I am always asked about blogging. Why, how, what etc. People are interested in what is a foreign world to many, so here I will share answers to common questions I have been asked.
Funny thing is I dislike being called a blogger. When people say that I always reply with ‘no, I have a lifestyle, travel and food blog, I’m not a blogger.’
Why did you start blogging?
I started this blog (originally called Rachael’s Crazy World) when I booked my first trip to the USA in 2012. Back then internet wasn’t easily accessible, wifi was scarce and I wanted to be able to share my travel experiences and stories with my parents. So I started this blog so they could see what I was up to, and guess what? They never read it!! But a heap of other people did. And I enjoyed it, so here we are.
Who takes your photos?
Ha! This is fairly amusing. Mainly me. I set up the most ridiculous stands made out of whatever I can find (bar stools, towels, coconuts, trees, branches, clothes, you name it) to get the shot. This is fine when nobody is around but slightly embarrassing and funny when they are. Sometimes I will ask others to take pics of me but unless I can easily direct them on the shot I feel it doesn’t usually reflect my style. I’m independent and don’t enjoy asking much of others, especially if photography and media isn’t their thing. My brother and friend Kim are always up for a bit of a shoot for which I am grateful!
Once in Vietnam it was a terribly windy evening but I was bored and the pool still looked great and I wanted to get a pic. So I went down in my robe and grabbed a bar stool and took it over to the pool. Then I grabbed some towels and lined them up so my phone would stand up and at a good height. Then I positioned it all right and put my phone on the ten second timer and would run over and pose like I wasn’t posing by the pool! Haha! Must have looked hilarious to anyone looking out of the hotel window.
My Mum sent me a link to Gekkopod the other day and I really want one! It’s a tripod but with bendy, strappy arms that are like lizard’s legs and can stick onto anything!
Do you get free stuff?
Sometimes. Occasionally when I go travel I will connect with brands that I align with (and would purchase anyway) and ask them if they’re interested in collaborating. Sometimes they reach out to me too. Whether it is a hotel, a tour, food or a product, if I wouldn’t pay for it myself, I won’t do it. This is to make sure my blog is authentic and not just a marketing tool. I’ve worked with some amazing companies and I always add a disclaimer at the bottom of the blog when the goods have been complimentary. Transparency is key here, I don’t want any of my readers to feel like I have disillusioned them and my reviews aren’t true.
There have been times when the experience or goods haven’t met my expectations and I cannot recommend these, be them free, paid, or otherwise. When this happens, I will always provide this feedback to the company and provide them with suggestions on how to better their service or goods and provide an option to revisit when they have actioned these.
Why don’t you show your face on Instagram?
Easy. I want my blog to be separate to me. I want people to love my blog and images because of the content and not who is posting. I’m all about connecting with people and my face is all over Facebook and Twitter and my blog itself but I find that with Instagram it creates intrigue. I have so many people contact asking why I don’t show my face. I tell them why and send them over to my private account, @rachael_09. Interestingly, this is the opposite of what I would generally advise anyone else…
Does it cost you?
I pay for a domain name, WordPress, hosting and some website development which costs me a couple of hundred per year. Any other hobby would cost similar so I am happy to pay. I used to have a free WordPress version and do all my own website updates but as my site became bigger and I became busier, I had to change platform and hosting and it was more convenient and efficient to have someone do the updates for me.
I don’t ever just book an activity or buy something purely to blog about. It’s always something I was going to do or purchase anyway and if I think it will be of interest to my readers or I’d like reference or to remember it later then I’ll write a blog.
My time is the greatest expense but as it’s a hobby and I enjoy it I feel it is time well spent! I find writing cathartic and fun and I love sharing my experiences with others.
Is your site monetised?
Not really. I need to build my traffic a little more to be able to make anything decent from advertising. I hope to do this later in the year!
There’s also a platform called Tribe that I’d like to use for micro-influencers through my blog Instagram. You need 3,000 followers (real ones, not bought or ghost followers) and they connect influencers with brands who are interested in sharing their product or experience. Similar to above, to maintain authenticity, you must use or have the product or service of your own accord already to be able to submit photos. Unfortunately, I seem to have picked up some ghost followers (followers who have little engagement / seem spammy etc) so I have to manually clear them out by blocking them in order to get on! I last counted over 600 that I blocked. So annoying. I’m looking forward to getting involved though.
Does is take a lot of time and effort?
Yes. Heaps. Writing takes time. Writing well takes even longer. Coming up with cool headings can take a long time. Sometimes if I’m in a great mood or after a wine or two I can smash out hilarious blogs in no time at all. Other times it takes lots of effort to write something small. It depends on my mood. But that’s just a small part of it. There’s maintaining the website, driving traffic through various mediums, connecting with brands to show I’ve written about them or to collaborate, trying to get sign ups and of course, social media.
Social media is allllll time consuming. Being a marketing professional, I realised the potential of these platforms long ago however I really put off getting them as I knew the effort involved which put me behind the eight ball. I started with Twitter, a fun place to connect with other travelers with not too much effort. Then I gave in to Instagram. Instagram is my favourite. I love creating beautiful images to share and connecting with other people on there. It’s the best place I’ve found to connect with others and share not only images, but stories and helpful tips. But damn is it hard work. I literally spend HOURS each week on there. I am liking posts, commenting on posts, getting lost in hashtags, finding similar people to follow, finding the right hashtags, engaging to grow my audience, editing pictures and posting EVERY day. Don’t get me wrong though, I enjoy it most of the time. I usually do this while I am waiting or in Ubers etc to be more efficient.
And then Facebook, I finally caved. You see, I want my blog to be its own entity and I felt that some people may feel obliged to like my page, because it was mine. So instead I only invited people to like the page who I knew followed my blog already and were interested in what I wrote about and what I shared. It’s the best platform to drive traffic to the website so I am really starting to utilise it more.
It’s hard to strike a balance between what feels like pushing people to read the blogs and to sharing blogs of interest that they might enjoy. I am very careful to keep it fun and authentic and not brand-like or sales-like. That sh*t turns people right off and is not what this is about.
When do you write?
Seven times out of ten, I write blogs on planes. I spend a fair amount of time travelling and most of the time I am asleep but if I’m awake I will blog. In fact, I’m on my way back from Hawaii now and I’ve just written ten pages!
If I have something time sensitive I will always take notes on my phone and try type it up that night, often this is done on my phone too. I really need to learn to utilise voice to text to save my poor thumbs!
Why do you blog now?
I love it. I love creating communities and sharing experiences. I love finding the best things to do / eat / drink and sharing these with my readers so they can have the best experience too. I love making people laugh, my dating blogs are always well received. It’s a place to record my memories and share them with others.
How do I create my own blog?
It’s fun and you really have to love what you’re doing to keep it going. It’s a great hobby though and an excellent creative outlet and memoir. Here’s some blogs you might find helpful to get started: Create a WordPress Blog, WordPress how to start, Five Steps to set up your blog.
How can I help you with Wander Wonder Wonton?
Like Wander Wonder Wonton on Facebook, follow me on Insta and sign up to my email subscription. Better yet, ask the same of people you know who would enjoy Wander Wonder Wonton too! I promise I will never spam and I will always share authentic experiences.
Feel free to ask any questions below!