It’s hard to believe that this blog has been going since 2012. What started out as a side project for me to hone my writing skills after coming back from a summer of back-to-back travels has turned into a hobby like no other. I don’t think I’ve stuck with anything for this long! Even that time I got obsessed with designing clothes for ferrets (guys, I was, like, 5) only lasted for a few months.
For this month’s travel link up, we were asked to write a blog post all around the number 10. I thought it would be fun to go back and look at all those dodgy mistakes I’ve made over the years – and believe me, I could have come up with a LOT more than 10! Whether you’re a newbie blogger or a seasoned professional, I hope you can learn something from my (frequent) utter stupidity.
PIN FOR LATER:
My 10 Biggest Travel Blogging Mistakes
1. Not thinking about my blog’s name more
It would be nice if I had a blog name that was easy enough for half the world’s population to spell. The number of Americans who’ve looked at me with utter distain when they realise I’ve squeezed an ‘s’ into ‘Cosy’ instead of a ‘z’ is way too high. Still, at least when you google ‘The Cozy Traveller’, my blog is still the first thing that comes up…along with a YouTube video about an RV named ‘The Cozy Traveller’. (It’s great. I’d recommend giving it a watch.)
2. Not getting into Instagram earlier
I signed up to Instagram in the summer of 2012 and, like most people, experimented with all the flashy filters and the white borders. But I only really used Instagram when I was travelling – which, when those days are added up across the year, isn’t really that much. As such, I let my page slip for months at a time, and probably didn’t get as involved as I could have done. Now I’m finally into the ways of Instagram, the algorithm has screwed everything up and engagement is next-to impossible. Still, at least I got there in the end, eh?
3. Hosting all my photos on Photobucket
Nothing says ‘professional’ more than a site full of Photobucket warning images, right? Gawd knows how long these warnings had been up for when I checked my blog’s homepage earlier this year! It turns out that Photobucket had updated their terms, meaning 3rd party hosting (i.e. on somewhere like WordPress) was banned unless you shelled out a monthly fee. I finally worked out that I could just host the images on my own site and link to them that way. But that was one terrifying morning.
4. Not really getting going on that blog newsletter
I signed up to Mail Chimp though about 3 years ago, which is half the battle. But who am I kidding, I can barely remember to schedule a Tweet, let alone write out a whole newsletter each month. Oh God, I’m probably never going to get round to doing this, am I?
5. Waiting so long to get involved with affiliates
Last year I made the jump into freelancing, which has proved to be quite the eye-opener. It’s all about having various side hustles to offer and, after listening to a talk by Monica from The Travel Hack at Traverse earlier this year, I realised what a great source of passive income affiliates could be.
But it still took me a good few months to sign up to a handful of affiliate programmes, purely because I believed my blog to be too small to monetise in such a way. Also, my confidence took a knock when I got rejected by one of the programmes I applied for. However, I soon found some programmes that better suited my content and, by slotting a few links into some of my best performing articles, I’ve been able to add a few pennies to my travelling pot (at no extra cost to those clicking on my links, I hasten to add!). If you’ve yet to get started on affiliates, I’d definitely recommend looking into it. Awin is the best I’ve found so far, but if anyone has got any other suggestions, please let me know in the comments below!
6. Not keeping up to date with other bloggers’ content
This is one thing I wish I was so much better at. Before I started blogging, I used to love whiling away the hours reading through various blogs’ back catalogue of content. I remember getting wrapped up in the exciting tales of Jayne Gorman’s 40 Before 30 challenge, as well as feeling so jealous of Vicky Flip Flop and all her travels through her job! Nowadays, what with work, blogging and uh, Netflix, there are always so many distractions vying for my attention. I’m trying to dedicate at least an hour or so each week to getting caught up with my favourite blogs, but I’m so bad at doing this!
7. Completely undervaluing my time and skills
When it comes to the blogging industry, there’s a huge grey area when it comes to knowing just what to charge. More and more bloggers have started to open up a discussion about it, which is encouraging. But when you first start out, it’s difficult to know where to pitch yourself, and what sort of amounts you should be charging.
In the early days of my blog, I would happily pick up unpaid work, purely for the opportunity of working with some cool names. But when I decided to go freelance, everything changed. A PR friend of mine pretty much laughed in my face when I told them what low rates I was charging; and I realised that what I’m selling isn’t just the chance to work with an established travel blog with a decent Domain Authority. I was also selling my skills as a professional Gold Standard NCTJ journalist and experienced copywriter, as well as hours spent writing, editing, taking photos, scheduling to social media, and marketing said articles.
My perspective on blogging has completely changed over the last 5 years, and it’s encouraged me to really put my business hat on and think more positively about the services I offer and how I promote myself.
8. Not making blog posts easily shareable
I think it was the lovely Emma from Adventures of a London Kiwi who pointed out that none of my blog posts were linking to my social handles when people shared them. Lol, whoops. This made it impossible to keep track of who was talking about my blog, start engaging with my audience, and potentially meet some cool bloggers in the process.
9. And that time when none of my social buttons worked
Important note to self: whenever changing over your theme, check that the important links to important social channels actually work. You twit.
10. And finally…we should probably talk about that time I updated my blog and got a ‘Parse Error’ thanks to an offending plugin, meaning I couldn’t access my site AT ALL
But this one just gives me palpitations just thinking about it. Also I’m still not 100% sure what I actually did wrong… Thank god for knowing someone who’s a coding genius!