I usually love the feeling that accompanies a new year. I start a new Bullet Journal, map out my plans and goals and work out the direction that I want to take the blog over the next twelve months.
2020 marks the seventh (!) year of Suzie Speaks. Those who have followed the blog for a long time will already know the story – I started blogging as an outlet when I was struggling in my teaching job, then quit my job to blog full-time as my numbers grew, and then started my own Social Media Management business to supplement my blog income. It’s been a crazy rollercoaster of amazing experiences, travel, networking and online (and sometimes, in person) friendships with people from all over the world that have become very important to me, with plenty of ups and downs and more than a few lessons learned.
Want to Become an Unstoppable Blogger in 2020?
Two Points to Consider
Be prepared for the long-haul and hard work. Think that you’re going to become the next big thing just by writing something and pressing the publish button? Think again. Blogging is hard work, enormously time consuming, mentally draining, unbelievably rewarding and soul destroying all at the same time. Overnight success – whatever you deem success to be – takes years. Those hugely successful bloggers with enormous numbers and gorgeous websites that you have followed for ages and want to emulate? Check out when their first blog or social post was published. It’s extremely rare for a blogger to suddenly appear and amass a huge following overnight – in seven years I’ve seen it happen perhaps once or twice.
Forget about ‘going viral.’ I see lots of posts all over social media that attempt to offer advice on creating viral content, and while it makes sense that the more you promote yourself the more likely that you are to be seen, it is predominantly down to luck and the right people sharing your content at the right time. I’ve had a few viral posts – one through Facebook and another through Pinterest – and there was nothing additional nor extra-special that I did to make it happen on either occasion. And, if you are lucky enough to experience the incredible surge in stats that a viral post brings, don’t expect it to last forever and assume that these new numbers are the norm – it’s likely that they will drop as quickly as they increased. Soul-destroying, but true.
Work out what your blog is, what it represents, what you wish to share and the target audience that you are writing for. This is not saying that you need to have a niche – I’ve never had one – but it is more likely that an audience will return if they know what to expect from you and your content.
Create an effective About Page. For more information on How to Create a Successful About page, visit here.
Post regularly. This could be once or twice a week, once every two weeks or once a month, but make sure that you keep to a regular schedule so your readers know when new content will be available.
Take the time to check for spelling and punctuation errors – while very few readers act as the Grammar Police (although I have received emails in the past that highlight mistakes that I’ve made), poorly written articles may prevent potential readers from returning.
Create high-quality evergreen content that will remain relevant, valuable and useful over a long period of time. When a reader finds something of worth that they can take away from, they are more like to share that information and return in the future. For information on How to Create Evergreen Blog Content, visit here.
Use SEO effectively. SEO – Search Engine Optimisation – seems incredibly confusing at first, but is essentially a way of increasing the quantity of traffic to your blog through search engine results. For example, if someone is looking for Decluttering Tips, the most popular posts on decluttering will appear at the top of the search engine. The better SEO that you use in your posts, the more likely it is that it will be seen. For tips on how to use SEO in your posts, visit here.
Want to stay organised? Create a content calendar for your blog that allows you to fill your blog with lots of great content without it taking hours.
Use beautiful images in your blog and social media posts. If something is aesthetically pleasing it is likely to encourage others to look at it, and it has been proven that posts with an image attract more viewers. For those of you who aren’t confident in your photography skills, there are plenty of great stock websites that allow their images to be used for free online. Two of my favourites are Pixabay and StockSnap.
As your following grows, don’t be afraid to recycle your old blog content. It’s likely that new followers won’t see your older posts, so share it again. Here’s some hints and tips on Recycling Old Blog Content.
Make sure that your best posts are easy to find. For this, I get zero points. With over a thousand posts that discuss all sorts of topics, most of the posts that provide value and that I’m actually proud of are completely absorbed by the mass of utter waffle that I have produced over the years.
Engage with others and ensure that you reply to those who comment on your own blog. I get zero points for this too. The more you interact and respond to others in a positive way, the more your blog will grow. As a side note, actually read the post that you are commenting on, and don’t use the comment section to self-promote without permission in advance. For ideas about comments and engagements, visit here.
Your Social Media
Love it or loathe it, your social media is key if traffic is high on your list of blogging priorities. As bloggers, social media is by far the most powerful tool we have at our disposal, and developing your social media in a way that utilises it effectively can potentially take a blog to the next level, often with minimum effort.
There are numerous forms of social media available, with each individual having their preferences. Social media generally involves a combination of sharing content from your own blog and others that your audience may find interesting, and the more you share of others, the more likely it is that it will be reciprocated, particularly on Twitter and Facebook. The types of content that could potential boost engagement on your social media include a response to a trending topic (particularly useful if you already have blog content on the subject), asking a question, hosting promotional content, competitions or giveaways, offering advice and tips on different topics, link-ups, something seasonal or celebratory, inspirational and motivational quotes and an industry article relevant to one of your posts.
Twitter has undergone numerous changes over the last few years. It used to be that a posted link could bring in hundreds, and sometimes thousands of views relatively easily. Not anymore. Twitter, like Instagram, is often more successful with the use of hashtags. A hashtag, put simply, is a label or category that allows others to find something within a specific theme or content and are primarily used on Twitter and Instagram. Once you have copied a URL or used the share button on a post, hashtags can be used to direct your post towards the people you want to read them. On Twitter you can use a hashtag for everything – #cats, #dogs, #football, #sandwiches – but as a blogger the main focus is to use categories that will gain interest in your content and grow your readership and traffic. Here is a list of useful Twitter hashtags that could potentially boost your posts.
The biggest pro for using Facebook is that it is the biggest social network in the world with over 1 billion users and it’s likely that you already have a personal Facebook account and therefore have some understanding of functionality. It’s easy to share links and images, and a blog-specific Facebook page isn’t difficult to set up. However, it is becoming more apparent that a post’s reach is potentially restricted unless advertising promotion is paid for.
Pinterest is essentially an enormous search engine and is by far my most successful means of blog promotion, bringing tens of thousands of views to my site every year with very little effort. However, it does take a while to establish and build, and a knowledge of and ability to create beautiful accompanying graphics are important. Canva is wonderful for this, and it is completely free!
Instagram is all about images, and has the potential to bring in product advertising and sponsorships. Hashtags are incredibly effective to enable you to find your target audience and boost your reach. However, it doesn’t allow for links to be added below the images or in the comments and is rife with people who actively participate in the whole follow / unfollow nonsense (complete with generic emoji comments).
Flipboard has grown in popularity over the last few years, and adopts a magazine layout format. I have started to use it more regularly and while it doesn’t bring in enormous amounts of views I have noticed a difference in referrals in 2019. For a comprehensive guide on how to use Flipboard, visit here.
How Often Should I Share?
When and how you share entirely depends on your schedule, but these generally are the recommended amount of times you should utilise your social media every day to increase engagement.
Twitter: 3 tweets a day
Facebook: 1-2 posts a day
Pinterest: 10-15 repins a day of vertical posts
Instagram: at least once a day – most of the successful accounts that I have seen often share 3-4 times a day.
You don’t just have to share your most recent posts from your blog. This seems to be a common misconception among the blogging community. Thursdays in particular are full of posts for the #ThrowbackThursday hashtag, but I share posts that are months and even years old from my blog almost every day across my social media.
Don’t assume that your social media referrals (ie. the number of people who visit your blog via the links they find on social media) will remain constant. Social media platforms frequently like to muck about with their functionality and algorithms, usually to the enormous detriment of bloggers and their stats. I’ve experienced that heart-dropping moment when stats are cut in half literally overnight with no warning or explanation on many occasions, only to find out later that an algorithm change has happened behind the scenes, and sometimes it has taken months to build them back up. Very occasionally, a social media platform can shut down completely – the replacement of StumbleUpon with Mix cost me tens of thousands of potential views last year. Most of the time there is little that can be done other than to go with the flow.
Create an effective strategy for your blog and social media. When properly organised, an effective social media strategy only needs to take a few minutes a day. For more information on How to Create an Effective Strategy for your Blog and Social Media, visit here.
Find the idea of social media overwhelming? I offer plenty of Social Media Management Services including:
- Social Media Management – Pinterest, Twitter and Facebook
- Blog of the Day and Sponsorship opportunities
- Hour Blog Consultation Slots
- Canva images for your blog posts – created for any area of social media
- Food, Product and Flat Lay Photography
Check out my services page here!
Be unequivocally and unapologetically you at all times, but try your best not to get too involved in the process. Avoid the inevitable politics that comes with the blogging world, don’t copy content from others and claim it as your own and don’t use your blog to harass companies in an effort to get free stuff. The online world can be both a wonderful and terrible place, but as long as you continue to be you, do what you do, stay in your own lane, you’ll absolutely enjoy the journey.
Hope your blogging year is a fantastic one!
What about you guys? What are your best hints and tips for growing your blog?
You can also find me on Twitter @suzie81blog and you can also find me on 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
I love all of your advise to be true, including the areas where u need to up my game. Great tips from someone who knows-
Pingback: Tips for Becoming an Unstoppable Blogger in 2020 — Suzie Speaks – Sarah's Attic Of Treasures
Lots of great tips here!
That last paragraph sums it up perfectly Suzie! You have been honest and informative, as always! Thanks so much and I’m now off to reread some of those other posts to refresh my memory on what I should be doing 🙂 . All the best to you for 2020 x
Thanks lovely! And to you – hope you all have a great new year!
I took an all-day workshop on blogging back in 2009 that was offered through the California Writers Club, the 2nd oldest writing club in the U.S. I think I paid less than $50US for the workshop.
The key points I walked away with:
Publish 1,000 posts in the first year (I did it in nine months with my first blog, iLookChina.net) and I’ll probably never repeat that again, write 1,000 posts in nine months. It felt like a full-time job seven days a week.
Include an image and/or video with each post.
Include internal and external embedded links that are part of the text. An embedded link hides the http address behind words that are part of the text.
Did it pay off?
Yes. My goal with my first blog was to attract readers interested in China so some of them would buy my first published book, “My Splendid Concubine”.
On Amazon.com (in the U.S.), that book has 327 reader reviews (as of today) with a 4.3 out of 5 average.
I think the Blog that I launched in 2010 is responsible for increased sales of that one book.
Before the iLookChina.net blog:
2008 = 221 copies sold
2009 = 341 copies wold
After I launched the blog and did everything I learned from that 2009 workshop:
2010 = 2,375 copies sold
2011 = 4,461 copies sold (after I finished publishing the first 1,000 posts in nine months)
2012 = 4,158
2013 = 5.044
2014 = 4,192
2015 = 42,010 ( to be fair, I ran a BookBub ad that year but I was still posting a few times a week on the blog.)
2016 = 345 ( my blogging slowed down a lot and I didn’t run another BookBub ad — publishing even one blog post a day eats up a lot of time)
2017 = 384
2018 = 1,422 books sold + 23,147 KENP page reads (Amazon pays about a half-cent per page for this voluntary program)
2019 = 186 books sold + 225,479 KENP page reads (the page reads will increase by more than 2,000 pages by the end of December)
You are welcome.
But my comment seems to have triggered a troll who reposted three negative reviews for three of my four books that date back a few years when I was sucked into a flame war. These were reviews that Amazon deleted that helped end that flame war. Yesterday morning I saw the damage two of these three reviews did to the reader review average of two of the books, but this morning I woke up to discover that Amazon seems to have caught two of those troll reviews and deleted those two again.
Have you ever had to deal with comments from obvious trolls on your blogs? If the answer is yes, how did you handle those comments and the troll?
I’ve made the mistake on a few occasions of calling people out when they’ve been out of order about something, but it has never gone in my favour when I have so now I don’t give any response at all. Sometimes I’ve had to deal with some really awful comments but instead of responding I just move them to the trash folder. I’ve had a few instances of bloggers passive-aggressively being unkind in Facebook groups where they think I can’t see what they have written, but I generally ignore it. The only negative thing about blogging is the fact that a lot of people are far more confident behind a computer screen than they would be in person, and sometimes there is a pack mentality when a few of them get together. Where you can, Lloyd, ignore as much as possible – it really isn’t worth your time.
I learned the hard way back in 2013 to ignore the anonymous trolls, specifically on Amazon and Goodreads when they post negative reviews of books they obviously never read. The specific tribe of trolls I ran into was called the Goodreads Bullies. After Amazon bought Goodreads, Amazon did “try” to reign the Goodread’s bullies in and deleted many of their reviews but also deleted many honest reviews in the process.
Around the same time, Anne Rice was waging a flame war with the same tribe of trolls and when the tribe attacked her, Rice asked her vampire fan base to help her out. Some of her want-to-be vampire fans were hackers who discovered who some of the anonymous trolls were and posted their ID info online.
Then those trolls complained that they feared for their safety. Imagine having thousands of want-to-be vampire fans of Anne Rice’s books hunting for you.
Amazon deleted that entire flame war between Anne Rice and the Goodreads bullies from both Goodreads and Amazon.
I have only had a couple of trolls leave comments on my blogs. Most trolls know better because WordPress lists the IP address for all comments and Bloggers have access to those IP addresses. Most Trolls prefer to stay as anonymous as possible.
“Any” published author, traditional or indie, that responds to a nasty, negative review on Amazon risks being attacked by an entire tribe of Trump bully think-alike trolls. One day an author might have several good reviews and the next day their books are drowning in one and two-star negative reviews that seldom have more than one sentence without details. Just nastiness.
The only place I mentioned what happened with the negative reviews that were on Amazon one day and gone the next, was here. No way will I respond directly to any alleged troll on Amazon or Goodreads. If they want to trash a book, ignore them. Trolls, like Donald Trump, thrive on knowing they are upsetting someone. Never feed the Trolls or Donald Trump.
Reblogged this on THE BLOGGING STATION.
Thanks for the reblog!
Thank you for this very useful post. You said that you do social media management to supplement your blog income. I am wondering how you make your main blogging income. I am trying hard to make money blogging and I just can’t figure out how too !
Are you self hosted ?
I’m not self-hosted, but this should help https://suzie81speaks.com/2017/06/21/how-to-monetise-your-blog/#more-23819
Thank you will check it out
Thank you for this. It is so impressive that in 2 years you were able to quit your job. And to know you are not self hosted is awesome!!! Because I believe being self hosted is a must at all. What are your thoughts on a mailing list?
I’ve avoided creating a mailing list for years, but they are indeed one of the most effective tools you can have…
That is what they say. But, I always see my self as the end user and I am getting more and more off emails!! I guess with wordpress we have wordpress community and we have email followers. So I feel really another email list.. last year or sometime ago, I did an investigative series on my blog about various aspects of blogging, and I concluded with wordpress.com you dont have to self hosted or have an email list. But, I am no expert!! Still learning. Lolol
Me too – it’s a constant learning curve haha!
Thank you for explaining there is no magic involved
Thanks – it’s a common misunderstanding based on the blogs of people that have been doing it for years. People think they can just set up a blog and that’s it, but there’s so much work involved
Thank you for this most honest post. Very useful tips.
Wow so many great tips and such brilliant advice Suzie. I need to sit and go through all of the links when I have a moment. Our biggest issue is SEO as we just don’t really understand what its all about. Read loads of blogs about it but seems to go over our heads. Need to sit down in the New Year and really get into it. Nice post, thanks.
Thanks Jonno! SEO can seem complicated but it’s not as difficult as it seems – the link I’ve included should hopefully help…
This is a great post! I’ve been trying to grow my readership for a while, but I’m finding it so difficult. I want to try Pinterest but have no idea what to do! At any rate, you helped me figure out finally how to use tags in my blog, so thanks for that:-)
Thanks lovely! Pinterest is definitely the best way of gaining traffic! Glad the post has helped!
Hi Suzie, This is such a helpful post. I’m hoping to use these tips and tricks soon. I’ve just posted my first post today! 😆
Ooh congrats Charlie! Good luck on your blogging journey!
Hello Suzie! Thank you for writing an informative post filled with great advice. I am going to begin blogging the first week of January. Your tips have helped me a great deal. I tried blogging before but did not stick with it. I am going to give it a try again but use a different approach. Thanks again and God bless you!
Ooh thank you! Good luck on your blogging journey!
Re: social media – I think it’s also a quality/quantity thing. Ideally, ofc, we want both, though that’s not always achievable.
My traffic from Mix, for example, though a lot less than StumbleUpon, seems to involve less spam/bot accounts than its predecessor (also, I’ve heard that sometimes Mix traffic shows up as direct traffic in stats, but I don’t know how true this is.) The traffic I get from Mix spends more time, on average, on-site, and is more likely to investigate other pages.
To make it go the extra mile, I sometimes share Mix links for my blogposts on Twitter or Pinterest too 🙂
I really don’t do anything on MIX compared to what I did on StumbleUpon – I’m still mad at the amount of views I lost when it went haha!