First Blogversary: Travel Blogging Lessons Learnt

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.

map

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 postStonehaven, Aberdeenshire (Dunnottar castle is pretty, do visit)

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Most popular post by views: Alva, Clackmannanshire

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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 likesSalzburg, Austria: A European Christmas Special (one of our backlog posts, it did look very magical when we put it together).

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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

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13 thoughts on “First Blogversary: Travel Blogging Lessons Learnt

  1. beckythetraveller says:

    Well firstly congratulations on making it through the year…. I’m two weeks in and just starting to realise how much work is involved, I’m on my PC and thinking blog 24 hours a day!!! Thanks for all the useful tips too, really helpful for a newbie 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • yodandalek says:

      Your blog already looks more beautiful & organised than what ours did for the first few months! 🙂 We are so glad you found our tips useful. 6 continents travelled is inspiring, we’ll be following your writeups for inspiration 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. beckythetraveller says:

    ah wow that’s such a lovely thing to say, I have literally been working on it all the time but I’m enjoying it so much I can’t help it!

    Could I just ask a quick question – you mention the 15 category/tag limit – how many do you normally use, is it best to use the maximum for each blog?

    Like

    • yodandalek says:

      It is our pleasure to be able to share our learnings with the community. There are millions of bloggers on WordPress alone, it is natural to be terrified when starting out. However, WordPress is a generally positive community with comments such as yours being the norm 🙂

      Write a blog that you’d love to read yourself & the rest will figure itself out.

      Like

  3. Michelle Francisca Lee says:

    Thanks for sharing! I also just celebrated my two years of blogging several days ago. It’s just upset me that I’ve put my heart to my blog and to share it to the world but it hasn’t get a lot of readers and when I compare it with anyone else I still don’t get it why I’m the only who get very little exposure (My followers are still under 10) when I’m blogging almost the same period of time. But your post makes me more motivated and I guess I’m just gonna keep blogging no matter what 😊
    Cheers,
    Michelle

    Liked by 1 person

    • yodandalek says:

      Trust us Michelle, your content is really amazing! We cannot state enough how important the 15 categories + tags limit is, be sure to fill in exactly 15 (see examples in our newer posts). When we started blogging, some posts would get 10 WP likes and others others would get none at all leaving us confused. Turns out we were exceeding the 15 limit on the ones with no likes. We also follow a number of other blogs.

      Keep posting your travels and the numbers will come. As usual, thank you for stopping by!

      Liked by 1 person

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