So you want to start a travel blog but have no idea how to compete with other established bloggers? Here are tips on how to make your travel blog stand out:
- Choose a niche to focus on
- Set up a professional blog
- Create unique content
- Invest in your blog
- Own who you are and what you do
Have you been scrolling on your Instagram feed feeling jealous of every travel blogger who had the guts to quit their jobs to travel the world?
Do you find yourself reading stories of people who can travel the world while working at the same time?
Do you find yourself tired of your life’s routine and 9 to 5 job?
Are you tired of having to work your ass off first before you can afford to take a trip?
If you answered yes to most of these questions, then you have probably fantasized of being a travel blogger. So what is stopping you? If you think that it is too late to join the game because there are too many players in the field, then you’re wrong. It is never too late to start your travel blog.
Are there too many travel bloggers?
Sure there are already several established bloggers in the market and, if you check the number of blogs being created each month, the numbers may discourage you. How can you compete with all of that? But this does not mean that newbies are unable to stand their ground and fight their way to the top. There can never be too many travel bloggers, and here is a list of reasons to convince you why you should not worry at all about the competition:
- There are 195 countries, and each country has hundreds of things to offer. Plus travel destinations are always changing – there are always new tourist spots opening up every year, and there will always be something new to offer. You will never run out of places to go and things to see.
- Travel has such a wide range, and not every travel blog can cover everything – this is why bloggers focus on their own niche. Your niche will differentiate you from other travel bloggers and limit the number of your direct competitors.
- There are thousands of travel blogs out there, but most of them are not active. It takes a lot of time and patience for a blog to go viral and get a loyal following and sadly, a lot of early bloggers gave up easily. It is important for a blogger to have a passion for writing and sharing. This way, you still love what you do while waiting for your blog to start earning money for you. If you are just in the game to earn money alone, then you will not be able to succeed, and if you do, the experience will not be a self-fulfilling one.
- It helps to not think of other bloggers as competition. In fact, collaborations are a big deal in the blogging industry these days. Collaborations can combine your fans and following. You do a post together for your blog, and you can do another post together for their blog. Although it is a far shot for an already established blogger to work with you as a newbie, you can always start small and reach out to newbie bloggers first and aim higher from there. As they say in the blogosphere, “Do not hate – Collaborate!”
- Those blogs will not be as good as yours. Yes, there may be some overconfidence laced in that statement, but the fact that you are driven to start a travel blog means you are passionate about it and that you have something to offer. The pioneers in the travel blogging industry do not have the resources that you have now. They had no idea about SEO marketing or creating a brand or doing marketing strategies. Newbies can compete because they now have this knowledge before they start their blogs. So basically, all you have to do is read up and apply what you have learned.
It is never too late to start a travel blog, and you do not need expensive equipment or blogging tools to start one. All you have to worry about is how to make your blog stand out.
How do I choose a niche?
There is no denying that there are a lot of travel blogs out there right now so newer bloggers are suggested to just choose a specific niche to focus on so that you can gain more specific expertise and skills. This means that instead of doing a travel blog that does general posts covering anything, you focus on one area that you can specialize in.
Here’s a list of some of the most popular travel blog niches, examples of what they cover, and sample blogs for inspiration:
- Adventure travel – mountaineering, hiking, camping, outdoor sports and activities, exploring nature, etc. | Blog inspiration: Alastair Humphreys
- Budget travel – traveling on a budget (cheap food, hotel, activities, etc.) | Blog inspiration: Indie Traveller
- Honeymoon travel – traveling for couples, romantic places, romantic activities, etc. | Blog inspiration: Two Drifters
- Cultural tourism – lifestyle and culture, traditional practices, world heritage sites, local life, etc. | Blog inspiration: Lost With Purpose
- Culinary tourism – local food, cooking methods, local restaurants, local fruits, and crops, etc. | Blog inspiration: Migrationology
- Nature and wildlife – animals, safari, ecotourism, etc. | Blog inspiration: Gianluca Cerullo
- Luxury travel – all things expensive, luxurious hotels, most expensive meals, etc. | Blog inspiration: The Luxury Travel Expert
- Music travel – music festivals, concerts, music artists, etc. | Blog inspiration: That Festival Blogger
- Nightlife tourism – party destinations, bars, nightlife culture, etc. | Blog inspiration: Wild & Away
- Road trip travel – traveling by car, life on the road, scenic routes, etc. | Blog inspiration: RV Love
- Architecture travel – buildings, landmarks, modern architecture, historical architecture, etc. | Blog inspiration: Virginia Duran
- Solo travel – traveling on your own, being independent, safety for solo travelers, etc. | Blog inspiration: Be My Travel Muse
- Beach travel – island life, tropical vibes, beaches, etc. | Blog inspiration: Beach addicted
Basically, think about what you mostly take pictures of when you travel, what do you mostly do in your travels, what are you truly interested in? Then choosing a specific niche would not have to be that hard. Once you have settled on your niche, you now have a clear idea as to what type of content you should be posting and even limit your choices for your blog name.
What is the right way to set up a professional travel blog?
It is important to take as much time as you can when it comes to setting up your blog. This way, you will be saved from a lot of headaches as your blog grows and evolves by setting it up in a professional way from the start. Here are some tips and advice that you should keep in mind to make sure your blog is set up the right way:
Choose a name for your blog
The first thing you should do is to choose a unique name for your blog. You have to be creative to make sure that the blog name is not already taken, but you also have to make sure that your blog name is easy to remember.
Make your logo
Having your own logo will help you stand out because your logo is a great way for people to remember you and your blog. There are a lot of free logo-making tools online and, if you think you are not artistic enough to design one for yourself, you can always hire a graphic designer to come up with a logo for you based on what you request and what you want to portray. Make sure that the logo signifies what your blog is all about or at least be unique and aesthetically pleasing so that people will remember it easily.
Get your own domain name
If you want to take blogging seriously, you have to look professional, and this starts with your domain name. If your web address looks like http://yourblogname.wordpress.com, your address may be too long to remember, and it will look amateurish. Now if your web address looks like http://yourblogname.com, this sticks to your mind easily and looks more “official.” Getting your own domain name is not just about how your web address looks. It is also about how search engine sites like Google will keep score. For instance, if you are posting good content and getting a lot of traffic and link shares, Google will see you as an authoritative site. But if you still have that “wordpress.com” in your web address, the points go to WordPress and not your website.
Purchase a hosting plan
You might be wondering, why spend money when there are free blogging platforms out there? Free blogging platforms are great when you are just blogging for your friends and family and just for the fun of it but eventually, as your blog grows and become popular, you will be given opportunities to earn money on your blog, and these free platforms will not allow you to add anything commercial in your blog with them. Having your own hosted space will let you do whatever you want with it like post ads and add customized plugins. Think of it as owning your own plot of land on the Internet – you can do anything with it and expand or tear down and build again because space is yours. Going with free blogging platforms is like renting land – it is great to use, but you cannot do much about the space because you do not own it. It is best to go with a hosting plan that gives you your own domain name like Bluehost.
Once you set up your hosting account, the next thing you should do is to install your own copy of WordPress. WordPress is recommended for managing a blog because it can accommodate any other service or plugin. It also has a wide range of visual themes for you to choose from. It will only take about 5 minutes to set up your WordPress with your host.
Choose a theme
Once your WordPress is installed, you can set up how your blog looks to your viewers. There are a lot of WordPress themes available, and you can choose a layout that you think will be most suitable for you. You can also edit the colors, what fonts to use, and your banner image to make the blog more personal and customized to your liking. There are free WordPress themes available, but if you want to stand out, you need unique designs and layouts and can get that from a premium WordPress theme for a price. After tinkering with your blog’s theme, it is now time to do the most important part of blogging: creating content.
How can I create unique content for my travel blog?
The success of your blog will greatly depend on your blog content. If your content is garbage, nobody would want to read it, but if you consistently post unique, interesting content, you will have readers that will be encouraged to check out your blog posts until they decide to follow you eventually. So how do you make sure that you have unique content to help your blog stand out?
Fight off the pressure
Starting to write a blog post is the hardest part. One of the reasons is that bloggers these days are too distracted by SEO marketing and monetization that they do not recognize the fact that none of it matters if you do not have good content. For your first blog posts, get rid of these distracting thoughts by just focusing on creating content on its own.
Share your story
Everything you need to know about anything is already on the Internet. So what do you have to offer that nobody can? Your personality, experience, and opinion is one thing. Sharing your perspective, thoughts, and feelings are unique content already. Readers are now following bloggers not only for information and their expertise but also for their personality. There are a lot of bland bloggers out there who write technically and just take nice photos, and that’s it – no personality at all. Readers will have no idea if they will love this blogger if they meet this blogger in person. Most readers love to follow bloggers that always have a funny story to tell or who always somehow finds themselves in awkward situations. Some readers personally relate to particular bloggers because they have the same experiences and would want to know them better by following their posts. People follow blogs not just to be educated but to entertained. So if you have funny or embarrassing stories to tell, do so. People love bloggers that they can relate to and who are not ashamed to share their failures, mistakes, and their awkwardly human side.
Most bloggers make the mistake of making their blog all about themselves and not taking into consideration what their readers really need. Hence, the negative stigma that bloggers are vain and narcissistic. Although it was advised earlier to share all your unique experiences, there is a lot of ways to do so without making yourself the center of attention all the time. Include more “you” statements instead of “I” and “me” statements. For instance, share what makes a location special. Talk about any unique cultural differences. You can also advise your readers. That way, your readers know that you are writing for their entertainment and not just for yourself.
Mix up your mediums
It helps to surprise your readers by doing a mix of mediums. Your blog cannot be all text. Post some awesome shots. Make videos. You can even do a podcast. If you are talented in the art department, why not do your sketches or paintings of the place? Each traveler sees a place differently. The mix of mediums can also be an advantage for your social media accounts. Awesome pictures will make a great Instagram feed. You can gather all your videos to make your own channel on YouTube. Of course, link your blog every time you post something in your social media accounts to get more traffic from your friends and followers.
Quality over quantity
I am sure that you have heard about SEO marketing at this point. It encourages you to post regularly to keep your blog active and increase your rankings on search engine results. However, there is a downside to this. You may be pressured to post something new every other day that you tend to post even the lamest content just for the sake of posting something. It is important to choose quality over quantity. You may be posting three blog entries each week, but if those posts have no substance or value, they will mean nothing to your readers and may even discourage them from following you. One quality post is better than five mediocre posts.
We live in a very visual world these days – people have an affinity for aesthetics. Good writing is not enough for your blog. You need to post aesthetically appealing pictures as well. Post photos that are sharp, bright, and colorful to get the attention of your readers. You do not need a fancy DSLR camera to take great photos. A lot of smartphones are capable of taking great photos, too. It all comes down to how you edit your photos. Read up on articles handling travel photography. If you have the time, take photography classes – it will be a worthy investment for you if you want to be a serious travel blogger.
Lie low on the positivity
Ever read a blog entry where everything is just perfect; it sounds like a written commercial? Some bloggers tend to be overly positive and making everything sound perfect that what they write sounds fake. Readers want to know that you are human too and that you mess up. Readers want to know the truth and the cons of going to a certain place or doing a certain activity. You should talk about all the aspects when you write about your travel – even the negative ones. The “real talk” and your travel mishaps will be the elements that most of your readers will relate to the most.
What about sponsored content?
Your sponsors will expect you to write positive things about their products in exchange for cash or freebies. But not all products are flawless and life-changing, so you need to provide a balanced review. For bloggers and influencers, the trust of their followers is their currency. If they are to endorse a product falsely, they can lose their following significantly. It is possible to say something negative and truthful but in a way that the good sides would outbalance the bad. This way, all your reviews are deemed believable. Luckily, companies and sponsors understand this now compared to before when everything has to be about hard selling because they know that this is how influencers and bloggers work.
Have your own product
One way to boost the way you can make money out of being a blogger is to create your own products. These products will have to be something your niche would need, of course. Here is a list of products that travel bloggers usually offer to their readers:
- Trip consultation or planning
- Destination guides
When your blog picks up, you can even sell your merchandise like t-shirts and other travel items.
But you have to take note though that travel does not sell year-round. No one thinks about travel until they are about to do it and usually once vacation time is over, it takes a while before they think about it again. Your customers will be coming and going, so do not expect too much revenue from your products. The good thing is people will get the impression that you are an expert on your niche because you have your own products.
Investment: Do I really need to spend money on my blog?
A lot of bloggers forgo putting money into their blog, starting with the free blog templates, free blog themes, etc. This is understandable if you are still unsure about being a blogger or if you are just writing your thoughts down for family and friends. But if you seriously want to pursue a career as a blogger, you have to acknowledge the fact that running a blog is an investment and that you will need to spend some cash to stand out ultimately.
- Setting up a professional looking blog with unique layouts or themes will cost you money. Owning your domain means paying a fee every one or two years for renewal (depends on your host). The best and most functional plugins come with a price. If you want to appeal to your readers, get sponsors, and look appealing to brands and companies, you need to step up and pay the price. Sometimes, your host will not be able to cover all the new volumes of traffic when your blog picks up, so it is necessary to do an upgrade.
- Another way you will be spending money on your blog is by delegating the tasks that you are bad at by hiring someone else to do the job. For instance, if you are all about writing and love to meet new people, you can concentrate on writing the content and doing all the negotiations while you assign all the technical tasks to someone else. You can even hire an assistant for your blog, so you can be assured that everything is running smoothly even while you are traveling. It pays to do a couple of things well than to do everything poorly. If you know your weakness, let someone else do the job. It will take away a whole load of stress away from you.
- You also have to keep learning and keep up with the latest trends in the industry. You may have to spend cash taking courses on SEO and marketing, business, photography, videography, and writing. You should also attend conferences and workshops to meet people and do some networking.
Think of it as an investment for your success as a travel blogger. This will make all the spending feel a lot easier.
Own who you are and what you do
Some bloggers are shy about what they do. It is kind of ironic that they put out their thoughts and share their lives out there on the Internet but as soon as someone from their real life mentions their blog, they clam up and get anxious and downplay what they do as just a hobby or something they do when they are bored. Some of them downplay their blogging so that it will not be too embarrassing if they do not succeed as a blogger. If you think you will feel the same way, then it is time to change your mindset.
If you want to take blogging seriously, you will have to present yourself to do some networking and attract sponsors for your blog. You will have to pitch yourself constantly like you would pitch a brand. This is why confidence is important when it comes to blogging. If you doubt yourself, it will always show, and it will just block out any potential that you have. Be a proud blogger! Introduce yourself as one. Talk about your blog. An attitude shift will work wonders for you, and it will show in your blog ideas and your content. Once you embrace the fact that you are entering the blogosphere wholeheartedly, a lot of good things will come your way.