2017 has been an interesting year for blogging. Influencer marketing has become absolutely huge within the industry and it’s only set to get bigger in 2018. While we can all argue about the use of word influencer – let me refer you to Hollie’s article on whether influencer has become a dirty word – one thing is clear. It’s the people online who we trust who sell to us much more effectively than brands. And this means more bloggers and more conversations about what we can be doing to improve our game.
I’ve had more time than ever to focus on my blog for the majority of 2017. While travelling, I got to write about my adventures and really focus on creating great content about places that I feel privileged to have been able to spend time in. It’s also helped me to learn a lot, perhaps more than I ever have before, and it’s these things I’ve learned about blogging that I wanted to share today.
Networking is key
To any seasoned influencers out there, this is going to found like an incredibly naive statement. After all, now that blogging has turned into a bona fide career for many people, the same rules would surely apply as with your more ‘standard’ employment – networking and meeting people will get you places. But to me, blogging has always been a bit of a sanctuary. Writing in my bedroom, sharing my photos and having the occasional chat on Twitter – I thought this was normal. But back in August, I went to my first London blogger event with Traverse and my eyes were opened for the first time.
The event was absolutely packed with bloggers and YouTubers and to my complete surprise, they mostly knew each other. And not just from the odd exchange on social media. Many were real friends who used the event as an opportunity to hang out, catch up and have a laugh. As a a naturally shy type, I vividly remember the moment I was stood among all those people, suddenly realising that I was at a huge disadvantage. The great thing about having this network of friends in the blogging community – aside from making new, like-minded friends obviously! – is that the opportunities get shared around. This can open doors and let’s not underestimate how valuable those kind of personal introductions can be. A network of friends means people to champion you when you’re feeling down or uninspired, people to vote for you in blog awards, people to share your content or comment on your posts; sure, we don’t like to talk about those things all the time but they do matter.
I had a bit of an ‘egg in face’ moment where I introduced myself to a girl outside the event who has a blog I’ve always really enjoyed reading. Quickly I realised that she was with a group of friends and went from feeling my most brave self to a total loser tagging along. And in no way was that down to them but my own naivety in assuming that everybody else was solo operators like myself. In fact, it was the opposite. The event was an amazing experience but it also made me wonder whether I had a place in the travel blogging world outside of that close-knit London group or if I would be forever hovering on the periphery.
What you put in, you get out
When I returned from travelling, I spent a lot of time focusing on my blog while looking for work. It was brilliant. I had time to scour the internet for opportunities, contact agencies, be active on Facebook groups and even write guest posts. From this, I saw more projects come in and made progress in increasing traffic and domain authority while decreasing my bounce rate. This month or two really demonstrated how even the smallest blogger like me can reap great rewards from those hours of extra effort.
Unfortunately though, it changed pretty quickly. I was so determined not to let my content slip when I went back to work full time but inevitably it did. It’s easy to forget just how much sitting at a desk can tire you out. By the time I get home from work, I can’t think of anything worse than looking at a computer screen and as for any creative ideas – well, they just don’t come as easily. My most productive time to work is definitely in the mornings and with those taken up for the majority of the week, being able to maintain the progress I’ve made is something that I still need to learn about blogging.
My blog is my baby
I hate this expression but it’s true: having a blog is an incredible asset. It’s small with an incredibly humble readership and I have serious doubts about whether it will ever go any further than that. I wrote more about this in my blogging identity crisis post but, I’ve been going for over five years now and there are people who started off with me making a hefty living by now. But that doesn’t make what I’ve created any less important to me in an emotional sense.
A few week ago, my blog was hacked by that horrendous spammy malware that directed traffic from my precious posts, with hours of effort gone into each one, to pharmaceutical websites and pop ups that make you close your browser in a panic hoping that your computer hasn’t become terminally infected. It took time to fix and I had a few moments during those weeks where I thought ‘is it even worth saving?’. But then I realised, that after weeks, months, YEARS of work, I wasn’t ready to give it up.
My blog played a valuable role in getting me each and every Marketing job I’ve had, it’s a place where I’ve documented some of my biggest triumphs and struggles and quite honestly, I still love writing just as much as I did on day one. Blogging has become an industry where we don’t just get to write and take pictures any more – there’s SEO, design, networking, spreading yourself across multiple platforms – but in the heart of it, it’s still about those roots for me. And that is what makes me so unwilling to leave it behind.
So, after a number of attempted fixes, it’s back and I’m more motivated than ever to inject some fresh love and content into Wander with Laura. Who knows how much I’ll get to travel in 2018 but if the amount of holidays I look at on a daily basis are anything to go by, you can bet that I’ll have a few cheeky trips up my sleeve in no time.
As you can tell, I’ve learned a lot about blogging this year. It’s always a tough one to realise that your growth isn’t matching up to many of those around you but I’ve been trying to refer myself back to a quote that I think we can all relate to: “comparison is the thief of joy”. Comparing yourself can make you forget your own successes – or at least write them off as ‘nothing important’ – but if we can’t champion our individual triumphs, big or small, then what is really left for us?
As always, it would be great to hear your thoughts on the topic and I’m really interested to hear if anybody has had any similar ‘lightbulb moments’ about the blogging industry. Let me know in the comments or tweet me @wanderwithlaura.