Why I started a blog, lessons I’ve learned and blogging tips

Why I started a blog, lessons I’ve learned and blogging tips

A question I frequently get asked is why I first started my blog. I have always loved writing and after constantly being asked for recipes as well as advice on travel destinations or restaurants by family and friends, a blog felt like the perfect platform to share this information more widely.

Initially I started off with recipes, as I loved cooking after work, and it slowly evolved to include restaurant reviews, destination guides, and product reviews.

I also loved the fact that I was able to use my creative side more and when I first started I had no idea it would change my life in the way it has.

I still remember the first time I was invited to a blogging event at the W London and I had absolutely no idea that this was even a possibility. A few months later I even had my first invite on a press trip to St Malo and since then I have been grateful for so many amazing opportunities to travel as well as to collaborate with amazing brands, hotels and tourism boards.

I have also met people that I would never have crossed paths with had it not been for my blog, and one of my biggest highlights to date has been receiving an invite to attend the Latin America 50 Best Restaurant Awards in Mexico City 2 years ago.

What platform did I choose for my blog and why?

At the time my full time job was managing an Investments funds platform, and I had some experience in digital marketing from my graduate scheme, as well as a M.Sc in Marketing. I, however, had no prior experience on building a website on my own and had no idea where to start and so I did lots of research and watched lots of YouTube videos on the subject.

WordPress was highly recommended and I decided to set up an account on there, chose the domain name Binny’s Kitchen, and published my first post. The first look of my blog in hindsight was awful. I had chosen a purple background and different coloured font so it wasn’t easy on the eye. The pictures for my first few posts were also not the best quality and I was still finding my feet with how to use WordPress, how to format my posts, how to customise the theme and so forth.

I now thankfully have a plain white background with black text and have tried my best to make my blog look much more professional and easier to navigate, with the use of categories and drop down lists. My blog is self hosted with a company called SiteGround and my design is a template by a company called Pipdig, who I highly recommend.

What did I learn from blogging?

Blogging has taught me some valuable skills such as time management, majorly improved my writing and photography skills, how to brand and market myself, manage social media platforms, how to pitch, SEO optimisation, how to improve my Domain Authority and Page Authority, how to increase traffic to my site, how to edit photos, how to format posts, and how to network with other bloggers and PRs.

These skills are what have enabled me to pursue a freelance career, and have enabled me to manage my time efficiently on my own terms.

What would I have changed looking back now?

My biggest regret has been not starting my blog earlier. Amit and I have always been keen travellers and prior to my blog, had visited amazing long haul destinations such as Antigua and Barbuda, St Kitts, Barbados, Cuba, Saint Lucia, The Bahamas and New York, as well as spent most bank holidays going on city breaks to places like Amsterdam, Barcelona, Madrid, Malta, Sicily, Milan, Venice and Brussels.

I didn’t have a decent camera at the time and my memories are mainly poor quality BlackBerry photos, and so I wish I had used a good camera. I also didn’t have the same passion or eye for photography that I have now and have more photos of cats than actual monuments or places of interest in different countries. I guess it is a fantastic excuse to re-visit all those places 😉

I wish I had gone self hosted at the start so that I had greater control of my blog in terms of functionality and design, and this is something I strongly recommend doing if you are thinking of starting a blog or are already blogging but haven’t taken the leap yet.

I am now more selective about opportunities rather than saying yes to everything, which is what I initially did when I first started blogging. I now only pick opportunities that are best suited for my blog as well as ones that I am interested in and feel I can passionately write about. Saying no to things is totally acceptable and this is one of the learnings I have had over time.

What advice do I have for anyone thinking of starting a blog?

Firstly, just start. Even if you set your site as private until you are ready to share it with your family and friends, just get typing! Starting my blog was one of the best decisions I ever made, without a doubt.

I would recommend signing up with wordpress.org, going self hosted and choosing a custom domain. Your site will look so much more professional.

Depending on what your blog is about, I would recommend investing in a good camera for photos, and learning how to edit photos well. A blog is as much about the visuals as it is about the text, as you want to really captivate your audience’s attention. Good quality photos also make you look more professional and are what will set you apart from similar blogs in your niche.

There are so many fantastic Facebook Groups you can join for bloggers where you can meet like minded people, learn from each other or ask questions if you need help or advice. I would really recommend doing this.

Do set up social media accounts linked to your blog and ensure you are active and social on them. Most of my opportunities have come from Twitter and Instagram.

Do write an engaging ‘About me’ page and share a photo of yourself. I feel by giving a more personal touch rather than hiding behind an avatar helps your readers understand and get to know you better and leads to better engagement.

Do share your contact details (email will suffice) in obvious places on your blog as well as in the bio of your social media accounts. This will make it easier for people to get in touch with you.

Don’t get stressed out about how many posts you need to be publishing every week or month. Do what suits you and your lifestyle as ultimately it is your baby and you can run your blog on your own terms.

I found having a morning routine in place really helped me as well as using a planner to manage my schedule.

Finally, have fun with it!

Binny xx

 

 

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Binita Shah-Patel

Hi, I’m Binny – a writer, dreamer, serial wanderluster and travel addict. I am originally from Kenya but now live in London. I set up this blog to share my experiences eating out as well as travelling.

I love packing my bags and going off on adventures as one of the best things about travelling is the ability to just get lost in it. To set aside the maps and itineraries and just see where the road takes you, learning and evolving and living in the moment along the way.

It’s my goal to get swept off my feet as often as possible.

Find me on: Web | Twitter

8 Comments

  1. April 30, 2018 / 8:40 am

    I loved reading more about your blogging journey Binny. I was the same, thinking why didn’t I start earlier, I’ve done so much cool stuff but I jut reminded myself, the point is you started now!

  2. April 30, 2018 / 12:29 pm

    This is so helpful and full of great advise for anyone thinking about starting a blog!

  3. May 1, 2018 / 7:09 am

    This is a great little insight Binny! I’m considering the leap to moving my blog across to WordPress.org but have no idea where to start! I’ll have to go digging into the YouTube realms and see what’s out there 🙂

    • binnyjs
      Author
      May 1, 2018 / 7:11 am

      Awww what are you using now? I recommend Pipdig – they can make the move for you and they sell amazing templates at such an affordable price xx

      • May 1, 2018 / 1:56 pm

        At the moment I’m wordpress.com – I’m just conscious of the additional monthly cost going to self hosted too.. Especially as I feel like I’m still just getting started, even though I’ve been blogging for almost a year now!

  4. May 1, 2018 / 4:04 pm

    Thanks for sharing your experiences. We are currently in the process of changing from WordPress.com to a self hosted site on WordPress.com- still a lot to learn about SEO, Domain authority etc., but enjoying the process!! We started our blog three months ago and already have learnt so much!! ❤️

  5. May 31, 2018 / 7:06 am

    This is great Binny and really inspiring. I need to sort out my domain name ASAP.

    Thanks x

    • binnyjs
      Author
      May 31, 2018 / 7:08 am

      Let me know if you want any help! xx

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