I can’t believe it’s already been a year since we started Back to the Passport! It’s been a busy and fantastic year and the time has really flown by – you know the saying, time flies when you’re having fun!
While travel blogging is super fun (and a great excuse to plan more frequent vacations – I need things to write about!) it can also be challenging. I’ve been a content and social media manager for about seven years now in my professional work, so I kind of knew what to expect with our dive into travel blogging, but there were still some valuable lessons I’ve learned this past year as we work on Back to the Passport.
I thought it’d be fun to reflect and share some of the travel blogging advice I’ve learned along the way in case you’re interested in building your own blog!
8 pieces of advice on travel blogging
1. It takes time
It’s been a year for us and we’re really starting to see some growth in followers and website visits which is fantastic. I think so many writers go into blogging and expect thousands of site visits every day when in reality that kind of readership takes time to build – unless you write a really awesome piece of content that goes viral overnight. But then you’ll be expected to perform at that quality of content for the rest of your blog’s life!
Blogging is a marathon, not a sprint. It’ll take time to create content, publish content, share it, and find a readership. Being patient is extremely important when starting out a blog.
Blogging also takes time away from other activities or other writing projects I’m working on. I love Back to the Passport, but sometimes I feel a little overwhelmed with how much time I need to set aside during my week or weekends to write, format, publish, and promote blogs, as well as time dedicated to finding other bloggers to build relationships with.
Blogging is time-consuming, but it’s also something I love and am dedicated to and so I make sure to find the time for it. Be ready to say goodbye to some free time when building your travel blog!
2. It takes planning
Any successful blog requires a strategy and some thought behind it. Start with why you’re blogging or what your goals are with it. Are you just documenting your travels for yourself and family and friends or are you hoping to monetize your blog someday? If you’re going the monetization route, you need to make sure you’re providing quality, useful content and building a following. A professional travel blog takes a lot of planning
Pick a brand name that’ll stand the test of time. It’s fun to want to call it: Adventures of my Twenties, but what happens when you turn thirty? Think of something clever, memorable, and special to you or you and your partner if you’re doing a couples’ travel blog.
Back to the Passport comes from Rick’s and my shared love of Back to the Future (which we have several copies of, one even in Italian, as well as countless DeLorean toy models, movie posters, books, coffee mugs, and so on.) It’s something that we share so we made a little spin on it to make it travel-themed.
Domain, hosting, and design
There are free website solutions out there, but if you’re investing the time, energy, and resources into this, go all the way and pay for your domain and hosting. It looks more professional and allows for more customization. After you’ve decided on your blog’s name, make sure the domain is free and snap it up!
We host our site with Google and use WordPress as our CMS. WordPress has thousands of themes to apply to your site to give it a unique look and feel, and make it easily customizable.
Now we’re rolling! Next up is planning your content! I create my own editorial calendars in a simple Google Sheet to schedule out our posts and track when they’ve been shared on social media. My calendar outlines the post date, title or topic, and keywords. Very simple to create and saves me a ton of time.
I plan my calendars out about six months to a year in advance so I know what posts are coming up instead of scrambling to find something to write about when it’s time to publish something new.
3. It takes consistency and dedication
Success requires consistency and dedication. I can’t expect followers and readers to continue to care by posting sporadically or not being consistent with our posts. Like I said above, it’s a marathon which requires stamina to go the distance.
Travel blogging is challenging but also very rewarding! I love sharing travel tips, things to do, and reviews of places we’ve been with other travelers. If you want your blog to be successful, you have to stick with it and be consistent.
4. It takes being out of the moment when traveling
Every trip we take can be another post or adventure we can share on Back to the Passport, so sometimes I have to pull myself out of being in the moment while we travel to write down notes about our experience or take more photos than I normally would so I have enough shots for the post. You never know what photo or detail will be perfect for an upcoming article, so everything needs to be documented.
Rick got me a fantastic travel journal so I can write about our experiences and keep notes of all the little things I might forget after we land back in Denver. When taking photos, I like to take photos that I want to use on our personal social media accounts to share with family and friends, as well as thinking like a journalist and figuring out what shots will go best with a post.
You have to be ready to not live in the moment on your vacations to create better blog posts. It won’t be 24/7 while on vacation, but it’s something you’ll need to keep in the back of your mind. This is where an editorial calendar can help as you’ll know exactly what shots you need for your post so you can capture them and then get back to relaxing.
5. It takes technical know-how
You don’t have to be a webmaster or SEO wizard to blog, but it does help having some technical web skills to help your site look better and perform better in search and on social. You’ll also want to make sure you have the technical tools to help you, like Google Analytics and Google Search Console to help you understand your site’s performance and its visitors better. Using these tools can tell you what search terms brought people to your site, how they interacted with your site, and what content is working well to help shape future content ideas.
Some quick SEO tips for your travel blog:
- Make sure you have a mobile-friendly design
- Check your site’s load time
- Use page titles and meta descriptions
- Use H2s, H3s, H4s, and H5s to break up content and optimize your content for keywords
- Do keyword research for each post and have at least two keyword terms in your content
- Use alt tags on your images
- Link to other resources or blogs where appropriate
- Link to your own posts in new blog posts and use a related content box
6. It takes being social
One thing I love about blogging is that there’s such a great, welcoming community of fellow bloggers and especially travel bloggers. We’re all in it for the same goal: to encourage people to travel and experience more of the world, so we tend to support each other and share each other’s content.
SEO is great for getting your site found by new audiences but social media is the bread and butter of your content promotion strategy. We focus on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest for our social channels and your social matrix might look different. You need to be active on social media to get your posts out there and you need to be active on social media to participate in the travel blogging community.
7. It takes being open
Blogging can be very personal and that was a big change for me in terms of my writing. I’m so used to keeping things kind of formal and writing on behalf of brands and companies, not freely sharing my life with an audience. It’s been fun and challenging changing up my tone and writing style to talk more about myself and my own feelings on things than trying to focus on consumers’ needs.
That’s not to say I can’t just publish whatever I want. I still want our posts to fit the Back to the Passport brand by sharing helpful travel tips and itineraries, it just means that I can add my own voice and personal stories and asides to the content. Humanizing content is a major trend in content marketing and with blogging, you truly get to be human with your writing.
8. It takes change
Where the blog is now is through changing some of our strategies, blog post types, and trying new things. You have to be open to the idea that it won’t look exactly like what you pictured, and that’s OK. You’ll grow as a writer and publisher and you shouldn’t be afraid of trying new blog styles or topics!
Be open to change with your blog as it’s a living, breathing thing that needs to adapt.
If you’re a fellow travel blogger and have some writing advice or tips and tricks for blogging, please feel free to share in the comments!