Hello friends! I hope you all have been reading some wonderful books and are prepared to learn a little bit about what book bloggers give to their work. ✨
I am pleased to welcome you all back to another series of The Pond Gets Loud, a feature where I invite book reviewers from the community to share their experiences and talk about anything related to book blogging! Today, we’re going to discuss the costs of being a book blogger – a topic that I’m particularly interested in, and something that I am sure most of you are interested in as well.
In my last series, I invited book bloggers to share their experiences as book bloggers, specifically about their average day as a book blogger and how much time they give. I had the privilege of hosting around 42(!) book bloggers, and it was incredibly humbling to learn from their perspectives and experiences. (If you missed out, you can read all the responses here! Part I, Part II, Part III, Part IV, & Part V.) At the end of the series, I put together a massive summary of things we could learn from all the responses – I highly recommend giving the summary post a read; the hours book bloggers spend on reading and blogging may surprise you.
The costs of being a book blogger
This new book blogger collab series tackle another topic, one that I’m particularly interested in: the costs of being a book blogger. As book bloggers, we don’t often talk about how much it costs to be a book blogger; it’s often one of those things we just accept as part of book blogging and maybe some people don’t really think about it. Nonetheless, I believe it is worthwhile talking about, as it may give us all an opportunity to openly and candidly talk about the costs of being a book blogger, and give non-book bloggers an idea of how much book bloggers give to their platforms.
Before we delve into this topic further, I want to emphasise that the below responses should not be seen as a guide or an indicator of how much you ought to spend. There are book bloggers out there who pay barely anything to be book bloggers, and there are book bloggers who have the capacity to spend more money — and both, and everything in between, is valid. (One of the questions that I asked book bloggers was whether people felt pressured to spend money, so if this is a concern of yours, it will be addressed in most of the responses!) In fact, you’ll see that there is a lot of variance across the responses!
What I hope you will takeaway from this series
- Book blogging not only requires time, but money. Book bloggers not only devote time and labour to promoting and reviewing books, but have to often invest in books and their platforms financially.
- Promote transparency in the costs of book blogging. Though there is some variance in the costs of being a book blogger (some people spend nothing, some people spend a lot), this series will offer insight on how much a variety of bloggers are spending, and on what.
- Some book bloggers feel pressure to invest in their platforms and books. Where does this pressure come from? Why do we feel this pressure, and how is it perpetuated? Why do we pressure ourselves to invest? The answers vary, and they are interesting.
Today, I am pleased to share with you eight of the responses that I received from book bloggers! I hope you all enjoy reading their interesting and insightful responses.
Kate, Book Blogger (1 Year) from Your Tita Kate
My name is Kate (she/her), and I’m a book blogger and a bookstagrammer!
I love talking about the books I read, and a book blog is the perfect avenue for me to share anything and everything I felt or thought about a book. I also get to learn more about myself as a writer, other bloggers, lifestyles and/or circumstances that don’t match my own, and just generally know more and be better. It’s also a great way to make new friends!
I’m currently employed, although I also do freelance work. Because of my regular employment, I can afford to spend on stuff needed to keep my blog running and relevant. I’d estimate that I spend around maybe $400 a year for books alone. If you factor in bookstagram props, the costs of shipping books for giveaways/exchanges, merch, and swag, that’ll maybe go up to $500-$600. Most of my purchases are now e-books, although I do still buy the occasional physical hard copy. I also buy merch/swag like totes, bookmarks, and bookish candles. Aside from wanting to keep up-to-date for my blog and be able to produce relevant content, I also want to support my favorite authors. Also, when I can, I shoulder the shipping of books that I send out within the Philippines.
There certainly is a pressure to purchase books, especially on bookstagram and booktube. I feel like there’s a premium on hardback copies over paperback, and especially over e-books and audiobooks. There’s also a ton of pressure to have full, aesthetically-pleasing shelves, have cute backgrounds, have makeup on and be well-dressed in videos, etc.
Personally, I don’t mind spending for this, and I do enjoy taking cute bookstagram photos and buying merch and swag, so it’s not really “pressure” per se for my part, but I’m also a financially well-off woman in her mid-twenties with gainful, regular employment. Not every book blogger can say the same.
Sensitivity needs to be a bigger thing in the book blogging community. Not everyone will have access to the same resources as you. Keep that in mind before making a comment, and make the effort to consume content that normalizes paperbacks, e-books, and audiobooks. A ton of bloggers are already doing this, which I do appreciate! I just hope this becomes a much more widespread notion in the community.
Frankie, book blogger (1 – 2 years) from Frankie Onye
I’m Frankie and my pronouns are they/he. I’m a book blogger, bookstagrammer, writer and lifestyle blogger. I went on a little hiatus on my bookstagram to focus more on my mental health and writing but plan on picking it back up during spring/summer with new content. I’m currently a freelance sensitivity reader and that’s mostly how I pay for about anything. It’s mostly part-time work.
I’ve loved reading since I was a kid and my favorite book at this time would be Coraline, which is one of the only two books I re-read, the other being Little Women. Books show worlds that are different but similar to ours. New but familiar, and that’s something that’s always appealed to me. An adventure in your hands.
I spend approximately €30 a month on reading and building my platform. In a year that makes for approximately €360 which isn’t even a month of rent so I wouldn’t say that’s bad or too much. I spend most of the money on props, merchandise and camera lenses.
My reasons behind spending money on books, other products and my platform would be because I feel like some of these things would aid in showing how I feel about a book better. It’s a form of expression for me.
Is there pressure on spending money on a platform and do I feel it if it is? Oh definitely and I do, mostly because you see people that have been in this longer and with more secure schedules and lives with these amazing and artistic ways of presenting themselves while I’m a young adult with anxiety issues who’s putting stuff they like together and hoping it makes sense. It’s daunting for sure and the pressure is always there.
There’s also this fear of messing up as I can be a bit of a perfectionist even if my body is saying stop. As a black queer person, I have this ingrained need to do well because I feel like if I don’t it reflects on my entire group and I don’t want to let them down or destroy their image for someone which is ridiculous when said out loud or written down but it’s just true for me. I feel like there’s that pressure there especially because I don’t see that many black queer book bloggers in the mainstream or well-known and I like to change that but I don’t see that happening without some investment.
I want the reader to know that it can be scary to put your thoughts out there, especially if it’s a form of media like literature because fans can be protective. I want the reader to read this and know that this and many other ways out there aren’t the only ways. That you can create your own way to blog or create content and make the whole thing wonderfully you.
Frankie Onye is a Nigerian-Irish book and lifestyle blogger, hobbyist and writer. They’re addicted to oreos and crunchy M&Ms and love dogs more than anything on the planet, especially their dog and best friend, Steve Rogers. Their number one book recommendation will always be CORALINE by Neil Gaiman. Visit their blog, Frankie Onye, their Twitter, Instagram, and Goodreads. Consider buying them a Ko-Fi!
Phil, book blogger (9 years) of Read It, Daddy
My name is Phil May (He / Him). I write and edit the children’s book blog “Read it, Daddy” with my daughter. We love promoting child literacy, reading for fun and of course receiving and reviewing lots of lovely books.
On average, the amount that we spend on books can range from a few hundred pounds to a couple of thousand pounds, which is spent on books, travel, and replacing bookshelves. I work full time, and blog in spare time. I don’t feel much pressure to invest in books or read, though often there is gentle pressure from PRs and publishers to review certain titles they’re heavily pushing but we never feel obligated to and our sources respect that.
Book blogging is fun, and it needn’t cost an arm and a leg (if you are lucky enough to have a good library for you, you could theoretically do the whole thing for free). It will cost you time though, a lot of time – if you want to publish regularly updated (daily) content like we do so always be aware of and be prepared for that.
Phil May is a dad and book blogger who writes the children’s book blog “Read It, Daddy” in his spare time along with his daughter. As well as reviews he writes interesting and engaging editorials about publishing, children’s books and other subjects. Visit Phil’s blog, Read It, Daddy, and his Twitter. Consider buying him a Ko-Fi!
Nicole, book blogger (3 years) from A Myriad of Books
I’m Nicole! I go by she/her, and I currently work in higher education. I’m both a blogger and a bookstagrammer.
I’ve always loved reading ever since I was a child. I remember getting super excited about Scholastic book fairs and would always go to the library to pick up a book. I love the community around book blogging and bookstagramming. To be able to talk about BOOKS (and other interests) in a community that is friendly, loyal, and fierce? It makes my heart happy, and I’ve found some really great friends through these platforms.
I’m on a budget all the time and have a family. That being said, I am fortunate enough to spend at least $20 a month buying one (normally a hardcover) book. If I go to used bookstores, I can get maybe 2. I’m not one to spend a lot of money on props, etc. I’m also fortunate enough to have a fairly nice ($$$) camera to take pictures with, but I occasionally use my (i)phone as well. If I were to give a rough estimate on how much I spend per year, I imagine it would be around $500. On the rare occasion I do purchase props, it’s most likely candles of some kind or something from a book box.
I usually spend my book-related money on book boxes (to do unboxings on my IG and blog), the occasional prop (normally a candle). Sometimes I’m able to host giveaways as well, which means I can buy books for other people. I currently have an income that enables me to make book-related purchases as both my husband and I are employed and work full-time. I spend my money on books because sometimes I fall into the “hype” of books and have to buy books because I want to feature it (easier to do on my bookstagram). I want to invest in something that will (hopefully) make a difference or something that people enjoy in general.
I do feel the pressure of purchasing books. I think there’s a certain amount of privilege surrounding the book community in this way–to be or do better with their platforms. I always feel pressure on myself to make sure I have top quality items and the most recent releases, but that’s fallen to the wayside now, as I see how detrimental that pressure is to my mental health.
Nonetheless, don’t feel like you have to have the “perfect” camera, or the “best” computer/phone to do what you love. If you have the means to do that, great! If you don’t, that’s fine too. Don’t allow the hype of the book community to drain your joy and love of reading.
Shaa, book blogger (1 year) from Moonlight Pages
Hii, I’m Shaa and I blog at Moonlight Pages. It’s been a year since I started blogging and I can’t believe I’ve come this far. Well, not really that far but I’ve met so many wonderful people! I’m also on bookstagram but I’m only sporadically active on there. I started in 2015 but due to some reasons, I took a long hiatus and just came back this year.
I’ve loved reading since I was a kid. My mom used to bring me to the local bookshop once in a month to buy me two to three storybooks. Ever since that, even though my mom don’t bring me to bookshop anymore, I still continue to read as much as I can. Reading just give me that magical feelings and when I am hooked with the story, it’s like it brings me to the world and feel like I am actually a part of the story. I’ve never thought of myself being in the blogging community because I didn’t have any idea how to start. But then, I started blogging and get through all the confusing things. I’ve become fond of the idea of book bloggers sharing every important information especially when you’re lost and also giving support to each others.
I’ve said that I was on bookstagram before. I actually spent A LOT for my account. I saved tons of my pocket money just to buy books. There are times I didn’t eat at school just to save it for books. I did it because I wanted to have more books so I can take lots of pictures of it and share it on bookstagram. But then, I’ve stopped doing that because it pressured me so much and trying to grow on there is pretty hard. Now that I am back on there, I try to keep things simple and moderate. Though I want to show off every beautiful books I see in the bookstore, I will try to hold myself from that. Nowadays, I read more eBooks and I’m actually sad I can’t show it off in pictures on bookstagram but that’s okay. As for blogging, I spent quite a lot for the internet. Let me be honest, I don’t have a Wi-Fi at home. I use my own data to connect everything so every month or weeks, I will spent my money to buy internet plans. And tell you, I am not rich. It is actually a pressure and I struggle with it whenever I don’t have the internet connection.
Back when I was in school, I used my pocket money to buy books but in the meantime, since I’m not in school anymore and jobless, my dad is my only hope to get books. But I promised to try as much to be considerate of the prices. I don’t want to burden anyone but… reading is an expensive hobby. You know what I mean??
Spending money on books, book-related stuff and platform is not alien to everyone in this community. I do that because I want it to be perfect. Book-related stuffs, for example, can make your pictures look good on bookstagram and even photos for your blog. I don’t think I have one because it’s hard to find book-related products here in my country so I choose to buy artificial flowers and other cute things to make it look good. Though, it costs quite a lot too.
Honestly, I do feel the pressure of spending money on books during my time in blogging but it’s all from myself. Sometimes, I expect a lot for what I did on my blog and when it doesn’t turn out to be how I want it to be, it makes me upset and it will stress myself out. I try to ignore the disappointment and it somehow works. I do feel sad when I don’t reach something on here but I don’t take it seriously and just focus on reaching the goal.
This might be cliché but whatever you do for your blog, booktuber or bookstagram, just be grateful about it. Even if you feel like you’re not going anywhere, you actually will. Blogging isn’t just about the sake of ‘blogging’, but it also about making friends. Your interactions with others are important. If you’re just being with yourself all along and quiet, you’ll have a hard time to grow. But most importantly, be yourself. Do what you want to do. Don’t force yourself to do something that you don’t want to. Be free and independent with your thoughts and ways. It actually work that way. It might be slow but you’ll be there eventually. Always believe in yourself.
Shaa is an Asian girl with all the platitudes. She’s a high-emotional person and is always excited about something. You can find her watching animal videos all day. Visit her blog, Moonlight Pages, and her Twitter!
Maisie, booktuber (3 years) from SleepyWiredStudios
My name is Maisie, my pronouns are she/her and I’m from the Booktube Channel SleepyWiredStudios.
I love reading and book blogging because it gives me a space that I can share my love of all times of books I consume and with others who enjoy the same or different books I do. On average, I spend an estimated $500 in a year.
I spend my book-related money on releases that I want to read, bookish merch and accessories (bookmarks, book sleeves) and on the odd occasion some of my money goes to travelling for book events and launches. I also spend money on books and my platform because, as a smaller channel, I don’t often have the luxury of getting ARC’s so I am very careful on what books I buy – I have my auto-buy authors of course, but besides that I’m very careful about what i buy, I like supporting Aussie book – related crafters especially when they take on a fave series of mine.
I think that there is a certain expectation that you’re have to have to best equipment to film a video and I don’t really get it. I use my desktops camera which does the job quite well. I do feel pressure when there is a new tag or video trend going around and if I don’t do it in the time-frame I will get called out for bandwagoning too late.
Nonetheless, I think that if you really want to talk about books (blogging, booktube,bookstagram) just do it how you want to do it. You don’t need fancy equipment, or tons of books – what ever works for you. In the end, it’s your blog/instagram/channel and how to you decide to approach it will come through in your work.
Maisie is a booktuber, artist and tea lover. when not reading her favourite manga’s latest chapters she can usually be found reading ,writing, drawing or editing her videos. Visit her BookTube channel, SleepyWiredStudios, her Twitter and Instagram.
Alyssa, book blogger (3 years) from Alyssa Carlier
I’m Alyssa (she/her) and currently I hold giveaways for Asian YA SFF over at my book blog! I also recently started bookstagramming with the handle.
I absolutely love connecting with others in the bookish community! I’m especially passionate about advocating for books with diverse representation, especially those by Asian authors. In terms of blogging, I bought my domain name and I also hold giveaways every few months. (Sometimes, these giveaways are sponsored by authors or other kind souls in exchange for a shout-out!) Everything else I pin together from free programs! In total, blogging probably cost USD50 last year.
Since mid-2018, I’ve spent less on reading as I’ve focused on clearing out my TBR. Before that, I probably bought about USD100 worth of books and occasional small swag each year. As an international blogger, ARCs are hard to come by, so I definitely spend more buying books!
I spend money on my domain because it is just helpful to have around! And I don’t mind spending some money to hold giveaways and spread word about books I love, but now that my platform is a little bigger, it is definitely nice to have others sponsor my giveaways.
Some people who position themselves as expert bloggers also spread self-serving advice that bloggers must absolutely pay for their own hosting, themes, and domains. This made me uncomfortable but I realised they were trying to sell hosting, themes, and domains, and therefore ignored them!
Having recently joined Instagram, I definitely feel a little pressure to buy beautiful bookmarks, book boxes, or swag and make my feed prettier! Or even just buy more physical books. But I’m looking to work around this pressure and create beautiful photos through photoshopping and eventually by getting swag as a rep!
I absolutely feel that it’s possible to build a platform without spending much at all—but the takeaway here is that this depends greatly on how much you can receive for free because of your influence, in the form of ARCs or gifts! So I hope that the people who benefit from our cheerleading and discussions will give back to this very deserving community.
Alyssa is a medical student moonlighting as a book blogger. She loves sharp girls and their sharper girlfriends, and will never stop shrieking about Asian-inspired books. Visit her blog, and subscribe to her blogging tips newsletter!
Lili, book blogger (3 years) from Utopia State of Mind
My name is Lili (she/her) and I blog about fantasy and science fiction books with a focus on YA and diverse titles.
Part of what gets me through the long hours and stress of book blogging is knowing that my reviews help people find books that are (not) worthwhile. That I can make them aware of upcoming diverse titles, that I can help them find a book they really love, and that I can talk about my love of books with a community. Because I don’t really just write reviews for myself, I write them so that I hope they can help someone or give them some information that will be useful.
I end up buying books for review, props for Instagram, shipping giveaways, buying books for giveaways, and I’m thinking about trying to re-do my headers with custom images. Just for this year (so only until March) I have spent (roughly) anywhere from 10-20 dollars on preorders or books I needed for reading challenges, 20-40 dollars on Instagram props (this includes bookish merch that I feel pressured to put into my photos), shipping hasn’t been too bad (yet) so that’s probably about 10-30 (but then I also passed on a lot of arcs for free to people but I still had to pay shipping, giveaway books is the most recently since I held 3-4 giveaways 30-60. So in total the estimate for that is about 70-150 dollars. Furthermore, I am unemployed currently but I have some savings from when I was working and I’m supported by my partner so I have a small amount of money from that.
While I receive a lot of ARCS that I don’t have to pay for, I really like reading backlist books and those I have to buy myself. I can use them for reading challenges and also for book photos since I normally read e-arcs for sheer space. The biggest thing I’m looking to do less or not at all in 2019 is to stop buying ‘bookstagram props’ especially since I have a huge long headache story to go along with that, and also less bookish merch. I have felt pressured to have it in my bookstagram photos not only to enter rep searches, but to also have things to spice up my photos, and this year is about putting less pressure on that. Since it’s hard to get people to follow my blog out right, I use giveaways to gain new followers, not always, but it’s definitely a plus so I try to do one about once a month and I do like to include an INTL option.
I feel a ton of pressure for Instagram to have better lighting or to have more props or more books in general and more ‘popular’ books versus the books I have. It’s actually something I’ve been thinking a lot about – whether I want to continue on Bookstagram.
I think a lot of my thoughts about this topic is striking the balance between blogging as a hobby and the expenses. I don’t want to put ads on my blog and I haven’t delved into affiliate links really, but since this is just a hobby and I spend so many hours on it (which is also some kind of investment), I need to be better about spending my time and money on the activities in this hobby that bring me joy and do the most amount of good.
Lili is a book blogger who always built book forts, spent more time buried in a book, and practically lived in the library growing up. She blogs about books that can feature sword battles, intergalactic spaceship chases, non-humanoid aliens, and diverse characters. But she’s been branching out to read more books on planet Earth. Visit Lili’s blog, Utopia State of Mind, her Twitter, Instagram, and Goodreads.
My biggest thank you’s!
I want to take a moment to, again, thank the eight incredible book bloggers for opening up and sharing their experiences and their costs of doing what they do. As a book blogger myself, I understand how much time book blogging can take, so for them to take a moment out of their day to contribute to this book blogger collaboration? They’re champions, and I am so grateful to them. Thank you all so much!
Please do take a moment to check out their awesome blogs! Give their pages a follow, a like, or leave a comment. They do incredible work!
- Kate, from Your Tita Kate
- Frankie Onye
- Phil, from Read It, Daddy
- Nicole, from A Myriad of Books
- Shaa, from Moonlight Pages
- Maisie, from SleepyWiredStudios
- Alyssa Carlier
- Lili, from Utopia State of Mind
And friend, if you have read all of their responses and you are reading this: thank you. It means a lot to me to hear these wonderful bloggers out. I hope you have learned something today, and if you have, or would like to share your thoughts, please do share them in the comments!
Want to contribute? You can help but filling out this three question survey that will be part of the massive summary post that I will post at the end of this series! 💛
This time next week, I’ll be posting more responses from eight more book bloggers. I hope you all will visit the Pond next week, and will listen to what the book bloggers have to say about their costs of being a book blogger.