What Makes a Successful Blogger

What Makes a Successful Blogger

Before you read on, do me a favour. Answer the question. Are you a successful blogger?

It’s simple, what was the first word that came to mind, yes or no. Now think why you answered the way you did. I can help you with the generic markers of successful bloggers. Your follower numbers, your engagement stats. The number of people subscribed to your blog or newsletter. Do you get paid for posts? Do PRs send you all over the world in first class to sip bubbly and take photos of avocado on toast? No? I didn’t think so. Although I still take photos of avocado on toast.

Generic Definition of Success Doesn’t Have To Be Your Own

Recently there’s been a huge outcry regarding people using bots to buy followers in order to appear successful and thus “tricking” PRs into providing them with a charmed lifestyle. But I won’t get into that. However, the whole event highlighted one thing to me. We still see blogging success as the time when we’re flown to the Maldives and when our follower numbers reach 10k plus and we get a ton of free stuff. We couldn’t be more wrong.

I understand the need for this young industry to try and maintain some sort of authenticity and honesty, but pointing fingers and getting aggressive will do exactly the opposite. Before we get too much into “outing” these “fake” successful bloggers, let’s think about why we all started putting our thoughts on paper (well, sending them out in the big wide internet). What were we trying to achieve?

Create your own definition of success (Large)

A Success Story

I started my first blog because I wanted to help people out. There were too many emails in my inbox about what you need to do before and after you move to UK, how to find a job and so on. I didn’t have time to answer them all. So, I thought I’ll write about my experience and point those people to the blog (not London Damsel obviously). I never for one moment thought I’ll make money out of it or score a freebie. And to be perfectly honest, I didn’t even know I could.

It took me a while to learn about Google’s AdSense, so I signed up to see what happens. And I made nothing. AdSense wokrs well if the traffic to your blog is pretty huge, 300 visits a month just weren’t enough.

Then I learnt about affiliates. And made nothing. Again, they are a great way to make money if your readers keep shopping via the links you post. Which means you need to target the right audience. Which makes your blog into a business because you need to be thinking about things like these. And I wasn’t.

What I learnt however, was that people keep returning to my blog. That I have loyal readers. Those readers enjoyed my ramblings and I loved writing (just not so much about immigration anymore). I realised that I can be quite creative and that blogging has given me that creative outlet, the one thing that was missing in my life.

The Birth Of A Successful Blogger

Just over a year ago I moved away from my old blog and created London Damsel. The space that is very me. I never setup AdSense on this blog and neither did I sign up to many affiliate programmes. I knew why I’m writing and I didn’t need freebies to make me want to continue on my blogging path.

Working in SEO encouraged me to setup Google Analytics and Search Console to learn about traffic to my little corner of the internet. And I learnt how to use both. I setup AdWords and ran a paid campaign to my book review posts (and spent about £30 in the process). But I now know how to run a paid campaign. Success no.1.

In the final three months of 2016 I was invited to Polish Bakery Christmas do, because their PR found my blog. And it took me completely by surprise. I knew I had readership, but I never thought it would be enough to be able to enjoy a lovely evening drinking bubbly and eating delicious food. But it was. Success no.2.

2017 has proven to be even more successful so far. I get free e-books from publishers, which I then review. Not all are free, I still spend too much money on Amazon, but some are. I even got a paperback and was invited to a book influencer advanced screening of The Sense of an Ending, where I met so many lovely book bloggers and had one of the best discussions in a long time. My meals at Viet Food and Timberyard were paid for in exchange for a review. Success after success after success.

Success is What You Make It (Large)

Success Isn’t Just About Making Money

Being able to eat out and see a film is fantastic and it means I saved some of my hard earned money, but it by no means enables me to hop on a plane, buy a designer handbag or move to Notting Hill. But to me, this is a massive success. It reminds me that people read my blog and that’s the biggest reward I could ever ask for.

What success means to me is not reflected by a wardrobe full of designer shoes (a girl can dream though). I am incredibly lucky to have met some amazing people who are all incredible individuals trying to make their corner of the internet stand out. Juanita Likes, Em Writes, Jessica Rose Williams and many others continue to inspire me, we comment on each other’s photos or posts and I can’t wait to see some of them at the very many bloggers’ events. Making new friends and keeping them, makes a successful blogger.

We are all successful in our own ways. Some make insane money and are never at home. Others get freebies that they either love or that end up cluttering their homes. There’s bloggers who see large numbers of likes and comments as a proof of success. Some made five new friends and now spend hours talking to one another. Many of us learnt new skills, from taking photos to learning about follow and no-follow links. Maybe we pushed ourselves out of our comfort zone and started vlogging (not yet, one day… maybe).

What’s Next

Have you come up with what makes you a successful blogger now? Don’t be too harsh on yourself. Where I’m from we have a saying that many small items eventually build up to something spectacular, you only need to persevere. Don’t forget why you started blogging in the first place.

I’m going to continue creating my own version of success on London Damsel. I even signed up to ShopStyle Collective (and I’m still quite far away from making my first £100) and NetGalley to try and save some money on books. I even turned down some paid opportunities, because I didn’t believe we are a good fit.

A while ago I decided to start working towards a more positive attitude in general. I wrote a post about complaining less and how to deal with those days when you really just want to moan. One step towards me being more positive is appreciating what's rig

We’ll always be as successful as we let ourselves to be. Just remember, another person being successful (no matter how they got to that point) doesn’t make you any less, people gaining followers doesn’t take away from your hard work. I love how supporting our world can be, let’s not make it into a world full of abuse and pointing fingers.

And in order to add to this success story, why not boost my numbers on Instagram, Twitter, Bloglovin’, Pinterest or email subscription.

And if you can spare a moment, I’d love to hear if you consider yourself successful and your reasons.
  • I loved reading this, my own version of success will be very different to someone else’s whether that’s in blogging or just life in general, but I’m so happy working towards my own goal 🙂

    I also don’t have AdSense or am part of any affiliate programmes. I’ve got the stage where now I am starting to get offered collabs/sponsors but only one brand so far I have said yes to, even when starting out I think it’s important to do you and blog about what you want, rather than blog about anything just for the ‘success’ so I guess we’re pretty similar <3

    Also well done on all of your success so far, I would definitely class you as successful in my eyes. A good job and a lovely blog as well, you keep doing you 🙂 xx


    • I agree 100%. You shouldn’t just say yes to every collab opp as it soon starts to look like you don’t care about your content and are up for writing anything as long as it’s paid. That definitely ends up losing you readers.

      Congratulations on small steps. And keep it up! xx

  • Jodie.Mitch

    I love your photos! This is such an open and honest post, I love it. I’m my own harshest critic and I need to learn to give myself a break! PS: What’s that book in your photos?

    • Thank you. I’m usually quite hard on myself, but I’m slowly learning that we’re all different and should give ourselves a bit of a break sometimes.
      The book in the second photo is #GirlBoss by Sophia Amoruso and the book in the last fwe photos is Love Style Life by Garance Dore. xx

  • Thank you so much for this lovely comment. It’s always a struggle when you see huge bloggers and try not to beat yourself down. But I’ve learnt that doesn’t lead anywhere. xx

  • Laura Cartwright

    I thoroughly enjoyed this! Really interesting concept of how we judge ourselves and our own successes. It can be daunting to go up against the big boys, those bloggers with a giant following who all the PR’s are chasing but i think its important to take baby steps and go your own pace.

    Celebrating the small things and setting yourself attainable realistic goals is the best way forward. Congrats on having such an amazing year so far with your blog, just shows that your effort has paid off!

    Lovely, insightful post!

    Laura xo

    • Thank you Laura, I really loved your comment. Blogging is a tough gig and it involves loads of hard work, so I think it’s really important that we remind ourselves that even just pushing a post out there and having people read it, is success. xx

  • Very interesting read. Although I’ve only been blogging for a year and don’t have a huge following, I still feel like I’m a successful blogger. I have a blogging routine and upload regularly which I’m proud of. I’m also proud of my content. It doesn’t matter if you have 100 followers or 1000, the fact that you’ve taken the time to work on something and put it out to the world is incredible in itself. 🙂 – Everyone should be proud of themselves!

    Rosie Mauu


  • It’s so true that we associate ‘successful’ bloggers with those who it is their job, Twitter/Instagram famous etc. I’ve never considered my blog successful as even after nearly 2 years it is just my hobby and brings me joy. xx