If you are looking for advice on how to run a successful travel blog, then go for a known and established professional to get some advice. This is my personal interview with David Thompson of Daves Travel Corner.
I think anyone who is anyone knows of the highly successful travel blog site “Dave’s Travel Corner.” His name and site, are synonymous with travel, and come up time and time again as an example of well written, and well considered accounts of his travels and ventures. I think what is evident from Dave’s Travel Corner is the passion that he has for travel and for sharing this passion.
He is also exceptionally generous in sharing his knowledge with me.
I had the audacity to contact Dave to ask whether I could interview him to give advice to newcomers like myself to this industry, and publish this on my site. I was totally ecstatic when he agreed and he emailed his responses to my questions. Dave, thank you. It is a big thing to do when you are on the road as well as continuing to share your adventures and observations with me and us, to take the time to give me this interview.
I have put the entire interview as it is with no modifications whatsoever. The stuff in brackets is what I wrote when I sent the email to Dave. My aim was to learn more for myself, and in all honesty to attract some traffic to my site. Have a look. I am on a steep learning curve, which many of you will identify with, and this is invaluable assistance. Dave thank you again.
1. What was your initial motivation to travel?
- 1 1. What was your initial motivation to travel?
- 2 2. When did you decide to create a travel blog?
- 3 3. Was it difficult starting this up?
- 4 4. Is it difficult to maintain, your blogs, social media interactions and the actual blog etc etc?
- 5 5. How important is social media for you in promoting your site and /or keeping in contact with your followers?
- 6 6. How important is guest blogging?
- 7 7. What advice can you offer newcomers? (begging?, yes; but I need to follow my dreams … with assistance)
- 8 In summation of My personal interview with David Thompson of Daves Travel Corner
- 9 Related articles
My initial motivation to travel was not inspired by a person but rather from a trip. One day while walking through the Recreation Center at my college I happened to notice a full color poster which boldly boasted of a trekking trip to Nepal – much subsidized for student budgets. This alone appealed to me but even more so was the incredible pictures of the Himalayas on this poster.
I knew prior to this trip that I enjoyed writing – but after the trip my eyes were opened to the wonders of International travel. A country like Nepal overwhelmed my senses with new experiences that were so much different from the “western” world. This was my first major trip outside of the USA and I was hooked!
2. When did you decide to create a travel blog?
I kept notes during my Nepal trip and the notes from my journal became the basis for the first page of my travel site in late 1996. My first actual blog post using conventional blogging software (at that time it was Moveable Type) was in 2005. With my understanding of how online technology worked at that time – it was a natural transition to start a website.
3. Was it difficult starting this up?
The site was not particularly difficult to setup in the initial stages. The reason for this is I already had a personal webpage for a few years and had been working with computers for several years (rudimentary as they were in the early 90’s as compared to today). The travel site, always called Dave’s Travel Corner was initially a single page as part of another website. Over time it expanded to include photography, classifieds and travel articles. By 1999 I noticed the so called “sub domains” (pages that were part of often unrelated websites) were being moved to full URL websites – so I registered the domain name and moved the content over.
There was no WordPress back then or “blogging” software. Programs were simpler but often creatively limiting in the earlier days of the Internet compared to what you can do online today. But back then, there were far few personal travel sites and even a poorly designed site (like mine at the time) had more exposure then today.
Most of those personal travel sites and communities either went away or eventually morphed into what we know today as the travel blog – of which there are now thousands upon thousands!
The simple and short answer is yes! But I wouldn’t be doing all of this if I didn’t enjoy it 🙂
If you don’t outsource some of the social media outreach (I do not outsource any social media) – it can be extremely time consuming to maintain a travel community (along with the blog) and keep new content flowing. I spend much of my day either managing content (we do have contributors and run travel writing contests from time to time), producing new content (photography, videos, writing – for any of a number of areas on our site including press releases, blog, journals, guides, interviews etc), social media promotion (both paid and free), ongoing updating and adding to our links directory, other promotion, ie interviews, working with advertisers, developing new parts of the site and updating content especially our guides.
And this is when I am not traveling. The past few years I’ve been on the road 5-6 months each year – which certainly generates plenty of content and workload for me.
I do have a friend who has helped me with the site since day one and runs much of the back end of the site including our dedicated server.
Social media is important (especially to keep in contact with followers and other travelers) – but its certainly not the end all solution for promotion. Traffic from social media on my site has been running 8-10% of the total visitors. The majority of my traffic comes from search engines and to a lesser extent, link exchanges.
I’ve found social media to be good for promoting certain events or contests. Also, if you have a unique piece with engaging niche content that stands out from millions of other posts – social media can be a very quick way to spread it, otherwise in my experience on my own travel site, general travel content doesn’t gain much traction with viewers. The amount of traffic is not like the crescendo of drums and cymbals in a final movement of a symphony but more like the constant hum of a few violins.
If I was to base the amount of time I spend on social media versus the financial income I make as a direct result of social media – then I would say it is a complete waste of time. But I know many businesses have increased their profits through social media interactions; I can only speak for myself.
6. How important is guest blogging?
To some extent, guest blogging (working with advertisers and sponsored posts) helps pay the bills to keep the site running – but not much more than that. For those looking for additional exposure there are many sites that welcome quality writing (regardless of whether you are a published author or not).
I list just a select number of travel sites and travel blogs that are interested in guest posting here: http://www.davestravelcorner.com/forums/topic/travel-blogs-that-accept-guest-posts
If you are a new blog and are looking for additional exposure – carefully choose the sites you will guest post for. Target sites that may have readership similar to yours or if you are looking for general traffic – target the older more established sites.
7. What advice can you offer newcomers? (begging?, yes; but I need to follow my dreams … with assistance)
Don’t make it a full time business unless you are prepared to go all the way and already have a unique outgoing personality, passion and competitive desire to truly capitalize on many of the best opportunities available as a result of travel blogging. Critical to financial success is a keen business savvy and desire to build both a brand and a viable business – with the travel blog as just one component of your strategy and brand.
Network online but perhaps even more importantly in person. Join organizations that are setup to promote the interests of travel writers and bloggers. Here are a few: http://www.davestravelcorner.com/forums/topic/valuable-organizations-for-travel-writers/
For most people I recommend keeping their travel blogging part time – something fun that you enjoy doing – a hobby. In general, if you start expecting too much from your site – you will be sorely disappointed. From my personal experience, additional time put into the site nearly always does not relate to additional traffic or exposure or income.
If you want to model your travel blog as a business – there are some successful sites who either regularly disclose income or have in the past. I list a few of those here: http://www.davestravelcorner.com/forums/topic/looking-to-make-money-from-your-travel-blog/
In summation of My personal interview with David Thompson of Daves Travel Corner
I am so delighted with this interview. My first interview with a celebrity! Dave has certainly given me so much to sort through in my head and to work out. One thing for sure is that I love to write and I love to travel and that will never change.