve learned to start a book blog. I hope this guide has been helpful, and good luck.