Financial Travel Tip #122: 17 Simple Rules for Travel Blogging

by Nora on November 13, 2014

Travel blogging in the Caribbean…it’s a tough life

Are you planning on taking a trip, and considering a travel blog to chronicle your travels, and even help subsidize them? Here are 17 simple rules for travel blogging, so you can set off for your travels on the right foot.

 

Start Travel Blogging Well in Advance of Traveling

You don’t want to be futzing around learning the technicalities of blogging whilst on the road. Also, if you have any intention of monetizing your travel blog or seeking sponsorships to subsidize your travels, you’ve got to have established content and a following, which takes time to build.

See Also: Before You Quit Your Day Job

 

Select Your Domain Carefully

Choosing your domain is akin to choosing the name of your business; you want it to be catchy, easy to remember, and topical. Check your domain ideas to ensure they’re not already taken, then purchase the domain, and set up a hosting service and content management system.

If this is already confusing to you, Nomadic Matt has a course that covers setting up a money-making travel blog from the ground up: The Business of Travel Blogging

 

Find a Niche

Travel blogs are a dime a dozen; just about anybody who takes off on a long trip has visions of regaling the world with their tales of travel – and hopefully making some money at it.

In order to differentiate yourself from these masses and make your blog worth visiting, find a niche you’re interested in exploring that you have (or can gain) some expertise in.

 

Stick to Your Niche

Once you have a niche, stick to it. The more relevant your content is to your niche, the more loyal your (relevant) audience will be to you.

 

Know Your Audience

In developing your niche, you’ll also be developing a target audience. Know who you’re writing for, and tailor your content for them. You can’t be everything to everybody; if you get noticed by a certain segment of the population, you stand to become better known than if you try to cater to everybody.

Monetizing and getting sponsorships will be much easier when you can define your audience.

 

Build an Audience Before Monetizing

The best advice I got in my first year of blogging when I asked an advertising dude how I could start to monetize my site, was simply to keep blogging. Nobody would be interested in advertising/sponsorship opportunities until I had an audience to speak of. So instead of littering my travel blog with google ads and diluting my content with sponsored guest posts, I simply focused on pumping out quality content and building my audience. The rest came in time.

 

Comment and Post on Other Travel Blogs

One way to build an audience is to get out there and gain exposure on other sites. Know your industry by reading other travel blogs, and become a part of the travel blogging community by thoughtfully commenting on their posts.

As you network within travel blogging circles, you might get an opportunity to do a guest post for another site – do it! This will provide exposure for your blog to a new audience, and will also provide valuable back links to your blog.

Working away in Nepal

 

Post Regularly

Set a posting schedule and stick to it. Technically the more often you post, the more traffic you’ll build, but don’t sacrifice quality for quantity. Also, you might be full of ideas at the beginning, but you can bank those ideas; it’s better to pace yourself and schedule posts in advance than to burn out too quickly. Posting 2-3 times per week is generally sufficient and sustainable.

 

Write Something You’re Passionate About

It will be much easier to write regular posts if you’re passionate about the topic at hand. This is why it’s important to select a good niche for you and your audience, and not just focus on what niche/topic is going to make you money.

I spoke to a travel blogger who developed her site solely with an aim to monetize. To this end she did everything right, and she made some decent money – but she hated it. She felt like she’d sold her travel blogging soul, and eventually shut down the blog when she found something more inspirational to do.

 

Use Pictures

Pictures really do tell a thousand words, and internet readers lap them up. Especially when it comes to travel blogging, it’s important to illustrate your story with photos.

See Also: How to Become a Kick Ass Travel Photographer

 

Create Descriptive Titles

I used to write really abstract (I thought they were brilliant and artistic) titles, but they didn’t particularly serve me well. Internet readers want to know what they’re going to get before they click on your article, so the more you can tell them in your title, the better the chances are they’ll click through. This is also important from a search engine optimization point of view; your key words need to be in your post title.

 

Structure Posts for Scanners – I Mean, Readers

Most internet readers are scanners; they want to read your post without really having to read it. Refrain from lengthy paragraphs, and organize your content with sections and headlines that make it easy for a reader to scan through your article to get a sense of what it’s about. If they like what they see/scan, they’ll take a closer look.

 

Work Social Media

Having a strong social media following is imperative to building an audience and eventually monetizing your travel blog. Many of the ads, sponsored trips, and even the freelance writing gigs I land are contingent on my ability to use social media to get the message across. Be aware that this can be an enjoyable – but slightly relentless – task, requiring you to post and interact with readers daily.

Personally, I work Facebook, Twitter, G+, and a wee bit on Instagram. Pinterest also seems to be hot these days.

Expect to assume this position often if you want to take travel blogging seriously

 

Consider Sponsorships

Once you’ve got an established blog, audience, and social media following, sponsorship opportunities will open up. These vary greatly depending on your travel blog’s niche and audience. I’ve gotten anything from free/discounted accommodation, to rail passes, to fully-paid trips.

For more information, see: Financial Travel Tip #52: Getting Sponsorships

Also, if your primary motivation is to receive free accommodation by virtue of having a travel blog, check out the book Next Stop Who Knows: How to Save Money With Complimentary Stays. You can find a review of the book here.

 

Select Advertising Carefully

Once your travel blog gains momentum and popularity, you’ll likely be contacted by all manner of advertisers looking for text links, guest posting opportunities on your site, and sidebar/banner ads. Some of them will be relevant to your audience and niche, and many won’t. Some will pay well, and many won’t. Some pay flat fees, and others work on an affiliate or CPM basis.

Make sure that any advertising options you choose will ultimately serve your audience. If your travel blog is littered with irrelevant and distracting text links, badly written guest content, and if your sidebars are crammed with distracting ads, you’ll lose readers.

If you’re in the travel blogging game for the long haul, don’t go for the easy money if there isn’t a value offering in it for your readers.

 

Consider Freelance Writing

Not many travel bloggers make a full-time living with their travel blog alone. Some pad their income with consulting or social media marketing services, many produce digital products like e-books, and others work as freelance writers. Many travel bloggers (myself included) employ a combination of tactics to pay the bills. Check out where and how I make my money here.

Freelance writing goes hand-in-hand with travel blogging nicely (assuming you’re a gifted writer); my travel blog serves as a portfolio of where I’ve been published, and I regularly feature other articles I’ve written. In fact, I can command a high rate for online freelance articles because of my established reach and audience, and my ability to create valuable back links to other publications. Not only that, but I can often incorporate valuable links back to my own travel blog from these publications I write for, which makes it a very symbiotic (and profitable) relationship.

See also: How to Become a Travel Writer

 

Attend Industry Conferences and Events

I haven’t been very good at this part thus far, but there’s no doubt that you can up your travel blogging game by attending industry conferences like TBEX (Travel Blog Exchange), PTBA (Professional Travel Bloggers Association), and others.

 

Related Posts:

Want to Make Money Blogging? Start HERE! 

Evolution of the Travel Blogging Industry, and the Third Age of Travel

Blogging vs Freelance Writing, and Finding Gigs

10 Rules for Earning Income as a Freelance Writer

The Unconventional Guide to Freelance Writing

 

 

{ 18 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Rob November 14, 2014 at 12:08 am

I’m not a writer but I did enjoy hearing about ‘how to’. Thanks for adding to my general knowledge!

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2 Nora Dunn November 14, 2014 at 11:49 am

You’re welcome, Rob! 🙂

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3 Sky November 14, 2014 at 10:19 am

Love this! I am definitely focusing on content and building a readership right now….I figure the rest will follow 🙂

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4 Nora Dunn November 14, 2014 at 11:50 am

Hi Sky,
That’s the ticket! Happy blogging…

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5 Adam November 15, 2014 at 3:30 pm

This is an excellent retrospective of almost how all of us digital nomads stay on the road for as long as we do … thanks!

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6 Nora Dunn November 16, 2014 at 6:53 pm

Thanks, Adam! Any tips I missed?

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7 Amanda Kendle November 16, 2014 at 9:43 pm

Great tips Nora. Sometimes I wish I was starting out fresh today, because having started nine years ago means I definitely haven’t done everything right! But longevity is an advantage too I guess.

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8 Nora Dunn November 18, 2014 at 8:28 am

Hi Amanda,
Amen, sister – I stumbled my way up the learning curve having started eight years ago when there weren’t any “rules” to speak of, and I made lots of mistakes.
But on the flip side, being among the first in the game meant much less competition when building my blog up, which in turn made it easier to create a name for myself.

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9 Marcia @ CuracaoVacationAccomodation November 18, 2014 at 3:18 am

Very useful advices that all bloggers should keep in mind. And great especially for people that are new into blogging.

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10 Nora Dunn November 18, 2014 at 8:29 am

Thank you, Marcia!

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11 Anita November 18, 2014 at 7:23 pm

Great article, Nora. I’m a new blogger and feeling my way around the blogging world. If I may, I’d like to add one more thing for all the newbies out there based on my own experience. I often read popular blogs like yours and follow other bloggers on social media and become quite overwhelmed thinking that I could never achieve such success. I mean, I can count my FB, G+ and twitter followers on one hand. But I find it really helpful to just take a step back and remember all of the tips above – good content, good SEO techniques, good writing, and interacting with other bloggers, will help me get there in due time. So articles like this really help remind me to give it time and most important, to be patient.

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12 Nora Dunn November 18, 2014 at 7:50 pm

Hi Anita,
Indeed, with so many excellent travel bloggers to compare your fledging blog with, it can become daunting. I’m often daunted by other bloggers and how far they’ve come – sometimes bloggers that started their sites long after I started mine.
But you’ve pinned it: focus on the good stuff like building relationships with readers and providing quality content, keep working it, and most of all, be patient.

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13 Carolyn December 22, 2014 at 12:17 pm

Hola Nora! Rookie blogger here. Found your article extremely helpful, thank you for sharing so much so freely! I have a blog but it’s a free one with wordpress.com at the end. I made the decision to go “free” because of my limited travel budget. I am considering making some $ through blogging and am wondering if it is imperative to transfer to my own domain name or if I can keep the blog I have. Muchas gracias from Mexico! 🙂

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14 Nora Dunn December 22, 2014 at 2:03 pm

Hi Carolyn,
If you’re looking to monetize your blog, then ultimately yes, you should register your own domain. It’s not expensive though – buying the domain is around $15, and hosting is usually less than $100/year. Well worth the investment!

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15 Kyle March 3, 2015 at 9:10 pm

Hi Nora,

First of thanks for all the great info! I just started a travel blog myself. Besides using social media and commenting on other travel blogs, what are some basic recommendations you have for driving traffic to a new blog?

Thanks,
Kyle

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16 Nora Dunn March 4, 2015 at 3:29 pm

Hi Kyle,
I built my blog and followings and traffic pretty organically and over quite a long time. Writing a vial post (or three) helps too, as does regular posting and sharing on social networks.
On my left-hand sidebar you’ll see a link to a book that teaches you to “Make Money With Your Travel Blog”. It’s a great tool by Nomadic Matt who teaches you all the ins and outs of developing and monetizing a blog. Happy building!

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17 Jessper May 3, 2015 at 3:53 pm

Great tips. thanks for sharing this wonderful resource for bloggers!As a new blogger i have found this really useful.

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18 Nora Dunn May 3, 2015 at 4:42 pm

Thanks Jessper! I’m glad you found this useful.

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