Just over a year ago I started Suzie81 Speaks as an online journal. I had been experiencing a difficult time and as writing has always been therapeutic it was the perfect solution. I had no goals – the act of writing was simply enough. However, over a short space of time, this little space of the Internet grew beyond any expectations that I had ever imagined and I found that as I began to recover, my writing style and goals changed.
I’ve learned a lot, and if I could go back and do it again these are the things that I would do differently.
1. I would decide on a name that I was happy with at the very beginning. In my excitement about the prospect of starting the blog, I hastily chose the name ‘Suzie81’ – my name and the year that I was born. After a while I became really dissatisfied with my choice – it had no real reference to any of the content in the blog – but by this point everybody knew me as this name. When I later purchased my domain name, there were very few options that I could use and I ended up changing it to ‘Suzie81 Speaks’ so as not to confuse my followers.
2. I would create a set of profiles on other social media networks from the beginning. It took me about eight months to establish a Twitter, Tumblr, Facebook and Pinterest account, and I’ve always regretted not doing this sooner as these are now responsible for the majority of my views on my site. An important thing to know here is that none of them are linked to my personal pages on the same sites – I created a completely separate account for each, along with a new email address.
3. I would participate in link ups earlier. I participate in regular link ups on Twitter, particularly at the Sits Girls #sitssharefest on Saturdays and Rachel in the OC’s #MondayBlogs on Mondays. I’ve been able to meet hundreds of lovely people and it’s a great opportunity to share and read new posts.
4. I wouldn’t share the fact that I have a blog with many people in my personal life. I have lots of lovely friends who have been very supportive, but as the blog became more popular it has been used against me, which caused some issues. I have also found that as lots of people in my life now read my ramblings it prevents me from writing about certain issues that are very personal, which defeats the point of the blog in the first place.
5. I wouldn’t be as hasty to post something just for the sake of posting it. In my early blogging madness I posted everything I could think of. Looking back, I’ve had to revisit lots of things and delete them, simply because they have no meaning with what I thought I was trying to create.
Here are some simple ‘Do’s’ and ‘Don’ts’ that may be useful if you are starting your blog.
1. Don’t expect too much. There are MILLIONS of blogs out there. You are not going to gain thousands of followers (unless your post goes viral) simply by pressing the publish button. Blogging takes LOTS of time and effort.
2. Don’t feel that your blog should have a niche. I follow lots of great blogs that do, but I prefer to cover lots of topics within my own.
3. Do take the time to visit lots of other blogs and follow them.
4. Don’t automatically expect (or even worse, request and plead for) a follow back. This is one of my biggest annoyances – I follow about 250, but I often receive messages saying ‘I’ve followed you, now you need to follow me.’ Why? Others shouldn’t be made to feel obliged or bullied into following you simply to return the favour.
5. Do leave comments on other blogs to let them know that you have enjoyed what you have read.
6. Don’t spam comment sections with links to your own posts. This happens to me a lot, and while I always try and share, tweet and reblog posts I get irritated when others end their comment with a link to their latest post, demanding that we ‘check it out.’
7. Do make the effort to reply to comments that have been left on your posts. I read and appreciate every single comment that is ever written, but until recently I have been poor at replying to some of them. This was because work became a priority and took over life somewhat, but I always make the effort to reply when I can.
8. Do remember that content is key. I love inspirational posters, but there are only so many that you can post before your audience may start to get bored. Make sure that your content is your own – if you have used somebody else’s and images, be sure to credit them.
9. Do be respectful at all times. One of the best things about the WordPress community is that the majority of people are unbelievably friendly and supportive.
10. Don’t expect everyone to agree with you. If you choose to write about a controversial subject, it is highly unlikely that all of your audience will support you in your arguments. Listen, respond and be respectful about it.
What about you guys? Any hints and tips that you have learned in your blogging endeavours?
You can also find me on Twitter and Tumblr @suzie81blog