When I started my little space on the internet nearly five years ago, I never thought press trips and sponsored travel would be a possibility for me. For me blogging was a hobby and a way to document my own personal travels and places I’d visited in my home town of London. Fast forward to now and I can’t believe some of the opportunities I’ve had through my little blog – the highlights being staying in the Gritti Palace in Venice, a trip to a private island in the Caribbean, a trip to one of the best hotels in Mexico and flying in a private jet to Cannes! Even five years on I’m still learning and I always tell people blogging is a constant learning curve so as part of the travel link up, I thought I’d share some of the most significant lessons that I’ve learnt.
1. Content is king
When it comes to blogging, you can try every trick in the book to get noticed and get ahead but if you’re not producing quality content, you will inevitably fall short and not capture people’s attention. I came at blogging from a writer’s perspective and photography was never my forte but I’ve worked hard for years to hone my photography skills. I’ll never have the skills of a professional but I’m still proud of how far I’ve come!
I’ve also come to learn that less is more and I used to enthusiastically publish a post nearly every day of the week including the weekends. Now I prefer to work on my photography, Instagram and other areas of the blog and still publish a respectable three posts a week.
2. It’s ok to say no!
When I started my blog in January 2014 it was five months before my wedding so I couldn’t put quite everything into it as I wanted to. This also around the time that I started getting restaurant and event invitations but with my wedding planning, the actual wedding and then honeymoon, I had to say ‘no’ to a lot. As it was so close to when I started my blog I was worried saying no would mean I would never get asked again – of course it didn’t!
Nowadays I worry much less about saying no, I only accept opportunities that are exactly right for me and go to events that I know I’ll enjoy and want to post about. I get massive FOMO if I have to say no to something I really want to do but can’t make the dates work but I’ve always told myself something else will come along and it’s always nice to be asked!
3. Cheaters Never Prosper
I’ve never been tempted to cheat the system, it’s simply not me and not the way I operate. However, I have seen bloggers massively inflate their number (particularly on Instagram) with buying followers, using bots and aggressive follow and unfollow methods – this is fraud plain and simple. I’m a firm believer that what goes around comes around and these cheaters will eventually get their comeuppance.
Be credible and authentic and build an engaged audience and you will achieve true success. Making real connections is what’s important in blogging (and life) not what number follows your Instagram handle. Yes, all bloggers want more followers but slow and steady wins the race.
And to the cheaters, come on…everyone knows who you are!
4. It’s ok not to travel all the time
I’m certainly not a nomad or a location independent blogger, I like being with Mr S, I like being at home and I like my own bed. Mr Silver doesn’t have the job flexibility that I have and can’t travel all the time, and I don’t like travelling without him.
There have been times when I’ve beaten myself up for not travelling and not having fresh and new content but it’s simply not possible and that’s ok (I’ve realised)! For example, this summer I haven’t traveled as much as I did earlier in the year but it just means I’m more raring for my upcoming travels with freshly ignited wanderlust.
5. Just Be You!
Through my years of blogging I’ve occasionally attempted to do things because I felt that’s what a blogger should do, or a successful blogger at least! But if something just jars with who you are and your personality, you don’t have to do it!
A good example of this for me is vlogging, I really tried to vlog my trips but it just wasn’t me. I felt awkward in front of the camera particularly in public and when I watched back it just didn’t feel natural. However, I love making videos and I’ve just started to find the sweet spot in making them though I’m not quite there yet! Hauls don’t suit me, I should stick to my passions, food and travel!
6. That being said, allow yourself to be pushed out of your comfort zone
I’ve always been a person that doesn’t like getting out of their comfort zone and full of fears and worries. It’s something I’ve written about on this blog a few times and I’ve always tried to surmount those fears.
Nothing has ever helped me get over things quite like the blog as I always tell myself ‘I have to do that, it’ll make a great story.’ If I didn’t push myself as I have, I would honestly never have had some of my greatest experiences. To be honest, creating a blog and putting yourself out there at all is probably the most scary thing in itself.
7. Take Time Off
Consistency is important but its ok to take time off. I used to think I had to post at the very least three times a week on the same days even if I was on holiday. This meant I was writing blog posts on holiday, even on my honeymoon in order to make sure that I was delivering that week. Truth is I’m not sure anyone really noticed if I didn’t post and now through the years I’ve allowed myself to be less rigid with my schedule and take time off if I want to.
8. It’s your social media and you can do what you like
Personally I’m obsessed with Instagram and addicted to blogging so if I do want to spend my time hunting out cool locations and hours getting the shot, I damn well will (lol). Equally if you prefer to live in the moment and take natural shots that are a bit more raw that’s ok too. It’s all about doing you! The thing that gets me is when people criticise others for how they choose to run their social media – if you’re not doing harm to others than I believe you can do what you like. Have a theme or don’t have a theme, shoot with a DSLR or Iphone, include a gallery of selfies or don’t have any pictures of yourself. Just do what you like and enjoy!
9. Mix organic content with sponsored content
This one again comes down to personal preference but I have found my own balance of sponsored versus organic content. People familiar with the blogging world will know that professional bloggers work on sponsored content (paid collaborations) and gifting (a item or experience in exchange for coverage). I have always tried to balance this type of content with my own personal life content ie the restaurants, holidays and experiences that Mr S and I have paid for ourselves. I also prefer reading blogs and bloggers that have this same mixture as I do think when bloggers post too much sponsored content we’re not really seeing their real lives any more. But as I’ve said above, each to their own and this is just my personal preference.
10. Find Your Tribe and Build Your Community
I’ve left the most important until last…I’ve said time and time again the best thing about blogging is the wonderful people I’ve met along the way. I never thought that I’d meet some of my best friends on the internet and communicate with them on a daily basis via what’s app, Twitter and Instagram. Meeting fellow bloggers has not only enhanced my social life but I have formed a sharing community so that my posts are seen by even more people, commented on and liked. Again your tribe doesn’t have to be huge, just find your people!
Those are the lessons that I’ve learnt from travel blogging…what have your learnt since you started?
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