Book review blogs are popular among frequent readers. Reviews on a publisher’s or distributor’s website aren’t always as reliable or unbiased as independent book reviews, and people enjoy reading multiple reviews from the same reviewer, for consistency. Starting your own book review blog is a great way to share your thoughts on various books and even make money with ad revenue or commission on book sales. Read on to find out how to start your own book review blog and help prospective readers decide which books are worth investing time in.
Choosing a Blogging Platform
The easiest way to build a professional book review blog is to start with a Content Management System (CMS) like Joomla, WordPress, or Drupal. These platforms are designed to make it easy to build any sort of website or blog without any knowledge of HTML, CSS, or coding for the Internet.
All three of these major CMSs, and dozens of other CMSs, allow you to build a commercial-quality blog using point-and-click menu options. In order to use a CMS like WordPress, you’ll need to obtain compatible web hosting. Content Management Systems are often free to download and use, but you’ll need a budget of about $10 to $25 per month to cover your hosting expense if you want essential administrative control over your blog.
Once you find web hosting for your blog and review the CMS options, you may also want to consider building your blog with simple HTML and CSS. This will require a bit of coding on your part, but you can alleviate the workload some by starting with a library or framework like Bootstrap or Django.
If you don’t know any coding and would rather focus on writing the book reviews than learning a new web language, then WordPress is probably your best option. WordPress is easy for beginners, and there are thousands of pages of documentation online to mitigate any issues you may come across when working with the free CMS.
Finding Graphics and a Template
After choosing your book review blog’s platform, you’ll need to find a template that suits your content. You can try several templates before getting too invested in any particular format by uploading them to your CMS once you’ve installed the CMS on your hosting account.
Templates can be found on a variety of sites and range from free without ads or copyright notices, to free-to-use with copyright attributions, to premium, licensed templates that you can fully customize. Premium templates are usually of better quality, but you can find some excellent free templates if you look around the templates sites carefully. Some of the more popular template and theme websites for WordPress and other CMSs include TemplateMonster and ThemeForest.
There are also plenty of sites with free images and graphics for your blog, but you’ll want to download some official book covers to use with your review posts. Check the publisher’s site for each book you’re reviewing to download book cover images, and so you can review relevant permissions before posting your reviews. Book covers and reviews of books are often protected under Fair Use policies, so you likely don’t have to worry about any special legal permissions.
Adding Book Reviews to Your Blog
Once you’ve found the perfect template or theme for your book review blog, it’s time to install it with your chosen CMS and get some reviews posted. To install a theme on WordPress, simply go to the Administrator Dashboard, locate the ‘Appearance’ tab, and select “Add New” under the ‘Theme’ option. Other CMSs have a similar process but may refer to themes as templates or vice versa.
Write your book reviews with the same quality and comprehensiveness that you’d want as a book review reader. Reviews of at least 1000 words will be most helpful to your readers, especially considering your audience will have a proclivity for reading. Once you’ve written your first book review, download the relevant book cover or image and create a new post using your CMS or blog platform.
WordPress posts are easily created from the ‘new post’ tab on the Administrator Dashboard. Images can be uploaded directly from the Gutenberg WordPress post editor or from your template’s media options. Repeat this process with at least a dozen book reviews so that you have plenty of content before launching your blog to the public.
Customizing Your New Blog
After you have your theme or template installed, and some reviews posted, you can further customize your new blog by changing the settings in your template’s options panel. Depending on your template’s manufacturer, you will likely by able to change the color scheme, fonts, navigation bar placement, title, and footer, from the ‘Customize’ page which is accessible from the top menu of your administrator dashboard.
Another way to customize your book review blog is to add plugins or modules. WordPress plugins, or the Drupal equivalent ‘Modules,’ add functionality to your blog and can help bring more value to your readers. Some plugins can help you tag and organize your book reviews, while others can help you monetize your blog and earn money with your reviews.
Building a book review blog will give you a platform to share your insights and opinions on the books you’re reading, and even offer you the potential to earn money with your knowledge. Finding the right platform for your desired outcome and technical skill level is essential, along with getting optimal blog hosting and a template that compliments your reviews. Customize your book review blog using advanced template options to make it your own and help distinguish from other blogs. Focus on the books you’re reviewing and provide valuable information to your readers, and you’ll have a successful blog that you can be proud of and earn money with.
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