Perseverance. That is one of the key attributes you will need to start a successful blog. And if you’re determined to make your blog work and a success, everything else will follow. Well, pretty much like anything else in life. If we don’t push forward, especially when we only have a dim light, we are lessening our chance of success and our final goal.
I have already published a post on what life has been like since we decided to start a blog 16 months ago. 16 Months of Blogging | Our Journey so Far is mainly a personal blog explaining what it has been like to delve into what was once the unknown world of blogging. I wanted to take our readers on a journey through the actual beginnings of a blog created by us two (myself and Jacky) who had literally no skills in this industry.
But this time, in this blog I will explain important topics and offer some tips which we found out the hard way. I know, our blog can be considered still in the making and we can’t say we are some kind of blogging Gurus. But since we are somewhere here along the bottom end of success, those fresh bloggers who are in a similar situation can relate. And hopefully, this post can be inspirational to push forward when you doubt what you are actually doing. I was in that situation yesterday when I read this post, One Thousand in the Bank by Jackson Groves from Journey Era.
What You Should Know Before Starting A Blog
Like I said in the intro, it takes extra effort for us to reach our dreams. But if we don’t start at some point, we will never get there. If you just start now, tomorrow you will be a step closer to achieving your dream. But if you postpone until the next day, next week, next month, you are constantly losing and probably eventually won’t find the courage to actually start working on your dream. Procrastinating is a vicious cycle and difficult to get out of. So just keep that in mind when you hear that voice telling you to start tomorrow or next week.
Many blogs end up not getting noticed for the simple fact the owner just gives in after some time. There isn’t any such thing as how long it will take to be successful. Each blogger has their own way of achieving success. Some blogs gained attention after a few months. While others take longer. But that just depends on the path one takes, what knowledge they have in the industry and the amount of time, research and dedication they put into their blog. And some just have the gift of figuring out the best way to go quite easily.
We’ve been almost a year and a half that we created the travel deck and have just started seeing results. The pandemic hasn’t helped especially since we are in the travel industry.
In a nutshell: We had no clue about how to create a “Successful” blog. But now that we’ve been doing this for some time, we know what we did wrong. The main issue was the structure of our Blog. Instead of creating a strong foundation and building up, we started from somewhere in between forgetting about the foundation which is the most important part of the structure.
Below is a list of practices you will need to start working on from the very beginning. The list is what we consider a blog’s foundation.
Here is a list of key practices you will need to implement into your website.
Here is a list of practices you should get familiar with before or during the early days of starting a blog/website. Start working on these from day 1 of creating your blog. Implementing these practices during the early days of your blog will give you a head-start.
We did the mistake of not implementing these practices. To be honest, it seemed too time consuming so we didn’t research much about them thus we didn’t know how beneficial each practice is in creating a successful blog/website.
- Link Building: this is what will determine how much authority your site has. Link building is getting other websites to link to yours. Apart from offering you more exposure, links (especially from the big websites) will help in giving your site more authority. You can also link between your own pages on your sites. However, the strongest links are those pointing towards your site from outsiders. A link from another website is similar to an upvote and the more dominant that site is, the more it will be of advantage to your site. You may also link towards other sites and pages which will help in giving your page more detailed information. Here is a detailed article explaining more in depth how links help a website. (this is what I meant by linking to other websites)
- Keywords: Keywords are basically what users are looking for. So writing a useful and detailed article with the aim of answer what the reader wants will play a key role in ranking you high in Google. You can find what users are looking for by using a website like keysearch. We use this site and is useful in finding the best keywords to suit our articles and posts. If you want to get more familiar with keywords, click on this link.
- Domain Authority (DA): Domain stands for your website’s name. And DA (Domain Authority) refers to how authoritative your website is. The more authority a website has, the more chance of ranking there is. Authority is built by creating backlinks (links from other sites pointing towards yours). And as I said in the link building section, the bigger the website the more it will affect and increase your DA. Links are similar to someone recommending your site and when that someone is higher up along the line, that recommendation is much more powerful. Here is a good read on DA and how to improve it.
- SEO (Search Engine Optimization): SEO is basically all that I have mentioned above and more such as page loading time, marketing (facebook, Instagram, being featured on other sites). SEO is what will help push your website forward. It would be useless to write about things people don’t search for. Or to have a site that took ages to load. SEO must a combination of practices. You can’t just decide using one or two SEO practices. Combine all and start from day 1 of your blogging adventure. Here is an article about SEO and how it will help your website.
Each of these practices will help build a strong foundation for your blog. Which will eventually help you rank much more on Google. Start working on them from your early days of blogging.
You can check out Neil Patel’s website for in depth detail on anything related to a website. Neil Patel is a world class marketer and has tons of information on his website. If you want to get your website out there and get noticed on Google, follow his tips. I guarantee he is the best.
Find a Mentor
A mentor is someone who will guide you towards your goal and help you strive to improve. But since we didn’t know anyone in this line of industry we sought our own mentors online. Well, actually what we had were secret mentors since they didn’t know they were helping us. Our mentors were online bloggers like us. What made us want to know more about them and secretly mentor us, was the about section on their website. This is where they describe their story, what got them to this point and how everything begun. We instantly connected to these stories since we can relate.
Cheers to our unknowing mentors which were secretly helping us along the way. I hope you guys don’t mind. 🙂
One blog in particular is Two Wandering Soles. Besides offering amazing and detailed guides, Two Wandering Soles was an inspiration for me to improve my writing skills. I was actually quite jealous and didn’t believe I would ever improve just one bit of my writing. Just writing one or two paragraphs would take me a whole day.
Ok so as time passed by I improved my writing but realized our photographs were just a disgrace!! And once again there is a website that is helping me strive to improve my photography. That website is Salt in our Hair. The creative minds behind Salt in our Hair are Hannah and Nick and have one of the most eye catching and easy to follow travel websites out there. Besides offering easy to follow guides, the setup of their site and especially their colourful photographs are simply amazing.
And Jackson Groves from Journey Era travel blog. Detailing his 4 year adventure to the most amazing places in the world. This is someone to look up to and has come such a long way in just over 4 years. We first came across Jackson’s travel blog while we were travelling through East Java. From the detail, photographs, writing skills, everything is on point. This blog gives you the exact perspective of what to expect from the particular place of interest this amazing writer delves into.
About our photographs: We had just a mobile phone during our one year of travels. So that wasn’t much help to improve our photography skills. Now we have invested in a mirrorless camera by Olympus. And during our 15 day quarantine when we arrived back, I took a course with Photography Pro. An easy to follow photography course that explains in great detail each and every aspect of photography. This course I would recommend to anyone who has a professional camera but only uses the auto function. I had no idea about photography. I bought my first camera and not once have I used the auto function.
YouTube & Facebook
Both YouTube and Facebook have loads of useful information, tips and hacks that come in handy when creating a blog. From setting up your website to how to market it once ready and how to get more traffic you will find both social media platforms extremely useful.
The best way to get the most out of both is to join a Facebook bloggers community where you will find loads of useful tips and help from other bloggers. And if someone in one of those communities posted a tip or answered a question you may have asked, but you didn’t really understand, head over to YouTube and type in the question you need answered. This way, you will have found the answer to your question on Facebook and got a visual understanding thanks to YouTube.
DNW Making Money From Blogging is one of the best Facebook groups. Whether you’re just starting off or been blogging for a while, this group offers loads of help on any subject related. This was one of the groups we are part of that helped immensely during our last 16 months.
There are loads of other Facebook blogging communities, however this we found the best. And if you find difficulty creating your WordPress website, check out the videos on YouTube from WebYoda.
How We Started Our Blog
First we created a website. Around 15 years ago I had a friend of mine that built websites and cost around 1000 euros. But today, you can create your very own website for free with WordPress. That is where we started from. Well actually Jacqueline took care of that part while I was writing posts. Both of us started off from scratch. I had basic writing skills. Just to give an idea of how basic my writing was, is that when I read my posts, they were similar to Bla Bla Bla Bla. Literally my writing was dull and boring. Meanwhile, Jacqueline was creating the website which I admire her patience for that.
So, once the website was up and running, the little knowledge we had told us that all is left is to start loading posts. And that is what we did. The part of actually marketing our website and posts and implementing SEO was something we didn’t even think about at the time. In fact, none of us knew much about SEO. Therefore, we didn’t stand a chance.
As time went by, we eventually starting creating SEO optimized pages. We got a subscription for keyword research. And started working more and more on link building. And that is when our site began inching forward and we started seeing a couple of posts getting closer to Google’s front page. Until finally made it to No.1 page on Google. We were stoked when we saw this. This was a milestone accomplished and has re energized us for the next steps which would be getting more page views.
In the next section I will list what we did wrong. And all that is mentioned in the list contributed to us reaching the point we are in now, now.
Here is what we did wrong before and while working on the blog
- We started the website while traveling. It was too time consuming to explore different countries while working on something we had no prior knowledge of.
- We didn’t have any kind of routine or goals. Some days we would work and other days just forget about the site.
- We didn’t get familiar with any practices related to blogging, link building, keywords, SEO.
- We barely optimized our pages. SEO was something we thought we could do without at that point in time.
- We didn’t market our website in any way (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter etc..)
- We didn’t invest in any kind of gadgets. Camera’s, drones a good laptop. Ok drone can do without and laptop we had a cheap laptop with us. But since ours is a travel blog, we should have invested a few hundred euros in a decent camera. At least a GoPro considering our mobile phone cameras aren’t that great
And here is what we should have done
- Set up the website before hopping on that flight to Bangkok. Doing this back home would have been much easier. Also, since Jacqueline has colleagues working in the IT department and our neighbour is also in IT, we could have definitely sought out one-to-one help.
- Got familiar with all blog practices. That way we would of had a clear path on what needed to be done. And that leads us to the next point.
- Get into a daily routine of exploration and working. This is where one thing leads to another. It was challenging for us to get into a routine considering we still hadn’t found our feet in the most basic parts of blogging.
- Optimize our pages from day 1. Most SEO practices are relatively easily done such as keywords, loading time, writing detailed articles etc… However, gaining trust and getting noticed by other websites and finding backlink opportunities takes time.
- Invest in Gadgets needed for our industry.
Sharing your experiences, thoughts and expertise through a blog is an amazing way of connecting with other like minded people. However, like anything else in life you will come across obstacles and difficulties. But be patient, persevere and you will get there.
How did we do in this post? Was it informative? Did it answer the question you were looking for? Can you relate with our story? Let us know in the comment section below.
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