One Year Anniversary + Lessons Learned

Holy canoli, can you believe There She Goes Again has hit the one year milestone? This post is, naturally, late. :p I officially launched the site September 1st, and the lessons learned so far have been crazy. I changed my whole career trajectory, and I’m pumped for the next year. I’ve been blogging for 8 years (well 12 if we go way back to the Xanga days), and I have learned more in the last year about the business behind it than I have in all the previous years combined. You see, until maybe 2 years ago, blogging was purely a hobby for me. I knew nothing about analytics, social media marketing (beyond the internships that I had), Facebook groups, or even WordPress! I was a Blogspot ride or die, and I pretty much wrote whatever came to me. After getting to Korea and realizing that

a) I had more travel advice than anyone in real life actually wanted to hear and
b) I really just wanted to learn more about this world I had been in for most of my life,

I decided to work on launching There She Goes Again. I didn’t want to half ass anything, so I focused on creating a beautiful site, building categories and content, and defining my niche. About four months later in September, the site was up and running.

I want to share some lessons learned and big wins this year in celebration of my blogiversary!

blogging-lessons-learned

FIRST, LESSONS LEARNED

Google Analytics is your friend… 

Learn it. It’s so overwhelming at first, but keeping track and making goals will help you in the long run. It’s tricky at first when you’re new and don’t have much to go off of, but after a while it’s easy. Start an excel sheet and make a list of all the metrics you find important– popular posts, audience, pageviews, countries, etc. Looking back at your growth is so rewarding, and it lets you know you’re doing something right. I wasn’t good at GA at all and ignored it for the first few months, and now I’m using it to set goals for the year!

Defining your voice is important… 

Who are you in the travel world? What makes you different from all the trillion bloggers big and small out there? Why should I take your advice on a destination over someone else more established? Figuring out your voice and sticking to it across multiple platforms is difficult but crucial. I’m still working on it myself!

Facebook groups are like work unions… 

You know how most jobs have unions that provide support and make sure you’re not getting screwed? Think of Facebook groups as unofficial, even more helpful unions in the virtual world. They contain both established bloggers and newbies, and they’re excellent. Use that search function and find a flood of serious, solid advice within any fairly established group.

But make sure to do your own research… 

Another thing is, don’t just rely on asking your questions in an FB group. Don’t sit there and expect someone with 50K followers in instagram to reveal everything they did to get there.  I’ve posted countless tips on growing instagram for free in comment sections of different groups, and when I go back and check… these people haven’t implemented any of them. I recently saw something a bigger blogger posted because apparently bloggers were name dropping them to potential sponsors. And this is simply because they were in a group together… That is not fair to anyone. Neither is messaging a bigger blogger solely to get contacts or free advice without building any sort of relationship with them beforehand.

Just because this is the virtual world, doesn’t mean basic business etiquette doesn’t apply!

Make connections… 

Seriously, connect with people. I’ve made quite a few friends this last year alone from blogging– whether it’s meeting in person or finding each other in the social media. I’m genuinely pumped when I see these guys get deals or featured on big accounts! We swap advice but we also can just talk about things outside of blogging or social media.

While content is foundation, marketing is what really matters… 

Okay, let me see if I can put this in housing terms. So, you know you need a good foundation for a house to stand on it’s own– the framing, the ground work, the electrical (and..things that go into houses *cough*). That’s content. Without solid content, ya got nothing. However, people aren’t going to just buy a house with a solid foundation. They want to see all the pretty things– basically everything that goes into staging a house. That’s marketing.

You need to market yourself. However you wish to do that, it’s up to you, and we all have our different methods. You could have the best damn guide on a city, but if you never get it going on Pinterest or have solid organic traffic, no one is going to care. Promote yourself. Get your content out there. Very few people just go viral, so you need to work your tail end off. Honestly you should spend 20-40% of your blogging time on creating and 60-80% marketing. The nice thing is, when you do get a steady influx of traffic, money, and sponsors, you can turn back to doing more content wise.

Be more than an influencer… 

Bloggers are micro-influencers, and a good blogger can do more for a brand than a big, ole Kardashian sized influencer. However, when we’re still new, make no mistake… we’re not influencing anyone. I’m not going to sit here and pretend most of my page views in the beginning weren’t family and friends clicking on links I throw up on my personal Facbeook profile. I know I have a growing base, but I also know I can’t compete with bigger travel bloggers who very easily have big audiences.

So, what can you do? Offer more. Why would a hotel care about a little blog with no proof of an audience? Well, maybe they’re brand new and don’t have very nice photos on their site. Offer to provide your photography skills. Or they have a new instagram account– offer to do a takeover for a week and do the captions, photos, and hashtag research for them! Think of the skills you can offer, and add them into your influence package.

Work smarter, not harder… 

You can spend hours throwing your post into every self-promo thread in the group, but it’s not going to be nearly as effective as creating a gorgeous pin and getting it to go viral on Pinterest. Don’t spend hours to get the same numbers you can get in a shorter time. Look at what other bloggers do to manage their time, and don’t shy away from spending money on it. Buffer and Board Booster have made my life so much easier! Both have free trials too, so there’s no excuse ;)

Be professional and always know your worth… 

If you want to succeed in blogging, lean the hell in. Let’s say you make $100 on a sponsored post. When someone asks for your rates later, why would you even consider lowering that price from the get go? NO. If another blogger approaches you for freebies that you’ve spent months and even money studying, should you give away your knowledge because you don’t want to seem mean? NO. I’m all for humility, but there is a huge difference in being humble and being a doormat. Don’t be afraid to stand up for what you deserve and turn down deals if they don’t understand your worth.

Okay, now that I’ve shared some of my lessons learned, time to share some…

BIG WINS

I’m really excited for what the site has been able to achieve this year, and I want to share it with you guys! I still have a lot to learn, but these wins let me know I’m headed in the right direction.

Hitting 5k on Instagram…

This goal seemed so far away when I first started! I started taking Instagram seriously back in March of this year, and I had a whopping 389 followers, and I’m now growing at a rate of 500-750 new followers each week.

My first collaboration… 

I was able to work with a dream company on my trip to Bali. While my numbers are not high enough for a full hotel stay, the Chillhouse was super kind and agreed to participating in their mountain biking tour in exchange for my services. I’m excited to find more companies and brands to work with in the future! I really enjoy creating content from conceptualizing a post, putting together the photos, and overall creating a small campaign on my site, so I look forward to more of it! (I think it may be the part of me that loves styling and a good advertising campaign)

Getting featured on Instagram… 

My first big win was getting featured on @igkorea and then @igworldclub back in January. I didn’t even know anything about growing my following yet, so this was a major surprise! The best is that the picture featured was one I had quickly taken on my phone after spending an hour or so out in the snow with my DSLR! Growing my travel photography skills is something I’m constantly working on, so these features give me a little more confidence that I’m doing something right.

Finding a community… 

As I said before, connections are key! I find meeting all these like minded people to be such a boost in my motivation and understanding of blogging. For the longest time I kept blogging secret and even when I started revealing it, only a few friends could relate. Now I quite literally have a community across the world who have taught me so much, and it’s the best feeling ever.

So Happy Birthday, There She Goes Again! I’m excited for all to come in Year 2!

Words and Photography by Samantha, Featured Image via CGSCreative

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