How to make the most of your blog

I initially titled this post “how to go on fully paid holidays from your blog” but decided that was a bit too blunt 😉 Please note that all of the below reflects my own views and these views may not necessarily be shared by other bloggers.

I posted a tweet a while ago saying that if you’re a travel blogger and you haven’t figured out media trips yet, you’re missing out! I then invited my followers to let me know if they wanted me to forward them the tips that I had previously sent to a few other bloggers.
I was inundated with tweets from people wanting to get in on the freebies… Sadly if that’s all you’re after I can’t help much. Starting a blog with the intention to get free stuff isn’t going to get you far… the most successful bloggers are those who blog about what they’re passionate about and who blog from the heart. Media trips have completely changed my life. Without sounding arrogant, my concern isn’t about finding money to travel anymore, it’s about getting leave to go on the holidays I am offered.
I’ll start off my sharing some tips for those who don’t have a blog yet or who are just starting. If you fall into this space, I recommend you follow @ladybloggers on Twitter or check out their website: www.ladybloggers.co.za- this is a great initiative designed to help women with their blogs.

          The first thing to do when starting a blog is to decide if you want it on WordPress or Blogger. These are really the 2 biggest ones. WordPress allows you a lot more flexibility and the WordPress blogs look a lot better (imo) than the Blogger ones… but God, WordPress is a nightmare! I use it to blog for Getaway Magazine and those posts take me double the time than posts I do for my own blog on Blogger. Play around with the 2 and decide which you prefer.

          Choose what you’re going to blog about. I suggest that if you’re truly passionate about one topic, try to blog mainly about that. You’ll end up with many more opportunities around that specific topic compared to people who blog about hair and beauty and décor and travel and fashion and food and…. Etc etc. When a food (for eg) opportunity becomes available, the best FOOD bloggers are going to be contacted. People who blog about food and travel (like me for eg) may be contacted second or not at all. 

          There’s enough space on the internet for everyone in the world to have their own blog, but try and give yours its own flavour instead of copying someone else. Usually bloggers don’t mind sharing ideas and tips but it’s just polite to ask first.

So now you’ve got the blog sorted… where to from there?

I strongly believe that if you put feelers out into the universe, opportunities come your way. When I went on my first media trip to Mozambique, just 6 months after starting a blog, I didn’t have many followers, my blog was relatively amateur and I was still using a blogspot.com site. To get you excited: this is what a media trip usually includes:

          Your flights, accommodation and meals  (sometime drinks) are covered

          You can usually bring a partner with you

          You are treated like royalty at the establishment, sometimes spa treatments and tours are included too

Here is what I recommend you do to up your chances of going on these trips:

          You need to have something to reference people back to. Write really good blog posts about travels you’ve been on before. Photos are important, if you have bad quality photos then don’t even bother. A travel blog with just text isn’t a travel blog, it’s a journal.  Lots of people use their Iphones and I think this works fine. An SLR camera is first prize though.

          Then, email a few places you’d like to visit explaining who you are and include links to your blog and specifically the travel posts you wrote before. Explain the coverage you can provide in return for a stay. Many people will say no, but some will say yes J Don’t be shy! The worst they can do is say no, and then you can move on.

          Sign up to Google Analytics. This is a really powerful tool for tracking page views, demographics of visitors, length of time they spend on your blog etc.. and you can use this to motivate to the establishment

          TWITTER… is amazing. I can attribute MOST of the opportunities that have come my way to Twitter. Try and follow people key to the industry you cover on your blog. Tweet links to your blog posts whenever you post new ones, but don’t spam your followers.

          Go to as many events as possible and NETWORK. Walk up to people you recognize from the industry you cover and introduce yourself. Generally people are friendly and once they know what you do, the next time an opportunity arises they’ll remember you. You may not get invites to these events till you’re an established blogger, but try and go to magazine reader events and expos (even if you have to pay) to get your foot in the door. Then blog about those events and send the link to the organiser- that will guarantee you an invite to the next one.

          Keep it honest. Nothing can ever be completely fabulous all the time. You need to highlight the positive and negative aspects of something (even if it’s a free holiday) to remain credible.

I hope this helps you- let me know if you need any more tips J

Just remember that this is MY opinion, others may do things differently and I don’t claim that my way is the right way- but this is what has worked for me. I’ve focused this on travel, but the same principle applies to restaurant reviews.

x H