BEHIND THE SCENES:
The story behind our stories
A year and half ago, we wanted to start a blog. A blog that detailed our backpacking adventures. We had planned to travel for 12 months visiting countries and doing things that we had on our bucket lists. So, why not document our journey, so that we could share it with our friends and families?! As we planned and prepped, other priorities took over – packing up the house, finalising work, travel research and bookings, Christmas and catching up with everyone before we left. We came to the conclusion that we couldn’t maintain a blog regularly enough to do ourselves and our ‘followers’ justice. We also didn’t have access to wifi for more than 12 weeks of our journey due to remoteness of our locations. Not to mention sharing it with hundreds of other backpackers in hostels! (Besides, blogging is our hobby and not our livelihood, so we were out in the physical world experiencing things it had to offer)
So, we put the blog on hold, and divided our social media tasks between us. I created a Facebook group called ‘Travel Adventures of Prue and Rob’ (now, out of commission since launching this blog, Bag Most Travelled) and Instagram (We were @prueandrob and now renamed, @bagmosttravelled. Rob managed our Flickr and Trip Advisor accounts. We updated these as often as we could, but not over pursuing our physical and emotional experiences of our gap year.
I had somewhat physical diary for the year, Rob scribbling notes where he could find space, and a year full of conversations and analysis about the pros, cons and what would we do next time. In that laid the basis of Bag Most Travelled. Check out our post about travel journals here.
Although, a blow-by-blow account of our journey may (or may not) be interesting to our readers, we always found practical guides and recommendations to be what we sought most when doing our online research. Things to bring, factors to consider, and cost are areas of interest, and so we figured hindsight writing was the best. After all, we haven’t always done things perfectly. We both enjoy refining our techniques and skills in anything we do. We’re reflective like that (Read: nerdy and proud of it!) 🙂
During our trip, it came up again about why we hadn’t pursue the blog. With a little encouragement from friends (you know who you are!), we decided we’d start the blog when we came back as a way of sharing our knowledge and experiences that may (hopefully) help someone else. Give back to the online travel communities who have been so graciously sharing their information with us for many years. It would be:
- One-stop shop about our Bag Most Travelled‘s experiences
- Accessible in anywhere in the world (for the writers and the readers)
- A larger audience (not just our friends and family) – I actually spend more time talking about our journey with complete strangers and acquaintances (probably because our family and friends have been long-suffering in this area of our lives, Thank you for your patience!)
- Collaborating and engaging with like-minded travellers, bloggers and travel bloggers
- Keeping a lid on the symptoms of our wanderlust at bay when we returned home
We did a lot of reading, conversed with our IT and blogging friends (Thank you, thank you!), and drew little diagrams then we launched Bag Most Travelled on 29 January 2015. Below are some considerations we took into account before we entered the blogging world.
Things to think about what starting up your blog:
- Name and focus
What is your blog about? Be seriously passionate about the topic, otherwise you will get bored and you won’t keep up your enthusiasm to keep adding content especially if you see this is as a long-term hobby, or even a source of income.
Practical tip: Have a good think about how much personal (and/or specific) information you want to share with the online world. In terms of internet safety and identity theft, I think it’s better to err on the side of caution. For example, is it crucial for your readers to know (in order for them to understand your blog;
- Your last name
- Where you live
- Where you work
- Details about your children
- What car you drive
- Look at bloggers you enjoy reading
Why do you like them? The way they write; photos; layout of website; type of content? At the bottom of a blogger’s home page you can usually see who their blogging platform is and the name of the theme (appearance) they use. We use wordpress.com with the penscratch theme. Click here if you want to read more about our theme and even check out a live demo!
- Got a name yet?
Google it – Make sure you aren’t stealing it from somebody else! We thought about just calling ourselves ‘The Travel Adventures of Prue and Rob’ (like our Facebook group) but we felt it was too long, my name isn’t very common (therefore, hard to remember), and Bag Most Travelled (we think) is catchy and a separate entity of our identity.
- How much computer/IT know how do you have?
Deciding on a blogging platform and whether you won’t to host it yourself (I had an online journal about 10 years ago) but I knew nothing about hosting, search engine optimisation (SEO) and driving traffic, etc. Here’s a short read by Dear Blogger with all the basics you need to know about blogging platforms like WordPress, Blogspot, Livejournal, etc. Click here to have a read.
- We decided on wordpress.com (and not .org)
Yes, creative control is important but our IT knowledge is intermediate (at best) and to be honest, we weren’t sure how far we’re going to take this blogging thing (and that’s ok). WordPress.com has so many options for appearances, fonts, colours, etc that we didn’t need further creative or artistic control at this stage. We just wanted to focus on sharing our information with others with a few pretty pictures here and there. In 12 months time, we will decide whether we will continue as it is or change over to .org where we will have more creative options but will have to pursue web hosting, backing up our data, understanding coding and such. Check out this link by WordPress that gives you the lowdown on wordpress.com vs wordpress.org.
- Social Media applications
What social media sites do you already use? Do you want to use them to promote your blog? These are potential places to meet readers, other travellers and other bloggers. You don’t need to use ALL of them but a variety helps create traffic and networks (and don’t forget, a source of blogging inspiration!).
If you spread yourself too thinly, it’s difficult to maintain, especially if you want to have meaningful content rather than lots of mediocre blah. (Initially we’ve started with a Facebook page and a Twitter account. Of course, we already had Instagram — This expanded to include Pinterest and Flickr). You can find our social media links here.
Practical tip: Connect (link) your accounts together, that way you won’t have to post separately to each site – saving you time and effort!
For example, whenever we write a post on Bag Most Travelled, we have it automatically publish to our Facebook page, then we have our Facebook page auto publish to Twitter. In our experience, don’t auto publish to Facebook AND Twitter (if you Facebook is already connected to Twitter), as you will create a very tangled web of cross posting and will pretty much spam your readers’ news feeds with the same content multiple times.
- Decide on your profile picture. Consider a logo. Use across all social media platforms, so you are easily recognisable. Read up on branding and marketing, if you’re committed. It’s up to you about how professional you want to come across in the online world. Since neither of us are modelesque, we decided on a simple logo with colours that we liked. We’re also all about travel, so photos from our travels are what people want to see!
- Write content.
If you enjoy what you’re writing about, the words are going flow easily. It’s that simple. This post at By Regina helped us plan our launch and to ensure we didn’t look too amateur. Click here to read.
Practical tip: Check your spelling, proof read (or ask a friend!) and make sure your links work. As a reader, I loathe clicking a link that doesn’t work, I don’t want to waste my time having to search for it myself! Let’s face it, we’re all lazy!
- Organisation and time management
Can seem tedious to begin with but your busy-self will thank you later.
- Organise all your photos, content and notes on your computer (Consistent file naming and folders definitely help!).
- Consider a schedule and/or routine; so you don’t get overwhelmed. (I have a monthly reminder to change the photo header on the website).
- If you are suddenly inspired and don’t have time to write a whole post right now, draft up some notes!
- Trust me, it’s easy to overcommit. Be realistic. If you write lengthy, detailed posts with photos (and have other commitments, like these pesky things called a full time jobs or kids or both!), you might be able to only post 2-3 times per month and that’s ok.
FIRST MONTH REFLECTION
I have to admit I am still on a rush from launching the blog. I haven’t done anything as exciting or as out of my comfort zone, since well, since we were travelling. Gotta get my fix somewhere 😉 I’m not going to lie, it was a slightly difficult process (as computers aren’t my forte; beyond checking my email and Facebooking, and the occasional YouTube), but when you’re enthusiastic and keen to learn, it doesn’t feel tedious. Be a sponge. Google is seriously your best friend. Use it widely and wisely, and change up keywords to get different results such as simple things like ‘traveling’ and ‘travelling’ as well as ‘costs’ and ‘budget’. I also recommend looking into reviews about whichever apps and programs you’re going to use. The company whom produced the app is always going to say it’s amazing but user reviews are going to be able to identify whether something is user friendly, or if it’s compatible with your device (like some apps are only available on Andriod and not iTunes, or vice versa)
In the first month, we produced 14 posts (with about 100+ more ideas floating around in my notepad). We started our Facebook page and Twitter. And realised that you could link the accounts, so you didn’t have to post individually to each site (unless you wanted to). Saving you time, energy, and stress.
The biggest thing I learnt was DON’T GET OBSESSED WITH STATS! I’m not the only one who sees numbers and can get bogged down thinking this is the only measure of achievement. Kinda like how many kilograms (or pounds) you’ve lost, or kilometres (or miles) ran, this week! Of course, you feel proud and loved. It’s exciting and you do feel ‘rewarded’ seeing notifications of people ‘liking’ your page or ‘favouriting’ your Tweet but it’s not a true representation of quality and dedicated readers. I mean, why didn’t you start your blog in the first place? To contribute to the world or to show off? I got caught up with this instant gratification that people were watching and following us (that does sound creepy, no matter how I word that!) but then I found out that friends (and friends of friends, even strangers) were reading the blog without commenting or reaching out to us through other social media – Oh and btw, a big HELLO to our American, Spanish, French and Peruvian readers! Very, very humbled to see your presence on our analytics page 🙂 (The one time stats were helpful!)
Blog because you enjoy it and you want to share a bit of yourself with others. Blog because you want to connect with people around the world who share your passion. It is a continuing process of learning and improving. Don’t forget the trial and errors! Oh the errors! Put the fame and the glory on the backburner, it’s just a bonus. And sometimes, it’s better if you don’t see it at all. Thanks to everyone who has checked out our blog. We truly appreciate it and hope you’ve found something helpful along the way 🙂
If you’ve got questions or suggestions about the blog, let us know by clicking here. If you found this post useful, please share it via email or one of the social media buttons listed below. Cheers!
Bag Most Travelled