I am Aileen. At 21, I quit my corporate job in the Philippines to travel the world. Today, I am a digital nomad and entrepreneur living a sustainable travel lifestyle as I write about my adventures on iAmAileen.com!
As a blogger, I aim to show to others that a life of travel is NOT only for the rich and that it is absolutely possible to explore the globe even with just only a third world passport. I have just launched my travel blog last September 2014 but I am honored to have been already featured in big websites like National Geographic, Lonely Planet, and more!
Please tell us something about yourself. Is travel blogging your profession or just a hobby?
I don’t really refer to it as a profession because it is simply one of the many things that I enjoy and love doing. Besides, like I have mentioned previously, I work as a digital nomad and entrepreneur so I have my freelance stint (graphic design, web design, etc.) and separate online retail business (AdalidGear.com) respectively that I regard as my true business or career.
Ultimately, I continue to do travel blogging because at the very core, I just love sharing my journey, tips, and travel tips to others. Plus, it brings me great joy whenever my readers would thank me for helping and inspiring them follow their travel dreams.
When did you get an idea to launch your own blog and how important is it for you to be online?
My domain has actually been in existence ever since 2008 but those were the times when I was just blogging away about my teenage troubles so I wasn’t really serious about writing regularly or whatnot. But after I quit my job to travel the world in 2013, I slowly gained inspiration to write more about my travels. So in September 2014, I decided to relaunch my domain into a travel blog and focus on inspiring others who are interested in jumpstarting a similar lifestyle that I have.
Now, given that my other businesses are run online, it naturally becomes a routine for me to also stay ‘active’ on my blog and social media channels which is absolutely beneficial since it is important for bloggers to maintain a reasonably strong presence on the web.
Did you have someone help you make the website or did you do it by yourself?
I have actually been doing graphic and web design ever since I was 13 (mainly as a hobby at that time up until I was 21) so yes, everything on my website has been designed and structured by me! I first started out in Blogger but have moved to WordPress in 2014.
The right domain name is important. How long did it take you to come up with the domain name for your blog?
Clearly since I started blogging as a hobby (and it still is!) I actually didn’t give much attention to my domain name. I took the easy route: ‘I am Aileen’ because I am Aileen! Then when I wanted to restart my blogging life in order to launch a travel blog, I ended up keeping it still because… I am stubborn.
You see, I absolutely know the importance of using the right domain name that would fit one’s niche but… I have this lifelong goal of making my name, ‘Aileen’, a well-known name worldwide that is not, in any way, related to the famous murderer, Aileen Wuornos. *laughs* So there.
What kind of Theme do you use on your blog and what are the “must have” plugins for a blog?
I use a responsive theme for my travel blog which is rather important lately, given how Google gives more preference to mobile-friendly websites.
As for plugins, I definitely recommend the basics: Akismet (for protection against spam), Jetpack (for its TONS of helpful features), WordPress SEO by Yoast (for managing your SEO), and WP Super Cache (for speeding up your site).
What CMS (Content Management System) do you use on your blog? How hard is it to navigate within your CMS (making a new post, inserting images, moderating comments, etc.)?
WordPress all the way. There are a lot more other CMS sites that I deal with for my work (like Drupal and Joomla) but I have come to love using WordPress more for my website since it’s fairly simple and straightforward to use.
How much time do you spend blogging?
Since I have other ‘online stuff’ to attend to, I try to dedicate at least 2 hours per day to my blog as I do promotions, marketing, posting on social media channels, and more — this does not include yet the time that I try to come up with a new post which I do every 3-4 days. On average it can take me 6 hours (spread out over 3-4 days) to make one article since I am very finicky with my writing!
How do you promote your blog? Do you use social media channels to attract more visitors to your blog?
I promote my blog mainly through cross-promotions + networking with fellow bloggers (through guest posts, collaborations, forums, groups, etc.) and social media channels. For my site, I have discovered that most of my audience wants to connect with me through Facebook so I have been constantly trying my best to improve my presence in that platform. Anyhow, I still use other social media channels like Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and YouTube.
I also have a mailing list which some other bloggers would refer to as their strongest promotion medium but it’s not as influential yet as my Facebook page. So this just means that it really depends; it’s a case-by-case basis. It’s up to a blogger to identify their ‘strength’ and capitalize on it.
Is there a way to monetize (make money) through a blog?
Absolutely. There are a LOT of ways actually. There’s affiliate marketing where one can partner with brands that they support, and then there are advertisement opportunities with various providers like Google AdSense, Mad Ads Media and more. There’s also a monetary opportunity in selling an ad space on one’s blog and in partnering with various companies to do product reviews, sponsored posts and more!
Would you encourage other people to make their own blogs?
Of course, especially if it’s something that they would love to do then why not? It’s a fun way of sharing your thoughts with the world, and the perks that come with it can be very rewarding.
Please give us some advice for new bloggers and for people who are still not sure if they need a blog of their own?
My first advice to wannabe bloggers: know your intentions. Do you want to own a blog and make it into a business and money-generating machine? Or do you just want to own a blog because it seems fun and that it can be a great hobby for you?
– If you are serious about jumpstarting your blogging life, then great! Just be aware of the fact that handling a blog as a business is no joke — it can really take a lot of work and dedication before you can see any significant results.
– If however, you just want a blog as a creative outlet, then that’s also great! You can really gain a lot of things from blogging!
Just remember to find a niche that fits you so that you can instantly make your mark on the internet and stand out from the rest! If you want to learn more tips on how you can start a travel blog, you can see my guide: “How to Start a Travel Blog from Scratch” that tackles a lot of important points. You can also refer to First Site Guide’s articles.
Photos ©: I am Aileen