Susan Earlam and me at Blogging and Beyond in Altrincham, Manchester

This month I was lucky enough to present a session for Altrincham Word Fest called Blogging and Beyond, featuring award-winning Manchester blogger Susan Earlam.

Susan has been sharing online since 2010, running well know-blogs like Vintage Manchester and Old Fashioned Susie. She’s worked with brands like John Lewis and American Express, and won an Amara blog award for her work.

Despite her online success, she’s now dialled down her social media presence and is focusing on writing her first novel. She rebranded Old Fashioned Susie to a blog under her own name,, which allows her to feature her thoughts on writing as well as the topics she’s well known for, like interiors and vintage style.

In Blogging and Beyond, she had some wise words for people in the audience who were wondering whether they should start their own blogs, either to showcase their creative passions or to promote their businesses.

Here’s Susan’s thoughts from the session, shared with her permission:

Find the ‘why’ of your blog before you start. What time of blogger are you? Are you writing for an audience or yourself?

Susan thinks bloggers can be divided into two types: 

  1. You want to start your blog as a business and make money through affiliate links, ads, sponsored posts
  2. You love writing (or something else) and are compelled to share and communicate with others like you.

Decide which one you are and then plan your next steps accordingly. Niche blogs work well if you want to make money from blogging, but they can hinder creativity, as Susan found in her own work. But being niche makes you an expert, and brands (and rankings in Google) love that. 

If you are posting in partnership with brands, you’ll need to be aware of Advertising Standards Authority rules. More information here on ASA’s guidelines for bloggers can be found here.

Images are a major part of blogging and social media. You’ll probably rely on your own photographs, but is handy for stock imagery and Susan uses for creating pins – Pinterest is one of the major drivers of her blog traffic.

Finally, Susan’s advice on the audience and brands: Post consistently so that both will know that you’re reliable. Interact with your audience on social, don’t just broadcast your own stuff out. Try to be entertaining and helpful – it’s a winning combination on social and online.

You can follow Susan Earlam’s blogging and writing journey via and her newsletter. Starting a blog can be a big step towards creative expression. But it’s good to be aware that you’ll change over time and your blog will need to change with you. And get this… it may be that your new blog is the very thing that kickstarts those changes.

Altrincham Word Fest is a two-week festival of words and writing, held in May each year in Altrincham, Manchester, UK. Find out more about the festival and their events here.