12 insider secrets from my first year of travel blogging

Clumsy to confident…

Time flies when you’re having fun. Just a year back, on this day, I was a nervous wreck, biting my nails at the prospect of launching my travel blog. Its been a thrilling ride over 365 days, made sweeter with the support and encouragement of my constant, Vikas, my partner in (life-n-travel) crime, my cheerleader friends and doting family. And here I am today, dishing out 12 insider secrets as 100cobbledroads celebrates its first anniversary. How many of these can you identify with?

1. Blogging has no working hours. Only ‘waking hours’: The moment I launched my literary rocket into virtual space, my life got a brand new speedometer and gears. Brakes? Redundant. I work longer hours than I did when I was publishing my own HR magazine. See, its not ‘work’ the way you call it ‘work’. Blogging is like breakfast. Essential, everyday. And blogging is boundless, unaffected by time, space and geography. My only tool…my mind. Oh, and wifi!

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Paris

2. The brain has a bandwidth: I jumped aboard every online forum possible, started accounts on all social media platforms that could share my content and joined dozens of travel communities, until I was cross-eyed. With knitted brows. And a woozy head. Then I filtered. Deleted. Logged out. Restored sanity. Limiting my interactions with a decent, manageable social presence. Yeah, yeah, they told me so, but it could only be drilled in the hard way 🙂

3. The route goes from clumsy to confident: Last year, my  neighbour’s little boy had just started to learn how to play the flute. Suspecting where the faint strains were drifting from, when I checked with her, she said apologetically, “Hope you’re not getting disturbed, he’s a little rusty.” I was pretty rusty myself then, having just launched my blog. Learning the ropes is a process, and there are no short-cuts. No one is exempt, no matter how brilliant they are. Newbies are newbies, and they do what newbies do. There’s a generous share of ‘oops’ moments, ‘scratch-my-head’ moments and ‘how-do-I-fix-this’ moments. And then, there’s the ‘Eureka’…so it all evens out. Have started churning out book-cover quality Pinterest pins and honing my hashtags skills. Eventually.

4. For every iota of information you have, someone has a pile: Someone discovered a new travel destination (read: lesser known travel destination). Someone has a new way to explore the same destination, or new information about it, or a new perspective to describe it or a new technology to share it. Everyday I see pictures of spots in my own city that I never knew existed. Hey, which roads am I NOT driving on? Stop keeping score. Its futile.

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5. Your growth is directly proportional to your effort: I admit it. I was lured by tantalising headlines that promised recipes on ‘How to crack the code of getting a gazillion followers’. I spent hours poring over mysterious formulae and downloaded tutorials. Until I was cross-eyed again. With the same knitted brows and the woozy head. Let’s face it. Broad guidelines will only get you so far. Theory to practice, people! Make things happen. Count each opportunity you waste, and you can turn into a soothsayer yourself. Enough said.

6. Set your own rules and timelines. Why follow the crowd? Okay, I am not denying it. We all want blog traffic and we all crave followers. In multiple digits. Fast. It’s like gymming…no pain, no gain. Just knowing the rules is not enough, you have to sweat it out. So, I’m being practical for a change. I have my own pace and my own milestones. I get to define my personal parameters of success and celebrate every small victory. That is happiness!

7. Not everything in life is about commerce: So, when are you monetising your blog? That question pops up every once in a while. I will, when I am prepped and ready to offer brands what they want. Hopefully, soon. Meanwhile, I’m reminding myself constantly, that likes and comments are indicators of an engaged audience, not my life’s motto. Staying on track with my passion for writing. Never disappoints.

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Siena

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8. Your blog, your style, your way: 100 countries? 100,000 miles? All UNESCO heritage sites. Every National Park. Each island? Records are great. Numbers impress. But me, I never had a head for numbers. Mountain hiking, bungee-jumping, Disney Parks, deep sea dives. Admirable. Just doesn’t click for me. Blogging, like travel, is about who you are inside…each to his own. So, cheers to us all!

9. No one understands your journey like you do: After all, its your journey to live and experience, not theirs to understand. The first time I read this quote, a bell rang inside me. So, a friend didn’t jump with joy at my little victory. Or someone did an eye-roll when I mentioned another trip to Europe. Or they drew a blank expression when I shared that I’m a history geek. It’s all right…everyone doesn’t need to understand! Except the ones who you believe really care about your feelings. (Is that a contradiction?)

10. All in due time, all in due time: Good things come to those who wait. Focus. Focus. Quality content and distribution in relevant forums. Looking, seeing, learning. Not being pressurised by ‘well-wishers’. Waiting for it. Patience! (Not my middle name, by the way. But trying!) One year and a 20,000-strong engaged audience across social media. A few offers, some proposals, many possibilities. My first article published in a travel tabloid. (DB Post Vibe, http://m.epaper.dbpost.com/bhopal/14/06082017/2/) Getting there…

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Dubrovik.jpg

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11. Travel bloggers are a great tribe: When I started out with Instagram, someone pointed out that my account was ‘private’ and it needed to be ‘public’ to be visible. A fellow member of a travel forum messaged me with an invaluable tip to rename my blog pictures (instead of the camera serial numbers) for improved google search. Incredible. Who does that? What a feeling it is to be part of the online travel community…so deeply collaborative, mutually encouraging and supportive.

12. Blogging itself is the reward: Every time I’m drained to the core from staring at my screen without a break or bogged down with endless promotional agenda on a lazy weekend, I remind myself…this is the life I always wanted. It’s good for my soul. And that, is my intrinsic reward.

 

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95 thoughts on “12 insider secrets from my first year of travel blogging

  1. Congratulations Punita! Your blog is so good that it’s tough to believe that you’ve been doing it only for last one year 🙂

    Keep up the good work and keep growing 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. We both started blogging around the same time I guess as I will complete 1 year of blogging in 3 days. Good to see your experience. Can totally relate to each point.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Wonderful insight. I’m 8 months in (although have been blogging overall for 19 years!!!) and I’m learning every day. I loved your first point: Blogging has no working hours. Only ‘waking hours’ – SO TRUE!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I have had a blog for nearly two years now and I’m still struggling to get more readers than just my mum. These are good tips. My main downfalls have been 1 and 5. I didn’t put enough time into it during the first year and left long gaps between posts. I now post every week and it helps. I always have to keep reminding myself the same thing you said in your 12th tip. Blogging itself is the reward: most important is that I blog bc I enjoy it.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Dam straight! I am now thinking like you after launching our new blog earlier this year. I got to the cross-eyed faze and now chilling out a bit but the blog and social media side of things is still pulling in the people/likes/comments/interaction etc. Its hard work but worth it 🙂

    Like

  6. I agree completely with you. I started 6 months ago and everything looks different now. I think your #9 it’s the best true of all, because as much I try to explain an experience, my friends always see things in another perspective. Thanks for sharing, I can’t wait to write something similar in 6 months. Good luck going forward.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. We are just over a year in and so much of this article resonated with us, especially the crazy and limitless possibilities of travel and writing. There is so much you could do, it’s hard to focus on what you should do. I guess that’s why there is only waking hours. We love your work BTW, keep it going girl.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Congratulations on your first year, and I certainly can attest to that on how amazing blogging has made us succeed in so many levels.. Kudos to this inside secrets, it really shows how we bloggers are.. Keep it going..

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Congrats on your one year blogoversary! You’ve done an incredible job, what a fun journey. Thanks for sharing your reflections, it really is the most difficult, but rewarding journey – I like that you highlighted that growth is tied to effort, because it’s so true. 90% of blogs fail because I think they buy into the overnight success which is so often touted on the internet, but like anything, it’s all about the grunt work – not hard if you love what you do though!

    Keep learning, and loving life. And congrats again!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. It sounds like you’ve come a long way in your first year blogging, congratulations on your first year! These tips are great for anyone who is new to blogging and wants some insight into what it takes to start and grow a travel blog! Thanks for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. These are great lessons to learn. I too have suffered from the lack of bandwidth of my brain. It sounds like you definitely have come a long way in this year of blogging. I hope that you manage to keep up the momentum and more than anything continue to enjoy it!

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Lots of great insights and completely agree! We work more now that when we had traditional jobs, and patience and hard work are key–but definitely worth it! Love #11 too–we’ve met a ton of great people through blogging!

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Travel bloggers can be a great tribe. Finding people who share similar values is one of the aspects of it I love the most. Looks like you’ve had a great year and developed some great learnings along the way.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Congratulations. I have been blogging for 1,5 years with a log break so it feels like its also my first year blogging 🙂 I know it is not easy and it takes a lot of time but the satisfaction when you see people liking, sharing and commenting is the best 🙂
    Plus it helps to travel the world cause you always have an excuse – writing new blog post about beautiful places 😀

    Best,
    Kasia

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Good things come to those who wait. Indeed! And rightly said, one has one’s own pace of doing things and own milestones. And when we achieve it, IT IS BLISS. This article is wonderful Punita 🙂 I feel you. I FEEL YOU!

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Honestly, I’ll be honest when I say that I rarely read articles through from start to finish anymore. Sad, right? But I read every word of this, and it’s beautifully done. As a fellow travel blogger, I deeply identify with each and every point you made. I’ll be bookmarking this one. Thanks!

    Like

  17. #1 and 11 are so true!! Blogging doesn’t feel like work because we all love it so much. There’s a saying “if you love what you do, you don’t work a day in your life.” So true about blogging! & I absolutely love the travel blog tribes I’ve stumbled into; everybody is so helpful and willing to help each other succeed!

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Congrats on your one year anniversary! I totally relate to everything you mentioned on this post. It’s quite overwhelming when we first started and it still is but we enjoy it! I love sharing but the same time, I love hearing from other bloggers as well since everyone has their own stories. Some days it’s hard to be blogging but it’s always worth it in the end. Keep it up!

    Liked by 1 person

  19. A very honest take on blogging. I am so glad you put this out . All of us have gone through this and it can get very overwhelming when you start comparing yourself to everyone. Set your own rules and timelines. Why follow the crowd? – this point of yours really comes handy there. And the other important point is – have your own style and voice. That is what sets you apart. Cheers to you !

    Liked by 1 person

  20. So many of these ring true and are so relatable to me. I love that you brought up finding a travel community. For as much as I joke about it, my internet friends I’ve met though blogging are some of my favorite! Cheers to a beautiful blog and more traveling!

    Liked by 1 person

  21. Amazing insights! We agree with you, especially on No.3. Blogging develops my confidence as a writer, which is really a big deal for me since I plan to be a novelist. And yes to No. 7. Our blog is not monetized. But we get more value and happiness knowing that our blog has reached out and has impacted the lives of people—specifically, for them to chase their passions.

    Liked by 1 person

  22. Can relate to most of your points. Since, it was my first year of blogging too, just entered into the second. Particularly the fact that no one would understand your journey as well as you yourself would. How true! All the best with your travels and blogging journey

    Liked by 1 person

  23. Such a great post! I had been feeling creative without and outlet, and so my blog was born (three weeks ago). It has been so much fun to be able to share my experiences, even if my views and visits are small in numbers.
    This post is great inspiratation to keep up my blog during the school year! Thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

  24. Nice reading about your journey and take on travel blogging. Really heartening to see your focus on you passion of writing and good content. Yes travel blogging is as limitless as the world. Seemingly endless. Keep writing, I think that is the only way to keep going.

    Liked by 1 person

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