If you’re in the early stages of planning to be a travel blogger then this is the post for you. I’m often asked how to be a travel blogger so today I’m showing you where to start. This post is for all the people who see travel bloggers jetting off around the world and think, ‘I want that! I could definitely do that!’
Because you can. You really can.
The amazing thing about blogging is that anyone with a dream and some creativity really can start a blog and with a lot of hard work it could provide you with a full time income.
They often say that getting started is the hardest part so if you don’t know how to begin with this blogging dream of yours then keep reading…
I’m not going to lie, blogging is quite possibly the best career in the whole entire world. It goes against every British bone in my body to brag about my job, but it really is awesome and I couldn’t be happier and prouder that I managed to turn my blog into my full time profession.
Whenever I tell anyone I’m blogger I’m met with two responses.
- A blank stare as a tumbleweed billows past for an uncomfortably long time before they ask, ‘Errr…what’s a bl-blobber?’
- ‘Oh my God! Amazing. I’d love to be travel blogger! Do you have any tips to be a travel blogger?’
This blog post is for anyone who falls into the second category and would love to be a travel blogger but isn’t really sure where to start. You love travelling and writing and want to share your stories with the world. This is for anyone who knows they’d be awesome at travel blogging but it all just seems so complicated and scary and they have no idea where to start.
Set yourself a travel blogging goal
Start by setting yourself a goal. If you don’t have a goal in mind then it’s hard to keep up the motivation to blog because you don’t know what you’re working towards. You’re just bumbling around in the dark with no focus and it’s easy to get distracted and forget why you’re doing this.
So grab yourself a notepad (yes, now, go and get a notepad and a pen!) and write down:
- Your long term blogging goal
- Where you want to be in 6 months time
- Where you want to be in 1 year
If you’re totally new to this then your goals might be to have set up your blog and have 30 blogs posts and a small following within 6 months. Within a year you might want x-amount of followers and to have started earning a small income.
You want to keep this goal in mind every single time you sit down at your laptop. Tear it out of your notepad and pin it to the wall if you need to! The internet is such a big and shiny and distracting place that it’s so easy to sit down with the intention of blogging but then spend 3 hours watching cats falling out of tress or stalking your ex-boyfriend’s sister’s cousin’s neighbour’s daughter doing magic tricks.
Improve your photography
First things first, a good travel blog has great photography and this is absolutely vital to the success of your blog. You don’t need to be a professional photographer but you need to be able to capture beautiful scenes as you travel around the world. Small, grainy, out of focus photos just won’t cut it anymore. They need to be big, bold and beautiful.
Your writing style is important but it’s your photography that will initially hook people in so my first piece of advice is to invest in a decent camera and start practicing.
This might be controversial because a lot of photographers say it doesn’t matter what camera you have. They say ‘the best camera is the one you have in your pocket and if it’s an iPhone then so be it’. But I completely disagree.
Yes, a good photographer can take a good picture on any camera. But a bad photographer can’t. (I know you might be an amazing photographer but the majority of people first starting a blog won’t be amazing)
If you’ve got a great camera with a brilliant lens on it then it’s almost impossible to take a bad photo. A bad photographer can take a pretty decent picture on a good camera – trust me!
Do it now: Start researching cameras within your budget. I personally love the Lumix G80 – especially now I have a 25mm lens on it for those gorgeous blurry background photos.
Find inspiration in other travel bloggers
Read as many blogs as you possibly can to get inspiration and ideas and figure out what you do and don’t like.
Make a list of 10 bloggers you’re aspiring to be like and keep coming back to their blogs for motivation.
I like to use Bloglovin’ to follow blogs and I follow hundreds on there!
Here’s another piece of controversial advice – don’t be afraid to copy. Copy a tiny thing from lots of bloggers and merge them together to create your own style.
Start an actual travel blog!
Stop day dreaming about it and just do it. The sooner you start your blog, the sooner you’ll start learning what works. It usually takes about a year for bloggers to see their blogs grow and to start earning money or to start working with brands. Just think, in 12 months time you could be earning money from this blog idea in your head. So the sooner you start, the sooner you’ll be on the road to success.
I recommend using WordPress self hosted to host to your blog. You can use a host such as Bluehost to host it for less that $4.00 a month.
Find yourself a nice, simple theme (that’s the template for the look and design of your blog) through ThemeForest. And you can get a logo created through Etsy.
Don’t worry too much about the name and design to begin with. Lots of people spend more time worrying about the name and the layout and never get round to actually writing anything.
Top Tip: If you’re feeling stuck on the name then just use your own name. It’s working for bloggers like Hannah Gale so there’s no reason it won’t work for you!
If you’re struggling with the tech side of things then use YouTube tutorials to figure out what to do. Follow them step by step and accept that it’s going to take a while to figure these things out.
Read more: How to set up a travel blog
Blog about what you’re an expert at
OK, so you’ve started your blog and you’ve written a few posts but now you’re running out of ideas. What are you actually going to blog about?
It sounds simple but write about what you know best.
So many people try and write about glitzy, glamourous things and try and jet off and do new, exciting, adventurous things. OK, this all makes great content but unless you’ve got a huge pot of money then things are going to dry up sooner or later! You’re better off focusing on what you know best.
Blog about your hometown or places locally. Blog about your hobbies or something you do well. If you become known as an expert in something then you’ll quickly carve out your niche and you’ll become well known for something in particular.
It’s much easier to become an expert if you blog about the same topic again and again, so it has to be something accessible to you.
A problem travel bloggers often have is that they’ll write 2 posts about Amsterdam and then 2 posts about Paris and then 2 about Berlin and then 2 about Manchester and then 2 about Bali. These might be great posts but it’s not enough content to be an expert. If the blogger is from Liverpool they’d be much better off writing 10 blog posts about Liverpool and becoming a real expert!
Solve people’s problems through your travel blog posts
This is probably the most important tip on the list; assume every reader is reading your blog thinking, ‘What’s in this for me?’
They’re not going to read about your lovely life unless they get something out of it that benefits them.
So solve their problems, answer their questions and help them do the things they want to do. Answering questions will attract new readers and keep old readers coming back for more.
Choose one social media channel and get chatty
Social media can be really overwhelming when you’re starting from scratch. You’ll look at the big bloggers and see their millions of followers and get scared and intimidated and feel like you’ll never achieve this. But you can!
I recommend choosing just one social media channel to begin with and stick with that. Put all of your time and effort into growing one channel so you’ll at least have one strong channel rather than 3-4 sad and lonely channels with barely any followers.
Choose the social media platform you enjoy the most. Instagram is most people’s favourite at the moment but if you love Twitter or Facebook more then use either of those. You need to enjoy it or you’ll lose interest and give up.
Create travel content for brands
One of the fastest ways to get build a following and get noticed by new readers is if someone with a huge following shares your work. It’s unlikely a big blogger will share your work because there’s nothing in it for them, but it’s much more likely a brand will share your work if you’re promoting their products or helping them make sales.
In the early days you may need to do this for free but after a while you’ll be able to charge for this service.
Let’s say you fly with KLM, make a video or take some photos during your flight and share them on social media. If your posts are good then they’ll share it to their accounts (their Instagram has 773k followers!) and you’re likely to gain a few of those!
The same applies when writing for brand’s blogs. Lots of brands are on the lookout for great content for their blogs and if you’re able to provide some good blog posts then they’ll happily accept your work to their blog. Again, you might not get paid in the early days but you’ll always get a link back to your blog which will help people discover your work.
Analyse what’s working
Don’t waste your time creating content that no one enjoys reading. It’s really important to use tracking tools like Google Analytics to see which posts people are reading and spending time on. You’ll also notice certain posts that are a total flop and no one is reading them –make sure you look at these and figure out why people don’t like them or, more likely, why they can’t find them. A lot of the time it isn’t that people don’t like them, it’s quite simply that your posts aren’t appearing in Google searches.
Read more: Using Google Analytics to improve your blog
Learn about SEO
SEO stands for Search Engine Optimisation and this is how people will find your blog through search engines, mainly Google.
A lot of bloggers make the mistake of focusing on social media and thinking this is how they will get people to read their blog. But here’s a secret – I get WAY more traffic from Google than I could possibly get through social media.
SEO often appears to be a complicated beast but it doesn’t need to be.
I have 5 simple tips to make your travel blog posts ‘Google-friendly’ and to help them appear in Google searches
- Make sure your blog posts are awesome, long, detailed and informative. You should be aiming for about 800 words for each post.
- Make sure the opening paragraph of each blog post explains what the post will be about
- Make sure the title of your blog explains what the post is about
- Insert key phrases – this is something that should happen naturally. For example, this post is all about how to be a travel blogger so the phrases ‘travel blog’ and ‘travel blogging’ have popped up multiple times throughout this article. You usually don’t need to force it but it doesn’t always happen so naturally so you’ll need to insert a few extras. Key phrases are the phrases people will Google to find your blog post. It’s usually pretty obvious and you won’t need to use any special tools to figure them out. If you’re writing about ice cream shops in Rome then you’ll want to include phrases like ‘ice cream in Rome’ or ‘Rome ice cream shops’ about 4-5 times throughout your post. And this is another reason why longer posts perform better because it’s easier to get more of these phrases in your post.
- Use subheaders throughout your post to break up the text and make it easier to read but also gives you the chance to naturally insert more key phrases.
You can read more of my travel blogging tips and check out my blogging e-course, The Blogger Course. The Blogger Course is a 12 week e-course with more detailed guides on how to be a blogger, how to earn more money and how to work with brands. I go into a lot of detail about how I’ve done it and provide step-by-step instructions on how you can do it too.
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Journey of the finch
Wednesday 24th of January 2018
Really nice tips, thank you for sharing. I will follow your guide to improve my blog.
Thursday 4th of January 2018
Super helpful post! Thank you. I didn't think about Google key words. I think the key is also giving. Not always so much about brands but if your chosen social media is Instagram, it is handy to leave a comment with your like. I think a lot of people on social media forget these, creators and users alike. Yeah, people like your post but most people like and move on. Dropping a comment usually gets one in return! (as long as they can tell they are sincere..."cool pic!" doesn't cut it!) I always do this on my commute. Doesn't take too long and it usually makes peoples day!!
Tuesday 14th of November 2017
Hi Monica. I was interested in your comment about the new LUMIX 25mm lens. After reading your article on the G80 a while back I was looking at this camera as a replacement for all my old Canon kit and lenses because it seemed a better choice for lightweight travelling. Are you now taking two lenses with you and is the 25mm lens better quality than the standard one?
Wednesday 15th of November 2017
Hi Tim, yes I take two lenses with me. But the 25mm I linked to above comes with a handy little padded pouch that's just the right size for a lens so it doesn't take up much space in my bag so it still feels really lightweight and portable. I LOVE the 25mm lens but it isn't suitable for everything as you generally have to get pretty close to your subject to get a decent picture so you do need both lenses. The kit lens is fine for everything but the 25mm creates that lovely blurry background. I'm also planning to get a wide angle lens for it soon too.
Tuesday 14th of November 2017
Monica, thank you so much for this post!! I feel like it was written to me as I recently opened a travel blog... I often get put off by these things because whenever I read them, it tells you all the reasons not to be a travel blogger haha!
Thank you for this dose of positivity!
Tuesday 14th of November 2017
I know exactly what you mean! So many bloggers like to pretend that blogging is this exclusive little world and it's impossible to break into but that's just not true at all. Yes, you need to work hard but the beauty of blogging is that anyone can do it!
Tuesday 14th of November 2017
Our startup wants to create a blog, which I'm supposed to head, so this advice has been super helpful. We're not travel bloggers in the traditional sense, but we travel to different countries to get 360 degree photos and videos, and we are going to start writing about our experiences along the way. Thank you so much for this post, it gives me much-needed courage!