If You Build It: Setting Up a Blog in 5 Easy Steps

June 4, 2011

So, apparently, I have something of a reputation.

And, unfortunately, it’s not the kind of reputation that will get me any dates or make me any more popular among the men-folk.

You see, people keep calling me “snarky.”

And, not just any people – Internet people.

I’m not quite sure when this all started happening, but, lately, it seems like anytime anyone mentions me and my blog on the Interwebs, they also bring up the s-word. In Claire Litton’s post for Vagablogging, she calls my blog a “snarky personal commentary.” Michael Hodson in his article, “Top Travel Blogs to Discover” on Huffington Post called me “snarky,” “long-winded” and “thoughtful.” (Thoughtful, Michael? Really? Did you have to go there? Great. Now I’m never going to get a date with a reputation like that!) La Presse, a French language newspaper from Montreal, mentioned my blog post in an article about authentic travel, calling it “cyniquement.” (Which, I’m pretty sure is French for “snarky”… and, I’m pretty sure, is actually a compliment in French.)

Why do I bring all this up?

Just to toot my own horn and let you all know that people are talking about me on the Internet? (Even if they’re not talking about me in the men’s restroom… or writing my number on the restroom stall’s wall… or calling me after I had to go through the dirty business of writing my number on the stall’s wall all by myself because no one else would do it for me even after I paid them five whole dollars.)

I’m totally not mentioning all this to brag. (Or to get a date… but, hey, if you’re interested, umm, call me, okay? I’m pretty sure you know where you can find my number.)

Well, maybe I am bragging just a little. (Please, just give me this, okay? I don’t have much else to boast about. I don’t have any kids or athletic ability to speak of. I don’t pick up languages very quickly… or, ahem, at all. I can’t juggle or do magic tricks. And, well, you already know about my romantic life. All I’ve got is this blog and an ability to put back gin and tonics with the best of them.)

The real reason why I bring this all up is to say that having a reputation as a sarcastic smart ass does come with its disadvantages.

(No, my lack of a dating life is not one of those disadvantages. That happened long before I started gaining an Internet reputation. In fact, it happened long before the Internet – like in the ninth grade when I learned how to fashion my hair into the beguiling triangle-formation you see below. Really, boys, how did you not find that look irresistible? How, I ask you?)

You see, reputations can be pretty limiting – especially when your reputation is that of a crotchedy crank. There are a number of things I would like to do with this blog and with my writing, which I can’t really do as it doesn’t seemed to fit in with the online personae I’ve created for myself. (Okay, so maybe I am a crotchedy crank in real life, too, but only when I’m tired or deprived of chocolate or forced to leave my apartment before noon.)

For example, I’d love to give advice – helpful advice – and not just the really bad made-up stuff that I usually blather on about. But, the problem is, I fear people won’t take me seriously. After all, people don’t associate my personality with helpfulness – they associate my personality with cynicism and that old guy who lives in the ramshackle farmhouse at the end of the road and regularly threatens the neighborhood kids with garden rakes.

But, I’ll have you know I have advice to give, people – helpful advice.

And I don’t even own a garden rake, so there.

So, in what may be an Unbrave Girl first (and, most likely, last – after all I have a personal brand to keep up here, people), I have decided to give you all some tips – some real tips that you can actually use.

To do what, you may ask?

To make yourself your very own blog!

Wait! Don’t go.

Yes, yes, I know the last thing the world needs is another blog with tips on how to blog. I know this because I read those blogs with tips on how to blog. (Don’t laugh. I do read them. I just don’t choose to listen to them. Just like I didn’t choose to listen to any of those teen magazines back in the ninth grade when they were doling out hair styling advice.)

So how is my blog post about tips on how to blog any different than all those other blog posts?

Well, it’s coming from me – so you know I won’t be giving you any advice on how to have a super awesome, ridiculously popular blog. I won’t tell you how to increase traffic or influence people or conquer the world with your blog. I won’t tell you how to improve your SEO ranking or how to monetize your blog or even how to make your mom read your blog.

Why?

Because I don’t know how to do any of those things!

But you know what I do know how to do?

I know how to have a totally adequate blog.

Yep, I got adequate down pat.

Sure, my blog has gotten some really nice shout outs and mentions from other blogs and websites over the past year or so, but, as far as travel blogs go, my blog is pretty much the quirky younger sister of the other travel blogs out there – you know, the travel blog that makes you laugh and you might hang out with on occasion… like, when no one’s looking.

But I’m definitely not one of the cool kids. I very rarely make the lists of top travel blogs – unless it’s one of those lists of “travel blogs you’ve never heard of” or “travel blogs that will make you laugh” or “travel blogs that remind me of underwear and gay pride parades” (don’t ask).

And you know what?

I’m totally cool with that.

In fact, I’m more than cool with that.

I’m proud of the little bit of success that I’ve had with this blog.

I’m pleased as punch that a couple hundred random strangers take the time to read my blog every week. I mean, you know how long my posts can get! Heck, I’m already at 1,000 words with this post and I haven’t even gotten to the freaking point, yet. So, the fact that people take time out of their busy lives and days to slog through my endless drivel is just amazing to me — like really, really amazing.

I’m floored that after spending all that time reading my posts, a significant number of people spend the time to comment on my posts. I mean, don’t these people have jobs or kids or hobbies or something to do with their time? Why are they wasting their precious minutes on me?

I’m simply flabbergasted that anyone would become my Facebook fan. I mean, me? Fans? What alternative universe is this?

So, yeah, being adequate is pretty dang awesome.

And, should you want a little bit of adequate for yourself, I’m happy to share my tips (real tips!) on how you can set up your own totally decent blog, too.

Step 1: Pick a name that’s easy to remember…. and stay consistent.
When picking my current blog name, I made sure to pick a memorable name and then made sure that everything was consistent – my blog URL, my blog title, my Twitter username and my Facebook page.

I bet you thought I did that because I’m some kind of blogging super genius, right?

Sorry. Nope.

I did this because I have one of those memories that is only really good at remembering useless tidbits of information (like, say, the name of my first roommate’s childhood pet). But it’s not so good at remembering anything helpful (like, say, my ATM pin number or where I put my keys or the name of my childhood pet). Because of this little personal defect, I always make sure to choose usernames and passwords that are particularly easy to remember. And then I keep everything consistent – I have the same username and password for pretty much everything. (Which, yeah, yeah, I know is bad and all, but it would also be really bad if I could no longer remember how to log into my Facebook account. Like really, really bad. Like the whole-world-would-end-kind-of-bad, okay? So just lay off.)

Step 2: Choose your blogging platform carefully
If you’ve read some of those other blog posts out there about how to set up a blog, you know that there are a number of popular blogging platforms out there. You probably also know that, should you pick the wrong blogging platform, there’s a very strong likelihood that you will end up in a special hell reserved for people like you.

Not to scare you or anything.

I’ve dabbled with a couple different blogging platforms in my day. When I started blogging four years ago, I had a free site through Blogger. Then for a year or so I switched to iWeb, an Apple software. (Yes, yes, I know I’m totally going to Blog Hell for that one.) Now, I have a self-hosted site with Wordpress. Recently, I’ve been thinking about starting up a new blog on Tumblr, but I don’t really trust brand names that skimp on vowels.

To avoid the hassle of switching platforms, I would really suggest you do a little research beforehand, check out some blogs on the different platforms, and ask your blogging friends what they use. Luckily, most of the platforms offer a free hosting option, so you can even open a couple different accounts to try out the different platforms and see which one feels right to you.

Don’t worry.

If you pick the wrong one, I’ll totally be your BFF in Blog Hell.

Step 3: Create an About page
I know, I know, you’re all like, “But I feel weird blathering on about myself on the Internet for everyone to see. Besides, who cares about me and where I grew up or what my favorite food is or that my first pet was a parakeet named Mr. Jankles? How about if I just skip the About page or just fill it with Robert Frost quotes?”

Well, stop that silliness right now. This is your blog, honey. Your blog is made for your blather!

Besides, people are curious; they want to know about you. (And, yes, by “people” I mean me, okay.)

Not only do we really want to know all about you and your favorite food and your pet parakeet, we (again, me) also really, really, really want to see a picture of you.

Not to worry.

This picture need not look anything like the real you – after all, this is the Internet we’re talking about here, people. The Internet was invented for the purpose of posting misleading photos of yourself.

Just take a look at my About page. Do you think I walk around looking that adorable every day?

Okay, the answer is, “Yes, I do.” (No matter what my ninth grade yearbook photo might tell you otherwise.)

But don’t worry if you’re not as naturally adorable as I am – that’s what photo editing software is for! It’s like makeup — for the Internet!

Step 4: Write some stuff… on a fairly regular basis
There is a lot of advice on other blogs out there about what you should write on your blog and how you should write it and how often you should write about it and on what days you should write about it.

But guess what?

It’s your blog.

Do you know what that means?

You can write whatever the heck you want!

And you can update it whenever you want, too!

Personally, I like to keep people on their toes. I usually try to post a new blog post every weekend, but some weeks I go a bit crazy and post stuff on a Monday. (Yeah, I know, wild, right?) Other weeks, I don’t post a thing. A few times I was ambitious and managed two posts in a week. (Never again. I swear, I almost died.)

I feel my slightly erratic posting schedule adds a sense of mystery to my blog. (That, and the fact that I happen to be wearing a pink top hat in my About page photo – I mean, who does that? Talk about mysterious!)

Step 5: Get the word out
Now that you have your blog up and running, it’s time to tell everyone you know about your blog.

Well, not everyone. Of course, you won’t want to tell the people you plan on writing about (unless you plan on writing nice stuff about them – but where’s the fun in that?).

You can tell everyone on Facebook about it. You can blabber on about it at work and family get-togethers. You can introduce yourself at parties by using your blog name instead of your real name. (Which may be a bit awkward if your blog name is something like “asshat.com” or “shutyourface.org,” but, hey, go with it.)

After you finish telling all the people you know about your blog, you’ll want to start telling people you don’t know. This you can do by using Twitter or setting up a Facebook fanpage or, you know, scrawling your blog name across restroom stall walls.

I know, I know, you’re all like, “But I feel weird having complete strangers read about my life.” Trust me, strangers are the best kind of blog readers! They’ll never know if you’re lying… or, ahem, embellishing the truth. And, they’ll have no idea that you’re not nearly as adorable in real life as you are in your About page picture. (Which I am, by the way, but this may not be the case for you. I’m just looking out for you, here.)

Step 6: Don’t listen to what anyone says.
(Yeah, yeah, I know I said I was only going to give you five steps in the title, but, I’ve gotten so good at not listening to what anyone says, that I don’t even listen to myself these days!)

I love blogging.

I really do.

In the past four years that I’ve been blogging, I’ve grown as a writer.  I’ve developed my voice and gained an audience for my writing. The supportive comments and feedback from that audience has given me the confidence to pursue my writing more seriously. And, it’s connected me with people that I would have never met in the “real world”… many of whom, I’ve subsequently then met in the “real world.” (Ain’t the Internet great, people?)

Blogging has truly become a part of who I am. (I know that sounds dorky, but I already posted a photo of myself from the ninth grade, so I don’t really have much to lose here.)

But, blogging can be like anything you love – frustrating.

There are weeks when I don’t have anything to say, but I crank out a post just to get something out there. There are other weeks when I do have something to say but life and work and all that other stuff gets in the way, so I don’t write anything. And then feel guilty about it. (Because, uh, why? I don’t know.) Some weeks I have too many things to say and a million ideas buzzing in my head and I end up trying to squeeze twelve different topics into one really long post. (Like I, maybe, kind of, am doing right now.) Sometimes I write a post that I think is saying what I want to say — only to wake up in the middle of the night and realize, “No, that’s not what I wanted to say at all!” (Yes, I do this. Yes, I’m a dork, so shut it already.)

The blogging world can be frustrating, too. There are lots of amazing, encouraging, supportive people out there, but there are also plenty of people ready to tell you that you’re doing it all wrong. Your posts are too long. Or they’re too short . You don’t have enough bullet points. Or you have too many bullet points. You need to post more pictures. Or what’s with all these pictures, already? And you talk way too much about cookies. (Whatever. Like that could happen.)

It’s easy to think that maybe they’re right. Maybe you are doing this blogging thing all wrong. Maybe you should write shorter posts or have more pictures or more bullet points. Maybe you should write less about yourself and more about, I don’t know, stuff that isn’t yourself. Maybe you shouldn’t be such a crotchedy crank. Maybe you should just ditch the cookies thing all together.

But guess what?

It’s your blog.

Do you know what that means?

You can do whatever the heck you want!

All you have to do is be you.

How can you get that wrong?

(Besides, if cookies are wrong, I don’t want to be right.)

55

I've blathered on long enough! Now it's your turn!

  1. On June 4, 2011 at 3:50 pm Janet said:

    this is normally a boring subject but with you, I knew it’d be good. 😀
    Janet recently posted..Portland Bloggers You Should Read

  2. On June 4, 2011 at 4:08 pm Chili ~ Lime ~ Garlic said:

    My favorite : If cookies are wrong, I don’t want to be right? Ha ha… LOVE that!

    When i first saw the title— I was like–Sally? Are you sure? Seriously?

    But I’m glad I read it. I’m glad you wrote it. You’ve inspired me with it. Thanks.

    try not to get your lungs too dirty in China!

    🙂
    Chili ~ Lime ~ Garlic recently posted..Eat Corn in Less than 15 Minutes

  3. On June 4, 2011 at 8:09 pm Michi said:

    Great blogging tips!! And you kept me laughing the entire time (I’m envious of your mad skills!). Now in hindsight, I wish I had the same URL as my blog title…

    I love your quirky, helpful posts – I’ll come back to this one a few times, for sure! 😉
    Michi recently posted..Sevilla- love at first sight

    • On June 4, 2011 at 10:21 pm Sally said:

      Yeah, I really do think my crappy memory saved me with the whole blog name thing. I’ve read a few articles that have said the same thing — to keep your URL & title the same — but I didn’t read them until AFTER I’d already set up my blog. It’s like my brain KNEW or something… either that or I was just being lazy… yeah, probably just lazy. (Lazy FTW!)

  4. On June 4, 2011 at 9:05 pm Heather said:

    Love this post. Only missing unicorns! (not that I’m telling you what or how to write ;-))
    Heather recently posted..Australia Roadtrip- South Australia

  5. On June 4, 2011 at 9:07 pm david said:

    OMG, who’s the fool that tied together his underpants, you and Gay Pride? Wait…what?
    david recently posted..Help Me Plan My Road Trip pt2

  6. On June 4, 2011 at 10:58 pm MaryAnne said:

    I should have taken your advice! If only you had told me these tips last April! Oh wait- I didn’t even know you last April. Dang. I might have chosen a domain name people could spell/remember (I was only thinking of myself and how much I happened to love that domain name, spell check be damned!!).

    Maybe you should start giving seminars? Serving cooking and gin as refreshments? I think you could sell out auditoriums!
    MaryAnne recently posted..A Totally Impractical Expat Interview 14- Amber Roshay- Teacher- Writer- Traveller

    • On June 4, 2011 at 11:07 pm Sally said:

      You should really have a crappier memory — it’s been the secret to my blogging (semi) success!
      I don’t know about seminars — I don’t think a seminar called “How to Have a Totally Adequate Blog” would really sell that well. But, if I do it, you’d have to be on board to make the cookies!

  7. On June 5, 2011 at 12:55 am Torre said:

    Advice-giving kind of looks good on you. I’m not sure whether to take notes or laugh, which, frankly, is my preferred method of being educated. I tried to learn Spanish last year and I giggled the whole way through 8 weeks of lessons. I think I may have annoyed all of my classmates, but what was wrong with THEM? Laugh, people! Learning is hilarious! (FYI: I retained no Spanish whatsoever.)
    Torre recently posted..I want to quit my job and follow my dream- but—

    • On June 5, 2011 at 4:22 am Sally said:

      Well, I hope you laughed. I laughed a lot while writing this — which is probably kind of weird because who laughs while writing a post on how to set up a blog? But, dammit, sometimes stuff is just funny! (Although I don’t remember Spanish class being so funny… I remember it just being a lot more boring… and filled with my humiliation.)

  8. On June 5, 2011 at 2:38 am Jaime said:

    Ahh Sally you crack me up! I know I don’t comment often on your blog, but I want you to know I read every blog post you write. Unfortunately you are in my RSS feed so i kinda have too…lol jk! No really you are hilarious… I hope you are enjoying your 4 day weekend in your PJs and eating cookies. Oh and about your tips they are GENIUS, I hope people do listen to you and take them cus they are all true!!! I recently got into trouble with my sister cus I wrote something rather XXX and she was pissed. I had to let her know its MY blog & I can write about ANYTHING i want too. She is still mad and me, but oh well life goes on.

    PS: Yes I am still on the search for our Brazilian twins. Still haven’t found them.
    Jaime recently posted..Best Carne Asada Concept Ever in Oaxaca!

    • On June 5, 2011 at 4:20 am Sally said:

      Ha ha ha. My mom stopped reading my blog when I wrote that post about not being everyone’s inspiration because she thought I was being too snarky. (Granted she didn’t read it all the way to the end where I stopped being snarky.)
      Keep working on those Brazilian twins! I expect results, my friend.

  9. On June 5, 2011 at 7:06 am Ceri said:

    I loved this. 🙂 Your blog is one of my favourites and it’s because you have a great voice through your writing that I don’t care how long your posts are, I can read every last word. 🙂
    Ceri recently posted..I Guess I Do Want to Wander After All

  10. On June 5, 2011 at 9:17 pm Ken C. said:

    Once again, I’ve found your latest entry to be “wonderfully snarky;” that is, if “snarky” means interestingly funny & whimsically informative.

    If being snarky also means that your writing is accessible, fresh, and interpreted through your own unique world view, then you should embrace your snark….unless, that is, your snark is pokey like a porcupine [if that is the case, be careful].

    (I shall save & archive your IMPORTANT blogging tips in that safe place on my alternate back-up hard drive, right next to my electronic tax returns.)

    • On June 6, 2011 at 2:21 pm Sally said:

      Ken, I do like your definition of snarky (the one that DOESN’T include the porcupine) much better than any of the ones I could find online. Webster’s actually defines it as “crotchedy” and “snappish.” Me? Crotchedy? But I don’t even own a garden rake, as I said, and I hardly ever threaten the neighborhood kids.

  11. On June 6, 2011 at 9:42 am Megan said:

    I don’t find you particularly snarky, to be honest. Does that say more about you or me?

    Also, THANK YOU for giving blog advice that has correct grammar, spelling, and punctuation. Drives me to the point of insanity when people write “How to Make Your Blog Better” posts and then spell everything wrong. Thanks for nothing, folks.
    Megan recently posted..Challenge- Chocolate Cream Cheese Cupcakes

    • On June 6, 2011 at 2:09 pm Sally said:

      Yeah, I never really thought my writing was that snarky either — so I was kind of surprised when people started calling me snarky. In fact, I think I come across as more positive in my writing than I do in real life. (Wow, what’s that tell you about me in real life? Yikes.)
      Oh, and I was going to make some (probably snarky) remark about spelling & grammar, but then I thought it came across as a bit too preachy. I’m fine with being called snarky (even if I’m not — I swear!), but I’m not cool with being called preachy. (But, yeah, people, take pity on us English teachers who go a bit crazy-pants when having to read bad spelling & grammar during our off-hours — please, for the love of Webster’s, spell & grammar-check your stuff!)

  12. On June 6, 2011 at 11:19 am jade said:

    Fun! I’m probably joining you in Blogging hell… 🙂

    • On June 6, 2011 at 2:04 pm Sally said:

      Yay! I hear Blog Hell is awesome. It’s kind of like a blogging conference — but all the seminars are stuff like “How to Write Really, Really, Really Long Posts” and “How to Reduce Traffic to Your Blog” — you know, all the stuff you’re not supposed to do. I’ll save you a seat!

  13. On June 6, 2011 at 7:27 pm Phil said:

    Sally,
    Please don’t forget that you are on a list of travel blogs titled 10 Travel Blogs That Will Change Your Life (And, Thank God For That, Because Your Life Was Pretty Lame). After reading this I imagine you are quite the teacher. For real. I’m not being sarcastic, promise. Your writing is engaging because it is funny, but also because it makes the reader comfortable. It gives the impression that you would be fun to hang out with. That’s why I propose that you abandon China for Mali. The food does not explode here and there are lots of mangoes. Do you like mangoes? If you don’t, our relationship might be finished. Anyways, come to Mali.
    Phil
    Phil recently posted..If you Need Nobody- Nobody Needs you

    • On June 7, 2011 at 4:45 am Sally said:

      Dude, I would never forget that I made that list — especially because I INVENTED THAT LIST! (I’m still waiting for you to pay me my copyright dues… or whatever it is you owe me.)
      And, Phil, why does every comment you leave on my blog sound like a veiled invitation to marry you? You better watch out — I may just take you up on it! I think a wedding in Mali sounds fantastic, by the way. 🙂

      • On June 7, 2011 at 5:01 pm Phil said:

        I will your copyright dues in mangoes.

        I’m glad you are starting to catch on to my comments. Weddings in Mali happen on thursdays and sundays, but they are generally more elaborate and entertaining on sunday, so let’s plan for sunday. Please forward your flight itinerary because I want to see how crazy it is. I will make arrangements with the mayor’s office in Bamako 🙂
        Phil recently posted..If you Need Nobody- Nobody Needs you

        • On June 9, 2011 at 4:07 am Sally said:

          Before I book my flight, I’d like to know one thing: will there be a goat slaughtered in my honor? I always thought that would make for a nice photo for my wedding scrapbook.

  14. On June 7, 2011 at 1:11 am christina said:

    love it! great tips.
    ps: found you on blogher 🙂

    • On June 7, 2011 at 4:44 am Sally said:

      Thanks, Christina. Glad you enjoyed the tips. And thanks for letting me know you found me through Blogher — I just joined so I haven’t exactly figured them all out.

  15. On June 7, 2011 at 4:11 am Odysseus Drifts said:

    I feel that you can’t over-emphasis the importance of choosing a good domain name. It really helps build your traffic and lures in the appropriate audience. Me, for instance — I get daily handfuls of high school and uni students who are Googling “The Odyssey” and variations thereof so that they can write their term papers without actually reading it. My blog provides an important service (distraction!) to them.

    p.s. You should read my latest blog post because, you know, it’s all about being afraid. And you thought YOU were a coward. Well, now I’ve decided to get all competitive on you.
    Odysseus Drifts recently posted..Are You Afraid to Travel

    • On June 7, 2011 at 4:43 am Sally said:

      Wow. I totally never thought about using a domain name to tap into the audience of lazy high school & university students (And being a teacher of many lazy university students myself, I know that this is a goldmine!). I think I’m going to change my domain name to Unbrave Jane Eyre. Sound good?
      Heading over to your blog right now — I have grading to do and could really use the distraction!

  16. On June 8, 2011 at 6:53 pm Katherina said:

    I just love the way everything reads so easy when it comes from you, its something I appreciate, a lot. You’ve got great skills and make me feel as if you were telling me all this stuff right over coffee and cookies.

    That (together with your about picture with the pink hat) is really what makes me want to read each time you post – even when the subject is blogging. You just nailed it!
    Katherina recently posted..Photo Essay- Why I Love Portuguese Architecture

  17. On June 8, 2011 at 9:55 pm Andi of My Beautiful Adventures said:

    Ummm you basically rocked my world with this post! I adore your “snarky” blog posts. 🙂

  18. On June 10, 2011 at 4:44 am Sasha said:

    Haha this is hilarious! And the reason why your readers keep coming back, your always you, we always know what we’re getting and that’s what we love!!! You honest, entertaining and funny, attributes I think are very rare in the world of travel blogging! 🙂

    This is possibly one of the best list of tips for setting up a blog I’ve ever read! (and let me tell you I’ve read alot!)
    Sasha recently posted..Living Abroad Made Me Appreciate My Parents

    • On June 12, 2011 at 2:10 pm Sally said:

      Thanks, Sasha. I’m glad you enjoyed the post! It was surprisingly fun to write (much more fun than you would think for a post about blogging).

  19. On June 10, 2011 at 3:38 pm Roy | Cruisesurfingz said:

    You had me at snarky. And don’t deny your reputation!
    Good advice btw. A bit too late for me, now I can’t change careers or my blog name won’t make sense anymore!
    Roy | Cruisesurfingz recently posted..Riga Free Hugs &amp Go Blonde Parade

  20. On June 12, 2011 at 1:07 pm Sarah said:

    I really hope to build up a blog to be half as successful of yours. And when that happens, I hope dead baseball players will appear from cornfields, Kevin Costner will wear coy button-down shirts, and James Earl Jones will narrate my life.

    If all of the above does not happen—then my blog will be a total failure.
    Sarah recently posted..Questioning my Credibility at a Filipino Cockfight

  21. On June 13, 2011 at 9:38 pm Linda said:

    I comment late …. my excuse is that I was at the #toocoolforTBEX party, and I have had a baaad hangover! Actually, I’ve had the tab with this post open for several days, meaning to read it….and now I have and it’s terrific, and reminds me that I really need to go get a domain name of my very own! Thanks for the kick in the pants!
    Linda recently posted..Mountain Glory

    • On June 14, 2011 at 4:49 am Sally said:

      The #toocoolforTBEX party was pretty crazy, huh? I can understand why it took a while to comment… got to sober up first! 🙂
      Wow, I’m surprised (and proud) that I gave someone a kick in the pants. I’m the one usually needing the kick. Good luck with your new domain! I’m sure you two will be very happy together. 🙂

  22. On June 16, 2011 at 4:54 am Andrew - The Unframed World said:

    I’ll write your URL on a stall if that would help (i sensed an undercurrent of desperation in your article)
    “Looking for thoughtful travel blog? Unbravegirl will satisfy. Unbravegirl.com”

    As a designer/developer I was hoping to find some tech advice in this post so I could nod my head knowingly. But I liked the other side you covered about writing and PR (stuff I have to just sort of shrug at like I already knew it but didn’t).

    Great writing style too. Kept me interested.

    What’s been the biggest hurdle for you in being a blogger over the years?
    Andrew – The Unframed World recently posted..Knock-Out Photos Everytime- Inside Bjørn’s Mind

    • On June 16, 2011 at 5:51 am Sally said:

      Good question, Bjorn.
      I think the biggest hurdle has just been not getting too wound up in the popularity contest of blogging. I originally started my blog for family & friends and as a means to practice my writing. For three years, I didn’t know how many people visited my blog and I didn’t really care. Yeah, sure, it was fun when a stranger stopped by, but I wasn’t that concerned about getting my blog “out there.”
      Since becoming more involved in blogging, I’ve started to worry more about these things — who’s reading my blog, how many people are reading it, how I can get more people to read it. It can be really upsetting when you write, what you think is, a really great post and hardly anyone reads it. Meanwhile, there are plenty of other blog posts out there that maybe aren’t that well-written or thought-out, but get tons of hits.
      I know I’ll probably never be a top travel blogger — simply because my stuff just isn’t travel bloggy enough. My posts are too long and more personal than informative. There have been times that I’ve thought maybe I should change what I do to make it more accessible and popular — but the few times I’ve tried, I find myself failing miserably. (I just can’t write short — CAN’T! And bullet points are never going to happen for me.)
      I just have to believe that if I keep on writing stuff I believe in, people will read it and believe in it, too. And that has to be enough.
      Oh, and thanks for agreeing to plaster my website address all over your local men’s room stalls. Much appreciated! 🙂

      • On June 16, 2011 at 6:03 am Andrew - The Unframed World said:

        Thanks for the in-depth answer. A few quick follow-ups:
        1) What made you become more involved in blogging and start caring about traffic stats etc…?
        2) Yes, at times I have wished my name was Bjorn. (like right now, when I’m being addressed by it.)

        I changed which post commentluv would display in this comment so you wouldn’t get confused 😀
        Andrew – The Unframed World recently posted..Time Stands Still in Hiroshima

        • On June 16, 2011 at 6:18 am Sally said:

          Ahhh! So sorry about the name mixup — I don’t know why I picked Bjorn over Andrew when it clearly says Andrew under “author.” Hopeful thinking? I always kind of liked the name Bjorn (not that Andrew isn’t a FINE name. 🙂 )
          As for your question about traffic stats, I can’t say there’s a good reason why I started caring more about that. I don’t make any money off my blog, so that’s not a factor. I guess, when you put as much effort into something like this as I do (and, granted, I should probably put even more effort into it — one post a week isn’t exactly crazy effort), you want to see people appreciate it. It feels nice to know that a post you spent a really long time on is not just fulfilling your selfish need to blather on about yourself — but actually reaching readers and making them feel a connection.
          And, well, doesn’t everyone want to be popular? 🙂

  23. On June 16, 2011 at 6:26 am Andrew - The Unframed World said:

    Yes, everyone should be popular I think. Good insight.

    I hear you about recognition too. At a certain point, without recognition the motivation to exert the effort to continue wanes. However, making money may help you set aside more time for your blog if that’s what you’re after. I’m sure you get some offers for advertising and such.

    I sent you a somewhat unrelated e-mail via your contact form btw.

    Thanks for the replies, I’m don’t know how you have time to give everyone a thoughtful response. Nice work.
    Andrew – The Unframed World recently posted..Photo POWER UP- The Rule of Thirds Delivers Justice

  24. On June 19, 2011 at 2:04 pm Alex said:

    I loved reading this. After two years of blogging as a kind of personal journal I suddenly have this undying urge for everyone on earth to read my blathering… curse you, Fame Monster! (Is this a lady gaga shout out friendly zone?) Nice to hear how it happened for someone else!

    Congrats, and to me, you ARE one of the big kid travel bloggers!
    Alex recently posted..Dressed to Kilt- A Scottish Wedding Story

  25. On July 10, 2011 at 10:59 am Erik said:

    I am just starting up and chose Blogger as my host site. After only 6 months there I have realized (and been told close to 1000 times) that I can’t be taken seriously if I have .blogspot in my URL. I’m going to switch to WordPress, but am terrified of my lack of computer knowledge. Heck, it took me 5 hours just to figure out how to get a working retweet button on blogspot that actually included my @twittername in the retweet. I dread going through that again.
    I appreciate the inspiration, though. I’ll never be as good a writer as you- I’ll have to stick in the ‘look-at-me-I-write-500-word-posts-and-call-myself-a-writer’ crowd. Ok, that may be a little mean, but are travel bloggers all really writers? Or have they just assumed that title in most cases? 🙂

    • On July 11, 2011 at 3:26 am Sally said:

      Erik,
      I’m not really sure where this whole Blogger vs. WordPress thing comes from. I’ve heard people in the travel blogging community say this before — that they wouldn’t take people seriously with a blogger blog. But I just don’t get it. There are a lot of big name, popular bloggers out there who use Blogger (Hyperbole and a Half is one; she’s HUGE). I used Blogger for a while and I found it very easy to use — especially for someone like me who is also pretty crap with technology. WordPress isn’t as user friendly — but it does have a lot of Plugins and other things you can use to customize your blog which aren’t available on Blogger (but may be available now. Not sure.) Plus, luckily, there are plenty of other WordPress bloggers out there who are willing to help you out.
      I’d say stick with Blogger if you feel comfortable and don’t want to deal with the hassle. But if you do really want to switch, I’d say do it sooner rather than later as you will lose all your comments when you switch over (or at least I did when I switched from iWeb, not sure if the same thing happens when you switch from Blogger). I knew pretty early on that iWeb wasn’t going to work for my blog especially once I started to get a lot more traffic, but I really dragged my feet since I had spent so much time working on my iWeb blog (plus, I had no idea how to switch over). I just wish I had made the jump earlier so I wouldn’t have lost so many comments & so I wouldn’t have had to reformat so many posts.
      Frankly, the only time I don’t “take a blogger seriously” is when I feel the blogger is not taking his/her blog seriously. If I see a lot of sloppy grammar and spelling errors or a poorly written post that’s just made up of generalizations, then I don’t take a blogger seriously.
      Oh, and don’t even get me started with that whole Writer vs. Blogger thing. 🙂
      Anyway, best of luck & I hope you make the choice that is best for you!

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