Blogging in general is a huge fat thing in these modern days; there’s a blog for every genre, bloggers are making careers out of their online portals, brands are all over them like a keen rash, and everything seems to have some kind of opinion floating around on some kind of blogging platform.
I’ve been blogging for just over 5 years now, and my chosen genre is of course travel. It’s a subject that is super flexible in how you approach creating the content, and it does really capture the attention of anyone who loves to travel or daydreams about epic trips.
I’m not a classic travel blogger though. I began with Travelettes.net in 2009, just as I was running away from the UK after graduating, and I kinda fell into pursuing travel writing as I was wanting a creative outlet while I backpacked.
I had freedom from any kind of blog schedule and there was minimal pressure to write in the early days as I was on the road, there were a few other authors and content wasn’t in demand three times a week. Some may call it being a ‘lazy blogger’, and I probably would agree as there was always someone to pick up the slack if I was a bit bare with the writing!
Now that I’ve been working with Travelettes for 5 ½ years and have started up Saints on a Plane with my sis, I feel like I do in fact have plenty of knowledge on how to be a travel blogger. Even though I haven’t quit my job and got the status of ‘full time blogger’, nor produce consistent content 3 times a week for one blog, I’ve learnt a heap and I think I can share a beginners guide to travel blogging for any wanderlust peeps out there who are thinking about being a travel blogger.
- Anyone can do it.
If you feel the urge to begin typing and getting your thoughts and experiences out there, then what the hell is stopping you?! If you feel that the market is saturated already, you are right, but what’s to say that you might not become the next big travel voice of the year? Why would yours not make a difference? And maybe your posts could touch someone’s heart and inspire them to do something great?
There’s an audience for all kinds of writing and people will like it if you take pride and effort in your work. It’s all about being vocal and seeing the impact it might have on the world and the many audiences that reside here. Of course, positive impact is paramount.
WordPress.com is a great platform to begin on. It’s free, totally user friendly and all you need is an email address to set up and go! When you feel you’re ready to gear it up a notch, switch to WordPress.org that gives you total control over the ownership of your blog – just ask the rad guys at WPBeginner to give you a hand in doing the switch over (I’ve got no idea what black magic they use to make it happen).
Take the plunge and see how you go. See if it’s something that will get you addicted or if it’s just a passing interest since the trend is so huge now. But there’s nothing worse than someone saying “If I was a blogger, I would have such a great blog” because if you’re not doing it, I call bullshit that your blog would be so ‘great’.
- Photos are dead important.
There’s nothing worse than reading a blog post that obviously had a lot of thought put into it, but it’s peppered with really shit photos.
They are the illustrations to your points or theme of the post; they help break up the chunks of text and encourage the readers to continue scrolling. They act like a window into your adventure or inspiration, so it’s a big no no to have your images be your downfall.
The basics are that they need to be of relatively high res and large. No mistakenly blurred photos and make sure they have nice composition. To be honest, my photos were awful back in the day and I can thank my improvement to a little thing called Instagram. I’m obsessed with it and the photos that I kept ‘liking’ taught me what makes a good photo. I subconsciously experimented with my photography using the app and it soon translated into how I use a DSLR.
While iPhones do have great cameras, anything less than an iPhone 4s is painstaking clear that the photos have been snapped on a phone as the photo’s will appear pixelated and fuzzy when blown up big. A DSLR is what every blogger needs as the images will be crisp and vibrant from you having more control over the focus and lighting.
- Have an opinion and a tone of voice.
We’re all familiar with the SEO friendly titles and listacles that Buzzfeed indulges in e.g. “10 reasons why…”, “32 times that…”, “How to….”, and they do work really well! I definitely use them!!
They make good reads that are easily digestible, but regardless how you structure your post, you need to make your personality clear in your writing. Your tone of voice and personality is totally unique so make sure it’s shown in your blogging, or you’ll be dismissed and filed away into generic *yawn*.
Follow other blogs that you respect and see how they make their stuff an interesting read.
Talking about a subject? Don’t just present the facts, tell us what you think of it! It doesn’t even have to be a balanced argument, as its your blog; the Internet word vomit of your mind.
Inject anecdotes and make your writing human. Don’t just give a vague guide on a city. Tell us why you liked/hated it! Make your piece of writing scream your name and have your voice slathered all over it.
- Get your facts, names and details right.
It’s a touch unforgivable to not research a place and give incorrect facts, figures and details in travel writing. Many read travel blogs for info on a destination that they’re heading to/thinking of and it’s awful to find contradicting information that will confuse. Of course, they’re fools to Google search information once and to take everything as utter truth, but you don’t want to gain the reputation of ‘travel blogger who’s often wrong’.
Check up on details that are vague in your mind or just don’t include them at all. No one wants to be stranded at a Dutch bus stop because you said that buses run all night.
- You don’t always have to always be on the road to be a travel blogger.
I hate hate hate it when this is thought as truth. I am a travel blogger. I have a full time job, which isn’t tied into those blogs. I do not travel 24/7 365. I do travel. I write about it. And that is it.
For anyone to not class you as being a travel blogger because you have a house, child or a career that isn’t travel related, then they are bat shit and should be ignored. These are the thoughts of ignorant bloggers who have somehow formed an elite club in their mind that you can’t join unless you quit your job, renounce all reality and run away with a backpack. It’s not on and you can be whatever you want to be in the blogosphere. Don’t conform to what others think you need to have to qualify, and this applies to blogging and LIFE!
- You have to like social media.
Unfortunately blogging doesn’t quite exist without social media. We’re talking Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest; you’re going to have to like at least two of these and be consistently active on those channels.
Social media gets your blog out there and is the easiest way to promote new blog posts! Although there’s a lot of confusion and disappointment with Facebook algorithms, you will be surprised by how much traffic Facebook can send through to your blog. A Facebook page for your blog is a must!
Embrace the hashtags, connect with other bloggers and keep an eye on your notifications. Blogging is all about top content and interaction. You can’t afford to ignore the power of social media when blogging, and it’s also an incredibly useful way to research ideas for new blog posts and what might resonate with your audience!
- Ignore the pressure to perform.
Like with most things, motivation and inspiration comes in waves with blogging. When you’re riding that wave high and pounding out blog posts with gusto, life feels brilliant! There’s nothing more satisfying than hitting publish on something that you’re really stoked with!
But when you fall off that wave, blogging can seem tiresome and lose its shine. I’ve totally had that (probably 3 – 4 times a year!) and one of the best things to do is to take a step back and have a breather from the online world. It’s not the end of the world if you don’t abide to your blog schedule and there’s nothing worse than forcing yourself to finish a post that you hate because you’re just not feeling it.
I feel that if I take a 2-week hiatus from my blog, I get perspective and begin reading more blogs to get inspired. Soon my fingers start to get itchy and before I know it, I’m tapping out draft blog posts on my iPhone (that’s how this post began).
Having a blog is meant to be fun, so if you’re finding that it isn’t then something has to change. Whether it’s giving yourself a break or embarking on a new style of blog posts, try to keep inspired! And I believe it’s totally forgivable to be having such a fabulous time on a trip that you forget to Instagram or tweet while you’re away. That’s called living in the moment and you can blog till the cows come home when you return!
As I said, I can help with a beginners guide but don’t ask me how to turn blogging into a full-blown career! Perhaps someday I’ll get there, but for now I’m just doing what I love… for free.
Blogging has opened up a hell of a lot of doors for me, in career and travel experiences, so I never EVER regret the day I began typing for blogs. I’m chuffed that Travelettes has sprung to the heights that it has and I’m proud of S.O.A.P, my little baby with my sister. Here’s to blogging!