Travel Blogging 101
Anybody can become a travel blogger. That’s the beauty of it. But what makes a good travel blog? Well, that depends on your readers’ tastes and what they want to read about. In other words, everybody who has a travel blog has a good blog just as long as someone is reading it, right? Personally, I feel that bloggers, at least paid bloggers, shouldn’t compete with each other. It creates an atmosphere of bitterness, greed, and vengeance. You can sense this with some of the travel blogs out there with what is being written in blogs, mentioned in videos, and displayed in pictures. This is not the brand of blogging that I advocate. Some people actually disguise their travel blogs to lure people in and then deliver them something else, like politics or religion. Bait and switch, BLAH! Travel bloggers shouldn’t be ALL about the money, the attention, and who is better than whom.
Travel blogging should be about travel, plain and simple. It should be about sharing one’s own experiences with others and helping people to enjoy a similar lifestyle of freedom and adventure. There’s nothing wrong with incorporating politics, religion, or other taboo subjects into a blog if it has to do with travel, specifically. Just don’t exploit your readers by giving them a heavy dose of something that they didn’t want or expect.
What are some tools and methods that travel bloggers use to promote their brands and share their experiences with others? There is the blog or website that is the main source of information that typically includes written articles, photos, videos, among various apps and add-ons that are accessible through the website. I have seen everything from “how to start a travel blog” to “Hong Kong Travel Guide” to “Work with Us” links. Remember, many travel blogs are “monetized” as they are full time businesses and they help the bloggers finance their journeys around the world. You don’t have to purchase anything you don’t want to from a blog. Many travel blogs rely on advertising revenue from their sponsors, not purchases or donations from their readers. Bloggers use many different types of cameras that can be anything from an iPhone camera, GoPro camera, a pricey Nikon/Canon camera, or a full size drone. Drones are my personal favorite because of the aerial footage that can be captured. Videos are wonderful because they really catch people’s attention and there are a million ways in which they can be edited. A picture may be worth a thousand words, but a video is worth a million!
Good writing combined with good photos and videos typically lead to a successful travel blog.
(and marketing too!!)
Good quality writing is essential for almost any occupation and especially, travel blogging. Writing (blogging) is the core of a travel blog and should be done in a way that compliments your experiences as a traveler. Your writing should also compliment your videos and pictures and captivate your readers to the point where they themselves feel like they are there with you. This is not easy to do, because there are so many ways that one can describe an experience. There is no perfect way to do it. There are so many great blogs out there that I myself am overwhelmed at the amount of improvement that I need to make to even come close to the upper echelon of bloggers. But practice makes improvement and I plan on getting plenty of practice. I suggest treating your articles that you write for your blog as “writing assignments” and proofread and edit them before you publish them. There a number of online courses out there that you can take advantage of, many of them are free.
I absolutely love taking pictures and sharing them on Facebook. I also love seeing other people’s pictures. Pictures are a great way to capture a moment in time and remember that moment forever. When travelers get good with photography and with their writing, they can publish award winning articles that go viral on the Internet and these articles get a lot of attention.
This is because photos and writing complement each other. I can be very descriptive in writing about something or an experience and people can imagine what it’s like in their minds. They can even visualize it very well if they’ve been to the place or experienced what I’m writing about. But if I have photos to compliment the writing, then that changes everything.
The key is to not only learn how to take good pictures, but have the right equipment for the job. If I’m rafting down a river in Washington State or bungee jumping off the Macau Tower, then a GoPro camera would probably be a great item to use. If I’m at a festival in Costa Rica or in Bali on the beach surrounded by sand, palm trees, turquoise-colored water, and beautiful girls laying out sunbathing, then a drone would be something that I would use. Most of the time, a regular camera (iPhone, Nikon, Samsung, etc.) would be able to capture some great photos. I won’t get into details with this article about the various types of camera equipment, since I am a novice travel blogger and I’m still learning myself. I’m merely going by what I know from my own experiences and from what I’ve learned from other travel bloggers. I will include more info in future posts.
Monkey at Singapore Zoo
I personally feel that videos are the best way that one can promote themselves as a travel blogger. This is because of everything that you can do with a video. Instead of writing about an experience and/or illustrating it with a photo, videos allow for people to actually see, hear, and feel what’s going on. There is sound, color, added music and text with editing, and the blogger is there explaining in their own words what is going on. I feel that some of my favorite travel bloggers out there are just not making enough videos and it truly is a shame. Granted, they’re successful without even a good YouTube channel, but I feel that a travel blog is not complete without a healthy stream of regular videos. There is a reason why television (and YouTube) is one of the best and most effective ways for politicians, celebrities, reporters, and others to promote themselves. It is the most effective way to get a message across. This is because most everyone has a TV, Laptop/PC, and a smartphone. Videos can be taken with the same equipment that is used for taking photos. Videos are valuable, but great videos are priceless.
Whether you have a “monetized” travel blog or just a travel blog for a hobby, marketing your blog is essential to getting viewers and/or sponsors to show an interest. You don’t have to be a business oriented person to understand or know how to do this. In today’s “digital age,” something as simple as “Facebook Business” can be used to promote a travel blog. It’s very self-explanatory and it costs very little. Not to mention, you are able to reach millions and billions of people worldwide. I personally believe that this is a great way to start. Many travel bloggers who build websites will pay someone in India or elsewhere to promote their travel blog website by using SEO (search engine optimization) to help rank their website(s) in search engines like Google, Bing, or Yahoo Search.
This way, when someone is looking for information about , say Hawaii, and you happen to have a website or an article about Hawaii, then when they type “Hawaii” in the search engine then your website will more than likely show up on the first page of the search. But “Hawaii” is a very popular topic, which means that there is a LOT of competition and even with clever SEO methods, it may be difficult to rank high on search engines with a topic like that. So, it’s actually a good idea to have a clever “niche” so that there are not a lot of websites or articles pertaining to it. If you do have a popular topic like “Hawaii” then you can still market it well if you are talking about something specific that has to do with Hawaii, like Hula dancing, surfing in Hawaii, or if you’re just talking about one island in particular. It helps to narrow your focal area and to become really knowledgeable in that particular area.
Your brand has everything to do with your audience. If your travel blog has to do with “RV traveling in America,” then guess what, you’ll attract people who are interested in RV travel. My advice is to not just write about something you like, but also write about something that you are very knowledgeable with and passionate about. Don’t just write about something because it is popular and you think you’re going to get a lot of “hits” with it. Besides, if your brand or topic of interest isn’t popular now, it will be if you’re successful, right? Then you will be known as a leader in that area and people will show more of an interest in what you do.
Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Instagram, Snapchat, etc., are almost a necessity if you want to become a successful travel blogger in today’s “digital age.” It’s not like you must use all of them out there to get your name out, but social networks like Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, and Instagram are essential because they are SO popular. Besides, almost every other travel blogger has an account with these.
A good website is also essential because of everything that can be done with one. With a website, you can post hundreds of articles, pictures, and videos and have links to all your social networks. Your website should be synonymous with your name and your brand. When people think of you they should think of your website (I’m still working on my website). You can also put it on your business cards and hand them to people when you’re traveling. It’s important to have a website with a catchy name and with something that describes your brand in just one or two words. Most importantly, have a name that is original.
In a nutshell, travel bloggers make money from sponsors, through affiliate marketing, brand ambassadorships, speaking events, eBooks, consulting, etc. Companies, businesses, government sponsored agencies (tourism boards), individuals,etc., pay travel bloggers who have made a name for themselves money to promote their products and services through their blog, website(s), and social networks. To be attractive to these types of clients, a travel blogger needs a good, loyal, large fan base (following). This takes time and work to accomplish, unless you’re already popular when you launch your travel blog.
I’m a new travel blogger with minimal experience, but I have been keeping up with the travel blog/digital nomad industry for a few years now. I have read dozens of articles, listened to countless podcasts and videos, communicated with the veterans, traveled some myself, while also learning more every day about how to become a better travel blogger. I will travel full time in about a year when I finish my contract with my employer in China and then I will really be able to earn some stripes. I want to finish this article with a couple of websites and some literature that I’m a fan of that is full of resources for aspiring and established travel bloggers, alike.
There is a major travel media conference for travel influencers and travel industry companies called, TBEX (Travel Blog Exchange), that are held about two or three times a year in different parts of the world. I highly recommend these as they are invaluable ways to learn more about how to become a professional traveler and connect with like minded people, including potential sponsors. TBEX is not the only travel media conference, but in my opinion, is by far the best one (especially if you're a newbie). You can also enjoy pre/post conference tours for FREE.
TBEX (Travel Blog Exchange)
The next website is one that is sponsored by Matt Kepnes and Co. and offers online courses that can be purchased through his platform. They offer courses that include how to get sponsors, how to be a better travel writer, videographer (vlogger), and photographer. It's called Superstar Blogging.
This website is for those who want to hone their skills and would like to have a bundle of resources together in one place. Thank you for reading.
Eventually, I'll have my own online courses and will be hosting my own travel conferences and will be writing my own books and then I will talk all about my own ways to become a professional traveler and travel influencer. I do hope that if you do (or don't) decide to make a career out of travel as a digital nomad, that you will keep up with my travels around the world and join me as I attempt to visit all 196 nations. This is a great big beautiful world.
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