Halloween Blog Party!

Halloween blog partyIt’s Halloween, and while many people are preparing for a party with their loved ones, or getting ready to go trick-or-treating and annoying their neighbours, I thought it would be a fun idea to host a virtual party here in the blogosphere.

For those of you who have never participated in a blog party before, the rules are simple (PLEASE READ THESE FIRST BEFORE POSTING)…

1. Choose your favourite post from your own blog. The subject of the post can be anything you like – blogging, food, parenting, life, travel, thoughts, photography… Note: This should be only one post at a time or it will get sent straight to the ‘spam’ folder and I may not be able to find you for a while. You can share up to three links, and for maximum impact I would suggest that you wait a little while in between posting them rather than in one go.

2. Paste the link in the comment section of this post and feel free to write a little bit about yourself and/or your blog.

3. Enjoy! Relax, pull up a chair, meet new people! Find new blogs, comment on their posts, follow, reblog and share. Let them know that you met them here!

The party will be going on for the next 24 hours, and you can visit as many people as you like. You don’t have to follow my blog or social media accounts to participate (although you’re always welcome to!) and you’re very much allowed to reblog and share this post so you can invite your friends!

Dont forget, if you instantly want to meet new people without waiting for links, I’ve got a whole group of lovely blogging sponsors in my sidebar who would love it if you stopped by to say hello!

Want to join in another blog party? Donna is hosting one at her place – hop on over and say hi!

Looking to host your own blog party? Check out this post for a list of hints and tips to get you started!

Ooh I’ve been looking forward to this! Let’s get the party started!

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.

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How To Host a Blog Party

How to host a blog partyBlog parties are one of my favourite things to do, and in my experience they are an incredibly fun and successful way of boosting traffic to your blog and building a readership.

For those who have never heard of a blog party before, the concept is simple. The host will create a post which states a set of rules. Other bloggers will then share a link to a post from their blog in the comment section and will go and visit other links from the people participating. I love participating in these sorts of events, and have discovered many wonderful blogs and bloggers by doing so.

Hosting a successful party, however, takes a little bit of preparation and time in advance, and requires 100% commitment on the day.

Want to host your own blog party? Here’s my easy step-by-step guide to planning and developing a party that will get the blogosphere talking!

In advance:

1. Decide on a date and time in which you wish to host the party. This will depend on a number of things:

  • The day and time of the week where you get your highest traffic.
  • A day where you have a large block of time to fully commit to the party.
    It’s important to note here that the length of time in which a party can last will be entirely up to you. I prefer for mine to go on for the entire day, accommodating different time zones and giving the opportunity for readers from all over the world to participate. However, I do know of many that prefer just a two or three hour time slot.

2. Decide on a potential theme (although a theme is not necessary – you may wish to host one just for the fun of it). There is no right or wrong to this – you may want to celebrate a blogiversary, your birthday, the release of your new book or a national holiday. You may ask participants to only share posts within this theme, or could leave it open. I often prefer to leave the content of posts up to the blogger instead of requesting a particular subject, as I find that it alienates those who may have a different niche and don’t have any posts that match the criteria.

3. Issue an invitation about a week before. Any earlier than this it’s likely that it will be forgotten, and giving only a day’s notice may mean that others won’t have the opportunity to schedule some time to participate. I like to create a graphic with the details, which I share on my blog and my social media pages and then I contact close blogging friends personally through private/direct messages.

4. Promote your party throughout the week. Of course, it’s never advisable to spam everyone with constant reminders, but sharing the graphic or the details of the party again once a day will retain interest and will notify others who missed the first announcement.

On the day:

1. Create a post for the party which makes clear the rules which you wish participants to follow. These rules will differ depending on the blogger and the purpose of the party. I usually tend to use the same rules each time, which others have been able to follow quite easily and respectfully:

  • Choose your favourite post from your own blog. The subject of the post can be anything you like – blogging, food, parenting, life, travel, thoughts, photography… Note: This should be only one post at a time or it will get sent straight to the ‘spam’ folder and I may not be able to find you for a while. You can share up to three links, and for maximum impact I would suggest that you wait a little while in between posting them rather than in one go.
  • Paste the link to your post in the comment section of this post and feel free to write a little bit about yourself and/or your blog.
  • Enjoy! Relax, pull up a chair, meet new people! Find new blogs, comment on their posts, follow, reblog and share. Let them know that you met them here!

2. Be a gracious host. My settings mean that I have to approve every comment before it shows on the blog, so I have to ensure that I am available for the entirety of the party and approve them as quickly as possible (and check my spam folder as it’s inevitable that some won’t read the rules). Once I have, I try and visit as many as possible and leave a comment both on their blog and in a reply on my own post. It’s a massive undertaking if the party is extremely busy, but I try and thank as many people as possible for sharing a link – making people feel welcome, particularly if they have never visited your blog or been to a blog party before, will encourage them to go and visit others and may become a regular reader. It’s surprising how many feel a little nervous about introducing themselves to new people.

3. Continue to promote your party throughout the day on your social media.

Want to participate in a blog party? I am hosting a Halloween party THIS SATURDAY here at Suzie Speaks, and everyone is invited! Your post/s don’t have to have a scary theme, everyone is welcome to share any links (up to a maximum of three) that they like, and they don’t have to be a recent one. For more information, check out the rules in this post! The party will begin at 9.00am GMT and will go on until 9.00am on Sunday 1st November.

Halloween blog party

Halloween Blog Party!

I look forward to seeing you all there!

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.

Book Launch: Blog Party at Luccia Gray’s Tomorrow!

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Book Launch Blog Party!

Many of you in the WordPress community will know the lovely Luccia Gray, and if you don’t then tomorrow will be a brilliant opportunity to hop on over and say hello!

In celebration of her second novel – Twelfth Night at Eyre Hall – Luccia is hosting a blog party that is promising to be of epic proportions tomorrow. And if that wasn’t enough, you are all invited to a Facebook Party too where there will be fun, games and prizes to be won!

For those of you who haven’t been to a blog party before, the idea is simple – copy the URL of a favourite recent post and leave it in the comment section of the hosts party post. When others leave theirs, go and read, comment, follow and enjoy! It’s a brilliant way to meet new people and boost your traffic!

The blog party will be going on all day, and the Facebook party will take place for TWO HOURS only, at 6pm UK time and 7pm Spain time. For the US: 10:00 am – PST / 11:00 am – MST / 12:00 noon – CST / 1:00 pm – EST

Those of you who have or are in the process of writing a novel will know the amount of work that goes into it, so get your favourite posts ready, put on your best ensemble, grab a drink and go and visit Luccia tomorrow! And while you’re there, check out her brand new novel!

Looking forward to seeing you all there!

Suzie Speaks Summer Blog Party!

imageIt has been quite a while since I last hosted a blog party, and I absolutely love them! It’s the beginning of summer, and for me its the beginning of a new chapter, so I’m determined to celebrate in style! For those of you that have never participated in one before, the rules are simple:

1. Choose your favourite post from your own blog. The subject of the post can be anything you like – blogging, food, parenting, life, travel, thoughts, photography… Note: This should be only one post at a time or it will get sent straight to the ‘spam’ folder and I may not be able to find you for a while. You can share up to three links, and for maximum impact I would suggest that you wait a little while in between posting them rather than in one go. Continue reading

It’s Over – Summer Begins Here!

imageI can’t actually believe it. After months of a proverbial roller coaster ride consisting of the highest of highs, followed by the lowest of lows, it’s done. I was feeling a little bit rough after going out with my colleagues and indulging in cocktails for the second night in a row, but I gave my leaving speech, gratefully accepted lots of lovely cards and gifts, said goodbye to my form and staff and did my final performance with the most talented group of students I’ve ever had the privilege of working with.

Ok, it’s not quite done, I still have to go in on Monday to tidy up my classroom and hand everything in, but to all intents and purposes, the summer, and the start of my new life, begins here. Continue reading

A Blogging Hangover

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Yesterday I hosted a blog party to celebrate my two year anniversary. I had been looking forward to it all week, and had put some time into promoting it across the blog and my social media accounts. With the response that I had received from eager bloggers wanting to participate, I expected it to be quite busy.

However, I didn’t expect it to be THAT busy. Over the space of about fifteen hours there were hundreds of links shared from bloggers all over the world, I had received over 600 comments, 2000 views and lots of people embraced it wholeheartedly, following, commenting and sharing each others posts. It was fabulous, and I’d like to say a massive thank you to everybody who took part!

I fell asleep with square eyes and a mild headache after staring at my phone and iPad screen for so long. I had to charge both of them up overnight as the batteries had been exhausted. When I awoke, I excitedly checked the page, to discover that the party had been continuing in my absence, and I had a whole new set of comments and links to go through. I have a blogging hangover.

It’s been said that the best cure for a hangover is to have another drink – ‘hair of the dog’ so to speak – so today I’m going to do just that! My Twitter party, #SundayBlogShare is in full swing already and I’m looking forward to jumping back in there and reading lots of posts, as well as working my way through the wonderful links that were shared on here yesterday.

Want to carry on sharing with me?

I am going to leave the blog party open, so that anyone can join in anytime they like. If you wish to share a post on the blog party, click on the image below:

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Want to share your posts with the hundreds of people participating in #SundayBlogShare? Click on the image below for the rules and then get your tweet on!

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Don’t forget that there are also six very interesting and exciting blogs in my sidebar – give them a click and I’m sure you won’t be disappointed!

You can find me on Twitter and Tumblr @suzie81blog, and feel free to visit my Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/suzie81speaks and give me a cheeky like!

 

It’s Party Time!

imageThis week marks my two year blogiversary, and I decided that the best way to celebrate would be to invite you all to my blog party!

It has been quite a while since I last hosted a blog party, and I absolutely love them, so I’d like you all to put on your best outfits, grab a drink (mine is a Mojito for anyone that’s interested) and get your blog on! For those of you that have never participated in one before, the rules are simple:

1. Choose your favourite post from your own blog. The subject of the post can be anything you like – blogging, food, parenting, life, travel, thoughts, photography… Note: This should be only one post at a time or it will get sent straight to the ‘spam’ folder and I may not be able to find you for a while. I don’t have an issue with you posting another link separately, but please don’t share more than three – spend the time visiting other bloggers instead.

2. Paste the link to your post in the comment section of this post.

3. Enjoy! Relax, pull up a chair, meet new people! Find new blogs, comment on their posts, be polite, courteous and respectful, follow, reblog and share. Let them know that you met them here! This is a really useful way of discovering new blogs, particularly if you have only just joined the blogging world – the general rule that I set myself when I participate is that I check out at least two or  three other bloggers…

You don’t have to follow me to participate, you don’t have to be an established blogger – you could have written just a single post – and feel free to invite your friends!

Want to discover six WordPress blogs without waiting for others to post their links? Check out my sponsors – they’re all fabulous bloggers and they would love to meet you – you can find their blogs in my sidebar, just click on the image for the link! 

You’re welcome to share this post on all of your social media accounts too! You can find me on Twitter and Tumblr @suzie81blog, and don’t forget to visit my Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/suzie81speaks

And remember…

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NOTE 1: Don’t forget to join me for #SundayBlogShare tomorrow!

NOTE 2: I’VE JUST FOUND TEN POSTS IN MY SPAM FOLDER THAT I HAVE NOW APPROVED – APOLOGIES FOR THIS!

A Party Invitation

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This week marks my two year blogiversary, and in celebration I would like to cordially invite you all to attend my blog party this weekend!

It has been quite a while since I last hosted a blog party, and I absolutely love them! It will start on Saturday (please don’t post anything here), which gives you five days to select your favourite post. For those of you that have never participated in one before, the rules are simple:

1. Choose your favourite post from your own blog. The subject of the post can be anything you like – blogging, food, parenting, life, travel, thoughts, photography… Note: This should be only one post at a time or it will get sent straight to the ‘spam’ folder and I may not be able to find you for a while.

2. Paste the link to your post in the comment section of the party post ON SATURDAY.

3. Enjoy! Relax, pull up a chair, meet new people! Find new blogs, comment on their posts, follow, reblog and share. Let them know that you met them here! This is a really useful way of discovering new blogs, particularly if you have only just joined the blogging world and when I have participated in similar things I have really enjoyed them!

You don’t have to follow me to participate, you don’t have to be an established blogger – you could have written just a single post – and feel free to invite your friends!

Feel free to share this post on all of your social media accounts too! You can find me on Twitter and Tumblr @suzie81blog, and don’t forget to visit my Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/suzie81speaks

See you on Saturday!

Blog Advice 1: Increasing Your Traffic

How to increase traffic to your blog

One of the most common questions I am asked by fellow bloggers is, in my opinion, one of the most difficult to provide a definitive answer to:

How do I increase the traffic that I receive to my blog?

Before I begin, I think that it is important to note three crucial points:

  • Building a following and, consequently increasing your traffic, takes lots of time and effort. You are extremely unlikely to receive thousands, or even hundreds of views simply by pressing the publish button.
  • Content is key. Well-written posts will draw new people in, and encourage them to visit again. Posting page after page of inspirational quotes looks pretty, but will leave your audience bored after a while. Be yourself, make no apologies and believe in what you are creating.
  • I am not an expert, nor have I ever claimed to be.

I know very little about SEO, so I don’t feel experienced enough to comment on it. However, in my experience, there are number of things that you can do that will always pull in extra views.

1. Visit other sites. Like and leave a meaningful comment (but don’t leave a link to your blog – this is often viewed as poor blog etiquette and could be classed as spam).

2. Tag your posts effectively. I use between 15 and 20 relevant tags on most of my posts, and this will allow others who are writing about similar things to find you.

3. The more you post, the more likely your blog is going to be seen.

4. Share the work of others. There are some bloggers that have been extremely generous when promoting my posts and as a result I have gained lots of new followers. I like to return the favour by reblogging posts from some of my favourite blogs. I have also invited lots of guest bloggers to write post for me, and have guest blogged on other sites. You will find that other people will return the favour.

However, over time I have picked up a few hints and tips that has helped me increase my traffic further.

The Daily Post

When I first started blogging one of the most useful and effective ways of meeting other people and discovering new blogs was by following The Daily Post, which has millions of members. Each day, a prompt is given that encourages anyone and everyone to be able to interpret the prompt in any way they like and link back (these are called ping backs). All of the posts that are created in response are collated under the original Daily Post prompt, making it possible for everyone to visit each others blogs, and some will visit yours in return.

The Daily Post also hosts a photography challenge on Fridays, which is extremely popular, and on Mondays they host the Community Pool, which is essentially an enormous blog party.

Blog Parties

A blog party is simple: create a post that invites others to leave a link to their blog in the comment section. The participants then visit each others blogs. It’s a great way for bloggers to meet each other and will automatically increase your views on that post. You may find that followers of participants will find your blog and join in themselves. (However, it is worth noting that these are unlikely to generate traffic unless you have a larger following to begin with).

There are lots of blog parties that take place across the blogosphere regularly, and I would advise that you take part in as many as possible. Say hi, leave a link to a post with a little bit of information and then go and visit other participants. You don’t have to follow the blog to participate, but it is usually better if you do.

Want to participate in a blog party? There is currently a blog party going on at Hugh’s Views and News. Go and visit – Hugh would love to see you there!

Social Media

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Love it or loathe it, I’ve found that social media is crucial for building your following and getting others to visit your site. It took me a long time to add social media accounts to my blog and it has always been one of my biggest blogging regrets that I didn’t start sooner, as they are now responsible for about 75% of my overall traffic.

These are my stats that show how many views I have had from my social media accounts from the last two years:

Facebook: 81,000
Twitter: 38,000
StumbleUpon: 17,000
Reddit: 10,000
Tumblr: 3,500
Bloglovin: 200
Pinterest: 50

These add up to almost 150,000 views.

Admittedly, I got lucky with Facebook – one of my posts went viral a year ago on there, but only after I had posted it onto my Facebook blog page and my personal page, where it was picked up and shared by my friends. However, some don’t feel comfortable with doing that. For me, Twitter is the quickest and most effective way of getting your posts seen on a regular basis, and it’s all done through the use of hashtags. Others prefer Pinterest, while others like Tumblr. Some even create Vlogs to go with their posts – my friend Steve often does this for his ‘Now This Is What I Would Call Music’ blog. Regardless of your preferences, create separate social media accounts (don’t use your own) and start linking your blog posts to them.

Twitter Hashtags and Retweet Accounts

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There are several different parties that go on during the week that are easy to use. Each follow the same format – share your link on Twitter and use a hashtag next to your post. Once posted, visit the hashtag and go and read and retweet other people participating.

Monday: #MondayBlogs. This is the ultimate hashtag party. It’s been going for two years, and was started by @RachelintheOC. Thousands participate each week.

Wednesday: #WWWBlogs (Women’s Writer Wednesday) and Ronovan’s #BeWow.

Saturday: #ArchiveDay (for sharing old posts from your blog), #WeekendBlogHop and Part Time Monster’s #WeekendCoffeeShare.

Sunday: #SundayBlogShare, which I created. I started it last November and within just a few months there were hundreds of people participating. Last week there were over 1500 posts shared, and my traffic each Sunday has increased considerably because of it. This is how I did it:

  • I decided on a hashtag name and checked to see that it wasn’t already in use (just type your proposed hashtag into the ‘search’ on Twitter and see if others are using it).
  • I created a post on the blog which explained what it was, the rules for using it and invited all of my followers to participate.
  • I registered the hashtag via Twubs.
  • I created a basic button that advertised the hashtag.

Note: it isn’t possible to own a hashtag like you can a domain name. However, if you register it against your name you can at least have proof that you host the party regularly. And here, regularity and consistency is key. #SundayBlogShare has happened every single week, and when I haven’t been able to do it, I’ve invited other bloggers to host it for me.

However, there are more hashtags that I have found useful and use them at any point.

Are you a beauty blogger? Use #bbloggers after your post.
Life Blogger? #lbloggers
Fashion Blogger? #fbloggers
Parent? #pbloggers

There are also several accounts that exist simply to retweet your posts, and you can include them next to your link if you want them to do so. For me, some of the most effective ones are:

@FemaleBloggerRT
@UKBlog_RT
@TheBlogGuideRT

Note: there are no rules when it comes to the amount of times you should tweet. However, I find that once or twice every few hours is enough, and I try and retweet others where I can.

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Follow For A Follow?

Some very popular, or ‘Power’ bloggers, gain lots of new followers by following them first. The blogging world seems to be very divided about this process. For me, I don’t do it myself – I follow about 250 as any more than that would be impossible to keep up with, but I don’t have a problem with those that do. It has worked for them, with great success, and kudos to them! However, don’t go and start demanding that people follow you just because you have clicked on their blog – it’s more likely to have a negative effect.

Other Ideas

I enjoy trying out new ideas. Some have worked, some haven’t, but like everything, blogging is a learning process.

Competitions: Lots of beauty and fashion bloggers regularly hold competitions, with the prize being a beauty product of some description. As I barely how to know how to use make-up without looking like an inexperienced drag queen, and have the fashion sense of a teenage boy, these sorts of things wouldn’t be of much use to me or my followers. However, I have done several lots of free advertising in the past as a competition prize and I have always received a good response from this.

Questions: On several occasions I have created a set of questions in an attempt to get to know my fellow bloggers. I have then collated their answers into a single post. Again, I received new followers when others reblogged the post.

Join other networks: I am a member of Mumsnet Bloggers, despite not being a parent myself, and I post on the weekly link up on the SITSGirls website. I’ve been featured twice on both, generating several thousand extra views to my posts.

Phew! There you go – some ideas to increase your traffic. Hope it’s useful! 

What about you guys? Have you got any hints and tips to increase traffic on your blog?

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

#SundayBlogShare: The Final Sunday Twitter Party of 2014!

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It’s Saturday night, which means only one thing – tomorrow is my #SundayBlogShare party on Twitter! It’s the ninth consecutive party and I’ve been overwhelmed by how quickly it has grown, with nearly a thousand posts being shared last week! However, it’s also the last one of 2014, and I need your help to make it go out with a bang! 

Everyone is welcome to participate – you don’t have to follow Suzie81 Speaks or its associated social media accounts, there are no limits on the amount of posts that you share and you don’t need to have a specific theme to your blog or the links that you share. Simply tweet your link with the hashtag #SundayBlogShare and enjoy! Meet hundreds of other bloggers, retweet their posts and build your own Twitter following!

The rules are simple and easy to follow:

1. #SundayBlogShare is a happy place. Anything that contains racist, homophobic and/or sexist material will be removed and reported.

2. Blog posts only! No inspirational quotes, links to book promotions on Amazon or porn.

3. Share the #bloglove! Follow, retweet and enjoy lots of posts from blogger all over the world. However, don’t be desperate enough to beg for or demand retweets and follows from others.

You can also include my Twitter handle @suzie81blog and I can easily retweet you!

The party is on all day – you are welcome to join us at anytime throughout Sunday!

Here is where I need your help my lovely bloggy friends. The more people you invite, the more of a success it is going to be… I’ll get the drinks and the party hats, you share the hashtag with everyone you know.

Looking forward to seeing you all there!

You can find me on Twitter and Tumblr @suzie81blog and don’t forget to check out my Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/suzie81speaks