This week I received an email from an aspiring writer looking for an opportunity to contribute to a blog. He shared in his email that writing was his dream but that he has been met time and again with obstacles to his dream by publishers and blog owners refusing to give him a shot at doing what he loves. And certainly we can all sympathise on some level with those types of frustrations.
Although his email has inspired this post, sadly that’s where the inspiration ended for a few reasons:
- Although my blogs all clearly have my name on every page, he started his email to “Whomever may be reading this” haha
- It was laden with typeos and grammar mistakes
- He insinuated that because I’m a woman that it’s possible I only want “topics interesting to women. But if you’re looking for FRESH ideas…” that he could deliver that
I replied back, thanking him for reaching out and stating the above reasons for why I wasn’t interested in taking things any further. Then I shared my advice on how to become a writer.
This Blogger’s Life … Started in India
Everyone’s journey in life is unique. While replying to that email, I reminisced so much about how I actually started as a blogger that I started looking back at my first posts and checking out old footage from videos I had shot in India. I was so nostalgic at the end of it that it inspired me to piece some of it together for one of those 60-second trailers for my YouTube channel, check it out >>
Today I’m proud to say I’m a luxury travel blogger in Asia and a contributor to Condé Nast Traveller magazine. Yet that’s not how I started.
I started blogging the first day I moved to India in 2011 as a way to share my new adventures with family and friends. For months I wrote daily about the beauty I saw in the cultural differences, about the new things I experienced, about the life lessons my driver Shiva imparted on me … and I wrote about what it was like being a tall, white, blonde living in Bangalore.
You can’t imagine how happy I was when I saw that 22 family members and friends in the USA and Europe had visited my blog in a single day. Then an Indian blogger came across a post of mine in a Google search and shared it. It was added to a few blogrolls around India and then all of a sudden my little personal blog started to grow, and there were way more visitors from India than anywhere else. In fact, I can still remember celebrating the first time I hit 100 visitors in a single day!!
What pushed it to the next level was when I shared my first Sunday brunch experience. Instantly I could see that a new audience (a sizeable percentage of the traffic) was coming onto my blog from Google searches like ‘best sunday brunch in bangalore’ and I was thrilled! I decided to see if one of the 5-star hotels fancied inviting me and a friend in for brunch in exchange for a write up on my blog afterwards. Well…boy did they! The Taj properties were my very first. The P.R. manager was Farheen at the time, and she said that no one was really reviewing Sunday brunches online and asked if I would dedicate the next three Sundays to them so I could review all three brunches at their Bangalore hotels. And that was that.
Within 10 months my blog — that combined luxury travel reviews in India with tales on what it was like living as an expat there — was the #1 ‘Bangalore blog’ on Google. While I was living in India it used to receive between 1,000 – 3,000 visitors per DAY. As such, instead of me calling the hotels and restaurants, they started calling me.
Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t easy and it wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows. I put hundreds of hours into my baby (then thousands over the years), especially during the leap from the free WordPress site to my first .com self-hosted blog. Oh, and I had my site taken over by hackers once because of my ‘burka experience‘ post.
I never set out to be a luxury travel or food blogger, I just found pleasure in sharing my stories of life abroad with people, and blogging was the perfect platform for that passion. Finding a niche where I could stand apart from the crowd happened by pure luck and I’m grateful everyday for that, but I know many ambitious bloggers who forged their (much greater) success through dedication and drive and who make a ton of money from it.
The Secret to Blogging & Writing
I didn’t intend for this to be a me-me-me piece but I hope it paints an accurate picture for you of what it’s like to start and grow as a blogger. When I first started out in 2011, I was 40 years old, a single mom who received zero financial support from my ex-husband, and I worked full-time. Yet I loved blogging so much that I not only wrote every day but I used to launch new blog posts daily the first couple of months. I didn’t know WordPress inside and out nor did I know how to create videos but I learned. I stuck with it day after day and well … I did it.
And that’s the key. I believe that the secret to becoming a blogger or writer is quite simple: START DOING IT!
Tips For Getting Started as a Blogger
There are so many amazing how-to books and YouTube videos to learn the technical side of blogging so just remember that the only barrier between your dreams and reality is you. Take the first step forward and just start blogging. It’s really that simple. Don’t mimmic anyone else, don’t try to copy anyone’s success (and hopefully don’t start out in the beginning to make money at it). Just go out there and have fun for YOU! Trust me when I say that you never know what might come of it.
- Sign up for a free WordPress website. Then find a template that feels right to you and launch it. Trust me, once it’s up you’ll want to publish on it and watch it grow. And please don’t worry, you don’t need to be techy, it’s all very simple nowadays.
- Write. Every day if you can. If that’s not doable for you, then at least write when something strikes a nerve with you, or if something excites you. My most popular personal posts are usually the ones that were inspired by something or someone (like today), and they are generally when I’m my most honest. As for my travel posts, they are the ones that have a bit of humour in them or excitement that leaps off the pages or from the video.
- Cast a wide net at first. Although you’ll want to specialise eventually, explore a bit in the beginning. Write ONLY about things you love, but then see which ones generate the most engagement.
- Don’t forget YouTube. It’s the #2 search engine in the world after Google, making it the most powerful website around. I’m an absolute shit videographer and vlogger but I have so much fun doing it I don’t let it embarrass me (and I keep hoping that my skills will improve with practice 🙂 )
This post is #1 in a series I am launching on tips for bloggers. I hope you’ll subscribe to my blog or Facebook page to catch #2.
If you have any questions or would like to share your personal blogger story, I hope you’ll start the conversation and leave a comment below because I’d love to hear from you. Also, please come back and share a link to your blog if this somehow inspires you to start one. I’d be absolutely thrilled to follow along on your new adventure.
© 2016, Angela Carson and Angela-Carson.com. All rights reserved. Do not copy and reproduce text or images without permission.