8 Things I Wish I Knew About Travel Blogging
Ahhh, the whole concept of “travel blogging for beginners” feels overwhelming for me to explain. Lately, I’ve been asked a lot of questions about how to start a blog and earn a supplemental income.
Curiosity has increased since Mediavine (my favorite ad platform for bloggers) helped boost my earnings tenfold.
Whenever I’m asked about money and blogs, I take a moment to think about everything I’ve learned throughout the years, and my brain fizzles out. I reach for places to start, but all my mind comes up with is, “just do it and things will eventually work out.”
I mean, that’s basically what I did. And it worked for me, right? Right?
Actually, when you decide to begin a travel blog, leaving your success entirely up to fate isn’t the best course of action. I am living and breathing proof. I tripped over a lot of stumbling blocks that were avoidable. My growth could’ve been a lot faster if I did things right the first time around.
Oh, and updating my site on a more regular basis would have helped me too.
As you can tell, fate and business success don’t go hand in hand.
Travel Blogging for Beginners: A Thorny Subject
Anyway, I still remember my first year of travel blogging like it was yesterday.
Although I knew enough to stay patient and produce good content and not expect payment right away, I wish had more knowledge at hand to benefit my blog.
I mean, I had no idea what SEO was. I didn’t understand the importance of targeting longtail keywords. I didn’t optimize, resize, or even edit any of my photos. Yup, I didn’t use Lightroom to fix my photos, because I thought they looked “fine.”
At the time, I thought I was on the right path, but in reality, I had a lot to learn. A lot.
So, ultimately, I have eight tips about travel blogging for beginners. Or at least these are things I desperately wish I had known when I started my blog way back in 2015.
Let’s get on it.
1. There are Too Many Travel Blogging Tips
Haha, I know I’m kind of shooting myself in the foot with this first tip, but it’s still important.
Too many travel blogging courses and facebook groups exist making it very unlikely that you’ll implement everything. This is even more important when you’re starting out and trying to create your website.
Planning a launch is stressful. You don’t want a “to do” list the length of Great Expectations adding to your anxiety.
At the end of the day, you can’t listen to everyone giving advice about travel blogging. It’s impossible. People have different philosophies, voices, niches, and talents. What works for one blogger might flop for another.
For example, some bloggers refuse to have ads on their websites. As for me, ads earn a good enough income to supplement more travel and thus, more free material for my readers.
As for me, I try to focus on the positives of travel blogging in addition to what I can do to improve. I feel so lucky that I love travel blogging so much, which as a result, causes my work to improve my quality of life.
And real talk. Sometimes I receive advice, even from veteran bloggers, that I don’t agree with. When it happens, I simply smile and thank them and go my own way. You need to listen to your heart too.
By listening to everyone, you lose a little of your own magic. Remember what makes you special.
2. Travel Blogs that Make Money Cost Money
Do you want a hobby blog? Congrats. Your wallet will thank you for your kindness. But, on the other hand, do you want your blog to be a real business? Erm. Then you’re going to have to swipe your credit card, sorry.
My blog isn’t free to run. I have to pay for my own hosting as well as a series of important plugins to improve user experience.
For example, site speed is incredibly important for your travel blog. It impacts readers and SEO. So I pay a small fee for a speed plugin called WP Rocket to keep my site running fast enough to satisfy visitors. A blog that crashes all the time won’t attract an audience.
For me, the investment is worth every penny.
Furthermore, I also pay for my premium Genesis theme through StudioPress.
Premium themes allow for more customization and technical support than free ones. Not to mention, they look a lot prettier (we’ll talk about why looks matter later in this post).
Be prepared to invest some cash into your brand new blog. It stings, but trust me, spending a bit of money goes a long way toward business growth. You’ll feel happy you did it.
3. Learn SEO Right Now
Blindly writing won’t guide readers to your blog. Your voice will get lost in search results and probably never seen again. I know I have plenty of old posts that haven’t seen the light of day ever since I hit “publish.”
As much as I hate it, Google is King and posts need to be written in such a way that you rank well in this search engine. No choice.
How do you rank in Google? By learning SEO. Keywords matter along with post length, answering reader intent, and image optimization.
And SEO doesn’t have to be a big scary thing to learn either! You can find plenty of free resources online or pay to take a course.
Some paid resources are incredible when it comes to improving SEO.
For instance, I use Keysearch.co to research all my keywords and grow my traffic. It’s effective. Want specifics? For example, my own traffic increased this year from 15,000 pageviews per month to over 30,000!
I wish I had cared more about SEO when I first began my blog. My traffic would probably be triple of what I have now. But you learn, right?
4. Blogger Burn Out is a Real Thing
Travel blogging is a lot of work.
I mean it. For me, I write 2000+ words per post, so I’m looking at two hours (at least) of work whenever I decide to create new content.
Travel blogging is an even bigger challenge when you have a full time job like I do. Now, I adore my teaching job to bits, but it makes time management a big priority for me.
Honestly, in this past year, I had moments when I didn’t even want to log into my website. The thought of writing a post for an hour rather than watching a new television show stressed me out to the max.
I also notice blogging exhausts me when drama creeps into my personal life.
In the future, I want to make blogging a safe place for myself, and an activity that I can participate in even when a friend is acting flakey or the person I’m dating turns out to be a jerk.
All in all, it’s important to stay aware of burnout when talking about travel blogging for beginners. A lot of people get into this field, awed by passive income and free travel, and then quit after six months.
I wish I had known that it’s important to pace yourself and talk about blogger burn out with friends. For example, I’ve received a ton of support from other bloggers, who experience similar periods of not feeling motivated, and it helps push me through them.
Lastly, I also know that it’s okay to shut my laptop off at eight and read a book if the break will make me more productive in the morning. Don’t ever guilt yourself. Self-care isn’t selfish.
Want to Learn More? Check Out My Free ebook on Creating a Travel Blog
5. There are Unlimited Travel Bloggers to Follow
Okay, disclaimer time. Is travel blogging still a fairly small community compared to say, fashion or food blogging? Absolutely.
When you think about it, the intimacy of the travel blogging community makes sense. It takes more time and disposal income to travel so it’s unsurprising there wouldn’t be as many travel blogs floating around the internet.
However, travel blogging is still a big and diverse space, especially compared to when I first started my work in 2015. I always see new names in my facebook communities.
And truly? The more the merrier. I have an abundance mindset in this business and firmly believe everyone has a place at the table.
In particular, I love supporting other women in their endeavors. I see them as confidantes, not competition. These are my sisters. Gone are my days of jealousy. I wish I had learned the lesson earlier.
Not to mention, in all honestly, I also get tired reading the same huge names being featured on every “best of” travel blogging article. It’s boring. People, there are SO many other incredible voices still waiting for their turn.
Therefore, I encourage you all to seek out smaller bloggers who specialize in your travel niche, connect with them, and cultivate friendships and collaborations. These relationships are worth their weight in gold.
Don’t stick to only reading “big name” blogs.
6. Gratitude and Self-Love are Important
Online comparison is so real.
While it’s great to feel happy for someone, it’s a challenge not to think you’re falling behind when you see others gain incredible success.
Let go of that mindset. Comparison can provide opportunities for growth, but might turn self-destruction quickly. This is where gratitude and self-love come into play.
Think about it. You’re fortunate enough to invest money into your own online business. Having the disposable income is a blessing.
Not to mention, you’re lucky enough to share your love of travel with others. You’re able to read and write. You’ve quick, free, and reliable internet access. These facts alone put you ahead billions of people in the world.
Stop comparing and focus on your own wins. The other person you need to be better than is yourself a year ago. That’s it.
7. Travel Blogging Conferences will Change You
As a professional blogger, I think travel blogging conferences are worth it. Meaning they’re a good value of your time and money.
Travel blogging conferences have connected me with wonderful brands. But even more important, they have put me in touch with other fantastic bloggers who believe in me.
And it’s so refreshing to spend a couple days around people who totally understand that blogging is a passion and business!
Although the field has expanded and is now taken more seriously than in 2015, there are still a lot of people who think it’s just a “cute hobby.” Ugh. Travel blogging conferences validate your goals.
My personal favorite travel blogging conference is Women’s Travel Fest in New York City. I go every single year. This year will be my third time attending it!
8. Visuals Matter A Lot, A Lot, A Lot
Finally, I’m sure you all have heard the cliche phrase “never judge a book by its cover?” Yeah, that statement is fundamentally untrue in travel blogging. Visuals are everything in this business.
Think about it. You love seeing gorgeous glossy photos in travel magazines, right? Your blog is an online extension of that.
You don’t to be a professional photographer, although I personally recommend investing in a good quality camera.
For specific examples, I’ve used my Canon Rebel for many years, and can’t praise it enough for its durability and photo quality. At this point, I feel ready to upgrade to a Fujifilm Mirrorless Camera, but you don’t necessarily have to start at this price point.
Take pride in your photography and branding. Visuals are enough to make users click the back button!
Whew, I feel exhausted just talking about travel blogging for beginners. Anyway, what are some things that you wish you knew about travel blogging? For new travel bloggers, when did you start your blog and how has your experience been? Share all your thoughts in the comments!
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