I started my first blog in 2011 when I was living in Spain. Having a blog was a great way of letting my family and friends know what I was doing and how I was, instead of writing exactly the same e-mail or Facebook message to everyone. This is how many travel blogs have been born.
The blog was called Saana in Spain and it doesn’t exist anymore. Or actually it exists but it’s not visible. And in case you still end up googling the words ‘Saana in Spain’, I just want to let you know that I am not THAT Saana, whose dirty videos you will find.
The first lesson of this story: in case you ever decide to start a blog or any other website, it’s highly recommended to carefully consider how to name it. And you should definitely check what Google finds with the name you have chosen. I think many young men got really disappointed when search engines directed them to some Saana’s private blog instead of those wild videos.
As told, the one and only purpose of my first blog was to give some information to my family and friends what I was doing in Spain. I neither used any categories or tag words, nor had ever heard of such things as ‘SEO’ or ‘Google ranking’. I was writing about my daily life, like how I was rollerblading to the drive-in of McDonald’s. That was the very first and the very last time I did that, by the way!
The story behind this blog is a bit different. I had been thinking about starting a new blog, just because I love to write. When I was living in Germany, I met a wonderful person called John, who is the writer behind the Continental Breakfast Travel blog. John got me inspired to start this blog, so thank you John for doing that. One year of Live now – dream later is nearly full, and the story goes on.
Many things have changed during the past year. I admit myself that the very first posts on this blog were quite crappy. During this journey I’ve learned and seen so much, thrown myself into the social media whirlpool, got excited about following statistics and even found out what that strange word, SEO, means.
During the past year also I have changed a lot. And so will you, in case you are thinking about starting a blog one day. Or maybe you already have one, and have noticed these same changes as I have? If so, I would love to hear about your experiences. Maybe you have changed even more than I have.
Let me tell you a few things I’ve noticed about myself and my behaviour. A few things I had absolutely no idea about until I started this blog. This is how you will change too, in case you’re not prepared for it. I know I wasn’t.
1. You won’t leave your house without pen and paper
You will carry a notebook and about seven pens, just in case, wherever you go. You’ll never know what exciting things you’ll bump into that everyone needs to know about. You will try to remember every single tiny detail about absolutely everything, because it might be interesting for your readers.
2. You want to learn photography. Well.
You’re envying the beautiful photographs your fellow bloggers are posting on their blogs. They look so artistic that you want to fill your own blog with such pictures. So you end up buying a crazy expensive digital systems camera, because you want to learn to be a skilled photographer. Soon you’ll learn that it’s not the camera that takes those beautiful pictures. It’s you. You’ll get frustrated when you notice that you take better pictures with your cell phone than with that crazy expensive camera. You are cursing every single switch and button in your camera, just because you still can’t remember which button is for which function.
3. You’ll end up paying even more to learn photography. Well.
Soon you will give up and realize you need to take an expensive photographing course. During the course you will get excited about all the cool stuff you need to get for your camera, like new expensive lenses and external flashes and only God knows what else. Even if you still don’t know even the basics of photography. At the end of the course you have to admit that you learned nothing you hadn’t yet read from the guide books or internet. But you still want to get that 1000 euros lens cause you think that you’ll take better pictures when you have that expensive stuff. And still the best of your photos are taken with the cell phone.
4. You have to take the damn picture of every damn thing
You will go nowhere without having the camera with you. Partly because becoming a good photographer requires taking hundreds of pictures weekly. Mostly because you just have to take a photograph about everything, cause you’ll never know when you’d need exactly a picture like that for your blog post. Your travel partner goes crazy because you have to stop in every single corner to take a photograph of some building or statue or sales stand or a beetle.
5. How about that one lovely trip four years ago?
You’ve been to amazing places years before you become a blogger, but you either have lost your memory or your photographs. Or if you’re very unlucky, you’ve lost both. It would be so cool to tell about these trips on your blog, but four years ago you didn’t yet carry paper and pen with you or feel that you need to take that damn picture of every damn thing. And even for the pictures you had, you forgot to make backups. And then you broke your hard drive and lost them all. Who would even believe you’ve ever been there if you don’t have a picture of it?
6. You get hooked on statistics
When time goes by, you’ll notice you are not the only person who is interested in your blog. The blog statistics tells you that the number of readers is climbing up. You’ll start investigating it further and soon you’ll realize that you have doubled the amount of unique visitors during the past four months. You dig deeper and start comparing the most read posts, the number of shares, the clicks and referrers… Statistics, something you didn’t know or care of until you started blogging.
7. You become exactly what you used to dislike
Before you were horrified how people can’t even have a dinner in a restaurant without constantly fiddling with their phones. Soon you’ll realize you have become one of them. You can not touch a dish until you have photographed it and posted it on Instagram. Otherwise it didn’t happen!
8. What free time?
Blogging is a great hobby. But soon you’ll realize it’s a very time consuming hobby. Especially if you are as clever as I was and have decided to blog in two different languages. First you write everything in your own language and then spend at least the same amount of time to translate it into English. The writing itself might be done fairly quickly, but then you have to find exactly the right pictures, because a blog post without any images is just boring. And because you still don’t know how to take beautiful pictures, you will spend even more time for editing them to make the pictures look at least tolerable. You’ll remember how one year ago you were still spending time with your friends. Now your laptop is your best friend. And your worst enemy.
9. And all the remaining free time goes to…
Once the blog posts have been published, you need to share them in every single social media channel. And then keep following how many more shares it will get and where. You keep checking on your blog, because once you get a comment you want to reply to it as soon as you can. In addition you need to read what your fellow bloggers are writing about. You are following a hundred blogs and 80 of them have published a new post. Of course you have to read them all. And to be fair, it would be nice to comment on them as well. And of course share them on social media. And then you’ll realize: ‘Oh yeah, in a couple of days I should publish something on my own blog again. What should I write about next? Oh God, what if I can’t figure out anything interesting? I’m so stressed… Oh, now I got it! I have an amazing idea, I think it’s better to start writing it already.’
And here we go again!
10. Until you’ll get interrupted because…
…something exciting is happening. There is a fire truck on my back yard! Quickly, grab a cell phone and run outside to see what has happened. Picture of a fire truck, post it on Instagram… checked! Every neighbour is outside but no one knows what has happened. Firemen are avoiding cameras. Oh wow, Rauma is such an exciting place to live in, maybe I can get something interesting out of this to write on my blog! No… some kids had been playing with matches in the forest and left a tiny little piece of grass smouldering in the woods, no one is in danger. So boring. I go back to my blogging, it’s so much more important and interesting. Oh, look at that, a new comment! I will reply to it right away!