5 Thoughts on My First Year of Book Blogging

My first year of book blogging

I’ve just completed my first year of book blogging so I thought it was a good time to review the journey so far.  It’s been a fascinating year and I still have lots to learn.  I am in AWE of bloggers who can produce posts more than twice a week.  Keeping a book blog going requires dedication and time as well as huge amounts of patience.  Sometimes I’ve felt as if I’ve been shouting into the void, and other times have been overwhelmed by the response to posts.  Here are my top 5 reflections about the last twelve months as a book blogger:

Book Blogs Provide a Base in a Changing Digital Landscape

I started this blog after a year of being on Instagram because I wanted to write longer posts.  At first, I didn’t update it very often but as time passed,  I realised how it important it was to have our own website. Although Bookstagram is amazing, the ever-shifting algorithm is hard to keep up with. I recently wrote about how building this site has been one of the positives from our drop in Instagram reach. On Insta, I often feel as if I’m at the mercy of a landlord who could lock me out at any second whereas here I have the keys to lots of different doors.  I’m also able to extend my property whenever I fancy.

On the interior design front, I started out with the basic Personal WordPress package. This gave us our essentials – a domain name and a neat theme but after 9 months of blogging, I decided we needed a few more luxuries so upgraded to a self-hosted Pipdig package.  I can now totally understand why people advocate going down this route.  Our site is now more aesthetically pleasing and traffic has tripled. We also have access to detailed analytics which helps us to monitor our activity and maintain security.

The Book Blogging Community is Huge

I’ve been amazed by the variety of book blogs out there.  They cover all styles and genres.  They have their own memes, tags and themes.  For a newbie, it’s been quite bewildering, and I’m just beginning to find my own communities now.   I started off trying to connect with other bloggers through WordPress Reader but that wasn’t particularly successful.  Ditto Instagram.  So where did I find everyone? Twitter If you’re looking for book blogging friends, I recommend heading over there and joining in the conversations.

Blogging is an Art Form

As with any form of writing, blogging is a craft.  During my first year of book blogging, I’ve noticed that some techniques work better than others and that long-standing bloggers have a more compelling voice.  It’s not simply a case of banging out a few words.  Digital copy follows different conventions from other forms of writing.  Luckily, there’s a ton of information on this subject.  I recommend Copyblogger and Hubspot for general advice – plus of course, reading lots of blogs!

Obviously book reviews are crucial for a book blog too and I had some experience of writing these before launching this blog, but I’d by no means say I’m an expert.  What I’ve been trying to do is write more objectively although in the rare event that I really haven’t enjoyed a book, I’ve not posted about it. Authors work hard and taste is subjective.

Growing A Book Blog Takes Work

When I started out, I thought that people would immediately flock to our blog.  Who was I kidding? I was only writing 2-4 posts a month at most and I wasn’t doing any meaningful SEO (Search Engine Optimisation).  Our monthly page views climbed to 800 then plateaued so five months ago I decided to see if I could boost our visibility. Now I’ve written 61 posts and views are at 2.5K per month and climbing.

So what did I do?

I could write an entire post on this, but the main factors were as follows:

  • Going self-hosted so I had access to plug-ins (these are tools which allow for extra customization on a website)
  • Installing Yoast (an SEO plug-in – see above)
  • Doubling my post output.
  • Building a Pinterest account with backlinks to the blog
  • Establishing a Facebook page

As a freelance digital marketer, I find this part of the process really interesting, but realise it’s not for everyone.  If you’d like me to write a longer feature on this then please let me know.

Being a Book Blogger is a Vocation

Even with my first year of book blogging under my belt, I’m conscious that if I’m to continue then I’ll need to make significant space in it for my life.

I’d estimate that I probably spend 5 hours a week writing blog posts in my spare time.  Is this worth it?  At the moment, yes.  Promoting everything bookish is really important to our family – whether that be championing a bookshop,  or sharing a fantastic read. In these days of uncertainty and change, I totally believe that reading is essential – for empathy, patience and learning.  I’m proud to be a part of many online bookish communities and feel encouraged that so many people are still keeping the faith.  Having a voice, no matter how small, keeps the libraries of the world alive.

So where next for us?

Our priority has always to be to share useful stuff so we’ve just launched a monthly newsletter with extra tips and information.  This will also include Bookstagram outtakes for a laugh.  You can sign up on our front page if you’re interested (and opt out whenever you like).

We plan to continue with all our themes and have a new Bookstagram feature up our sleeve, as well as lots more literary days out.  Most importantly though, we’d like to hear from you.  Is there anything you’d like us to cover?  Let us know in the comments or send us a message via our Contact Page. Thank so much for supporting us in our bookish adventures! xxx

17 Comments

  1. March 20, 2019 / 2:34 pm

    This was so interesting, thank you for sharing. I need to blog more and would love to read a post about how you got to 2.5k visits a month!

    • thebookfamilyrogerson
      Author
      March 20, 2019 / 3:06 pm

      Brilliant that you found it handy! I will definitely do another post on the tools that have helped – there are loads of resources out there 🙂

  2. March 20, 2019 / 2:37 pm

    You are pros at this! So many great tips. Thanks for sharing some of the things you’ve learned.

    • thebookfamilyrogerson
      Author
      March 20, 2019 / 3:08 pm

      A pleasure! It’s always good to share the stuff that works 🙂

  3. March 20, 2019 / 4:21 pm

    Love this! I only started my blog in late November and views are still minimal. Would love to hear how you improved your statistics. 🙂

    • thebookfamilyrogerson
      Author
      March 20, 2019 / 5:16 pm

      I’m more than happy to put something together. There are definitely techniques that can boost your blog 🙂

    • thebookfamilyrogerson
      Author
      March 20, 2019 / 7:18 pm

      Congrats on starting your blog! Now I know that people are keen I’ll have a think about the best tips & pop them in a post 🙂

  4. March 20, 2019 / 5:57 pm

    Thank-you for sharing your insights! Especially the tip about Twitter – I’ve been having a difficult time discovering blogs via WordPress Reader, so I guess I’ll give Twitter a go!

    • thebookfamilyrogerson
      Author
      March 20, 2019 / 6:16 pm

      The reader only seems to work once you’re actually following lots of blogs! Twitter is great for finding bloggers – I’ll look out for you!

  5. March 20, 2019 / 6:42 pm

    I love hearing other bloggers talk about their process! Thanks for this post! Right now I’m trying to boost my number of posts per week. During my first year, once a week was a challenge….now it’s routine and I need the challenge of 2-3 posts per week. In the weeks I’ve done that, I’ve enjoyed an increase in total views. However, I’m mainly a book blogger, so extra posts take time away from reading! 😱 I’m fascinated to hear that you find community on twitter! For me, it just feels scary! Nevertheless, I’ve committed myself to making it part of my social media routine. I’d love to hear more of your tips/strategies!

    • thebookfamilyrogerson
      Author
      March 22, 2019 / 10:55 pm

      I agree about the need to balance reading time with blogging – it’s hard though! And I’m still not 100% with Twitter either but I do enjoy the bookish positivity & banter. The whole digital marketing side is fascinating so I’ll aim to publish a piece very soon 🙂

  6. March 21, 2019 / 2:15 am

    Congrats on a year of blogging! I’ve enjoyed following your blog since I began back last fall. The tip about Twitter is useful – I took down my personal a while back, but I might create another one. Couldn’t agree more that the WP Reader isn’t very useful for finding new bloggers.

  7. Sarah Stout
    March 21, 2019 / 11:07 am

    I loved these thoughts. I would love to learn more about pinterest and the plug ins you use!

    • thebookfamilyrogerson
      Author
      March 22, 2019 / 9:26 pm

      Great! I will publish something next month. There’s a lot to share so I might have to break it into a few different posts.

  8. March 21, 2019 / 4:26 pm

    Your blog rocks and I am so glad to have met you through our little online world xx

    • thebookfamilyrogerson
      Author
      March 22, 2019 / 9:27 pm

      Thanks so much Susan! And likewise – we’ve been friends for almost two years now! xx

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