I’ve been blogging since 2014 and while I don’t usually receive questions on blogging tips and resources, it’s still fun to get them from time to time.
I figured that I should make this little curation of free blogging resources I use for creating content you see and read on my corner of the internet. Plus, I included some quick tips for Book Bloggers.
This post contains affiliate links and I may earn a small commission through qualifying purchases.
Starting Your Blog 💻
WordPress Free Hosting
Like a lot of us, I also started using a free blogging platform. In my first attempt at blogging, I used Blogger. But when I started talking more about books and being serious about book blogging, I switched to WordPress.
If you’re not sure how and where to start, you can check out WPMarmite’s Free Guides on how to use WordPress.
I totally recommend WordPress, especially if you’re just starting out. The free version is good enough as you can access the basic plug-ins and a library of free themes you need for your website.
The WordPress Reader is also a great feature, where you can browse posts of the blogs you’re following. Most of the blogging community uses WordPress so it’s easy to build your audience!
The only downside of the free plan is you don’t get full customization of your website. Additionally, since it’s hosted by WordPress, your URL will have “.wordpress.com” at the end.
If you want a more flexible experience, you can purchase premium plans. But I would recommend going Self-Hosted instead.
There are a lot of hosting services available like Siteground, GoDaddy, and Bluehost. But I picked Hostinger because of its budget-friendly hosting plans and user-friendly interface. They also have a free WordPress Migration so you can transfer your website easily.
Going self-hosted was worth it. This was actually one of the best decisions I made when I launched this blog. I love all the added features and customizations, plus having my own domain made me feel like I was one of the cool kids. 😎
- Studio Mommy – Studio Mommy has beautiful themes available for purchase that looks truly elegant and easy in the eyes.
- 17th Avenue – 17th Avenue is another theme shop with elegant and feminine themes!
- Code and Coconut – Code and Coconut has a lot of lovely themes you can choose from! I’m currently using their Hazel Theme, which I completely love because of how customizable it is!
Creating Your Content ✍🏽
Content Management and Writing Tools
This is a free resource offered by Google where you can write and draft your blog posts. I don’t use Google Docs for my site, but I use it to draft content that I publish on other websites.
I’ve been using Grammarly since I was in college. It’s widely used and very popular too! All you need to do is install the browser extension and you’re good to go! Grammarly add-ons are also available for Microsoft Office and Google Docs so you can integrate them easily. The cool features I love about Grammarly are the tone detection and weekly writing insights!
Notion is a popular project management and productivity tool and I’m sure you’ve heard of it. I use Notion in many ways, but it is also where I mostly draft my content. I make use of Kanban Boards, Tables, and Calendars to plot my content schedule.
I use Canva for almost everything! What’s great about it is it’s free and there are a lot of templates for graphics available to use. Canva also has its own library of stock photos you can use. Pro-tip: you can use your school email to sign-up for Canva for Education. It’s like Canva Pro but for students and educators!
Unsplash, Pexels, Pixabay
These three websites are where I usually get free stock photos when I need them!
Make your blog graphics stand out with the best font pairings! Font Pair shows you different types of font pairings that you can use to make your content visually stunning!
Coolors is a color palette generator that is very useful, especially in making blog and social media graphics.
Blogging Plugins ⚙
SEO and Stats
Google Site Kit
I really love this because it’s very user-friendly! I got a little confused when I used Google Analytics but this Site Kit made me understand my site stats and traffic better because they’re well summarized.
When I first started blogging, I didn’t care much about SEO. But now I’m seeing that most of my blog traffic comes from organic searches. Yoast is one of the most user-friendly blogging resources and it gives you a quick look at what to improve with your content to make it more optimized for search engines.
I switched to Rank Math from Yoast because it has more features for free. I’m really liking the UI of the plugin. Both Yoast and Rank Math give tips for On-Page SEO, but I really like that you can use multiple keywords for Rank Math.
- Akismet – This plugin protects your website from spam comments.
- UpDraftPlus – Schedule your website backups with this plug-in. You can also choose where to save your scheduled backups.
- Editorial Calendar – I love using this one because it shows your content in a calendar as opposed to the usual display. You can also drag and drop your posts easily to change your scheduled publishing date. This might be my favorite out of all the blogging resources I listed!
- One Click Accessibility – A lot of people overlook this but let’s practice making our sites more accessible for visually-impaired readers. Some features include adjusting text sizes, contrast, and colors.
Book Blogging Tips 💡
Create a Review Policy Page
This is very important especially if you want to work with authors and publishers. In your Review Policy Page, disclose your reading preferences so that people can identify if you are their target market.
Make sure to include your preferred genres and reading formats. Most importantly, explain how will you review the book you’ll receive. You can also include your rating policy or how your book reviews will look like.
Since we can’t accept every review request or finish every book, your policy can include information on time frames and what you’ll do in case of a DNF.
Don’t forget your FTC Disclosures
Once you start to monetize your blog, FTC Disclosures will be required. This goes for every affiliate link you’ll include in your posts as well as paid partnerships and promotions.
I believe getting ARCs are also included and must be disclosed in the post. Then again, most book bloggers disclose getting ARCs if applicable since we love to shout our love to our favorite Publishers, right?
I made a reusable block for my FTC disclosure so that I can just easily insert it into my posts!
Reviewing your Books
Every blogger has their own style of writing book reviews. What’s important is, to be honest in writing them. You can include your rating in different ways: adapt other styles like Goodreads or CAWPILE, or make your own way of rating your books.
In my case, I just discuss the things I liked and disliked about the book and whether I recommend it or not. Though I still give star ratings on Goodreads, StoryGraph, and other sites.
Requesting Review Copies
This is where some things get tricky. But first, let me introduce you to Netgalley and Edelweiss. These are two platforms where you can browse Advanced Review Copies (ARCs) and request them. There’s no guarantee for approval, but here are some things to know:
- Include your Social Media Accounts (plus your following) and Blog Link in your profile
- Include your Blog Stats (Total & Monthly Page Views, Visitors, Blog Subscribers)
- Be mindful of your review/approval ratio. For Netgalley, it’s ideal to keep it at 80%.
BookSirens is another platform where you can join their reviewer program. Just check the books available for review, download them, and submit your review in 30 days. Most of the books here are indie or self-published.
Don’t bite more than you can chew. It’ll only affect your ratio which can make it harder for you to get approved. Publicists really appreciate it when you submit your reviews on these platforms. Plus, there’s a possibility of them reaching out to you to offer review copies or getting auto-approved for them!
For Physical Review Copies…
Since I went on hiatus, I may not be the best person to discuss how to request physical ARCs. The last time I received a physical ARC was back in 2018. 😂
But I found this great resource from Books and Bao detailing how to approach publicists for ARCs. What I learned over the years though is publishers consider these factors for approval: territorial publishing rights, and your blogging presence.
So before you send your first email, make sure to do proper research to determine the correct publicity team/contact and build your audience.
Share your content!
Most of the book bloggers I follow maintain a Twitter and Instagram account. Pinterest is also a great way to share your content and drive traffic to your blog.
I didn’t use Pinterest for The Bibliophile Confessions before, but now as Fueled By Chapters, a lot of my blog traffic comes from Pinterest!
Pinterest Group Boards are now a thing that makes it easier for your pins to gain insights.
Cross-post your reviews to retail sites like Amazon or Barnes and Noble! It’s a thing we usually miss but it’s a great way to help authors!
So there you go! If you want more inspiration, check out my Book Blogger Recommendation for a list of content creators I enjoy!
I hope you found this post helpful! One way to show support is by making a small contribution to my Ko-fi page or by using my affiliate links! I’ll forever be grateful! 💕