Things I’ve Learned in Four Years of Blogging

Blogging advice

Today marks the four year anniversary of Suzie Speaks.

Four years, 838 posts (if you don’t count the hundreds that I’ve deleted), a collective following of nearly 19,000 people, nearly 780,000 views, the biggest blogging hashtag of the weekend, an amazing Facebook group and three awards.

Since starting the blog I have quit my job, got engaged, gained a brother-in-law and gorgeous squidgy niece, travelled, attended events, reviewed everything from restaurants and cocktail bars to theatre shows, hotels and products, made a whole bunch of new friends and experienced things that I could only have dreamed of in what I consider to be my previous life. What an unbelievable journey.

The blog began as a simple online journal – an outlet to try and calm the stress and anxieties I was experiencing at the time. There were no expectations or dreams, just a desire to write. However, as my blogging knowledge grew, I found a community, started to develop promotional strategies, learned a great deal about social media and, as a result, now have a whole list of things that, if I could go back and start again (not that I would want to, mind you), I would do differently.

Of course, there are no specific rules and regulations when it comes to starting and marketing a blog. However, here are a few things that have learned in my time spent in the blogosphere.

1. Social media accounts are as important as your blog if you want to grow your traffic. It took me eighteen months to start my Twitter account, two years to develop my Facebook page, two-and-a-half years to start my Stumble Upon, three years to start a Pinterest page and only discovered Flipboard a few months ago. 75% of my views now come from social media and I always wonder how many views I missed out on.

2. Your blog name needs to be something that you like right from the beginning. In my eagerness to start writing, I hastily chose a name, Suzie81blog, which was my first name and the year I was born. Consequently, when I decided to purchase my own domain name a year later, I had to choose ‘Suzie Speaks’ so as not to confuse my followers. I hate it, but unless I want to completely rebrand then I’m stuck with it.

3. A niche is not necessary to be successful. A particular layout for your web design is not necessary to be successful. If you like it, stick with it and avoid comparing yourself to other blogs – half the blogs I’ve seen appear in the last year or so all look pretty much the same anyway. You can’t be anyone other than yourself.

4. A willingness to follow and interact with someone shouldn’t be based solely on numbers. A following doesn’t equate to views or quality eg. I’ve got only 4,000 people on my Pinterest page and yet have received 28,000 referrals from there since January, even with the massive changes that Pinterest have been making over the last few months. Are their posts actually worth reading? I’ve read posts that have been shared thousands of times that are utterly pointless and posts that have only been shared a few times that are brilliant. Do they reply to your comments, even if (like myself) it takes several days or even a week? Follow what you genuinely enjoy reading and be open to newcomers.

5. Blog envy is a waste of time. Try to avoid getting involved in the whole blog envy thing, which I appreciate is easier said than done. What other bloggers are doing is nothing to do with your own blogging journey. It’s your space – get your head down and create something that you’re proud of. Ultimately, remember that there is an audience for everything.

6. It’s important to be as polite and respectful as possible, but remember that you don’t owe anyone in the blogging community anything just because you have a blog. Of course, your posts are more likely to be shared if you regularly promote those of others, but you don’t have to (although, I would advise that if you join in a link-up you at least make a bit of an effort). Inevitably, bloggers will only show you what they want you to see and there are indeed those who aren’t as authentic in their activities as they claim to be. They will buy followers, use bots, spam your pages, repeatedly follow then unfollow (Instagram is THE WORST for this), make aggressive demands on others to share their stuff, steal ideas and in some cases, directly copy and paste posts from other blogs and claim them as their own. Ignore, block, report and then move on. Indeed, I’ve had people steal posts, leave nasty comments (note: insulting Justin Bieber is not a good idea), send nasty emails and passive aggressive messages when I haven’t followed them back or promoted them, or people who have requested interviews but then haven’t published it when I told them I wasn’t able to reblog them for a while because of my schedule. I made the mistake of challenging people on a few occasions and trust me, it’s not worth it. A large percentage of this is part of a massive numbers game and some genuinely get a kick out of confrontation – it’s not a fight you’re ever going to win.

7. The community – the RIGHT community for you – will be the best, most supportive group of people you will ever meet.

Blogging is the most exhilarating, exciting, time-consuming, frustrating and sometimes heartbreaking thing I’ve ever done. I’ve had sleepless nights when my stats have rocketed and more sleepless nights when they have tanked. I’ve experienced sometimes week-long periods of the dreaded bloggers block, followed by days where I can’t stop writing. Even four years later, I still get a huge buzz when I create a post that I’m genuinely proud of. I’ve met people in person from all over the world who have become trusted friends. And even better, I NEVER get bored – it’s gone from a passion to a profession and it has changed my life for the better in so many ways.

Thank you for all of your support – here’s to the next four!

You can also find me on Twitter and Tumblr @suzie81blog, and don’t forget to follow my Facebook page, my Pinterest page and my Instagram page

152 thoughts on “Things I’ve Learned in Four Years of Blogging

  1. Definitely found the right community with ‘Big up Your Blog’, so amazing that I feel like I have known everyone for years, yet I’ve never met a single other blogger in person!

  2. Having a supportive community around you – whether in reality or virtually – is so important, and the things you’ve learnt are now been passed on so that others don’t always have to go through the pain and confusion! Thanks for your wise words as always!

  3. I actually bookmarked this. Whenever I am in a dilemma and don’t know what to do, I just read and read again your post. I have received several negative comments and trolls that I just want to confront them. (I don’t even know them) But then, I always remember your post. I will never win. Your post is inspiring.

  4. Great advice, that I need to take, especially focus on what I’m doing rather than everyone else! Thanks for the amazing Facebook group Suzie!

  5. Thanks for sharing this Suzie! I really respect your blog and I love reading it. It is not the standard blog format and you write about things you seem to enjoy, it really shines through. Also, one thing I value the most is the blogging community you have managed to create which I love being a part of. I have met some awesome bloggers from your groups, they are honestly the most engages, polite and supportive group I have come across. It makes blogging worthwhile to have like-minded people who genuinely care about each other. Cheers!

  6. I just found your blog through Big Up Your Blog. I am a new blogger ( I started just under a year ago) and really appreciate this post. It’s insightful, inspiring and helps me ‘stay the course’ as I find my way around the www. Thank you for your wisdom and encouragement.

  7. As a brand new blogger, this post was really helpful. I’m just absorbing all kinds of info at the moment and doing a lot of self teaching! Any advice is welcome.

  8. This is so inspiring and so helpful Suzie! Thanks for sharing what you’ve learned. I’m a newbie for sure. I think there are like 6 people reading my blog — and I’m just figuring out so many things. Keep up the great work!

  9. I love this! I’ve had my blog since late 2011. Recently deleted most of my posts! Still developing ideas for what I want it to be. Thanks for making such good points! Feeling hopeful I can do more!

  10. What a great read! I am now blogging in my second year, and I am sure, we all experience more or less the same things. One really remarkable thing is, as you mentioned above, how many bloggers who were slagging my blog off for being old school, the design is not ‘trendy’ enough, I am ‘nicheless’ and all that expert’s wisdom …. I think, at least half of them have given up already. I was driven insane by comparing with others, doubting my own thing, looking left and right, checking on stats and views constantly ….until that one day came where I had a short pep talk with myself, this is MY blog, this is who I am, this is what I like doing … easy as that, and today I am happy that I have not listened to anybody! Blog envy is something I don’t know, well to be honest 🙂 NOW I do as I see you having 19 K smart followers … CHAPEAU !! There is only one thing that I regret and would do differently if I would start all over again, the name of my blog. Ggrrrr, it could have been a little bit more creative, but okay, it could be worse 🙂 Congratulations on your 4th blogging anniversary, I hope, we’ll still be in touch and both still writing some good stuff in another 4 years time xxx KUDOS, BIG TIME !!

    • Thanks Klaudia! That’s the problem with blogging – everyone has an opinion haha! The funny thing is, all of the blogs who give advice on layout and content all look the same – there’s no originality with any of them. I am nicheless too and that works for me – keep doing what you’re doing!

  11. I am glad I have read this post as I have just decided to start being fully active on blog post. However, I am still not sure if I want to go to social media to generate traffic as I still feel very vulnerable sharing my thoughts with acquaintances and colleagues on facebook. I know I will generate loads of traffic if I go public on Fb but at the same time I would like to experiment here and see how far and how long I need to go before submiting to facebook.

    • Social media is KEY to building your traffic and engagement, but Facebook isn’t the only way to share. Create new profiles on Twitter, Pinterest, StumbleUpon, Flipboard and share that way – you don’t need to share anything with friends and family then!

      • Actually I do not mind using my personal twitter. The thing I am most hung up on right now is how much time I should spend. I want to optimize the entire set up but I would also like to interact with people like yourself who has great content and ideas and inputs.

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