It’s coming up to one year since I finally took the plunge and started my travel blog, Aussieinwanderlust. I’m going to take this moment to quickly pat myself on the back as many bloggers have ultimately stopped by this point. Starting a travel blog was something I had imagined doing and really loving but also something I was petrified about. The thought of putting myself out in front of so many sets of eyes was an intimidating thought, not to mention the complete and utter non-existent knowledge I had of starting or running a website. It’s fair to say I have learnt a lot in my first year of blogging, here are the most important blogging lessons I’ve found.
The above two fears were the main reasons I had travelled for over two years before finally getting a web hosting account with Hostgator. As it turns out neither of these should have stopped me for as long as they did, I have effectively missed out on two years of blogging all because the fear of failure outshone the want and desire to start.
Therefore, the first and most important of the blogging lessons I have learnt since starting my blog is to actually do just that, start. Nobody is perfect when they first start out in the blogging world, I have done the Superstar blogging course by Nomadic Matt and let me tell you his first website in 2008 was certainly not the slick and multi-million-dollar making website he has today. The point I’m trying to make is if he had not started that website in 2008, that he himself, must now look back on and shake his head at, then he wouldn’t be where he is today, he would still be saying what if.
Don’t be that person, jump over to HostGator and get started with one of the best hosting providers on the market and as a bonus for being so brave you can save up to 60%.
The next most important blogging lessons I have learnt and luckily this is through reading other people’s nightmare stories rather than going through it myself is to choose a reliable hosting site from the start. This will save so many headaches down the track and also the need to move after you find out that the cheapest one isn’t all that it said it was.
When it comes to hosting you pretty much have the choice of two which are the biggest in the industry. They are Bluehost and HostGator, both are leaders and by far the best two options to opt for. As mentioned above I went with HostGator and couldn’t be happier, I have had a few small issues over the year and each and every time they have provided amazing tech support in no time at all. This has meant my site has been down next to no time at all, super important especially when you’re just starting out. I researched the two extensively before going with HostGator and just saw a few too many negative reviews on the Bluehost side of things, another important part of my blogging lessons learnt was to do your research.
I don’t want this to sound like a HostGator article at all so I will leave this issue at that and let you do the same research I did but if you do opt for HostGator from here they have allowed me to pass on up to 60% off package deals to my readers.
Lesson three on my list of blogging lessons is to research and then research some more what website builder you choose but, in the end, come back to WordPress. Or if you trust me just start with WordPress without wasting your time on too much research. They are the by far the best and will end up being your website builder anyway, in the long run, it will just depend on how stubborn you are before you make the switch.
WordPress offers the best choice of themes straight out of the box for new bloggers. Even for someone like me with zero computer skills whatsoever, I had a website online within a day. As mentioned above I was the same as Nomadic Matt, looking back on it now it wasn’t the best-looking website in the world, but I had my first blog post up, a description of myself and a few eager readers within a day or so, even if it was just proud parents and a few loyal mates from back home.
Another huge one of the blogging lessons I learnt was that the basic free themes on WordPress are the best compared to Square Space or Wix or example, but they still will only get you so far. I started off with a basic generic theme from WordPress called Twenty Seventeen, it worked well and looked ok, but things are just basically limited, don’t get me wrong it got me up and going but if I had my time again I would choose either a premium theme or get one designed for me.
The premium theme option is the one I would suggest new bloggers go with as a designed theme can be thousands of dollars and just an expense that isn’t generally required or affordable when you are just starting out. The premium theme option I recommend is called StudioPress. They offer cool designs that are SEO friendly and come with a great support team at a great price.
If you are wanting to go down the design website path, then I recommend getting in contact with Brad from EZ Computers and having a chat to him.
Lesson five was that YouTube and Google will only get you so far. It’s true that almost everything can be found these days via Google but what you can’t be sure on is just how legit the knowledge actually is. I spent hours and hours over the last year reading different information and found so many different or contradicting information it wasn’t funny. At times, after I googled something, I found myself more unsure than when I started. It took me around 3 months before I finally realised that the only way, I was going to improve was to find a reliable mentor that had already done most of it themselves. Another 3 months not lost but certainly stalled.
This was a task within itself and something that funny enough also took some Googling and researching. This is my next piece of advice to new or bloggers looking to go to the next level, choose a mentor you can relate to and communicate well with.
I spent a week going through different courses and looking at the pros and cons for different ones. As this was still a wild dream, I was conscious of not spending a huge amount of money while also being sure I got a course/mentor who could lead me further. After talking to a guy from NZ called Mario, I found the exact mentor I was looking for. He is married to Rebecca and together they run the awesome mentor program called Off the Record, all for the sweet price of $99. This is a steal as they offer a huge amount of info for the new as well as established bloggers to take you to another level.
It was a slow process as I found I had made some errors while going at it alone for so long. After fixing these up and following their careful instructions I have seen a steady rise in my quality of writing, website design, social media accounts and general website traffic.
If you two are just starting out, then this is a great couple to get in contact with. Find them here and have a chat to either of them today or if you prefer to jump over to a previous blog, I wrote about what to expect from Off the Record training.
I must admit that once I got further along my 12 months of blogging, I have also signed up to the blogging course I mentioned before from Nomadic Matt called Superstar blogging course, let’s be honest it’s hard not to be drawn to the course of the number 1 travel blogger on the planet, is it? The huge bonus that made me also want to get into this course was the fact that he offers so much extra support than just himself.
Inside the course, you also get a WordPress guru by the name of Chris. He is a genius with this platform and is there to assist or in some cases do tasks for you on your blog, he has helped me out already. There is also an amazing group of fellow travel bloggers inside the Facebook group who are always talking about website stuff, if you have a question chances are someone in this group has had the same issue or knows how to fix it, another huge bonus with this course.
Check it out for yourself here. A blogging course from the number one travel blogger makes sense to me.
The two courses I have completed have both taught me another valuable blogging lessons and possibly the nicest lesson of the lot. People in the blogging industry are friendly and generally cool people. Honestly, think about it, if you are starting a blog and you are reaching out to another fellow travel blogger then you already have a couple of things in common right? So, use that and be friendly, make a connection with him or her and don’t just expect free information straight away.
Two of the nicest guys I’ve met over the past year have been Johnny from onestep4ward.com and Earl from the blog wanderingearl.com. Both are huge names in the travel blogging world, yet both have offered me advice and guidance. It has proven invaluable and I hope that possibly one day I’m doing the same for other bloggers. I even have hopes to meet them or the mentors I have worked with somewhere during our travels.
Possibly the biggest of the blogging lessons I have learnt is just how time-consuming blogging really is. You see the stories on Instagram or other social media pages like I have I’m sure but unless you are a well-established blogger that has been at it for years then this really is just a huge pile of BS.
Sorry to burst your bubble but I would rather just say it how it is.
Even the well-established bloggers I’ve talked to still say it is a time-consuming job. You have social media accounts, networking with other bloggers, guest posting, writing content, running your website, fixing issues, making pins, editing photos and videos, the list is actually endless.
It is rewarding and to be perfectly honest something I have become addicted to, so I don’t mind it but be aware before you start out on this journey that it is going to take time to see the rewards. Don’t expect miracles and be prepared to learn some harsh blogging lessons for yourself.
I hope I haven’t scared you off starting a blog and in fact removed some of the fears and just encouraged you to dive in, remember nobody starts off with the perfect blog. Get started now and have your own blog online in around an hour by following this step by step guide on How to Start a Blog.
If you are a little more advanced and looking at ways to ramp up your blog into a money-making business, then be sure to read the blog I posted recently on How to Earn From Your Blog.
Best of luck and contact me any time or comment in the comment section below if you have any questions on this post or starting the blogging lifestyle for yourself. Remember the blogging world is a friendly one and there is plenty of room on the internet for all of us and you don’t have to learn all the blogging lessons by yourself.
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Happy Travels, Brodie