How can two years simultaneously feel like the longest and shortest time? I clearly remember choosing my domain name and starting my blog. The frustration when I didn’t understand the technical side of things, the excitement at learning new things, making new connections and creating something I was proud of. Two years later and none of that has changed. And yet I know that I am light years ahead of where I was then in my understanding of the blogging world… and I still have light years to go!
Putting yourself out there on the internet is
just a teensy bit hugely terrifying. Pouring your heart into something and watching it be judged is a small form of torture. And it’s unpredictable. There are the tumbleweed moments posts I’ve worked really hard on end up falling flat, and times my phone is on fire with notifications when posts I’ve thrown together and I’m not too fussed about doing awesome. What?
Starting a travel blog was a big deal for me. It came at a time when I REALLY needed a project, and it took a lot of contemplation for me to realise this was it. I looked back at my post after one year of blogging and everything I said I learnt is fairly philosophical. But it was entirely true. And is still true.
- Don’t give up hope before you’ve even started
- There is a right time for everything, or at least, we make it the right time
- Pursue your passion, but really
- Search for something you really love to do or recognise it
- You don’t have to do it the way everyone tells you to
- If you want it, you need to work really hard for it
Now, a year on, I feel like what I’ve learnt is much more technical. I’ve become one of those people who can have a conversation about websites and blogging that outsiders couldn’t understand because the terms are technical or industry specific. I’m far from an expert, but I surprise myself with what I’ve learned!
So in addition to last years revelations, here are the things I’ve learned during year two of blogging.
It’s a business, so treat it like one
I started off my travel blogging experience with the Travel Blog Success course. It genuinely helped me so much. I learnt a lot in a short amount of time from the course and I was able to kick start my blog and appear more professional from the beginning. It’s a course I would highly recommend for beginner bloggers, and the benefit of the Facebook Group has allowed me to stay connected and continue to learn from some of the biggest in the business.
Because ultimately, blogging can be a business, if you want it to be. There comes a point when spending hours of your free time on trying to make something a success means it either needs to elevate to business status or relax to hobby status.
People say that you should do what you love and the rest will come. But if “the rest” is making money and creating a business, you need to recognise “the rest” when you see it and make it work. Otherwise, it’s unsustainable.
I still believe you should get into blogging for the love of it, not the money because the love is what will sustain you through the frustration and what will shine through in your work. You might have heard the phrase “content is king” and in the blogging world, I firmly believe that’s true. You need to create good and valuable content and having a love for doing so certainly helps. But then you need to make that content make money.
This blog is not my hobby. It’s my (fledgeling) business. I’ve learnt to treat it as such, although I still have a long way to go.
You need focus (but not too much)
The way I’ve blogged in the past two years had been equal parts throwing spaghetti at a wall and hoping it will stick, and strategic. I wouldn’t say it’s been the most successful, but it has worked for me. I lived in Spain for a year of that time and was heavily concentrated on enjoying the experience, learning Spanish, and making the most of it all. While I kept my blog going, it wasn’t the number one thing in my life. And it’s still not. Yes, blogging takes focus and working on the right things, but at the same time, you have to have a life and you have to continue to enjoy it, or the passion will be gone and it won’t work.
“If the plan doesn’t work, change the plan, not the goal”
How to make money from blogging
In my second year of blogging, I figured out how to make money. Sort of. I already knew some of it in the first year and I made a small income but it certainly wasn’t a focus. However, I’m at a point where I really want this to work and I want to keep doing it, which means it needs to pay off.
One of the first things to realise is that it’s ok to make money from blogging. Sometimes there can be a stigma that a blog is just an online diary and why should you make money from that? But if you’re putting hours of work into something and providing information and enjoyment, then getting some compensation for that isn’t a bad thing. It’s ok to say yes to earning money from blogging, and it’s also okay to say no to all those terrible offers that land in your inbox!
“The goal isn’t more money, the goal is living life on your own terms”
Providing value is key and helps build a community
Blogging is kind of narcissistic. “Look at me and my website and my life!”. To be more than that it needs to provide value to the people you’re writing for, or else they’re not going to want to read it, or come back. But bloggers do need to remember that we carry a certain level of privilege and not everyone can travel as much or just quit their job and go!
“There’s a lot of information out there for free, so you’ve got to figure out what makes your information different.” – Matt Wolfe
Blogging friends are awesome
In my first year of blogging I made some great connections with other bloggers online, and in my second year, I got to meet a lot more of them! It’s so nice meeting people in the “industry” (ugh, hate that kind of word but it’s true!) because we can all
bitch talk about the same things. The nice thing is that in general bloggers are quite supportive of each other, at least the ones I’ve met!
There will always be more to do, there’s never an end
I most certainly haven’t come to terms with this but I do know it’s true! There’s always something more to do, and the goal posts of blogging are constantly moving. For a while there it looked like Instagram was the be all and end all of working with brands. That’s lessened a bit but anything can change!
The importance of video
Which leads me to a point about video. At a conference I attended last year the importance of video was always stressed, and it’s something I’ve always wanted to do but it’s ANOTHER thing in a sea of all the things I already want and need to do. I’ve finally started making an effort and you can check out my video page to see them, as well as my YouTube channel and Facebook for the latest!
My blog will not cease to exist if I take a break from posting
I know this, but it doesn’t mean I KNOW this. I still have anxiety when I don’t post at least once a week, but I’m learning to deal with it!
I’ll never have all the answers and feeling lost and unsure is ok
It sounds lame, but blogging is a constant learning journey. Things change so quickly, and you’re expected to know so much. Some people prefer to say they run a website or create content because blogging just doesn’t seem to explain all of the jobs that we do. You need technical knowledge for the website, to be able to write, take photos, have a social media strategy and all sorts of other stuff my tired brain can’t even think of right now. So yeah, it’s definitely ok to feel lost and unsure!
“If you don’t have big dreams and goals you’ll end up working really hard for someone who does.”
So what haven’t I learnt?
My blogging journey has definitely changed from one year to another, but I most definitely haven’t learnt all there is to know, and I there are faults that I can recognise.
- – I still stress myself out
- – I’m still a control freak when it comes to relinquishing any control over my blog, even if someone wants to help (hello husband)
- – I still need to be more organised. Social media schedule? What is that?
- – I need to toot my own horn more because sometimes things do actually go well!
“It’s not who you are that holds you back, it’s who you think you’re not”
Where to, Miss?
I asked myself this last year, and the answer was two fold. I wanted to continue to grow on a personal level, and I think I have done, although maybe not as drastically. On a professional level, I wanted to grow this blog and have amazing things come from it. This is probably where the biggest change has occurred.
I’m now earning regular money from this blog. But I’m also at the crossroads of needing to either build it into a full-time gig (preferably without having to freelance elsewhere) or accept that it is what it is and look to other projects or positions. That doesn’t sit too well with me, so here’s to facing the fear and making my three years of blogging post about how I made this my full-time gig!
Because you know what?
I didn’t come this far, to only come this far.
“Entrepreneurs are the only people willing to work 80 hours a week for themselves to avoid working 40 hours a week for someone else.”
So here’s to you guys reading this, and to the next year ahead!
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