After nearly five years working as professional travel bloggers on Contented Traveller, we feel confident in sharing these 45 Best Travel Blogging Tips with you. We feel that after a lot of hard work that we do display Authority and Influence, and know that these have worked for us. You can read more about us here, and about our achievements here.
I am going to start with an analogy. Jenny decides to open a cake store at the local mall. There are already three other successful cake stores in the same shopping centre. These are established shops with a loyal clientele. Jenny specialises in cupcakes, which the other stores also sell. Jenny needs to make her shop attractive, but she really needs customers to not only visit her shop, but to buy her products.
Jenny has a business plan to assist grow her business over time. She wants to not only learn from her competitors but to also network with them and other store holders in the mall to learn more and more about what the customers like. Jenny could sell her products at a reduced rate to get the customers in the door, or she could stick to her business plan, and market her unique cupcakes, and market these through social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and Twitter.
Jenny is passionate about what she does, and she works hard creating her products, improving her craft, and letting people know about her product. While the other cake shops have large and loyal customers, Jenny knows that it will take time, an excellent product, a steep learning curve, and a lot of advertising until she also has this unique customer base who are buying her products a lot. She loves what she does, and attends professional conferences to improve her skills.
This is very similar to becoming a professional travel blogger
45 Best Travel Blogging Tips
#1. If you fully intend to be a professional travel blogger, then start off with this mindset, and that starts right at the beginning by creating yourself and your travel blog as a BRAND. This comes from your domain name, your logo, a professional and responsive website, a kickass product (your content) and the images that you will use to portray your brand, consistently across all media.
#2. Your travel blog is a business so you will need to have a business plan, and a business model, just like Jenny from the cupcake shop. While these business plans will change over time, if you start like this you will be goal driven.
#3. Write about what YOU are passionate about, not what you think others want. You will never sustain a business, if you don’t LOVE it.
#4. Solve a problem when you write your content. Jenny of the cupcake shop found more people were requesting gluten free cupcakes, so she adapted her business model to include these. She networked with other people about making gluten free cakes, and she solved a problem for some of her customers. Jenny has long term goals, and so should you as a professional travel blogger.
#5. Jenny knew that she would need to pay rent, and to outfit the shop, as well as purchase the ingredients for her cakes, and pay for marketing. As a professional travel blogger, you should also expect that there will be costs involved. You pay rent to your host provider, the company who looks after your travel blog, and we recommend Siteground, because they are excellent landlords. You should also pay for a professional theme for your site, so that your site looks attractive on all devices like desktop, mobile and tablet. We recommend Divi by Elegant Themes as it is sophisticated, modern, and responsive. Like Jenny, you want to make a great first impression.
#6. Of course, you want to make money from your professional travel blog, and that in itself, takes time, as you build a loyal customer base. Like Jenny you need to value your product, and charge people accordingly. You will receive more rejections at first, but if you value your product then stick to your guns.
#7. In saying that, some opportunities arise where it pays to lower your rates, because it can lead to bigger business opportunities. Be strategic and always think long term.
#8. Remember, be true to yourself at all times. You cannot go wrong by being yourself, and not pretending to be something other than what you are and what you do.
#9. Your readers come first, just like Jenny’s cake customers. You need to be able to engage them in your story and the problem you are solving, but you also need them to keep coming back because they value your ability to keep them interested. Jenny changes her inventory seasonally, which keeps her customers coming back for more.
#10. Develop a personal relationship with your readers, and your fellow professional travel bloggers. Look it is not easy to let people see you as a person, and to let them ‘know you’; but it is worth it. People know Paula and Gordon/Gordy. They know we are coffee snobs, that I am sarcastic at times, that we are hard workers, and that we are honest…and let’s face it we are fun, and nice to boot. (just had to add that one, didn’t I?) Read about what we did in 2017 as professional travel bloggers.
#11. You will make mistakes, but as long as you learn from them this is ok. That’s life anyhow.
#12. Networking with other travel bloggers is invaluable. No one person knows everything, but lots of people know something that you don’t. Join some relevant Facebook groups, meet people virtually and ask for assistance
#13. Be a generous blogger. Help others out where you can. It is good karma. You will unfortunately come across some people who take, take, take. Again, that is life, so distance yourself from that person.
#14. When we first started our professional travel blog nearly 5 years ago, I reached out to more successful bloggers, like A Luxury Travel Blog, and ThePlanetD, and asked could I guest post for them. Ok, I begged, and they were highly generous and allowed me to. This was a great start for us. I even had the audacity to ask ThePlanetD, to write a guest post for me, on Advice for New Travel Bloggers, and they did.
#15. Now, if a new blogger reaches out to me, I like to remember that generous people helped me out when I first started. I don’t say yes to everyone, as it all depends on whether they have done their homework, know us, know our site, and can value add for our audience.
#16. Be a little circumspect. Too often I see ambit claims about successes that are bullshit. This is a highly competitive business, and some people will steal your ideas very quickly, and over state their own achievements.
#17. Jenny could worry about how much money the other cake shops are making, and how many customers they are getting, and let’s face it, she does worry, but as with travel blogging there will be others better than you, and others not as good as you. Try and concentrate on your own business growth, and not get into this.
#18. Jenny can see her gluten free cakes are doing very well, so she is expanding her range. She is showing expertise in this area. It doesn’t hurt to be a specialist in some area with travel blogging. I am a storyteller, and I am good at networking. Coming from Irish stock that is hardly surprising.
#19. When you start pitching to work with companies, you are EXCHANGING SERVICES. There is no such thing as a FREE lunch or a FREE room. You will write about it, promote it on social media or whatever, in EXCHANGE.
#20. You will get many emails asking for you to allow advertising on your site, or to publish an article. NEVER EVER be rude, no matter how cheap the price they are offering is. People talk. You do not know who knows who. Always politely accept or decline.
#21. If you are at a conference, on a Media Fam trip, or working with a PR company, it is show time. You are a brand and a business and you need to act accordingly. Do not be that dick who wears a Camilla Franks Kaftan and heels to see the apes in the middle of the jungle in Sulawesi, and then whinges constantly.
#22. Blogging is hard work. Can I say that even more simply? You will work very very hard and work constantly if you want to be a professional travel blogger. We easily put in 13 hour days, because we love it, and we want to do well. If you can’t work hard and consistently, then you may need to reconsider this as a career.
#23. You will need to have a media kit on your site, and this can be updated and altered regularly as you grow professionally. This makes it easier for companies to know more about you; add your links to your social media platforms, any statistics, and any other things that you want to promote. It pays also to have a LinkedIn profile, so companies can find the ‘business’ you.
#24. When you start travelling for work, most of your friends and family will say, “are you on holidays again?”. Well no, we are on a business trip, albeit a fun and incredible business trip. You cannot win this one. No-one knows what goes on behind the scenes and nor do they want to know. Other bloggers understand and they will be your support structure. Let them be this for you.
#25. Whether you like it or not, the more successful you become, the more accountable you are for your actions online and in the real world. To be recognised as a professional travel blogger and an influencer, you need to develop this gravitas.
#26. When you are working with companies, it pays to over deliver. People talk, and will say that you were a generous and professional travel blogger. This return on investment pays dividends in the future. We know. This is why we get so much work, because word of mouth is still one of the most important communication tools.
#27. You need to understand what the company expects and what you are prepared to give, in exchange. Once both parties know what the terms are, then give a little more.
#28. Build up TRUST with your audience. Your readers are smart. Our readers are smart. Of course, not everything goes according to plan when you travel, and this is the same when you work with clients. There will be some negatives and you need to deal with these when you write for your readers. I made mention that pre-ordering meals on a flight was not a good idea, because you had to wait over half an hour to get a wine to go with the meal. The client asked me to delete this, but I refused saying it was the truth. Two weeks later they asked us to work with them again, and we did, and I didn’t pre-order my meal.
#29. There are other people, outside of professional travel bloggers, who you should develop relationships with, for your benefit and the benefit of your readers. Join professional organisations, make friends with PR and tourism firms.
#30. Remember, if you don’t ask the question then you already know the answer. It is no. It can be confronting but if you have an idea that addresses a problem, or is a great opportunity for your readers, reach out with a rock-solid pitch.
#31. Re. pitching. DO NOT use a generic pitch letter. Every company is different, has different priorities, goals, and signatures, and you had better know this inside out before you reach out to them. I approached Bern Tourism to work with them, because the Sichlete Festival in Bern was coming up. This is when the cows come down from the mountains, and they crown the prettiest cow. I have a thing for cows. They knew I had done my homework. From this acceptance in Bern, they talked to people in Geneva, and Emmental, and Zurich and bingo, we had a month of business trips in Switzerland.
#32. Learn to say no. The more successful you become as professional travel bloggers the more offers you will get, and sometimes you just have to learn to say no. Ask yourself, do you want to do it? Is it something your readers want to know about? Does it fit your business model? We had to say no a to a whisky tasting barge cruise in Scotland, because it clashed with another job. That one still hurts.
#33. There is no way around it, but you need to constantly learn and constantly grow. You need to be on the ball with your SEO, your social media strategy, and more. This game changes constantly. It is called professional development. I sure want my doctor and lawyer being up to speed, and so do your audiences. And you better change with it also. It will drive you nuts, but if you are passionate about what you do, then you will cope with change.
#34. Try and be consistent in your work methodology. Turn off Facebook and the interesting conversations, to write that content that makes that money and gets you those business trips. Prioritise what needs to get done. Trust me it is difficult.
#35. Of course, you have started a professional travel blog to make money, and while that is important, you need to have the cakes to sell, before that can happen. Get that informative content happening. There are many ways to make money, from Google Adsense, to MediaVine, to sponsored posts and other ads. You will never make a fortune, but it will pay for the backend maintenance of your website.
#36. Think of your blog as a shopfront. Jenny’s shop did really well, and she started to do some public speaking engagements about gluten free cakes and marketing, and she was paid for this. She wrote a book on this, and was paid for it. Other cake shop owners paid Jenny as a consultant to help them set up their businesses, and to cater for gluten free cake lovers. Like professional travel bloggers, Jenny needed to hire people to run her little cake shop in the mall, while she made serious money on these other related pursuits. Food for thought? (see what I did there )
#37. Build your email list. Start building your email list from day one. Even if you don’t plan on selling anything, having an email list allows you to promote your new content to your audience directly…and it is personal contact
#38. Use simple call-to-actions to engage with your audience. Ask a question that will elicit a response. Involve people in helping you to produce the content they want.
#39. Authority and Influence are what you need to strive for. These just don’t happen. It takes years of hard work, of being honest, of being generous and being knowledgeable before you just notice that you do have authority and that you do influence people.
#40. Numbers are important. But they aren’t everything. Keep an eye on them but don’t obsess, compare, or freak out when they fluctuate. Your more important goal is maintaining and growing your audience, and your professional reputation..
#41. The Imposter Syndrome – we all suffer from it, where we don’t feel we are good enough. “The story of the human race is the story of men and women selling themselves short.” Abraham Maslow. In other words, you don’t feel as though you deserve to be successful, and that other people are more entitled than you are. You feel that the success you have achieved has been more from luck than bloody hard work. This is a common syndrome, and as a travel writer one that plagues me and others. Remember the point of upselling is to showcase your knowledge, your passion and your ROI, and your belief in yourself.. You might like to read 6 Hacks to UPSELL Yourself
#42. Be very wary sharing your industry contacts. You really don’t have permission to do this without asking the PR firm, the brand, the tourism board, the hotel etc. It is your reputation and credibility on the line if the person doesn’t do the right thing.
#43. Think outside the box. It is very easy to get caught up in what everyone else is doing, and that is where you lose the unique factor. You are a service industry and as such you do need to be informative, and entertaining, and you need to be authoritative. And I will say it again, you need to be true to yourself.
#44. At times you will feel overwhelmed; actually most of the time you will have this feeling. Go for a walk, do a yoga class, have a coffee, have a wine, and re-think why you started this business in the first place. You started it because you love to travel, you have something substantial to share with your readers, and you have an on point business plan. Step away for a bit, and take some “you” time.
#45. Gordon came up with our tagline, ‘It’s all about Serendipity’, and that goes for travel, travel blogging, our business, and life for that matter.
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Share your best travel blogging tips in the comments.