Discussion: Monetizing Bookstagram and Book Blogs

An interesting discussion crossed my Twitter feed this week.

I’ve been in the bookish blogging world for almost 8 years now and talk of making money from book blogging has almost been taboo.

Sure, some people are Amazon affiliates. Other use GoogleAds on their self hosted sites. Maybe you’re an affiliate for a company but most of the time you get ‘paid’ in free product or credits. I don’t really see anyone making sufficient money from book blogging the way we see other bloggers do.

Why is the idea of getting paid for doing what you love so bad?

If you’re here, you’re likely a book blogger or bookstagrammer. How much time in a week do you spend on this hobby?

I can spend an hour or so of taking photos & editing them. Posting & interacting on bookstagram? Hour a day (usually spread out). Writing blog posts? Hour or two. That’s not even counting all the time I ‘need’ to read to keep up with that all. All that? That’s about 8-10 hours for a labor of love that’s primarily focused on promoting other people’s books or products.

Would I like a bit of monetary compensation for this? Heck yeah! [Likely the money would just be spent on more books or eventual self hosting.]

Paying for reviews is obviously still a big no-no so where does that leave book bloggers/bookstagrammers?

Options I’ve seen discussed on the internet.

  • Author doesn’t pay for a review but simply pays for their book to be bumped to the top of the review pile and a review posted quickly.
  • Author pays for a tour post or cover reveal.
    • This doesn’t work on every blog but if a blog has a huge following (1000+ page views a day) this could be a worthwhile investment.
  • Ad placement on blog with GoogleAds or similar programs.
  • Ads hosted by you. Take a look at my sidebar, I’ve got little ‘ads’ for some of my favorite stores. With Canva, it would be super easy to create nice graphics for a store, book, or author that would link to their site/product.
    • $10? a month would be a decent rate.
  • Sponsored post? Depending on the book, it would be really easy to use a book as a starting point for a discussion or book list.
    • X Historical mysteries to add to your TBR pile!
      • To me, that seems like a very natural post and not super gimmicky.
  • For bookstagram: free book + fee to slip the book into X number of photos or X number of photos featuring book.
    • It could be a win-win for everyone.
    • Bookstagrammer gets paid for their work.
      • Should they choose to read/review the book, they would allowed to rate it however they’d like.
    • Author or publisher gets X number of really great photos they could be allowed to use for advertising.
  • Ko-Fi or Patreon? This allows readers/viewers to give a bit of money directly to the creator. Can either be a one time option or a monthly option.

What do you think?
Should bookstagrammers or book bloggers make money?
Are there other ways for them to make money?

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15 thoughts on “Discussion: Monetizing Bookstagram and Book Blogs

  1. I’ve written a couple posts about this, and I am not against book bloggers making money at all. We do put tons of work and time and even our own money into our blog. My thoughts are simply that it might be difficult to get people to actually pay you.

    First, book bloggers often have small audiences. A “big” book blog might have 5,000 followers, which is small compared to other blogs like fashion or beauty or even booktubers. People who pay want to use their budget to reach a large audience, so I think any book blogger but particularly smaller ones might not have a lot of interest. Would someone pay a blogger with an audience of 500? Probably not.

    I also think you’d have to charge for straight-up promo posts. A lot of bloggers seem to imagine being paid to do exactly what they do now, but that’s unlikely. Someone who’s paying you will want an actual promotion, a guarantee of positive publicity. People might not pay for reviews because they might end up negative, and who wants to pay (let’s say) $100 for you to tell your audience their book is terrible and no one should read it? So any payments are likely going to be for book blasts, cover reveals, or other things that are more clearly an ad and less your personal opinion as a blogger. (Sponsored lists or guest posts by the author might be a good option for the author to have control of the content while making it look less like an ad.)

    Finally, I also think there will be more interest in paying from self-pubbed or indie authors. If someone is waiting to be paid by a large publisher to review a hot Marissa Meyer or Nora Roberts book or something, they might be disappointed. You probably need to be interested in reading and promoting lesser-known and indie books on your blog.

    Ultimately, I don’t think this would work well for my blog personally. I rarely do things like even book tours now because they seems too promo-y and don’t really get views. I think having a bunch of sponsored cover reveals or book blasts (I do none of these now) would not match the vibe of my blog, and I don’t read tons of indie authors. I don’t like to promote things I haven’t read and enjoyed myself, so I’d be uncomfortable posting promos for things just because I was paid. Or even advertising the book and then turning around and giving it a two star review weeks later.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. I feel like our compensation is with the free ARCS and books themselves. If we could make money off of selling books, thatโ€™s where we would be able to make money at least but we get them for free so why buy them

    Liked by 2 people

    • Free books are nice but when you think about the exchange $10-20 value on the book for 4+ hours of work (reading, writing a blog post, and/or taking photos) it comes out to less than minimum wage. Just some food for thought. ๐Ÿ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

      • Agreed man I wish there was a way but I dont see publishers spending the money on us. The main avenue right now is sponsorships through advertisements I guess. Ima sign up with Pepsi and put a Pepsi bottle in all my pictures if that means I can make money off of this ๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ˜‚

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I think it would be nice for book bloggers to be able to get paid for what they do, which is basically acting as a free marketing department. I just haven’t seen anyone propose a realistic way to do it. The main problem seems to be that book blogs have smaller audiences than lifestyle or food blogs and often seem to be read by other book bloggers. Do publishers need to pay to advertise to a community who’s already reading each other’s content (and usually trying to find ways to get free books to review, not purchase more)? Probably not.

    Just for comparison, I remember a food blogger who got a book deal mentioned millions of views per month. Even the bigger book bloggers don’t, I think, get that many. So it would be difficult for them to be paid, much less blogs with smaller audiences.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I think we should!!! Iโ€™ve got a decent following on my Bookstagram page, and receive lots of books to review from authors. I write lengthy reviews that can be time consuming. But getting paid is taboo because there are so many of us book bloggers out there.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Iโ€™m new to the whole book blogging thing but Iโ€™m positive book blogs can make just as much as any other blog, in diversity of course.
    Niche writing is overrated I think one can add one or two interests to their blog. For instance photography blends well with book and literature so does pets blogging and even fashion blogging. Finding what works for you is the and unless you try something new you just never know.

    By the way Iโ€™m glad I finally found you guys.๐Ÿ˜ƒ

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I seriously agree with this! Why are all other fields getting paid but not bookstagrammers? Like there are bookstagrammers with 30k + followers who are doing book reviews and posts about the books for free! I think they should be paid. If you have less of a following like me (I have 2000 followers rn) then a free book might be payment enough. But for people with 5000+ followers should definitely get some sort of compensation for the pubicity they give books and the amount of time thatโ€™s put into the post!


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