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?
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 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).
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.
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.