Before leaving Plymouth and beginning the life of a nomad, I asked myself on many occasions: “Should I write a travel blog?” I had every intention of doing so, as well as creating a travel-related podcast. Two of my friends allowed me to use them as a sounding board and joined me in long discussions over what it would involve, what I should cover, how I would monetise it. I even bought the domain, set up hosting, and created the bare bones of a wordpress blog.
So, where is this travel blog and why did I change my mind? And why should you consider these reasonings if you’re thinking of starting a travel blog?
New Travel Blogs Take Time and Commitment
Any blog takes time and commitment if you want it to be successful. You may hear about people who started a blog for fun and now make a fortune from it, but these cases are rare. You will need:
- market research to find your niche or target audience (please don’t avoid this stage – winging it is rarely a good idea).
- technical set-up (or finding someone to do it for you).
- to create your social media profiles.
- regular blog writing, video creation, social media posting, other promotional material (guest posts/interviews).
- background business organisation including finding ways to monetise your blog, whether from advertising, affiliate marketing, product creation or something else.
It’s a wonder anyone ever starts a blog! How are you supposed to find the time to travel?
In my case, I already had a freelance business that I needed to work on in order to create something more location independent (I could no longer pop around the corner to a studio). I also wanted to have time to enjoy this new life. Starting a blog (and podcast) from scratch just didn’t fit in with the rest of my plans.
Travel Blogs Need a Good Angle
In general, travel blogs have an angle or a niche. Some are broader than others. Are you an adventure traveller, a family travelling together or a solo female traveller? Will you be travelling exclusively by train, hiking famous trails, enjoying the cruise ship lifestyle, or packing the family into your motorhome? Are you a foodie who will concentrate on food outings in each country, an adrenaline junkie who will blog every bungee jump and white water adventure, or are you a fabulous photographer who will share cityscapes and mountain vistas (and perhaps offer tips/products on how to get similar results)?
Most successful travel blogs have a specific focus. Once you find your niche and your audience, you don’t have to be bound to it exclusively (nobody will be upset if you show yourself to be a well-rounded traveller) but it will help you stand out in a crowd of hundreds of other blogs, find your audience, and improve monetisation.
I wasn’t sure I had anything new to add to the travel blogging world. At the time, I wasn’t completely sure of how I would be travelling, where I would be travelling or even if this adventure would last beyond a year.
Readers Expect Regular Posts (and so do the search engines)
The title says it all. If you’re going to build a regular following of visitors to your blog you need to be communicating with them regularly through social media and offering them value through your blog posts (plus videos, podcasts, images – whatever is appropriate or possible for you). Similarly, nobody will find your blog on their own through an online search unless you have the relevant content available. Search engines like to see fresh content, new links to the site, social media activity (there’s a lot more to SEO but regular new content signals a current, relevant website). So, if you’re going to start a blog but only add a new post or video every couple of weeks, you’ll find it very difficult to build a regular readership.
Of course, if you’re travelling as part of a couple the work can be shared, or you can find like-minded travellers you trust to collaborate with (this requires a lot of trust on both sides as you will both be putting in a lot of work until you start making money). The final option is to pay writers to provide content – only an option if you have made funds available for this in your business plan.
In my case, I was too busy making sure my main business could be taken on the road to spend a lot of time with writing travel blog posts, creating videos and keeping social media updated regularly. I was also aware that I would be sightseeing and doing other activities maybe 2 or 3 times a week maximum – not a lot of fodder for travel related articles or even social media updates.
Travel Blogs Do Not Generate Instant Income
If you’re starting a new blog as you set off on your travels and hope that it will fund your trip immediately…STOP! No blog will provide you with instant income. To create an income via any means you need traffic to your blog. To get traffic to your blog you need content (blog posts/videos/images) and marketing. Once you start seeing visitors on your site you may start making a small amount of income from ads or affiliate sales but it will take a lot of regular traffic to really see significant income from these. If you want to attract sponsors then you need proof of your visitor numbers.
As mentioned above, my main source of income had nothing to do with blogging (at least, not for myself) and that needed my focus more than building a blog to the levels required for even a useful secondary income.
Should I Write a Travel Blog…Eventually?
So, should I write a travel blog one day? This is a question I’m sure most long-term travellers ask themselves on a regular basis if they have any desire to share their experiences.
I’m an information creator and publisher at heart. Everything I do, whether for myself or others, is about creating new content; from writing business proposals to social media management, voiceover audio to podcast editing, “how to” videos to Kindle books. So, naturally, I’m always coming up with ideas for new blogs, videos and podcasts. If I pursued every single one of them I would never sleep – never travel! – and never find any kind of focus.
That’s an non-answer kind of answer!
It’s been 14 months since I made this lifestyle change and I have a much better picture of what I want from it and what it will involve. I’ve spent a lot of time mulling over how my change of lifestyle, my travelling, my business experience, could help others and what my niche would be. I do have a very specific idea for a lifestyle blog that incorporates travel within in and I’ve been seeking advice and insight from various marketing friends and colleagues.
More importantly, I need to see if there’s a market for it; would people actually want to read/watch/listen to what I have to offer? Should I do it via this site or start a brand new website and all the social media profiles that go with it? It would definitely mean a return to podcasting and the addition of vlogging (yep, going to have to overcome my fear of being on camera).
I would love to know if there’s a way you think my experiences could be useful to you. Is there something about the choices I’ve made or the way I’m living that makes you want to know more? Is there something I did in the past (when I was blogging and podcasting more regularly on different websites) that you wish I would offer again?
Also, what’s stopping you from blogging? Did you ask yourself “Should I write a travel blog?” and decide against it, or did you go ahead and start blogging? How did that turn out?