On this day, one year ago, I finally decided to start a travel blog. I had absolutely no idea what I was doing, and I took the whole thing pretty lightly. I didn’t think I would stick to it, let alone actually consider it my second (unpaid) job. When I’m not working at my part time, retail job, I’m blogging. When I’m not blogging, I’m probably thinking about what I can blog about next, or how I can improve my writing and social media game. One year ago, I had no idea this is what my life would be like!
I had no idea that the free account I created with Wix way back in September of 2016, would turn into a self-hosted, secure, dot com travel blog. I had no idea I would spend 8 or more hours, a few days a week, creating new content and interacting with fellow travel bloggers from all over the world. I also had no idea that I would be able to share my own experiences, with such a large amount of people!
Table of Contents
I’m sure you’re wondering why I decided to start a travel blog? Well there are a few answers to that question:
1. I’ve always loved to write
Back in high school, English was my favourite subject. I loved having the chance to write about something that I was more often than not, actually interested in, and be graded on it.
Note: in Australia, English isn’t a class in which we learn how to speak English. Obviously. It more so consists of essay writing, book reviews, oral presentations and creative writing. We would watch movies or read books, then write about that movie or book in essay form. Basically, it was the only class I actually looked forward to and was good at!
2. Writing helps to combat my anxiety
Throughout my life, I have turned to writing when I needed an escape from reality. Most of you probably wouldn’t know that for 5 years, I struggled with an eating disorder. For 5 years, back in my late teens through early twenties, I felt more alone than I ever had in my life. I lived off a bowl of cereal and a small plate of fruit, almost everyday for far too long.
Over the years, due to my eating disorder and everything that comes with such a horrible mental illness, I developed anxiety. Over the past couple of years in particular (not so much back then, as I didn’t have motivation or passion for anything), I’ve turned to writing to combat it. Whenever my anxiety creeps back into my life (when it does, it comes with full, debilitating force), writing acts as a wonderful distraction. I’m able to put my real life thoughts aside, and write about something I’m passionate about.
3. I love to travel, and wanted to share my experiences with the world
I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not the most well-travelled person out there. I’m definitely not the most well-travelled travel blogger. For quite a while, that bothered me. I felt like I needed to be one of those quit-my-job-sell-my-shit-and-travel-the-world young people, to be taken seriously in this industry. I’ve realised, however, I can be successful without traveling to every country in the world. I can be successful, even though I haven’t yet been to Europe. I’m sure there are some people out there who disagree with me on that, but that’s okay! Each to their own. I’m proud of where I’ve been, and I’m excited about where I’m yet to visit! I love the fact that I’m able to share my experiences with so many people, from so many places in this incredible world we live in.
What I’ve learnt during my first year as a travel blogger:
I’m a lot more motivated than I thought I was
Like most peeps my age (25), I had a Tumblr back in the day. It lasted about 5 minutes, before I got bored and totally forgot it existed. I would mindlessly share images that didn’t even mean anything to me. The mere fact that they looked pretty, was enough for me to click that re-post button. But when I decided to start taking Rhiannon Travels more seriously, it was pretty surprising to see just how motivated I could be, when it comes to something I am truly passionate about.
As I mentioned earlier, when I’m not at my part-time retail job, I’m spending 8 or more hours blogging. Whether that’s writing new content, updating old content or keeping up with social media, I’m always doing my best to improve and grow with my blog. There have been very few days over the past year, where I haven’t worked on Rhiannon Travels.
I actually love to learn
The thing I probably regret most about this past year, was not doing more research before my blog went live. Recently I’ve started to update all of my old blog posts. Let me just tell you, this is a cringeworthy task. My old content is so horrid, I am embarrassed that I thought it was good enough to hit publish!
If it weren’t for the wonderful women in the most incredible Facebook group I have ever been part of (Female Travel Bloggers), I would still be that newbie blogger, with 300 word articles and no knowledge whatsoever. I love researching new ways to improve on my writing, SEO or social media platforms. It’s like school, but actually enjoyable!
Note: If you are a travel blogger, a female and want to learn everything you need to know to become successful, request to join Female Travel Bloggers. It’s an incredible community, with wonderful women, that I’m proud to be part of. To join, you’ll need to have your travel blog visible on your private Facebook account.
I have a lot to say, and I tend to say it all and more
If you’re a regular reader of Rhiannon Travels, you’ll know I tend to ramble a lot. 98% of it is information you can actually use, but I tend to throw in a couple of jokes here and there to keep things light and less school-like. Most of my posts are more than 2,000 words. Back when I first started this blog, I was writing less than 500 words per post. It’s pretty amazing to see how far I’ve come, and how much my writing has changed over the past year!
Where have I been, and what’s next on the travel itinerary?
Back in October of 2016, my partner Russell and I moved from Adelaide to Alice Springs for work. We both work in the liquor industry, and they needed some help up there. So we packed up our entire lives, all of our belongings and our cat Hermione, and moved to the desert. In total, we spent around 7 months living and working in Alice Springs. Before Russell was even offered the position, we had booked and planned a month long trip to Japan!
So in March 2017, 4 months after moving to Alice Springs, we packed up our suitcases and Hermione and flew back to Adelaide. My mum and her husband were kind enough to look after Hermione for the month while we were in Japan. You can read all about our incredible four months in Japan here. Now, I’ve never actually traveled to every single country in the world, but I can pretty safely say that Japan is one of the most amazing countries you’ll ever visit.
Due to it being such a busy year with work and moving interstate (we’re not full time travelers!), we didn’t get to go on too many trips this year. However, we will be spending two weeks in October of this year (one month from today, actually!) in Queensland. So you can expect a TON of posts about the Sunshine Coast, the Gold Coast and everything in between! I haven’t been to Queensland since 2010, so it’s exciting to go back and have the chance to write about one of the most popular places in Australia!
After Queensland, our travel plans are wide open. We are trying to decide between heading off on another long adventure, or planning a few smaller trips over the next 12 months. Time will tell what we decide to do! If you’ve got any suggestions on where we should go on our next adventure, leave them in the comments below!
Here are some tips for new travel bloggers – Things I Wish I Had Known:
1. Do a LOT of research before you create a blog
This is probably the most important tip I can give. I didn’t really do too much research before I started, and I definitely regret it. There is so much you need to consider when it comes to blogging, as simply writing a post and hoping it will do well, isn’t gonna cut it. Which brings me to the next tip…
2. Start off with a self-hosted WordPress account
I made the mistake of creating my blog with Wix. Now, there isn’t anything wrong with Wix, but it’s more made for visually creative people (i.e photographers). Given that a travel blog requires a lot of work in order for it to be found easily on Google, you’ll need a blogging platform that will do well with SEO (Search Engine Optimisation). Essentially, the better your SEO skills are, the easier your posts will be found organically when people search something in Google.
Let me break this down: Whenever you open up Google and search for something, the results that come up are from people just like you and me, who create blogs or websites filled with information. The articles that appear on page one, have a better SEO ranking than those that appear on page five. That’s why the most important step in creating your blog, is deciding on your host and platform!
Personally, I use a self-hosted WordPress account through Siteground. They were absolutely incredible in helping me switch from Wix to WordPress earlier this year, and I definitely couldn’t have done it without the 24/7 customer service. If you start off on the right foot, you’ll be successful much earlier than most of us bloggers were when our blogs went live!
3. Post frequently, but only post top-notch, quality content
Not only does Google favour posts that rank well with SEO, you’ll also be a lot more organically successful if you post quality content. There’s no point publishing one post a week, if they are poorly written and aren’t optimised for SEO. Take your time, research your topic and write from the heart. You’ll be surprised at how well your posts will do, if they’re top quality!
4. Pinterest is key for blog traffic
It took me a while to understand Pinterest and jump on the bandwagon, but I’m finally realising that Pinterest is probably the best way to gain constant, regular traffic to your blog. Think of Pinterest as a visual search engine (which technically, it is!). If you’ve visited say, New York City recently, create an eye-catching image (I recommend Canva) and upload it to Pinterest (or you can share it directly from your blog post. See examples at the bottom of this post). When somebody searches for New York City information on Pinterest, they will come across your very own pin and share it with their followers. This obviously means you’ll continue to gain more and more readers, the more your pins are shared! The power of Pinterest is no joke!
5. Be patient
When I first started my blog, I was naive in thinking I’d hit the big time straight away. I saw so many successful bloggers (both travel and non-travel) and I wanted more than anything, to be one of those success stories! But what I didn’t know at the start of this blogging journey, was that it takes time and a LOT of dedication. I spend every single day off from my part time job, working on my blog. It’s been a full year now, but I’m still no where near where I want to be. So be patient! Work hard and stay motivated.
6. Join Facebook groups
Something I wish I had known right from the get go, was the fact that there are Facebook groups dedicated to travel bloggers. These Facebook groups have been my lifesaver. Everything I know about blogging, I’ve learnt from these groups. My absolute favourite, is Female Travel Bloggers. Obviously, you must be a female with an active travel blog to have access to the group. With 4,000+ incredible members from all over the world, it’s such a wonderful community to be apart of. Some other great travel/blog related Facebook groups are Girls LOVE Travel and Pinterest For Travel Bloggers. Make sure to read the rules before joining any Facebook group!
It’s been an amazing, busy, overwhelming and exciting year. I still cannot believe I’ve stuck with this blogging thing for a full 12 months, and have actually made quite a bit of progress! I’ve seen some wonderful places, made some incredible memories and met some awesome people. I can’t wait to see what the next year brings, and I especially can’t wait to continue to travel the world with my partner Russell!