Blogging is now a viable career option and there are endless examples of bloggers who have monetised their site to the point where they can quit their 9-5 job and live the dream.
Consequently, the bloggosphere (blogisphere? blogosphere? There really should be some clarification on this) is filled with ‘Earning Reports’ (which I often ignore), along with a bajillion things that we should all be doing to optimise our traffic and increase engagement to our sites. I apparently need an email list, in which I should offer incentives. I should be part of an Instagram pod or tailwind tribe. I should be self-hosted and have a professionally designed site, I should have paid advertising across all of my social media. I should be building up my social media accounts by following and then unfollowing people.
No wonder so many bloggers are feeling overwhelmed or disappointed with the fact that they haven’t been able to quit their job after blogging for two months. There’s so much conflicting information that many feel the need to do everything because they have seen that it works for someone else.
Unfortunately, anyone who knows me will tell you that, while I am not unintelligent by any means, I can be scatterbrained and incredibly lazy, combined with a heavy level of resistance to change and stubbornness. Essentially, if there is an easy way to do something that doesn’t involve moving lots of things around and/or paying for it, then THAT’s the way for me. I’m not self-hosted and I don’t belong to Instagram pods or tailwind tribes. I don’t have a targeted email list, nor do I have pop-ups. I’m in a small number of Facebook groups. I don’t post every day. I don’t follow hundreds and hundreds of blogs on WordPress – I think at my last count it was at about 250, but lots of those haven’t been active for quite some time. I don’t have plug-ins that aren’t already part of .com. I have a Bloglovin’ account but do absolutely nothing with it – it’s linked to share my posts and that’s it. My blog is not professionally designed. I made a one-off payment for my theme, and during the year I pay for three things: an annual payment for my premium account and domain name ($99), a monthly subscription to BoardBooster for Pinterest ($10), and unlimited wi-fi. Admittedly, I once paid £13.00 for Facebook advertising, only to receive nine extra views. NINE.
And yet, I have received nearly 750,000 views on Suzie Speaks. Of course, it isn’t in the same league as some of the big blogs that I see, but it’s enough to afford me a lifestyle that I could have only dreamed of a few years ago. There’s me, my blog and my social media accounts. I don’t have a Virtual Assistant or anyone else helping me. I write, post, promote, reply and repeat.
Of course, if blogging is a career goal, then numbers are important. I’m admittedly a stats obsessive. It’s a harsh statement to make, but it’s an unfortunate fact that you are more likely to be taken seriously if your numbers are high. However, high numbers of followers, particularly on social media don’t necessarily equate to high engagement.
For example: I have just 81 people following my StumbleUpon account, and have received several thousand views from SU since the start of the year. I have just over 3,400 followers on Pinterest, but have received over SIX times that in referrals since the beginning of January.
The key is to grow your following authentically is by keeping it simple, by engaging with others, establishing a genuine community, and above all, PUTTING THE TIME AND EFFORT IN. And for those who complain they don’t have time, I did a large amount of this when I was working full-time in a very stressful teaching job.
This is what I did.
When it comes to social media, I have a Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Stumble Upon, Instagram and Flipboard account, all with apps that I have on my phone to give easy access to them wherever I am. However, I didn’t start off with all of those – I began with Facebook, then Twitter, then slowly added the others over a period of time.
I initially began by doing a bit of social media planning in advance.
As a large percentage of my following is American, I worked out that I should be promoting early for my British audience before they started work and late in the evening for the Americans to coincide when they would be finishing work on or their lunchtime.
On Twitter, I wrote down a list of popular hashtags and chats for each day of the week (along with times), along with a list of posts that are relevant to these. Tip: you can schedule tweets in advance by using tools like Hootsuite. I don’t use a scheduling app for Twitter – I like to tweet and then engage immediately with others and Hootsuite can’t predict trending hashtags which I use – but it is indeed a useful and time-saving resource. I also put my favourite bloggers into a list so that I could easily access their posts.
On Facebook, I wrote down a list of the days when the opportunity to share blog and social media links are allowed.
On Pinterest, I joined large group boards and noted their follower numbers, created a group board of my own, made a list of posts and topics for each board and then set up BoardBooster.
I then used this information to create a daily checklist in an effort to try and organise myself. Nothing big or fancy, just a simple black notebook in which I have a list of tasks that I tick off, along with the amount of views I receive on that day.
This is a very basic version of my checklist for my OWN BLOG on my social media (I’ve simplified it to avoid having to name every group and their numbers etc)
Tweet x3 with hashtags (which will vary depending on the day and are staggered)
Share post or image on Facebook page
Share post in Facebook group (which will vary depending on the day)
Share post to SU
Post image on Instagram
Flip five posts
Share post on Flipboard
I don’t have anything specific for my own blog on Pinterest as I already have BoardBooster set up – this will send out pins to targeted boards throughout the day and evening and is totally worth the $10 a month.
To do this via my apps takes about 10 minutes, and aside from BoardBooster I haven’t spent any money.
Now, HERE’S where the work starts.
I reply to every single comment on my blog. I have set it so that comments have to be moderated and approved to appear, so I don’t approve anything until I have read and replied to them, even if it is to say a simple thank you. This may take minutes or even days if I have had a lot of comments, but I value the comments above anything else.
When I tweet a post out, I then share posts from others who are using the same hashtag.
I pin lots of posts from others into my various boards on Pinterest throughout the day.
If I have left a post in a Facebook group link-up, I comment on a post from someone else participating.
I will share posts from others on my blog in the form of a reblog – not every day, but I certainly do five or six a month.
I visit at least five blogs I follow every day on WordPress, leaving a meaningful comment. I can’t do more than that – I once tried to read as many as I could and I quickly became overwhelmed.
I reply to questions that other bloggers post in Facebook groups.
I stumble other bloggers posts every day.
On certain days, I participate in chats and link-ups on Twitter. For example, during my #SundayBlogShare link-up I spend several hours reading and retweeting the thousands of people that participate every week. I also host a link-up in my Facebook group.
I put a link to most of my social media accounts at the bottom of almost every blog post I publish, so that people who enjoy my posts will know where they can find me elsewhere online.
I do my best to TALK to people and establish connections. As a result, I have a core group of blog friends (some of whom I have known for years) that have been a huge support. I have met some of them in person, we send each other Christmas and birthday cards. If they have published a book, I want to help promote it. If they have written a killer blog post, I want to share it. Blogging is not just about YOUR blog posts – the more you share, the more likely you are to get back in return.
I DON’T follow and unfollow lots of people. I’ll unfollow if they haven’t posted in a while, consistently don’t engage with me over a long period of time or are suddenly writing things that don’t necessarily match my own views (ie. I suddenly see posts from them that are racist, sexist and homophobic). This sort of activity is one of the reasons why I am not a huge fan of Instagram, and I actually mentally blacklist bloggers who have repeatedly done this to me on Twitter. It’s a shady way to conduct yourself.
When adding up the amount of time I spend online every day, it can vary from an hour to three-four hours at the weekends, not including the amount of time it takes me to write a post and create a pinnable image. However, I can do lots of it while doing other things at the same time using my apps, and it’s totally worth it.
So, if you want to grow your blog without spending lots of money:
- Choose a few things to focus on as a starting point. When you feel comfortable with what you’re doing, then you can add more.
- Create and effectively use a targeted checklist.
- Consistently engage with people because you enjoy reading their blogs, not because you want to boost your numbers.
- Promote your posts daily across your social media.
- Share lots of posts from others across your social media.
- Use social media scheduling tools.
- Be patient! You aren’t going to get anything simply by pressing the publish button!
What about you guys? Do you pay for advertising? What’s your most effective way of building your views?
You can also find me on Twitter and Tumblr @suzie81blog, and don’t forget to check out my Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/suzie81speaks, my Pinterest page http://www.pinterest.com/suzie81speaks and my Instagram page http://www.instagram.com/suzie81speaks.
Great tips Suzie thanks for sharing. 🙂
Thanks lovely, as always!
Having reread this I agree with even more if your points Susie!!!
Always a great read, and its good to know that amazing blogs can come from just a little effort, a bit of writing talent and minimal outlay. Thanks for reminding us of that one more Suzanne x
Thanks lovely! Little and often…
I am new to the blogging world Suzzane,,,thanks for your tips,,,😊,,,you really have so much experience in the blogging world 😊
Thank you! I’m still learning as i go along – that’s why i love it!
Fantastic advice as usual, Suzie! Now just to kick myself up the ass and follow it!
Gosh, I need you to keep rationalising things Suzie; I have a terrible habit of overthinking and overwhelming and yet, this post just scraps the peripheral stuff out and makes total sense. Kudos to you and your opening gambit about intelligence and scatterbrain is so me too lol
In fact I may even have commented here before and if I have, my apologies, add forgetful to my profile!!
Thanks Gary! Don’t even get me started about the overthinking thing haha!
Heaven forbid Suzie. I’m still working on that particular irksome behaviour trait. Better than I was, but more to do! 🙂
Great post. I was like “WHAT” that you don’t self-host as I thought I had too when I bought domain name so also have BlueHost account. Now you have me thinking about stuff and reshuffling where I spend money/time. Thank you.
Thinking about it, i should have started self-hosting right from the beginning, but things might have turned out differently…
Deae Suzie. I am so in debt to you for all the wonderful tips and ideas you have given me. I have once again read this post and everytime find sonething more I can do and use. You’re an inspiring lady and I thank you for sharing your knowledge so freely to others. 🌹🌹🌹
Thanks so much lovely, really means a lot!
♥ ♥ ♥
Thanks for sharing this one again. I’ve bookmarked it this time so I can reread and apply some of your steps to my own blog. 🙂
This is one of the posts that makes me see better. It is so helpful and practical.
Currently I’m finding that meaningful interactions with other bloggers, blogging groups, and actively sharing on social media is helping me grow slowly but surely!!
It’s one of the biggest regrets that I have about when I started my blog, that I didn’t do it sooner!
Wonderful tips! I really need to get back into my blogzone and this post will definitely help, Thankyou Suzie x
Thanks for this post, most of which I am doing but you’ve given me some useful tips too. So I should be fighting them off by next week 😉 Thank you
I love this post. This is literally the third time I think I’ve read it. I have the memory of a goldfish so it helps to refresh what I need to do.
Thank you, Suzie. I really needed to read this. You’re a great resource! Diane
Thanks Diane! Glad you found it useful!
What a great post. As a newbie this helps me so much. Thanks for sharing.
You have such great advice and tips, especially for us newbies starting out
As usual Susie, you offer all good commonsense answers . Thank you for posting and supporting those of us who struggle to deal with the technicalities an quirks of social media. It helps to keep us up with things we may miss and pushes us gently away from becoming part of social mediocrity Have a great #SundayBlogshare
Thanks so much Ellen, and thanks for all of your participation!
I am trying, but still don’t know all the terminology so hope i dont go too wrong..
Just remember to always ask for help if you’re unsure of anything!
Thanks for sharing so many handy tips Suzie.I am trying out BoardBooster at the moment, and have finally worked out how to use it after already using up 3 of my free trial days in the dark!!!
Haha! It is really useful but does take a little bit of set up at first…
Great tips for us newbies, thanks 🙂
Suzie, I’m thrilled to have found your blog. I keep seeing so many posts about upgrading to WordPress.org, using Tailwind, doing this, doing that etc, and I have to admit I’m rather cynical with some things I read, especially these ‘income reports’ and gushing posts about how easy it is to increase traffic etc. I firmly believe that engagement is the way to increase any following across social media. I’ve been out of the ‘loop’ for a while now and have lots of catching up to do and many new things to learn (from when I first began blogging in 2012 and kind of fell off the blogosphere), and it’s refreshing to find another honest blogger providing such amazing content. Thank you!!
It’s a minefield of conflicting ideas and opinions and about half of them involve spending obscene amounts of money! Social media, time and good content is the key. The more you put in, the more you get out
I’m at the stage of getting totally overwhelmed with everything. Being a bit of a dinosaur when it comes to things of a computerly nature I really need to sit at someone’s shoulder & be shown what to do. It doesn’t help that I have the attention span of a gnat.
Tell me Suzie is there a way of saving this great post so that I can revisit it for reference?
I tend to copy and paste the URL into the notes on my phone so I can reference them later…
Brilliant advice. Simple. Straight-forward and no crazy snake-oil claims. Love it.
Yup – and that’s kind of the crux of all this, there’s no magic bullet. Just hard work and genuine engagement.
And lots and lots of unpaid time haha!
Glad to read that someone else tries to find simple/cheap ways of doing things. Some helpful ideas here – thank you. My problem is that, as an author, I find the amount of time (and mental energy) I have for social media tends to be limited, because I want to spend time writing and editing. As you say, to connect with people takes time and effort.
I know what you mean – using schedulers has helped but I like the immediate interaction with things so I often do both
I didn’t even know what Flipboard was until I read your blog! I created an account and have already maxed out my passions on the homepage! LOL! Great read.
Haha! I love it – it’s so easy to use – but mine has been a little neglected this year! I really need to focus on it more next year!
I don’t even know how to use it yet, but I can already tell I’m going to love reading it! Merry Christmas to you and yours, Suzie!
And you lovely!
Whoops! Commented on the wrong blog lol! I’m glad you moderate these. haha
Haha! Don’t worry lovely – happens more often than you’d think! Moderating the comments mean that I can reply to every single one and delete the ones that are spammy…
Excellent tips. Straightforward. I expect to keep referring back to this. Thanks
As always great advice and sensible 🙂
Another great informative and very useful guide for aspiring bloggers…..your ideas and suggestions are simple to follow and very much workable without getting over whelmed…….thanks for the share.
Thanks so much Anindya – really appreciate it!
I found this post really interesting, valid and honest. Basically, I would like more traffic to my blog and am prepared to spend the time, do the work but not spend money. Think this will be my template. Thank you for the tips. A 😘
Thanks so much! Let me know how you get on with it!
A great post Suzie and very informative, I’ve used the SundayBlogShare tag a bit and glad to have found your blog!
Thanks Josh – I’m really pleased you like Sunday Blog Share!
Really interesting and quite honest Suzie so thank you. I’m still relatively new to the bloggosphere so I know I still have a lot to learn!
Thank so much lovely – really pleased you found it useful!
Really needed to read these tips thanks for sharing!
Thank you – I’m really pleased you found it useful!
Third time reading this Suzie and it still resonates!
I’m saving this and revisiting! Super super useful.
I love this post. I struggle with the whole email list thing. I have one because people tell me I should, but I don’t really do anything with it. I tried to do weekly newsletters and then bi-weekly newsletters, etc. But with this whole change with the GDPR, I’m thinking I should just scrap it anyway.
If you’re with mail chimp I know it’s fairly easy to sort out…
There’s are really good tips for how to run a blog. My question is this though… How do you earn the dollar?
How you’ve been well 😀
Hi Simon! I did a post on monetising my blog last year – I’ll have a look for you!
Thanks Suzie, I’ll have a rummage through your blog myself and see what I find. It’ll give me a chance to catch up too 😀
Wow, I’m exhausted just reading about all the fantastic tips on how you get your blog out there!
How long have you been blogging for as 750,000 views is amazing!
As I have a EP Premium platform I don’t think I’ve allowed to monetise my blog, just run WordAds, which I’ve minimised to display on each post. I find these annoying as most times, the ad doesn’t even relate to my blog at all and wandering whether my readers do also? I haven’t earned enough from WordAds over a couple of years to even pay for my yearly subscription.
This post is quite old – I’ve been blogging for 6 years in April and have had 1.2 million views as it stands. I pay for a premium and there are loads of ways to monetise your blog that was – check out becoming an amazon affiliate etc
Thanks for the tip Suzie. Wow 1.2 million views! I can only dream of so many visitors. I’ve been writing seriously since May ’16 but sadly, haven’t even reached 100,000 views…long way to go yet to even come close.
It’s all a journey – every day is a small improvement