I recently completed a guest posting for another travel blog about Belgrade, Serbia. It made me sad. Not my guest posting. But the requirements of the blog I was posting on.
Let me preface this with some marketing.
Marketing, Branding, and Travel Blogging
Every person, brand, blog has their own personality and path they want to go down when it comes to doing business. And that is totally fine. However, a big rule of thumb in marketing and branding yourself is how to be different, how to stand out from the crowd. Another question you could ask yourself, is who is your target market?
Is your target market looking to enjoy personal stories and experiences? Is your target market looking for a quick list of things to do? Or is your target market looking for information that they know you can provide and just YOU.
So many bloggers are switching to a list format these days. And a lot of readers are just looking for that. However, SEO (Search Engine Optimization) doesn’t really make it easy for those types to be first on Google. Why? Because who is the biggest company that offers lists with information? TripAdvisor.
Google will automatically place them first in the search rankings because they are the biggest and if someone is looking for a quick list of things to do and basic information, they will go there.
List travel bloggers also make me sad in that they are able to write about travel, without actually having traveled. Don’t get me wrong, I think lists are good once and awhile. I have lists. But, I try involving my own experiences into the lists so they aren’t just stating facts.
Styles of Travel Bloggers
Back to my Belgrade posting, I originally wrote a nice (in my opinion) piece for this blog. It had things to do, what to eat, where to take Instagram photos, etc. It was about two thousand words and included a lot of background history. Nope, they didn’t like it and just wanted a list of things to do. I cut out everything and just had that. Nope, it wasn’t long enough and needed more “facts.” What did I do? I split my screen so I had my document on one side and TripAdvisor on the other side. For one museum, I rewrote the opening hours and admission tickets (in order to avoid plagiarism) in the paragraph. THIS piece was accepted.
Anyone can do what I did. No one has to have been in Belgrade to write the piece I wrote. In fact, doing what I did, people don’t have to travel at all to write a travel piece! Which is a shame because Belgrade is awesome!
How to Make it as a Travel Blogger
This being said, if you really want to make it as a travel blogger in this day and age, from my marketing professional opinion, here are the ways I recommend. HOWEVER, also from a marketing opinion as well as my own personal opinion, the best way to live and write is to be true to yourself. Which I will explain in a little bit.
Here are 6 ways to help you “make it:”
1. Have a clean and simple website.
The going trend is black and white with maybe some colors. From the successful bloggers I have seen they usually only have a few travel postings and mainly have money coming from affiliate links in those 10 blog postings.
2. Affiliate links
A lot of bloggers in general use affiliate links to earn money instead of ads. One of the more common is Amazon, but there are a lot of other forms. In regards to travel blogging there is CJ Affiliates which handles some travel companies like Skyscanner or Booking.com. I have also found a lot of “travel” bloggers also write about beauty or fashion- meaning they are really a “lifestyle” blogger not a “travel” one. These bloggers tend to make MORE money from their affiliate links in the beauty and fashion.
There are more people looking to buy beauty and fashion products on a day to day basis than there are traveling ones. It is basic economics. You won’t be making commission from people buying plane tickets every day, but you will from people buying lipstick.
3. Pinterest and other socials
Next step, marketing. Having beautiful images placed out in social media, especially Pinterest, will drive traffic to your blog.
4. Use stock photos or edit your photos
A lot of travel bloggers actually use stock photos or seriously edit their own photos. How many posts have you seen where Instagram images look nothing like how it looks in real life? This is basic marketing: sex appeal. There doesn’t have to be any model or anything in the photo, but what looks better, a beautiful, shinning waters beach in the Philippines or a crowded beach with dull lighting?
Here we go back to SEO. Make sure you have keywords and use plugins like Yoast. Remember, Yoast is just a guideline and not the rule. Do you see how this post is formatted? Have headers and subheaders as well.
6. Post Consistently
You need to be shoveling out content as much as possible- either once a week, once a day, twice a week, etc. You have no time to sit back and do nothing, you always need to be publishing content either on your blog or social media.
Be True to Yourself
At the end of the day, this list on how to make it doesn’t sound like a lot, but it is. A lot of bloggers get burnt out. This takes a lot of work. If you want to make blogging a full time career- it will be a full time career plus some.
As a small business owner myself, you don’t stop working. You might be watching Netflix, but your brain is always thinking of the next thing.
As a list travel blogger, you might be thinking:
-Best Travel Movies to Watch
-Best Travel Books to Read
-10 Best Recipes to Make at Home from XYZ country
I know these because I have written them myself. Not for my blog per se, but for a travel group I work for.
You get it.
I can write them. I know how to do it. But I DON’T WANT TO.
For my own travel blog, you will find mainly travel pieces that share my personal experiences. The people I met. The adventures I went on. Some are not pretty adventures. Some are funny, I think.
THIS is what makes me standout from TripAdvisors and all the other travel bloggers. NO ONE ELSE has my experiences. And, it doesn’t pain me to write.
When I think of blogging I think of Sarah Jessica Parker from Sex in the City. She is constantly writing from her heart. Which, blogging should be. Blogging should be about what our hearts and souls are telling us to write, not about lists and formulas.
In this age of influencers, don’t be IN, be an OUTfluencer. Be different, be bold. And, it will take you far.
By me being different I have bicycled six THOUSAND miles or 10K KM over TWO bicycle trips. I have learned two new languages besides my maternal English. I have lived in three places that were not my home country and two places within my home country. I have backpacked around continents for months on end. I have reached 42 countries and I am not even 30.
My point is, being different, being unique, being YOU will take you A LOT further than being one of many.
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