Travel blogging is a lengthy journey. The first steps are tentative, cautious and frustrating. Will anyone read what I have written? An emotional rollercoaster ensues with many people quickly giving up when the going gets tough.
But one day you realise that someone is actually reading your articles! And if you track your numbers you can see a definite upwards trend! On a day where someone publicises one of your articles there is suddenly a major upswing of views! And the next day you are back to whatever ‘normal’ is this week.
Of course this process only happens if you manage to produce an ongoing stream of new articles and also learn how to best publicise your work.
My Journey on Pretraveller
This article is officially my 100th article to be published on the Pretraveller blog. I only noticed this interesting occurrence by accident the other day so decided to put together an article detailing my travel blogging journey so far.
How Many Words?
It is amazing to consider how much content I have generated since I started blogging.
My articles typically range between 700 and 5200 words, with most being around the 1500 word mark. This means that I have published approximately 150,000 words. When you think that a book typically consists of 40,000 – 80,000 words that means that over time I have written around 2-4 books worth of information! Wow!
And that doesn’t count the many thousands of words I have discarded in that time – many false starts on articles which I just couldn’t get to work, half a book etc.
My Travel Blogging Story
When I look back at my inaugural article (Travel Safety: Essential Research Before You Start Booking) which was published in July 2010 I started with a focus on travel planning information. In my first attempt I did okay, publishing 14 articles on a regular weekly cycle. Looking back I cannot remember why I stopped in November 2010, but I do recall becoming dispirited because the blog was receiving very little traffic.
In July 2011 I commenced my second attempt which was inspired by our then upcoming trip to outback Australia. I wrote five articles about the planning process for the trip before ceasing again in August 2011 just before we went on our trip in September. At that time we also commenced the process to relocate from Sydney to Brisbane so blogging became a low priority by comparison.
Finally in February 2012 I started publishing the story of our trip to Outback Australia. I was inspired to write by the fact that when I logged in to my blog that Christmas I could see that I had actually had some visitors! That combined with my desire to chronicle our trip provided the inspiration to get started again.
The Outback Australia trip provided enough material for 8 articles. I have subsequently been able to find sufficient writing inspiration to continuously publish since then. For most of 2012 I published every two weeks until I finally managed to start a weekly publishing cycle which I have mostly been able to maintain since then.
Learning About Travel Blogging Writing
During the whole period I feel that I have learned a whole new body of knowledge about blogging. I had to learn to write, including making my articles SEO friendly, and also to write better headlines and introductory paragraphs.
I have often been surprised by which articles get the most traffic. Ones that I spent a lot of time on which I think will do great will have lacklustre performance and others that I quickly threw together will smash it, not just initially but on an ongoing basis. A great example of this is the article 10 Hedonistic Australian Artesian Hot Springs You Haven’t Tried Yet. I published this article in June 2013 after being inspired by our short trip to Moree when we relocated back from Brisbane to Sydney in April 2013. This article has had so much traffic and I think it is because I was able to come up with a great title, plus there is a reasonable amount of interest and not much other comprehensive material available on this subject.
A key feature of my writing is that throughout this period I have experimented with a lot of different styles of articles and have observed with interested how my regular viewers and my search customers respond. The important feature here is that even when I had trouble meeting my self imposed deadlines that I managed to keep on writing consistently across the period.
How to write 100 articles is very much like the metaphor of how to eat an elephant – one bite (or article) at a time. After an extended period of bites you look back and are surprised at how much progress you have made!
9 Travel Blogging Lessons Learned
- Get started and just keep going. My traffic has progressively grown and I have over 2500 Twitter followers and almost 3700 Pinterest followers. I only have this as a result of being consistent over the past 2 years and not giving up (again).
- Sort out the technology but don’t be overwhelmed by it. When you start just pick a basic blogging platform, my recommendation is either WordPress.com or Blogger, pick a reasonable looking theme and just get started without worrying too much about how your site looks. Just get your writing and social media interaction started and focus on that first. There is no point focusing on your site design until you have written at least 15-20 articles.
- If I was going to start travel blogging again I would seriously look at building my social media followers first before launching my site. I strongly suggest that you purchase your blog domain name and then set up your associated Twitter, Facebook etc profiles and build your social media followers by supporting other peoples work. Start writing your articles but do not launch and publish them until after you have that initial following built up. In this way you have a ready made initial audience who might actually read and support your early material!
- Realise that blogging is a learning process. Just start at the beginning and try to learn something new every week and before you know it those lessons will enable your blog to grow.
- You do not need to be travelling full time to write a travel blog – you need to have travel experiences periodically but there is a whole world of travel information out there which you can tap into to both be inspired and to also inspire your readers
- Focus on building close relationships with a small group of other travel bloggers – you can develop real friendships over time which is great!
- If you blog part time it will take more time to build your traffic in comparison to full time bloggers. Be realistic about how much time you plan to invest and what your expectations can be. If I had been able to publish those 100 articles daily then I am sure my ranking may have sky rocketed quickly (if I had known how to promote them…). Also look at options to generate quick blog posts as it really makes a difference.
- Enjoy the journey. I celebrate each success with the help of my husband and my closer blogging circle of friends. Just writing this article to share my journey is a celebration. Who would have thought I would reach 100 articles?
- Just keep writing, just keep writing…
Where To From Here?
My expectations are that 2014 will be a year of more firsts.
- I have published (and received payment for) my first sponsored post, with hopefully more to come.
- My traffic has already almost doubled since only Christmas!
- I learned about the benefit of collaboration posts, so I am planning to do more.
- Maybe I will reach the payout threshold to be paid for my Google Adsense advertisements… Definitely something I need to do more experimentation on to get it working better…
2014 will also be a very busy year. My three children are now all in school, my husband has returned to full time work and as well as working full time myself I have also commenced a new course of part time university study which will keep me very busy over the next three years.
We also plan to fit in more local and distant travel opportunities somewhere in there…
But I plan to keep on blogging through this period and we will see how things grow!
Thank you to everyone who has shared and supported me on this journey. Because that is one of the great things about blogging. It is not just me versus Google and the world – I have also developed some great new friendships and built a sense of community!
Are you also a travel blogger, or thinking about becoming a travel blogger? Please share some insight into your journey so far in the comments below.