I had the idea to start Will Drink For Travel in January of 2014 as a way to keep my family and friends abreast of my travels during my 2-month stay in Tanzania. The more I researched, the more I realized this could be an actual “thing.” I could start a blog about something I actually love…TRAVEL! (Why did that take me 30 years?!)
I found a web designer (something I think all new bloggers should do), talked to blogger friends about the do’s & don’ts of blogging (shout out to Joi-Marie of The Fab Empire and Kim of Pish Posh Perfect for being my resident advisors) and off I went! A year later…here we are and here are some of the things I’ve learned.
1. It’s hard work.
Research, consistency, time management, planning and so much more go into making a blog successful. Before I started WDFT, I never really realized how much effort people put into making their blog visually appealing and most importantly, relevant.
When you start a blog, you’re basically building a brand from the ground up. It’s not something you realize when you think, “Hey, I want to start a blog!” Social media followings, content development, relevancy, and networking all matter if you want your travel blog to be more than just a place for your own thoughts and diary of your travels.
2. Your brain is always ON.
I’m always thinking about what my next move is. How can I make my blog better? How can I be more relevant? What other bloggers are doing what I want to do? I feel like I am always thinking about how to up the ante for WDFT. I guess that happens when you care about your end product and want people to like the content you produce.
3. You actually have to enjoy blogging to keep up with it.
While I’ve only been blogging for a year, it’s taught me a lot about myself. Yesterday, I said to a friend how surprised I am that I’m still keeping up with it. That’s the honest truth. Usually, I have great ideas and will start something but not finish it for a variety of excuses reasons…I don’t have the time, it’s too hard or frankly, I’m too lazy to continue.
I have been surprisingly consistent in updating WDFT. I’ve read several blogs that say you need to be consistent and come up with a weekly schedule for yourself and for your readers. I haven’t yet mastered this but it’s on my list of things to accomplish for 2015.
4. You will be told NO. And you have to get over it.
This one is the hardest to accept but my blog isn’t as established (yet) as some other travel blogs. I can reach out to Tourism Authorities, hotels, restaurants, spirits or whomever, and they may tell me no. And that’s OKAY.
I went to an event for DC Area Bloggers last week and my new blogger friend Jess of The Dining Traveler dropped a little nugget of wisdom. She’s been blogging for a few years and said that when she first started her site, she wanted to partner with a hotel and they denied her. Years later, she’s recently worked with that same hotel and everything’s come full circle. I have to remember that I am still new to travel blogging. If I build it, they will come.
5. A plan and direction are important.
Once you get a blog up and running, you have to focus on building your content. That sounds harder than one might think. Posting twice a week for 52 weeks is 104 posts. Coming up with 104 different posts sounds just as difficult as it is.
I may have slow weeks when I’m not traveling or can’t really think of fresh content. I don’t believe in posting BS just to say something’s posted for the week. But it’s absolutely necessary for me to think about what I want to accomplish with my blog and come up with a plan for the week, month and the year. That’s the only way I will continue to have fresh and meaningful content that goes with the theme of my site.
Overall, it’s been a great year of blogging. While it has been harder than I imagined, I’ve loved every second of it. I’ve proved a lot to myself and have virtually started from the bottom (cue Drake). I’ve been on the radio, featured in a few online magazines and the word about Will Drink For Travel continues to spread. Cheers to one great year down, and many more to go!