I write blogging advice posts for people who are already blogging. (The exception is the comprehensive post I wrote about how to start book blogging, which includes tips for both complete beginners and slightly more established bloggers.) However, we’ve been getting a few search engine hits from people looking for suggestions on what to do with their very first blog post when they launch the blog, so I’m here to give people what they want!
Disclaimer: When Krysta and I started Pages Unbound, we jumped right in. Our first post was a review of Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter. So I’m not saying I personally followed this advice, but it is what I would do if I were to start a book blog again, based on what I’ve learned.
Generally speaking, the first post on your new book blog (or probably any blog) is going to be an introduction. Tell readers who you are–to the extent that you’re comfortable sharing personal information online. You don’t have to tell readers your age, location, job title, etc. if you don’t want to, but tell them something. How long have you been reading? Why did you decide to start a book blog? What are your favorite books or genres? Feel free to add fun facts like your love of hedgehogs or obsession with strawberry lemonade.
Make It Meaty
In addition to introducing yourself, make sure you introduce your blog. At the time you hit publish, this post is going to be the only content on your blog (excluding any information you have on your sidebar or on an “about page”). So make sure you tell readers what they can expect your blog to be about. Consider including:
- what genre books you are most likely to feature
- how often you plan to post (and what days if you think you will post specifically on Wed. and Sun. for instance)
- what content you plan to feature (reviews? discussion posts? memes? author interviews?)
- where else readers can connect with you (social media accounts? Goodreads?)
You don’t have to stick to this. If you think you’re going to post four times a week and realize in three months you only want to do three, that’s fine. But give readers a sense of what your goals are right now. (Pro top: Schedule some other posts in advance, before launching your blog! This will help you keep up with the workload.)
Include an Image
Studies have shown that blog posts with at least one image are better at engaging readers and attracting more traffic, so make sure you have one in your introduction post. This will help set the tone for your blog. It doesn’t have to be fancy. It can just be a photo of you (if you’re comfortable with that) or of your cat or of your bookshelf or just your favorite book. Include an image that will both grab your readers’ eyes and help them get to know you.
Consider Ending with a Question
Your first post is like to get a lot of comments to the effect of “Welcome to book blogging!” If you want a bit more of a conversation, try ending your post with a question that helps you get to know your future readers a bit better. For instance, ask them their favorite books or genre, or even something like their favorite sport or food, or their preferred Hogwarts House.
Promote the Post
After you’ve put all that work into writing your very first post, you want to make sure people see it! If you have an established social media presence, you can let people know about your book blog on those accounts. If not, it’s time to start visiting other book blogs and leaving comments!
As fair warning, a lot of bloggers dislike comments that essentially amount to “I wrote a blog post. Please visit my blog.” So try to visit blogs you’re interested in and leave thoughtful comments. You can throw in a sentence at the end noting that you’re new to blogging, and this may encourage other people to more naturally check out your blog–without your having to ask them. You can also approach bloggers with questions about blogging and note that you’re a newbie; most of us are pretty friendly and will want to help you out!
Follow It Up with Other Content
Once you’ve written and published your first post, don’t leave your readers hanging! They want to see some of the great content you’ll be offering on your blog. Even if you’ve decided that you only want to post once a week, I would suggest publishing a second post on your blog just a couple days after the introduction post goes live. When I visit a blog for the first time, I like to look around at their various pages and posts to get a sense of their writing style and their reading tastes, to see if it’s a blog I want to follow.
If you have only one post on your blog for a week or more, you’re not giving readers much to look at. You may sound like a really fun and interesting person based on your introduction post and “about me” page, but giving your readers at least one review or discussion post to look at, as well, will be helpful to attracting followers to your blog. (Just ask yourself: Would you follow a blog with one post? Or an Instagram account with one photo? Or a Twitter account with one tweet? Probably not.)