If you love to spend your days cozying up to your newest book with your laptop by your side, then you may just be a blogging bibliophile. More than your ordinary book lover, you also love to write about what you read and share it with others. If this sounds grammatically correct, then you might be wondering how to start a book blog and maybe even earn a bit of cash (to purchase more books, obviously).
Blogging about books? Is that even… lucrative? While it's certainly not as luxurious as fashion or beauty blogging, starting a book blog can be financially-rewarding if you implement the right strategies. Professional bloggers across the board earn money by learning and implementing SEO, affiliate marketing, sponsorships, and more. By providing value and insight, bloggers are able to garner and grow a community. The same can be done for the bookworms among us. If you feel like your book blog won't be read by anyone, think again! It's actually one of the best blogs to start if it's a community of readers you're trying to appeal to.
A book blog is especially useful for those curious chapter-turners who are hunting for their next great novel. Each time you read a book, you can share it with your audience! Overtime, your book blog can become like its own online library filled with reading recommendations, in-depth book reviews, and fun book gossip. You can grow an email list, earn from affiliate links each time you recommend a book, and not to mention, receive advanced copies for free (or for a price) in exchange for a write-up or mention.
Like any good book, starting a book blog requires a bit of patience, trial and error, and effective storytelling. Before you hang up your blogging dreams on the shelf, here is my proven method for how to start a successful book blog.
How To Start A Profitable Book Blog Business
Pick A Brand & Domain Name For Your Book Blog
As a bookworm yourself, you know that any good book has a strong title and branding. It's the same for your book blog! Picking a brand and domain name is the first step in building a blog. This is an easy yet fun part of the process, so make sure to consider it wisely but don't get hung up here. With the literary world at your fingertips, there's a myriad of book blog name ideas to get your creative juices flowing.
Even more important than your blog name is perhaps your blog's purpose. Why do you want to start a book blog? The answer, like a tense book ending, will reveal how you will approach your book blog. Because of the endless possibilities concerning what to exactly write about on a book blog, it would be extremely wise to pick a niche within the book + blogging industry. For example, your book blog could focus on historical works or one author or a combination of several niches, like books and travel.
A perfect example of a book blog that combines the best of both worlds, in this case, books and booze, is The Uncorked Librarian. Christine is a bookworm, traveler, and self-made sommelier. She combines her passions for books, wine, and travel and blogs about it all on TUL in a relatable way. Her branding is spot-on evoking a sense of bookish, sometimes tipsy, wanderlust.
One more cool example of a book blog I found recently was called What's Hot, and is a combination of book and travel, which is a very cool way to combine the niches. Imagine reading Jack Kerouac in a class American Diner or The Stranger in a French café, and you'll get it.
Build The Blog
After picking a clever brand name to represent your book blog's identity, now it's time to concretely build the blog. This can be easily done in three simple steps.
- Website Builder (CMS)
The domain, as you may know, is the URL that displays at the top of your search bar. This is what you and your readers will see when landing on one of your articles or finding you in search results (i.e., mybookblog.com). When you buy your domain, it's usually easier to purchase it from the same place you will host your website with.
Choosing the best hosting provider is the next step in building the perfect blog. There are two I would recommend looking into – Bluehost and Kinsta. Bluehost is the cheaper, beginner-friendly hosting plan that offers inexpensive monthly rates (less than $10/month) in exchange for good-quality (but not excellent) service. With Bluehost, your book website will be hosted on a shared server. Although this isn't bad per se, this can severely slow down your blog (especially as you grow).
Kinsta, on the other hand, is a premium managed WordPress hosting provider that specializes in lightning-fast service. It is one of the top-rated in the industry for providing faster website speeds and security. The plot twist however is that Kinsta comes at a much higher monthly rate, with plans starting at $30/month.
Thirdly, as is best practice when starting an affiliate blog, you need to choose the best content management system – aka CMS or website builder. In my experience over the last decade, WordPress is the best blog builder. With endless customization options, essential plug-ins to scale your business, and more, it's been my website builder of choice time and time again. I explain more in detail as to why in the below video if you want to check it out.
How To Grow Your Book Blog
Every author knows that no matter how good of a storyteller you are, unless you can market yourself and get your book in people's hands, then you won't grow your sales. As you can guess, the same is true with a book blog, instead, you want to get eyeballs, not hands, on your blog.
Free Traffic From Search Engines
To grow your book blog, you'll need a little help. from Google and search engines. Similar to Amazon's Top 10 on the book charts, you want your book blog to appear in Google's Top 10. With a book blog, you can target queries like “X book blog review.” This is the essence of keyword research, and learning how to do it and do it well will be key in growing your book blog.
Just like with an actual book, you'll need encaptivating content on your blog. Without it, your readers won't stick around. That's why you should learn about your audience, their interests, and stick to a content publishing schedule furiously. The more articles available on your website, the more you will appear as an authority and resource in Google's eyes (and the likelier your articles will rank). This, and more, is what accounts for good SEO (Search Engine Optimization). Learning the basics of SEO will get you started on the right track so you don't have to make tedious edits afterward.
Social Media + Networking
An essential part of marketing these days is having a strong social media strategy. Even if you are a book blogger, there are people out there on Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, etc., seeking out content like yours. The hashtag #bookstagram on Instagram alone has 50.8 million posts! That's a pretty good indicator that there's an audience – and a big one at that – to capture. As you probably already know, fellow bookworms love to chat about books. People love resharing book passages, especially relatable quotes about life, mined like gold from the passionate scribbles of authors across history.
Tap into that and become a part of the community. Engage with others, join book clubs, and invite others to join yours! Share your thoughts and opinions about books you love – or take on a critical approach. No matter what your stance or your strategy, you can start attracting your own community from day 1. Soon enough, you'll see that your book blog has the potential for huge growth, which you can then consider monetizing.
How To Make Money From Your Book Blog
Can you really make money with a book review blog? Yes! Even if you only want to make money reviewing books, there are many ways to bank from the book world. There are generally three ways to make money from blogs, and that goes for book blogs too.
One of the biggest ways bloggers make money from their blogs is through affiliate marketing. You might be thinking, but what else, other than books, can I promote? First, there are several book affiliate programs to join and get inspired by. Second, don't overlook books simply because they're (mostly) inexpensive products. You don't need to link to a costly item in order to make great commissions.
If you write book reviews on your blog, you can link out to that book with Amazon's Affiliate Program, for example, and earn on the purchases of that book plus anything else the user buys within 24 hours. This can mean huge earnings, especially if you are ranked #1 for a book keyword like “Best Romance Books to Read in the Fall” in which you include affiliate links for each book recommendation. You can also do a specific book review if you've read it and want to share your feedback.
If you encourage your readers to click through, even if it's to read more reviews about it and see the star rating, then your CTR (click-through-rate) will be quite high. With a good amount of traffic on your blog every day and month, those sales could really rack up! Plus, if someone came to your blog once and enjoyed your review, chances are they'll keep coming back for your latest thoughts and updates reviews on what to read next.
Display ads are another way to monetize a book blog. This method is a less-hands-on approach and thus is often heavily used by bloggers to generate passive income. To join an ad management company, your book website will need to have decent monthly traffic. If your affiliate marketing game is strong, you might consider not putting ads until your traffic grows. I joined Mediavine once I passed 25,000 (now it's 50K minimum threshold) and I have been able to generate a few extra thousand each month, without doing any extra work! You can read more about my display ads testimonial in my Mediavine income report here.
In the book blogging world, it's definitely possible to land a few book clients. This income might not come consistently after first. You can either wait for opportunities or send your media kit out to publishers and publicists who are often on the hunt to get their client's book out in advance to bump up pre-sales. It's unlikely you'll make tons with sponsored posts/reviews unless you have fantastic marketing skills and can show your strength in numbers.
But even so, fellow book bloggers are rallying together in protest of how paid campaigns are aplenty for other influencers but not so much in the book blogging industry. It's only fair that book bloggers are paid for their reviews as much as another blogger. You can help change that by asking for payment in exchange for your time. It takes hours to read a book from cover to cover, and then write an honest, awesome review about it. Reading free books is fun, but it won't pay the bills.
Why Book Blogging Is An Evergreen Business Opportunity
People truly love books. Nowadays with our new digital economy and reliance on reviews for practically everything, books – and book reviewers or bloggers – aren't going anywhere (unless to a place far, far away in a magical kingdom).
Plus, with e-readers and Kindles making waves in how we consume books, there's even more potential to monetize with a book blog. New tech is surfing each and every day. Now, more than ever, people are searching online for valuable information that will save them time. For example, what could be more time-saving than skipping a book that didn't come recommended by your favorite book blogger? And where there's value to be given and shared, there's a financial opportunity. That said, there are many ways to create an evergreen business out of a book blog.
The question is not how to start a profitable book blog, but when! Like the millions of books out there waiting to be discovered, so are the opportunities for you that await, lying dormant, in the book blogging industry.
It's Time To Take Action!
You've read this far. What's holding you back?
Earning consistent income from a blog is not some kind of crazy, pie in the sky dream anymore. Millions of people start and run their entire business from a laptop.
The secret is out. The trail has been blazed. Just follow the steps and make it happen.
Do you want it bad enough to make it a reality? Stop reading and start doing. Here's how to build a blog and make money, even if you have no previous experience.