It’s almost hard to believe, but here it is: my 100th blog post! Since I created worldadventuredivers.com in January 2012, during a jet-lagged all-nighter in Singapore, on my way to my first trip to Indonesia, so much has happened. I went from warm seas dive traveller to pro adventure blogger not afraid to dive below ice. Sometimes, after long hours of work writing articles, editing pictures, updating social media, emailing and networking, I feel there still so much to be done. Nevertheless, if I look back and try to think about my to-do list 5 years ago, I’ve already been beyond my first expectations. I would have never thought that after a few years of working thoroughly on my blog, I would have thousands of followers and could be invited to do what I love the most in life: travelling and scuba diving.
A slow beginning but solid foundations
I published “only” 100 posts in 5 years, on average it represents about 20 per year or about 1.7 per month; one can say I haven’t been very prolific. But as usual, you should always be careful with general statistics: in my first three years, I only published 11 blog posts, but in total with an average word count of 2,000 words, it’s like every time I published 1 article I have actually made 4 or it’s like publishing a book of 800 pages! I guess it is not so bad after all.
So, why such a slow beginning? I was taking my time to find my style and learn how to blog in a professional way. For three years, I read more than I wrote. And I was reading a lot, like… a lot! Eventually, this is when I moved to Scotland, maybe inspired by the beauty of the Highlands, that I found the right way to share my vision. I decided it was ok not to write hundreds of short posts but fewer in-depth articles showing my love for both adventure diving and cultural discoveries. What I’ve discovered is by doing “long read” articles, Google loved me as I had a high natural density of keywords. By carefully looking at my stats, especially in 2015, as I was publishing at a higher pace of 4 articles per month, but also on the valuable feedback I received on Facebook, I could understand better what you, dear readers, loved the most. I focused on organising trips among the most adventurous destinations of my World Dive Map, keeping improving my photography skills and sharing my personal travel tips.
I also had to acknowledge that as a non-native English speaker I needed to brush up my writing skills. I decided to be coached by a Scottish friend who is a enthralling writer and a brilliant Instagrammer. She studied the weaknesses in my writing, so I could start working on an action plan to fix my most common mistakes. In the long run, it’s by installing, the free Grammarly plugin I could get a personal editing assistant pointing out grammar mistakes at any time. I then decided to give a try to the premium plan which is helping you to improve both your style and vocabulary while analysing your writing so you can track your progress. Whether in Word, Gmail or directly into my WordPress editor, I can set the settings of the style of piece I’m writing (Blog post or Business Proposal for instance) and it can make the difference between British and American English. Grammarly helped me to be more confident with my writing and to save a lot of time. I gladly renewed my premium account this year.
Meeting the travel blogger community
As I was working to publish more content on the blog, the real game changer came from the moment I decided to join my first blogger conference: Traverse15. It was almost overwhelming to be surrounded by so many talented British travel, food and lifestyle bloggers. Everyone was so passionate about what they are doing. In the course of a weekend in Kingston-upon-Thames, West London, between practical workshops and networking parties, I learnt about travel writing, video editing or working with PR companies. Totally mind-blowing, a whole new world opened in front of my eyes: “a media kit what?” I still can’t believe that in March 2015, I didn’t know what it was. I’m now at my 5th version, distributing it to potential sponsors to let them know about what I do, who my audience is and how much traffic I get on worldadventuredivers.com and associated social media. And you know what? It’s working! No wonder why this year I was in Cardiff for Traverse16.
Beyond the tools and skills I discovered, I knew I found a crowd I felt good in and I wanted to be a part of. You can read all over the internet, about blogging: meet your peers! Talking together is an infinite source of inspiration and motivation, you can share useful tips and help each other for SEO or social media.For example, I met Arianwen of Beyond Blighty at Traverse15, we kept in touch through Twitter and in October this year we ended up diving together during a blog trip to Tenerife. After that, it just felt natural to link to each other’s blog and share each other content on social media. Every little help counts!
Building a name for World Adventure Divers while having a small niche
When I started to get the word out there about WorldAdventureDivers.com, I received many comments such as “Wow, that is for sure a niche but isn’t too small?“. At the same time I heard experienced bloggers saying “It’s not only about the numbers, because if you’re a general travel blogger, of course, you need huge numbers, but people with a niche have a relevant audience with much higher engagement” while some potential sponsors would keep asking “how many fans do you have on Facebook?”. I was confused.
In my initial confusion, I quickly noticed that when I finally started to blog more with always original quality content, I was organically growing my audience dramatically. I decided to stick to that because even if no opportunity would even arise, I would keep doing what I do because I love travelling, I love scuba diving, I love writing, and I love photography. This is not what happened.
With hard work, always taking every opportunity to improve my skills and daring to say hello to key people to introduce them to my work, things started to move in the right direction. In 2016, I received my 2 first invitations to scuba diving trips. At the next Paris Dive Show, in January 2017, I will make 3 presentations about my most out-off-the-beaten-track scuba diving trips on the booth of my sponsor Aqua Lung. If you’re in the area, don’t hesitate to come and say hi!
2 years ago, somebody would have told me this would happen, I would have answered “No way”. I can’t wait to see what’s going to occur in the coming years if I keep the same discipline!
My original vision is more present than ever
By learning my craft as a blogger, it could have been very tempting only to write lists such as “The 10 best dive sites in the world” or “The 10 things you must absolutely know before buying dive gear”. The risk by taking partnerships could be to compromise what I believe in and accept to write about anything for the sake of a sponsored post. In the last past year, I faced a few situations where I truly wondered “What should I do?” The right answer always came by sticking to my values and by respecting both the people who keep reading me and the time and effort I put in building honest content.
“The long way is the short cut”. These words are Seth Godin’s in a brilliant interview he gave to Marie Forleo. They resonated so much with what I’m trying to achieve and gave me the confidence to carry on. I want to be known for inspiring stories promoting incredible diving adventures that are also respectful of the wildlife, the environment and the people. I don’t want to be known for click-bait articles linking to dodgy websites. It has a price. The price of taking more time. I believe in the long run, nothing solid happens overnight.
As I read again my first blog post, written on the roof of the house of my Couchsurfing host, in the middle of the jungle of Ubud’s suburbs in Bali, I smile. I smile because every single word is still the mantra of what I do today: scuba diving anywhere, even in cold water; travelling to scuba dive and discover a country, its people, its culture, at the same time; making scuba diving friends all over the world by breaking the language barriers; showing the diversity and the beauty of as many as possible aquatic ecosystems; and finally helping you to do it without breaking the bank by telling you how.
I am so glad and proud that this vision is still there and stronger than ever. Sometimes I dare to say that scuba diving is only an excuse (of course it’s more than that to me) because the world is too big, so having a common theme to explore it makes the journey more exciting. In the end, I want you to be inspired to leave your comfort zone and experience places for real while ticking off another fantastic dive site from your bucket list. Because after each trip you always come back as a slightly different person; a person who has a different perspective on life.
My wish list for 2017
- Sharing more personal stories: By looking at my most popular posts, except for a few exceptions, I can see they are personal stories from combined experiences of several trips. Whether I explain what it really feels like to go solo on scuba diving trips, how I struggled to buy my very first dry suit or what to really pay attention to when flying for a scuba diving holiday, I got it, you love these articles! This article is actually an attempt to bring more personal stories on my blog. Don’t hesitate to let me know what you think in the comments and what kind of topics you would love to read about!
- Interacting more with you by launching my newsletter: I was hoping that social media would be good enough to keep in touch with everyone. Recently, I got more and more people telling me that they were disappointed they couldn’t see my posts in their feed. Social Media is now a pay-to-play world so only a small share of people can see the content I share on Facebook. We tried a few tricks and it seems that by liking a few posts in a row on my Facebook page, people were finally able to see my posts in their feed. Unfortunately, this is not how I can make sure to communicate with each person that showed interest in World Adventure Divers. Having a newsletter will be the best complement to let you know about my latest posts but also to give you a bit of behind the scene stories so you can learn about how I’m organising my next adventure. Interested? Curious? Excited? Pre-register onto my mailing list to make sure not to miss the first one when it will be ready!
- Publishing my first e-book: It has been on my computer for years. First, it was only a database and then, as I was doing more and more scuba diving trips and got always more beautiful pictures, I started putting together a scuba diving holiday planner guide. I still have work to do on it, but by registering onto my mailing list you will be among the first ones to know when it will be available to download for free.
I can’t wait for 2017 but in the meantime, I still have one last scuba diving trip before 2016 is over, please wish me luck with everything!