Happy birthday blog!
As 2017 rolls to an end, my blog is turning one this month. Yup, this means one full year of travel blogging for me. And what a year this has been!
First six months of travel blogging
It feels great to reach the one year anniversary. According to all the articles out there, most people don’t make it this far. I can totally understand that. For me, the first six months haven’t been easy. When I decided to launch my blog last December, it was something I did on a whim. I had no plan, no real end goal. It was a way to channel my love for travel and writing. Nothing more, nothing less.
It was really tempting to give up during those first six month and I was very close to throwing in the towel. I wrote about that quite candidly, almost as a note to myself. Putting it in words made it real and gave me a push to keep going. The something happened.
The “a-ha!” moment
Going at it alone can be overwhelming, challenging and down right depressing. That was me for the first six months until I found my people. More exactly, travel peeps, the ones that share my passion, inspire me and are in some way inspired by me.
My breakthrough moment came on quite randomly on a summer evening. I made a conscious decision to connect with others like me and have never looked back. I wrote about the pleasantly unexpected effects of travel blogging and consider that blog to be one of the key posts that helped me get past that six months dark time.
This shit just got real
Once I hit my groove, things got easier, more enjoyable and manageable. I’ve connected with some awesome people, got loads of new inspiration and started to wonder what’s next. I felt like a I needed some new challenges and goals.
As I do with anything else, I googled about travel blogging. Read some interesting articles from people who have done it and quite successfully at that. One of the most interesting ones was by Young Adventuress as it gave some really valuable advice and ideas. As I started looking into this more, I realized there was so much more for me to do. After all, if I wanted this to succeed, I needed to invest time and effort. So here is what I did.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
SEO is probably something everyone has heard of, but few truly understand. That was me too. I knew that I need to make sure my posts were optimized for search engines, but didn’t quite know how to do it. The problem was that my blog on WordPress didn’t allow me to take full advantage of this. I had a basic account that allowed me to have a custom URL but didn’t give access to deeper analytics.
So I decided to upgrade my account to a business one (about $23 vs $6 I had till now). I can now use the plugins needed for collecting analytics and ensuring my blog posts are fully optimized for search engines. It might seem overwhelming, but there are many of online resources to help you understand and learn everything about SEO. I haven’t noticed any drastic changes yet, but as anything else, this takes time.
Design – new look and feel
With my fancy account came access to premium design templates. Some of you have noticed and commented on the new look and I am glad to hear you like it. There are still some tweaks I have to work out, but I really like the way it now looks. It also allows me to design my blog in a more custom-like look and feel. Have you noticed a difference?
I joined the Travel Blog Success (it’s now called superstar Blogging) and am still learning loads of interesting information that is helping my blog get to that next level. I was a bit skeptical about joining at first, but once I started going through the lessons and information I realized there is tremendous value here. If you’re interested in taking your blog to the next level I recommend you look into some courses on blogging.
Travel blogging conferences
Yes, there really is such as thing. When you think about it, it does make sense. No matter which industry you are in, there usually is a dedicated conference/trade show meant for those in that industry. Why not travel blogging?
If you have read my I’m going to Iceland (again) blog, you know I went there for the Trablin conference. It was my first event of this kind and I didn’t really know what to expect. I am pretty sure that I was the least advanced blogger there, but it was a very informative experience. I met new people, got great ideas and learned few things to help me move this thing along.
The main point that I got from the conference is the importance of having a media kit. “What the heck is that?” you might ask. Think of it as a resume (or CV depending on where you are) that you can use to pitch yourself to brands, companies, etc. I have not done mine yet, but it’s on my to-do list. Again, if you google this, there are plenty of great examples. Do you have one? I would love to see it if you don’t mind sharing!
In addition to the updated look and feel, I’ve added some features to my blog that I’m still refining and developing.
Defining my niche
Say what? Why do I need a niche? That is a good question. Think about who reads your stuff and why. How do they relate to you? How can you take advantage of that?
I’ve thought about it this for quite some time, but it wasn’t till I took the courses with TBS that I understood the importance of defining what type of travel blogger I was. It’s important to know what your niche is if you want to pitch a certain brand. It helps you with your positioning and targeting.
So what’s my niche? You might have noticed my penchant for history. I get super excited when I visit historical places and love to write about why they are important, a little bit about them and what they mean to me. It didn’t take long to figure it out. Historical lens is my sweet spot so my new slogan became “Travelling the world in the footsteps of history and blogging about it.” What do you think?
As not all my followers are on WordPress, it really made sense to create a way for them to get updates on my stories and additional tidbits not found on my blog. This is so new that it has only gone out once and I am working on the next one. It’s a bit early to decided on its success. Have you subscribed yet? Here is your chance:
Guides and tours
Another addition to my blog is a section on travel guides and tours of Toronto. I love showing people my hometown so it really made sense to offer that service to those visiting. Thanks to Anub from DreamsVoyager for the idea!
Selling photos online
People always ask me about my photos. While photography has been a hobby for a long time, it never really occurred to me to make anything out of it. As I’ve looked at different ways to grow my blog, selling my photos seemed like a good fit. Again, having the fancy WordPress account has allowed me to include a plugin for selling photos. I now have one uploaded there as I’m still trying to work out the kinks.
If you’ve wondered what that section is on my blog, now you know. It’s still a work in progress and I hope to have all the kinks worked out shortly. Plus, I invested in a new camera that will allow me to take fantastic photos that I can sell. Do you like this idea?
Where I’ve been
2017 has been a great year for travel. Here is a little breakdown of where I’ve been:
- Rio de Janeiro and Porto Alegre – Brazil
- London – England
- Rome – Italy
- Cagliari – Sardinia (yes, this is still Italy, but I felt it deserved its own mention)
- Lisbon, Porto – Portugal
- Paris – France
- Reykjavik – Iceland
So, this is year one of travel blogging in a nutshell. Thank you all for being a part of my journey. I am super excited for 2018 and the opportunities and possibilities it offers. While I don’t have any trips booked at the moment, it doesn’t mean I won’t be traveling.
I hope you’ve enjoyed reading my blog and will continue with me on this journey.
Are we connected on other social channels? Here is where you can find me. Let’s connect!