Happy six-month anniversary to me 😊 Ok, so officially my blogging journey started back in May 2018.
I was doing alright as a fresh-off-the-block blogger, with a small organic traffic flow, a DA that was rising (albeit at glacial speed!) and on a fairly regular basis, I was getting new content online.
That was until I got strapped with an insane contract for work; 6 days a week plus evenings and sometimes even full weekends. Don’t get me wrong, I was chuffed at landing this job, which frankly I didn’t think I’d get in the first instance and was just too good of an opportunity to turn down. However, I didn’t anticipate just how intense the contract was, something had to give, which meant that my poor blog had to be temporarily shelved.
Roll on six months, and with the end of my contract in sight, I’m shifting my mind set towards picking up my blogging journey where I left off all those months ago.
So yes, some might argue that I’ve been blogging for nearly a year (yes, my blog has been live for a year), however, because of my mini hiatus I’m super excited to be just coming up to the six-month anniversary of actual blogging time.
1) It takes A LOT longer than I initially thought it would take to do ANYTHING!
I used the word ‘glacial’ earlier on, by that I mean if you plan for a task to take 10minutes, you can bet that it will take more than double, triple, quadruple that time. I’ve pumped so many hours into my blog, particularly in the initial set up before even hitting publish. Self-teaching yourself everything from scratch can be frustrating and time-consuming but also incredibly rewarding.
2) There is a fair amount of technical jargon and geek stuff to get your head around.
I’m a bit of a technophobe, ask me before I started my blogging journey what SEO, Optimisation, or DA are, their importance and how they impact your blog and you’d have a blank stare in return. I’ve only just touched the mere tip of these whopping icebergs and slowly am mastering the basics. Let’s just say it’s a long and steep learning curve.
3) Your photography skills will improve – tenfold!
My photography style has changed, big time, and for the better. Looking back at any pictures I took when I first started travelling over 5 years ago just makes me cringe, what was I thinking? Yes, I’ve always taken lots of photos, but these were out of focus, badly framed, just plain irrelevant. Why did I think they were good photos?
Since taking the plunge to become a travel blogger my photography style has changed. I’m thinking about the subject a lot more, including myself in them, trying o capture the moor or a moment or a story behind them. I also like to play about with angles and perspective a lot more – I’m shamelessly trigger happy.
4) Don't expect to make big bucks early on.
I’ve not even considered monetising my blog yet, it’s certainly on the cards for the near future, but right now my focus is getting quality content out there, working on my SEO and building traffic.
There are people out there who claim to make big money right away, I’m sure this is possible to the fortunate few, however, I have a few friends that also blog and not one of them made money quick. For most, it’s a slow trickle with the occasional blog win. But with anything in life, hard work and dedication do pay off and if monetisation is your goal, then you go for it girl! If you find a short cut for this, then please come back and tell me 😀
5) Utilise Facebook groups of like minded people
I still love a good meme of cats doing silly things and of course, I can’t wait to see the next picture of what my friends had for dinner,
However, delve a little deeper, and with a little bit of research, you’ll find a whole tribe of like-minded individuals from all over the globe on there. For the new blogger (or at any stage in your blogging journey) Facebook group pages are a gold mine of information, a little tribe just like you. These have been invaluable for finding answers to problems, handy hints and advice, inspiration and encouragement.
6) Find your niche
So my blog is on travel, that’s a given, but it’s a broad genre so I try and hone it down to what excites me the most about travel, which is wildlife, temples and adventure sport, aimed at career-gapers, so I look at mid-budget travel. It’s still fairly broad niche, I know, but as time goes on I’m hoping to clarify this even more.
Other niches could be luxury, family, cruises, beaches, fashion, foodie, city breaks, country-specific, hiking, camping, road tripping – there are so many possibilities.
7) Everything you have a question for can be found online
I’ve lost count of how many YouTube videos, forums, Q&A threads, Facebook chats, I’ve had to find out how to do stuff. Site ground – my host has an awesome live support team, and WordPress has some pretty comprehensive forums with a super active community to answer everything
8) Domain Authority (DA) takes a long time to build
‘Domain Authority (DA) is a search engine ranking score developed by Moz that predicts how well a website will rank on search engine result pages’ Check out Moz for more information on Domain Authority
My DA is low, but I’m ok with that. Heck, I’m only 6 months into my blogging journey, there’s no way I can compete with the big giants out there, so I try not to think about this too much. My blog is still in its infancy, twin that with not posting regularly, not having traffic, not enough links to my site, or a good SEO plan from the onset, and it’s obvious why it’s low.
On the plus, this last month my DA crept up by 1 point (yay me). My goal for the next 6 months is to focus on getting it to that elusive 20something mark. Just remember that your DA doesn’t define you, try not to get too disheartened if it stays in one place for a long time or even goes down.
9) Traffic doesn’t just magically appear
So you’ve hit publish, you’ve got some decent content on your blog with stunning pictures, yet with the exception of your friends and family, the numbers still aren’t rolling in. Sound familiar?
Consistent traffic to your blog takes a long time to build. It’s a mixture of good SEO, self-promoting, networking, link swapping, being in the right place at the right time etc
My traffic so far is a mix of about 50% Pinterest and 40% Search Engine, the other 10% is through Facebook or referrals. Even still I’m not getting what I would call big traffic, but each month it’s a little bit more than the previous which is encouraging seeing as my blog has been neglected for 6 months. I’m happy with this right now.
10) The blogging world does have some VERY artificial people
Don’t get me wrong, there are a ton of amazingly awesome bloggers out there too and thankfully these outnumber the fakes. Just be aware that the blogging world, just like any other profession, has its fair share of people who are only in it for personal gain.
Some will be nice up front, will act as if they have your intentions at heart, want you to support their product/social media/campaign and yet after being used as a stepping stone don’t do the same in return. Some will be friendly until they realise you are actually of no use to them. Others simply claim to be people they just aren’t. You’ll learn to suss these ‘types’ out fairly early. Ignore them and move on to the hundreds of awesome people.
11) Book onto a blogger event to really inspire you.
Going back to number (insert number on final version here) there are tons of incredibly inspirational people out there who are genuinely supportive and really do want you to achieve.
I’ve attended two big events, one was Traverse (right at the start of my blogging journey), then other WTM (which I attended just before I had to shelf my blog)
There are loads of events but I can vouch for Traverse as being super friendly, social and above all inspiring with a multitude of first-class seminars and events spread over the week.
WTM was an eye-opener into the Travel Industry, and although not specifically aimed at bloggers, it’s a great event to go and meet tourist boards from pretty much every country in the world, talk to potential future clients and generally network and get your name out there.
12) You will never be 100% happy with your site
This is normal and just part of the process. There will always be something you want to improve, tweak, add or alter. So try not to get bogged down and hold back hitting that publish button. You can change the design at a later date – it’s not set in stone.
Even some of the top bloggers have huge overhauls in their Blogs and how they look.
13) You will spend a lot of time procrastinating and to-do lists will be your favourite thing.
I’m a serial list writer – I have little to-do lists everywhere. I even have a list of lists to tackle. Basically, there is a constant string of things that need attention with blogging, your work will never be done.
I’ve spent so much time pondering and thinking how to do stuff when in reality I just need to suck it up, knuckle down and get shit done. I try to catch myself procrastinating and set myself mini-goals and time constraints.
14) Don’t compare your blogging journey to anyone else’s.
This is one that I constantly have to keep telling myself. It’s human nature to compare, but my blogging journey isn’t the same as anyone else’s. So why would I be at the same stage as them?
It’s good to be aware of what other people are doing, and how they do it. What tactics work well and what things they do don’t work so well but I will always come back to the realisation that I’m in competition with no one but myself. Myself. Only. Progress is still progress no matter how slow.
15) Social media is a balancing act
I didn’t really have a social media game plan. Not at first. Prior to starting my blog, I didn’t even have a Twitter or Instagram account and I only used Facebook for silly cat memes.
Each platform has its own set of guidelines as to how to optimise it for click through for your site. It’s easy to get so sucked in to one that the others can get neglected. The key I’ve learnt is not to be a Jack of all trades and limit yourself to just a small handful of social media platforms.
I’m currently working my way through an awesome course by Slaying Social. I’m still in the early stages of it, but I’ve learnt so much in just the first few chapters of the course. It’s certainly worth a look if you are wanting to up you social media game!
16) Don’t underestimate the little blog wins
Blogging is hard work and incredibly competitive so don’t underestimate and brush off even the tiniest bit of success. Make a fuss over even the tiniest blog win, not all ‘wins’ have to be in the form of money, small things like having a pin go viral or a comment from another blogger you admire is often the encouragement you need to keep going, so embrace them.
17) There IS enough room for everyone.
Blogging, and in particular travel blogging is incredibly competitive. I don’t even feel like a small fish in a big pond, it’s more like a tiny plankton in a very big ocean.
It does feel like all the big guns are getting all the best gigs and that seeing that type of success is light-years away. However, everyone starts somewhere and there are loads of opportunities to get your foot in the door.
In the first six months of my blogging journey, I tried to focus some content on things that were on my doorstep, local companies and attractions. Because they were small businesses they were happy for any form of coverage in exchange for access to events and attractions as well as social shares and links to my blog.
18) You probably WILL have to invest a bit of money into your blog.
So, yes, there are free web building sites out there, but if you are in the blogging game for the long shot then expenses like hosting, domain name will be the first things on your list.
As you get more involved, you’ll probably want to invest in various themes, widgets, courses, a designer or developer. It does start to add up. Sure, you don’t have to spend the money, right now I use a free theme and I’ve done all the design work myself. One invaluable tool which as worth the investment early on was KeySearch. It takes out a lot of the hard work of SEO and saved me hours.
I do plan to monetise my blog soon if only at first to recoup some of the money I’ve spent on my blog. There are numerous ways to do this (add a link)
So what does the next six months of my blogging journey look like?
It’s always good to have an achievable and realistic goal, so these are three things I’m hoping to achieve in this time.
- Consistently hitting page views of 3000 viewers each month
I got close to this once but I didn’t quite hit it. I know this is probably a ridiculously low number but for my own personal goal, I want to hit this and more importantly, with consistency.
- Build my email list – let’s start with 50 subscribers
I think I have a grand total of 4 subscribers, so I have a long way to go here. In all honesty, I’ve done sweet FA in doing anything about creating an email list, I don’t even have a pop up on my site or an incentive to get people to sign up.
- Try to get my DA up to 20
I know I need to put in some considerable work to achieve this, and although that’s less than 1 point per month it’s time to rekindle the flame and start firing on all cylinders and hit this goal.
I’ll be evaluating this list in 6 months’ time, as well as sharing awesome stuff I find out between now and then to make your blogging journey easier. Pop back to see how I get on
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Pin it for later – come back and let me know how you’re getting on.
What are your blog goals? I’d love to hear.