Top 24 Blog Lessons Learned In Two Years

It’s official. The Suitcase Entrepreneur blog just turned two! Can you believe it. No more diapers for this baby.

I wish I could sum up in one sentence how much joy, growth and opportunity blogging has brought to my life…*sniff sniff*. For those of you who have your own baby.. I mean blog, you’ll know what I mean.

I sometimes have to pinch myself that thanks to starting this blog and to you, my tribe, I’ve now built a location independent online business I love.

If you’ve been with me since the early days, you’ll know this blog has gone through some serious transitions. I thought it would fun and valuable to share my top 24 lessons learned in 24 months of blogging.

A Brief History of the Suitcase Entrepreneur Blog:

September 2009: Started my first ever blog called WomanzWorld aimed at women entrepreneurs, particularly in the tech scene.

May 2010: Went through first site redesign for WomanzWorld which was a decent improvement, still working with a ridiculous niche – `all women entrepreneurs around the world’.

November 2010: Attended Shine in Las Vegas and `stumbled’ across the name Suitcase Entrepreneur after one too many introductions telling people that I lived out of my suitcase – thanks Matt for telling me to buy the domain name and run with it!

December 6 2010: Announced my full re-brand to the Suitcase Entrepreneur in this post Get Ready To Take Off On The Next Business Adventure including a shift to the new domain name (actually it was at the time).

December 17th 2010: Or there abouts, released the much improved new design courtesy of Clement and Marj. You may remember it – women striding out in heels with a suitcase behind her going through a city landscape? Lots of red everywhere.

January 2011: My hosting company essentially locked me out of my own blog and took the site down when I went over my bandwidth and attracted more traffic. Shit moment all round. Wrote about 4 Life Saving Lessons On How To Avoid Your Blog Being Taken Prisoner .

July 14th 2012: Fully embraced the growth of my blog with a fancy new blog redesign that you see now which has massively increased my blog popularity, navigation, traffic and conversions – thanks Leanne. Read the full story on why: The Suitcase Entrepreneur Has A New Home.

Ok, there are already some lessons learned in the above but here are 24 more to celebrate 24 pretty incredible months:

Top 24 Blog Lessons I’ve Learned

1. Don’t start a blog, start a business. If you’re not prepared 150% to love it, nurture it and grow it into something worthwhile that makes a difference, don’t start. If you treat a blog as a hobby it will stay as one. Period. If you want a hobby, then play with trains.

2. Get Over Yourself. There’s over 200 million blogs out there, if you’re going to create one make it epic. But don’t get hung up on writing your first post because you’re worried about `exposing yourself’. They probably won’t find it anyway. So take the plunge and hit publish.

3. Have a Real Voice. If I’ve said it once I’ve said it way too many times since – you are unique. You have your own opinions. You have important things to say. So say them. State them strongly, be bold, be proud, be controversial. But BE YOU!

4. Be Memorable. Don’t sit on the fence – ever (I did too much of this in the beginning). Make sure people remember you – are you a loud mouth, smart talking, in your face expert like the lovable Derek Halpern? Or a sassy, whip smart, kick you in the pants ex stripper like Erika Lyremark. Or are you a complete passionista wanting to build a community of living legends like Scott Dinsmore?

5. Yes You Need an Email List. And you need it now. I think I took 6 months too long to not start one, then I only emailed once a month for fear of pissing people off. What an idiot. This is THE way to keep in touch with people who opt-in to hear from YOU. Yes you, because they’re interested in what you have to say, what you can do for them and what you have to offer. Read Why The Money Really Is In The Email List.

6. Don’t Publish Shite. Yes I meant shite, for those of you not used to UK slang it’s essentially the same as shit. Don’t publish a mediocre piece of work just because you feel you haven’t posted enough this week. It will do more damage than good. Trust me.

7. Engage With Your Tribe. No use in publishing epic content and then not bothering to encourage people to share or comment, and worse not reply to people’s great comments. I really appreciate the regular readers of my blog who also take the time to leave insightful thoughts and do my best to reply to them here and on social media.

8. Have A Contact Page. Want to build a tribe? You need to be reachable, not in accessible. I get the most amazing emails from my contact form. I get emails from real people with real life stories who share their hopes, dreams and fears with me, or just tell me why they found me and why they’re excited to be part of my tribe. That makes my day. That makes me know I make a difference! Oh and that’s also the way people contact you for interviews, joint venture opportunities and sponsorship – are you missing out?

9. Have an Editorial Calendar. This makes a world of difference in staying focused on the purpose of your blog, who you’re helping and what you cover and when. I have my editorial calendar planned out until June next year – not necessarily all blog posts but each month’s theme, when my podcasts go out, when my videos go out, when my launches are. I know what to write and who I’m writing for (see my recent Infographic for proof).

10. Plan for Awesome. Speaking to the above, the more you create a great vision for your blog and it’s future, the more excited you will be about it, and the more focused. I have a simple MS Excel Suitcase Entrepreneur `Plan of Attack’ spreadsheet on Google Drive. On the main tab is my vision and strategic 1 page plan for this blog plus keywords I want to rank for.  The next tab is my editorial calendar, I also have a tab for affiliate opportunities, one for speaking gigs and finally my `circle of influence’. People I want to connect with, read their blogs, promote their stuff, thank regularly and Skype with! (If you want a template of this make sure you subscribe to my Highflyer newsletter as I’m sending it out to my subscribers next week).

11. Nothing Compares To You. Speaking to you being unique, please don’t judge yourself and your blog progress on that of others. That’s just a waste of your time. It’s also soul destroying. You don’t know what’s gone on behind the scenes for them, how many years they’ve been at it, what they’ve spent, who they work with and how they’ve gone about building their blog. Learn from them but don’t try to be them or get discouraged from your own journey because of them.

12. Know Thy WordPress Platform. I don’t think there is any other blog platform (or place to build your website on) than WordPress. They continually adapt and improve their back-end, people create amazing WordPress plugins to make your life easier, and it’s intuitive and easy to use for any non-tech person – much like opening a Word document. When you’re first starting out it’s essential that you at least get the basics of using WordPress yourself before you hand over to people who can do it better than you. It is after all your home for many years to come, so get comfortable with it.  Start by reading this: How To Plan, Build, And Launch Your Own Website In 4 Days

13. Little Known Blogging Secret. I’m giving you this one for free, readers and your potential customers LOVE simple shortcuts. They love behind the scenes `how I did it’ articles. That’s why my article 24 Ways To Be Uncommonly Productive Today was so damn popular (and got over 30,000 views on Forbes!), plus I provide a free checklist. Also they love tips and actions they can actually use and implement right now, here’s a great example: 10 Twitter Tips For The Time Strapped Entrepreneur.

14. Get Found on Google. If you don’t know much about Search Engine Optimization (SEO), then you’re totally missing out. This is essentially how people find you online. You can increase your chances of being found for key words for blog topics by installing All In One SEO (free WordPress plugin) for a start and reading my other recommendations in how to build a better blog. You can also make sure your spelling and grammar is accurate and you know which keywords you can use in your titles, key headings and first few paragraphs of your blog post to rank highly on Google. For example, I’m on Page 1 for Google for `Best Business Books’ thanks to this article!

15. Guest Posting is King. If you want to drive more targeted traffic and readers to your blog, you need to go out and blog for other authority sites with like-minded communities, otherwise you’ll just be sitting there bemoaning `why doesn’t anyone visit my blog?’. I like using this analogy: If you go to a bar and you’re the life of the party, then people want to hang out with you and you can invite them back to your place for a nightcap. That’s kind of like what guest posting is about. You write kick ass articles that make people sit up and take notice and come back to visit your blog, and if you’ve got a great design and call to action, then you’ve just attracted new members to your tribe.  I wrote about how to Grow Your Blog Traffic Exponentially Through Guest Posting on Social Media Today.

16. Social Media is a Blog’s Best Friend. Apart from the fact that a blog is a social media tool in itself, the other way to drive more readers to your blog and website is through social media. And no you don’t need to be everywhere and anywhere, but you do need to be where your potential readers and customers are. I know thanks to Google Analytics that Facebook (and in particular my page) is the 2nd highest referrer of traffic to my blog, followed by Twitter. So I focus on those two platforms most – plus I love them. But I also know that YouTube kicks in when I post videos and Pinterest is starting to drive more targeted traffic especially since I created my board on Biz Tools I love to use.

17. Get Creative With Content. Not everyone likes to read, some people love visuals (like the infographic I link to above, or Pinterest images). Others love watching videos. Some love listening to podcasts. As you get to know your audience better you can start catering to their different ways of learning and digesting your information. The more places and ways they can access you, the better. For instance my Suitcase Entrepreneur podcast brings in a whole lot of new traffic from iTunes – people who never even knew I existed. My YouTube Channel videos gets views from people who find them who then click on links back to my blog in the video description. You have to pick the medium you’re most comfortable with but do experiment and see what works.

18. Love What You Do. You can tell bloggers who absolutely love what they do. Their words leap off the page at you, their opinions are clear, their actions are obvious, they write consistently or vlog regularly and you look forward to visiting their site every week. They’ve found their sweet spot, the intersection between what they love to do, what they’re really good at and what people will pay them for. Yes I wrote on The Secret To Finding Your Sweetspot  too – my fave topic actually.

19. Have Fun Blogging. ‘Cos if you’re not, then you’re doing it wrong. Sure, there will be times when you’re lost for words, or your plugin screwed up, or you can’t center your god damn image on the post you’re writing, but those are just all the wonderful parts that make up the whole journey of becoming a better blogger. And at the end of the day they don’t matter nearly as much as you think. People will love you for your content, for your unique voice, for helping them, inspiring them, believing in them and encouraging them.

20. Make It Easy to Share. I’m always surprised how many opportunities people pass up having their great content promoted. I’ve read some fantastic articles on blogs that people have asked me to share, only to find there are no share buttons! Make it easy for people to share your great work. Use Share This (great WordPress plugin that works). Put tweetables in your posts using Click To Tweet. Here’s an example:

Click To Tweet: If you write epic blog posts, don’t forget to make them easy to share! People want to share your gifts with the world. 

21. Create Strong Calls to Action. If people get to the end of your post and don’t know what to do next because you didn’t tell them, then you’re missing out. For example, the author box at the end of this post points to my BYOB guide. I can also make it point to my super valuable Ultimate Toolkit or opting in to my Highflyer newsletter. What call to action are you inviting at the end of your posts? Even simply asking people to leave their comment is a great start.

22. Focus on Great Design. As I explain above I’ve been through several transitions in this blog and each time I’ve invested more money, worked with better designers and learned more about what works when it comes to great design, calls to action, click throughs, landing pages, clear navigation and more. Yes there’s a lot to it, but it’s so worthwhile understanding the psychology of online marketing and what makes people stick around. One of these is having a blog design that gets people’s attention and let’s them know what you do in 4 seconds or less – so make it worthwhile. Don’t skimp, otherwise you’ll get what you pay for.

23. Create Your Blogger Network. You have your circles of friends to do things with, right? Your sporty friends, your social friends, those friends you go to the movies with, museums, traveling, the races or cafes. The same applies online; you simply cannot grow your blog (without taking into account the 22 factors above), if you don’t have your network of fellow bloggers that you can unite with in your quest to grow a kick ass blog. These bloggers should inspire you to be better. You should be sharing tactics and strategies with them on what’s working well and what new plugins, tools or methods they’re implementing. You should share each others’ work, take on joint projects and support each other whenever possible.  Choose wisely. You’ll know when you find a kindred spirit that aligns with your blogging values. Make friends and make those friendships count. You don’t have to do this on your own.

24. Be Grateful. I’m writing this from a cool cafe in Amsterdam with loud music, candles on the table, a buzz of conversations, great coffee and mini Christmas trees everywhere. I feel inspired to write in such locations, but I could just as easily do this from an airport, or plane or small village in a forest. That’s the beauty of blogging, that’s the beauty of being able to share your work with the world. You just need a laptop, an internet connection and your purpose.

Blogging brings you rich opportunities for personal and professional growth

See this image on Pinterest. Blogging does makes me want to be a better person…yes I’m paraphrasing Jack Nicholson!

Wow. That’s a lot of points. Share in the comments below which one resonated with you most. 


  • Joe Cassandra

    Congrats on 2 years Natalie! I’ve definitely been one to compare my short time blogging to others (I’m guessing it’s a pride thing), but once I start to see small results here and there I usually overcome that jealousy point…thanks for the tips Natalie!

  • Natalie Sisson

    Thanks Joe! It’s a natural thing to compare but it’s your journey so make it your own and focus on what you do best.

  • Pamela Slim

    Happy Bloggy Birthday! I am so proud of you. This is only the beginning. Sending love from AZ!

  • Karina Eva

    Feliz cumpleaños a tu bebe Natalie!!!

    I’d like to have one of the Set’s book copies because I have heard it talks about how “It’s better to be sorry than safe. You need to fly higher than ever.” or as I say it “i would rather have a life of oh wells than what ifs” and because I am curious about it.

    I’ve read “all Marketers are liars – story tellers” and looking into read “tribes” and perhaps more of his titles. This new book might help to tie it all together. Keeping my fingers cross. Thank you Natalie!

  • Jenelle Montilone

    Happy Blog-aversary Natalie! It was such fun to read the re-cap of your 2 short years and see how The Suitcase Entrepreneur has grown. You’ve accomplished some amazing things! Looking forward the new adventures & travels ahead for you!

    Love what you do & finding your secret sweet spot, absolutely the one thing that resonates most with me. The more you love what you do the more you will persevere. And, when
    you capitalize on your unique qualities & gifts, you’re going to make it that much easier on yourself.

  • Sandy Sidhu

    Hey Natalie! First off huge congrats!! It’s been awesome to watch this baby grow and be part of such a kick ass community. There is so much that resonates but if I had to choose I would say: appreciate the journey and don’t compare to others because like you said- we don’t know the behind the scenes. Building a network and finding those kindred spirits is another one that has been key for me- the experience and journey is just that much better when you have awesome peeps (like you) rooting for you and supporting you along the way. Thanks for all that you do. Hugs, Sandy

  • Natalie Sisson

    I sure hope so lovely lady, you’re the guiding light for me on that front with your amazing ongoing work in helping people escape the cubicle nation and create their own body of work.

  • Natalie Sisson

    Awesome Karina, those are great reasons indeed.

  • Natalie Sisson

    Totally Jenelle, who said sweets were bad for you right? 😉 And when you love what you do it pushes you through the more challenging times and roadblocks that’s for sure. It gives you incentive and meaning.

  • Natalie Sisson

    Loving that big hug Sandy and actually if I recall you were one of my first supporters here to leave a comment, way back in the good old days and look at how far we’ve both come. Never compare, just be yourself – everyone else is taken (hat tip to Oscar Wilde for that one)

  • cadijordan

    Happy Birthday! Great post and it’s been a joy to watch you through this and learn some things along the way. Countless principles I can send my own clients over to learn and apply even though they’re not travelling the world! Well Done!

  • heatherlyone

    LOVE this list Natalie – it’s such a great reminder of best practices we (online-based entrepreneurs) need to keep top of mind. My favourite is don’t publish shite. There’s SO much of it out there already! My second favourite is plan for awesome. I’ve been planning for awesome since 1978 baby! Hugs and congrats. :)

  • James Clear

    Whoo! Happy Blog Birthday!

    Great work Natalie. You should be proud of the audience you have here.

    My favorite one — be grateful. Appreciating the opportunities your blog has brought you (and the ones it can create in the future) sets the foundation for success.

  • Yasmine Khater

    Congrats for your awesome achievement :) people say, if you have been around for 2 years, then your passed the tough part. I loved the tips they were super helpful, especially now that Im starting mine, I need to still define more my niche and how to be memorable.

    Cant wait to be part of your kickstarter project for the book

  • Rachel Christensen Denning

    This is great! Excellent advice. Congrats on so much success! Thanks for putting yourself out there and sharing with the world :)

  • Jana Kingsford

    Amen to that! What ‘epic’ advice. Reinforcing and adapting it to my bloggys and niche sites :) I love tips #7, #9 and #11… actually love them all. Thank you for
    being so generous with the wealth on info shared on here. Love it

  • Alan Dykes

    For me the “get over yourself” resonates the most. I’ve had to keep a positive outlook through some down times and the attitude I’ve developed to deal with that sometimes needs to be toned down, especially when trying to I’m writing blog posts.

  • Lindsay Goldner

    I love your “plan for awesome”- hadn’t ever thought about putting it all into one excel doc with different spreadsheets but that makes so much sense! Thanks for the fab idea!

  • Horling Wong

    great list! thanks for putting them altogether in one place!
    (and yes, I would love to win that book :))

  • Janet

    I love those messages! The connection economy rewards misfits.. because I am definitely a misfit :) I would want to read Seth’s new book because the only one I’ve read (and LOVED) was Purple Cow. And I love your advice too. Congrats on two years! I haven’t been around since Womanz World but close!

  • Jane Manthorpe

    Natalie, first congratulations on the 2 year anniversary.
    You have been a great inspiration to me and a great coach in our few short sessions together on Skype.

    Having been part of your WE Mastermind and member of your newsletter,
    I have acquired so much great knowledge, skills and expertise from you. You so much
    deserve your success today :)

    I loved this post as its given a list of actionable things to take action on to ensure that I have every chance to be successful.

    The one point that really kicked me the buttocks was No 2 Get over yourself..Gosh if there was thing that has stopped me taking action and getting out of my cosy comfort zone is me being in the way.

    I never knew that I was a wee introvert until I tried to create something online lol!

    But I am getting there, and the more I write online, the more I breakout of my shell and come out to play. My big intention for 2013 is to fully explode of being me online and sharing what I know.

    Seth new book The Icarus Deception really resonates with me as having read his write up about the book, it spoke to me as he talks about creating art to stand out from the crowd, love it.

    One of things I have been trying to work out and create is how to standout from the crowd and create a unique presence. I just don’t wanna be the same old same old in my niche as its a crowded one.

    To get me out of way and out of my comfort zone is so important to me and one of my immediate goals and I would love to hear Seth’s view and writeup on this subject of making art and standing out.

    All the best Natalie and heres to another 2 bigger years of success and more…


  • Annabel, Get In The Hot Spot

    Happy Bloggiversary! Love the story about how you found your name – serendipity :)

  • Natalie Sisson

    Always amuses me too actually!

  • Natalie Sisson

    Thank you so much Jane that is really lovely to hear. I am so excited that you are now going to put yourself out there and get out of your comfort zone. Blogging is such a rewarding journey but it also takes courage and guts and I know you will benefit from doing this on your own blog.

  • Natalie Sisson

    Yeah you are a misfit indeed, and here’s to many more years of blogging success for you Janet. Your message needs to be heard that’s for sure.

  • Natalie Sisson

    It’s a Kiwi thing, I use awesome far too much, but who’s wants to be average when you can be awesome.

  • Natalie Sisson

    Yes definitely Alan. The reality is so few people (initially) will notice your blog, or judge what you’re writing so it’s up to you to recognise this and stay true to your blog values and what you want to achieve, put yourself out there, continue to improve and provide value and you will see the results.

  • Natalie Sisson

    Thank you Jana for reading and enjoying, glad you found value in these points – there sure were enough of them! I think #11 is the hardest to learn despite the fact we know it’s true.

  • Digital Sophisticate

    A big HAPPY BIRTHDAY to the fabulous Suitcase Entrepreneur Blog – woohoo! “Thanks” & “much gratitude” just aren’t big enough words to express how thankful I am to have learned so much from you, Natalie. Here’s to many, many more awesome years – BRAVO!

  • Donna Webster

    Thanks so much for all of these awesome tips. I also love how you found your name. I feel a name is so important and when you find a great one that calls your name, claim it, and run with it. Wishing you many more happy years to come. Have A Divine Holiday! Donna

  • JacquieB

    Happy anniversary Sis. Great work as always.

  • Julie Fox

    The final message in the image resonates with me; it’s important to appreciate the things you learn through blogging, things that are easily overlooked when you’re busy planning or fretting over it. Thanks for your tips and inspiration over the years, Natalie.

  • Runa Magnusdottir

    Natalie, you are a gem! Thank you once more for your incredible valuable points! You do Rock’N’Roll girl!

  • Glenda Shawley

    Hi Natalie, thanks for all your inspiring posts.

    I would love to win a copy of Seth’s book as he is another inspiration and thought provoker. I work with lots of people, young and older who are starting out in business or in their careers and am constantly looking for ways to enliven my presentations, refresh my examples, re-think my ideas and I’m sure the Icarus Deception will be one of those books that gets me thinking.

  • karen gunton

    Happy biz birthday! What a fantastic post full of tips, thanks for sharing your own experiences so that we can all learn and grow. You are such a gem, and I feel honoured to call you friend. Can’t wait to see what comes next for the suitcase entrepreneur! =)

  • Trish Murray

    Happy birthday! Your new life is 2! Your blog/business birthday falls on my own birthday…at a time in my life when I’m shaking it up and making some serious changes. Many of them sprouting from the seeds of your blog falling on the fertile soil of my heart!! Thanks so much Natalie.

  • Julie Zeronda

    Congrats on your success! And thanks for all the great advice- always helps to have a reminder so we can all learn and grow together

  • Natalie Sisson

    Happy Shaking Birthday Trish. How fortuitous, consider this your birthday present then too

  • Natalie Sisson

    Ohhhh shucks thanks hon and I’m sure you have more great insights to add yourself from your wonderful blog

  • Natalie Sisson

    Isn’t he just. I don’t know anyone else who does it so consistently and with such aplomb too than Seth.

  • Natalie Sisson

    Julie you’re so welcome, I’m glad it resonated and I have to say I thought that was a bit of genius myself 😉 Usually that comes from years of doing all the wrong things too…. and then getting them right. Always a learning curve which I love

  • Bobbi Klein

    Congrats! I enjoy all of your advice but I know that I need to work on calls to action and writing the newsletters. Thanks for kickstarting me!

  • Paige – Simple Mindfulness

    Big congrats on your 2nd bday – and you’ve only just begun! My 2nd is just around the corner too. I completely agree with you on all 24 lessons. It took me a while to learn the lessons of being yourself and putting your true voice out there but, when I did, everything changed in a very positive way.

    Thanks for continuing to share all your rock solid info and helping us to all grow our businesses effectively. You’re the BEST!!

  • Kayla Peikes

    Happy, Happy Birthday! May the next two years be just as (if not more) fabulous and adventure-filled as the last :)

  • tiny blue orange

    The concept of not always “writing” a blog post is a great reminder that some people are visual learners or just inspired by pretty pictures more than words. Thanks for all 24 tips, including that one!

  • Letitia Fowler

    Thank you for this fantastic list. It has inspired me to start a blog which I have been putting off. Done is better than perfect….

  • Elizabeth Saunders

    Congrats Natalie! Happy Birthday to your Blog!

    To many more years of brilliance!
    Elizabeth Grace Saunders

  • Carrie Tripodi

    Sometimes, when life is super, ridiculously hard and I’ve let myself get all bummed out over stupid shit, I can forget where I am. Blog tip #24, Be Grateful, is a good reminder for me that I should be more appreciative of where I am and what I have. I’m in Belize, for cryin out loud! Would LOVE a copy of the book… we have no decent book stores down here!! :)

  • Write Ahead

    #15 – Guest Blogging. This works so well – both me going out and posting for others, and also asking people to post for me. It’s so effective for spreading the word about what we do. Love it!

  • Alan Sloas

    This is so much awesome information! Thank you!