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How to grow your blog and win awards along the way

This post is not about self-promotion (go away haters, nothing to see here) but about what happens when you put the hours in your work: you achieve your goals, and quickly. The thing is that you can achieve your goals faster, with the right tips and guidance. Wouldn't it be great if there was one master cheat-sheet to kick-start your blogging? Well, there's plenty of advice going on around but the reality is..

...your blog's SUCCESS relies on the CONTENT you produce. And good content needs TIME.

Photo credit and actual printable drawing: DrawntoDIY

Quality over quantity

No matter how many strategies you follow for growing your Pinterest or Instagram followers, at the end of the day, you cannot rely on that one good post you wrote back in the summer and the outstanding photos you shot 6 months ago. If you want your followers to flow in and your readers to grow in numbers, you need to create visually compelling content that will excite and intrigue.

So consistency in posting is the one thing you need to focus on. That does not mean that you need to churn out posts daily (or even weekly). You need to focus on quality and not on quantity, unless you know that you have a very high readership that is coming back daily for new content. Not even Houzz needs to have daily posts (and they have A LOT of writers ready to produce content).

Timing is also crucial

Consider timing when you post something, and I don't mean just when in the day you click "publish". Is the content relevant, not just to you, but also to your readers (because, at some point you have to realise that yes, you do write for those who are there to read and not just for yourself. In the latter case, just get a diary and forget blogging).

If you're planning on writing about Hygge, is the middle of the summer a good time to do this? Not so much, if your post includes a lot about having a lit fire, candles and snuggling under a duvet. If you are planning to write a Christmas gift guide, don't publish it on the 20th of December when everyone has probably done all their shopping! Get it?

Make it from the heart

Someone asks you to add a link to their website on your blog in exchange for, say, £50. You're tempted. Heck, go for it! But! Is this link relevant to the rest of your content? Where does the link take you? Is it a good quality link? What if you turn your blog into a link farm? No thanks, I'd pass.

Remember that retaining your authenticity is as important as having a niche. And you remain authentic when over time you talk about brands that you swear by, be it because of their service, product offering or outstanding pricing. One of the brands I keep going on about is John Lewis.

Working with Affiliate networks

One of my most successful collaborations has been with the John Lewis team. AWIN is my favourite affiliate program because it does not just promote affiliate links but helps brands understand how they can work with influencers to drive more conversions to their shops.

In fact, AWIN also cares about rewarding influencers who create really good content that does not result in as many conversions. You know, all those impressions and clicks that go unrewarded? Currently, payment focuses on the last click. So what if you created amazing content that influenced the buyer but they bought while in the shop (because, heck, I'd want to try out that sofa too before buying online).

With this in mind I worked on a number of sponsored John Lewis posts over the year, together with their AffWin team, creating styled photos in my own home for various concepts.

Now, John Lewis is the place where I had my wedding gift list. Where we bought our first dining table from. A couple TVs. The Bugaboo. Heck, I practically lived in their Sloane Square store while on maternity leave. We also got carpets. Chairs. More chairs. Bed linen. Cushions. Even more cushions. Fabric. Make up. Cameras. You get the picture. I love them brand and it shows.

So you can imagine my surprise when I got this email from the John Lewis Account Manager at AWIN.

Hi Jenny,
I hope you are well and having a good week so far? I am absolutely delighted to inform you that you have been chosen by the John Lewis Affiliate team to win our “Content of the year” category.

Wait, what? * Goes back to inbox and re-opens email. Who sent this again? *

Hi Jenny,
I hope you are well and having a good week so far? I am absolutely delighted to inform you that you have been chosen by the John Lewis Affiliate team to win our “Content of the year” category.

Ah, ok, because I thought I just read that I won "Content of the Year".

Seriously, could this week get any better? I go back to read the rest.

The work you produce for John Lewis is exemplary - you inspire not only your own readers, but also the team over here with your posts.
Your posts always look beautiful with perfectly thought out product placements – taking your own interpretation on the EDITs alongside charmingly written pieces with language that makes us tingle! Your most recent post on the Chamonix campaign particularly reinforced this for us. Not only do we value the work you produce, you are such a pleasure to work with; you are patient with our requests, you have excellent knowledge of the affiliate channel and we know that we can rely on you to deliver in a timely manner.

This email made my week in so many levels my friends. Feedback, whatever form it takes, is a necessary process to help you improve your game. Even negative feedback can help, AS LONG AS IT'S CONSTRUCTIVE (otherwise we just call it by its name. Hate).

I am really thankful the nice bunch over at AWIN chose this blog for an award, it's one of these little (little? not really, not for me at least!) things that turbo-charge you and propel you forward.

And while I'd like to say that it's all down to pure awesomeness, it is not. It is all to do with putting the extra hours in.

Now if you want to works with big brands too like John Lewis, ETSY,, ASOS and more, all you have to do is sign up for an AWIN account, right here.

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