When I started True Colours almost four years ago, I started it for the reason that 99% of other blogs are started, to keep track of things happening in my life and to share trips and memories with family and friends who were following along. And in the years that followed and as my travel blog grew and changed and morphed into what it is now, I can’t count anymore the lessons I’ve learned and the insights I’ve gained into this wonderful blogging community.
I feel like I’m finally ready, with thousands of followers around the globe here to share in my journey, to share what I’ve learned from my own travel blog and offer some advice to those of you that might just be starting out. So here is what I’ve learned and the words of wisdom I would offer to the new Travel Bloggers out there.
I think this point gets hit on a lot in the blogging community but isn’t often utilized fully by new bloggers. When I first started blogging, I was blogging about a mix of things but the one thing that brought me the most joy was blogging about travel. So when I started getting more serious about my blog, I revamped my approach and focused solely on my niche: travel. Today that’s what my blog features predominantly, but I have since then also taken it a step further and offered tips on how to travel to those places you always wanted to or ways to save money while traveling. That niche is one reason readers read my posts and comment, it’s a blog they know is going to be focused on that idea.
On this same note, I think blogging is still very personal and is always going to be. You’re here to read about my travels and my tips to travel but you’re also here on some level to read about me and my life, just as I read other blogs because I’m interested in a view into their own daily lives. So at the end of the day, your blog should always stay true to who you are. Don’t compromise that for tons of guest posts or having other content on your blog, you want your blog to be about you and sound like you. That’s what makes it genuine and that’s why people will keep coming back to read it.
This for me is a huge one and my advice would be to take the time to really evaluate your blog and what you’re doing in the space often. For me, I take a look every few months and look at where I’m at and where I’d like to be at my next check in. This might include things like page updates, new designs or brand new beginnings. In April, I was at a point with True Colours that I wanted to see some things change. I wanted the focus to be more on the places I see and sharing them with all of you, I wanted less guest and sponsored posts and I wanted Nick’s beautiful images to be the stars. So I changed up my design as well as the way I post, the graphics I use and how I format my posts.
It turned out that the time I spent changing things up really helped me with a new perspective and great push forward. Take the time to reflect as your blog grows and look at it honestly to see where you can improve or move in different directions.
One thing that kills me with certain blogs I follow, even though I may love the blogger and their content, is that they post so inconsistently that it’s hard to follow what’s going on in their lives. Even if it’s just one post a week, try to stay consistent. I know blogging is time consuming, believe me, but there are ways to stay consistent without it taking over your whole life. I’ve stopped following a number of blogs over the years for the reason that they would post for days in a row and then stop for a month, then come back later and do it all again. I like to follow blogs that are consistent so that’s one thing I really strive for.
I post five days per week on True Colours, primarily because I enjoy it and I feel like I have so many post ideas lined up that I need those five post per week to get the content out. But whether you post every day or just once or twice a week, make sure your posts are polished. In the beginning, I didn’t put enough energy into graphics and since I have, my page views have grown enormously. It’s not just about great content anymore (which is still majorly important), great blogs are also about great graphics.
Another point on this topic I want to make is in terms of consistently posting and honoring a schedule. Sometimes my life gets crazy, family is in town or I’m traveling for work or any of the number of other reasons my schedule might be full, that’s why I rely on pre-scheduled posts. I generally have anywhere from 10-20 posts in my queue, set up to be posted so that I don’t have to sit down on a very busy morning and get a post out. Scheduling blogging into my life helps so that I can have good content on a consistent basis and stay within my schedule. When I have a slow afternoon, I’ll sit down and schedule a few different posts. Use the time you have and take advantage of it.
One thing that I wish I would have done sooner in my blogging career would have been to connect more to the community. It took me a while to connect to other bloggers and forge relationships. I used to think that the big bloggers would never answer my emails or think of me at all, but in all actuality we’re all just people behind this screen. I love it when smaller blogs reach out to me or when I forge relationships with loyal readers, it makes this all the more personal and fun.
I’ve forged relationships with some fantastic bloggers through blogging and have met up with a number of them in person as I’ve traveled. Blogging is something that connects us so we should always take advantage of those connections. Ask them questions, comment on their posts, tweet them, eventually you’ll make connections and lasting friendships.
One thing that I feel like makes a good blog is to read it and know immediately that the person on the other end is enjoying blogging and loves their online community. It’s really easy to spot the bloggers that are feeling “over it” and ready to move on, when that happens, it’s better just to let go. I personally love blogging and I plan on keeping True Colours up and running with new content for many years to come, but if I stop enjoying it, if it becomes more than a great experience, I may decide to stop blogging. If and when that happens, I’ll have to decide when the right time is, but for now, it’s important to me to really enjoy my space and take it all in. Blogging has opened up a huge world of opportunities and I can’t wait to see where it takes me next!