In a previous post I mentioned that blogging isn’t easy.
Oh sure, anyone can create a website and start writing words on it. How easy is that?
But the real test is in how well you write, how well you get your message across to your readers.
And that is where branding comes in. Branding is the overall theme to the content you put out there.
You want to stay on message every time you write. At least that is what I’ve learned from everything I’ve read so far. (I’m always reading so maybe there is something that is contrary to that concept and I haven’t come across it yet)
You have to know who your audience is to get that message to the right people. Because if the wrong people are coming to your website, they’ll leave as fast as they arrived. They leave because for some reason your content got put in front of them and maybe they clicked to read something and decided it wasn’t what they were looking for or they simply had no interest in the content.
Who is your audience anyway?
I’ve been asking myself this question and reading all kinds of information to start figuring that out.
In my case my readers are interested in travel. That’s a broad reach and can span to literally millions of people around the world. That’s not good enough however, to rank in the search engines. Why? Because there are already millions of travel blogs out there all with their own message trying to reach their specific audience. It’s a competitive world. You have to know where the edges are to fit your narrative.
So how do you differentiate between your content and the millions of others out there? --Without having to stand on your head and post silly videos of you standing on your head.
I’m not really interested in gimmicky things to post just to draw attention. It works for many people but it’s not my thing.
I’m interested more in the integrity of my content, so my message can be heard by the right kind of people who resonate with the things I say. I want real connections with real people looking for ideas to help them with their own travel adventures. I want somebody to say to me, “you know, I was thinking of going to Taiwan and started reading up on it. I came across your website and read your article on Taiwan. In your post you said “Kaohsiung has bad air quality, well, I didn’t know that. I just assumed the air was good there. I didn’t know a lot of people wear air filtering masks as they walk around in Kaohsiung.” The take-away from this reader was that they learned something new. Something that was helpful to them. It may be miniscule and seem inconsequential to other readers, but the point is that if even one person is helped with a bit of information it makes the difference to that person. So now when that person travels to Kaohsiung they’ll be on the lookout for the bad air quality. Maybe they won’t find much of it, maybe they’ll have to buy a cheap air mask like I did. In any case, some relevant information was passed on to the reader.
And that is my goal in sharing my travel journeys. I wanted to first document my travels with the photos I took all for my own personal posterity. The second thing is to share it with people, after all, there is no point in just keeping it to yourself.
So what started out as something “simple” ahem, writing a travel blog, has become something even more in terms of branding what you write about (content) to fit yourself authentically.
Travalerie was the name I picked for my company brand because it was a clever combination of the word “travel” and my name of Valerie. No one else was using it so I trademarked it for 10 years. I set up my business LLC (Limited Liability Company) around it legally. I did this to protect my own interests. In other words, this is my corner of the world and don’t infringe on it please.
Then on to the business of branding that company trademarked name through what I write about and what I advertise. All of it must somehow relate to the business of travel information. In time as I progress with my blog I will probably narrow down my niche to something more defined. I have so many ideas on what that can be – you will just have to stay tuned to my website by signing up for updates to see how Travalerie evolves the brand.
Blogging is not easy.
Even though you can find millions of titles on the web along the lines of "How to Blog" ad infinitum.
There is no magic formula.â
âBut there is ONE THING that needs to be addressed. And that is perseverance.
Originally, I started my travel blog in 2015. I was sitting in my daughter's apartment in Paris. I had time on my hands as she already had a busy schedule with her class schedule and school activities.
I, on the other hand, could easily explore Paris on my own.
Sometimes I did.
âBut when I was alone in the apartment I did what I like to do best. Get out my laptop and start reading. Start engaging with people on social media. Look through my photos on my iPhone and transfer them to my laptop.
BUY A DOMAIN
Thus began the thought, "well, I might as well be writing about my adventures in full blogging form" So I started researching how to buy a domain name. And I did at HostGator because they had the best deal hassle-free for me. Et Voila, Travalerie.com was born!
From there I researched which platform to use. It seemed WordPress was all the rage in the blog world.
âI found an easy travel theme to start with, though it was a bit outdated, I liked the format and the stock travel photos that came with it.
I had to write an "About Me" page. Where to begin? More importantly, in my case, how to condense?
I had already accumulated 8 years of actual work in the Travel Industry. But that was 4 decades ago!
I've done a lot since then in terms of job and career and education, but I never stopped travelling.
Which brings me to my point about perseverance. Here it is 3 years later, in 2018, and I redesigned my website changing platforms along the way to Weebly.
I changed my website not only because I wanted to keep up with travel blogging, but because I also signed up as an independent travel agency through a hosted national travel agency. What better way to get my career re-started than back in the travel industry.
LIFE IS A JOURNEY, NOT A DESTINATION
Some would call it a mid-life career change. I just call it reinventing myself.
âI'm always open to personal growth.
As for you dear reader, I wish you success in all that you do!
3 Things You Need to Start a Blog
The short answer is you need a website, a host company, and a domain name. Those are the first 3 things to create what is known as a “web presence” on the internet. In today’s terms it’s more commonly called a Blog because you are writing about what you know best—whatever your niche is---your website blog is generally written in the first person because you are relating to your viewers your own knowledge, or expertise on a particular subject.
But Where Do You Begin?
If you are not familiar with all these technical components to creating a blog you might get overwhelmed in the learning process.
I’m going to try and simplify it for you.
Blog Names and Domains
First of all, think about what do you want your website blog name to be? Do you want a vanity URL? What is a “vanity URL” you may wonder. URL stands for Uniform Resource Locator and is the technical terminology of a website address. For example, Travalerie.com is my website address but it is also known as a URL – it’s what you type in to the search bar on your browser.
Vanity refers to it being your own name and therefore its personalized. On the other hand, what if you want a company name instead of your own name? Start by researching on the internet to see what names are already taken that you might have been considering.
Hosting Your Website Blog
Once you narrow down to a few choices of what you want your domain name to be go to a hosting company which is basically the computer servers that hold the space where your website blog resides. There are dozens of hosting companies out there. I can recommend HostGator as I’ve been with them for 3 years. Your hosting company can help you register your domain name AND host your website for you. They can even help you create your website blog. It’s up to you if you want everything in one place to make it easier or if it is more cost-efficient. Generally there are special package deals to combine all 3 of these components making it easy to get your website presence up and running. Check out HostGator packages by clicking on the link below
Once you have your host company and domain name chosen the next step is to familiarize yourself with the different website blog software platforms. By the way, you don’t have to download software to your computer. You will be using the software located through the blogging platform.
The most popular blog creating software is known as WordPress. That is because it is free and because you can completely customize a website to whatever you want it to be. There are themes, or templates, to choose from making it extremely easy to pick and choose a theme that works with whatever your envisioned image you want to present on the web.
There are several other brands; Weebly, Wix, Squarespace, etc. I use Weebly because a) it was part of a travel agent consortium offering and b) it’s super easy. By super-easy I mean that it is intuitive and technically easy known as ‘drag-and-drop’ by using your mouse to simply move one element to an area you build your blog.
Am I Ready to Write My Topics?
So now you have a Domain name, a Hosting Company, and a Blog software platform. You are all set.
Not so fast! This is the first phase you have accomplished. The next step is in creating content for your brand new blog website. We’ll cover that in another post.