How Can You Get Non-Blogger Followers for Your Book Blog?

Non-Blogger Followers

As I was reading some of the open-ended responses for the 2018 Book Blogger Stats Survey I recently conducted, I began thinking about one of the biggest things I think can possibly “limit” the growth of book blogs: that the followers of a book blog tend to be other book bloggers.  And I was struck that at least one other person mentioned getting non-blogger followers as one of the challenges they face.  While blogs with other focuses, such as cooking, make-up, or travelling, tend to attract a wide audience, it seems that book bloggers are generally communicating with each other, and the most popular advice for growing your reach as a book blogger reflects this: people recommend commenting on other book blogs and generally “engaging with the community.”

I like the community aspect of the book blogosphere, and I certainly love interacting with fellow bloggers, who tend to be kind, enthusiastic, and generous with their time, money, and support.  We tend to lift up each other, as well as authors, publishers, libraries, bookstores, etc.  However, if we’re thinking purely about stats (I know, no one really wants to only focus on stats because there are more important things like engaging with your readers and loving what you do, but I’m throwing this idea out there), then it seems as if an untapped path to growth would be encouraging non-bloggers to read book blogs.  But how do we do that?

I don’t actually know. If I did, I’d be sitting here with 20,000 followers and probably not writing this post, but I have some thoughts about why we may not be reaching a large audience, and I’d love to know what others think in the comments.

Star Divider

Reasons Non-Bloggers May Not Read Book Blogs

1. We’re not posting “general interest” book content.

I imagine that if non-book bloggers are following book-related content, they’re reading large bookish sites like Book Riot, Novl, YA Books Central, etc. These sites have multiple authors churning out content constantly, and they generally have multiple giveaways going on. They’re also likely to have bookish news and fun lists. Book blogs, on the other hand, are more about the blogger’s personality and tastes, not general interest content, and an individual blogger will publish content less frequently than a site with multiple contributors.

2. People see Book Blogs as unauthoritative.

Every once in a while, one of the community’s controversies will become big enough news that even people outside of the book blogosphere/Twitter community will hear about.  One example is the 2014 article author Kathleen Hale wrote about stalking a book blogger who gave her book a negative review. The comments on these pieces often amount to “What is a book blogger?  Who are these people who think they have the authority to judge books?  Why would anyone care about their opinion?”  The implication is that major publications like Kirkus or the New York Times employ people who are “qualified” to review books, while book bloggers are rambling amateurs whose opinions aren’t worthwhile.

3. People perceive the community as unwelcoming.

Finally, as with any community, people who are outside of the community may feel that the community is cliquish or unwelcoming.  New book bloggers, for instance, often report feeling nervous about approaching “big” bloggers or trying to break into a group of “book blogging friends.” Or, for example, when Jenna Guillaume wrote a piece for Buzzfeed about the infamous “dick soap” that was included in a bookish subscription box and quoted some tweets reacting to the soap, here’s what some commenters thought:

This means non-bloggers may think that the conversations in the book blogging community are not for them.

So What are Some Solutions?

Honestly, I hope the answer is to just continue posting quality content that we’re passionate about. I think bloggers and reviewers are authoritative (which I discussed in this post), and I think we are genuinely welcoming.  (Most of the nervous bloggers ultimately report that everyone is very friendly and there was nothing to be nervous about!)  We could possibly think about posting more “general interest” content, but I believe the appeal of blogs is the personal touch, and it would probably be difficult for an individual blogger to “compete” with a big site by trying offer similar content.  So maybe the real question is just how can we reach non-bloggers who may not even know book blogs exist, and how can we get them to check us out and stick around?  (Because, real talk: a lot of my friends know I have a book blog and none of them read it. They very likely have not read a single post, even though they are avid readers.  So what would make people like them come to the blog, and what would make them stay?)

Let’s Discuss!

Do you have a sizable non-blogger readership for your blog?  How do you engage them?  Or did you read blogs before you were a blogger yourself?  How did you find book blogs, and what attracted you to reading them?  Do you have any general advice for reaching out to non-bloggers?  (Or are you a non-blogger reading this? What makes you read book blogs?)

Briana

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65 thoughts on “How Can You Get Non-Blogger Followers for Your Book Blog?

  1. Daima Hussain says:

    Hmm, I not specifically a book blogger, though I do occasionally review books, my audience is completely different and I face different trials. I think that the issue is that people usually do not look for reviews from bloggers, I myself, though an avid reader didn’t even know of the existence of book blogs until I joined the blogging community. I only looked for recommendations on goodreads before becoming a blogger. I think that the best way would be for bloggers to start reviewing on goodreads etc and leaving links back to attract more readers. Building a facebook grup for your readers could also be a way to get new readers.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Briana | Pages Unbound says:

      Yes, I think this is true, as well. If the average person wants consumer reviews of a book, they go to a site like Goodreads or Amazon where they can skim dozens of reviews. They’re not generally googling “review of Romeo and Juliet” and seeing what comes up. I like the idea of linking to your blog from Goodreads, in case someone does see your reviews there and likes them and wants to see more of your opinions.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Kristen @ Metaphors and Moonlight says:

    I’ve been wondering how to get more non-blogging followers too. I had the same thoughts as you, that I think a large part of it is that I don’t have that kind of general and newsworthy content that sites like YABC and Novl have. I also don’t have a lot of giveaways. But the truth is, I didn’t read book blogs before I had my own (I didn’t even know about them). So idk, it’d be great someone could figure out the secret and share it with us, haha.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Briana | Pages Unbound says:

      I also didn’t read book blogs before I started my own. I barely read that many once I did start for awhile! So hearing from people who read them before starting a blog or who read them and are not bloggers at all would definitely be helpful!

      Like

  3. CJR The Brit says:

    Love this. I’m a bool blogger who reviews romance and ya but there are bigger and better bloggers out there, I do it for the love. I see some bloggers posting what books are coming out daily and they have pages of upcoming new releases, sales and reviews. Kudos to them but I don’t think I’d have the time to do that and I am worried it would take then love out of it for me as id be stressing…….but sometimes I do worry about my stats….

    Liked by 1 person

    • Briana | Pages Unbound says:

      Ah, yes! Lists of upcoming releases and things like that are definitely something I think of as more “general interest” that the big books sites like NOVL or BookRiot might do. But it also kind of time consuming to put together and not something I personally would have interest in spending time on doing. :p If I were a real company and not a personal blog, I’d want an intern to put together those posts for me because I’d consider it useful but boring to me personally. 😉

      Like

  4. Roxanne Michelle says:

    Yes yes yes to all of this. I always wonder if I have many readers here that aren’t bloggers themselves. I guess search engines would direct them here but I never have time to look at SEO in depth..

    Like

    • Briana | Pages Unbound says:

      Yeah, the interesting thing about search engine hits is also that I have no idea whether my blog answered the question they were trying to research, if they even know what a blog is and stuck around as a reader, or if they were surprised to end up on my blog and hurried away because it wasn’t what they wanted at all! :p

      Like

  5. Daima Hussain says:

    OMG, I am new to the book blogger community but after reading this post my curiosity sent me deep into the dark pits of it! The Blythe/Hale thing was really creepy on Hale’s part!

    Like

    • Briana | Pages Unbound says:

      On the bright side, things like that happen rarely! On the bad side, things like that are when non-bloggers tend to hear about book bloggers, and you can see from the comments on the article how unsympathetic people were towards Blythe. I was surprised how many people took Hale’s side and thought she was justified because some (in their opinion) no-name, amateur critic dared to have a negative opinion of her book and share it!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Daima Hussain says:

        Personally I found Hale’s attitude rather offensive when she implied that bloggers who are potential authors have no right to criticize published authors. She not only dissed bloggers but also all of her readers, by saying that they have no right to criticize. I mean if you don’t want to stimulate thoughts and opinions, why are you writing at all?

        Like

  6. jenchaos76 says:

    I thought that if I posted things that were more related to reading and health, literacy, psychology, I would gather more followers. Unfortunately not. I love my book bloggers, I do. My kids think my blog I boring. I think its exciting, and other bloggers seem to like it.
    I would like to get people outside of bloggers. I just don’t know if my content i good enough for non-bloggers. I do my best.

    Like

  7. Mattie @ Living Mattie says:

    It’s a difficult issue. I think you’re right that book bloggers may appeal to a wider audience by writing more general content, but then again, they just can’t compete with those bigger sites. A non book blogger looking for “general content” is much more likely to stumble upon one of those larger, multi-authored sites than an individual blog.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Jheelam says:

    This is such a relevant topic. I’m a fledgling book-blogger who is not finding it lucrative enough to post book reviews on the blog anymore.

    I’m a member of a “quite happening” FB bloggers’ group and found out, that I’m the only one writing about books. The mommy/food/travel bloggers are having the cakes mostly. 😀

    I’m also thinking about the solutions. It might lie outside the comfort zone, like- writing about book-friendly cafes in one’s city like food bloggers promote pet-friendly cafes.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Briana | Pages Unbound says:

      Definitely other types of bloggers seem to have an easier time growing their audiences and monetizing their blogs if they want. Even the biggest book bloggers don’t have the follower numbers that a “successful” travel/make-up/mommy blog would have. I wonder if it’s partially because more people are into travel or other topics than into books (or reading about books), but I don’t really know.

      That’s an interesting idea, though! It’s kind of like putting a bookish spin on travel!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Daima Hussain says:

        I don’t think it’s because more people are into travel, I think it’s cause blogs are a great way to experience diffrent locales while people generally do not go to blogs for book reviews.

        Like

  9. ofoceansandgeeks says:

    When I started to read book blogs I was not a blogger myself. I heard of some book bloggers on Super Space Chick youtube channel. That is when I started to read book blogs. Now that I am done with school I want to try book blogging again. I like these discussion post.

    Like

  10. luvtoread says:

    Most of, and I’m guessing probably all of, my non-blogger followers are either family or friends, or have found my blog through word of mouth from my family & friends (ie, I don’t personally know them, but my family and/or friends do). I also have a ton of friends who read, and who know about my blog, but haven’t ever read anything on my blog (they are the same ones who give me a funny look if I bring up my blog).
    I didn’t really even know about book blogs until I found a baking blog that sounded interesting (I was trying to find a recipe of something I had eaten at a wedding), happened to read a comment on that blog that was from a book blogger, and then that opened up the book blogging world to me! I know that before I started with my own blog, I was apprehensive about signing up to follow a blog with my personal email. I wasn’t sure what I was going to get. I know one of my aunts, who is not a blogger, avidly follows many blogs via BlogLovin’ and that’s how she reads the blogs that she follows.
    I’m not sure what the solution is, but I also know that I don’t have the time to put out quality content every single day, which I think is helpful in getting more followers and more page views. I barely have enough time to get my reviews written & formatted, let alone put together a more “fun” post like lists, discussion posts, etc, which I think garner the most views and social media shares.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Briana | Pages Unbound says:

      Good point. I have a couple of avid reader friends in real life who also do not read my blog (or any books blogs) at all.

      So interesting! That’s almost encouraging me to go comment on baking blogs, which I do visit once in a while! :p

      Yes, I do think big book sites run by publishers or companies have the ability to churn out a lot more comment, which means there’s more content to keep people there and more chance that something will catch a visitor’s eye.

      Like

    • Grab the Lapels says:

      I also worry about writing too many posts and overwhelming the friends I have, like you, who want to keep up with my blog but
      maybe don’t have time to read a post from me every day.

      Like

  11. Nicky Guerrero says:

    What an interesting post! I think another problem we face is the fact that books may not attract as many people as cooking or makeup blogs because sadly not as many people are readers. A lot of us are here BECAUSE we have no friends who are readers while I’m sure we could rattle off the names of a dozen friends who are into makeup or who are quick to share the link to a recipe found on a cooking blog. Makes me sad. I just want to put a book in everyone’s hand.

    Like

    • Briana | Pages Unbound says:

      I think so, too. Statistics on reading are pretty clear that a lot of people…simply do not read. And among people who technically do read according to the survey, not many read that much. A lot of surveys start with a baseline of “Have you read one book in the past year?” and a lot of people answer no to that. I can’t imagine someone who reads but only like eight books a year would read a book blog.

      I know that “lifestyle” content is also often seen as “aspirational.” So people will read cookbooks or watch make-up tutorials or read home design magazines or travel sites *knowing* they’re not actually going to do these things, but I don’t think book blogs have that same appeal.

      Like

  12. Michael J. Miller says:

    I’ve found my pieces that draw readers from outside the community often happen by accident. For example, when I was getting ready to see ‘Logan,’ I reread ‘Old Man Logan’ and I read ‘The Death of Wolverine,’ two comics I believed would inspire the film. I was feeling less than creative so I titled the piece “The Death of Wolverine, Old Man Logan, and Hugh Jackman’s Finale.” Well it’s become one of my top ten read posts because of how searchable the title is. People are searching to see if he dies in ‘Logan’ and they read the piece! I never planned it and I don’t know if I could plan it. But I know I get traffic from general searches like that. So how we title/tag things certainly helps…but I have no idea how to “direct” that.

    Like

  13. Milliebot says:

    I have zero advice. Lol. My friends and family know I have a blog and I think maybe 2 people read it. If more do, they never like, comment or even tell me they read it 😐 I think people don’t think of book blogs if they don’t think of themselves as readers. I watch random makeup videos or planner vids or cooking stuff and I don’t really do my makeup, cook or decorate my planner often. But I think people who don’t read wouldn’t think to just read a book blog. Maybe people on YouTube get more traction cuz someone can watch a person talk about books rather than read a post. If they’re not readers maybe they’re less likely to read blogs too? I’ll never know lol

    Like

    • Briana | Pages Unbound says:

      Exactly! I think other topics like make-up and travel have a larger audience to begin with (statistics show that, actually, a large portion of the population does not read at all, or they read like one book a year). But I’ve also been told that people will, for example, subscribe to lifestyle and travel magazines as an “aspirational” thing. They know they’re not remodeling their house or going on a trip to Japan, but they like to read about it and imagine it. I think reading book blogs just doesn’t have that appeal for a lot of people. (Though the big bookstagram accounts might start to. People complain about the “consumerism” of bookstagram and the rainbow shelves, etc. but it’s exactly this type of conspicuous consumption of books that is interesting and could appeal to people who do not own 2000 hardcover books and may not even want to.)

      Like

      • Milliebot says:

        You’re definitely right. I watch people who live in Japan even though I don’t have goals for that. But I don’t follow book blogs where people only read non-fiction. I think even book bloggers tend to follow specific types of book blogs.

        I think book box subscriptions might help pull some people in. Lots of people like surprises and there’s so much other crap that’s not books. Anyone who likes unboxings might like that. But again I think that’s more helpful to those on YouTube.

        Like

  14. Gayathri Lakshminarayanan says:

    Your post got me thinking. Hear me out and tell me if my thought process is on the right direction. See the only ones that might be interested in reading a book blog is a book lover/ reader. And most of the book readers who read and write reviews have a book blog themselves.

    Like

  15. Evelina @ AvalinahsBooks says:

    Since I work in marketing, I have actually noticed this early on and I’ve been thinking of this for almost the entire two years that I’ve been blogging. And to no avail xD I think it’s just that we’re too niche to be followed by the masses. The people who review films and comics do get more “muggle” followers. But who, if they’re not a straight up bookworm, would read a blog that rambles ONLY about books all the time? Only big blogs like Mrs Dalloway succeed because they focus on challenges for the layman. I considered this. But I realized it would just be no fun, and it’s not why I blog. So I reconsidered it xD I mean. There’s plenty of us bloggers anyway. And writers also tend to follow us. So there’s that. I don’t even know if I’d like to be followed by ‘the masses’.

    I also feel like a lot of bookstagrammers succeed at this better than we do. But they usually talk not exclusively of books, but of feminism, equality, style and beauty as well. So it’s more of a mixture of things the reading female would be into 🙂 cause if I was a reader, but not a book blogger, I would probably be bored to read book blogs. What’s worse, a lot of us post purely personal content like “my TBR” or “my stats and goals”. How would a wider audience be interested in that? Those are small community things.

    However, it’s weird they’d think us a closed and unfriendly community. The book blogger community seems to be the friendliest there are.

    Great post!

    Like

  16. Never Not Reading says:

    To me it seems that a huge barrier is that the general public isn’t really blogging or reading blogs. Before I had a book blog I didn’t read any bloggers, I didn’t have a word press, and I didn’t know following blogs by email was an option. That’s a big part of why I decided to get a twitter and a facebook, because I know the general public is more likely to subscribe or follow there, however I can’t bring myself to care enough to put effort into growing those two platforms.

    Like

  17. shanayatales says:

    I agree that book blogs are authoritative, and also on the fact that we could all do more in terms of general (bookish) interest content. That being said, I’ve found the community very welcoming, so I am not sure why people would think otherwise. In-fact the online bookish community, whether on Twitter or Instagram or even Youtube has been among the more welcoming communities I’ve experienced.

    But I’m glad I came across your post today. I’ve been guilty of not doing more general interest content, even though I personally love reading it, and I’ve thought about it and planned for it, for my blog. But procrastination! Sigh.

    Like

  18. readeroasis says:

    When I was just getting into the book community, I felt that booktube was pretty welcoming. All I had to do was watch and support. However, I was scared of the book blogging community. I just started up my blog and I feel inadequate compared to other blogs. I think it’s safe to say I’m still a little nervous. I still don’t know how to to get in touch with the community.

    Like

    • Briana | Pages Unbound says:

      That’s very interesting! I don’t really watch Booktube, but it’s good to know it feels welcoming! I think book lovers in general are very welcoming!

      Just getting started can definitely be hard! I think that often the blogs people are most familiar with, particularly when they’re first joining the community, are the older ones or the most “popular” ones, so it does look like a lot to live up to–but there are actually a lot of smaller blogs and other people just getting started, too! And most people are very friendly and will love to chat if you leave comments on their blogs. 😀

      Like

  19. hgshelves says:

    My blog is only a week old, and I was talking to my friend about how I want it to eventually be a place of discussion yet fear no one will read what I have to say. She suggested I make bookmarks advertising my blog, pass them out, stick them in those little library boxes, that sort of thing. Maybe we need to extend our advertising to the physical world, inviting our audience directly rather than hoping to be stumbled upon.

    Like

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