12 months ago we hit the Publish button on my 1st post with something akin to sheer terror. Was I going to be laughed at, was I a crap writer, was I too old to be a travel blogger? But I did hit it after numerous false starts. Actually, truth be told, I made Gordon hit the button. That was it, Contented Traveller started. Blogiversary was a word that I had not even heard of way back then.
Contented Traveller is our travel blog, but as Gordon is working and it was my bright idea, I have been responsible for learning the new skills in the main. He is my go to tech supporter, my photographer, my best friend actually. I had finished teaching and after a brutal assessment of my skills realised that I did not have many outside of education. I knew I was a passionate traveller and very good travel organizer (yes I am kissing myself) and I believed I could write and in reality, other than teaching, that was it. It made sense to unite the two things that I love doing.
So I read and read and then pronounced that we needed a web site. I stuffed up so many attempts until I found a YouTube video, which walked me through setting up a word press site. What would take a normal person an hour or so to do, took me a week. I stopped and started and did exactly what I was told to do, for a change. Thank you Tyler Moore, you are my hero.
I thought that was all it took.
Yes, I am also laughing hysterically …. Now.
There is so, so, so much more involved than having a pretty web site and some stories on it. There are so many things involved in writing ‘good’ content. There are things to be done with keywords (unconquered), metadata (unconquered) SEO (unconquered) and apparently I needed social media .. say what … to help give myself and our site some type of presence. So I started a Facebook page and stuffed it up. I have never been good at following directions or reading instructions. It took a while for me to get it figured out. I am still not sure that I am using it as effectively as I could.
Enter Social Media
Enter Twitter, which I had railed against thinking that I didn’t care less what a person had for breakfast. I eventually joined and this is my first post. It was actually a good choice.
Then I started reading what other people were writing about. I was rapt. However, I was also completely overwhelmed by the immense talent that is out there. I realized that it was a forum to share and to have our writing shared and this has been great. Then I read something about twitter chats and I watched carefully from afar one night. Then I started joining in and enjoyed them immensely. This is however when I really notice that we are so far away in Australia and that we are missing some great chats that happen at ungodly hours … for us.
My virtual life was developing. I now have virtual friends who I like and admire and am meeting more and more diverse people from all walks of life and different countries and travel styles. We have been so accepted that my initial concern about being too old to be travel bloggers has been well and truly answered by you all. We thank you all for that.
Google plus – I don’t get you. I want to but at this stage one could say we have a strained relationship. See I have even learned to put links to my social media pages in the hope that on our 1st birthday you might give us a bit of a thumbs up.
I only really started on Instagram properly a few weeks ago so follow me and give me a boost in my confidence here because I think I am going to enjoy it. Pinterest, you are fun but again I don’t know that I am using you correctly but I have some awesome boards and subtlety is one of my strong suits.
I got so lucky with so many fabulous people helping me out by either posting on our site or allowing me to post on theirs. I got a really lucky break when Paul Johnson of A Luxury Travel Blog allowed me to write for him and I am thrilled that of the 15 posts I did some have reached excellent numbers like The top luxury ski resorts in Switzerland Then I boldly asked ThePlanetd and Dave of Dave’s Travel Corner to write on our site giving advice to new travel bloggers. They did and then they gave me the privilege of writing on for them. Thank you so much.
This has been a thrilling part of this short but huge 1st year. I am looking forward to working with more people in our second year, and third etc.
Outside my Front Door
Our “Outside my Front Door” series where travel bloggers write about what is outside of their own front doors’ has been so very successful and continues to be so. It is very interesting to read these and to get a more personal perspective on bloggers, focusing not just on their travel adventures but rather on where they come from and the routine of everyday life in their home environment. It personalizes the travel blogger as well as the destination. We are so proud to have worked with people from literally all over the world. This series will continue.
That other stuff
In our journey to date we have read about SEO but am still in our infancy with this. Back off spammers, I will get to it in my own sweet time. I only heard about backlinks a few months ago and hope that they are sorting themselves out at this stage. Metrics apparently are also important but having no mathematical brain in my entire body, I will need to get it figured out at some stage I guess. It is on my long long list. I like denial.
Our 1st year has been a very very steep learning curve and it is still steep but we intend to stick at it. We have no intention of being a fatality statistic in the hugely extensive travel blogging community. After all I have no other legal skills!
This year I got hacked from some random village in Eastern Europe apparently. Thank you Google for protecting me, and it was a bit of freak out. It took me days to undo some of the crazy messages that had been sent on our behalf and then to let people know it wasn’t me and to apologise.
I have installed plugins that didn’t play nicely with other plugins and stuffed up our site. I have had to enter coding in for some things and that was seriously so traumatic. Get it in the wrong section and that is not good .. trust me, I know.
We ended up changing my virgin theme with some sadness, for a theme that gave us some more flexibility. Who knows, as we grow we may change again. I hear people talking words like landing pages and call to actions and yes, I actually do know what these mean but haven’t executed them yet. I can however see their merit when we grow some more.
Email list? On my list also.
What is working?
I am doing some things right though, but I have so much more to learn. Do I like doing this travel blogging? No, I love it. I love my virtual life as I refer to it. I like writing and I love travelling still and that will always be my and our number one priority.
We are actually doing ok. We have a respectable number of social media followers, we have had some parts of recent trips sponsored for us and we have been awarded some recognition.
What do we want from this travel blog? This is a question that we keep coming back to. Yes of course we want validation that we are doing a good job. We do want more sponsorship when we travel. I want some paid work because I work my arse off doing this. I would like us to work with some brands and companies that we actually use and endorse. Call me.
What we and particularly I want to say on our 1st blogiversary however is a massive THANK YOU to everyone who has helped us, who read our posts, who comment on them, who promote them and who work with us and offer us opportunities to work with you. You are my virtual life and my virtual friends.