Episode 181 | You Don’t Have to be an Influencer to Grow Your Blog with Anne Zirkle & AnnMarie Christiano

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Blogging Does Not Have to Include Instagram

Today Bree talks with Anne and AnnMarie, two friends and neighbors who are now successful business owners with their blog Simply2Moms. In this episode, they chat about what it's like to run a blogging business with a partner, why they switched their focus to their blog and SEO rather than social media, and how they've grown their income streams as a result! If you're tired of the social media rat race, this is the episode for you. 

You Don't Have to be an Influencer to Grow Your Blog

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"We think of things differently! We did a post recently about a backyard barbecue. And I call it a barbecue, Anne calls it a cookout, and you may call it a pig roast. So you want to use all of those terms, because when I look something up I'm going to look it up differently than 10 other people."

Discussed in this episode...

Why Create a Joint Blog!

They wanted something that they could do together, that would also be fun. Anne and AnnMarie had looked into starting a local magazine in their community, but they found it less appealing the more investigation they did. That was initially the start of the idea and excitement of doing something together though, and from that came the idea of a joint blog.

Accountability also had a lot to do with it. Anne shared that if they have a deadline, and she's falling short or vise versa, is a very different thing than if she was blogging alone. Because if she were to fall behind on a deadline it affects both of them, not just her. Which is highly motivating.

Why Don't Your Stress About Follower Count?

Anne and AnnMarie definitely invested time on Instagram at the beginning! What really changed their perspective on it was when they looked at the data.

First of all, a blog is something that they own. It won't just disappear one day, it's searchable, and for them, it's a better way to share their content.

And second, which is the main one, they weren't seeing a return on their investment of time from social media. After spending hours each week on social media posts that either didn't perform well or got buried amidst other content within hours of being posted, they took a hard look at the data. Using Google Analytics they saw that less than one percent of their blog traffic was coming from Instagram, and that decided it for them. Rather than stressing about social media followers (because they do still post to Instagram, but the stress of growing an audience there is gone) they have found much more consistent growth in areas that bring them income, from focusing on SEO and a solid Pinterest strategy.

Why and How do we Optimize Old Blog Posts?

So the reason why it's important is right in the term SEO; it's search engine optimization, and optimization is not a one-and-done sort of thing. Many of us may think that if we've got the green light in Yoast, we're good to go and our post is fully optimized. But things change, and maybe that post isn't getting a lot of traction after the initial traffic from your email list or your social media marketing. That's when optimization really becomes important!

So, go look at those old posts that aren't doing well. As a blogger, you're getting better every year, or even every month. Maybe your photography has improved, or your editing has changed, and that can be changed!

Google likes a lot of space. It won't like if your font is really small, or it's decorative; so make sure your font is larger and it's very clear to read. Keep in mind that most of us are reading blogs on our phones. If you've got a really pretty decorative font on your blog, it probably looks beautiful on a laptop, but not so much on a phone and people will get frustrated because they aren't able to see it.

Practical Tips:

Check your headlines. You never want to change your URL, but are your headlines enticing to people?

Make fresh new pins!

If you're doing yearly or seasonal kind of posts, add the year when you update it! People want to see current information and if we still have a post out there from 2018 no one is going to click on that. So update that year in the titles and throughout the blog post!

Don't forget alt text! Back in the day bloggers were told to put their Pinterest descriptions in their blog image alt text, but now that's going to hurt you! Google doesn't like that because if you have these big long alt texts you're not being compliant with ADA recommendations. So go in and make sure your alt text is a clear description of the picture, with your keywords.


This podcast episode is sponsored by our favorite email marketing tool for bloggers; Flodesk! It's no secret that we are obsessed with Flodesk and it's for a lot of reasons!

First, it's super easy to use, there is nothing confusing about the platform at all.

Second, it allows you to effortlessly send gorgeous emails to your audience. They have amazing templates and endless customization; so you can make your emails totally match your brand!

And third, with Flodesk, you get unlimited contacts and emails. They don't ever increase the price when you grow your list! How amazing is that?! They've also just added the ability to have a checkout page within their platform! If you've been wanting to sell your own digital products, or anything else, now you can do it all within Flodesk!

And a bonus reason to be obsessed with Flodesk: they've given us a special link for you!

You can take 50% off your subscription by visiting thrivetogether.blog/flodesk. You can test it out for free for 30 days, and then your 50% off code will be automatically applied for you!

Also Discussed:
  • The instability of growing only on social media
  • You have over 100 posts on the first page of Google. What are some things you've found that Google really likes?
  • How often should we update old blog posts?
  • The value of linking back to old posts
  • What does your blogging schedule look like?
  • How do you make money when social media isn't your biggest audience?

Resources Mentioned

More about Anne and AnnMarie:

Anne Zirkle and AnnMarie Christiano work together to share simple and budget-friendly ideas for decorating, recipes, DIY projects, and tips for life with older teens (and beyond!).


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