Four years ago I launched The Pin the Map Project. I remember the evening I flipped open my laptop; just another weekday evening in New York spent on my couch after a monotonous day at work. I was working in advertising back then and my 9 to 5 job consisted primarily of fielding hundreds of e-mails and staring blankly at Excel spreadsheets, shuffling around dollars for client’s media campaigns.
I wanted something more for my life and would spend lunch breaks, conference calls and meetings day dreaming about becoming a travel writer one day. With a journalism degree in my back pocket and a constant love of writing dating back to my pre-pubescent years, becoming a writer was always my dream. One evening, I decided to join the millions of new bloggers sprouting up each day and start a WordPress site. I spent the next few hours that night trying to leverage what little HTML savvy I had and build a site that didn’t look half bad.
I couldn’t have known then that my little blog would turn into a career, that as my site grew and opportunities to travel came in that I would eventually quit my advertising job and leave the 9 to 5. As I sat on my couch that night fumbling with the original Pin the Map logo — crafted in Microsoft Paint from nothing more than a combination of copy and paste images — I couldn’t have know that I would go on to inspire women at the Women’s Travel Festival in New York, that I would attend the United Nations summit on sustainable tourism, would travel on assignment from Colombia to Japan; that my side hobby would flip my life upside down, would lead me to call off my wedding, solo travel in South America and eventually meet the love of my life.
On that unremarkable week night in New York City, I took the first step of this incredible journey and haven’t stopped since.
To aspiring bloggers: I remember what it feels like to stand in your shoes, to look on wistfully as people share snapshots from their travels. I remember the feeling of being trapped in the daily grind of work, sleep and repeat. I remember perusing countless travel blogs and websites, always gravitating towards the same articles that promised: “the secret” to becoming a travel writer.
Other bloggers will tell you — or worse, will charge you — for their secrets but guess what, they’re all the same.
Post often, use social media, look at your Google Analytics, network with other bloggers, read other people’s blogs, never give up on your dream, have a passion for your work. All necessary advice, all important to success but none of them the secret to becoming a full time travel blogger. Here’s the best blogging advice I have for aspiring bloggers.
What’s a blogger network?
Because of my former career in advertising I learned one crucial thing that has single handedly helped grow my site: when a brand wants to work with a blogger, they rarely approach the blogger themselves. When I planned media campaigns for global companies, I was often tasked with finding influencers to represent their campaign and would always approach blogger networks.
A blogger network is a company who represents various bloggers across different categories (i.e. food, travel, fashion, etc.). Blogger networks such as Say Media and Blogher are some of the biggest players in the space and are worth looking into.
What’s the benefit of joining a blogging network?
If you want to turn your blogging hobby into a career then there is one thing you need: money. How do you make money as a blogger? The answer breaks down into two main buckets: creatively and through advertising/sponsorship. Creative ideas for making money as a blogger can include e-books, online courses, selling products, freelancing, etc. Advertising and sponsorship is when a brand pays you for the exposure you can provide; whether that is running a brand ad on your site, writing a sponsored post, creating a custom video or sending a sponsored tweet.
When a brand wants to work with a blogger, more often than not they will approach a blogging network who then recommends a list of bloggers that fit their objectives. Your blogger network acts as a liaison between you and the advertiser, so the benefit of joining is the potential to land great money making opportunities and — by virtue of the blogging network — increased exposure and blog traffic.
How to join a blogger network.
Application requirements vary from network to network but in my case, I waited until my readership had exceeded 5,000 unique readers per month before sending in my application. I knew from the beginning I wanted to join a blog network and so in that first year of blogging, I followed all those standard blog tips (post frequently, use social media, etc.) to grow my readership just enough to join one.
Now one thing to remember is to never inundate your website with sponsored content! It can be tempting to take on every paid sponsorship that comes across your inbox but if every post you write is sponsored, you will lose readers fast.
So, what’s the takeaway?
While the key to success in blogging hardly comes down to just one tip, it is important to know about blogging networks and how they can pave the way for your hobby to actually becoming a career. Blogging networks connect you with relevant brands, send you sponsorship opportunities, open up doors to additional video and blogging programs and allow you to make money doing just what you love.
It is the single best advice I have for new bloggers who are starting out: build your blog enough to land yourself in a blogging network and make the most of that brilliant opportunity.
Want more blog tips? Check out our BLOGGING SECTION! Have questions? Ask them below. Want a specific blogging topic covered? Share it in the comments section!