Building A Travel Blog: Month TwoOn
Travel Blog Update February 2018:
So here we are. It’s hard to believe I’ve been at this for a whole month. That’s probably because I didn’t officially launch my blog until a couple days ago. Yep, two whole days. What have I been doing all this time? I have been writing blog posts, making pins, taking courses and second-guessing every single decision to death. So all-in-all a very productive month!
It has definitely been a whirlwind and as promised I’m going to share it all with you to help you further your own travel blogging journey. If your travel blog is still just an idea then go back and read Travel Blog Update One where I go through the steps of starting your own WordPress blog.
So here goes:
**Disclaimer: This post contains an Amazon Affiliate/other affiliate links. If you click through and make a purchase I will receive a commission at no additional cost to you!**
I know this is my own neuroses but I just won’t do something unless I know I can succeed at it. This blog is just one more example of that. For years, friends and family have been telling me I should start my own travel blog but I refused because I didn’t know the first thing. At the beginning of this year, a friend told me again that I should take the plunge and I FINALLY agreed to start thinking seriously about it, hence InkForMiles was born.
But even though I finally decided to plunge, I was (and still am) feeling a bit overwhelmed by all the things I needed to do and learn. I want to make this blog a success. I want to reach as many women as I can and inspire them to travel. So I needed to start off right and learn from those who had already figured this whole blogging thing out. That led to me buying these three courses:
Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing
This course was created by the one and only Michelle Schroeder-Gardner of Making Sense Of Cents. Michelle makes over 100,000 (USD) a month online, with most of that money coming from affiliate marketing. I had no idea what affiliate marketing was before I started this blog (which was only a month ago). I didn’t know where to begin or what to do and as I said I won’t do something unless I know I can succeed. So naturally I looked for the best to learn from and when I stumbled on Michelle and her income reports I felt pretty confident I had found it.
The Making Sense Of Affiliate Marketing course goes over in depth what affiliate marketing is and how to apply it in a way that is beneficial to your readers and gives value. The course provides worksheets and step-by-step advice on how to implement the right techniques. She completely de-mystified the process for me and gave me the confidence to move forward.
I’m not saying all this to try and sell you something. I freely admit I just finished the course and all I have right now are techniques. I haven’t had a chance to put them into practice or to see the results but that is what these updates are for! So that you can follow me as I grow this blog and go through the necessary trial-and-error. If this course does prove to be helpful then you’ll be the first to know!
Income from Affiliate Marketing: $0
Pajama Affiliates Beginners Blogging
I feel like Pajama Affiliates and their courses are an internet secret. Only the chosen few get to know of them. I had been looking for the best courses to take for days and I only happened to find out about Pajama Affiliates by reading a review of another course. The reviewer mentioned Pajama Affiliates in a short paragraph before getting back to her main point but I decided to give them a look anyway.
I’m going to be honest. What really drew me to the Beginners Blogging course was the price. It was $97 and the first blogging course I had seen that wasn’t $200 or more. Thankfully, I got more than my money’s worth. The course helped me brainstorm and narrow down my travel niche and most importantly taught me how to utilize keywords and the best SEO techniques. I had the Yoast SEO plugin but I had absolutely no idea what it was telling me. What the flip was “alternative text” and “nofollow links”?! Well, now I know what the flip they are and I am getting green lights on every single post.
But it’s still early days and even though Pajama Affiliates taught me so much about creating great blog posts and SEO I haven’t seen the results of it yet. By results, I mean ranking on the first page of Google for one of my posts. But I know the only way to get there is to master SEO and keeping writing awesome content that inspires my fellow solo travelers. If you are just starting out with your travel blog and you are worried about SEO and getting organic traffic from Google then I believe Pajama Affiliates and Beginners Blogging will help. They will show you how to set up your blog, figure out your niche, how to find the best keywords and how to get closer to receiving Google’s love.
Relationship with Google: Doesn’t even know I exist.
Pinterest Traffic Avalanche
I have never used Pinterest before in my life. For really real, never. When everyone was hopping on that bandwagon I was in the corner somewhere probably buried in a book. So imagine my panic when multiple sources swore up and down that I needed Pinterest to reach my potential audience. And that the fastest and most effective way to grow my audience was to get my behind on that platform TODAY.
I didn’t walk. I ran over to Create and Go in the hopes that Co-Founders Alex and Lauren could show me the ways of Pinterest. Alex and Lauren get tens of thousands of free traffic from Pinterest every month and it has become their biggest traffic source, even over Google. Their course taught me how to set up my profile and boards. They showed me the best way to get invited to collaborate on group boards. I learned how to create pins on Canva, use Tailwind, apply for Rich Pins and they even threw in a few Pinterest Ninja Secrets to set me up for success.
If you are struggling to find your groove on Pinterest or you are not seeing the kind of traffic you hoped, then Pinterest Traffic Avalanche is the perfect course for you. The course came in at about $197, which is a good chunk of change, but for that price, I was given a tried-and-true Pinterest strategy. Whereas before the course I had no idea what a “board” was, let alone that there were whole groups of them. Check Pinterest Traffic Avalanche out now and see how you can up your pinning game.
**Note: Read my full review of the Pinterest Traffic Avalanche course in my Third Blog Update!**
My blog officially launched two days ago and that’s when I started implementing their pinning methods so let’s see where we are in a month! As of now, my social media presence is….
Pinterest Followers: 2
Facebook Fans: 0
Instagram Followers: 11
Twitter Followers: 0
What Else Have I Done?
This last month I have been working hard creating content for the site. I got a lot of advice from other bloggers on the right time to launch but in the end, I decided that I wouldn’t do so until I had a post for every category and destination on my blog. When people first land on my page I wanted them to see a solid foundation, not just one post talking about how awesome I am for starting a blog and to hit me back up in a couple weeks.
Instead, I thought about all the places I’ve been and what I learned. Then I thought about how I could use those lessons to make content that helped prepare women to travel solo. I wrote out all the posts I wanted to complete before I launched and all the ones I would have in the queue to be posted afterward. This personally helped me feel so much more organized and mentally prepared. I knew what I needed to do and write every day. I had time to play with the design of my website, test out different plugins, pick the perfect images and refine my voice.
You don’t have to wait a month like I did to launch your own blog but I do suggest taking time to list the categories, topics, and potential titles of the posts you want to write for at least a couple weeks. This will help you feel more in control and confident about your next steps.
I’m still in the process of doing this because, of course, forming relationships take time but I have started reaching out to other bloggers. I have been joining Facebook groups and making it a point to connect with the solo travel bloggers I find in them. Instead of looking at other bloggers as competition, we should see them as support. Veteran bloggers have so much advice and tips they could share. Newbie bloggers can commiserate with us and relate to our hits and misses. Solo female travel bloggers are women who share the same passion. Can you say new best friends?!
Use Facebook and Pinterest to find other travel bloggers and get in contact with them. Talk about your niche. Leave comments on their posts. Create your own group on Facebook and bring them to you. I’ve already learned so much in the groups that I have joined and their feedback has been invaluable. So make a few connections of your own!
The doubt is strong in me. It’s hard to silence that cynical voice in your head that tells you not to bother. My voice has been having a merry old time torturing me this entire month. Part of me is worried that this blog will be one of the many that fail and maybe part of you is worried that will happen to your travel blog as well. Maybe you haven’t even started your travel blog because that voice has been so relentless.
My Advice: Tell that jerk to SHUT UP. It won’t be easy but trying is the only way to get where you want to be. I don’t know what will happen in the future or what InkForMiles will become but I do know that if it fails it won’t be because I gave up or gave in to that voice. Cause that voice is mean little bugger and I hate giving her what she wants. I’m just stubborn like that. And you should be too.
This blog hasn’t earned me a cent. Not one penny. But I have already spent a few hundred on blogging courses. That doesn’t bother me because I was completely clueless about blogging before I bought them and now I feel more confident. What does bother me is how hard I have been fighting to not buy more! I did not think it was true but the addiction is real. I see so many other amazing, successful blogs and I think “I wish my blog was like this.” Then I scroll around and find out the author of the blog is offering a course for the low, low price of a bazillion dollars titled “How To Make Your Blog Exactly Like This!”
The hope of finding a new blogging secret or method tantalizes us into pulling out our credit cards. I can’t even tell you how hard I’m fighting not to sign up for Elite Blog Academy, but fight I will. Why? Because I want to have time to implement the strategies of the courses I have already bought and see where they will take me. Deep down, I know at this point I’m not looking for more knowledge. I’m just looking for faster results. I need to accept that this will take time and effort. No course will make anyone an overnight success. (Now to just keep repeating that mantra until it sticks).
Finding A Balance
Blogging is a full-time job. I was told but I didn’t believe. Of course, if you blog for fun you don’t need to put in nearly as much time as I do but during this last month of creating content, setting up my blog and working through courses I’m sure I have spent at least 40 hours a week on InkForMiles. At least. Finding a balance between teaching, writing and socializing has been difficult. I wish I could say that this will be in the Hit section next month but I’ll probably be working on this for a while.
When you begin your blog, think seriously about how much time you have to devote to it each week. If you’re blogging for fun then don’t worry about it. Post when the mood strikes you. But if you want to turn your travel blog into a business then think about the time you need to create great content. Think about how you’ll grow your social media presence. Research brands you may want to approach and become an affiliate for. Figure out how much time you have now and how much of that you’ll be able to spend on your blog goals.
If you don’t have that much time, that’s okay! You can start slow and build things at your pace. I’m making these suggestions just so that you don’t get overwhelmed and discouraged with a million things you want to accomplish next but only one hour free to actually work on them. Start making a plan today.
So there it is.
My first full month is down and my blog has been official for two whole days. There have been some misses but the hits far outweigh them and I’m feeling good about my next steps. Tune in at the end of March 2018 for my next update and Happy Travels!
Liselle @ Lunch-Time Librarian
I 100% get what you mean about blogging being a full time job. When I started mine I had quite a bit more free time and took it to create content very regularly. And as the time dropped off I’ve noticed a big difference in engagement. Consistency is so important.
It’s great that you’re being so transparent with your journey which we need in blogging. Wishing you lots of success with this!
I didn’t know how much work it would be when I started but thankfully I enjoy it. I’m also enjoying sharing the process. I hope others find it helpful.
It’s not just *a* full-time job. It’s like 10 different full-time jobs: writer, photographer, project manager, SEO expert, social media manager, PR/brand manager, accounting/admin manager, etc. etc. It’s not easy!
Oops – I wanted to add: It’s not easy. But you are doing an INCREDIBLE JOB!
It truly is ten jobs and I wish I had known that before I started, haha! It’s a good thing I love doing it. Thanks for the support and kind words!