Reality of Blogging vs. Expectations
My initial goal when I launched my blog – Ron’s Food Trips over a year ago, was to inspire one of my sisters to travel and explore new possibilities. Well, that quickly changed when I blogged my trip to Thailand.
“Thailand Captured My Heart” was my very first travel post. It has been retweeted and “favorited” over 400x on Twitter, shared and liked on Facebook over 100x, and still is the no. 1 traffic generator to my site with over 70,000 page views already.
Because of these amazing engagement and heartwarming comments, lots of exciting opportunities were coming my way. I was loving it, but then I realized that blogging is not all about attending events and freebies. It requires hard work, full-time commitment and an active social media in order to succeed. Unfortunately, finding time to write has been my no. 1 obstacle because I have a full-time job, family and a very hectic lifestyle.
If you’re thinking of starting a blog that eventually you want to monetize, you may want to hold that thought and read this first before pursuing it.
MY 5 BLOGGING EXPECTATIONS VS. REALITY
I could spare 2 hours of my day putting together a decent post. I would do it when I get home while watching TV or during the weekends.
I NEED at least 8 HOURS!
2 hours alone is for editing of those pictures I took.
When I’m inspired to write, it takes me 4 hours cumulatively over a week or 2 to complete a draft.
Another 2 hours setting-up and editing my post before publishing it, making sure that the post previews nicely; the text and pictures are all aligned, the page is clean and not busy. It has correct tags, featured image, and all the links and formulas are working.
As I mentioned above, finding time to write has been very challenging. When I come home from work, I prepare/go out to dinner and finish some household chores. By the time I sit down, it’s probably around 8 or 9pm, I just want to relax, watch TV and chill with the family.
Weekends? I don’t even bother. I’m busy with household chores, gatherings, family activities, travel and all sorts of events. Before I know it, it’s Sunday night already.
I have about 500 friends on Facebook. Each time I post something, I get hundreds of likes. My blog would be successful.
Do not count on your Facebook friends. You’re very lucky if 25% of your friends see your posts. I’ve been told numerous times that I don’t go on Facebook anymore.
My friends can’t see my posts, and neither do I. When I go visit their page, they have about 20 posts in the last 3 days that I missed.
So if one of your goals is to make money, sadly those 500 friends of yours is not enough to generate traffic to your site. You’re lucky if you get 10% of your Facebook friends who will actually interact, read and share your posts.
I can promote my blog through Facebook. All I need to do is create a separate Facebook page dedicated to my blog. I’ll invite all my 500 friends to LIKE my Facebook page, and that should give me an instant 500 followers. Sounds exciting!
I invited all my Facebook friends to like my page. Yay! I received a whopping 20% response which is not bad, but not enough.
Again, do not rely on your Facebook page, Facebook’s new algorithm prioritizes “friends” over brands. Unless you have extra money to promote your page, go ahead and spend away to get more exposure.
I reactivated my Twitter account, and started following successful bloggers to learn how to promote my blog via Twitter.
My youngest sister insisted that I need to create an Instagram account to reach and grow my audience, and so I did. She’s right! I started instagramming in November 2015, and that’s where I get most of my website traffic from. Currently, I’m managing 3 Instagram accounts; @ronsfoodtrips, @sweets_by_ronsfoodtrips and @lipstickfoodie.
If you have time on your hands or superior time management skills or want to live on the computer or have a virtual assistant, these social media platforms could help tremendously to build and grow your audience:
- WordPress community
However, if you’re just starting, I say pick 3 of the most suitable social platforms that will help you reach your target demographics, and grow your audience from there. Once you identify the right platform, followers will come to you organically.
This should be easy, I know computers. I’m internet savvy and an advertising expert too.
My first blog topics were a couple of local restaurant reviews. I checked my Google Analytics report, and the results were disappointing. Not because my page visitors and views were low, but the bounce rate was 98% and the user’s average time spent was 3 seconds.
That was alarming! My viewers were not reading my blog. It was like they couldn’t wait to leave.
I consider myself an expert at computers and advertising, but totally inept at blogging. I was so hurt because because blogging is personal. I was sharing my experiences, but according to Google Analytics, nobody cared!
How did I improve my numbers?
- I joined various travel, food and blog groups on Facebook. I introduced myself, posted my site and sought for honest and constructive criticism. I ended up revamping my website, added some useful plugins, tags, keywords and social media links.
- I shamelessly promote my blog in person and on social media.
- I keep my social media platforms active.
- I ask my friends, families and fellow bloggers to interact with my posts because sponsors look for these interactions; comments, likes and shares.
I could make some money or travel and eat for free!
YES! YES! YES!
I’ve been (part-time) blogging for a year. I post food and travel reviews once a month while keeping my social media pretty active. I’m very fortunate to have been receiving opportunities such as:
- Travel sponsorships and bloggers’ events in exchange of a write-up
- VIP treatment and hotel upgrades
- Offers from online travel sites, credit card companies and 3rd media parties to place banner ads on my site
- Free dinners from local restaurants for a good review
- This one surprises me – a sponsorship offer from an international cosmetic company
- Meeting new people, specially chefs and bakers
- Admirers and marriage proposals – Be prepared to receive messages from your readers who express their admiration.