One Year of Travel Blogging: Happy Blogiversary to me!
Or, to Soul Travel Blog to be precise.
Apparently, that’s a ‘thing’. I’d never even heard of the term ‘Blogiversary’ until a few months after I’d jumped head first into the wonderful but sometimes weird world of Travel Blogging.
At the end of November last year, sitting by a blissful pool in Sri Lanka, I finally got up the nerve to hit ‘Publish’ in wordpress.
The last year has been a rollercoaster when it’s come to blogging—like with many things there have been high points, low points, and everything in between.
One year of travel blogging later, am I where I want to be? Absolutely not. But I do feel, as a new travel blogger, that I have learned so much. And I’m proud of that. More importantly, I no longer have to spend half an hour googling when someone starts to talk about ‘widgets’, ‘no-follow links’ or ‘DA’. But there are still plenty of things I do have to google. And for that (if not for some other things) I am ever grateful to the google gods for providing assistance.
So what is the life of a travel blogger really like? It’s not all roses that’s for sure. Here are the truths I’ve learned over the last year of travel blogging.
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Travel Blogging does not involve sitting on white-sand beaches every day of the week
This might sound like a bit of an obvious one, but from quite a few of the Travel Blogging Instagram accounts I have seen, one would be forgiven for thinking that this was indeed the main focus of the travel blogging profession. The trouble is, there’s a reason for that. These are the pictures that do best on Instagram! The other thing about perfect white sand beaches? They usually don’t come with wifi included. Which brings me to…
Blogging has seriously challenged my ability to Travel Slow / Be in the Moment / Enjoy Travel
I have found travelling to blog about it to be a completely different experience than just travelling to enjoy it. The main challenge is connectivity. The more ‘exciting’ the travel destination, the worse the wifi tends to be. And then there are other countries who just can’t seem to get it together in terms of the internet. Much as it’s an annoyance to visitors, it’s even worse for the residents of these countries who need to do business with limited connectivity every day of the year.
When travelling for blogging purposes, it’s all too easy to be tied down by phones and laptops. We never quite get the same opportunity to just enjoy something without looking for a great photo angle, considering potential headlines, or running Facebook post intro lines through our heads. It tends to takeover, even when we’re in the most beautiful of places. It’s for this reason that I decided to stop making Snapchat stories. It was detracting from the experience of the destination for me, and I realised I could manage a sixth Social Media channel and manage them all to a level I’d be happy with.
Rome was not built in a day. And neither is a travel blog likely to be.
One of the things I’ve loved most about blogging (aside from the travel) has been the learning curve. I’m not exactly a ‘techie’ or even a very computer-savvy person, so setting up my site, updating my site, understanding analytics, figuring out which plugins I need to use and a host of other things took quite a while to learn. And just as you think you’re where you want to be? Something will break somewhere and set you back a step. It’s a full time job staying ahead of your game, but I am so proud of how much I’ve had to learn and do myself.
When it comes down to the numbers—page views and followers, there are a couple of bloggers I know who have benefited from media coverage that has lifted them early on in their blogging on careers. But those are the tiny minority. For many, and including those who get media coverage there is no silver bullet to successful blogging, or top secret plugin that can propel you to 500,000 page views overnight. The most powerful tools – from what I’ve found are these: consistency and hard work. As I’ve struggled to keep to a posting routine over my one year of blogging so far, I’ve seen all too clearly that posting regularly is the key. After all, if I didn’t post new things, why would you, or anyone else be here? 🙂
As Travel Bloggers, we have to stand out and be specific.
It’s estimated that over 1 million blog posts are published every day.
Nobody knows exactly how many travel bloggers there are out there, but from what I see the number continues to grow expedentially. It takes something more than being a ‘solo female traveller’ or ‘adventure traveller’ to stand out these days. As google search results get more and more crowded we have to become more specific within our Niche, and Niche-down even further.
Blogging can be a full time job that nobody pays you for.
Or at the beginning it can be at least. Many people are drawn to the idea of a way of travelling indefinitely around the world while being paid for it, but—sorry to shatter any dreams—but it doesn’t quite work like that. With blogging there are no days off. Writing blog posts, managing between 4-7 social media channels, creating visual content, setting up affiliate partnerships, contacting travel companies, answering emails and enquiries, writing newsletters, trying to work out what the latest Facebook and Instagram algorithm changes will mean for you, and responding to comments to name just a few.
The other thing is that companies will contact you all the time with some great project that they’d like you to write for / be involved in. Only thing is.. they can’t pay you. It can be tough explaining to companies over and again that bloggers just like everyone else, have to be able to pay their bills.
BUT, despite all the work. Travel Blogging in my experience is worth it. Every time I’ve wanted to throw in the towel (and there have been a few occasions) something amazing has happened. Even if it’s ‘just’ a message from someone telling me they like my blog, to being given an award, to being invited on a press trip. It’s these things that keep you going and propel you to new heights!
The Blogging Community is amazingly supportive.
One weird thing about my job is that my ‘colleagues’ or fellow bloggers I mainly know through social media. As digital nomads it’s rare to meet people in real life often because everyone is always travelling in different directions. There are however some great conferences out there which provide the opportunity to connect face to face. Hanging out with around 400 other bloggers in Manila this year at TBEX was pretty fun! But whether in person or on social media, I’ve found the vast majority of those I’ve come into contact with to be incredibly supportive and willing to share as opposed to focusing on “competition”. Particularly towards me as a new travel blogger. And that’s a really wonderful thing about this industry. The same can be said for all those I’ve met who are involved in Responsible Travel—including bloggers.
And that’s something that makes travel blogging a really great job to have.
S0 here’s to the next year of Soul Travel Blog! I’m excited to have plenty of plans and new ideas up my sleeve to grow the current resources on here.
In the meantime if you have comments or ideas about how Soul Travel Blog could be more useful to you please don’t hesitate to contact me. You can use the contact form under the about section on this site, or send me an email directly at info [at] soultravelblog [dot] com. Thank you to everyone who has supported my in any way over the past year!