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.

WEBSITE TRAFFIC

“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.
  • CommentLuv in action on Book, Line, and Sinker.
  • 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.
  • Sociable for WordPress is installed on my self-hosted blog--I love it!
  • 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.
  • This image is from an old post of mine about commenting on Blogger. Please offer the NAME/URL option to your readers!
  • 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?

21 Comments

  • At 2011.02.26 13:41, bermudaonion (Kathy) said:

    Another great post! The only thing I would add is to join Twitter. You can get to know other bloggers there as well as promote your reviews and your giveaways.

    • At 2011.02.26 18:32, Natalie said:

      good point, kathy. tweeting is a good way to share info and also to learn about different things going on around the blogs and in book world!

    • At 2011.02.26 15:47, vivienne said:

      I was just going to say the same as Kathy. Twitter has opened so many new doors to me. Interested in NetGalley. Is that open internationally?
      vivienne´s last blog post ..Persephone Weekend Giveaway

      • At 2011.02.26 18:32, Natalie said:

        netGalley is a website that allows publishers to share books with reviewers electronically (kindle, etc). if a reviewer accepts a book through netGalley, he or she posts a review on the site of the book. it’s a great website and i’ve read several good books through various publishers.

      • At 2011.02.26 19:31, Dishy said:

        Nat, you are always such a helpful, encouraging blogger & friend! I’ve installed a share plug-in similar to the one you use (AddThis) and just this moment clicked away to install CommentLuv. Which is now up & running! Thanks so much for the great advice – for book bloggers and more!
        Dishy´s last blog post ..Salmon with Mango and Chickpea Salad

        • At 2011.02.26 21:33, Alita said:

          Ditto the twitter suggestions. I had no idea just how social the book blogging community was until I joined Twitter.

          Thanks for all the great advice! I completely agree that being a joiner is key to becoming party of the community. Taking part in memes and events (especially the 24hr read-a-thon) have put me in contact with so many other bloggers that I otherwise wouldn’t have known about.
          Alita´s last blog post ..Soundtrack Saturday – Swoon At Your Own Risk by Sydney Salter

          • At 2011.02.26 22:21, livelaughloveliquor said:

            Nat, I’m brand spankin new to blogging, and don’t book blog, but I LOVE reading your reviews because it gives me some ideas when I do go to the bookstore. I am usually pressed for time and with a pack of screaming kids, so browsing is not an option. I’ve been disappointed so many times because a quick scan of the front jacket was not what the book seemed, so blogs like yours are priceless to me! Keep it up.

            p.s. so nice of you to share you experience and advice. Hoping good karma comes back to you.

            • At 2011.02.26 22:40, Natalie said:

              i used to life blog and had a blast but books are my fave. my now-defunct life blog is still up (though not updated) if you’re interested in the ravings of a crazy married girl sans kids from nj: curlywurlygurly.wordpress.com 🙂

              • At 2011.02.26 23:10, livelaughloveliquor said:

                am reading it now, Loving it, and can relate to so much, first, your hearse is WAY cool. I can only imagine how cool you must be on campus. i also ate the whole soy bean instead of opening the pod the first time, and i gag at sushi (but my 19 year old loves it). I’ve been praying for a Trader Joes to open in my town as well. Great blog…too bad you stopped, but i am going to enjoy reading your old entries!
                livelaughloveliquor´s last blog post ..A Grilled Cheese Sandwich to the Head Just Might Fix Everything

                • At 2011.02.26 23:39, Natalie said:

                  not sure if you’re near me in nj, but trader joe’s is opening a location in shrewsbury–near red bank–next month. i’m thrilllllled!!!!

                  • At 2011.02.27 00:17, livelaughloveliquor said:

                    Sweet! I’m in Somerset County – the closest one in distance is Princeton, but i think Westfield may be the same time wise. I cant understand why there are TWO shop and shops, one pathmark, one shoprite. and an a and p all with in 10 miles of me, but I have to ride 40 minutes to get to Trader Joes! that is Jersey for you!
                    livelaughloveliquor´s last blog post ..A Grilled Cheese Sandwich to the Head Just Might Fix Everything

            • At 2011.02.26 22:43, Kathleen said:

              All really good suggestions. I’m going to check out Comment Luv. I’ve noticed that on other blogs and you are right about it being a way to find other bloggers or for them to find you.
              Kathleen´s last blog post ..Reality is Broken Giveaway Winner Announced!

              • At 2011.02.26 23:01, Jenners said:

                I agree with all your advice! The more involved you are, the more involved people will be with you. Off to incorporate the Sociable plug-in on my blog! Thanks for the tip.
                Jenners´s last blog post ..Reviews- The Help- Fool and The Lost Diaries of Adrian Mole- 1999-2001

                • At 2011.02.27 20:43, kay @ Infiniteshelf said:

                  What a great post! I wish every new blogger would read it as it is such great advice, and every old blogger would read it as a refresher course 🙂 I think some bloggers are missing a lot by not being more involve in such a way (and I know that I am way less involved than most, and I do feel that I am missing). It’s not only that it gives you a bigger readership, it makes the whole thing a lot more friendly and fun!
                  kay @ Infiniteshelf´s last blog post ..On My Wishlist – 3

                  • At 2011.02.27 21:27, Mel u said:

                    This is great advise-when I first began my blog 1.5 years ago I joined a lot of reading challenges and it for sure helped me to find a place in the reading community-I found your blog when one of the bloogers I follow recommended it and now I am a follower also-I would like to leave this here for you as I see you are into reading events

                    I would like to invite you to consider participating in

                    Irish Short Story Week-3/14 to 3/20

                    • At 2011.02.28 07:26, Beth F said:

                      Great post — I agree about Twitter and joining challenges. Memes are a great way to get to know bloggers and to give yourself a little exposure.
                      Beth F´s last blog post ..Review- Curiosity Thrilled the Cat by Sofie Kelly

                      • At 2011.02.28 14:58, Ti said:

                        I also try to post my reviews in lots of different places. I post them to Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, Library Thing and often, Barnes and Noble too. That way, they get seen by all sorts of readers instead of just the ones I’m friends with.

                        I also must agree that being a good commenter really helps increase traffic to your own blog. Not everyone will respond with a return visit but you’d be surprised how many bloggers do. I’ve made sooooo many friends this way. I also try to respond to comments on my own blog, whenever I can. this can be hard once your traffic increases, but people like to know that their comment was seen. I get a lot of repeat commenters this way.
                        Ti´s last blog post ..The Sunday Salon- No Snow- Just Sun

                        • At 2011.03.02 01:14, Jess - A Book Hoarder said:

                          This is a great post. I have always loved that your blog posts the most recent post of the commenter but I never realized it was CommentLuv that did that…so yay!

                          But you guys are killing me with Twitter…I’m trying to stay strong because I know it will be a life suck and I’m trying to live in ignorant bliss with not truly knowing how awesome it is but then there are all these comments about its awesomeness. Come on!! My strength is waning…I’m about to cave…I need a cookie and I’ll reassess…(thank god I just made some white chocolate macadamia nut)
                          Jess – A Book Hoarder´s last blog post ..Harry Potter Party – The End

                          • At 2011.03.02 21:17, Oh said:

                            I combed through this to see what I’m doing/not doing. My blog is not book-centric tho’ I try to tie a book to everything I write about (or photograph).
                            Anyway, I loved this. I haven’t dne the “social” setting thing yet…perhaps I should. But you are SO right- one must get around and comment here and there and develop relationships and it’s FUN to see what everyone is reading and what they thiing!
                            Thanks for this one!
                            And LOL on the making-it-easy to leave a comment – honestly, on some of them, I struggle greatly. Ah, but blog friends? They rock!
                            Oh´s last blog post ..rooster- but not codburn…

                            • At 2011.03.03 23:57, Kath Liu said:

                              Thanks for this! I have just added Intense Debate to my account to run Comment Luv. I found these tips really useful and a good reminder of what it’s good to be doing.
                              Kath Liu´s last blog post ..War and Peace Wednesdays- March 3rd

                              • At 2011.03.09 02:49, Mel said:

                                Thanks for these posts, they’re fab! I’m a newbie to the whole book blogging thing so your advice has been just what I needed. Looking forward to reading more of your posts!

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