As of this past week, I’ve Bean Travelling now proudly boasts over 2000 followers from WordPress, social media, and email! In keeping with my tradition, this milestone will be marked with a blog post about blogging. This time around, I thought I’d share with you my favourite tools that I’ve used to grow my corner of the internet.
Best social media platform: Twitter
The bulk of this blog’s growth has come from social media, particularly Twitter. Since I started my account over there, I have accumulated over 1700 followers from the Travel Twitter community. I’ve enjoyed joining in on many popular weekly themed chats, including #ThankfulThursdayEveryday, #FlashbackFridayz, and #Top4Theme, which brings us travel lovers together to share photos and 280-character stories from our worldly adventures. This platform has also been a source of inspiration for blog posts, including one of my favourites, the #AlphabetAdventures challenge.
Best graphic design platform: Canva
I started using Pinterest to promote this blog toward the end of 2019 and have been steadfastly adding Pin links to the bottom of my posts. Canva is a free online graphic design interface that has been perfect for creating all those pretty Pins. It offers hundreds of templates, including a repository of graphics and fonts, for Pinterest and most other popular social media platforms. I’ve used it to design a few header images too. Available via browser and iOS app, it’s very user friendly and straightforward to figure out. Pinning and designing Pins is actually a surprisingly relaxing activity, while helping me extend my blog’s reach at the same time.
Best blog aggregator: Bloglovin’
I’ve known about Bloglovin’ for awhile, but only just recently activated my account. It is effectively an RSS aggregator that allows users to read, organize, and discover blogs. WordPress Reader is still my primary source for finding and following other blogs, and it’s also a huge source of traffic for me, but Bloglovin’ has better search functionality and is a means for getting out of the WordPress bubble. There are literally thousands of other travel and food blogs out there, many of which are in fact self-hosted, bringing me to my next topic…
Best WordPress.com plan: Premium
Only about a year into starting this blogging journey did I do some more research and learn about WordPress.org versus WordPress.com, as well as the intricacies of self-hosting versus using a packaged website builder. It seems that a self-hosted blog offers more growth potential and security, but I have opted to stick with WordPress.com for its ease of use. In terms of the various WordPress plans, the Premium option has been adequate for me. At $10 per month, it offers enough extra features (ad-free, audio/video posting, Google Analytics capability) without completely breaking the bank. I especially like having access to the Premium layouts which are definitely a step up from the generic ones that come with the Free plan, and there are some customization capabilities too. The other benefit of sticking with WordPress.com is having access to WordPress Reader, which allows me to stay engaged with the blogging community here.
To monetize or not to monetize?
The monetization opportunities with the Premium plan are limited to the WordAds program, which I tried for a split second but discontinued because I simply did not like the look of ads on my website. As for other avenues of monetization, I also looked into affiliate programs with Amazon and Booking.com, but ultimately decided to forego these options given my mediocre site traffic. Monetizing a blog takes a lot of effort and, in my situation, is not particularly worthwhile to pursue. For now, I’ll be sticking with my day job and focusing on this blog as something I do just for fun!