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10 expert tips from successful travel bloggers

By Mark Hodson, Editor of 101 Holidays

Setting up a travel blog is easy, and tens of thousands of people have been inspired by their journeys to publish their own writing. For some it’s a personal indulgence, for others it’s a dream of turning a hobby into a source of income.

Making a living out of publishing a travel blog isn’t easy, but many people have made it work. Some have given up 9-to-5 jobs and now travel the world funded entirely by income from their blogs.

So how do you become a success? We asked some of the most successful travel writers and bloggers to tell us their secrets. If you dream of blogging for a living, these insider tips will be invaluable. And if you just want to improve the quality of your own writing, you can pick up some priceless advice.

Create a plan and stick to it, says Keith Jenkins

“Consistency is key. Identify your niche and create your brand. Then ensure that your blog content, tweets, Facebook posts, etc, consistently reflect your brand. Being consistent helps you to grow your brand and establish your blog as an authority within your niche. Create a plan. This plan should include what your blog is about (your niche), how you intend to create and establish your brand, the types of content you intend to publish, your marketing strategies and growth targets. Creating a plan keeps you focused and motivated.”

* Keith Jenkins is editor and publisher of Velvet Escape.

Follow Keith on Twitter.

Write evergreen articles, says Durant Imboden

“Don’t worry about monetising your blog immediately, because you won’t earn revenue until you have a critical mass of traffic. However, if you hope to earn a living or part-time income from your blog in the future, give some thought to your topic and audience before you start. A blog with ‘evergreen’ content that helps active travelers plan their trips is more likely to generate clicks on ads and affiliate links, and to attract sponsorships or banner ads, than a blog that’s primarily a diary of your own travels.”

* Durant Imboden is publisher, editor, and co-owner of Europeforvisitors.com.

Follow Durant on Twitter.

Offer something for everyone, says Lara Dunston

“People will drop into your blog for different reasons depending on their interests, so vary your content and establish series of posts. For example, on Grantourismo we write narrative-driven pieces, but we also post music playlists, recipes, travel tips, interviews with locals and experts, such as eating out guides by chefs or shopping guides by fashion designers, and even the occasional list post when it makes sense, such as safety or photography tips.”

* Lara Dunston blogs at Grantourismo.

Follow her on Twitter.

Get advice from free ebooks, says Janice Waugh

“Watch and learn from successful bloggers. Get all the free information you can. Two free ebooks that I highly recommend for new bloggers are Creating Killer Cornerstone Content by Chris Garrett and 279 Days to Overnight Success by Chris Guillebeau. These two guides will give you a jump start on travel blogging.”

* Janice Waugh publishes Solo Traveler and is author of The Solo Traveler’s Handbook.

Follow Janice on Twitter.

Go multimedia, says Heather Cowper

“Adding slideshows, videos and podcasts to your site will make you stand out from the crowd. If video seems scary, start by making your photos into slideshows from your Flickr, Picasa or Smugmug photo hosting account, or use free software such as Animoto that lets you add music and upload to YouTube. Use the video option on your smartphone or digital camera to capture short interviews or impressions of the places you visit, upload them to YouTube and embed them in your articles. You can also use a free package like Audioboo to record audio sound scenes and embed them in your posts.”

* Heather Cowper publishes Heather on Her Travels and My Blogging Journey.

Follow Heather on Twitter.

Pick the right platform and plugins, says Abigail King

 “After a brief dalliance with Blogger, I soon realised that WordPress makes blogging much easier. It offers great flexibility in terms of both appearance and function, with a dash of support thrown in if you’re new to the technology. Out of all the plugins on offer, I’d recommend Akismet to ward off spam, Broken Link Checker to spot problems and W3 Total Cache to speed up your site.”

* Abigail King publishes Inside the Travel Lab.

Follow Abigail on Twitter.

Entertain your readers, says David Whitley

 “Most bloggers try to enlighten, inform, educate and impart useful information. That’s all well and good, but the one thing that’ll keep people coming back is that they enjoy reading it. In the multi-blog stampede to appear authoritative or spark debate, it’s easy to forget to entertain. But ‘entertain’ shouldn’t be a dirty word. Writing that proceeds at a fair old gallop, makes people laugh and the odd sparkling turn of phrase can only add to what you’re trying to say – and it’ll probably make you stand out from the crowd.”

* David Whitley is a full-time travel writer. He blogs at www.grumpytraveller.com.

Follow David on Twitter.

Market yourself, says Todd Wassel

 “You can write the best articles in the world and still only have your mum reading your work. Amazing content will help attract and retain visitors but you need to market your work to build long-term sustainable traffic. In the short term your best bet at attracting visitors is to network with other bloggers, comment on other related websites and make friends, answer questions on relevant forums and invest time in social media. In the long term you should target A-list bloggers for guest posts, get into print newspapers, and market yourself as part of stories and events happening wherever you happen to be. This will enable you to get on the radar of journalists, news channels and the like.”

* Todd Wassel has spent more than 10 years on the road writing and publishing Todd’s Wanderings.

Follow Todd on Twitter.

Do your own thing, says Melvin Böcher

“Listen to feedback – which you will get – but don’t let it influence you too much. Consider who is giving it to you. Any feedback is useful, but some more than other. More important is to do your own thing. The blog/site must represent you and not someone else. But even more important is to stay (very) patient, work hard and have fun!”

* Melvin Böcher is founder of Traveldudes.org.

Follow Melvin on Twitter.

Get a performance boost, says Matt Preston

Matt Preston“The loading time of your site is an important factor in SEO now. Google loves fast loading sites! A fancy theme for your blog may look great but if it’s too complex it’ll slow down your site and annoy your visitors. Use Pingdom to find out how fast your pages load. You can also get optimisation tips from Google Webmaster Tools. Compress your images for the web before you upload them and remove code for features people don’t use. It’s worth testing the impact of plugins before settling on them too as they can make a big difference to how fast your site appears. Remember a fast website equals happy visitors!”

* Matt Preston is editor of Travelwithamate.com.

Follow Matt on Twitter.

HAVE YOU got a tip for travel bloggers? Perhaps you also run a successful blog. If so, please leave a comment below. We will promote the best tips to the main article (and give you a followed link!).

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8 responses to “10 expert tips from successful travel bloggers”

  1. Cole and Adela (fourjandals) says:

    Great tips for a beginner’s like us! I think the hardest part is actually not getting dejected by your own stats etc. Slowly the reader count goes up but never as fast as you would like. But that will come with time, effort, content and sharing with other bloggers as you have all mentioned. Thanks for the motivation to keep at it. Also, we were following about half of you, know following the rest on twitter so thanks again :)

  2. Great tips for sure! Like Abi, I started on Blogger too, but moved to WordPress after a month — it’s far more flexible. And Matt’s advice is spot-on as well. I’m still struggling with chipping away at my plugins — my site is far too slow, and I know it’s not helping me any.

  3. Abi says:

    Cole & Adela – don’t get dejected! Be thankful that you can learn how to do what you do when hardly anyone sees your mistakes ;) A useful post, thanks 101 Holidays.

  4. Steph says:

    Nice tips!

    The one that I always share with aspiring bloggers is patience. Nobody experiences overnight success, in fact most bloggers labor for months and months before receiving any recognition at all. It’s the ones that are able to stay determined and stick to it that make it in the long haul.

  5. Cristina says:

    This is a very informative post, thank you! I was wondering what you thought of tumblr for travel flogging? Is it still suggested to use word press? Thanks again for the great post!

  6. Great tips! I do many of these but need to be focused more. Marketing is something I need to do a better job of as well getting more tips from others. Thanks to all of these great bloggers (most of which I know) for these tips!

  7. Tom says:

    I’d recommend having pages as well as posts on your blog.

    Taking Durant’s point a step further, from an SEO point of view it is great to have targeted pages which are evergreen and with which you can target more difficult search phrases (something i’m sure Mark will vouch for!).

    Posts are great for the day to day updates, but pages are the place where you can really produce content which will rank for more difficult phrases in Google et al and bring in significant search traffic. If you can crack that then you’ll have a steady stream of visits and be less reliant on promoting content through social media to gain traffic on a day to day to basis.

    Having a diverse set of traffic sources will always stand you in good stead and SEO is another string in that bow which can’t be ignored.

  8. Nice well-rounded bunch of tips! Like Keith says, it’s good to sit down and really know your plan and your niche. I also agree with David and Melvin: have fun/entertain and make sure you are yourself and write in YOUR voice! Don’t try and model someone else. Be authentic!

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