Behind the Scenes: July 2016

July 17, 2016

While I am beginning the start of my new, first, real blog this week, I am also considering doing a bit of a journal. Mostly just for me to look back and see what I’ve accomplished from the absolute very beginning. Also, if I ever get to a point to where I have the confidence to share these Behind-the-Scenes posts, I know that from my personal experience, I want to understand the complete startup.

Last week, I finally decided to take action in beginning a blog. I had always had a slight fascination with the idea of it but for whatever reason/excuse I didn’t pursue it. My husband and I married last September. We had a fabulous Sandals honeymoon in Jamaica and recommend to anyone who will listen. However, the Monday I returned to work I had an unexpected health problem happen. While I was/am outpatient only, it did sucker punch my little family financially. Nick’s work responsibilities now included dropping off our son at daycare until we had a better idea of what our future held as I was no longer legally allowed to drive until we had a handle on my health. My full-time employer kept me on longer than I had anticipated (even with my insurance benefits keeping my spot, so to speak) but after almost 6 months they had to let me go, as commuting was not a possibility, nor was telecommuting a real option in what I did, either. Needless to say, once I became officially unemployed, I no longer had the excuse of putting off my blog.

If you’re doing the math in your head, you’re right – I still put it off. And I shouldn’t have. Because time still marches on and wishes don’t come true without putting forth real, focused effort.

What have I done so far?

  1. Began working on my blog business plan
  2. Upon realizing my deeper ideas for my blog through my business plan, I have completed a relevant “About Me” page
  3. I have written my first post, although I am not publishing it until August with several others
  4. Created accounts on Facebook and Twitter and started following bloggers in the travel or history niche in order to begin networking and hopefully collaborating later (Hey Samantha Brown! I’d love to work with you!)
  5. Connected my site to my LinkedIn account
  6. I began shopping for a professional website design for when I decide to leap into being a self-hosted website

What’s next on the To-Do List?

  1. Understanding the new era SEO system – this right here is a hot mess to me and I am without a doubt, dreading it. I am starting to think I will understand it better once I start self-hosting my blog and have a non-WordPress domain. Lots of articles and relevant YouTube video in my future.
  2. Creating and start maintaining a Content Planner/Calendar. Probably going to get a physical planner, since those usually work best for me.
  3. Start background research on various cultural topics
  4. Check out my biggest competition’s websites – only for website designs (what I like and more importantly, what I don’t like) – it’s not cool to scout out topic ideas from competitors, y’all
  5. Strengthen my relationships with photographers I know
  6. Research relevant conventions to improve my blog
  7. Try to attend said conventions
  8. Create Twitter Card to boost subscribed readership (Thanks, Femtrepreneur for telling me about that!) – Also determine the best way to relay my messages through Twitter
  9. Write out 20+ quality, properly edited & cited (as necessary) content before launching the blog live
  10. Determine if Instagram is right for my blog to increase readership

This to-do list is soooooo very far from being complete but it is a start, just as I’ve only begun this endeavor 5 days ago. Baby steps to building my ideal website while putting hard work into the actual articles will be my road going forward.

I hope that reading this helps you understand the beginning process better. I mean, you know, if I do publish this for public reading.

Update: July 20, 2016

Not much has really been accomplished at this point. I have started a second post in draft but I want to keep working on my first one (also, still unpublished)

What I’ve Done:

  1. Purchased and read half of L. Peat O’Neil’s book, Travel Writing: A Guide to Research, Writing, and Selling. It has proved itself very useful so far, even if it is a bit dated (nothing noting using the internet for research). Best $5 on a hardback I’ve spent in a while! Small investments in yourself like this can still be beneficial
  2. O’Neil’s book has helped me create a basic outline for how to craft my posts. Incidentally, it has shown me some of my errors in my drafted articles, so I am thankful no one has yet had the time to see those posts!
  3. Realized that while everyone online always says “Content is King!” very few that I’ve come across seem to explain that includes more than your subject and how you convey it to the world. READ: Edit. Edit, again. Keep going until it’s all relevant. And it doesn’t seem like anyone wants you to understand how to properly edit a travel article either… Well, you know, without paying for a riveting E-book for the low price of $249!
  4. Finally hit 35% fluent in Spanish on Duolingo. Sure, it’s not a lot now, but when I revisit Mexico or Spain, I should be able to convey more than “Thanks for helping me” or “I’m sorry to interrupt.” Daily practice is where it’s at when enduring the learning process of a second language

What’s Next (on top of the To-Do’s listed from earlier)

  1. Purchase Lonely Planet’s Guide to Travel Writing by Don George. It seems valuable and the Amazon Reviewers seem to have wider vocabularies than O’Neils, so that has to be a good sign, right? To be clear, O’Neil herself is quite the wordsmith, so this is no jab at her own skills.
  2. Try to get to the point that I can write, edit, and finalize an article in one day. This proves to be a lofty dream for me currently.
  3. Will have to readjust my expectations of when I will be launching my own self-hosted website. It may be September or later, dependent upon how I progress in writing my articles.

Investment in Myself & Wanderlust Conqueror:

  • O’Neil’s Travel Writing Book – $5

Update: July 31, 2016

  • Completed O’Neil’s Travel Writing Book
  • Landed a free month of Amazon Kindle Unlimited and was able to read Lonely Planet’s Guide to Travel Writing. Much more up to date and relevant
  • While still under the free month of Kindle Unlimited, I read Kirsty Stuart’s “How to Start a Travel Blog and Make Money” – the cover is a bit silly looking but it can’t hurt her too much since I evidently still chose it. Fairly short but informative read, since it focuses on blogs instead of outright print articles.
  • Taking full advantage of AKU, I downloaded another book but found that everything she wrote I already found online for free from other travel related writers. Didn’t care for her writing style, a bit too sloppy. It was as if she were writing quickly and didn’t bother to edit nor consider how her work would be considered to the rest of the world. Ironically, might I add, all the while telling the reader to do exactly that. Super happy I didn’t pay for this “advice.” It was so bad, that the second book of hers I had in my AKU library was immediately deleted. Trust me, I am most definitely a novice writer but readers can still have standards, especially those of us who are seeking out books to help us improve our own professional lives. Thank goodness for the free trial of Kindle Unlimited.
  • Came across Martin Li’s “How to Become a Published Travel Writer: Volume 5: Travel Writing that Sells” – I’m only 14% into his book and it is already proving a quality piece of work. The writing style seems authentic and isn’t out to get you to read other books by him to find out more. More in-depth than most of the travel writers I’ve come across lately when trying to help you succeed as they have done. Once I finish this book, I may look into spending my own money on his other books. Seriously, much better than anticipated after the last few other authors, even more than Stuart’s work.
  • All this reading in a week has let me allow my Spanish lessons on Duolingo to go by the wayside. I’ll probably start picking that back up soon. I can’t keep reading all these “How to Succeed as a Travel Writer” books if I don’t actually finish my posts for the public use.
  • Found out that I while my photography skills are alright, I would be taken more seriously and attract more returning readers to my site if I take the time to up my game. Being in Mississippi, it doesn’t seem like locals understand that they’d get more business if they put up their business information online. I cannot find one stinking photography workshop online to save my life, but a few years ago my mom found one by a newspaper. These poor independent business people aren’t adapting to the new era of business and will die a silent death amongst the other non-adaptive businesses of the past. Not everything is Walmart’s fault, as it turns out.
  • Contacted a photographer about headshots for my website. For 6 images, I *only* have to pay $300. I don’t think that’s worth it for where I am right now. I just want it to be professional enough that I’m taken seriously. I know another photographer, so I may try to catch up with him to see what he’d charge me. He’s been published several times in the local newspapers for his journalistic style. I like his work, so he might be a decent fit. We’ll see.
  • Reestablished my Instagram account and updated my link.
  • Came across an extremely lengthy online video course from CreativeLive.com. It took 2 days for them to complete it. Because I had RSVP’d before it first aired, I watched the first day in one massive sitting. I didn’t know if it would fast forward to the current part even though I paused the video (it would seem to skip upon hitting play again). At first, Laura Grier’s “Become a Travel Photographer” course seemed to be mainly focused on wedding photography with a “destination/travel” niche so I had begun to think I wasted valuable time. I went back to CL to see if they had any other free “on air” classes that would be relevant and Grier’s class popped up as “Live” again. Curious, I clicked on it, sure enough, she was in a different dress and in the middle of the second half of her course. If I had known there was a part 2, I would have taken the time to log-on and finish it since towards the end, of what is now Part 1, she was finally getting away from the wedding-heavy topics. It’s almost worth paying the $150 for the entire course now, especially now that I know she becomes relevant to the non-wedding industry budding photographers. However, I’m broke and haven’t even launched my site to even begin to be profitable. So, Laura Grier will have to wait a bit before I can purchase her work.

End of July. Hopefully, more will be accomplished in August that will produce an actual audience.

Success is inevitable. Murphy’s law will make it so.

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