Increasing your following, engagement and overall stats of your book blog isn’t easy. Never mind when you’re a newbie/small blogger, feeling overwhelmed with everything you need to be doing. The points I’m sharing today, are ones which have helped me, throughout my 3 years as a book blogger. I’ve split up the main three sections, with subsections within so we can dive a bit deeper into the how’s, what’s and why’s. I hope this post can help you out but a reminder that you should be having fun when blogging!
Before we dive into this post, I’d just like to say THANK YOU SO MUCH for 1,000 followers on my lil blog here. It means so incredibly much to me, even though I feel like I don’t deserve it, as I don’t post the typical content for a book blogger. I’m glad so many of you chose to follow me and enjoy my content!
Would like to shower Caitlin @ Caitlin Althea with love, for her wonderful post on How To Get People To Follow Your Blog!, which inspired this post! I adore Caitlin’s blog and posts, so make sure you check her out, read her content and if you like what you find, hit the follow button!
This section focuses on the blog’s homepage, also known as the landing page. What you display on this page, how you display it and how your blog visually appears; are all important factors in keeping people on your blog. Less is more. Especially with graphics and imagery, of course complex designs look stunning, yet the simple graphics/designs look just as stunning. It’s trying to find that balance between stunning imagery/graphics and simplicity to create a beautiful contrast.
Visuals & Navigation Menu
Your blog’s design matters. There is no getting around it. For newbie/small book bloggers, this can be pretty overwhelming. Don’t overcomplicate things. There are lots of ways to create an aesthetically pleasing blog, with an easy navigation menu, even if you’re not able to draw. What matters here, is having an eye for colours, composition and layout. It also helps if you can get feedback from friends (maybe fellow book bloggers?) as they can help point out where things need tweaking, improving or if something just isn’t working.
Your blog is your online space. You want people to stick around, to read your content, not click away at the mere sight of it. If you’re struggling with how to design it, or you feel unable to bring your vision to life, then you could either purchase graphics and play about with layouts yourself; you could use images which are free to use for commercial purposes or you could pay/commission someone for them to do the design work for you!
Not only is the overall aesthetic, helpful in keeping people on the blog, so is the navigation menu. When I hop over to new blogs, I do enjoy having a good snoop at their menus. I always get a bit sad there’s not much for me to read. I enjoy learning about a blogger, as well as being able to get a quick glimpse at the type of content they typically post.
Unsure on how to structure your menus? Take inspiration from other book bloggers, look at how they arrange and organise their menus. What works, what doesn’t? What do you like and what don’t you like? What is going to be useful for you and what isn’t?
These are all good things to consider when looking and taking inspiration from others. Not just their menus but you can pretty much take inspiration from a book bloggers entire layout…just ensure you don’t make a carbon copy of it. You want your blog to reflect you, a layout that works for someone may not work for you! For example, there’s literally no point in me having a dedicated category or section on my blog for book reviews. I don’t do them. So I didn’t need that section.
Important Pages To Have
These important pages are specific to book bloggers. You don’t need to have all of these pages but the ones in with *** you do for legal reasons.
- About Me/The Blog: Neither of these pages are vital. However I find them super helpful, for giving people a quick snapshot of, who you are and what the blog is about. It can be fun to get creative with the pages layout too! I know many of us struggle writing about ourselves, I would highly encourage you all to read other bloggers pages. They can give you a flavour for what you could include, how to format it and so on.
- ***Disclaimers: In my Disclaimers page I cover graphics, drawings/writing, FTC and content. I find it easier to compile all the disclaimers into one page, than having separate pages for each type of disclaimer.
- Review Policy: Not mandatory but extremely helpful if you want to review books. Although many authors, who reach out to you, will not have read it (>.> speaking from experience). It’s always useful to have one because you can then point authors towards it, if say they ask for a review but you’re not accepting review requests right now.
- Other: By other I mean there are so many other pages you could and can create! A page is a constant presence on your site. It should be easily accessible, so visitors don’t have to hunt for it, like they do a blog post. Pages make good places to collate a lot of posts if they all have a common thread, offering information in one space. For example I have a page called ‘My Posts Elsewhere’ – like the name suggests, it’s a place for me collate all of my guest/collab posts in one place. That way if someone’s curious they can easily check it out.
Again for all these pages, you can gain inspiration, help and tips from checking out other book bloggers pages. In the beginning I read no end of posts relating to pages, how to write them, what to put in them and I spent a lot of time snooping at friends pages for how to phrase things.
Streamline Your Sidebar
It’s not a junk draw. I know it’s super exciting to have a sidebar but you don’t need to put everything it it. The truth is, not everything needs to be in the sidebar. The sidebar is a space to display important information, whether it’s to aid in navigation or to give the viewer a glimpse of something. It is of course your blog, your space…I mean treat it like a junk draw if you want. However you may find if it gets cluttered, you start to feel a bit overwhelmed whenever you see it.
- About You: Yes you have a page dedicated to yourself. However it’s nice to have an image (doesn’t have to be you! could be a stack of books, nature, a pet etc) and a little intro, on who you are and what you cover on the blog. It’s a smaller snapshot compared to your about page but I encourage you to place a link back to your about page!
- Social Media Links: I put these in the sidebar. Some themes have a set space for them, which I have never used as the sidebar is easy access for people. Plus I prefer having control over the design of the social media icons so it can match my colour scheme.
- Follow Button: Have a follow button/s somewhere on your blog, make it really easy for people to follow you. Don’t make people go hunting around for how to follow your blog.
- Categories: Having the categories at the side or even the yearly archive is a nice way for people to filter through your content.
- Badges/Buttons: You can display any badges or buttons you want to in the sidebar, for example I have the Teen Influencers badge displayed.
You can of course have so much more in your sidebar BUT take into account that the more you have on your home page. The longer it may take for certain devices to load your blog page. Think about what you need there and then after you’ve covered that, add one or two things that you want there because it’s pretty or you feel like it’s nice to have it there.
For all the visuals affect your blog, you’re not on instagram, your book blog is written content primarily. I would definitely say content improvement isn’t just going to benefit your readers. It’ll also benefit you! When you feel proud of your content, you may find yourself wanting to promote it more on social media, which is going to help you draw in new viewers, more engagement etc. Again, all these tips can be done regardless of if your on Free WordPress, Blogger, Self Hosted etc.
Formatting: Graphics, Colours, HTML etc
How your thoughts, points and general musings are laid out will make a difference on whether someone reads the entire post or if they click out of it. The colours you choose to use ideally should go with your chosen colour palette. I would suggest for text, you stick to black text and maybe change the colour for any links in the text. I do that to help draw attention to where the link is embedded, in the text, it’s also a nice pop of colour to have.
Too text heavy? It becomes hard to digest. Use graphics, images, different text sizes, GIFs to help break up your text. Not enough text? Never fear, people will still read but you should try and emphasis certain sentences or points. This will help the reader to remember some key points, short posts are wonderful but can be a struggle for what to comment! Add questions at the end, give the reader help and prompts, for what to comment on the post. Your formatting should not only be visually pleasing to you (and hopefully others!) but it should also be functional.
HTML is available for everyone to play with, whether you’re using Free WordPress or not. Look up HTML posts, read them, play around with it. Customise it to fit with your colour scheme. If you feel like it give certain elements a specific role like I do. Quick example, you will only ever see a double lined blue box to draw your attention to a related blog post/content. That’s the role I gave to the blue double lined box.
Prioritise Creating Content You Love
When you prioritise channelling your energy into creating content YOU love – everything changes! At least it did for me. I’m not talking about the stats suddenly sky rocketing. I’m talking about falling in love with your blog, with your posts, with your space on the internet.
Just like the overall appearances affects your feelings for your blog, so does the type of content you create. I was never excited to review books on my blog. I didn’t create this blog with the intent to review – so once I allowed myself to be free from reviews – I began to felt happier with my blog. There’s no point forcing yourself to do something, just because it’s a staple of your blogs niche. There’s the smaller matter that I am useless with coherent reviews, I’m just not cut out for reviews. I am cut out for sharing my thoughts and general musing on books though which will be in a feature coming soon.
Nothing lights up my soul like putting together a discussion post or some sort of helpful/informative post. Being able to share my thoughts, feelings, advice with everyone makes me happy. Of course I do miss being able to talk books with everyone but that will happen still…when I read the books I want to for upcoming posts.
Also the whole sticking to one niche? I’ve found it helpful to view my blog as this: primary niche is books, secondary niche is lifestyle. Due to lifestyle encompassing pretty much everything and anything. It’s allowed me to be free from the restrictions, I’d placed on myself to only create bookish content. I adore books, I also adore blogging and so many other things. I wanted my content to reflect that and once I began to prioritise that; I began to slowly fall in love with blogging all over again.
Link Related Blog Posts
Both your own blog posts AND other blog posts you’ve found helpful, useful or are somehow tied into a specific point to your post. This is something I’ve recently begun implementing more seriously. I’ve always linked back to other people’s posts. I enjoy giving people credit for inspiring me and for their wonderful ideas. I enjoy sharing people’s posts, in my own, if they relate to something I say.
In the last few months, I stepped my game up, as I began to link back more consistently to my own posts. Yes old posts are cringeworthy BUT a lot of the time we’ve made really good points. Your old content can end up collecting dust, it’s up to YOU to put it back into the spotlight. The easiest way to do this is linking it within a new blog posts. Don’t randomly link to old posts though.
I mean you can, who am I to stop you. I’d suggest linking to a post, which is relevant, to a paragraph or the entire post. You’ve already seen me do it throughout this post but I’ll show you again.
Another thing to note, people often won’t trawl through your archive of posts, by linking to your own posts within a post, you’re helping new people find them. If a book blogger presents me with a link to a related blog post or just links to blog posts…9/10 I will click on them if they pique my interest. You’re then driving traffic to another post plus the reader is getting something out of it – that is another wonderful insightful post from you!
Personally I really enjoy linking to other people’s posts, within my own, it makes me feel like I’m showering them with bit of sunshine and love. It’s a small thing but whenever someone does it for me I become a puddle of emotions. The simple act of linking to another book bloggers post, which can make their day, because you thought of them and their post which they pored hours into.
All of this is applicable for any posts, videos and content you feel may be of use to your reader! Sometimes I’ll link to a YouTube video, although that’s a rare occurrence it’s still something I may do. If I feel like the video is useful.
Tips For Small Book Blogs
Whether you’re a small or big book blogger, these tips are important to keep in mind. If you are a small book blogger, please remember that those big blogs you hop to, those bloggers adore meaningful engagement. You may find us scary but it’s literally just numbers…we’re all people so if you’re looking to grow. Forge meaningful, genuine friendships within the community. We’re a pretty small community, I’ve recently become closer to some book bloggers who I looked up to a lot. It’s such a wonderful feeling, just don’t let fear or self doubt hold you back from engaging with us ❤
I’m sure you’ve read this a million times. I will never stop saying this though. Regardless of how many followers your blog has, blog hopping is a good way of getting your blog out there. The more consistent you are at blog hopping, the more likely it is you’ll catch the attention of the bloggers you visit. I don’t mean you need to be blog hopping to 20 posts a day (unless you’re able to do that – in which case share your energy with us please!) Blog hop when you can, find a rhythm for you, ensure you’re genuinely engaging with the posts. If you don’t have anything to comment, don’t comment. I have checked out people’s blogs before now if I notice they consistently like my posts.
Consistently doesn’t mean quantity, in fact I would argue, it means little but often. It’s ok if you’re not able to do that, I tend to blog hop in batches when I have the energy. I know when I have the energy to not only focus on posts but to also leave meaningful comments. Sometimes my brain is just mush and I’m too drained to form coherent sentences.
Go At YOUR Pace
This ties in with scheduling. Learning to create and respect your own boundaries as well as not taking on too much at once. Don’t try to compete with anyone but yourself. Comparing yourself and blog is natural, it’s something many of us do, it’s ok to compare. Just remember that no one else is in your shoes. If you can only post once a month, that’s ok, if you post sporadically 15 times a month but you don’t have set days to post…that’s ok too! You will eventually find your rhythm. At the beginning it can be tempting to go all out. Post all the content, do all the things but all that’s going to do is burn you out.
Growing your blog will happen over time, for some it’s quicker than for others and sometimes your blog may be really well known in the community but you may not have the stats to match that just yet. Leading nicely onto my next point…
Stats Don’t Define Your Worth
Data is fun to track, to analyse but we are people not stats. Some blogs may have a high follower count but low daily/weekly/monthly stats and vice versa. What you consider to be low stats, will be another persons high stats, which they’d give anything for. It’s all about perspective. Remember that even if you are a small blog…someone out there is looking up to you thinking how amazing you are. How big your blog is. For example, I remember when I was looking up to people who had 100 followers, never mind 200, 300, 500, 700 or 1,000. We’ve all felt joy when we first hit those first 100 followers. We’ve all been in awe and maybe in envy of someone we look up to, hitting a milestone we can only dream of.
It’s ok to be jealous, to wish you had that amount of followers or those stats but don’t get so caught up in it, that it’s all you think about. I hardly check my stats, I don’t track them but I’m also lucky in that I don’t really need to. I have no reason to as I don’t work with publishers or authors at the moment.
Long post but I hope it was helpful for some of you! How do you engage with blog posts? Do you have any advice/tips of your own to share in the comments? Talk to me friends! Also if you’re a new/small book blogger DON’T BE SCARED TO COMMENT please, if you leave a lovely comment it’ll make my day.
also more likely that I’ll snoop on over to your blog, no promises though