Today marks my blog’s one year anniversary and I thought I’d share some thoughts with you… They say it’s the journey that matters and not the destination, which is a good thing because I’m still trying to figure out where I’m going. A year ago when I started this blog I didn’t have the slightest idea about blogging, knew very little about social media and even less about what’s involved in launching a blog. All I knew was that I love to travel and tell stories and even more than the first two, I love photography.
After each trip we took, eager family members and friends would gather happily to our place to see pictures and listen to our travel stories. They seemed pretty entertained and were always saying that my slide shows made them feel like they have traveled to these places already. This encouraged me to work hard for these gatherings, but after all was said and “showed”, my pictures would get buried in my computer and my stories quickly forgotten.
So one day I decided to start writing about my travels and this is how this blog came about. My main goal was to find a place for my stories and photographs that could be discovered by people who love to travel. I thought that if I could inspire just one single person, it would still be worth it. But in reality, no matter how selfish it sounds, we all write to make a name for ourselves. Like George Orwell once said: “we write out of sheer egoism and the desire to seem clever, to be talked about, to be remembered after death.”
Creating my blog was hard. VERY, VERY HARD! I tried to do it all myself, without any professional help. I thought that setting up the blog would be the easy part and the blogging itself would be the challenge, but I was wrong. The timing was bad too. My mom was diagnosed with cancer shortly after I started writing, so every minute I spent away from her and in favor of my blog was a torment. For the first few months, the only time when I could pull myself together and write was at night, when everybody was asleep.
In time I managed to get into a routine that made things a little more manageable, but it’s still hectic. In the past year I’ve learned a lot of useful things, so for whatever they are worth I’ll share some with you. Here are my tips for beginning bloggers.
1. The blogosphere can be a lonely place. There are a LOT of bloggers out there – hundreds of millions – and many of them will never be found by a random search on Google. It’s hard to stand out in a such a big crowd. You have to constantly reinvent yourself, write funny, inspiring stories that will keep your readers coming back.
2. The other bloggers are not your competition, they are actually your friends. Connecting with like-minded people in your niche as soon as your blog gets out there, is extremely important.
3. Being active on social media is key for your blog. Joining Facebook groups whose members support each other will get you some audience and motivate you to keep going. Yes, it’s a lot of time consuming, sometimes promoting your post takes more time than writing it, but it’s the best way to become known.
4. It’s important to be consistent. Make a schedule and stick to it. You don’t have to publish a new post every day, but doing it at regular intervals keeps your readers coming back.
5. Quality not quantity. Keep in mind that WHAT you write is more important than how often you write. Rather publish one single post a week that will ignite some interest or emotion, than write three that will bore your readers to tears. Also, don’t state things that you are not absolutely sure about, assuming that nobody will question what you write. Some people may do and if you are caught short you’ll loose your credibility.
6. Everybody likes a good photograph. Use good quality pictures. In this day and age when even an iPhone can get you a decent image, there is no excuse for low quality photos that will make post look unappealing.
7. Your front page is your business card. Make it attractive, logical and easy to navigate, so that even a dummy could find his/her way around it. Your readers don’t have time to wind through a maze and will loose interest even before getting to read one of your posts. Keep it simple.
8. Write for yourself, not for success. You’ll get way more out of your blogging experience if you do it with passion and do it for yourself. Success doesn’t come easy in the business of blogging, so don’t look for it around the corner. Of course I want to be successful, but writing my blog gives me so much pleasure that nothing else seems to matter.
9. Open a free account on Active Search Results . ASR Ranking is a new search engine page ranking algorithm that allows search engines to rank search results higher for websites. The more ASR Ranking points you have, the higher your website will appear in ASR’s search engine results pages. It will help your website tremendously.
10. Don’t give up. Even if you have a lot of passion for blogging, at some point you start asking yourself if doing it matters at all. Since a year ago when I started writing this blog, my only faithful reader was my husband. He is always so excited and reads with so much interest what I write about the places that we visited together, as if he wasn’t even there when we took those trips. He is also my best P.R. person, advertising my blog to every person he gets in contact with. So, like I said in the beginning, if I could get one single person inspired or entertained by what I write, it’s worth it. Success is measurable not in the number of followers you can acquire, but in knowing that what you do is appreciated.
If any of you, older bloggers, have any other useful tips for beginners, please share them in the comments section.