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
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