HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME!
Well, I can’t believe we’ve made it one year, by ‘we’ I’m referring to myself, my laptop and gorgeous readers like you. If you’re reading this on 5th of May 2019, which I hope you are, then its official Alicia Overseas has been up and running for one whole year. This also means that Dave and I have been in Australia for almost a year. But if you’ve been following our journey for a while then you’ll already know that (because it’s all I’ve been talking about) but if you’re new then you may want to start here and then come back to this post.
To celebrate my journey of becoming a blogger over the last year I’ve written a little blogging/personal series. I’m going to be talking all about one year of travel blogging. So as well as my recent travel posts I’ll be posting one extra post every week for the next month because every birthday should last the whole month right?
After one year of travel blogger, one thing is certain, I’m more organised so I can already tell you what post’s I’m going to be publishing in this mini-blogging series:
What One Year of Travel Blogging has Taught Me (this post)
I guess I wanted to write it all down myself so in another 3 or 4 years time I can look back at the first-ever year I started doing this and see how far I’ve come! So I figured I might as well share some of that with you guys.
What One Year of Travel Blogging Has Taught Me About Blogging
Starting Alicia Overseas
In this first part of the post, I want to talk about what my first year has taught me about blogging itself. Let’s rewind a to over a year ago when Instagram was just starting to blow up with influencers and I started paying more attention to bloggers. I’ve probably always read blogs but had no idea that’s what they were. In fact, most of the search results that we get in Google are in fact blogs. I probably consciously started reading blogs, mainly about travel, about two and a half years ago. This was the time when I had just got serious about visiting Australia. I was pouring all of my spare time into researching the land down under.
That’s when I found two blogs that inspired me above anything else on the internet. Where’s Mollie by Mollie Bylett was the first ever blog that I sat and read from ‘start to finish’. In other words, I stalked the blog until I had read every page! I remember being fascinated with the empire that Mollie was creating. Of course, she had heaps of information on Australia too which was amazing for me! I also read This Battered Suitcase by Brenna Holman and found myself in awe of these women who were travelling the world and inspiring others to do the same.
I thought it was pretty damn amazing and I was bursting with a feeling of wishing I could do something like that. Of course, my mind took over and I knew that of course, I couldn’t do that. I had a list of reasons why I really couldn’t be a blogger it went a little like this:
not travelled enough, not enough time, no one cares what I’m doing, my real friends would laugh at me, not pretty enough, nobody would get it, I don’t have the money, people are already doing it so why does the world need me – the list could literally go on and on.
So with all these doubts why did I decide to start Alicia Overseas?
Well, in April 2018 I found myself with a skin condition called Gianotti Crosti Syndrome. A rare autoimmune reaction to a virus. My skin broke out in what I can only describe as chicken pox-like spots that turned out to look like cottage cheese under the skin from head to toe – GROSS. Even though it wasn’t contagious, as a nurse I found myself unable to go to work for 8 weeks! For someone who is used to working full time eight weeks off work is a hell of a long time to sit around waiting for these spots to disappear.
We were due to land in Australia just two months later so I threw myself into my research and of course found myself reading blog after blog after blog. I began to wonder, again, if I could ever start something like that? I’m about to move to Australia so I’ll definitely have something to talk about and I would love to inspire and educate other people to travel the world. So with all the time in the world on my hands, I thought to sod it, I am starting a travel blog!
And so Alicia Overseas was born!
It wasn’t that simple though. Even deciding on a name took me what felt like FOREVER. I had thought of so many other names before I settled on Alicia Overseas. Postcards from Oz, Us Around the World and Letters from Down Under were all big contenders. But none of these options felt personal and I soon as I wrote Alicia Overseas I knew that was what I was calling my blog. It’s simple and speaks for itself. I’m Alicia and my blog is about travel, therefore, me being overseas, just in case you needed it breaking down 😉
Since that day that I decided to embark on my travel blogging journey, it has been a rollercoaster. I thought starting and running a blog would be easy! Write about places I’ve been or would like to go and readers will come flocking right? Wrong. Oh, I have never been SO wrong about something before.
So first here’s what one year of blogging has taught me about the ‘science of blogging if you like’
What I’ve Learnt about Blogging after One Year
Blogging Isn’t Easy
Running a blog is bloody hard work. In fact, I’ll go as far as to say that having my blog is like having a second full-time job. Before I started I thought that it would be easy. Write, put it out there and people would just look at it. I had no idea the amount of work that number one goes into building a blog and two what goes into promoting a blog. I mean I don’t know why I didn’t think of it before. If you don’t advertise something then how is somebody going to know about it? It’s the same for blogging, you have to build an audience and promote your blog so that people actually know it exists!
The amount of work that goes into every single post is insane. From the writing, the editing, choosing the photographs, editing the photographs, optimising SEO, promoting the post and then starting on the next one! If anybody ever tells you that starting a blog is easy then they are not being truthful. That said I wouldn’t have it any other way. This blog is my baby and something that I’ve created and built myself. Every ounce of hard work that I put into this blog I do with an endless amount of love because I love the joy it brings me.
Financial Investment is Necessary
I know a lot of people struggle with this one. When I first started Alicia Overseas a year ago I was saving all the money I had to go to Australia. Putting any kind of money into my blog hadn’t crossed my mind. I had no idea that you had to pay for a domain, a blog theme, security for the blog, hosting! In all honesty, I didn’t really understand what these terms meant. Luckily, I had done a little research so I knew that buying my own domain was important and as was hosting – which is where I learnt one of my biggest blogging lessons!
Like most of us when starting something I was after the cheapest of everything. I opted to host my site with iPage because they were cheap. I’m not going to go into it but after months of a very slow site and other issues I opted to change to Site Ground – this was only recently and since my site speed has increased dramatically as have my page views!
If you’re looking to start a travel blog then my advice to you after one year of travel blogging is do your research. Find out which hosting platforms bloggers are recommending instead of just going for the cheapest. Always start off self-hosted. Self-hosted basically means that you own your domain and can have a .com or .co.uk handle after your blog name.
For example, aliciaoverseas.com opposed to aliciaoverseas.wordpress.com – it’s more professional in case you want to turn your blog into more of a hobby in the long run, which if you stick with it you probably will!
Starting a blog for free is possible. But be prepared to invest some money into your blog especially if you’re serious about blogging. Think of it this way. If you were starting a business then you would pour some investment into it so think if your blog like a business from the START. It took me a while to accept and get my head around treating my blog as a business. But once I worked on that mindset it paid off big time – More about this in next week’s post!
If you don’t have a blog or website then I can guarantee you won’t have ever heard of SEO. I certainly hadn’t. Search Engine Optimisation is what SEO stands for. When it comes to blogging you need to know all about it! Making your posts SEO friendly basically means getting your blog ready to show up on google. Organic traffic from Google is the best traffic for a blog. This is called organic traffic. Therefore there are aspects of each post like keywords, alt text, headings, linking that all contribute to SEO and making sure you have the best chance of showing up on that first page of Google.
When I first began writing my blog I found so much conflicting information out there about SEO. Some bloggers say you need it and some say you don’t. Eventually, after one year of travel blogging, I realised just how important SEO is. Now one year on, my blogs are slowly starting to appear on the first page of google! I now have three posts that come up on the first page which for me is an amazing achievement. If I’d have known how much technical jargon I needed to learn a year ago I probably would’ve run for the hills!
But that’s the thing about having a blog, you’re always learning.
Presence on Social Media is paramount (and yes your ‘real’ friends will find out)!
Deciding to start a blog was such a huge decision for me never mind having to tell my nearest and dearest about my new venture. Of course, my family loved the idea of being able to follow our travels online but I was terrified about how my friends would react. We live in a society full of judgement and envy.
As humans, we love to judge others. Who do these influencers think they are to be travelling the world, taking great photographs to post on Instagram and show off? Our lives are surrounded by people who think like this and I have many a friend with this mindset! Luckily, for me, most of my friends were supportive of the blog whether they understood it or not. Prior to telling my friends, I tried to hide my social media presence so my friends wouldn’t find out but ultimately it turned out impossible!
Being present on social media is paramount when having a blog. It’s a great way to connect with your audience, find your audience in the first place and let people into your life beyond your blog. I’m learning that people love people and things like authentic Instagram stories go a long way when creating lasting relationships with people online.
So, tell your friends what you’re up too. They will most likely support you and enjoy reading your blog! So many of my friends share my posts and tell others about my blog. It gives me so much more confidence to know my pals are supportive! And at the end of the day if they are true friends then they’ll support you. If they don’t then they aren’t worthy of your time or friendship.
What I’ve Learnt about Myself after One Year of Travel Blogging
I could go on about more aspects of blogging that I’ve learnt or had to learn this year like coding, building an audience, affiliate marketing, link building. The list goes on and never ends! BUT what I want to talk about now is what I’ve learnt about myself in after one year of travel blogging because I have learnt so much about myself that I never knew before!
I Really Can Stick with Something
Confession time! Ever since I was younger I’ve had a habit of starting things and never finishing them. Or deciding to explore a new hobby and not giving it enough time before deciding it wasn’t for me. So when I started Alicia Overseas I’m sure lots of people around me thought I wouldn’t stick at it, including myself. And believe me, over the last year there have been times when I’ve thought about giving up but I haven’t. I’ve stuck with my blog all year and I’m so proud that I didn’t give up after the realisation that blogging is hard work. I love the space that I’m creating and I can vision a big future for me and my blog.
The Fear of Not Knowing
After one year of travel blogging, I’ve learnt that one of my biggest fears in life is not knowing something. That can be anything from not knowing how to do something on my blog or in my nursing work not knowing a certain condition. I’ve learnt through my blog that the easiest way to fix this fear is to find out. I know it might sound simple but in the past, I often dwell on the fact that ‘I’m not good enough’ because I don’t know something. I would beat myself up about it rather than seeing it as a positive opportunity to learn about what it is I don’t know!
Recently I updated a plugin on my blog and lost two articles in the process. Luckily, I had saved these onto my computer but I still had links to the previous posts all over social media. So, instead of stressing out about not knowing how to fix it. I researched and learnt how to redirect my old links to the new ones! If you’d have asked me a year ago about link redirecting or plugins I wouldn’t have any idea what you were talking about. Though my technical knowledge is still extremely minimal I’m trying to learn new skills that are going to be positive for my blog and sometimes personal life too.
The Lack of Creativity in My Life
Before starting my blog I didn’t have a creative outlet. I’ve always loved to read but other than that I didn’t feel like I had any other creative outlets and I didn’t think I needed them. But when I started writing for my blog I felt a happiness and sense of self that I hadn’t really felt before.
I picked up a camera and felt sheer joy from being out in the world taking photos. I started to draw again, simple drawings like designing a logo for my blog and experimenting with little doodles of places we’ve been visiting. Since starting Alicia Overseas I’ve been more creative than I ever have before. As a result, my heart and life feel so much more whole for it. I find myself wanting to learn and perfect skills I already have. If it wasn’t for this blog then I don’t think I’d have found these creative outlets that are bringing so much light into my life.
Confidence is always something I’ve always struggled with, as I think everybody does. That said, I feel like I’ve taken a turn in the last year. My blog has thrown me out of my comfort zone so much and each time I’ve reached an obstacle I’ve got through it. I’m slowly learning that in life you have to believe in yourself otherwise who is going to? As a new blogger, I thought nobody would read my stuff, nobody would care about my travels and I always thought people would think my blog was rubbish.
If I thought these things about myself then, of course, other people would! If I didn’t even believe in myself or my blog then why would anybody else? Since I’ve started believing that I am worthy of a great blog and that my content is bloody good, great things have happened.
When I Started Believing in Myself…
My traffic has increased, my audience has grown and my personal dreams for Alicia Overseas are getting bigger by the day. I wholeheartedly believe that this is down to me and only me. The moment I started believing in myself is the moment I saw a shift in my blog. The way I blog changed and what my blog was bringing me also changed. Sounds a little spiritual I know but it’s true. I still have a long way to go in terms of self-belief but this year my blog has made me believe in myself more than I ever have before.
So I guess you could say I’ve learnt a lot after one year of travel blogging and I can’t wait to share the rest of this mini-blogging series with you.
One Final Note…
When you find something in life that you love, do more of it and make into something amazing. No matter what anyone else thinks! There are tonnes of people who think I’m sad for spending my days off writing this blog. But I love it, so does it really matter what they think? A year ago it would but now it doesn’t.
Alicia Overseas may only be tiny but I know the next year is going to be big. I have dreams and hopes to create my own little travel empire! Who knows maybe one day I’ll even run my own tours or write a book based on my travels – BIGGEST DREAMS EVER! But for now, I’ll be continuing to nourish my little space on the internet. Hopefully, continuing to inspire and educate people like you to travel the world!
Happy and Healthy Travels,
PS If you’d like to buy me a coffee to celebrate Alicia Overseas turning one then you can always pop $1 or two into the PayPal account [email protected] 🙂
If you enjoyed my post then please let me know in the comments and share it with your friends! If you know a new blogger who may be struggling with their new blog direct them to this post. It might just help them out!