See The World
Seek Adventure Travel Happy
This little blog has been around for awhile now, over 5 years to be exact, which is kind of old in the blog world. During that time, I've tried a TON of different services, tools, social media, SEO optimization tools etc to grow the blog.
I would not call myself an expert by any means. There are lots of bigger and better blogs out there who are doing great things.
With that said, I wanted to share a list of things that I wish I had known when I started that would have helped get this blog off the ground earlier and would have saved me significant time and headaches.
Presentation and content is crucial
You might be tempted to start small and try and figure things out along the way. I would suggest not doing that...that's what I did. First impressions are everything, and if your first few readers take a look at your site and it looks amateurish, with lots of typos (#1 offender here), with no consistent theme they are going to tune out and not come back. There's so many REALLY good blogs out there that you can't start off looking small time, even if you are. Take the time to get your design looking really good. There are lots of platforms that are easy to use. Lots of bloggers use Wordpress and have great looking sites. But check out a few before you land on one.
Also, start developing content early. Have several ideas for what you want to post and even start putting them together. There's so much to do with maintaining a growing blog that also coming up with riveting content several times a week can be impossible. Your content also needs to be fresh and different. How many posts have you seen about 20 trips to take in your 20s? Lots right? Figure out how you can present things from a point of view that's not over saturated. It's easier said then done, I know. But think about why someone would want to read your blog instead of the thousands of other options that are out there.
One site that I LOVE for putting together pretty graphics is Canva. If you don't want to splurge on Photoshop and are feeling arts and graphics challenged, then this is for you. This is a huge week spot for me, I don't have an artistic bone in my body, but Canva makes me look like a do. Seriously, check it out! The graphic at the top of this post was made for free with Canva!
Learn about SEO
I did absolutely nothing with Search Engine Optimization for probably the first 4 years of my website= HUGE mistake. I honestly don't know how I thought people would find my site. I just didn't understand it fully and just ignored it. Don't do this. It will be so worth spending the time to do a bit of research on how to optimize your site. The trouble is that everyone is doing it, so it's harder to be effective, but you still HAVE to do it if you want to grow your blog. When you pick your site platform, make sure you understand how SEO is built into it and how effective it is. If your site isn't showing up on the first page of Google, then it essentially doesn't exist.
Some of the things you can do to help is getting your site linked on other pages, which leads me to my next point
I know, shocker right? Ok, so that's an obvious one. I do have some sites that I would recommend over others. Triberr has been one of the best ones for working with other like minded bloggers. I've had more shares on twitter from this one site then anything else. I also get to see lots of other posts from other travel bloggers all in one spot. If you are starting a new blog or you're looking to grow one, check out Triberr.
Pinterest is also really great, but it requires you to make sure you're developing pretty graphics and pictures. Hopefully you are anyways, but it will be a waste of time until you get this really developed.
I have a love hate relationship with networking. So many people out there are just trading likes and follows and not developing a real following. I've made a point to follow travel bloggers or people sharing about travel related topics (and Anna Kendrick) and not just anyone who will trade a like for a like. So, it's taken me longer to build a following, but I really believe that its about quality not quantity.
I'm on Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook, Google+, Triberr, and some others that never really took off. Facebook , Google+, and Bloglovin have been far and away the worst performers. They are a semi-necessary evil. Some people do great with these, but I haven't found that to be true for me.
Don't waste your money paying for followers. Sure, it may make it look like you're doing great, but are those people really clicking on your links and reading your posts, no. The answer is a sad, but definite no.
Don't wait to start developing your social media circles though. I waited for way too long because in my stupid mind I thought that traffic would just grow organically and I didn't want to be a bother to my friends and family by hounding them to like my new page. The truth is, if they love you, they won't mind and probably will even enjoy it. Don't wait, because all the time and effort you put in to making a great site will be a waste until you do.
Make sure to make it easy on your site for people who like your content to follow you. For example, in my sidebar you can see where we are on Instagram and Pinterest and on the top of the page there are icons to find us on Facebook, Twitter, Youtube and by email as well. END shameless plug.
Monetizing through Ads
Google Ads is pretty easy to get started with, (although it did take me a while to know if I knew what I was doing) but don't expect to make tons on ads. There are lots of other companies that monetize with ads, but Google is my favorite. It can be maddeningly frustrating though. You would think that Google Ads and Google Analytics would display similar numbers on site traffic...you would be wrong.
Do spend time to get to know how these work though. As your site grows, your Google Analytics numbers will be a huge tool for you to show advertisers and companies that you're looking to partner with that you have an actual following.
Since Google is the number 1 search engine, it's good to get on their radar early.
#1 Most Important Rule:
Even if, no, especially if the real you is a bit weird. My favorite blogs are the ones where the people writing them are genuine, real, and you get a sense that you understand where they're coming from. Trying to be like everyone else isn't interesting. The posts that have done the best are the ones where I'm being real and sharing about myself. The ones that do the worst are the cookie cutter crap that I shouldn't have been posting in the first place.
Don't fall into a trap of putting up less than your best just because you feel like you need a new post up everyday. I've struggled with this from the very beginning and probably will continue to struggle with it. There's a fine line between putting up enough content on a regular basis to stay relevant and actually being able to put up relevant content.
Are you a blogger? What tips would you share for aspiring bloggers?
Whatever you do decide to do, do it with passion and travel happy!
Hi there! I'm Skeeter. I grew up moving a lot and that makes me a bit restless for travel and exploration. I started this blog with my husband Pat when we decided to backpack New Zealand for a year. We are always looking for the next adventure and are loving life. We're just your average couple with two sassy dogs and a love for travel. We're sharing our travels and the tips we pick up along the way.
Hello! I'm Liz. Blogging is very new to me, but I'm so excited to finally write as much as I talk!
"Don't forget to travel happy"-Skeeter & Liz