Love to travel, discover, and write? Starting a travel blog might be a great way to combine these three things – and earn some money along the way. I’ve started three travel blogs and am now making some money every month on my latest one. In this article, I’ll share eight learnings, tips, and tricks for people making travel blogs for the first time.
I’ve actually started three travel blogs, but the first two didn’t quite work out. After starting them and publishing a few articles, I didn’t feel good about my voice and took the blogs down.
A few months back, however, I decided to try again, and my new travel blog, Egle On the Road, has been an amazing creative outlet and commercial platform for me. My travel blog – about adventure motorcycling – is still in the growing stages. However, it has already earned me over $600 in book sales and some gear sponsorships. It has also helped me build my reputation as a freelance journalist and writer.
With two failed blogs and a successful one under my belt, I wanted to share my learnings for other passionate writers, nomads, and travel journalists looking to start a travel blog. Egle On the Road allows me to have a creative space where I can be myself and write without restriction. I love that I can publish without the constraints or requirements of a client or an editor.
1) Pick a niche
In this day and age, if you want your travel blog to stand out, you need to be very specific about what you cover. The more niche your topic is, the more chances you have to find your tribe – people who care about the same things you do – and then grow that tribe.
Think about what you can add to “travel,” or pick a consistent subject or activity to write/post about regularly.
- Travel and adventure: My blog describes solo female motorcycling, and other blogs focus on similar adventure habits like running, cycling, or other passions.
- Travel and food: This Instagrammer – #icecreamtouroftheworld – posts photos and reviews of different ice cream shops and sundays from around the world. What food or drink do you love enough to seek out in each new place?
- Travel and culture: Choose a specific and fascinating cultural topic, like dancing, carnivals or veganism, and chase that phenomenon.
- Travel and fashion: What to wear in each destination you travel to.
- Travel to a specific place: Bookstores, hat stores, ancient ruins, arboretums — choose a physical subject you can travel to in each city you visit.
Once you’ve defined your niche, spend some time getting down to even more specific ideas. Brainstorming a list of nearby content ideas can help you generate longer articles faster while on the road.
The more specific you are, the more your people – and Google – will love you.
2) Post on a Consistent Schedule
Consistency is the one key ingredient in making your blog successful. Posting quality content frequently attracts followers and pushes you to form disciplined habits. On my blog, I post at least monthly; although I wish I had time to post more frequently, this regular cadence matters as loyal followers can expect the next post. I have been guilty of neglecting cadence myself, and it’s the #1 killer of visits to your blog!
Before you launch, have 6-8 posts ready to go, or better yet, have two months’ worth of content already scheduled in advance. You can see on my blog that I published several articles in my first month, September, because I had content prepared ahead of time. Make a shell or template of the articles you’ll write before you start traveling. That way, you won’t fall behind and will give yourself plenty of time to come up with new content.
You can also achieve visual consistency with similar formats, colors, fonts, images, blog covers, thumbnails, watermarks, and social media graphics. Consider making image and video templates ahead of time to speed up that aspect of your workflow.
3) Go social
Social media is a free and effective way to grow your tribe. For me personally, Facebook is still the best platform to expand my readers’ base. With each Facebook post where I link to my blog, I get at least a hundred new readers, 70% of which generally return.
Don’t feel like you have to be everywhere. If you’re starting a travel blog and are present on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Snapchat, that can quickly become seriously overwhelming. Pick one or two social media platforms that work best for you and dedicate your time and energy to grow your audience there. Once you’ve grown a following, you can expand into adjacent channels
4) Learn basic SEO
SEO, or Search Engine Optimization, is a must for every webpage or blog out there –if you want your content to be found and read, that is. SEO is the art of getting more and higher quality leads through Google Search. Optimal pages rank depending on a number of different factors like keywords, backlinks, content quality, frequency of posts, visits per month, and so on. If all of this sounds new to you, check out this blog post on high-level SEO, join a Facebook group that helps bloggers learn SEO, or take an online SEO courses for beginners on Udemy. You can then target articles to high-potential queries.
5) Spread the word
Having at least a basic understanding of SEO and being active on social media will help you attract readers to your blog. However, there are a number of other things you can do to grow your tribe:
- Offer to guest post on other blogs in your niche and ask them to link back. That way, the readers of the more prominent blog might visit yours (if you dazzle them with your content, of course) – and some might stay. Do make sure, however, that the niche and context makes sense. Don’t try to push your “Best steak in Buenos Aires” masterpiece to a blogger who writes about Argentinean tango.
- Pitch media. For me, what always gives my blog a decent boost is my own articles published on Adventure Motorcycle or ADV Rider. These two online publications have millions of hits monthly, and when I publish articles there and insert a link to my own blog, there is always a spike in readership (and book sales).
- Use writer platforms. You can also publish on Medium, Wattpad, and even LinkedIn to increase your online presence, backlinks, and clicks back to your blog.
6) Get your camera out
Photographs are a beautiful aspect of traveling, so make sure to capture your experience to bring the audience along with you.
To truly record your experiences and stick out from other travel bloggers, consider starting a YouTube channel that links to your blog posts. YouTube is now the second largest search engine, so having your own channel increases your chances to be found online. A decent YouTube subscriber base will improve your Google rankings, add credibility, and make you more visible on the internet. I recently made my first travel videos for YouTube, leading to new blog followers and great visual content for my articles. If you’re traveling for an extended period of time, you could also try a One Second Every Day video that shows a montage of your travel memories.
With efficient video editing tools like Kapwing available online, video making is now easier than ever – so get that camera out and start filming!
7) Done is better than perfect
Yes, it’s important to have a great-looking blog, to post amazing photos and quality content, and to do it all regularly. But if you find yourself postponing the launch and obsessing over the details (“is this color scheme good enough? Is that post too long?”), just remember that done is better than perfect. Hit “publish”, even if you don’t feel you’re 100% ready.
When I chased Rally Dakar on my bike, the pace was so intense I just didn’t have enough time to double and triple-check everything. I had to hit publish, or the moment would be gone. Although some of the posts weren’t completely typo-free or were too emotional for my own standards, the readers absolutely loved it because the coverage was real-time and authentic. Taking that first big step will feel awesome, and it will put you in a position of responsibility: the blog is live now, so you have to do your best to develop it and see your baby grow.
If, like me, you’re primarily focused on the written word as opposed to stunning photos or videos, make sure your text is flawless. For spellcheck and grammar, my personal favorite is Grammarly.
8) Strike a balance between personal stories and journalism
Before Egle On the Road was born, I had previously published two other blogs, Wild Ride RTW and News and Fables. Wild Ride RTW was supposed to be my personal travel blog, but it was so bad I just deleted the whole thing. Everything about it was wrong. I completely failed at designing the website myself using Wix which was a complete disaster. Apart from horrible graphics, my stories felt too egocentric and personal.
Everyone in the niche was telling highly personal stories, so I thought it was “right”. I quickly realized, however, that it wasn’t. For one, I felt like I was emulating people I didn’t really admire all that much, and I didn’t feel that I was offering my readers anything new.
After I deleted Wild Ride, I created News and Fables. I got a designer to help me out this time, so the website looked much better. But with content, I now went to another extreme and posted nothing about myself. Instead, I only wrote stories about the local people I met, other travelers, or culture. I went from being 100% personal to 100% impersonal, trying to position myself as a reporter rather than a blogger. This extreme wasn’t working, either, so News and Fables got scrapped, and Egle on the Road was born.
This time around, I feel like I’m doing better. Since I love stories about local people and cultures, I’m still posting them, but I’m also adding my own reflection. I’m not trying to squeeze myself into any boxes. I just write – which feels great. From my recent book sales, my readers enjoy this too.
So there you have it: pick your niche, consistently produce quality content, learn the ropes of SEO, and don’t be afraid to hit “publish”. When you’re just starting out, everything can seem a little too overwhelming – and it is! – so just focus on these eight things for now.
Finally, don’t be afraid to experiment, change, and start over if your first project isn’t working. Creating a blog is a lot of work and a lot of learning, so it’s only natural that after a while, you might start feeling you need to do things differently. Rebrand it, tweak it, or change it completely – you’ll find the right way eventually. You will find your own unique voice as you progress!