I recently had a conversation with my sister, who is starting her own blog. It was exciting, thinking about the beginning of an adventure, and of all the things that we had learned. I quickly realised that throughout our blogging time (it’s been about a year and a half now) I have soaked up a lot of blogging knowledge. Here are the top ten things we wish we had known before starting our travel blog – we hope they help you too!
- Blogging is addictive…at first.
Starting a blog is exciting. You cannot wait to get going – it’s designing, thinking of fun stuff, blog posts that you have had in your head for ages – and more. Embrace that period of good times! Because unfortunately, it doesn’t last. After a while, all of the ideas that you were excited about will dwindle, and it’ll be time to head back to the drawing board. But, if you are aware that blogging is not always going to be fun and exciting, you will be prepped and ready to keep going. Make sure you keep setting time aside to write blog posts and promote. It’s those that keep going that have the successful blogs.
- You don’t need an Instagram to make your blog great – but it may help.
A lot of people use social networking to network with other bloggers and to update readers. We use Instagram and Facebook to share our latest posts, as well as share photographs that may never make it onto the blog. However, though the blog and our sites work together well, they are individual from each other also. To make a blog successful, you need to interact with other bloggers – if you’re using WordPress, for example, you can search for other interesting blogs that you would like to read. Read them, like them, chat to them. It’s about networking to create traffic, but that doesn’t necessarily have to be on Instagram.
- Finding your niche is the key to a successful blog.
The first six months of our blog was confusing. We had a lot to say, but we didn’t really know where it was going, so we posted various things about our travels and experiences. But then, we went to a blogging conference, and that helped us understand where we had been going wrong. What was our niche? Why on earth would people read our blog posts? Well – they wouldn’t (and they weren’t), because it was fairly random posting. We thought about what we were doing, and changed our travel blog to be a helpful guide through travels, saving money, and (you guessed it) travel blogging. Now we get more followers, and we know that our blog is helping other people too. Yes, we can still share those personal experiences and adventures, but now we write with a twist – we write our posts to help others. Here’s an example to illustrate my point. Previously we may have had a blog post called ‘Our Travels in France’. Now it would read ‘Things you need to know before you travel through France’ – see the difference?
- Be honest.
People love honesty. If there is one thing that Instagram may be lacking – it’s honesty. Our most popular blog post to date is: How Instagram Travel Accounts Travel Permanently.
This is an honest post about the reality of running a travel blog – and it is something we do not shy away from. You have to work for opportunity and luck, you have to work for money to travel. Be honest about your struggles with this through your blog – people will appreciate it, understand it and most of all, connect with it.
- Keep thinking about your audience.
Keep in mind who your audience are. What makes them come to your site, and why would they want to read about you? For example, it would be completely random for us to write a blog post about Victorian literature. It would not do us any favours.
- Lists are your friend.
Lists are the one. Blog posts with helpful lists are the thing that people can read when they are on buses on the way to work, waiting for their dentist appointment, sitting on the toilet…seriously – they’re an easy and quick read that can help your readers enjoy a blog post.
- Interact with others.
It’s already been mentioned once – but it is key for your success. Like, chat, talk to other bloggers. Say hello!
- Look for inspiration in the right places.
Sometimes inspiration is hard to find, but it can help to make sure you are looking in the best place for your niche. Pinterest is useful, as are magazines. For example, I often buy a National Geographic travel magazine, or a Lonely Planet. It’ll be filled with great articles, and they often inspire a post idea, or remind me of an experience that I want to write about. Whatever your niche, there will be some inspiration to be had somewhere. You just need to do a little research.
- Think about those key words.
How do people find your blog? You need to think about that. Key words are…well, key. For example, when publishing this blog post I will use tags that relate to it, such as ‘travel blogger’. This will help people find it, use it, and like it. You can also use Google for key word analytics – making sure that you only write blog posts that aren’t already posted about endlessly, as this will help your traffic too.
- Have fun!
If you’re not having fun, what’s the point? Enjoy what you’re doing, from organising the photographs to writing up the posts! Share your passion and others will want to get involved too.