If I Knew Then: What I’ve Learned About Blogging

imageJust over a year ago I started Suzie81 Speaks as an online journal. I had been experiencing a difficult time and as writing has always been therapeutic it was the perfect solution. I had no goals – the act of writing was simply enough. However, over a short space of time, this little space of the Internet grew beyond any expectations that I had ever imagined and I found that as I began to recover, my writing style and goals changed.

I’ve learned a lot, and if I could go back and do it again these are the things that I would do differently.

1. I would decide on a name that I was happy with at the very beginning. In my excitement about the prospect of starting the blog, I hastily chose the name ‘Suzie81’ – my name and the year that I was born. After a while I became really dissatisfied with my choice – it had no real reference to any of the content in the blog – but by this point everybody knew me as this name. When I later purchased my domain name, there were very few options that I could use and I ended up changing it to ‘Suzie81 Speaks’ so as not to confuse my followers.

2. I would create a set of profiles on other social media networks from the beginning. It took me about eight months to establish a Twitter, Tumblr, Facebook and Pinterest account, and I’ve always regretted not doing this sooner as these are now responsible for the majority of my views on my site. An important thing to know here is that none of them are linked to my personal pages on the same sites – I created a completely separate account for each, along with a new email address.

3. I would participate in link ups earlier. I participate in regular link ups on Twitter, particularly at the Sits Girls #sitssharefest on Saturdays and Rachel in the OC’s #MondayBlogs on Mondays. I’ve been able to meet hundreds of lovely people and it’s a great opportunity to share and read new posts.

4. I wouldn’t share the fact that I have a blog with many people in my personal life. I have lots of lovely friends who have been very supportive, but as the blog became more popular it has been used against me, which caused some issues. I have also found that as lots of people in my life now read my ramblings it prevents me from writing about certain issues that are very personal, which defeats the point of the blog in the first place.

5. I wouldn’t be as hasty to post something just for the sake of posting it. In my early blogging madness I posted everything I could think of. Looking back, I’ve had to revisit lots of things and delete them, simply because they have no meaning with what I thought I was trying to create.


Here are some simple ‘Do’s’ and ‘Don’ts’ that may be useful if you are starting your blog.

1. Don’t expect too much. There are MILLIONS of blogs out there. You are not going to gain thousands of followers (unless your post goes viral) simply by pressing the publish button. Blogging takes LOTS of time and effort.

2. Don’t feel that your blog should have a niche. I follow lots of great blogs that do, but I prefer to cover lots of topics within my own.

3. Do take the time to visit lots of other blogs and follow them.

4. Don’t automatically expect (or even worse, request and plead for) a follow back. This is one of my biggest annoyances – I follow about 250, but I often receive messages saying ‘I’ve followed you, now you need to follow me.’ Why? Others shouldn’t be made to feel obliged or bullied into following you simply to return the favour.

5. Do leave comments on other blogs to let them know that you have enjoyed what you have read.

6. Don’t spam comment sections with links to your own posts. This happens to me a lot, and while I always try and share, tweet and reblog posts I get irritated when others end their comment with a link to their latest post, demanding that we ‘check it out.’

7. Do make the effort to reply to comments that have been left on your posts. I read and appreciate every single comment that is ever written, but until recently I have been poor at replying to some of them. This was because work became a priority and took over life somewhat, but I always make the effort to reply when I can.

8. Do remember that content is key. I love inspirational posters, but there are only so many that you can post before your audience may start to get bored. Make sure that your content is your own – if you have used somebody else’s and images, be sure to credit them.

9. Do be respectful at all times. One of the best things about the WordPress community is that the majority of people are unbelievably friendly and supportive.

10. Don’t expect everyone to agree with you. If you choose to write about a controversial subject, it is highly unlikely that all of your audience will support you in your arguments. Listen, respond and be respectful about it.

What about you guys? Any hints and tips that you have learned in your blogging endeavours?

You can also find me on Twitter and Tumblr @suzie81blog


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114 thoughts on “If I Knew Then: What I’ve Learned About Blogging

  1. I started writing a sports blog on the advice of my ex-girl. I knew nothing about blogging and didn’t know what it was. So I researched it, then my first wiords were the hardest to write then …it took a on a life form of it’s own. Now I write my sports blog about 3 to 4 times a week and I write a personal blog much like your reasons to work thropugh personal issues. Then it also took on a life of it’s own and I just went with it. Now I am looking to write a business blog. Seems like from one idea came a whole new world of blogging. I agree I do read other blogs(yours among them) and I learned so much about content , quality and presentation. By the way keep up the good work on your blog.

  2. Great thoughts. I’ve heard it said that you have to post X times a week or else you won’t develop a faithful audience. I don’t know how universal that rule is. I follow people because I like to hear from them. When I see a post from them in my feed, if it’s been a while, it’s like a delight, a chance to catch up.
    Similarly, I love the “just because you followed me, don’t expect me to follow you.” I follow the blogs I’ve discovered that grab and keep my attention or have something I’m interested in. I’m grateful for every follow, truly, but that doesn’t mean I want their stuff filling my feed in return.
    You do great stuff here. Go on with your bad self!

  3. Suzie, would you please go to my page and post a link to your blog in my comments on Q&A #3? I think your blog would be helpful to anyone who reads my answers to the question of advice on starting a blog. I’d appreciate your comment with link back here! 🙂

  4. Great tips Suzie and I see Rachael has already been in touch with a request to post a link to this post on her blog, as I asked her a question about advise for anybody thinking of starting a blog.
    I still class myself as a newbie blogger so tips and advise from bloggers like Rachel and yourself are very valuable and are so helpful to me and many other new bloggers.

  5. Thanks for your tipps. They are very helpful for beginners like me. I have only started with blogging a week ago and currently try to comb through various blogs to see how other people established and run their blogs.

  6. I love all of your suggestions here.

    Isn’t it funny how we start out blogging and we’re so disillusioned. I seriously expected loads of people to visit my posts once I clicked publish. I was lucky if I got one and it was usually my mom or my best friend. LOL

    I think authentic connections with others is KEY! I always reply to comments and then I visit someone who has taken the time to visit me. Reciprocity never hurts.

    I’m not a niche blogger and I hear SOOOOOO many people suggest that in order to get ‘big” you have to have a niche. However, I find niche blogging too restrictive.

    Loved this post. Thanks for sharing and for connecting at the sitsblogging Twitter party!

    Wishing you a lovely weekend.

    • Thanks so much Jennifer! I’ve never and a nice and I get irritated when it is suggested that I need to find one… I have developed a really eclectic community as a result and I love it!

  7. Great advice lovely! I’m in the same boat as you in regards to the fact my mum and nan both read my blog now so I need to be a bit careful all my content is family friendly. Very good tips to follow though 🙂

    Catherine xx

  8. I agree with you, Suzie.
    Even I wish I knew lots of things that i know now after blogging seriously for more than a year, though I had my Blog for more than 2 years.
    Wish I knew of Blogging communities right from Day1 of starting my Blog!
    Now I share this info with newbies so that they don’t commit the same mistake as I 🙂

  9. Thanks, nice tips. In fact, I’ve already started to blogging, so this has been really helpful.

  10. I really enjoyed reading what you’ve learned about blogging. Sorry to hear about the issues you’ve run into from the people in your life. I always make it a habit to stop by and read other blogs, so your #3 hit home with me. There are so many interesting ones out there. I write my blog for my family and my mother is my greatest champion. Thank you for sharing your thoughts/tips.

  11. I started out blogging 10 years ago (about when BlogHer started if I remember what Aussa said correctly), but I’m still figuring things out. So much of the game, so to speak, has really changed. The interesting thing, though, is connecting with people writing about a particular topic, and I think, “hang on a sec, I think I wrote about that”, dig down deep into my archives, and the result becomes something MUCH bigger. A Twitter discussion with Joanna Schroeder at the Good Men Project went pretty much like that, and then, boom, I wound up getting an article (the “We Are All Santa”) published there.

  12. Thanks for sharing, Really enjoyed it. I’ve struggled with blogging for a while but reading this has inspired me. I’m going to take it one step at a time and hopefully I would find my voice and writing will come smoothly as I write more and maybe in the process I will find my “voice”.

    • Thanks so much! I only started #SundayBlogShare a few months ago, so thanks for participating! Glad your found it useful – feel free to contact me if you need any help!

  13. Thanks so much for your post. My blog is just about a month old and I did quite a bit of research before I started my blog, and this really helped. I continue to read more and learn more and your points definitely resonate with me.

    It really is annoying that you have to restrict your writing because you don’t want to cause offense to someone in your personal life. I think I’ll be quieter about telling people around me about my blog.

    And my, the ‘following back’ expectation of some, so boldly expressed; I’m still trying to get my head around it. I’m hoping to write a post about this soon.

    I’d like to comment more but I don’t want to end up writing a blog post, so i’ll stop.

    Thanks so much for all the valuable points and reminders of how to navigate the blogosphere. Thanks for #SundayBlogShare too.

    • Thanks so much for your comment and for participating in #SundayBlogShare. Ive only been blogging myself for about 20 months and I try and update these sorts of posts as I learn. There are lots of similar articles around but if you need any help at any point feel free to contact me!

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