Getting my travel blog off the ground was much harder work than I had expected. I've compiled my tips and tricks for growing an audience and increasing affiliate sales. Hopefully this post will save you some time and energy as you start your new blog!
Disclosure & Disclaimer: some of the links below are affiliate links. If you purchase a linked item, I will made a commission, at no extra charge to you. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.
This story and these examples do not guarantee that you will experience similar results.
*Post updated October, 2019
Thanks for stopping by and welcome to the *blogging journey*! I've started writing a few blog posts about blogging itself, beyond my usual travel and lifestyle fare. Blogging is hard - it's definitely not a "get rich quick scheme," but if you stick to it and put in some work, you can make money blogging online!
I hope the tips below will help jump start your blogging career and get you off to an amazing start by avoiding some easy mistakes. But, always remember, it takes time (and a shocking amount of hard, and sometimes tedious, work). If you're still on the fence about finally making the leap and starting your blog, check out my post Why I Write a Travel Blog (and why you should too) for a bit about how rewarding I find blogging.
Most importantly, don't give up if you aren't an "influencer" within a few weeks! I've seen *so many* bloggers give up when they don't have 5k Instagram followers right when they sign up. Not to intimidate you, but think how many people are out there blogging as well - you've got to compete to rise to the top.
So let's discuss tips to get started and make quick progress!
Blogging advice: How to start a blog
First things first! How do you even start a blog???
Ironically, the good news is that the starting and creating the actual blog is *not* the hard part!
You need to sign up to have a company "host" your blog. I used Weebly. You can start blogging with Weebly for free, just to see if you like it! I went with a paid subscription after just a few days of blogging and realizing how much I love it! If you don't pay anything, on Weebly, or on any hosting site, your URL will end in .weebly.com, meaning that you're not "self-hosted." Many bloggers use WordPress, which is a bit more complicated and Weebly because it has more functionality.
If you get serious about blogging, down the line, you'll eventually want to be "self-hosted," but you don't have to do that straight away! You'll always see "self-hosting" as one of the ways to make your blog look more legitimate. It'll end in ".com," but it does cost money, and if you're just getting started, it's OK not to do it yet while you figure it all out!
Blogging advice: What should the blog niche be?
First things first. You need to decide what your blog is going to be about.
Travel (that's my vote!), beauty, politics, fashion, celebrities - the world is your oyster! Think about your interested and what you have access to. For me, and many others, since we travel a lot, I have tons of travel experience and advice. I originally wanted to start a blog about the Royal Family, but didn't want to have to pay for the photos that I'd have to buy to cover them. So I stuck with travel and I couldn't be happier!
And yes, a lot of these topics are pretty saturated with other bloggers. As a travel blogger, I've definitely felt the effects of entering a crowded field. Let's just say I'm not the first person to write about Paris, let alone the first blogger! But, there's always room for more. Over time, you'll want to find your own space within the crowded field, but when you're first getting started, just go ahead and get typing. If I'm being honest, you're going to need to go back and clean-up old posts in the future.
Blogging advice: What should my first blog post be?
Ok, here's the hardest part. What to write about.
Everyone always says that one of the top mistakes new bloggers make is not writing about solutions to other people's problems, and I certainly did this. My first few blog posts were truly like journal entries - my "thoughts" and musings on a few topics. Not surprisingly, no one wanted to read my musings on why I liked going to Europe. Everyone likes going to Europe. I'm embarrassed that ever happened. However, I re-branded that article later as "How to Plan a Trip to Europe: 5 Easy Steps" and it's one of my better performing articles on Pinterest.
My high school English teacher used to always tell us to just start writing and delete it later if we didn't like it - that getting started was the hardest part. And I think he's right. So, if nothing comes to mind, or you aren't ready for the "5 easy tips" approach yet, just start writing. You can always fix it up later!
But remember, as time goes on, you need to start solving problems in your writing - in my field: giving people tips to save money while traveling, how to save the environment while traveling, how to explore a specific destination as a day trip (one of my mainstays), or how to pack for a specific place (another of my big ones). Just always keep this in the back of your mind.
My blogging friend Ell writes a lovely blog covering these topics and so many more. She has a great post about how to come up with blog post topics, which I'm sure will help get the juices flowing!
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