One of the most exciting things about blogging is that anyone can get started with a site of their own and see what it develops into. It doesn’t matter if you are unemployed, have a full-time job or even a student in school. The benefits and opportunities found within blogging are quite amazing. In today’s “Meet the Blogger” interview, we connect with Sofie Couwenbergh who got to experience the world of travel blogging first hand.
1.) Please tell us about yourself and how you got into blogging?
Hi there! I’m Sofie and I started blogging in the summer of 2012. At the time, I was working for the Belgian press agency Belga where the writing I did was very objective and journalistic. I felt like I needed a creative outlet of my own and when my parents suggested I’d combine writing with my passion for travel, I figured I’d just give that a go. I started researching some travel blog and quickly became fascinated by that part of the online world. And so it began.
2.) What is the focus of your blog and why did you choose that niche?
WonderfulWanderings.com is a travel blog that focuses on cities and local cultures. So far, I’ve mostly traveled within and written about Europe. That hasn’t really been a conscious choice, but more a practical one. Belgium is a great hub to explore the rest of Europe from and from such a tiny country it’s easy to cross the border, even if it’s just for a weekend.
I chose travel because at that time it really was the only logical choice. I’ve always been passionate about traveling and – especially – learning about other cultures and I truly do believe that you need a passion for, or at least a certain agree of interest in, the thing you’re blogging about. Maintaining a blog properly requires so much time and effort that I personally couldn’t do it if I were blogging about something I wasn’t so passionate about.
3.) How are you currently monetizing your blog traffic?
I earn money through the blog in a number of ways, but my biggest income isn’t from monetizing my traffic directly. I do have Adsense up on the site, I sell the occasional sponsored post and I also have affiliate links for products that I’m a fan of and would recommend anyway, but more important than those are the Wonderful Walks I’ve created. These are self-guided walks in pdf format in cities around Europe that talk you not just to the main sights, but also give you tips on quirky little stores, where to go for a coffee and what to have for dinner.
Aside from those, I do a lot of campaigns for destinations and travel brands, do consulting as a travel expert for Belgium and do freelance writing for several other websites, like the Dutch Expedia Inspiration Blog.
4.) What do you know now that you wish you knew when you first started blogging?
To ignore more – both people and shiny things. I’m someone who easily gets distracted and so I used to spend hours reading marketing blogs and Facebook groups, trying to keep up with the latest hypes, methods and social media strategies. I used to read so many success stories from other people that I forgot to ask myself what mine would look like.
Now, I’m not saying you shouldn’t keep up with things. You should, but be selective and block out a time for research and reading each week so it doesn’t become a form of procrastination keeping you from actually doing things for your own business. There’s, that’s an answer and a tip in one 🙂
5.) What are three blogs that you visit almost daily?
I have to say I rarely read blogs anymore. I follow a bunch of marketing blogs and travel blogs in feedly, but I usually only go in once a week to filter out the things that apply to what I’m working on at that specific moment (for marketing) or the things I think my audience will find interesting (for travel) so that I can then share that with them.
I’ll much quicker read something that’s recommended to me by other bloggers and by friends, than to check a certain blog on a weekly or – chocolate forbid – daily basis. I just don’t feel like it’s a productive way to spend my time.
6.) Can you give us three recommended tools/services that you use with your blogging? (search tools, keywords, content, social)
I absolutely love love love Latergram.me. I know there’s other tools out there like it – Schedugram is one, for example, but so far I’ve been happy with Latergram.me. it doesn’t automatically post to Instagram for you, but it does allow you to bulk upload a set of images and then schedule them in for a certain date and time, even letting you add in the caption. You then just need to have wifi on and when the moment is there, Latergram.me will tell you it’s time to post on Instagram and all will be ready to go. Such a time saver.
Also: the editorial calendar for WordPress. It helps me so much to be able to look at both my published and my scheduled posts in a calendar form to keep organized and know when I need to start preparing which post.
And thirdly, Mailchimp. Gotta have that email list!
7.) What advice would you have for someone who is just starting with their first blog?
If you want it to be a business, you better have a plan. It’ll save you so much time and headaches if you know where you’re going. It’s okay to change the plan as you go along, just make sure to always have one.
8.) What’s the best advice or tip you’ve discovered about blogging since getting started?
There’s no golden nugget. There’s not one thing that will make it happen. Every sudden success is only an accumulation of tiny success that required a lot of work beforehand.
9.) If you only had $100 to start a new blog, how would you use it?
I’d buy a domain name and sign up with a proper host.
10.) How can readers of the blog get in touch with you?
Thanks again Sofie for taking the time to share your advice and story with the Blogging Tips community. If you would like to learn about other bloggers and how they are finding success online, be sure to read through our blogger interview series.