About three years ago I knew absolutely nothing about blogging, or wordpress, or servers or pretty much anything overly techie. Sure, I read blogs, and I used the internet, and I admired from afar those who ran their own blogs – but running and owning one myself seemed like the very distant future. It wasn’t though. I actually own 4 websites now, my personal blog (a social and PR industry niche), an online wedding magazine and a lingerie blog.
I’ve come a long way, and I don’t mind saying it. Sometimes when I mess around with WordPress and stuff, I’m actually surprised at how much I know. Now – I’m no pro or jedi-blogger, but I like to think I know what I’m doing now, and I that I do it pretty well. It also makes a huge difference being over in NZ now… as we have an inspiring place to write and we have plenty of time to do it too!
So here are some things I’ve learnt:
- Content is King: Working in online marketing, this is one of the things being drilled home at the moment. If you want to succeed online, you need to be writing and producing great content. It has to be original too. Some second hand article you’ve borrowed from some other website, just won’t cut it anymore and you’d be kidding yourself if you thought it would. As someone who loves writing, this is something that came naturally to me from the start – I love writing content and taking photographs – the content side of things was never an issue.
- Brand yourself: Part of my blogging for all my websites, is that I wanted them to be branded properly, and I wanted to build my personal brand too. This is something I never really thought of before I started blogging, but now I’m really aware of my personal brand and all the things tied to it. I think as a blogger, you have to be. Keep an eye on your personal Google search – and make sure your results are in-keeping. Think about your social profiles too and make sure they are branded and relevant.
- Network – It wasn’t until I started working online, that I realised how important networking is. Good networking is what will get you spikes in traffic, it’s what will get you followers and fans and it’s how you spread the word about your blog and yourself. Make friends with people in your niche and communicate with them too – it should be an engaging experience – not a one-way one. Plus it’s great to support other people and their work too.
- Set yourself up: When I first started blogging, I was signed up to a blogging platform that didn’t really offer me much flexibility design-wise. I’m now on WordPress which is externally hosted – which means I can change up design, widgets, themes, etc pretty easily. The whole hosting thing did kind of confuse me at first though, so it’s worth getting someone to talk you through it when you start setting it up. Finding review websites is always helpful, like this one. I’ve gone through about 3 different designs for this blog alone – as the content has grown, and as the blog has evolved, so has the way I wanted it all to look.
- Social matters: Sharing your updates on social media really matters with blogging. If you can – schedule automatic tweets and statuses because it saves you the hassle of remembering to do it. Also, have a look at hashtags and stuff that’s going to spread your work to wider circles than just your own. The hashtag #ttot is a good one for the travel industry.
- Know the right people: Getting your work infront of the right people is so important – because they’re the people who will willingly share and pass-on your blogs and articles. If you had an awesome experience at the hotel someone owns, tweet them about it and blog about it for them. Some of my biggest traffic spikes have been when people I’ve tweeted have retweeted or shared something on their own networks – because my blog post has benefited them and offered them good publicity, and I told them about it.
- It costs money: And there is no getting around it. To run a successful blog, you’re probably going to need to invest a bit of money and a lot of time to get it where it needs to be. Money will probably need to be spent on the following things; hosting, theme designs, logo designers (unless you’re creative and can do it yourself), domain names and registration. It can be hard getting together the extra cash to fund these bits and pieces (especially if you weren’t budgeting for it) so looking for new ways to make extra money is always helpful for times like this.
- Don’t be afraid to evolve: When I started this blog it was relatively small, and I thought the design should reflect that. It was more of a personal project than anything – so that friends and family could keep up with what we were doing. As time has gone on though, the website has grown, the archive has grown and my audience has grown too. Sure, there is still a long way to go but I’ve recently re-designed the blog to keep up with the growing readership and to show off the blog and how much I’ve achieved with it. I’m not working and blogging with some big travel brands too – so it’s all about encouraging those relationships.