Every few months I do a clean up of broken links on my blog and see how many other travel blogs I liked to once became either inactive, completely vanished from the web, or became abandoned. I truly think that blogging is here to stay, but only if you do it right from the beginning and you are willing to put a lot of time and effort into it before seeing the first Dollar back.
Starting a blog today is harder because there are many blogs out there already, but that’s also what makes things easier. There are many resources online, advanced bloggers offer courses and seminars, so you can learn faster these days if you research who you should be learning from and their best blogging tips.
My Journey of Becoming a Full-Time Blogger
I started this blog in February 2014, on a free WordPress template, without knowing absolutely anything about blogging and possibilities to monetize it. Three weeks into blogging and 14 blog post later, I got lucky. My two posts went viral reaching over 300,000 views.
I quickly learned that I needed to switch to a self-hosted blog to even see analytics of the blog, which also meant to pay a lot of money to me (back then) for hosting.
While my blog was then known already, it didn’t mean that I made any money from it. Neither did I know what did I want to actually blog about. I’ve had over 8 years of solo travel experiences under my belt, but I struggled to find my niche as I wanted to write about absolutely everything.
Plus, I was not good at photography and didn’t feel confident as a writer. I even had a proofreader at first, who turned out to be a bad writer (more on this in point 2).
When I was forced to quit my full-time job and move to California I was happy to take any free trips, products or experiences, simply because it all seemed cool and new to me. It was a great way to establish my relationship with some brands and expand my brand. But, I was still broke. While I knew about affiliate marketing my traffic hasn’t been high enough to make a decent salary from the blog.
I was selling links (which these days are a big no-no) and working as a freelancer for digital agencies. I even coordinated some brand campaigns with Instagrammers.
In January 2015 another post on mine went viral, this time reaching about 1 million views in a few days. Which as great as it was in terms of boosting my traffic, also backfired.
After California, I moved back to London and was about to quit blogging, as I missed having colleagues and a regular salary. I went to probably zillion job interviews which all ended up with the same question: why would you want to quit blogging, we’re impressed with your website and the way you built traffic to it, especially getting your posts viral?
My original goal of using my website as leverage to find a better job backfired. No one wanted to hire me, as they felt like my blog will take off and I’ll quit the job to manage it full-time.
This is when I moved to Playa del Carmen in Mexico. I knew Mexico as I had lived in Mexico City for a few years before and I knew some bloggers living in Playa. There were coworking spaces around, cafes were all the expats were meeting up to work, plus the weather was great and the place was cheap.
For a month I worked my ass off and did as much work as I could. While financially things didn’t change overnight I was offered a remote position as an SEO and PR manager. I didn’t hesitate to come back to London just for 2 weeks to pack my things up and move back to Mexico.
About 6 months later I quit the remote job and was able to focus on my blog full-time. With time, my income grew and my goal has changed – I wanted to make enough to be able to stay at home when I needed to for my baby.
While I didn’t look back I still might take up a regular job that would fit my passion. I guess we’ll see what happens next year.
Here are some of the things I wish I knew before I started blogging and mistakes to avoid when starting a blog. If you have any questions about anything, please ask in the comments!
10 Things I Wish I Knew Before I Started Blogging:
Best Blogging Tips
1. You Will Start Doubting Yourself a Lot
2. I Wish I Knew Who to Listen To
This somehow relates to point 1.
Some of the biggest mistakes I have made in building my online business have simply been following the wrong advice. When I started blogging I had my blogging idols who I thought were legit and therefore their advice valuable.
For instance, I kept hearing that some bloggers charge an X amount for sponsored campaigns or product features because of this and that. I started doing the same thing they claimed and… nothing happened. Spoiler alert: they lied.
Months later, when I started working in filtering the right bloggers for many campaigns I found out that many of these people weren’t telling the entire truth. While they might say that they charge X amount for something, if they’re offered 10 times less for it, they will take it too. Does it mean they charge so much? Nope. It meant they might have got this rate once or twice.
Ironically, the same thing goes for your non-blogging friends. Many people will point out your mistakes to you, others will criticize your writing, and trust me – I’m not talking about constructive criticism that I’m a big fan of. Because of that, I was insecure about my grammar and writing and I asked my ex-boyfriend to proofread my posts before publishing them.
After all, he was the native English speaker. It was the worst thing I’ve ever done as he definitely couldn’t write and his grammar was awful. Once I regained confidence and started trusting myself I finally stopped receiving comments that my posts are helpful but weirdly written…
3. Remember Why You Started the Blog Throughout the Journey
Do you know why you want to start blogging? I started blogging in order to boost my career, encourage other people to travel, study and work abroad, and open the doors to other possibilities.
I wish I remembered it during every day I worked on my blog. It’s very easy to forget the main reason for starting a blog and get sucked into chasing clients and money, instead of keeping your goals. At some point, I lost my passion for the blog and considered quitting.
The only way you’re going to carry on with your blog is when you remember why did you start it and what’s your goal. While goals may change, it’s important to have a goal. At some point, I lost mine and got unmotivated until I found a new goal.
4. I Wish I Started Doing Videos from the Beginning
I’ve never been a vlogger. I grew up loving books and instead of watching someone talk on the camera, I preferred reading what they had to say. But in the world of blogging it isn’t about what do like as an individual, but what does the audience prefer.
I do think that going further video will play a more prominent role in the way we connect, particularly live videos. We want to be able to relate to one another on a level, so ironically my few vlogs in which I didn’t say anything particularly exciting, received more applaud than well-researched articles.
If I started doing videos from the beginning I’d have been more proficient in the process of making them and probably enjoyed it more these days.
However, it’s changing. I’m getting more and more into videos and planning on staying determined.
5. People Will Often Annoy You and Will Be Mean
6. You Won’t Be the First, You Won’t Be the Last
7. Learn the Basics of Everything Before Outsourcing Tasks
I’m a DIY kind of person. I hate outsourcing things because I’m a control freak, I like the challenge and don’t trust other people to mess with my stuff. But at some point, it’s not possible and I couldn’t do everything by myself.
While hiring people is an absolute nightmare, because many are unqualified, flakey and let’s leave the rest for a separate post, I believe that my biggest mistake was not learning a bit about things I was outsourcing before handling someone the job.
Back when I knew nothing about web hosting and design, I asked a colleague at the time (when I worked at an online marketing company), a professional developer, to help me transfer my website, re-do some design flaws, etc. It turned out to be a disaster that almost ended the life of my website because he had no idea what was he doing and I couldn’t check on his work during the process.
Since then, I always try to learn the basics of things I’m outsourcing and try to figure out the problem myself first. I’m pretty sure my husband Matt would completely disagree with this though. 😉
8. Your Blog Is a Business (AKA Blogging Isn’t Free)
The more money you make, the more money you’ll need to reinvest in the business. For example, when you’re starting out with little traffic to your website and a few subscribers you might be able to get away with paying $2.95 per month for website hosting and free email list on MailChimp.
But once you have over half a million page views per month and over 10,000 subscribers you won’t be able to get away with free things. Then we’re talking about $300+ monthly expenses not counting a VA, social media tools and other things you might need as a professional.
I was very hesitant to spend any money at the beginning of my blogging career, what looking back is one of my biggest mistakes. Not everything you find for free on the web is useful and enough for your needs, even if you think it might be.
I haven’t got a very good camera until last 2017, and I’m not going to go back to all the places I visited to reshoot my photos, will I? I haven’t invested in a self-hosted website until my posts went viral, which resulted in my site going down when for a few days and losing traffic.
Recommendations for What to Invest in For Your Blog:
- Good VA, simply because you’ll have more time to work on what actually matters for your business, instead of doing easy tasks you could outsource to someone else.
- Reliable hosting, not something that will cause your website to go down when your post actually goes viral.
- Good scheduling tools for social media.
- A decent camera that will allow you to shoot in RAW format, plus Adobe Lightroom subscription.
9. Industry Keeps Changing, so Have Multiple Streams of Income
Never put all your eggs in one basket. The social media industry is constantly changing. While a year ago everyone was loving Facebook, these days the platform limits the reach of pages. When Instagram started it quickly became a leading platform, but will it be forever? No one knows.
Case in point: Vine. How many of the Vine stars survived and successfully transferred their followers to other platforms? Not many. If one thing stops working, you’ll always have another one to fall onto.
Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter are great places to focus on, but get some affiliate income going as well. Have enough views to place ads, write e-books, sell your photos. Do as much as you can to diversify your income.
Writing this post I tried to be as transparent as I could be and I assume that not everyone will agree with some things I said. That’s totally fine and I love intelligent discussions with you guys, so if you disagree with something or have questions, post a comment and I’ll reply 🙂