Travel blogging has changed my life in more incredible ways that I ever imagined. What started off in September ’13 as a place to document some of my travel experiences, has turned into nearly a full-time job that I love doing everyday.
Generally speaking, there are many benefits to running your own travel blog. In my mind, some of the most notable perks are:
– having a convenient place to document your memories
– keeping your friends and family updated on your life
– being able to constantly work on a project
– connecting with likeminded people from all over the world
– showing thousands of people the beautiful world from my perspective
This list is just the first 5 things that popped into my mind when thinking about the overall benefits to a travel blog. However, from a business perspective, I’ve learned more skills than any of my business classes taught me at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
And I am talking about real-life, applicable skills that I plan to use in my future ventures. Through methods of trial and error, and picking the brains of other travel bloggers, I can proudly say that my skills are growing sharper by the day.
Believe it or not, Professional Bloggers (i.e. people who blog for a living) are indeed entrepreneurs themselves. For many entrepreneurs, like myself, blogging is just the stepping stones to our future success.
So, how is blogging and starting your own company similar?
Both managing a blog and starting a business involve lots of hard work, the ability to build something from scratch, time management, networking with people, dedication, staying organized, marketing yourself, pitching your idea to others, and more. Both are full-time jobs. The only difference is that blogging is much less lucrative and scalable when it comes to making money, but the start-up costs are close to nothing.
Well, why doesn’t everyone start a blog if it’s so easy and the benefits are that good?
The hardest part about blogging is the start.
Most people are simply overwhelmed by the complexities of running their own website. From choosing a domain, to learning how to use WordPress, and finding content to write about, these are the things that will hold people back. Also to be honest with you, blogging can be pretty time consuming, but you can decide how much effort to put into it.
After you start a blog, you’ll quickly see that the learning curve is massive. I had no idea what I was doing when I wrote my first post. But I quickly taught myself everything and went from zero social media followers to 10K in less than 7 months. These days, my blog receives tens of thousands of page views every month.
Please understand that I’m not telling you this information to show-off. But rather, I am sharing my experiences and showing you how it’s entirely possible for you to do the exact same thing as I am doing.
Therefore, I encourage each and every one of you to start a blog. It doesn’t have to be about travel. It can be about anything that you’re passionate about (sports, fashion, food, life, religion, tech, finance, dogs, hamburgers, lamps, African elephants, etc.) If you need help along the way, then please contact me and I’ll be happy to share my advice with you.
And just think about it, the worst case scenario is that you’ll have an awesome platform to document all your cool life experiences and look back on them when you’re older.
If you want more inspiration on starting a blog, then check out this awesome article.
For the remainder of this post, I will share with you the 10 most important business skills that I’ve picked up from blogging. I hope these give you some inspiration 😀
1. Becoming a Social Media Expert
Without a doubt, learning how to professionally use social media is the #1 skill that I’ve learned from my blogging journey thus far. And I strongly believe that it’s one of the most applicable skills to know in today’s world, because it relates to almost every business on the planet.
One year ago, I was clueless about the impact of social media. Today, I consider myself a social media expert, with 16K+ fans and rapidly growing across the 5 major networks. Through blogging, you will figure out which strategies work best, and learn how to implement them to market yourself to the world.
If you are looking for some tips, then check out my article on how I got 10K followers in <7 months.
2. Developing Writing Skills
Here’s a fact for you: The most you practice anything, the better you’ll get.
In high school and college, I always received horrible grades in my writing classes. Writing papers was always something that I dreaded, and frankly, I really sucked at it.
However, my rebirth came from the creation of my blog (without me knowing it). Now, I can write about things that I am passionate about; topics that I can’t wait to share with the world! And after pumping out 200+ articles over the last 365 days, my writing skills are becoming sharper and more natural by each post.
3. Being Creative
Creativeness is something that I always struggled with as a kid. However, through designing my website, writing unique pieces and thinking of ways to market myself, I now feel more creative and confident.
My creative skills are also relevant in editing travel videos and taking sweet photos everywhere I go. These are things that I never imagined doing just a year ago, but now the creative opportunities are endless.
4. Building websites
I always thought that building websites was a pain in the ass. Like seriously, who would want to put in the countless time and effort into coding a site?
That is all nonsense. WordPress makes it extremely easy to build a website from scratch without any knowledge about coding. In fact, I find WordPress to be more user-friendly than the iPhone. I literally taught myself everything from scratch by watchng youtube videos and reading tutorials. You can learn the basics of WordPress in a few hours, and then you’ll figure the rest out with time.
How is this valuable? Because whichever business I start in the future, I will need a website. Now, I have the knowledge to understand the process.
5. Hiring People Overseas
The most inspiring book I’ve ever read was the 4 Hour Work Week. Tim Ferris, the author and leader of a new-age movement, introduced me into a world of location independent entrepreneurs. These are people who run their own businesses online, and they are free to live, travel and work from any destination in the world.
The main tactic that I learned from Tim’s book was how to outsource your work overseas. Are you aware that you can get a personal assistant to do ANY task for you (filter your emails, build your twitter account, promote your business, build a website, go shopping for you, etc) for as cheap as $3 an hour? I have worked with several virtual assistants in the Philippines to help me build and market my social media networks. All of my experiences have been great and valuable. I never thought that I’d be hiring people to work for me at 22 years old.
I can confidently say that I’ve networked with tens of thousands of likeminded travelers, travel bloggers, and companies around the world. I’ve connected with people via Twitter, Facebook, Email, Blog Posts and Skype Calls. In one way or another, most top travel bloggers, and travel agencies know who I am or what my blog is all about.
Networking is clearly an important business skill, as it is applicable to any business in any industry. You never know which person can be a potential contact or business partner in the future- and that person might just be a random Twitter Followers.
As they say, “it’s all about who you know,” and that list of people is growing every single day.
While blogging is a fun hobby, there are aspects of professionalism that’re important to maintain. When I pitch myself to collaborate with travel companies, I must be organized and professional. After all, If these companies are going to partner with me, they want to make sure that I can get my work done.
Of course, when I write random posts about traveling, I can use slang words and do whatever I want. But when it comes to business, I have learned to mean business.
8. Time management
Blogging, taken seriously, is a big time consumer. Just ask any professional blogger and they will tell you how much time they spend working on their site, wiring posts, and building their audience everyday. I spend about 5 hours everyday doing it.
It’s very easy to get distracted- especially in this day in age with people checking their Facebook every 5 minutes and deciding which Instagram photo to post (I am guilty of this, too).
However, I have learned to set apart certain times of my day to only focus on different aspects of blogging. For example, I always write articles in the morning hours (from 8-10AM) because that’s when my brain is the most creative. After I write, I spend the afternoon networking with people and perfecting my site.
Learning how to manage your time is one of the biggest factors to being an efficient blogger.
9. Marketing Myself in General
Here is another fact: You can write the best content in the world, but it’s useless if nobody sees it.
The main reason why I started my blog is to influence people around the world by inspiring them to travel. But how do I find these people? I can assure you that they don’t just come knocking on my door…
I have to search for them. I have to expose myself to my target market in as many creative ways as possible. This is what marketing is all about: spreading the word, getting noticed, and making people interested in your product/service.
Social Media is not the only thing that I do to market myself. I optimize my blog by using keywords and I implement SEO skills (Search Engine Optimization) to rank highly on Google searches. In addition, I frequently post guest articles on many travel sites and blogs (U.S. News, Huff Post, Expedia to name a few). This exposes my name to an entire new pool of people.
10. Learning how to Pitch Yourself
I studied Entrepreneurship in college, and the most useful thing that I learned was how to pitch myself and/or your business.
But none of these skills were activated until I actually went out there and did it. I’ve pitched myself to hundreds of travel companies and other blogs for partnerships, guest posts, and other business opportunities. I have dozens of template emails in a private Google Doc that I continuously edit to make perfect.
In the end, if you can’t pitch yourself, then how are you going to grow and get the things that you want?
Please note that this list is not complete, but it’s just the first 10 skills that came to my mind. I hope you are inspired and realize how valuable blogs can be. I really cannot stress the importance of starting a blog for your life and career.
Start now so you can learn these skills and reap the benefits for your future 🙂