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The Importance of Utilizing Your Blog as a Blogger
In this episode Isabel Leong and I discuss how to monetize your passion and be a great Blogger.
By listening to this episode you will learn how to blog effectively and produce great content.
Hello there. Today we’re going to talk about how you monetize your passion with a special guest who was able to grow her. Oh, there we go. Here she is. Grow her og and business to be online and able to travel and do what she loves. Hey there. Thanks. Hey.
Yeah, thanks for having me on board. Finally. Great
to speak with you after a while. Yes. Great to speak with you. Thanks so much for joining us on the health coach nation podcast slash Instagram Live. And just a heads up, you’ll probably have to talk louder than usual just because of audio reasons. So just want to give you that heads up there. But why don’t you first introduce yourself your name and what you do. And we’ll go from there.
Yeah, sure. So I’m Isabel. And I run a travel blog called Bel Around the World. I’m also an SEO coach, which is how we connect it. Because we were in the same online business bundle. Yeah. And yeah, I’m currently Oh, I’m from Singapore. But I’m currently in the US just being on the road. Now I’m working remotely. Yeah.
So where in the US? are you right now?
I’m currently in San Francisco.
Oh, fun. Okay. Yeah. And how are you liking the?
you probably can’t do much with the COVID. Right.
Oh, yeah. Oh, I’m actually kind of resting in between trips. I just came back from a seven day camping trip to the Death Valley.
Yeah. So it’s a good response? I’ll say,
SEO and Entrepreneurs
yeah. So traveling, doing SEO for entrepreneurs, is like, sounds like a dream to a lot of people. And I’m sure that it didn’t start out that way. And you kind of build up to that. So. And I think a lot of the reason why people start businesses is because, especially online businesses is because they do want that freedom. They do want to travel. And they want to help people while they’re doing it and follow their passion. So how did you decide first, that SEO was the thing you wanted to do? And then also, what were the first steps you had to start to do to transition online?
Yeah, well, I would say I stopped it. My passion in writing in the beginning. And with travel, this whole travel blog started. And then through just navigating my way around the online world and trying to figure out what works for people. Really monitoring my traffic, I’ve learned that the easiest way to get traffic is really by doing SEO. And so from then on, I started honing on more on the strategies and just tips that work in order to get more organic traffic in the least amount of effort and time possible.
Nice. So what are some findings that you’ve had on Instagram, in particular, to grow your traffic and your following? Because I know with, first of all you post great, exciting photos. So it’s probably very entertaining for people to follow you, because you’re always on the move and going on these trips. But what if what has been some things you found that have worked for you?
I’m on Instagram at sea. Okay, I can pick up maybe like five different factors that would play into an engaged account. Firstly, it’s to have quality photos, for sure. That goes without saying, and then having a consistent theme. And I’m not just talking about having a consistent color palette. if let’s say you’re running a social media agency, or you’re running a coaching business, then be consistent about posting about tips on whatever you specialize in. So for me, it’s posting a lot of travel inspired content. And my followers follow me because they either like my pictures, or they can relate to the kind of personality that I have.
And so they choose to follow me. Yeah, the other thing is, depending on your community, I would say to seek out people within your community and build a community of like minded people where you can support and get support from each other. So really being personal with one another, and even your followers, try and develop personal connections with them. And if someone like replays you on Instagram stories, send them a an emoji or just a reply.
So I mean, unless you’re a celebrity, it’s the way to build a loyal following out say is to have your following actually get to know you. And lastly, and this is not so often talked about, but I found that sometimes it can work. It is to be part of giveaways. So sometimes there are a couple of big giveaways going on. And if you can, you can take part in it, you can give back to your followers. I mean, it’s always nice to have this two way interaction with your followers and to find every opportunity that you can to give back.
Yeah, love that. So really good overview of some of the things that you should have on your Instagram account to start building a loyal following and then hopefully convert that following to clients or customers or referrals or whatnot. So when it comes to the giveaways and well, okay, a couple things. Number one, when you said be, if you want to build a loyal following engaged with them, I think the key is be loyal to them, posting good content for them, ask them what they want to see, like you said, respond to their messages.
And with the giveaways. That’s how we originally met through the business bundle, it was a bunch, of course creators who put our courses together. And what was so great about that is, number one, we could do things like this to collaborate on Instagram. And a lot of our businesses complement each other. So when you guys are thinking about collaborations who complements your business, where, for example, my audience might need an SEO expert in your audience might need more of a sales and marketing strategy or expert, you know, something in that range arena. So I think that that’s really important. And what about when it comes to quality photos? What do you mean by that? What do you find?
I’m like, I
know, brighter photos do better on Instagram. But can you tell us what you mean by like quality photos?
Yeah, let’s say something that’s not green, just taken straight off your phone at weird angles were a part of the subject is cropped out. You just like really basic photography. elements into it, like you want them to be aligned. In that sense. So I mean, doesn’t have to be professionally edited. I don’t. I myself, am not into those professionally edited photoshopped pictures. But yeah, really just if you can bring out the best in the pictures and with with light editing with presets, whatever.
Yeah. Okay. And presets are something where it’s somebody pre edited a photo to make it look nice. Right. And they’re giving you those edits that kind of how Yes, okay. Yeah. Cool. We’re getting so comments, keep them coming, guys. Thanks so much for saying hi. And one of the things I also wanted to ask you is when you did decide, okay, I think I’d like to do SEO for people and help them with their SEO, what were the first steps you took to get your first clients that would allow you to, you know, work with them virtually, and start traveling?
The Importance of Social Media
Yeah, um, the first place I actually went was Facebook groups. So because I was already part of a couple of travel Facebook groups, and I’ve, I’m in a couple of communities where there are other bloggers like me struggling to grow their traffic and just being stuck and not knowing what to do. So from there, I reached out and really try to understand where they’re coming from and where, what situation they’re in, and then try and offer tips. And then I’ll be like, Hey, I am on that note. I’m also trying to, oh, I’ve also recently launched a SEO course, would you be keen to maybe sign up for my free SEO course. And then from there, I’ll, I’ll nurture the leads through email marketing.
Yeah, perfect. Yeah. So very traditional in the sense that you’re giving value to people answering their common questions about SEO, you have a freebie, which is a free course. You invite them to try it, you don’t force it on anybody, which is really important. And then they go to your email list, they get your emails and then hopefully convert to being clients. Right. So what was the scariest part of transitioning to this? And also just, you know, yeah, I guess that would be a big question.
Yeah, it’s quite Yeah, it’s true that it’s quite a big transition, because I’ve always had more of a travel audience, so people who enjoy traveling and not so much, people who want to learn about writing content online, so I literally had to start from scratch and this COVID period was actually a good testing period, or like a good down time for me to Really reevaluate and think that okay, maybe it’s time for me to shift from sharing my travel content to sharing more tips about content writing and SEO, because I’ve already been like, I’ve been blogging for 15 years, but I’ve had this travel blog for five years now. So I thought that okay, maybe it’s the time to maybe transition.
And so back to your question on how I overcame this, I would say, I, I like challenges. And I’ve been blogging for a while now. So, I mean, most of the skill set, I know about blogging, I’ve already learned and mastered most of it. And so shifting to what’s a mentoring role is presented a kind of interesting challenge for me, which I was very keen to embark on, because I have the knowledge and it was set up a good period. And in this time for me to really go into learning how to conduct courses and sharing my information and my knowledge. Yeah.
And that brings up a really good point, because a lot of times people do want to expand or net or change their niche or start monetizing their audience because they have these accounts. And and it can be scary to say, Well, I’m, I’m doing SEO, but you’ve been following me for traveling. So how did you navigate that? Did you start a new account just for SEO tips? Did you tell your travel audience? Hey, I’m switching? Or did you just kind of naturally start including it in your content? Well, what was your process for that?
Yeah, good question. Because that was one of my concerns, as well, I was thinking, oh, maybe I should start a new website to focus on blogging tips. And then after much consideration, I realized that most people know me from my travel blog and my written content and my travel content. And so what better way to share about what this new project that I’m on by, by by going on this platform by going on my existing profiles and sharing about it? Since I already have a community here, then maybe it’s just the easiest way to spread the word that Oh, okay, I’m transitioning from sharing about travel to sharing about blogging. So people, at least they already know, my background in travel blogging, and that’s where I established authority.
I think that makes a lot of sense. And would and maybe that means that a lot more of your niche, or people who really vibe with you are travel bloggers, would you say that? That’s Oh, and it’s not? Not? Exactly. So
I’ve had a couple of small business owners, so they sell, really, they sell everything from apparel to candles. So it’s really a wide spectrum and SEO can be applied to any, any and every single niche, as long as you have online content, and you are interested in growing an audience organically without necessarily paying for ads all the time. Mm hmm.
So I get all sorts of cool.
So when it comes to blogging, in particular, and you’ve been doing that for 15 years, what are some things to kind of fast track the process of getting good SEO on your blogs and, and or monetizing your blogs? Because I know a lot of people who put out great content, and or are Instagram influencers and have tons of followers. And I’ve talked to some of them, as clients become who’ve become clients. And they say, you know, I did, I’m not making any money from this. I’m just putting all this stuff out here. And I don’t really not putting out an offer. I have tons of followers, but they’re not like my ideal followers. So what are some things people should think about when it comes to them wanting to monetize a blog or their content creation?
Yeah, good question. The most straightforward way to think about it is if you have traffic naturally, there’ll be advertisers that want to pay for the traffic and the reach that you have. And so my main goal for the blog in terms of in terms of if let’s say I wanted to monetize and earn more through blogging would be the main goal would be to grow my traffic and and that is why I placed so much focus on SEO. Yeah, yeah. And really reaching out and speaking to people in your niche. Because they might have contacts they can share. They might have tips that they can share from from just being in the industry itself. And yeah, these two are the main factors on what helped me to monetize and grow my thought that that much?
Yeah. So do you mean when you say, interacting with other people in your niche and getting tips from them? Do you mean putting together a blog booth kind of like, roundtable or like has advice from other people who you can involve in that article? And then they share it with their audience? Or what do you mean by that?
Oh, not necessarily. I mean, like, just really being in community groups and chatting with them. If you have a struggle, you can learn from them. There are a lot of forums and Facebook groups that are there that with people who are more than willing to share that learnings and their takeaways and things, two mistakes to avoid. So that is really good ground to start on. And to learn and grow. When it comes to if you want to start your own blog from scratch.
Okay, yeah. And then when it comes to the SEO, what are some things that have really either tools or tips or things you want to keep in mind when you want to get good SEO?
Yeah, so the very basics is to have good quality content. So just think of it as Okay, if you don’t know what SEO means. It’s search engine optimization. And basically, you employ a variety of techniques to, at best, rank your content on Google as high as possible so that when people search for specific terms, your article reaches the top and you get more clicks that way. And so if you think about it, like if you reverse engineer it, and you think about what your ideal reader or customer audience wants to find out when they hit search on Google.
So that is the keywords that you want to target. I do recommend tools like professional software tools to research keywords. But even if you don’t have these tools, you can always get an idea of what your reader wants to find out through. Even on Google searches, there are always related searches on when you hit a certain keywords. And there are also longtail keywords that you can get in from the Google search itself. So that is one way to decipher what keywords to look for. And the other thing is to have quality and long content. So Google, on average, the first few results on Google searches usually have an average of about 2000 words.
So you get an idea that Google really prioritizes content that serves serves its purpose and answers people’s questions. And so that’s how they rank, that’s a factor to consider when they rank articles on top. And, of course, you want to also embellish your articles with pictures or videos of any form. So that helps with the whole, it helps Google to read and understand the content better.
Okay, cool. So Google pretty much wants you to have valuable content that people share, find useful, that maybe teaches a concept within a couple different ways, maybe with videos, written and photos. And then also, when you said that, you can search what people are searching what Well, there’s two things, you can type in a phrase in Google and it will auto populate related searches when you do that. And you can get an idea there. Same thing with when you actually search the term if you scroll down, and like you said, there’s that related searches section where you can see more.
And so what would be though, because sometimes a certain keyword has, and I love the tip about 2000 words, being a good idea. But sometimes when you search a certain keyword, you’ll see like already, millions of people have posted about this or whatever. So is it worth the shot to also do that? Or should you pick a certain range of number of searches? To try to stand out in a certain smaller?
Yeah, search, if
that makes sense?
Yeah, so that goes under keyword research. And you can definitely go in depth with keyword research tools. But in general, if you just want to look at Google search results, and if you look at the first page, if you have websites like Forbes, Wikipedia, CNN, TripAdvisor all these big sites, if they’re already ranking and dominating the first page of Google, then there is no point in focusing on that keyword anymore because it’s unlikely that your blog will even end up on the first page and people in General they don’t click past the first page or not even past that result. So try to hone in on as specific a keyword as possible. So that’s why longtail keywords, keywords that have maybe three or five words long, are recommended.
Okay, that’s a great tip. And this is also a good way, you know, if you guys ever get stuck on what to post on Instagram, or what your headlines should be on Instagram or for your Facebook Lives, and you should create content about, you can also use Google search to get ideas and certain headlines that are popular, and people will be interested in hearing your take on that specific topic. So I think that that’s another way you can use it and how consistent would somebody need to be with blogging? Or what do you recommend there to also be, it doesn’t matter with your Google SEO?
Yep. So in general, I try to post once a week at least. But there have been case studies who have only posted one blog post, but have done tons of backlinking. So guest posting on other bigger websites, and then putting a link of that first bit one blog post in all those guest posts. And they get ton of traffic just to that one blog post. So it really depends on your goal. If your goal is to get more traffic on a certain just a specific blog post, then you can do that. So do a lot of guest post outreach. Or if you want to establish yourself as an authority in a certain niche, like, if you want to specialize in vegan recipes, then it’s best that you produce a ton of content about vegan recipes or everyone.
Yeah, or if you want to be a coffee expert, you want to post as much information as you can about coffee so that when people enter your site through Google or other platforms, they can see that you have covered a ton of content and you you’re, you’ve produced like very comprehensive content. And so in this way, it establishes your authority as well.
Mm hmm. Okay, sweet. So definitely sharing your blog posts with other bloggers who could maybe link to your blog and their related article, right. And I’ve gotten those emails myself, actually, from people saying, Hey, you know, I noticed in this blog, you’re talking about this, I blogged about this, replace the link with this. Is that a good idea? Is that real? Or Oh, that’s there.
That is one of the outreach strategies. And most of the time, I would say they don’t really have much luck on getting links that way. And what I would recommend is probably to offer something more of value, maybe offer to write a post on on a topic that overlaps with this person that you’re writing for, and also with your authority with your niche. So that usually is a better luck of having your reply, having them reply you. Yeah, so
offering a guest post you make, and you can link to your own article in that
Yeah, post and give it to so yeah, in a way, you’re providing free content for that person. And then, on that note, you can also grow your backlinks that way.
Yeah. Brilliant. I love them. And what about? I’m just curious, I don’t know if you’ll know the answer to this. This is unrelated. But I’ve gotten a couple on Instagram and all these places. Um, messages about are you interested in monetizing your Facebook page? We could put ads on it and be you know, you’ll get blah, blah, blah. Do you? Are you familiar with that at all? Is that real? What was that? Um,
I have a Facebook page in particular. No, I
don’t think any of I’ve received any of that. Okay, gotcha. Oh, good. I was just curious because it’s kind of weird. And, um, okay, so we’ve talked about consistency being maybe every week or being really narrow in what you post about some vegan recipes, vegan recipes, using that phrase over and over in your blogs, right, and posting that kind of good content. So that’s really good ideas. And what about when it comes to just the the journey you’ve been on with monetizing your blog and traveling? What’s kind of the time how long has it taken you to get to a position where you can do this full time? I’m just curious.
Yeah, um, I started the blog and Twitter. Thousand and 15, when I was still schooling, I was doing my unique exchange and friends. And so it’s always been part time for me, although I’ve had this end goal to eventually hopefully be able to work on the blog full time. So in 2015, for a couple of years, I was doing the whole blogging thing part time. And it wasn’t until two years ago, I had the opportunity to really give it a shot and just throw my all into it. It’s, I realized that the more effort you put into it, the more time you put into it, you can actually make it succeed in whatever way you define success. As a first I was really hesitant, because I mean, it’s definitely an uncertain path to take.
Because you will not I mean, unlike traditional jobs, you will not get a standard salary. And so, and it’s also not exactly a conventional career path, I would say. And so yeah, there were many, many qualms about doing this full time. But ever since I just jumped on this opportunity to do it full time and dedicate full time hours on it, I’ve able I was able to earn as much as I would earn in a full time job.
Nice. That’s awesome. So about what were yours? Like, if you started in 2015? And 15?
Yeah, to 28, then yeah,
cool. And that’s really standard, like I say, three years, my, like, three to four years is really when you start to feel like, okay, I own this business. It’s consistent. I’m not. I don’t mean, I mean, it’s different for everybody. But I think that people need to be patient with that process. How did you you know, stay the course and stay motivated when you weren’t always seeing immediate results.
Yeah, for sure. That is super evident, especially during this covid period where my traffic dropped by more than four times. And so everything just went down. And so yeah, it can be quite motivating. But really learning and hearing other case studies and other people that are also in your shoes helps. And it gives you hope, when you see that others are able to bounce back up. And when they offer tips you can really get hope from from these and know that Oh, okay. It’s just a, it’s just a bump on the road. And eventually it’ll go back up. Yeah. And yeah, and I mean, I’ve seen, I’ve implemented my strategies in the past, and I’ve seen it work. And so I’m pretty confident that if I keep the costs, keep on doing the same thing. Eventually it will come right back up.
Yeah, absolutely. There’s always going to be ebbs and flows. And all that means is you have to keep adapting and keep learning keep coming, becoming a better version of yourself on that journey. It’s really inspiring to hear that, you know, you have been able to do this. And one of the things that I think is it would be fun to ask you is just what’s been your favorite, because you get to travel a lot. What’s been your favorite trip or favorite story from this journey you’ve taken?
Yeah, so what’s really cool about travel blogging, I know it’s a it’s a very specific niche. But what’s been good about travel vlogging is that it opens up opportunities for you to be able to travel more because I’ve been able to work with tourism boards and airlines and hotels and such. And so to answer your question I would see going to their motives on a press trip has been one of the monumental one of the monumental periods in that in that time, because I think I was Wait,
where was it going on? To the motives to the maldis Oh, wow, okay.
Yeah. Because I was, I believe, maybe only one year into blogging. And so being able to pitch and establish contact and really have someone trust you on your blog and the content that you would deliver was really empowering and really helpful for me. And then the other thing is going to New Zealand for my graduation trip. I was able to do so many more activities that I would otherwise have not been able to do. Yeah, so it’s this cool experiences, even my last trip to My last trip in October, I spent a whole month in South Africa.
And it was only because, yeah, it was only because I was able to work remotely that I could spend this amount of time in Africa. And, you know, like, live and live in safaris and go on all these Safari tours and paragliding and white shark cage diving. These are all super cool experiences that I mean, if I were to just go on my own, I probably wouldn’t even get to experience it.
Yeah. white shark cage. Oh, my gosh. You’re in Where is that? Where you’re in
the cage, and the cage is so much and the shop is literally centimeters from you.
Oh, gee, yeah,
that sounds exciting. Oh, me.
Glad that that was fun.
Yeah. Okay, so Wow, that’s super cool. Are you are you going by yourself on all these trips?
Um, occasionally, yes. Myself Africa trip, I actually went with another travel blogger. So that was pretty cool. Doing collaborations like that, because your reach becomes double. And so yeah, you have more chances to be to have people say yes to you, then then if you were to do it yourself, but like this us trip I’m doing on my own. So it’s really a mix of with people and without?
How do you like have? I guess? do you stay?
I don’t know. Like, do
you get nervous going by yourself? Or lonely or anything like that?
Yeah, um, it depends. I guess, if it’s a trip that I’ve been planning for ages, and I know exactly where I want to go. And what I want to do, then I can usually keep myself pretty occupied, for instance, I mean, yeah, it also depends on destination. Like when I was in Cape Town, I was already on my own, because my friend went back. And so I really did have a lot of fun on my own, like exploring farmers markets, and just driving along the cliffs sites, and taking interviews and meeting local people. So I do enjoy that bit of solo traveling, as well as group traveling as well, I would say,
so cool. I’m here. And the other question I have is when you said that you’re pitching to travel companies, or airlines or hotels? Um, do you teach that in your course? Or how does somebody read, let’s say, I have a travel blog, I’m trying to grow it. I’m blogging every week, I’m putting all these good phrases, I’m starting to get some traffic. But nobody’s coming to me to say, Hey, want to advertise on your page or want to invite you on this trip? What would you tell those people? How can they?
What do they Yeah,
yeah, so I do include outreach templates, or pitches that I’ve done, copy and paste it in my full course, my full SEO course. Which can be you know, tweaked, and tweaked, depending on whatever industry you’re in, whether you’re in beauty, or fashion, or travel. So yes, I do offer those. And I also offer a bunch of other tips to actively get out there. So doing more PR related work, because you’re just a small brand. And no one’s going to be able to find you if you don’t actively reach out and get yourself known. So yeah, offer tips on how to make your branding look good. And how to really attract the people that you your potential sponsors.
Yeah, offer a bunch of that. And my blogging, my blogging section on my blog, too. So I’m happy to send you a link after this. If you like, Yeah,
I’d love to share that. Oh, notes for everybody. If you guys go to haileyrowe.com/blogger, this episode will be up soon, and you can find it. But yeah, I’d love to include that. And I think what you’re saying is, it is so important to get in front of who you want to connect with and build apps with it. Don’t wait for them to come to you. And there’s a way you can do it. That makes it a win win for both parties. So I’m sure in your pitch templates, you have a way to do that. So I think this has been really valuable. Would you say that?
Does anybody here who’s live have any questions? They want to share? Somebody said great insight, which is super nice. Thank you. Got some ways. Um, but if not, where can everybody find you on Instagram? And in general when they’re listening to the replay on the podcast?
Yeah, I’m belaroundtheworld.com. And yeah, this is my Instagram belardtheworld on Instagram, Twitter, and I’m also on Facebook. If you use it. And I’m happy to send you a link to my free SEO course to
awesome. Yeah. Great. Well, thank you so much for being a guest today, and I really appreciate it.
Yeah. Thanks for having me. Speak soon. Yep.
Bye, guys. Bye
About Isabel Leong
Isabel Leong is a digital nomad and full-time travel blogger. She is perpetually from Singapore. Since 2015, Isabel’s business and website/blog has partnered with multiple travel brands to bring the wonders of the world to her audience and readers.
- Complimentary Business Consult
- Health Coach Nation: Marketing, Business, & Mindset for Health Coaches
You Can find Isabel on her website here.