So, you wanna be a travel blogger?
You’re off on a once in a lifetime trip (or even just a jaunt to the next town over) and want to start a travel blog? Here’s what you need to know before starting your travel blog.
1. Define Your Purpose
People start travel blogs for many different reasons. Some people want a place to showcase the best of their photography, to network with other travellers and bloggers and some people strive for fame and fortune. Whatever your goal, try to have a clear purpose at the beginning to help you position and design your blog for those needs.
2. Consider Your Audience
Initially, almost all blogs are going to be aimed at your friends and family but if you ultimately want to reach a broader audience, consider who your readers might be – family travellers, flashpackers, silver surfers, bargain basements backpackers, all of the above (now there’s a challenge). If you’re looking to get traction on your site, consider your audience and write with them in mind. Ultimately, your blog should be less about you and more about your readers and what you can do for/offer them.
3. Think About Your Blogging Name BEFORE you start a travel blog
If you intend to blog under your real name and that name isn’t particularly common, you probably won’t have a problem. However, if you decide to choose a pseudonym you should do some basic checks before you commit:
- is another blogger using that name (you don’t want to create blog and audience confusion)?
- is your intended blog name available on the social media networks you might want to promote your blog on?
- is the URL available, in case you eventually want to buy your own domain name?
4. Pack The Right Kit
If you have the chance to select your travel kit from scratch, we would suggest the following:
- a decent camera: you are going to take a lot of photos and images are the most visually appealing part of your blog. The Sony Nex, now the Sony Alpha is very popular, because it’s the right combo of high quality shots thanks to manual functionality and interchangeable lenses, but with great portability.
- a long term writing device: ok, that may sound a bit vague, but as tablets and netbooks merge in function and size, personal preference can dictate your needs. If you rely on a tablet alone, make sure you have a separate keyboard (tapping out long posts on screen can start to jar). Also, consider that iPads don’t have all of the functionality of a laptop, the main limitation being the inability to download software other than through iTunes, so consider whether an android tablet or netbook is better.
- connectivity: at first, hostel and café Wi-Fi is likely to be all the connectivity you need to upload photos and publish posts. However, as you build your audience, you will want to keep them updated with more than just posts (pictures on facebook, snapchat on the move etc) so 4G mobile connection can become important. It’s a plus if you can manage mobile connection via your iPhone and mobile wi-fi (with varying degrees of success).Top Tip: make sure that your device is unlocked so you’re able to slot in a local SIM in each new country you visit.
5. Prepare For Hard Work
The reality is that travel blogging requires a lot of effort. Even if you’re quick at generating ideas and committing them to screen, it still takes several hours per week to get a post live. If you do more than a couple of blogworthy activities per week, it’s easy to see how travel blogging can turn into a full-time job. And that’s without any of the money making stuff like pitching brands and affiliate marketing. Of course, blogging needs to be balanced with travelling – not an easy task to achieve. Which leads me on to…
6. Be Consistent and Constant
If you don’t want your blog to turn into a full-time job, with your travels and fun suffering as a consequence, the best way to tackle this is to set a realistic schedule. Instead of putting to much time on several articles, do one per week that’s really good. If you post one longer article per week you have time left to spend on marketing and pitching.
7. Promote Yourself – Shamelessly
Unless you’re treating your blog like your personal diary (which is perfectly fine, though be sure you have your privacy settings high if you’re sharing really deep and personal stuff), you’ll want as many people as possible to read your blog. While it’s lovely that Aunty Mildred reads your every blogged word with enthusiasm (and provides the occasional one-finger typed response in your comments box), what you really want is other travellers, wannabe travellers and bloggers to read your stuff and say ‘wow, that’s cool’ or ‘that’s helpful’.
Unfortunately, as a new blogger, traffic to your site can be low, which means you’re unlikely to pop to the top of Google’s search results when someone taps in ‘awesome travel blog’. So, it’s down to you to tell people about your blog and its awesomeness. Do this enough, sharing your work on social media platforms, and eventually the traffic will come.
8. Get Ready To Become An IT Expert
Domain names, self-hosting, Search Engine Optimization, 401 re-direction and Google Analytics will be your everyday-life from now on.
Blogging is a wonderful activity, whether you choose it as a hobby, career, or something in between, but the plain reality is that behind every blog is a website and in order to run your blog, you need to get to grips with running a website. Depending on your technical dexterity, this can take anywhere from a little to lots of time.
But fortunately there is plenty of information available online – it’s often just a case of time spent to work things out and, if you have techie friends, don’t forget to call on them. It will be a fair trade, because next time they want to book a trip, all they’ll have to do for destination inspiration, is take a look at your blog.
9. Keep Your Wi-Fi Addiction In Check
I will admit to having turned down an adventure or two through fear I’ll be away from wi-fi or internet for too long…and I realise in hindsight this was a mistake. Part of the beauty of travelling the world is getting off ‘the grid’, out into the backwater, up a volcano, into a valley, onto a hut-dwelling island or other remote place on earth.
If you engage in such activities, you’ll undoubtedly want to blog about them, but don’t worry about connection – a pen, paper (Moleskine notebooks are the perfect size) and torch-light can serve you well when electricity doesn’t and you’ll be able to commit the experience to the web when you’re back to modern civilization. Take your blog seriously, but don’t let it define your travels.
10. Don’t Expect Your Blog To Pay For Your Trip…Immediately
‘What do you mean I won’t make thousands of dollars a month from my blog?’ Actually, I’m not saying that you won’t – there are people who do very well off their travel blogs and do sustain their travels off their income. However, it’s important to realise that these things do not happen overnight and at least at first you’ll probably need an additional revenue stream.
Some people write content for paying clients, others trade hostel work for beds, some work part-time as teachers, others live off savings or do myriad online jobs like webdesign and translation. The important thing to do is manage your expectations. You’re blog is very unlikely to fund your trip from the beginning or even in the short-term and you should plan your budget with that expectation in mind.