It was almost 5 years ago to the day that I was sat having dinner on the top floor of The Gherkin looking out over the skyscrapers of the City of London when I first decided to start London City Calling.
Initially, I started the blog as a small side hobby to write about my favourite restaurants in the capital while I also worked in an advertising firm in the city. Little did I know that it’d only take me a couple of years to completely fall in love with the industry, extend the blog into both wider London guides and travel, and even quit my day job to pursue my new passion full time.
So now it’s coming up to my 5 year blogiversary, I thought it was about time to look back on my journey so far and impart all of the things I’ve learnt along the way onto those just starting up in the industry.
1. Go to every blogging conference and event that you can
… to start with at least!
When you’re making a start in most industries, networking is important, but I can’t emphasise quite how important it is in the world of blogging.
Personally, I can easily say that I owe both my growth as a blogger and my love for what I do to the many, many amazing people I’ve met along the way.
From the first influencer conference I attended many years back to the fun events I’m lucky to be invited to as a blogger, I’ve had the opportunity to meet so many fantastic people and make loads of great connections. These have including some of the world’s top travel bloggers who have both taught and inspired me, as well as lovely PRs and DMOs (Destination Marketing Organizations) who have gone on to trust me to help promote their destination and attractions through London City Calling.
And the most important tip – don’t be afraid to start attending these events alone! While the first event might be a little daunting, before you know it you’ll be seeing the same friendly faces over and over again and soon you’ll have formed some amazing new friendships with great likeminded people!
2. Start learning straight away
While I know not everyone wants to eventually turn their blog into a business (and that’s awesome too!), one of my top tips for those who do is to start learning as much as you can as early as possible.
The first year or so that I started blogging it was a complete passion project, but then I went to my first influencer conference and realised there was so much more to being a blogger than I ever realised. I started learning more about SEO (Search Engine Optimization), site speed, website design, photography and more, and quickly realised that there was a lot I wanted to go back and update on my site.
While it’s entirely possible to fix up your blog and update old posts at any point in the future, if I could go back in time and give myself one piece of advice when I started blogging it would be to start learning these important things sooner rather than later and save myself the admin further down the line.
3. Have a multi-channel presence but don’t spread yourself out too thinly
A lot of people get into the influencer world due to their presence on one particular platform, but now more than ever it’s important to make sure you have a multi-channel presence if you want to grow your blog and eventually end up working with brands.
More than anything else I consider myself a writer and therefore my number one focus has always been my website. But I quickly learnt that it only takes a little extra effort to have a good presence on Instagram and Pinterest too which doesn’t only drive extra traffic over to my blog but also increases my attractiveness to PRs and brands looking to work with me.
However, it’s also important not to spread yourself too thinly. Don’t think that you need to maintain regular blog posts, produce great YouTube videos, and have a large Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat and TikTok following to be successful. While you might have a presence on all of these platforms, make sure that you keep your focus on just a few. Quality over quantity after all!
4. Keep up with industry trends as much as possible
In the grand scheme of things, the world of blogging is pretty new and influencer culture is still constantly changing.
From the rise of activist influencers and changes in rules regarding the disclosure of sponsored ads, to a move towards video content and even entirely new platforms such as Tik Tok popping up, it’s important to know what’s going on in the industry and keep as up to date as possible.
5. Know that your blog doesn’t have to be your only source of income
As great it would be to earn 100% of your income from your blog, it’s a pretty tough feat to achieve these days – especially when you’re just starting out.
While there are plenty of ways to monetise blogs through sponsorship, advertising, affiliates and more, earning a good and stable income can take years to achieve, and even then, uncontrollable circumstances such as the current COVID-19 pandemic can result in drastic losses in traffic and income.
I would say that roughly 80% of already established bloggers that I know personally (myself included) also have another source of income other than their primary blog, whether that’s still doing a couple of shifts every now and again in their previous careers (I know bloggers who are still registered doctors and pharmacists) or using their blogging skills to work as freelance SEO writers, digital marketers, social media managers, photographers and video editors.
While it may look like many travel bloggers are living the ultimate life of luxury getting paid to travel the world, blogging unfortunately doesn’t always pay the full rent and bills, so don’t rule out taking on side gigs too while you work on building your own blogging empire.
Fellow bloggers, what tips would you give someone just starting out in the industry?
* This post was written in collaboration with Intellifluence.