What a year it has been! I launched my website www.travelinglensphotography.com to show photos and tell stories from my travels. Through this journey, I learned all about website design, branding, scheduling social media posts, as well as what niche to pursue and what stories the traveling public might be interested in reading. The hard part was that I had to do all of this in my spare time.
I began this journey because a friend of ours mentioned to me that I had so many interesting photos of my travels that I needed to put them into stories so I could easily share and inspire others to visit these amazing places. Then another person offered to purchase one of my prints and said you should market them through a website. With these two inspirational ideas, I began to read about blogging, website design, travel writing and so much more.
I started out thinking about a name for my blogging website, a name that would be telling about the kind of photography I pursue and the stories I tell.
As I began my research on how branding works in a business and how to create a brand, I had to reflect on my travel journeys. I had to figure out what would drive someone to my website and to read my stories based on my brand. This brand had to be eye-catching, relatable, able to speak about the stories, but also be a name I wanted to stick with for a long time. The name of the blog came easily to me as it sums up what I do: travel with my camera and take pictures.
Once I had the name “Traveling Lens Photography,” I needed a logo. I tried to create my own logo on PicMonkey but I didn’t really like my own creation. So I decided to reach out to 99designs.com and pitch my brand idea. Then several of their graphic design artists pitched their respective logo designs. Once I selected a logo, the designer provided the logo in various digital formats. You can stay in contact with the designer to tweak your logo as you build your business, too, which was a big plus for me. The design I selected was the one with the cute suitcase…very suitable for a travel blog.
Next was writing a bio about myself. I am never one to photograph myself, much less write about myself. In this bio, I needed to share about who I was, why I enjoy photography, why I started the blog, and then include a picture of myself, too. This is when I recruited my dear friend Danny Vivian, who is an excellent photographer and who has always been kind to me in sharing how to become a better photographer myself. We went out to the park, brought along some props, and I gave him some ideas of what I was trying to create. The final results where perfect!
I knew the first thing I needed to do was launch a website. I sat down with my good friend David Arnold, who owns DEWebWorks and explained to him my idea of blogging and what I wanted the website to look like, as well as shared some examples of other websites that depicted some of my ideas. After several meetings with David and his team, they launched my website.
Because I had very little experience in blogging or operating the backend of a website, I knew I was going to need some help. I visited with a couple of my other blogging friends and they suggested I get a Virtual Assistant to help me, not only to manage the website but to also help with editing and educating me on blogging. My husband suggested I do a search on UpWork and read the reviews and ask the VA’s questions to find the perfect match for me. There is where I met my sweet friend Erin Maxson. She has been so wonderful and taught me so much. Erin keeps me on target, schedules my social media posts, and helps with improving my overall blogging techniques.
With folders on my computer full of pictures, it was time for me to start writing. I had no idea where to begin. I realized rather quickly that my vocabulary drawer of descriptive words was very limited. All I could think of was beautiful, amazing, great, breathtaking, eye-catching and yummy. I had to start working on building a vocabulary list of words that would go along with what I wanted to say in my blogs other than the old and tired adjectives I had been using since high school. I still struggle with writing and realize that it is work in progress, so I enrolled in a class for Creative Writing.
One major lesson I learned is that blogging does require commitment. One thing I don’t have a problem with is being committed, but I do find myself putting other things aside and then I start to feel overwhelmed with everything I want to accomplish in a day. To alleviate this issue, I began to schedule blogging time so that I wouldn’t feel like I was neglecting my husband and also to create a time to really focus on the task at hand. I started to give up my exercise routine and quickly realized this was unhealthy for me, so I added that back into the routine of things. I learned to write notes whenever I had a thought or idea for possible use later. With day planners, calendars, and post-it notes stuck up all around my computer, I realized laying out a routine was going to be the key to my success in surviving my first year of blogging. The goal is to keep writing and stay strong to the mission at hand!
Blogging is a group activity. You have to stay engaged with other bloggers, people that like the same as what you are writing about, for example, photographers, travelers, travel journalists are your best readers. You have to be willing to comment often on other blogs so that in return they will visit your blog. You need to like and share lots of posts on social media of other bloggers so that people will start to recognize you. I became a friend with three experienced travel bloggers which has really helped me become a better blogger. I not only follow them on social media but I’m also on their email distribution list.
Setting goals for my blog was important and Erin was able to help me figure out how to go about setting realistic goals. I really didn’t know what would be realistic for me to set out to do in my first year. I am a goal driven person and setting these goals gave me something to strive for and work towards launching my website and blogs.
Here are the goals I set for my first year:
- Four blogs a month ((Check)
- 500 email subscribers in a year.
- Grow traffic to my website by 50%.
- Have three guest posts on the website in one year.
- Post 5 photographs to Instagram a week. (check)
- Participate in blog groups on social media. (check)
- Stream together social media to my website. (check)
Although I didn’t accomplish every goal, I feel I did very well considering I knew absolutely nothing about blogging. I don’t like to beat myself up for not accomplishing them because I know that I have given it 100% and learned what I need to do differently to improve my outcomes.
What are my goals for 2019?
- Improve writing in the first person.
- Get 200 email subscribers by the end of the year.
- Develop my Pinterest account to market my blog.
- Take 2 photography courses (one in camera and one in photoshop)
- Have three guest blogs on my website.
- Create a travel blog journal.
- Develop my niche for mural photography.
- Enjoy every minute of my experience.
A few of these may seem like repeat goals, but that is because I didn’t accomplish them last year and still want to achieve them this year. I have reflected on what I enjoy most about traveling and photography, and I truly do find myself looking for more of those street art displays to capture through my lens. I may be spending more time this year aiming to research and develop more of telling the story of the artists behind the artwork, as well as the area in which to discover these unique pieces of art, as they help bring inspiration, color, and attraction to an area typically struck with hardship.
I hope you all have enjoyed what I have been able to share so far and that you will continue to follow me throughout my travels this year. I don’t know where we will travel this year, but I do plan to bring you along through my blogs and photos.
Best of luck this year and I hope all of you have a bright and prosperous 2019!