This post was most recently updated on August 31st, 2017
It’s been exactly one year year since I started blogging on Postcards & Passports. I was scared to death! Scared that no one would read it…(and scared that someone would). Worried that I had no idea what I was doing, yet I was throwing it out there into the world of cyberspace…
Was I making a fool out of myself? Did anyone care about my blog? I had a friend who was hugely successful with her own blog (as in, actually making money with it), and I was completely overwhelmed with all the tips she shared. It was almost like learning a new language. To make peace with my fears, I had to conclude that my primary reason for blogging was to share with my family and friends. My blog would be a place where they could read about our traveling adventures and maybe learn something too. And my daughter would have to help me navigate the world of computer code, hosts, themes and plug-ins!
After a year of travel blogging, what have I learned?
1. There’s a lot to learn
Before I began my blog, I had never heard of “bounce”, SEO, link parties, plug-ins, Jetpack, Pinterest threads, rich pins, alexa ratings, Mailchimp, Picmonkey, or Instagram (ok, I’d heard of it, but didn’t know a thing about it!). Nor was I familiar with Canva, Snapseed, Stumbleupon, Bloglovin’, the Hello Bar, Textgram, or Crowdfire. I had no idea the world I was entering because I “just wanted to write a blog!” I had to choose a domain name and register for it (good luck finding a domain name someone hasn’t already claimed!). We had to design a header and logo for my blog, set up pages, determine the layout, find a plug-in that would make it easier to add photos, and find a way to back it all up, too! There’s so much more to blogging than just copying your notes from your travel journal! I learned how to edit and upload photos, post to Facebook-Instagram-Twitter-Google+, and then pin to Pinterest. (First I had to learn to design an attractive pin…and frankly, that took months!). Then I learned there were optimum times for posting and that there are even apps available to help you schedule your posts and pins. I also learned how to send out an email campaign with Mailchimp; I still get a kick out of the monkey’s “high-five” when I push SEND!
I’m willing to bet there’s a lot more to be learned as I continue forward. It’s a learning curve, for sure! But I now know a lot more about what people like to read and see on a blog, how to put it all together and use social media to promote it.
2. You won’t be the only Travel Blogger!
We do live in a huge world, after all. But I’m not sure I realized just how many hundreds of thousands of travel bloggers are out there already doing what I’m trying to do. At first it was very disheartening. But then I realized that travel bloggers are an awesome group of people; they have open hearts and minds. They are always seeking to learn and experience new things. And they are quick to help each other out. In fact, travel bloggers are a fantastic resource to travelers and travel bloggers alike. I can’t tell you how many times someone patiently answered my questions, no matter how lame or naive! Like…”what does it mean to remove my preview after adding a comment on a Facebook thread?” or “how do you save time adding all those hashtags to Instagram?” Of course the better answers were to questions like, “Do you have a suggestion for affordable apartments in Paris?” or “Did you drive a car into Rome or ditch it somewhere?” or “Where did you stand to get that great photo?”. Travel bloggers were also quick to answer my questions about how to drive traffic to my blog or contact media reps. You see, we don’t look at each other as competition. Travel bloggers seem to always be willing to give a leg up! I consider many of the travel bloggers I’ve interacted with, to be good friends now. 🙂
3. You can still be a Unique Voice
So, if there are so many travel bloggers out there, why do I bother? Well, just like no two people are alike, there are no two travel experiences the same. And we all seem to find our own travel “niche”, so to speak. There are travel blogs about extreme adventure, eco-friendly and sustainable travel, volunteer service, luxury travel, travel in a specific country or region, road trips, cruising, solo travel, hiking and backpacking, photo tours, safaris, family travel, budget travel, and so much more. Even within a popular niche like family travel, there are blogs about traveling with infants or toddlers, travel with tweens or teenagers, travel as couples or with aging parents, and travel with grandchildren. You’ll find blogs that show you how to travel for pennies and blogs that highlight 5-star resorts. And most travel bloggers write from their own perspective and experiences, giving a personal touch to their narratives. Some bloggers truly aim to share their knowledge while others want to showcase their incredible photography. We all have different circles of friends and family to share our experiences with. That’s why someone can still add a unique voice as a travel blogger!
4. We all have our own motivations
You will definitely see travel bloggers who claim they’ve sold everything to travel the world and make money while they do it. (I don’t doubt that) But most travel bloggers are just like you and me — trying to balance their everyday lives and jobs with their desire to experience new places or just relax, whenever possible. Travel bloggers have different reasons for writing about their travels:
- to share experiences, especially with those who can’t/haven’t yet traveled
- to earn money for writing
- to persuade others to travel
- to make the world a better place
- to share cultural knowledge and understanding
- to keep a record of their travels
- to showcase their travel photographs
- to build an audience and apply for press trips
- to keep friends/family updated
Me? My motivation? All of the above! But mostly, I just want to share the blessing of being able to travel, with others. I want to convince people that traveling is a legitimate way to keep your family ties strong and build better relationships and awareness. One of the highlights of my life has been the effort my family has made to travel and spend time together, whether it was backyard camping, day trips around town, cross-country roadtrips, or flying overseas. We’ve traveled to gather for weddings and babies’ births, anniversaries and missionary service, holidays, funerals and graduations. In short, our family is closer because we’ve traveled. If you’re a travel blogger, what is your motivation for writing?
5. Patience and effort pay off
Mine is still a newbie blog as far as travel blogs are concerned. But considering that I started at Ground Zero a year ago, here’s what I’ve accomplished:
I wrote 66 posts, held three giveaways, and received 907 comments and 43,000 views in 2015
Blog views started at an average of 28/day in January to 105/day in June, and about 250/day at the end of the year. (Thank you so much for helping me gain readers!)
I joined the San Diego chapter of Travel Massive, a global community of travel industry writers and blogging experts, and I’ve learned so much from them.
My application was approved to attend the San Diego Travel and Adventure Show this coming weekend as a Media Representative (kind of a fun title, right?), so I get to go interview travel experts and share with you!
Just have to add here that if it weren’t for all of you…reading and commenting on and sharing my blog posts, I would have nothing. Yay for you! And thanks to Heather Young for being my tech guru!
6. You should keep blogging!
Of course! But I have learned I need to find a better balance in the use of my time. Travel blogging can consume every minute of your day if you let it. And while I enjoy writing and editing photos, I have two beautiful grandchildren who live just around the corner I would love to spend time with.
It’s important not to miss the important moments because you are scrolling through your Instagram account or posting to Facebook and blogging. So, this year I’m going to write less and experience more. I’m going to go on more photography excursions because I absolutely love taking photos (and San Diego is a very beautiful place to live!). I’m going to go on more “Grammie” dates, cook better meals for my husband and I, teach an occasional craft class for friends, and volunteer more in my community. And travel, too. If you keep reading my blog, I promise I’ll continue sharing great experiences and tips with you.
I’d love to hear how you balance your lives and travel…and what you will change for 2016…or what you have learned in the last year that you didn’t know before? What challenges have you recently taken on and mastered? Please share in the comments below…