There are many things I wish I knew about travel blogging before I started. I knew a lot about blogging, but not so much about blogging within the travel niche. Here are nine simple tips I think you need to know about being a travel blogger before you start.
The tech stuff you can work out, the mindset obstacles are a little harder to gain victory over.
1. Take lots of photos whilst travelling
Don’t just be a tourist photographer. Look for unusual photo opportunities and for simple photos like signs, transport, someone carrying a backpack or eating food. All of these photos can be used to fill all manner of posts.
After recently writing our budget travel in Africa post, I was kicking myself for not taking photos of food and transport options while we were travelling in Africa. I so needed them to highlight what I was talking about in my post about getting around Africa.
Solution: Always have your eyes open for unusual shots. Think about the type of blog posts you might be writing and make a list of photos that would work well with them.
2. Be Vigilant with your Note Taking and Journal Writing when Travelling
Hindsight is such a wonderful thing. If I had it as foresight, I would have been more vigilant with my journal writing while I was travelling the world.
I often would go days at a time without recording anything, and then I would feel lazy and think what is the point anyway?
Now I struggle to recall details from some of my most amazing travel stories. For those adventures I do have a journal account of, they have helped me tremendously in recreating the story for our travel blog.
Solution: Carry a notebook and pencil around with you every where. Record details of every place you visit, stay at and transport you take. Keep receipts in your book so you have a record of costs.
Record contact details of any person you meet and may wish to quote or write about. Take every spare opportunity to write especially in down moments on trains and buses.
3. Get your Permalink Structure right
This is one of my biggest regrets and my only technical must-be-aware of advice. I set up my permalink structure as category/postname, not really thinking about the fact that I would have quite a complex category structure for my blog.
What this means is that my URL’s are extremely long. But worse, I now have limited control over my categories. I can’t move them around as my blog evolves as it will change my URL’s of already published posts. This really sucks.
Solution: Although this category permalink structure has SEO benefits, I think you are far better to go for a date/post name structure instead.
Having a neatly set out category structure (that you can change if need be) is best for your readers so they may quickly find what they are looking for.
NB: I have now changed my permalink structure and we lost all of our social proof on our articles form the past year. Boo hoo. At least now it is set up for the next X years.
4. Travel Blogging is going to Consume a Lot of your Time
Travel blogging is not easy. It is going to take up a lot of your time, and I mean every spare minute.
While I could go on and on here about many principles of success, I’ll cut it short by basically saying, don’t even think about travel blogging if you aren’t passionate and prepared to spend many hours of the day and night committed to working this in order to rise to the top.
It doesn’t matter what your field or industry, it will always be 20% of the people that will have 80% of the success. It is called the Pareto Principle. Why is this so? Because those that fall in the 20% are prepared to do what the remaining 80% aren’t.
Which side are you going to fall on? Decide and then commit.
I am still amazed by the amount of travel bloggers who say they aren’t in it for the money and accuse those who are of being dishonest and sell outs. Unless you are just keeping a record of your travel experiences for your family and friends, then you have chosen a hobby that will consume your life.
Why would you put in all the time and effort that is required to make it work if you don’t want to be rewarded from it?
Don’t you think you deserve it? Or maybe you think you can’t do it?
We intend to make money from this travel blog. At the same time, we do this because it is our passion and we want to inspire others. If we don’t make any money from this then we have to quit, and then I stop helping others.
As all successful entrepreneurs know “The more money I have, the more I can do to help myself and to help others.”
Solution: Blog about your passion, love what you do. If you don’t then you will find the time commitment a struggle. Believe that you deserve to be rewarded for your time and effort, and for the value you bring to others.
5. Go outside your Niche for Traffic
This is so vital. While I love having a lot of my readers come from the travel blogging community, I also love that I have a lot of readers who don’t. There will be a limit to your success when your only readers are those who are swimming in the same niche pool as you.
Travel bloggers are busy, they don’t get a chance to read and promote everyone’s work, and besides they already know a lot about travel. We came into this field intent on being part of the 20%, this means getting creative to find ways to welcome in traffic from other areas.
Solution: Look outside your niche for those who aren’t travelling yet, but are looking for ways to get inspired and informed to be able to do it. They are waiting to hear from you.
6. Be Open to Finding all Sorts of Angles in your Stories while Travelling on the Road.
A story idea can often come from the words someone says, such as my post 80% of travellers are running away from something. They can come from thoughts you have while on a moonwalk through the bush like my friendships on the travelling road post.
Don’t just look for the normal angles such as “Best places to visit when in Bangkok.” Try new things. Try to be different. Be diligent in your recording of everything you come across while travelling.
You never know how the smallest of details can colour a potential blog post. Aim to be, not just a source of information, but inspiration as well.
People love to be inspired- it’s our greatest call to action.
7. Speed and SEO are important
We have been having huge problems with the speed of our site lately. We thought getting a new blog design would fix this issue, but it only seemed to get worse. We have been pulling our hair out trying to fix it.
Slow loading time for your site can kill your traffic numbers. We live in a want-it-now society. People don’t have time to waste waiting for pages to load. They will click away a lot faster.
For me SEO is like pulling out my teeth one by one. I detest writing for it and worrying about it. I like to inspire, provide information and socialize, which is why we have always been big on the social media side of marketing.
We have not put a lot of attention into SEO, and we understand now that we are paying slightly for it. Google gives us little love, which means little new and free traffic coming from this source. We are now doing more to learn and improve on this.
So come on Google help us out, I just might decide to be your friend again.
Solution: Have your blogs designed with speed in mind. Reduce the number of plug ins you use, smush your images, or host them on places like Smug Mug (enter code: mecBO5dC4Y0AU for a $5 discount).
Research what are the best optimization strategies and plug ins to reduce your loading time.
For SEO purposes, work really hard on making your on page SEO as tight as possible, link within your own content and work on getting the backlinks you need naturally through guest posting, interviews and track backs. Yoast is a great plug in to use for on page SEO.
Market Samaruai is an excellent tool (paid) to reduce your time and increase your efficiency with SEO research.
8. The travel blogging community is helpful
There are so many wonderful people that we have met within the travel blogging community since we started who have provided their own great travel blogging tips.
It is just like being on the road again and meeting all these happy, friendly beings who have so many inspiring stories to share and helpful encouraging words and tips to get you going on your own adventures.
The travel blogging community is mostly helpful, fun, positive, and friendly. It is so uplifting. I don’t know how many times I have felt like quitting, or felt really inferior to open my inbox to a positive and encouraging comment, tweet, or email from another traveller.
They help me to believe in myself and to keep moving forward. We would never have had the success we have without them and we are eternally grateful for it. We are like elephants; we never forget.
Solution: Reach out to others in the travel blogging community. Connect with them via facebook, twitter and their blogs. They will help you along the way. Be grateful for this and help out in return.
NB: I originally had a section about the bad aspects of the community. There are some negatives, cat-fighting, and school-yard name calling antics in an effort to be better than others.
It used to annoy me, but now I have a simple solution. Worry about what I am doing, help others as much as I can and stay away from the BS.
9. You’ll feel like Quitting
Know this before you start so you know what you need to do to kill this monster. You can only fail if you quit. Travel blogging is hard, and as I have mentioned, if you want to be successful, you have got to do a lot of hard work.
Not only this, but you have demons such as your own doubts and insecurities to overcome. You’ll get tired and frustrated many times, and feel as if you are spinning around in a vortex rather than moving forward.
It always seems as if everyone else is getting more comments than you, more traffic, more social love, making more money, or making more best of the blog lists.
You’ll get so overwhelmed by your inferiority with all this comparing that you want to throw your hands up and say “Stuff this. I’m just not good enough. Why am I existing on four hours of sleep a night to go nowhere fast? I’m going back to the comfy couch to watch reruns of Friends.”
Solution: Stop comparing yourself to others. Are you doing better than you were yesterday? Are you moving forward no matter how slowly? Just do the best with what you have from where you are.
The most powerful way to claim victory over the need to quit is to have a big enough why. Why are you doing this? And no, it is not about the money. It has to be something more powerful and worthwhile.
Money alone will never be enough to make you want to continue working through the challenges and the emotional input that comes with travel blogging. The money is just the tool that will bring to you what you really want.
Why are you really doing it?
Cling to this why; it will carry you through the storms.
- Subscribe to Travel Blog Challenge , run by Todd Wassel from Todd’s Wanderings for great tips on blogging. Read all the topic posts and join in on the discussions in the forums. It’s a great community.
- Subscribe to Travel Blog Support, run by Chris Richardson from the Aussie Nomad for great technical support with running a blog. Again, read all the posts and visit the forums.
The only thing I have left to say is Yes you can!
What else do you think newbies should know? Why are you committed to being at the top 20% of travel bloggers?