The stories behind my most successful blog posts

‘The influence of blogging is overall a very positive force in the media’ – Garrett Graff

When I started this blog a couple of years ago I never imagined it would have taken off the way it has. Don’t get me wrong, I’m certainly not one of the heavy hitters of the blogging world; I’m not in a position to quit the day job and write full time – much as I’d love to but it’s the creative outlet I’d been searching for for years and the fact that anyone is interested in anything I have to say is quite frankly astonishing.I

I find getting inspiration for posts tough and I’m always amazed at what takes off and what doesn’t. Blog posts I slave over and am rally proud of, posts I’m really excited to publish, will only get a handful of views. Then posts that I cobble together and use as filler because I have nothing else to say do extremely well. There seems to be no rhyme or reason as to what floats and what sinks.

So I thought I would have a look back and talk you through my top 5 most popular posts, the stories behind them, and why I think they’ve been the most read:

Kaspas v Creams
Original post date: 20/07/2016
Views to date: 4,290

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One thing I love doing for the blog is ‘research’ so when 2 ice cream emporiums that look like total carbon copies of each other opened up in Newcastle in quick succession, I needed to ‘research’ them. Turns out the reason they’re so similar is they were owned by a duo I’m London (as Creams) who fell out so a second brand (Kaspas) was devised. I had great fun with Ang, Dave, John, Carrie and Emma trying one after another one weekend, who doesn’t love ice cream for lunch two days in a row?! I think the popularity of the post is simple. The brands are SO similar that loads of people google to find out which is better, and I seem to be the only person who’ve reviewed them side by side rather than individually. After the restaurants respective sites, my post is first hit on Google. Which is pretty bloody cool.

Remington Hair Straighteners Review
Original post date: 09/08/2015
Views to date: 4,077

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This one genuinely baffles me as I seem to get loads of daily hits when you would imagine it would just be easier to o straight to the Boots, Superdrug or Amazon for some user reviews. I suspect a lot of the referrals are through google images as the post contains a before an after picture of my unstraightened/straightened hair. I’ve been a loyal Could Nine an since 2008 when it comes to hair straighteners because they work as well, if not better, than GHDs but have the added bonus of being able to adjust the heat settings. Sadly one August they gave up the ghost and ceased working mid straighten. Luckily enough they retained enough heat for me to finish doing my hair (phew!). Cloud Nine have excellent customer care and would fix them for £30 for me but I needed an interim pair to tide me over. I settled on the remmington ones as they got the best reviews for the cheapest price and, well if you want to know how I got on with them you’ll have to read the review…

Buying Clothes from China in eBay – An Experiment
Original post date: 25/07/2015
Views to date: 4,020

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This post all started so innocently. I wanted a yellow blazer to be able to wear in the spring to brighten up some of my dullest outfits and it kind of snowballed from there into my most viewed post ever. I decided to take a punt at what looked like the dream yellow blazer and ordered from China, i’d like to say pretty blindly however I did take some advice on sizing and quality beforehand. I ended up getting a pretty substantial haul for about £25 (including postage) with varying degrees of success as the results and comparison pictures range from the surprising to the ridiculous. I suspect the majority of views to this post again come from google images when people are looking for comparison pictures but hey, a view is a view and I can only hope that people who stumble across the post stick around and read some other stuff while they’re there.

Newcastle upon Tyne walking tour
Original post date: 04/04/2015
Views to date: 3,961

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The opening statement says it’s all, the best ideas are born out of necessity. Dave and I wanted to do something on a rainy bank holiday so I googled free walking tours of Newcastle and couldn’t find one. So we decided to create our own. We had great fun devising it and including our own favourite pubs and sights. I think without a doubt what’s helped it’s popularity is I cheekily posted it on a forum on TripAdvisor and whilst I got an email from then slapping me on the wrist telling me off for self promoting, they never actually took it down, so I get a lot of referrals form there. I also get loads of positive comments from people who’ve done it and even messages from people from all over the world asking if I’ll guide them round! I love my city but i’m not showing tourists round for free!

 

 

Whatever happened to Tescos Along Came Betty Range?
Original post date: 17/07/2016
Views to date: 2,530

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I wrote this after I’d discovered the holy trail of anti wrinkle creams in Forget Your Lines by Tesco’s Along Came Betty range, which is a blatant rip off of Soap and Glory (how ever the girl with two knock off Mulberry handbags has no room to pass judgement on that!) What was even better it was only £3.99. I then discovered that pretty much the whole range was being discontinued bar some bubble bath and body butter. I even tweeted Tesco to see wagwan who confirmed the make up range was no more. The success of this post was a surprising one to say the least but I think I have timing to thank for that. The post originally went live over the summer so had a few months to develop a decide SEO. I reckon come Christmas peoples stockings were laden with ACB gift sets and people googled to find out more about the brand. The post now ranks higher in some search engines than the actual Tesco website itself. Which is still pretty bloody cool.

What been your biggest surprise hit? Leave links in the comments!

 

 

What has blogging taught me?

‘In a faraway land called ‘pre-2000’ what Earthlings now call blogging was called ‘keeping a diary’ – Douglas Copeland

I’ve always ummed and ahhed about ever writing a ‘what I’ve learnt about blogging’ mainly because my experience doesn’t seem to have been as positive as most peoples but I’ve seen  a lot of my favourite bloggers do one recently, and I love a band wagon way more than I hate being negative so thought I’d give a shot too.

I started this whole blog for work purposes. I was doing a year long project whereby I had to record my progress, so me and another girl thought it would be good to write it as a blog, which everyone on the course could access and we could all help each other out. Then I left it along for a really long time until I logged in (to retrieve a quote by Gary Barlow I’d used in one of the posts incidentally) and saw that people were actually reading what I’d written, and had left nice comments about my style. So I then decided to try writing about other stuff I was interested in, and it kind of grew from here.

So here we are almost 3 years later (although I’d say I’ve only being doing it ‘seriously’ for 18 months) the old work posts have been deleted, they’re not relevant anymore and I’ve learnt a few hard lessons along the way:

You can have an opinion, as long as everyone else agrees

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I wrote a post about fat shaming because two seemingly intelligent woman were resorting to nasty schoolyard insults across their blogs and I didn’t like it. So I gave my opinion and what I thought would come across as a ‘hey ladies can’t we all just get along’ wasn’t taken that way at all and I got a lot of abuse for it, which leads me nicely to….

Stay out of other people’s arguments

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I hated what I saw when I read those two warring blogs. Both ladies had valid reasons and felt very passionately about their sides of the argument. I felt that the true meaning of the argument had gotten lost among all the insults and I wanted to help them see eye to eye or at least agree to differ. Problem was, it wasn’t my place to try and make that happen and should have be swiftly filed in my ever growing ‘none of my business’ filing cabinet.

No matter how hard you try, not everyone will like you (but it’s ok to stand up for yourself)

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My final example of ‘how Helen’s big mouth has gotten her into trouble on the internet’ is from January this year when I innocently used the hashtag #BOPO (which stands for body positivity) when tweeting about going to the gym to burn off some Christmas calories. I got a bit of heat from some PS Bloggers who weren’t shy in telling me that the #BOPO hashtag ‘wasn’t for me’ it was for PS bloggers who were proud of who they were and didn’t want to feel ‘shamed’ into going to the gym by ‘people like me’.  I’ll be perfectly honest I was pretty offended by this I mean, we all have our body hang ups, all of us and to be @’d in a conversation where someone says ‘ignore her she’s just another skinny blonde bitch stealing our hashtags’ was quite upsetting.  They’d taken the time to look through my pictures and makes sweeping generational about me. It hurt, however therein lies the beauty of the ability to block people on twitter. And buoyed by their nastiness the post I wrote about my cute new gym gear that week did pretty well with the #BOPO hastag all over it.

There’s a difference between being a ‘blogger’ and ‘writing a blog’

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I don’t consider myself a blogger. I did at first but having been accepted into the fantastically supportive North East Blogging community has made me realise the difference. Believe me when I say these girls (and guys), genuine bloggers, they hustle. Sam, Katie and Mandy are particular blogging heroes of mine and they’ve made an amazing career out of something they love (and are brilliant at). I can never put myself in the same category as them because I’m not, nor do I imagine I’ll ever be that good. Don’t get me wrong I would love nothing more than to blog full time, but such is my confidence that I can never really see it happening. My blog posts simply aren’t good enough to pay the bills and you can’t pay your mortgage with free Prosecco. The blogging world is a very very large pond and I’m a very very small fish.

Write about what you’re passionate about

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I don’t want to sound totally negative, because of course writing a blog comes with many perks. There’s a honesty and a vulnerability that comes with writing things down rather than saying them out loud and creating this blog has done wonders for my general happiness; proving that creative outlet that I’ve always yearned for.  It also means you get invited to some pretty cool events, meet some pretty cool people or get some pretty cool goodies sent to you. In the beginning I was like Ellis Island in the 1920s; I accepted everybody and I would write about anything that was offered to me. The problem was, I find it really hard to get excited about organic tampons (and my dad reads this from time to time to – he doesn’t want to see me talk about lady stuff) so the posts were I was shoehorning some kind of personality into something I didn’t care about made me feel grubby.  So now I only accept things that I would genuinely write about, or spend my own money on, which is quite liberating.

It’s not all about you

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This has been the hardest lesson. If you go way back my early posts are very much all about me, what I’ve been doing or how I feel about things and while that’s nice for people who know me, it’s of limited interest to the wider world. So I stopped trying to tell people what I wanted them to know and starting writing about what they wanted to find out about. It’s difficult finding a balance between writing a bog standard ‘review by numbers’ and what’s essentially a diary entry that only you are interested. I now try and put my personality across whilst still making it interesting or useful.  People want detail, how much things cost, how to get places, where to buy things from, they don’t care about how drunk you got or what you wore!

Finally the most important thing I’ve learnt is that it’s ok not to have an angle. I would always get jealous of all the brilliant beauty or fashion blogs that get hundreds of thousands of hits whilst I’m sat over here chuffed if I get over 100 views in one day but forcing myself to write constantly about one topic would bore me to tears. Plus there’s not one thing that I love that I’d be able to create enough content out of. Like everyone, I have many sides to my personality, I like a bit of music, a bit of travel, a bit of exercise, a bit of fashion, a bit of beauty and a lot of wine. So why limit myself to just one area when I can write about all the things that make me who I am?