So you want to become a travel blogger? Experienced experts share their tips and advice for getting started, finding your voice, and being successful. (Photo: Studio Firma/Stocksy)
Turning travel into a full-time job—that’s the dream. It’s also a lot of work, as any of our Yahoo Travel Explorers can tell you. Each has taken on the challenge of running a travel blog, with all the challenges that the seemingly simple project entails.
As any travel blogger will tell you (and as any non-travel writer will have a hard time believing), the day-to-day is not glamorous. It is difficult, tiring, and hugely competitive, and success requires a variety of disparate skills, from being able to write and take quality photos to being able to negotiate business partnerships and understand marketing and self-promotion.
But of course, there’s that one amazing benefit that outweighs all the hurdles: traveling. And for those whose globetrotting jones simply cannot be sated, launching a travel blog could be the ultimate fix.
To help you on your way, we asked our Yahoo Travel Explorers to share their best tips and hard-won wisdom for how to do it right.
Check Your Expectations
Start a blog because you love to travel and love to write, not because you expect free stuff or a profit. (Photo: Beatrix Boros/Stocksy)
Start a travel blog because you want to tell your stories and share them, not because you want to travel for free and become popular. This only works for a select few. If you love writing and you love to travel, you will love travel blogging. As for blogging, tell your story in an engaging way. Share gorgeous photos. Get involved in social media and read and comment and share other travel blog posts you enjoy!
— Diana Edelman, D Travels ‘Round
(1) Focus on building an audience before you worry about making money. If you do it the other way around, you’ll wind up with neither. (2) It takes time. A LOT of time. Building up a travel résumé that someone would be interested in paying attention to doesn’t happen overnight. (3) Don’t think that you will start a blog and it will pay for your trip around the world. The time it takes to really develop traction is much longer than the time it takes for a normal around-the-world trip. (4) Know that travel blogging is a very saturated market and that the odds of success, or even making a modest living, is quite low.
— Gary Arndt, Everything Everywhere
Find Your Voice
What’s your story? What’s your unique perspective on the world? (Photo: Giorgio Fochesato/Stocksy)
Find your niche and fill a hole in the market.
— Paula Froelich, A Broad Abroad and Editor-in-Chief, Yahoo! Travel
Spend considerable time at the beginning honing your craft and voice. Show who you are, your values, and what you represent. In other words, your story. — Audrey Scott, Uncornered Market
When you’re starting out, concentrate on building your content. (I used to churn out daily posts when I first started.)
— Keith Jenkins, Velvet Escape
Be interesting, be different, have a personality, have a story. So many people write about the same crap in the same way. Also, the brand is more important than the blog—build it and you’ll make a lot more money.
— Lee Abbamonte
The biggest hurdle is always starting. I have told so many aspiring travel vloggers out there to just go for it. Press record, take those photos, start writing out your ideas — you have to start somewhere and you will only get better. As Nike would say, “Just do it!”
— Kelley Ferro
Hone Your Content
Beautiful photos taken with a high-quality camera will draw readers in and make your blog more engaging than just text alone. (Photo: Javier Pardina/Stocksy)
Make it quick and concise. Your readers have a limited amount of time, so it’s important to respect them. I find 600-800 words is perfect. Think snapshot, not feature-length film.
— Catherine Bennett Kopf, The Open Suitcase
Always put your readers first. How can you help them? Why should they follow you? This is key to building a dedicated audience.
— Stephanie Yoder, Twenty-Something Travel
My first blog was 50 percent personal journey and 50 percent resources and tips for others who wanted to follow a similar path. Inspiring others remains the best form of payment for the time and effort that blogging takes.
— Jennifer Leo, Best Kids Apps and JenLeoDeals
High standards for photography and site design are key, as there are so many blogs these days. This first impression helps you stand out as a professional. Aim for a clean, pro theme, with fast-loading pages and a legible font, and original photography taken with DSLR cameras. I recommend the Sony a7 series, since it’s full frame DSLR but mirrorless, making it lightweight and great for travel. I also recommend editing / optimizing images in Photoshop or Lightroom, and then uploading them on CloudFront, such as Amazon S3, so that they load quickly from anywhere in the world. Finally, don’t forget to name your photos with descriptions, and use alt tags. These small steps make a big difference in SEO and image rankings.
— La Carmina
Photos, anecdotes and lists work better than long-form stories. Somehow people always have less time to read about places, but they love to see beautiful photos and read about interesting things which have happened to others. Lists are something which are universally successful especially it they are in the sweet spot between 5 and 15 entries.
— Rishabh Shah, Gypsy Couple
Make It Work for You
Keep a list of blog ideas on your phone, so you can jot down notes whenever inspiration strikes. (Photo: alessiolr/Twenty20)
After you’ve got a niche and have published at least 20 useful posts, seek out partnerships with bigger, influential sites that reach your target audience. Also, write guest posts on popular sites that will better position you as an expert.
— Lauren Matison Crossley, offMetro
Keep a running list of blog ideas somewhere easily accessible (smartphone, notebook, email, etc.). You never know when inspiration will strike! Also, if you are balancing travel blogging with a full-time job, regularly set aside a designated amount of time to work on your blog and try your hardest to stick to that time. You have to treat it like another job (or a start-up) if you want it to grow. I’m still working on this myself!
— Tausha Cowan, The Globe Getter
Really think about what you name your blog so that it allows you to grow with your blog. If you are called “Young, Skinny, Sexy, Beach Babe” for example, you may not want to be known as this when you’re 30+ and a parent.
— Meagan Collins, Five Dollar Traveller
Definitely be prepared, because it is a full-time job in itself!
— Alexandra E. Petri, The Write Way Around
Network! Us bloggers are a friendly bunch and ultimately your best chance of being successful is to make friends. A great way to do this is to write a ‘10 awesome bloggers to follow’ post and to then be sure that everyone you cover sees (and shares!) your article.
— Will Hatton, The Broke Backpacker