10 Things I’ve Learnt After 3 Years of Blogging

On the 17th March 2016 The Travelista celebrated its 3rd birthday. Exactly 3 years to the day was when I hit publish on my first ever blog post. At that moment, I remember feeling excited and terrified in equal measure. What will people think of my writing? Is it good enough? The feeling of exposing yourself on such a personal level to the whole world is strange to get used to at first.

Now three years down the line and I couldn’t imagine life without my blog. It’s such an intrinsic part of my lifestyle, identity and career and it has enriched my life in ways I never dreamed of. Of course, we all start with absolutely no clue about how to blog. There is no official handbook, course or degree on how to create a blog. We’re all just winging it, aren’t we?

As I celebrate my 3 year milestone I’ve been reflecting on what running this little old blog has taught me. Here are 10 key things that I’ve learnt;

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  1. That your blog can open up career opportunities 

Establishing a successful blog puts you ahead of the crowd. Whatever your subject, you position yourself as an expert in your chosen field and dedicating your own time to build something that demonstrates your passion is impressive to employers. Since starting my blog I have now specialised my career in luxury travel and work 3 days a week as a social media manager for various luxury travel clients. If it weren’t for my blog, I wouldn’t be doing this job.

  1. How to create a brand

Every blogger should see their blog as their brand. Like all other brands, it requires an identity, a tone of voice, a target market, a consistent visual look and most importantly, a point of differentiation. Every successful brand produces a product that people want or need in their lives that they return for time and time again. A blog is no different, and my goal is to create an online platform that people can’t live without!

  1. The highs and lows of social media

Running a blog without social media would be near enough impossible these days. Social media is a bloggers main tool for promotion, exposure, communication and most importantly, community management. It’s where I communicate the most with all of my readers and seeing their instant feedback and responses to the content I create is so rewarding.

However, social media does have its dark side. There is a relentless flow of new content to be consumed which can sometimes become addictive. In the past few months I’ve tried to take a step back from social media and not be on my phone ‘all the time’. It’s important not to get caught up in numbers and remember that your amount of likes, comments and followers is not worth obsessing over. Don’t quantify your value with numbers, just concentrate on making amazing content and the rest will follow.

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  1. The importance of networking

Although bloggers spend most of their time in front of a screen, I cannot stress how important face-to-face networking is. It’s how I’ve secured the lots of my brand collaborations and travel opportunities. Once you meet someone in the flesh you make a lasting impression, as opposed to just being a random name in an inbox. As a blogger, it’s really important to go to events and set up meetings to make new relationships, as well as nurture existing relationships. You’ve got to be a people person.

  1. You won’t make any money from PRs

If, like me, you’re at the stage of monetising your blog, things start to get really exciting. You’ve finally developed a product that brands are willing to pay for (go you!) I have built up a network of PR contacts in London and one of my first faults of monetising my blog was trying to negotiate paid collaborations with PR agencies. I’m telling you now, it’s an absolute non starter. PR agencies are paid by their clients to secure free coverage, so 9 times out of 10 budgets never comes into the picture. If you want to make money by selling some of your content either work with a brand directly (cut out the middle man) OR work with content marketing agencies. These agencies always have budget for blogger campaigns and are a much better place to start.

However, PR contacts are still very important as they can supply you with opportunities for amazing content, whether it’s products for review, events or press trips.

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  1. The importance of saying NO

The brands you choose to work with reflect the quality and identity of your blog. When the offers start to roll in, it’s tempting to say YES to everything, even if it is a bleak January weekend break in Bogor Regis. This is an easy trap to fall down and before you know it, you’re covering so many different products and brands that you’ve jumbled the niche that you worked so hard to create. Be selective about the brands that you work with and remember that every brand you collaborate says something about your blog.

Also remember that by saying no you aren’t burning your bridges. If I turn down an offer, I always thank the person and ask them to get in touch again if they have anything else in the future that they think may be of relevance to my blog.

  1. You need to ‘Switch Off’ to stay sane

Most bloggers work full time jobs too, and I did too until November last year. Being at work all day and then coming home to write new blog content can be exhausting. Your mind is mentally tired from a long day at work and sometimes the creative juices just won’t flow. I sometimes forced myself to stay up to the early hours of the morning only to create a half decent blog post with 15 typos. After a while I realised I was being ridiculous and decided to dedicate my Sundays to blogging instead. Similarly with social media, you don’t have to feel compelled to take photos of every meal and document every single thing you do.

I still want to go for a cosy dinner with my boyfriend and block the whole world out for a couple of hours. Keep some things private, keep some things only for you and your loved ones. It’s so important to take time to switch off, step away from social media and put down your technical devices. This is how you can keep on blogging without burning out.

  1. That fellow bloggers inspire me

In the past 3 years I have met so many bloggers that have inspired me, all in different ways. Blogging can be a very solitary thing and you can often feel like you’re doing it all alone. My friends are supportive of my blog and they read my articles, but I don’t think any of them really ‘get it’. The blogging community is so supportive and it’s so nice to talk to people with likeminded interests, aspirations and ambitions. There is no point seeing fellow bloggers as your competition. I have made friends for life from blogging and these people are a lifeline to me and inspire me every day. I’m talking about Emma, Mollie, Jess and Elle especially.

  1. There is so much of the world I haven’t seen yet 

When you start travel blogging you realise just how god damn big the world is! I’ve travelled to destinations through my blog that I never even know existed before I began, which is such an enriching and mind-broadening experience. I see fellow bloggers jetting off to remote and far-flung places and I am compelled to add them to my never-ending bucket list.

  1. That it’s quite possibly the best thing I’ve ever done

Not only has this blog enhanced my career, it has enriched my life and broadened my mind in ways I never thought possible. The travel experiences that The Travelista brings remind me that the world is such an incredibly beautiful place and it only makes me want to discover more. I return home after every trip feeling incredibly fortunate for everything I have, with real emotions and snap-shot moments etched in my brain forever. I get to see the world through the eyes of so many interesting people and my life wouldn’t be the same without it.

Are you a blogger and can relate to some of these points? Did you find my tips useful? If you enjoyed this post then please share it and leave me a comment in the box below. Thanks! X

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26 Comments

  1. 29th November 2016 / 11:01 pm

    Just came across your blog, love the content! I am a new blogger, 1 year in, and it is so hard to keep it up. Congrats on your 3 years!

    • Jessica
      29th November 2016 / 11:02 pm

      Hey lovely! Thanks for your comment and so glad you enjoyed this post. It’s definitely got some good tips. What is your blog link? I’ll have to follow along 🙂 x

  2. Rebecca Gibson
    21st October 2016 / 4:51 pm

    Hi Jess, i’m just starting out and I came across your blog. I love your style of writing and your content is lovely. Its definitely giving me inspiration so thank you. xxx

    • Jessica
      21st October 2016 / 4:52 pm

      Hi Rebecca. Thanks so much for your kind comment! This really means the world. I hope you follow and visit the blog again soon 🙂 Jess xx

  3. 20th August 2016 / 8:21 pm

    great article, thank you for sharing your insight!

  4. 4th June 2016 / 7:32 am

    Great Content Girl! Relatable much. Get Going!

  5. 20th May 2016 / 1:25 pm

    Great post, just been writing something very similar after 3 years of blogging too! Love the way you put the question at the end of the post and asked people to comment and share, I’m going to be doing that myself in future. Thanks

    • Jessica
      20th May 2016 / 6:26 pm

      Thanks Amanda! I do that with every post and it’s great for getting extra engagement. Glad you enjoyed this post xx happy blogging

  6. 10th May 2016 / 12:24 pm

    As a new blogger its really inspiring to read peoples stories and advice. It can all feel a bit overwhelming sometimes when you constantly are thinking in ‘blogger mind’, that balance between being on top of social media and having time to yourself is so important!

    • Jessica
      11th May 2016 / 8:33 pm

      I absolutely agree! Thanks for your comment and happy blogging 🙂

  7. 9th April 2016 / 11:27 am

    Hello, everything is soooo true. I started my travel a few months ago amd you’re blog was a great inspiration. I totally agree with every single word you wrote. Especially regarding blogging and a full-time job. It is sometimes really hard, but I still love it. Because it is still so mind-blowing that there are so many places around the world which we don’t know, or never tasted before or never smell it before. And why should we only see, taste or smell known things – we should experience the unknown things in life 🙂

  8. 31st March 2016 / 8:55 pm

    Love the tips and thanks so much for the inspiration!

  9. 28th March 2016 / 9:18 pm

    Really love this – it’s a very honest account of blogging. Happy 3 years lovely – you’ve achieved so much! Well done xox

  10. 28th March 2016 / 8:42 am

    Hi there Jessica,
    Thank you for this blog post!

    I’m starting my own bilingual travel blog and your blog has been a great inspiration throughout my journey.

    Would you mind sharing best tips and practices to negotiate partnerships and pay with brands? Is it mostly you outreaching to them or a little of both outbound and inbound?

    Would love to hear more about how you run the business side of your blog.

    Thank you and I look forward to more posts from ya! <3

    Hugs from Vietnam 🙂
    Ella

  11. 25th March 2016 / 12:06 am

    Hi Jess – thanks so much for sharing these really useful tips!!! As I’m very new to blogging, I would love to know a little more on point 4 the importance of networking – how do you find out about all the networking events that are happening? Thanks xx

  12. Richard
    24th March 2016 / 11:21 pm

    You have my dream job !

  13. 24th March 2016 / 11:08 pm

    This was such an interesting read, Jess! I agree that other bloggers aren’t competition, there are so many opportunities to go around. I’ve also noticed that content marketing agencies seem to have bigger budgets. Have a great Easter!

  14. 24th March 2016 / 7:26 pm

    This is the best “10 tips” post I have seen- you have unique suggestions, and I have to admit they struck a chord. I am a beginner who has not found my niche, brand or voice yet- the time I have spent has not been sufficient, I have too many distractions, and I have an endless stream of excuses! I am also at a point where I want to make a career change in my life- and your first point was the inspiration I need to sit down and map my blog and social media future. Thank you for post!

    • Jessica
      24th March 2016 / 7:43 pm

      Margo I’m so pleased! This has made my day. Take time to decide the angle of your blog and then go for it 100% and begin to build your brand. It’s a slow process at first but you have to persevere and the hard work will pay off. If you go to the “blogger life” section of my blog you’ll find more of my advice articles.Good luck with everything. Xx

  15. 24th March 2016 / 7:14 pm

    Brilliant article, and so helpful for someone right at the very start of blogging 🙂

    • Jessica
      24th March 2016 / 7:41 pm

      Thank you Stella! So pleased you found it useful. I wrote it for people like you in mind. Good luck with your blog! Xx

  16. 24th March 2016 / 6:49 pm

    You have a wonderful inspiring blog and congratulations on all your success! I’ve always said blogging is a learning curve and I’m learning new things everyday. I’ve made decisions and done things that I wouldn’t do again but we’ve all got make mistakes to learn 🙂

    • Jessica
      24th March 2016 / 7:40 pm

      Thank you Angie! I don’t think it will ever be possible to know everything there is to know about blogging – you hit the nail on the head that it’s a learning curve. Xxx

  17. 24th March 2016 / 2:01 pm

    Girl, you’re a HUGE inspiration to me, and I adore our catch-ups. All of these points are so true! Congrats to 3 years, and here’s to many more xxx

    • Jessica
      24th March 2016 / 2:13 pm

      Thanks Elle! Definitely many more years to come! See you soon xxxx