FAQ: Getting Started

This post is the first in a new feature that has been a long time in the making. Ever since the beginning of 2017 I have received numerous messages from various bloggers asking me questions on how I got my blog started, how I’ve developed relationships with other bloggers, authors, and publishers, and in what ways I have gone about promoting my blog. While I feel less than qualified to be giving advice to others (as I’m still relatively new to blogging myself), I thought it would be easier to write a series of posts in lieu of replying individually to each person who has contacted me. Please remember I can only give advice from my personal experiences, and what worked for me may not work best for everyone. First and foremost you need to find a groove that is unique to you. I remember how intimidating starting a blog was and how confused I felt at every step, so my hope is to save other bloggers the time and frustration I felt initially to be better put into writing your posts! My plan is to start by covering the 5 most popular and frequent questions I’ve received to date, but please feel free to keep submitting questions via my contact page on the blog; if I don’t know the answer I’ll do my best to find someone who does. I’ll be addressing Question #1 today, and the next one in post #2, etc.

 

 

 

 

 

 


Q#1: GETTING STARTED

Today I want to cover some of the basics of book blogging, or what I would consider the necessities of getting your blog off of the ground. If you have yet to create your blog, you will need to choose a platform to post on, WordPress and Blogger being two of the most popular. I chose Wordpress because it felt a little more user friendly for those of us who are tech challenged, but both sites have a high quality feel even on their free sites. Once you have chosen your blog name and domain, go ahead and start getting creative in designing a graphic unique to your blog with the name on it. If you aren’t design savvy (don’t worry, I’m not either), you can create an account on a site like Canva and use their free options to create some quality graphics. You will also need to decide what type of content you’ll be posting. Are you solely sharing book reviews, or will you be including additional content such as author interviews, guest and discussion posts, weekly memes, etc? If you feel confused as to what all these are, not to worry, I’ll be going into this in detail on one of the future posts I have scheduled. Once you have this all determined, you’re ready to get going!

If you have decided to just post book reviews in various forms on your blog, congratulations! The good news is there is no “right” and “wrong” way when it comes to formatting and design. Most people choose to include some information about the book, along with a picture of the cover either from Goodreads or one of your own if you run a Bookstagram account (more on those in a future post). When I started writing my reviews, I wanted to establish a general format that all future reviews would follow, and I would highly recommend doing so. This doesn’t mean you can’t play around with formatting and picture types, just that it helps to find a balance of consistency to your ever changing content. I decided early on that I wanted to include the following information at the beginning of every review: Cover Photo, Title, Author, Series, Genres, Link to my Goodreads Review, Date Read, Publishing Date, and Star Rating. After this, I include the book summary that is typically found on the inside jacket cover before jumping into my review. I don’t usually incorporate any summary or rehashing of a book’s plot in my posts, so I think it’s important to have that information handy for my viewers; they may not be familiar with the book and they can tell instantly if it’s a book they would contemplate reading. This is by no means an instruction on how to write your reviews, simply just an example of how I do mine. As always, keep it unique and timely to your own style; this will be the factor that attracts a loyal following.

Now that you have your post format decided and you have begun uploading reviews, how do you gain an audience? How do I start getting those free books in the mail? I’m going to stop here for a moment and address a common misconception about book blogging. Free books are one of the BEST perks in blogging, but if this is your whole reason in doing so, I’m afraid you are going to be sorely disappointed. Ask any book blogger and they will tell you that ARCs (Advance Review Copies) are a blessing and a curse; there is a heck of a lot of work expected from you when you receive these and many people who start their blog without having a passion for the writing side burn out within the first year. Here are some of the blogging tasks that I perform daily:

  • 1-2 hours on computer reading/sharing other blogger posts, replying to blog notifications via Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Goodreads since I went to bed. This also includes sharing my latest post that went up in the middle of the night to the following social media accounts as well as uploading new Bookstagram pictures.
  • Reading at the gym 1-2 hours per day Monday-Friday (occasionally Saturday) while my kids play in childcare. This opens up the rest of the time they are awake to focus solely on them.
  • 1-2 hours per day writing posts and setting up auto posting for upcoming posts during the week, while also posting reviews to Goodreads, NetGalley, Publishers, etc. I usually try to respond to blog related emails with authors and publishers during this time too. This usually happens while my kids are napping in the afternoon.
  • Usually once my kids are in bed (between 7:30-8pm), I try to spend another 1-2 hours catching up on review copies and writing posts for the blog. I also use this time to respond to messages via my blog, FB, Twitter, Instagram, and Goodreads and handle all my social media accounts to shut down for the day. If Mr. Humphrey is traveling during this time, I usually spend the remainder of the evening handling blog stuff until I go to bed.

Again, this isn’t an EXACT everyday schedule, but just some typical structuring. If you counted up, that’s a minimum of 5 hours per day handling blog related responsibilities. That doesn’t even include the time it takes to organize your TBR for the month to ensure your timeline is on schedule and taking pictures for publishers and authors of their books. I’m not saying this to complain; far from it! I thrive on all of this, which is why I enjoy blogging; my big picture point is that, if all you want is free or advanced books, you will be sorely disappointed in blogging and I’d like to save you the energy and effort that will be wasted in such. If this hasn’t scared you off and you have a passion for promoting authors and sharing reviews to fellow readers, I think you’re off to a great start and you will flourish in your journey. Today, I just wanted to dip our toes into the very basics of book blogging, as I had multiple people message asking how to get a blog going with no experience or expertise in any form. My next post will be titled PUBLISHER CONTACTS, and I’ll be touching on everything from NetGalley, to Blogging Databases and Publisher mailing lists. We’ll even discuss the proper ways to approach authors about reviewing their books. Thanks for sticking with me this far and I’m looking forward to getting in to the fun stuff next time! ❤

 

 

 

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About The Suspense Is Thrilling Me

Chelsea is a happily married mother of two who's love of mysteries can be traced back to her first Nancy Drew experience. When not reading and writing book reviews, she likes to drink wine in her jammies and pretend that she exercises.
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72 Responses to FAQ: Getting Started

  1. Pingback: FAQ: Publisher Contacts |

  2. Thank You so much for this post! I have recently begun my book blog and lets face it… the blogosphere is HUGE and its SO SO SO easy to get lost and feel a bit discouraged at times. I have been struggling to find the best nitch that works for me in reading and reviewing. Current struggle: Reviewing books without going too much off on a philosophical tangent.
    I loved how insightful, informative and honest your post was. Till next time ! 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  3. katy Reeve says:

    This is just what I have been searching for, helpful advice from someone who is doing it so well. I discovered you through MMD’s podcast and I am so glad I did. I love children’s literature – I am in the process of starting out as a blogger who can help parents develop their children’s love of reading – I have realised through this that I am trying to cover too many bases! Back to the drawing board – Thank you. I can’t wait to read the rest of this series, I really need a supportive community to develop.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Thank you for sharing this! Very helpful 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  5. k2reader says:

    What a great post and I am so looking forward to the rest of this series, Chelsea! I’ve been blogging for almost 8 years and I still feel that I have more to learn. It’s definitely a time-consuming hobby, that’s for sure 🙂 I’m on blogger, and while I’m happy there for the most part, there are still things about that platform I don’t know about, but at this point it’s more a comfort thing…I’m not sure I’m willing to make the leap to switch to wordpress. I have some major research to do before making that commitment! Anyway, I think you certainly hit the nail on the head about just how much work blogging about books is – work I certainly love doing as there is nothing more I love to do than share my enthusiasm about the books I am reading – but it is work! Can’t wait to read the rest of this series!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. sarahwestbrooksmith says:

    Thank you for sharing this post! I love the bullet points on what your time commitments to the blog look like. I’ve dabbled a bit on my blog, but am finally in a space where I can concentrate on it more. Also, loved the WSIRN podcast and how you shared about your blogging journey. Really appreciate the transparency and helpful information.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. To be completely honest, I am NOT an organized blogger. I have no schedule; speaking of which, I asked a blogging friend of mine if we could do a collab, a week ago, and she told me she wasn’t free to post it until June 12th! I don’t mind that at all, but WOW that is organization! 😂Like, good job! Haha I just go through my reader on the bus ride to school in the morning, and write my blog posts when I’m done with homework, and don’t have sports. I feel like maybe it would be nice to buy a little planner so I could write my blog post ideas down? Anyways, great advice in this post, thanks!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. ireadnovels says:

    Looking forward to your next post publisher contacts

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Pingback: Weekly Wrap-Up: 6/2 |

  10. This is an amazing post and you have some really great advice. I can’t wait to read your next post!! I have been blogging for almost a year but I am always eager to learn what I could do differently or what I am doing that is right.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. melmart13 says:

    Lovely review as always, Chel. I have been blogging for free on blogger for almost 3 years? I barely have any followers, unlike your 7000+, but my reviews are not that great and they haven’t gotten better. Well, they were okay for a bit but now I’m starting to burn out and thinking about quitting all together. It seems to be a rat race from my experiences and only the most popular will succeed. I tried blogging on wordpress then stopped because I find it harder to navigate than blogger. I can’t figure out how to add much of anything on wordpress. And even though I’m home bound and have all the time to do reviews and stuff, it’s causing problems with my health problems. I don’t like a lot of social media so I don’t get on fb any more and I only do blogger, google plus, bloglovin and goodreads. I would be crazier if I had to post stuff on all of those other places and I’m just not interested. I wish I could be a booktuber, but I can’t get up the nerve. I would like that better though =) I’m going to continue to read your posts about this because I like them and am interested. =) Mel ♥

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh Mel I’m so happy you found me here! *hugs* You are one of my favorites on Goodreads and I look forward to your reviews consistently. Please don’t shut down shop! ❤ What's the link to your blog? I would love to come check it out and can't figure out how I didn't find it before. I admit I don't know much about blogger, but I do know that WordPress can be a bear and the only way I am able to navigate it is via Mr. Humphrey. Hehe. The social media is what brings in most of my followers, but I do understand not wanting to tackle that beast as well. Lots of love friend and lmk if I can do anything to help out! XO

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Fab post! You busy woman 😀 I wish I’d known just how time-consuming blogging is as a hobby when I started!! I still struggle to find time to read and share every day because I’m following different programs (English, anxiety+uni studies) so there’s a bit of guilt here. For example, I have 31 comments waiting from yesterday and my day is so booked today that I only have 30 minutes!!!! But I prefer to let it go and settle somewhere with my blog when I do have the time, and it’s okay not to share or be present every day. It’ll never make me a successful blogger as some people see them, but I’m happy this way, so it’s my way of being successful! xxx

    Liked by 1 person

    • I could not agree more Donna. I think the beauty of blogging is finding your own rhythm and what works for you. And that is a point I’ll be touching on later, time management and blogger guilt surrounding sharing posts and a social media presence.

      Like

  13. Great post Chelsea! Yup… getting started can be a bit daunting, I sure could have used some of this great advice a few months ago. Bloggers new and old I’m sure will love these posts! One question for you…What time do you set the auto post for? I’ve been trying to decide this and just have no idea with all the time different time zones around the world.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. I could have used these words of wisdom a few months ago! Looking forward to your next posts. I still have so much to learn!

    Liked by 1 person

  15. This is great I’m going to be keeping my eye out for more posts I’m interested in finding out more ways to promote my blog.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Yvo says:

    Excellent post and very useful! I will be looking forward to the next ones.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. novelgossip says:

    So much yes! I’m so excited about this series, what an awesome idea.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. When I first started about 8 months ago, I was so excited to get ARCs and be asked to host a blog tour that I accepted and requested everything I could! Now that I understand how time consuming it can be, I have severely limited my blog tours that require reviews to books I only really want to read. I wish I could be as selective in my NetGalley requests, but I think I’ve given up on that! HA This is a great post! I love reading how others organize their time with their blogs and reading. I’ve given up exercising for reading, but I love the idea of combining the two! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Annie says:

    Such a great post Chelsea! Sharing so all newbies can read ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  20. Lots of fabulous advice here, lady! I’m so glad to see your schedule. I need to work on mine. I tend to get sucked into the social media storm of promoting the blog and that throws me off. Getting a schedule like this put together and sticking to it is definitely my next major blogging hurdle!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh girl I feel you. It’s my biggest struggle too! It’s so fun promoting and conversing with other bloggers. I finally had to start taking segments of one where I am “technology free” (aside from my kindle if that’s what I’m reading on) and that has helped tremendously!

      Liked by 1 person

      • I need to do that. I’m not getting as much reading done as I want, because I feel like I can’t miss anything on SM. In the infamous words of Ron Weasley, “She needs to sort out her priorities.” LOL.

        Liked by 1 person

  21. LairOfBooks says:

    Loving this new segment/feature on your blog Chelsea! I love that you’re keepin’ it real as they say lol. Blogging is very time consuming & I see a lot of bloggers fall of the radar all too soon because they got into it for the ARCS. It’s a great perk but it will not sustain you. I have 2 tiny humans & a hubby myself & making use of my free time has now become one of my superhuman abilities haha! but for the same reasons, while they’re around I want to give them 100% of me. I read during my long commute to & from work, on lunch hours, nap times on the wknds & after hours after hubby & I have our quality time. I lucked out with a reader for a hubby so that helps too when we wanna catch up on our current reads once a week. I didn’t have anyone telling me the nitty gritty of blogging but I’m so glad your readers have you to guide them. The reading blogosphere is one of the best if not THE best 😉

    P.S. can’t wait to check out your next segment <3!

    Liked by 1 person

  22. Great post Chelsea! I still have so much to learn from you. I have no idea how you manage to budget your time. It’s amazing!

    Like

  23. I love this. Such a great post and I can’t wait for the next ones!

    Liked by 1 person

  24. Awesome post Chelsea, can’t wait for the next one!!

    Liked by 1 person

  25. Hollie says:

    This post is amazing!! I will be putting all your advice to work ❤️

    Liked by 1 person

  26. Great post! My only question: how do you read at the gym?!? Now that is talent 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  27. Look at you Chelsea, already a master at what you do and helping the newbies. Keep up the great work and even better reviews!

    Liked by 1 person

  28. Dr. Stacey L. Camp says:

    Thanks for this. It’s really clear how much time you put into reviews, and I am sure the authors and publishers greatly appreciate it (and free books are the best pay in my opinion!).

    Do you have tips on how to pick “good” Netgalley books to read, or how to handle books that should receive bad reviews? I feel horrible giving people bad reviews because I am an author (not mystery, and barely anyone reads my academic books lol), too, and I’d rather say something nice or say nothing at all. If it’s a big name author, then I’m okay writing a negative review, but if it is someone who is just starting out, I really feel bad about it. Have you ever had an author get mad at you for a bad review (I could see this turning into a really good plot for a thriller book haha!)?

    Also, what if you start reading a book and just can’t get through it? I’ve experienced that several times, and my time is precious given I work full-time and have kiddos, too.

    Finally, are there people who do this work full-time (e.g. get paid in $$ and not books to do it)? There have to be people like nowadays given the power of social media and the internet. Many, many moons ago I worked for a literary agent reading books and writing synopses for just the agent, but I imagine today’s world employees people to publish reviews online.

    Thanks again for the great post, and I am glad to have started following your account on Goodreads. You inspired me to start a blog, and I appreciate the tips!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh thank you so much for your kind words! I am out running around currently but will try and sit down and read through your entire post tonight ❤️ I will say hat most of the questions you asked I’ll be addressing in the future posts of this series 👏🏼👍🏼

      Liked by 1 person

      • Dr. Stacey L. Camp says:

        No rush to reply – I can wait for the future posts! Have a wonderful day, and thanks again for the fabulous post. It will give so many other readers an opportunity to read ARCs!

        Liked by 1 person

  29. susieqlaw says:

    Thank you. This blog post is so helpful.

    Liked by 1 person

  30. Glad you put in about Arcs they really are lovely when you receive them but are a lot of work as well. Same way when you are part of blogtours. Yes it is a perk but many still buy the books they receive as well

    Liked by 1 person

  31. Kelby says:

    Thank you for this post! I just put up my first post on my blog yesterday and am excited to get it up and running!!

    Liked by 1 person

  32. soultogive says:

    Really helpful, thanks!

    Liked by 1 person

  33. Thank you so much for this piece – loved hearing how you integrate reviewing into the rest of your life.

    Liked by 2 people

  34. Jessica's Reading Room says:

    This is great advice and I cant wait to see where this series goes. Blogging with a full time job is very difficult. I may have an hour or so of free time in the evenings and I have to decide how to sue that (blogging stuff, reading, watching tv, or even spend time with the hubby!)

    Liked by 2 people

  35. Great post with some really good advice. Blogging definitely takes up a lot more time than I thought it would but I absolutely love interacting with other bloggers.
    One piece of advice I’ll add is that WordPress do have free courses like Blogging 101 which I found extremely useful as a tech challenged newbie.

    Liked by 1 person

  36. Great advice which I wished I knew before I started, although if I knew it would take so much time I might have gotten cold feet and I’m still happy I made the plunge. I really don’t have time to spend 5 hours a day on my blog with a full-time job so that’s different for every blogger, you can only do what you can, but it does mean that the most successful bloggers are those who spend the most time interacting, sharing and creating posts I think. Still I’m happy with where I stand and wouldn’t have it any other way :-). I do really admire your blog and find you a great reviewer!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you dear! And I absolutely agree; everyone has a different stride and amount of time they are able to put in. I just wanted to give an example of the effort bloggers put in. I can’t tell you how many people are under the impression that we spend 30 minutes a couple times a week on our blog and don’t give it a second glance. I have MORE respect for people like you because I can’t imagine posting the quality reviews that you do while holding a full time job. I didn’t include it in my post, but I also get a good bit of reading done when my daughter is in therapy; it’s part of what got me started as I needed something to keep me from having a mental breakdown when we were going through so much stress.

      Liked by 1 person

  37. Justine says:

    This is a great post! I’ve been blogging for about 5 months now and I still feel like I’m getting my feet under me. I started blogging because I wanted to chat about books and get lots of free books (I confess!). But I’ve come to realise that getting the perks of book blogging does indeed come with a lot of work, and I’m scared of burn-out. There’s a burden that comes with getting things in the mail or delivered to your Kindle, and I feel like I’m failing if I don’t get around to reading things as fast as I’d like!

    I’m absolutely loving it, but my goal has now shifted to doing the absolute best I can to promote authors, particularly debut authors! Knowing that you’re helping someone else’s dream come true is just the best feeling in the world.

    Liked by 2 people

  38. Fab post with some great advice. I’m glad you quashed from the start the idea you can get free books as a blogger without loads of work in return. Looking forward to the rest of the series.

    Liked by 2 people

  39. Great post with really helpful advice!

    Liked by 1 person

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