Its Jan 20, 2017. Probably a big day in the history of the world with the 45th Potus being inaugurated but definitely a big day for our blog as its been a year since we put our blog out there with a small number of posts. We have learnt a lot of lessons through the year which we’d like to share with you in the hopes that it can help new bloggers. We’ll also share some random facts about our blog based on readership stats 🙂
Lessons for brand new bloggers
1. WordPress is a great platform to blog on
The day jobs in the Yolek household involve staring at a computer screen for many hours a day including a lot of code. When we started writing the blog, we just wanted to focus on the travel documentation rather than setting up our own domain or designing our site properly. WordPress was perfect for us. Although it took a year to finally settle on a theme, getting a blogpost written and out for publishing was easy. Plus it was (and still is) free!
2. Choose your theme wisely
Due to Dalek’s stupid insistence, our blog ran on the Cubic theme for a few months because he thought that the home page looked pretty. But the truth was that it was slow to load, even on our good internet connection and difficult to navigate. We did not know how to create menus for the whole of 2016 😦
However we found the Sapor theme that made our blog look much cleaner than before. We still couldn’t setup menus or navigation but it was faster & cleaner. The caveat was that the default link colour in the theme made links almost invisible so we had to change all links on the blog to our current colour by hand (#db0a5b).
With us finally living together, we spent the Christmas period trying out new themes and tinkering with them till we found our current theme (Sela) and could finally setup menus!! The results are visible, we have much more engagement just by having a navigable website!
3. It took us a lot of time to get a small, steady flow of traffic
As a new blogger, it was sometimes disheartening to see no hits on the blog for many days. This is content which we believed would help other travelers. But it is important to know that there are so many other travel blogs out there with dedicated, full-time owners who do an amazing job showcasing the world. We also reminded ourselves of our initial goal, if our blog could just help even 5 travelers, we’d be happy.
It feels extremely satisfying to end 2016 with this map, we still can’t believe people from so many countries visited out blog! After making our blog navigable, we also seem to get some traffic everyday. We also began to make sure we did not exceed the 15 categories + tags limit for a post to show up in the WP reader. The last thing that helped was a schedule, having 3-4 posts published every week is deceptively time-consuming but instrumental in keeping readership.
4. Use Social Media & your knowledge effectively
As travel bloggers, we travel more in our home country sometimes than we do outside (hence US & Scotland are the most documented countries on this blog). You can use the knowledge you’ve gained from your experiences to guide people visiting for the first time by sharing it on Reddit Travel / Facebook / Travel forums. We are active on the VisitScotland forum & somewhat on Reddit. We also post pictures daily on Facebook & Instagram and share those pictures on country specific FB groups. Doing these things has helped us reach to people we would’ve had a hard time reaching.
5. Save space by compressing images & using Instagram
We were guilty of uploading full sized images to WordPress quickly consuming 70% of our free tier space. Thats when we realized we should have compressed our images before uploading them (seems so obvious now, plus we’re techies, how stupid of us). Use a free software like Gimp to make the “quality” metric 70 which makes the size 1/3rd without a visible difference on the screen. We also put our blogged images on IG and then just embed the IG post saving more space.
Random blog tidbits
First publicised post: Stonehaven, Aberdeenshire (Dunnottar castle is pretty, do visit)
Most popular post by views: Alva, Clackmannanshire
Yup, a place many people many not even know exists in Scotland is the most popular post on our blog! This was written at a tough time for us, we were living apart & on top of that, we were dealing with the police as we lost some items due to theft. Dalek was too frustrated to think and quite randomly chose to spend the afternoon at Alva.
The post got shared on an Alva facebook group and went “viral”. A few hundred past & present Alva natives loved to see pictures of the present day and recount tales. And the trip did help Dalek clear his mind. So as a travel blogger, write about every place you take pictures of, relatively unknown places may prove popular. This is how we think the post feels
Most popular post by WP likes: Salzburg, Austria: A European Christmas Special (one of our backlog posts, it did look very magical when we put it together).
Thanks again for reading
We’d like to thank you once again for reading our blog, it really means a lot to us. On to Year 2 of blogging!!
© 2017 Beyond Our Horizons