I’m a firm believer that everyone should keep a travel blog. I’m not talking about blogging to make money or blogging to ‘travel the world for free’ or any other hype you see online. I’m talking about travel blogging for the love of travelling. For the love of seeing the world and sharing your stories with other people and keeping an online record of the places you’ve been and all the incredible things you’ve been lucky enough to see.
It doesn’t matter if you update your blog once a week, once a month or once a year; having this online journal from all your trips is the best! My favourite thing about having a travel blog is being able to look back and re-read about my trips from 10 years ago. It brings back so many amazing memories and (without sounding too smug) I want to go back in time and give 21 year old me a little hug and thank her for writing those posts. Yes, they’re a bit cringy and there are so many typos and mistakes but they help remember something I would have otherwise forgotten.
For those of you who ARE really passionate about blogging then you’re starting at the right time because there is so much possibility for professional bloggers. There is so much money being invested into influencer marketing and more people are following influencers online than ever before making blogging a very viable career path for many people.
I’m not actually going to be talking about the business side of blogging and making money from a blog in this post today but if it’s something you’re interested in then take a look at my e-course, The Blogger Course. The course is all about turning a blog into a business.
I also send out a monthly email with my blogger income report and my updates about blogging each month so if that’s of interest you can sign up below!
A secret to get ahead in travel blogging…
Before we begin with the tips for new bloggers I have one very important thing to say.
If you want to be a blogger, you need to start blogging!
I have so many people email me each week asking for some tips to get started. I bet a lot of you reading this are on this page now because I’ve sent you this link after an email!
My number one tip for you is to just begin. Just set up a website and don’t worry about the name, the design, the fonts, logo and colours you’re using. These things are all just distractions. You won’t start learning how to be a blogger until you actually start! I’m sure that deep down you know all this design stuff is just a way to procrastinate. If you’re creating interesting content, people will read it whether or not you have a fancy logo. They don’t care about what your blog is called, they care about what you have to say so start saying it.
Don’t be one of the hundreds of people who email me each year saying they want to be a blogger but don’t do anything about it. Make sure that this is your year and 2019 is the year you do it!
It’s takes time to get everything set up and that’s OK. I’d say it takes about 12 months before you feel really confident as a blogger and it takes about 2 years to be earning any decent money through a blog. So start now, yes right now, and you’ll thank yourself in 2 years when your blog has become a sustainable business and you’re location independent and free to work whenever and wherever you please!
If I’ve managed to convince you to start a blog or you’re new to blogging and you’re looking for advice on how to improve you blog, read on for 10 tips for new travel bloggers:
1. Be inspired but don’t copy
I’m always shocked by the amount of travel bloggers out there who tell me they don’t read other blogs.
Could you imagine a fashion designer who never looks at clothes designed by others? Or a writer who never read a book written by someone else. Or a chef who only ate in their own restaurant?
If you don’t enjoy reading other people’s blogs then people probably won’t enjoy reading yours.
Blogs inspire me and help me create new ideas for blog content. They also encourage me to travel, bake, shop, create, design and photograph. I read blogs from all difference niches and try to bring all that inspiration back to The Travel Hack.
Use blogs to inspire you in your own writing but be careful not to copy or compare. Comparison is the thief of joy and all that…
2. Write about what you love and be informative
When I think about my favourite bloggers they have two things: passion and knowledge.
You need passion to keep your blog interesting, inspiring and entertaining but you need knowledge to keep your readers coming back.
Provide your readers with information they can’t find elsewhere and become an expert in your chosen subject.
Kash from Budget Traveller is a great example of someone who is passionate AND informative. Kash is the king of the Luxury Hostel and he even inspired me to start staying in stylish hostels such as KEX in Iceland. His passion for the luxury hostel is infectious and his knowledge about European hostels is incredible.
Another reason you need to be passionate is because blogging can be hard work. If it isn’t something you truly love then
Find something that you’re passionate about and share your love with the world!
3. Be unique
This is easier said than done but in order to stand out from the crowd you need to step away from the crowd and be different and the easiest way to be different is to simply be yourself.
I was interviewed for a podcast recently with Lucy who runs What She Said. We spoke a lot about finding your niche as a blogger and how I think your personality is the best niche you can have. It sounds so simple but it can be tough because you really need to know who you are and what you stand for.
If you aren’t confident with 100% using your personality for the niche of your blog then a simple way to find a unique voice for your blog is to combine two or three niches. Your first niche might be travel so be creative with your second and third niche. Maybe it’s travel and fashion, travel and camping, travel and city life, travel and pets, travel and books. The list could go on but I’m sure you get my point. Your second interest can help to define your blog and make it different.
4. What is success?
You can’t achieve your goals if you don’t know what they are.
In order to have a successful travel blog, you need to decide what success is to you. Do you want to have 100,000 readers a month, publish a book, improve your writing and photography, use your blog as a platform to get work or to have an online diary you can be proud of? And don’t be afraid to say you want your blog to earn you money! If that’s what you want then write that down and keep working until you achieve your goals!
Whatever your reason for blogging, make sure you write it down somewhere so you can put together a plan to achieve your goals and know when you’re getting there.
Blogging can take up a lot of time and energy so why not work with friends, family or fellow bloggers to create either a collaborative blog or collaborative posts? A great example of a collaborative blog is Travelettes.
Some of my most popular posts, such as ‘The Best Places for a Weekend Escape’, were written with my favourite bloggers and I often accept contributing articles to The Travel Hack too.
A collaborative blog can still be very personal but you have the advantage of multiple voices and more time, more resources and more ideas to create something bigger and better than you could ever do alone.
6. Brush up on your photography and videography skills
Many new bloggers I meet have fabulous writing skills but aren’t so hot on the photography side of things and this is absolutely vital for blogging today. They say a picture speaks a thousand words so let your photos do the talking for a change. The internet is a fast-paced environment where people have a ridiculously short attention span and photographs are a great way to capture people’s attention.
I’d even go as far to say it’s absolutely vital to be able to take a decent photo if you want to be a blogger in 2019.
You don’t need to have a fancy DSLR camera to take great pictures, you just need to have an eye detail. Some of my favourite photos have been on my iPhone but if you’re taking this seriously you will want to upgrade to something better eventually. I use the Lumix G80 and I love it.
7. Spelling and grammar ARE important
Spellcheck was invented for a reason. Use it.
If you want people to take you seriously then you really need to have impeccable writing skills. If you want to work with brands in the future then it’s absolutely 100% vital.
I’ve never personally used online tools to help with grammar and spelling but you can download things like Grammarly to help.
8. Use one social media platform well
Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need to be on every single social media platform to be a blogger. You’d end up spending all day just chatting to people on Twitter and Instagram and Facebook and you’d never actually get anything done!
Most people are focusing on Instagram at the moment as it is the most popular social media channel and this is where most brands are investing bigger budgets, but if Instagram isn’t for you then spend your time elsewhere and don’t feel like you need to force it on Instagram.
It’s much better to have one strong social media channel and update it regularly and chat to your audience consistently on that one platform than it is to spread yourself too thinly and have a small following across them all.
Remember: The more you put into social media the more you’ll get out of it but don’t spend more than half an hour a day on it.
9. Learn about the techy stuff
By ‘techy stuff’ I basically mean everything that isn’t writing and social media because there is much more techy stuff to blogging than most people imagine. You need to know about hosting, WordPress, SEO, plugins, backups, scheduling, photo editing and more.
This all seems a bit scary and intimidating to begin with but the good news is that there are loads of great online guides to help you through everything. Focus on one thing at a time and make the most of the huge number of online resources, particularly YouTube videos which can walk you through every step of the process.
There’s a lot of information out there but just take your time and work through things slowly.
10. Don’t do it for the money…
…because it takes a long time to earn a decent income through your blog. I’ve been blogging for almost 10 years and it’s only the past 3 years where I’ve been earning decent money through my blog.
There are so many guides about ‘how to make money from your blog’ when really they should be entitled, ‘How to use your blog as a portfolio to showcase your talents to find work to make money.’ OK, it isn’t as catchy but there are lots of bloggers out there who are selling a dream that is unattainable for most people.
If you want to make money from your blog, think of it as a very time-consuming portfolio rather than a single source of income.
If you’re interested in seeing how much I earn from blogging, you can sign up to my Blogging Newsletter where I share my monthly income report. Just remember that this income is after almost 10 years of blogging and 6 years doing it full time!
11. Just start blogging!
To reiterate what I said at the start because this one is so important; just start blogging!
Stop worrying about the look and theme of your blog and what other people think and what other people are doing, just get started. It doesn’t matter if your blog isn’t perfect because the sooner you start, the sooner you’ll begin learning how to make it perfect.
This post was originally published in 2014 and has been updated to reflect my thoughts and changes in blogging for 2019.
You can read more of my posts about blogging here.