Last week was my sixth blogaversary, which means I have been running this blog for the better part of a decade now. To celebrate, I am spilling all of my best blogging advice to you guys in a three part series.
If you’re totally new to all of this, check out Part One: The Basics of Building a Travel Blog, before we dive into today’s topic, which is essentially how to write a blog that people actually want to read.
If you’re only going to read one of these guides, I hope it will be this one, because it contains some really valuable information on creating a quality travel blog, which is essential if you ever want to 1. gain an audience or 2. build a business. In an extremely crowded space, the best way to stand out is by providing great content and having well-defined goals.
Finding Your Identity
What kind of travel blogger do you want to be?
There are so so so many travel bloggers out there nowadays, which can make it frighteningly easy to get lost in the crowd. In order to stand out, you need to develop a very clear understanding of who you are as a blogger. What makes you special? Why should people read your blog?
Taking the time to really think about the personality and mission of your blog is the most important thing you can do for yourself . It’s what sets the hobby bloggers apart from the professionals.
Here are the key things to consider:
Your niche is the theme of your blog. Carefully defining your niche helps you to attract readers and build an audience.
All successful travel blogs have a niche. For example, my niche is travel for twenty-somethings, which is clearly defined, both in the name of my site, and the kind of content I provide. My audience is younger travelers, primarily women, who want to get out and see the world.
Adventurous Kate‘s niche is solo female travel.
Ytravel Blog‘s niche is family travel in Australia
Expert Vagabond‘s niche is daring adventure travel.
In general, the more specific and narrow your niche, the better. You are probably not going to gain a lot of traction with something broad like “budget travel.” The space is just already too crowded. But you might have luck with something like “budget travel for college kids,” or “budget travel in the United States.” These topics haven’t been exhausted, and you will easily attract an audience of people who need the information you can provide.
Once you’ve committed to a niche, it’s time to think about what the underlying message of your blog is. What do you want people to get out of your website?
While your niche keeps you focused, your message keeps you motivated. It’s the force that keeps you going, the reason your blog exists.
The underlying message of Twenty-Something Travel is that you shouldn’t wait to see the world (it’s right there in the tagline). I started my website to show other twenty-something how they can manage to travel extensively despite jobs, student loans and other obligations. I couldn’t see the point of waiting until you’re old to follow your travel dreams. Almost everything I publish on this blog is designed to help push people towards traveling while they’re young.
Lastly, consider the tone and personality of your website.
Do you want your blog posts to be chatty? Funny? Inspirational? Voice is something that evolves over time, and it can change as you mature as a writer.
When it comes to tone: Are you writing from a very personal place, recounting personal experiences and lessons? Or are you trying to provide useful information in a more impersonal way? There is space for both in the travel industry (and some blogs, like mine, switch back and forth between the two).
Do you have to be an amazing writer to be a successful travel blogger? Not really. There are plenty of successful bloggers out there who aren’t terribly skilled writers. Some are ace photographers, or charismatic videographers. Some just look really good in a bikini. What they all have in common though, is that they produce quality content in some form.
Whatever kind of content you decide to focus on, you should constantly be working to better your skills.
So, while you don’t need to be Hemingway, you do need to produce content that is:
- Clear and easy to read
- Useful in some way
That last one is really the key to building a loyal audience, and it ties back to the themes discussed above. With every piece of content you create, think about why it’s important and what value it gives to your readers. Value can mean a lot of things: entertainment has value, information has value, inspiration has value. What is the value of your work?
I can’t stress this enough: if you want to build an audience, you have to provide value to your readers. Your blog is not about you. It’s about them. The only way to attract people, and keep them coming back, is by giving them the content they crave.
Don’t Try to Do Everything
Starting a travel blog can be massively overwhelming because of the sheer amount of different things you need to learn. SEO, social media, business management, photography and networking are just a few of the things you need to get a grip on to succeed in the blogging world.
The amount of skills you need to learn can be intimidating, but don’t let that stop you from getting started. Work on the different aspects of your blog one by one, starting with content and working your way out and up. You simply can’t be an expert at everything, so work out a strategy to slowly build your blog.
The biggest thing you can do to help your travel blog succeed is to post consistently.
Learning To Blog
Travel bloggers have to always be learning. There are so many different aspects of running a successful blog that I could never even hope to cover all of them in a couple of blog posts. So you might want to look into investing in further education to speed you along your way.
There are so so so many different blogger courses, programs and ebooks out there, and it can be difficult to know what’s worthwhile and what’s not. Here are some resources that I have first hand experience with, and recommend:
There are a few really great ways to educate yourself about blogging that I recommend:
Travel Blog Success
I can unequivocally state that I would not be where I am today if it weren’t for Travel Blog Success. This travel blogging course and community is probably my biggest secret for success. I was one of the very first members, joining way back in 2010. Even though Mike is no longer involved with the business (he had to move on due to a non-compete with his new job), I am still a loud and proud member.
Travel Blog Success is a master class in starting, building and monetizing a travel blog. It’s packed with useful information, far more than I could ever dispense here. There are also webinars, a book club and an opportunity board for members along with some other discounts and perks.
The course is great but the real value is the community itself. There is a forum and a very active Facebook group where members can support each other and ask for help from the experts. It’s basically the only Facebook group where bloggers like myself, Kate McCulley and Liz Carlson participate.
IMPORTANT: Travel Blog Success is on SALE this week (July 27, 2015- July 31, 2015). During these dates the course is 35% off (that’s $120 off).
This week: $225
That’s a really good deal. After this week they will be raising the price again, so this is probably your last chance to get it for so cheap.
Another educational opportunity that I’m involved with is the Navigate Media BlogHouse. These are intense weekend-long blogger bootcamps. They are a great way to get one on one advice and training from expert bloggers.
This is one of my favorite ways to work with new bloggers. So far we’ve done events in Toronto, Chicago, Milwaukee and several other places.
We haven’t announced the next location or dates yet, but you can sign up for the BlogHouse mailing list to be updated on future events.
Conferences are a terrific way to learn new things while networking with other bloggers and industry professionals.
TBEX is the biggest travel blogger convention out there, and they host 2-3 events a year, in different places around the world. I have a love/hate relationship with them but they are absolutely one of the best ways for newbies to get their feet wet in the travel blogging world. While their programming isn’t always that innovative, their networking opportunities are unparalleled, and it’s a fantastic way to connect with other bloggers.
In the past year I’ve also attend the Women in Travel Summit, which was really inspiring, and the PTBA’s first conference in Sri Lanka.
Professional Travel Blogger’s Association
Once you have gained a little bit of traction and attracted a small audience, it’s worth considering joining the PTBA. This is a fairly new organization, a non-profit dedicated to educating travel bloggers and industry, while raising the profile and standing of travel blogging as an industry.
The organization is run purely by unpaid volunteers (I am actually a board member), so it’s still gaining momentum and prominence. If you’re enthusiastic and willing to get involved, joining and working with the PTBA is a great way to increase your standing within the industry.
Part 3 of this series will be about travel blogging as a business.
Note: This post contains a handful of affiliate links, which means that if you buy something via the link, it helps support this website.