Hello, everybody. This time I would like to tell you what I have learned from 1 year of travel blogging.
*update from 2020*: it’s been a while! I also wrote two more blogging-related posts about my mistakes and things I wish I had known. Make sure to check them out:
- What I have learned from 2 years of travel blogging
- 4 years of blogging: my main mistakes and things I wish I knew
When we decided to create this blog with Pepe 1 year ago, I was new to travel blogging. I didn’t even have my favorite bloggers or blogs I was following, nothing at all. I only knew that there was not enough information every single time we were traveling abroad. Planning a trip to Asia was probably the biggest struggle ever, and after that comes our road trip around Balkans. Finding relevant and useful information was hard to get even before, and that made me think about starting the blog, where I would write about our travels and mention the information that I couldn’t find before.
So I created an account on Blogger and started writing, but soon Pepe persuaded me, that WordPress.org is definitely a better idea. I argued first, but then… agreed. That’s how my blogging life has officially started. Choosing a WordPress Theme was a pain in the neck. I chose a free design but after 3 weeks, that was already not enough and we bought a paid one. I still think it’s not enough either, but I haven’t seen any better options…yet. Changing the theme was quite challenging and some of the designs (featured photos) just looked horrifying with the new design, so it was a lot of work, to change many of them.
From the very beginning, I knew that the cheapest hosting option didn’t include much storage space, that’s why all the photos featured in the posts were uploaded from Flickr. That was a great solution in terms of storage, but we missed a really important factor – image SEO, that could bring us many more visitors if we uploaded photos to the blog and indicated the attributes and keywords properly. This only occurred to me last September, so since then, I was trying to upload photos to the blog. However, I still count edit all the previous posts and replace the images.
Also, I only had a faint idea about general SEO for the blog, and I started doing ridiculous things thinking I actually do everything alright. Only after 4-5 months, I figured an idea about backlinks and link juice and even later – about keyword density and content optimization. I’m not blaming myself for not knowing basics of SEO from the very beginning, nope, I actually read some literature about it, that I didn’t understand. It’s quite hard and it’s not for everybody. I’m happy that I managed to figure it out now, at least a little bit. My advice after 1 year of travel blogging: read as much as possible, check the posts by our fellow travel bloggers, where they explain SEO in an easy way. I hope that one day I’ll manage to create a small basic SEO guide for travel blogging beginners.
For some reason, I thought that teaming up with other bloggers is not for me. Moreover, I didn’t know almost anything about Facebook groups for travel bloggers. When I finally found some groups and joined them in November, I was astonished by how much valuable information these groups have! I was so disappointed that I didn’t know about them before. Now, after 1 year of travel blogging I would like to share with you 2 of my favourite Facebook groups for travel bloggers:
I didn’t pay much attention to Pinterest and didn’t know that it’s actually one of the most powerful sources of traffic for blogging beginners. However, just creating beautiful catchy pins doesn’t help. You need to join some Facebook groups for Pinterest and participate in various Pinterest threads almost every day. I did that for 3 weeks and our traffic tripled! However, once you stop doing that, your traffic will slowly decrease. Participating in Pinterest threads is definitely not the best activity, and it really resembles procrastination and waste of the time, but in case you want to be noticed, especially at the earliest months of your blog, it makes sense to participate. Don’t forget about Flipboard and Stumbleupon, sometimes they also bring a decent amount of people to your blog.
I participate in them from time to time, for example, when a new post is up. Doing it all the time is way too time-consuming, though.
I didn’t know much about various affiliate networks either. I started joining them in November, as soon I entered various Facebook groups, and by that time I already had quite a solid Social Media following: around 20000 people. Why I regret not doing it before? Well, it’s possible that I would have received some nice offers even before. Now, with more than 37000 followers on Social Media and 1 year of travel blogging, I receive offers from time to time.
The networks, where I received at least 1 offer include:
I always considered myself shy. That means I really don’t enjoy approaching people, talking to them and offering some sort of services. I was always waiting for offers, where people would approach our blog first. Of course, there were various offers, especially offering affiliate partnerships. However, that was nothing compared to others bloggers’ tales. Nobody has offered us a week in Maldives or at least a weekend in Italy yet, but it’s also because we never actually pitched for tourism boards. I was always insecure about our traffic and social media following and avoided pitching to hotels, agencies and tourism boards because I thought what we have is clearly not enough. When I carefully went through the information in “Female Travel Bloggers” I realized, that many bloggers started successfully pitching, when they had one-third of our traffic and following. So I would have probably started pitching earlier.
The lamest thing you could do (as a travel blogger) is probably comparing yourself to the others. I confess I do it very often and I hate this in myself. You won’t get anything but disappointment from that, because there will be always someone who has reached way better results than you, even within the same amount of time. Travel blogging is not a competition, you should not blame yourself for not working on the blog hard enough to get to 10, 100, 1000 visitors a day. As long as it isn’t your only job or your only source of income, don’t worry, you will slowly get to what you would like to reach. All you need is time, motivation and patience.
Well, travel blogging is a job for some people. And I have never seen it as such. For me, it was always a hobby, and a tiny bonus for my CV (additional skills, you know). However, for some reason, I was sure that we will have plenty of offers straight away. Of course, I didn’t and it was stupid to think so from the very beginning. Offers come when you are of potential interest for various companies and to reach that, you need to work on your traffic, engagement, and content.
After 1 year of travel blogging, I understood many things. Blogging is amazing, but if you want to see a serious outcome, prepare to work hard. Participate in various threads to grow your social and referral traffic and social media following, pitch to the hotels and tourism boards. Take some time to study the basic SEO and don’t spare time in order to create beautiful pins and images. And most importantly, don’t compare yourself with the others.
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