Blogging Basics: Building Your Blog, Growing Your Audience, Gaining Traffic

It seems ridiculous to me now that I am a veteran blogger. Twelve years has passed by so quickly since Don’t Stop Living began shyly back in August 2007. It started as a way of moving my written diary (on paper) from my trips to the online diary. I had no idea that it would turn into an obsession, a passion, a business. All for better or for worse though as it has been a tough and rocky road.

Dont Stop Living header

Don’t Stop Living – creating a travel blog

I also never expected from one main blog, Don’t Stop Living  that I could start one, let alone other main blogs. Alongside this project, I also write about Poland at Northern Irishman in Poland, about my Northern Ireland flag at TNIF.com and about global general travel on Crossing World Borders. So how do you start it all? How do you create a blog or a website? Here are some tips to get you started…

The Northern Irishman in Poland header project

Choose a niche

So, you want to start a blog. What is your niche, what is your target market. Travel is a niche for sure, but it’s a huge niche, so go deeper. Budget travel. Coffee travel. Boat travel. Skateboard travel. Expensive travel. Adventure travel. Egypt travel. Cairo travel. And then go even deeper. My niche is so deep, I don’t really care any more, but I did start as a budget tourist who loves sightseeing, visiting bars, watching football and writing about lesser known places. I hated articles on Paris, Bangedcock and Rome. So I didn’t write such articles. In my early days, I was writing about places like Poatina, Babruysk and Xinying. It is now to find a place where NO TOURIST has been, hence why I backpacked to Adammia and Austenasia in 2015.

sinying xinying station backpacking taiwan

At Xinying train station getting the train north to Taichung.

So my niche became wacaday republics (Karakalpakstan!), micronations (Adammia), peculiar places (World’s biggest toilet), disputed regions (Artsakh), enclaves (Kaliningrad), censored and restricted zones (Chernobyl Exclusion Zone), unknown countries (Transnistria), fantasy lands (Narnia) and remote islands (Sark)! I buzz off this type of travel.

Arrival in Sark

Choose a URL / domain name

The URL / domain / website address is important. Don’t be going for anything related to a single country unless you are focusing on that country. So go for .net or .com. Do not go for .cz (Cheatzerland), .dk (Denmark), .co (Colombia) etc. as Google will expect your website to be related to that country. I briefly considered dontstopliving.ni but since .ni is Nicaragua instead of my beloved Northern Ireland, I opted for .net . The reason being that .com was taken. My blog was always going to be called “Don’t Stop Living”. I never had another phrase or title for it and I never needed one. It’s me. Life is an adventure. Don’t Stop Living. Enjoy every day. So it was easy to choose my url and domain name. Also – don’t go for something with a number in it, or that is already popular. Something like spanishtourist.com is too common. Think outside the box, be creative. And for those who know the story, Don’t Stop Living was NOT my phrase. I stole it when I was backpacking in Toronto in 2001 and those words were grafittied onto a High School Wall in red capital letters! Though the logo, header and design of DSL changed about 10 times in 12 years…and I am still unhappy with the current design (but not the logo which is stuck now and I love).

Why Fonts And Logos Are Important in Blogger Branding

My Fabulous Don’t Stop Living Logos on Inkmill Vinyl!

Don’t Stop Living early days

Don't Stop Living

Don’t Stop Living

Don’t Stop Living – 2010

Don’t Stop Living – 2010 to 2012

Don't Stop Living 2019

Becoming a Travel Blogger: How To Design A Website

Original Don’t Stop Living official country logo, 2012

Create Social Media Accounts

It still shocks me how some people want to be successful bloggers but yet they don’t even want to join Social Media. Sorry then – blogging isn’t for you. We are public!! We share our honest and real lives with the world and I love doing it. I joined as many social media sites as I could, I set up pages, uploaded my photos and synchronised them all as Jonny Blair, Northern Irish tourist, Don’t Stop Living. Obvious social media are my Facebook page, my Instagram profile, my YouTube uploads and my Twitter feed.

Aleksandra Mueller Ola Mueller lied

Don’t Stop Living on Facebook

But I even joined Pinterest, Reddit and Stumble Upon. If any new Social medias come up, I join them. Also as well as joining them, be active on them and interactive.

Aleksandra Mueller Ola Mueller lied

Don’t Stop Living on Facebook

Build Domain Authority

Once tyou have your domain and your social media, it is time to build your authority and increase the reach of your blog. I studied Marketing, Advertising and Public Relations at University and worked in PR in London so I just used my experience in that at the beginning. But it’s a learning curve. Things go deeper. You can turn to other ideas to enhance your reach. Ideas like publicity stunts, viral posts, meeting other bloggers, blog events, paying people to improve your SEO, getting social media help such as Pleasure Principle Instagram and WeTweet.

Working in Ghent, Belgium

Of course there is a lot more to blogging than just these simple points today, you need to be honest, pure, passionate, relentless, restless, perpetual. You blog almost every day in some way. You keep readers updated. You inspire, amuse and enthuse. You have ups and downs, you get as much hate as you get love. I actually loved the fact that in September 2016, I had 9,000 followers on Facebook and now I have just over 8,000. Those that left me and stopped following, I don’t their negativity in my life as they don’t understand mental health and hate my honesty – they even criticised my suicide bid, they supported public liar Ola Mueller during my deep depression and good riddance to them!! So we have good and bad times. But overall, it is your choice to become a blogger!

Finally here are some other pages with tips on blogging…

How to become a professional travel blogger

Tips on making money as a professional travel blogger

Nomadic Matt’s course on professional travel blogging

Why NOT to become a professional travel blogger

Join 15,017 Monthly Readers! If you enjoyed this article and LOVE travel and SAVING money, get e-mail updates from Don’t Stop Living – a lifestyle of travel! (It’s Free) 😉 Jonny

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