Almost one year ago today I started this travel blog. With just over a month to go until Pad and I set off on our RTW trip, we set it up together as a place to keep family and friends updated on everything we were doing. I’m pretty sure, at that time, the only people reading the blog were mainly our Mums.
Since then however, it’s evolved into much more of that.
It became pretty obvious after a few weeks that the blog was really my baby – and Pad took a step back and let me take it for my own. Which I did. It’s changed a lot – it’s grown hugely and become something I’m really proud to own. Writing has always been a passion of mine, as has photography, and it’s great to have somewhere to call my own where I can share those things.
It’s not easy though. I wanted to talk about the things I’ve learnt this year, because there are so many, but also because I think there are often a lot of misconceptions about the blogging world (especially travel blogging) and I wanted to shed some of my own light on them.
So here we go….
It’s an uphill struggle at first.
The first few months, I felt like I was putting a lot of work into the blog, and not getting a whole lot back. Once I realised I wanted the blog to be something more than a place for my Mum to come and check what I was up to (Hi Mum) I was so keen to get other people reading the blog, but wasn’t sure how to go about doing it. This, for me anyway, was the hardest part of blogging. Those first few months when you’re writing great content, visiting amazing places – but no one is reading about it.
But it will get easier. Be patient.
After the initial few months I noticed my audience getting bigger, and that was so encouraging. This is the stage when you need to really push yourself and see it through. You’ll start seeing your hard work pay off (finally)! Getting to this point was the hardest part, but once you’ve got there you’ll notice that your content is shared more, you’re getting more readers and you’re becoming more social and suddenly you’ll forget about that hard slog in the beginning.
Be prepared for misconceptions.
I think a lot of people who aren’t bloggers (whatever the industry) don’t realise quite how much work goes into blogging and quite how much time it takes up. When I’m not actually doing the travelling, I’ll be writing up the experience, editing photos, doing social media stuff…. It’s very time consuming. A lot of travel bloggers I admire (40 before 30 and The Everywhereist, for example) do their travel blogging full-time, which is an ideal situation for anyone like me, but right now seems a long way off. When I was travelling with Pad, I usually had to schedule a day in every destination to write up what we’d done, edit photos, answer emails and schedule in posts – but of course, that’s all the work you never hear about. So I guess, when people ask me about blogging and tell me how lucky I am, whilst I do agree (I am lucky, I’d never disagree there) I have earned all of this and the opportunities that arise are through a lot of time and effort.
Sometimes all you have to do is ask.
Around 4 months into blogging, I decided I wanted a bit of a return on my investment – so I started contacting brands, hotels and companies asking them if they’d be happy to offer me something in return for coverage on the blog. This made budgeting our trip a whole lot easier (and saved us money) and all I had to do was ask. Who’d have thought? Sometimes the lessons are that simple. Now I get brands approaching me more than I approach them – and I do have to say no occasionally to offers that don’t quite suit the blog or my readers. But it all started off by having a bit of courage and going after what I wanted. Now, I’m not afraid to ask. Because what’s the worst that could happen? Sometimes you have to take ownership for a situation, and when you do, you might be surprised by how successful you can be.
It’s about way more than just writing and taking photos.
It’s about writing, taking photos, editing photos, SEO, learning WordPress, designing your blog, learning what widgets are, outreaching, online PR, social media… the list goes on.
Learn from others around you.
I mentioned above, a couple of ladies I really admire in the travel blogging world and there are plenty more. Taking inspiration from them is really a big part of developing my own blog. Travel is such a big industry, there is room for everyone, so don’t look at other bloggers like competition – look at them as people you can admire creatively, and who you can make connections with to help strengthen your own blog and your own voice.
It’s OK to give yourself a day-off.
Sometimes when we were travelling, the last thing I wanted to do was blog. Sometimes it was jet-lag, sometimes it was just being too busy with sightseeing, sometimes I would rather have been sat in the pool (which isn’t exactly lap-top friendly). And that’s OK. It’s a lot of hard work and you’re allowed to give yourself time off.
You won’t always have something positive to write about.
As a travel blogger, I want to encourage people to travel and inspire them to. But sometimes (and it has happened a few times during the last year) you find yourself with nothing positive to write about. When we visited Christchurch (NZ) I loved the city, but I was so overwhelmed and effected by how destroyed the city was from the earthquake – that it took me 6 months to finally get my thoughts typed up (read them here). In Patong (Thailand) I struggled with finding anything positive about the location whatsoever… but thought it better to be honest about that, than lie and pretend I’d loved every second.
It hasn’t all been written.
I kind of thought when I first started blogging, that everything had already been written in some way or another, but that’s so un-true. Everything is unique, because no one else is writing about things with your voice or your opinions.
It might not only be travel you write about.
There are many things I love in life. Travelling is one of them (so makes sense, that I own a travel blog huh?) but Pad and I are also big foodies. I’ve found that when we were travelling the food was something we were fascinated with – and we often looked forward to the most…. so it started to seep into the content of my blog too. But for me travel and food go hand in hand together and it’s all about the culture and tasting different cultures.
Success is a hard thing to define.
I’m not sure how you define success in the blogging niche – but I hope I’m on my way. There is still a lot I’d like to do with my blog, but I know I’m moving in the right direction and creating content I’m proud to share and I hope people love reading. I was recently shortlisted by Cosmopolitan as their travel blogger of the year (you can vote here) and that was such a huge compliment and was a really huge step towards what I’m hoping to achieve more of. My blog is relatively new compared to others on the list (there are some amazing blogs nominated alongside me) – so it’s pretty humbling to be on there.
I’m so excited to see what Year 2 of blogging will bring, and I’m already planning all the places I’ll hopefully see and experience along the way. This travel blog is the best thing I ever created, and probably the most time and effort I’ve spent on anything too, and I hope it carries on growing as strong in this next year as it currently is!