Book Blogging Advice II: If I Build It, WILL They Come?
After being contacted by a new book blogger, I got the idea to put together some posts offering book blogging helpful hints. My first post, Pre-Book Blogging Advice, covered the basics: long term plan, purpose, branding, social media. Today’s post will examine ways to build friendship and a following. Hopefully, there will be some information that even seasoned bloggers might find useful.
“But how will anyone find my book blog???”
Honestly, one of the easiest ways to make a friend is to be one. If you are genuine in your blogging interactions, others will recognize this. To me, book blogging is a hobby where I can share my love of reading and books with like-minded people in a friendly, online community.
Keeping my posts (relatively) concise, including photos to break up the text, varying my content, being myself, and posting and commenting regularly, are a few rules I do try to blog by. If you’re also adhering to these, the tools I offer below might help to increase visitors and build friendships.
I try to comment on and visit blogs two or three times each week but recognize that there are only so many hours in a day. To me, book blogging isn’t a contest–she with the most books, comments, or best stats takes all–but a community where there is room for everyone. That said, I still want to be sure I’m not talking to myself over here at BL&S! If you’re trying to integrate into the community and get a bit more traffic, these tools and advice might come in handy:
- LEAVE MEANINGFUL COMMENTS: Visit other book blogs, read the posts, and if you have something meaningful to add, do so. The old, “Great review!” comment sounds nice but what is it really saying? Have you read any other books the author wrote? Do you have the book in your TBR pile? Was it a contender in your book club’s list of potential reads? If so, SAY that! Don’t be afraid to get personal and friendly in your comments because it builds friendships and rapport.
- COMMENTLUV: One way I’ve discovered some great new blogs is through a plugin (a program you can upload to Blogger, WordPress, or a self-hosted blog) called CommentLuv. When a blogger leaves a comment on your blog, this plugin will name and link his or her last post and promote blog discovery. While some might argue that this feature might drive traffic away from your blog, I love the cross-promotion and have found so many great reviews and posts both on my blog and on others that have this plugin.
- SOCIABLE: Another plugin that I love is Sociable for WordPress. This feature allows readers to add my posts to StumbleUpon, Facebook, Twitter, and more. It’s fully customizable (you can select which Social Media sites to link) and it drives traffic. When visitors Stumble or FB a post, I see a spike in traffic. To my knowledge, this plugin isn’t available on Blogger.
- BE A JOINER: Join challenges or read-alongs as a way to build friendship and find new-to-you bloggers. There are literally hundreds of reading challenges each year–something for everyone–and when you join up, other participants will likely stop by to say hello. A Novel Challenge has links and lists of current and perpetual reading challenges and you can also link your own challenges here! Many challenges also feature a Mr. Linky, where you can link back to your blog from the challenge page.
- CROSS-PROMOTE: After writing a book review, search around and see if other bloggers have reviewed the same book. If so, you can either link their reviews or include excerpts from their reviews in yours. There are several bloggers who do this–I don’t always manage to accomplish it myself–but find that I like to see different perspectives.
- BOOK TOURS: There are plenty of publishers and independent book tour companies out there that would love to have you be a stop on their next book tour. I’ve worked with Lisa and Trish at TLC Book Tours and have always had great experiences. If your blog has been up and running for a few months and you’re posting regularly, send a friendly and professional email to some of the book tour companies and ask if they are looking for reviewers.
- MAKE COMMENTING EASY: One of the most off-putting features on some blogs is the hoops I have to jump through to leave a comment. Yes, spam can be a horror, but what’s worse that losing potential comments and friendship because visitors can’t leave a comment quickly? I have a spam filter on my website, and I recently closed comments on posts over 30 days old. Both of these things have cut down my spam considerably. Think about ditching the triple-threat security on your comments and you may see an increase. Additionally, if you’re blogging on Blogger, please open your comments to allow for NAME/URL. I dedicated an entire post to that issue here. Please, for the love of blogging, check your settings.
- SHARE YOUR REVIEWS: If you write a book review, share it! Depending on my schedule, I sometimes post my reviews on Amazon.com, netGalley, and GoodReads. This is just one more way to build relationships and share your opinions with other readers.
- GIVEAWAYS: In the past, I’ve done some independent and publisher sponsored giveaways. I haven’t done a giveaway in a bit because I found that while it can increase traffic to my website for the duration of the contest–something I prefer to be short–my site traffic generally returns to normal levels after the giveaway is over.
- INTERVIEWS: I love hosting interviews–author, editor, blogger–and like to read them on other blogs, as well. I have a few fun interviews on tap for in the next few months and enjoy dreaming up questions for my favorite book-related guests.
Do you have any suggestions I might have missed? Did I mention something that you might implement?