Everyone wants to be a travel blogger, which is unsurprising. Getting paid to travel the world, seeing incredible sights and then writing about them doesn’t seem too hard, does it?
However, there’s no disguising the fact that not all travel blogs are created equal - many just don’t have the pulling power that others do. So, what makes the big hitters so successful? We reckon there are eight crucial elements to a successful travel blog - here’s what you have to consider if you’d like to pack in the day job and make a living as a travel writer.
Get the look:
It’s fine to start out on Wordpress, but if you really want to make an impression, you’ve got to dress for the part. Even though it may cost you a little bit of money and time, it’s worth investing in a well-designed, smart-looking website which people can easily navigate. You want images to be showcased, social sharing buttons that are easily found and different sections of the site explaining who you are, how to contact you, and your archive. Nothing is a bigger turn-off for travel fans who are faced with a slow, broken website with links that don’t go anywhere.
Blog as much as you can
Even if it’s just once a week, take the time to keep your followers updated. If you’re lacking inspiration, you can always talk about a previous trip, upload some photos from a different holiday, or make a list of places you’d like to visit. Articles such as ‘The strangest rumours to come from North Korea’ or ‘Ten wicked ways to eat cheaply in America’ always go down well. The blog should be about travel, in its purest form - it’s not all about you.
Embrace social media
Not only is social media a great platform for people to get in touch with you and feedback about your work (which you need, you egotistical writer), but it’s the best way of sharing your work. You can’t just publish a new article and hope that people are constantly checking your blog for updates; social media is a way of getting it out there and noticed. And it’s free. Don’t forget to respond to people who contact you and say thank you for any kind comments. Ignoring your fans is a surefire way to come across as unlikeable - which, let’s be honest, isn’t the look you’re going for.
Keep your personal life out of the mix
It’s fine to mention that you travelled around Indonesia with your wife, or that you took your two kids to stay in a farmhouse in Germany. It’s not fine to start waffling on about when you met your wife, or your kids’ favourite cartoons, or how indescribably sweet they are when they’re sleeping, etc. Those are the kind of details you should save for a parenting blog. The people on your site care about new adventures and the wider world. They are not concerned about your son’s potty training.
Avoid making enemies
Unless you’re Giles Coren, avoid writing disparaging posts about places or establishments. You could attract a huge backlash, it’ll make you look slightly petty, and if you really go to town, you could get sued. Got an issue with a place? Message them privately. Your blog should be light, funny, friendly and informative - nothing else.
Tell a story
So, you’re in New York. And you have loads of pictures of you and your mates exploring, shopping, getting annihilated in various bars, etc. You can’t just upload them to your blog and expect people to take an interest - you have to tell a story. For example, this is the restaurant where so-and-so found the best risotto they’d ever eaten, and the chef was kind enough to write out the menu.
Accept feedback with grace
As I mentioned before, as your following grows, you’ll receive more feedback. It’s up to you to take it on the chin and respond appropriately - and with grace. ‘Your blog is rubbish’ doesn’t merit a response, but ‘Could you go into more detail about this/stop talking about your dog/add more pictures?’ is worth replying to. Be friendly, acknowledge the feedback, and if you think your reader has a point, make the change.
Keep up the good work
Don’t expect immediate results. You may be doing all of the above already, and yet your blog isn’t taking off - yet. The important thing is that you patiently carry on, and if you’re writing fun, informative, shareable stuff, you’ll soon see the visitor numbers to your site climb. It’s just a question of putting the legwork in and remembering that a successful blog can take years to build up. If you're a big fan of instant results, sorry - you're playing the long game from now on.