Here are some of the key things I learned when setting up my YAfictionados blog. If you have any suggestions or comments, let me know in the comments below or tweet me.
Before you set up your blog
Blogs can either be self-hosted or hosted on a third-party site. I would advise using a platform such as Wordpress or Blogger. Every blogger will tell you different things about the pros and cons of each but it is up to you which you choose. Think about the type of content you want to write and go with the platform that gives you more freedom to do what you want to do.
- Think about your post title. You want to draw in your reader. (How to…/Top 10…/Secrets of…/Why your…)
- Write your first paragraph. Follow on from your post title and tempt your reader. Ask a question. Comment on some recent controversy and share your thoughts. Note a fact. Tell an anecdote.
- Make your post scannable. Make it easy to read. Use headings, numbered lists and bullets, where possible.
- Add a conclusion. Invite interaction. Ask readers to comment and if you want, point to another resource or to another of your blog posts.
Before you publish
- Before you post anything, read through your article and edit, edit, EDIT.
- Use an online grammar tool.
- Ask a friend to look over it.
- Whatever you do, read through your blog post at least twice before you publish it.
General tips and tricks
- When you first start, content is more important than analytics.
- It’s fine to have a look at what other bloggers are doing but make sure you represent your views. This is your unique selling point.
- Ignore the haters.
- Get personal.
- Conquer one or two areas before you try to do it all.
Technical tips and tricks
- Consider an email subscriber list.
- If you’re hyperlinking outside your blog, make sure to click the box that opens it in a new window. You don’t want to encourage people to leave your site.
- Use Alt tags. When you hover over an image and you see some text, this is an Alt tag. You don’t have to include an Alt tag but without an alt tag, the image isn’t searchable by search engines and you’re potentially cutting yourself off from clicks and views by not including this.
- Make your hyperlinks descriptive.
- Include keywords in your title and the first sentence of your blog post.
- Install Google Analytics.
- Editing an old blog post can move it up in the Google rankings.
How to build your network
- Talk to authors. When you write a good review of their book, include them in the tweet. Get familiar with their publisher and include them also (can be found in the details on all book websites or by Googling it). Don’t link to a bad review. It can often back-fire on you and bring unwanted stress.
- Try to channel your energies into talking about what you enjoy. Ask them if they’d like to write for your blog or do an interview. Send them the questions and give plenty of time.
- Be mindful of who you ask. If you contact J. K. Rowling, it’s unlikely she’ll respond but don’t be discouraged. If you don’t ask, you don’t get. Monitor local events at libraries, cafés and bookshops. Converse and engage with other bloggers and influencers. Don’t be afraid to step outside your comfort zone.
Getting the books you want to review
- Net Galley
- Publisher ARCs
- Blogger meet-ups
Harper Collins (@HarperCollinsUK)
Hot Key Books (@HotKeyBooks)
Old Barn Books (@oldbarnbooks)
Nosy Crow (@NosyCrow)
Bookstores to follow
Waterstones (@Waterstones and search for your local store’s Twitter handle)
Queen’s Park Books (@QPBooks)
7 Stories (@7Stories)
Christopher is a co-founder of the YAfictionados blog (@YAfictionados) and is best known as the YAblooker. He is a twenty-five year old book blogger who has previously worked in marketing and consumer insight for various publishing houses and writes in his spare time. He loves to travel and will read anything YA-related and some general fiction and fantasy.