It’s time to get started! You’re not writing a review, you’re not posting your “Hello, World!”, you’re not creating content. You’re choosing from a plethora of themes, colors, and widgets. But even before that, let’s talk names.
Naming Your Blog
For most free accounts for blogs, your username will become part of the URL to your site. For example. If your username on WordPress is SomeRandoBlogAboutBooks, your URL will be SomeRandoBlogAboutBooks.wordpress.com.
Imagine putting that on a business card to promote yourself.
And consider what your blog is going to be about. Booked All Night is about the great books that keep us up all night! (Which is like everything we read)
Here are some tips for naming your blog and coming up with your URL.
- Are you a writer yourself and do you need to build a platform?
- Keep it short and sweet and easy to write down and remember.
- Read it out loud to avoid awkward words
Pick a Theme/Layout
This is all up to you and your preference. But remember that people need to look at your blog. They won’t be going into the administrative side to search for posts. They’ll see them right on the front page.
Although we don’t currently have a sidebar on this theme we’re running on Booked All Night, I do recommend finding a theme that has one. They let you show more content and get your social accounts out easily. And if you’re using WordPress then you have the option to build your own sidebar using their new block system.
Some themes allow for feature areas at the top of the landing page (your home page), but keep in mind that if you don’t plan on having one category or type of post move its way through the features, your unchanging features section will be the first thing people see when they visit.
Categories and Tags
Think of categories like sections in the attic… a well-organized attic. Over in the right are all of the Holiday decorations, just past the ladder are some of the older toys you never wanted to throw out, and on the other side are some old clothes in boxes. Then in each of those sections are boxes. In the Holiday section, there are boxes labeled Christmas and Halloween. They have similar things inside like window clings, lights, things that go on the lawn that you won’t take down until you absolutely need to, but they are different.
To bring it into book blogging: I would categorize all my reviews as Reviews, obviously. But I review from Middle Grade through Young Adult, so I would tag those reviews with the title of the book, the author, its age range, and any themes that fit with it. Tags are a way to specify what is in your post, Categories tell your audience what type of post it is.
Navigation is so important on your blog. You want people to be able to get around your site and find your tags, your TBRs, your personal posts, and especially your reviews. Here at Booked All Night, we use our categories to add to our navigation.
You do not need 10,000 categories and you especially do not need 10,000 menu items.
Just like naming your site, keep your menu short and sweet. Don’t use sub items unless you need to.
- Media Kit
- Rude Ass Pets
- Book Recs
- Review Policies
- Collaboration Policies
This makes it easy to find things on the site. Keep in mind, most people following a book blog, are following for reviews. These should be out in the open on your blog.
Categories have a hierarchy and you can choose more than one category for your posts. For example: When we post blog tours, they go in the Blog Tours category as well Excerpt, Q&A, or Giveaway. But not every blog tour has the same thing, and maybe our viewers are looking just for excerpts, they should be able to pinpoint those in our navigation.
Sidebars and Widgets
Last thing for this lesson: widgets are your friends. On the side of many blogs, or the bottom depending on the theme, you will see other places to connect with bloggers. Some have badges, Twitter/Facebook feeds, links to any and all social media accounts, and even what the bloggers are currently reading.
Most blogging platforms have widgets for this. Widgets give you access to a service. For most blogging platforms, you can find them in your admin dashboard and fill out a form with your username, preference on status updates, colors, and whether or not to show link previews.
Sidebars are a great place to keep live information because they show up on every page. If someone stumbles on an old review, they can see that you are still posting from your recent posts, see that you are connected on twitter, and reading new and relevant books from your GoodReads widgets.
Not all themes have sidebars. If the theme that you like does not have a sidebar, and you’re using WordPress.com to host your site, then you can rectify that with the new block system.
Remember to take your time with all of these choices. Setting everything up before you get started will alleviate a lot of the work to come later.