My 100th Article: Lessons from a Travel Blogger

In Front of the Storey Bridge in Brisbane, Australia with my CityCycle Bicycle.
In Front of the Storey Bridge in Brisbane, Australia with my CityCycle Bicycle.

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.

Anne Sutherland-Smith @Pretraveller
Anne Sutherland-Smith @Pretraveller

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 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!

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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.

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  • Congratulations Anne, you have inspired me to keep on going. I started my blog 15 months ago and wanted to concentrate on issues for women in my age group (50 plus) but have now changed to a travel blog as I am currently travelling around Australia. My traffic has actually decreased since I have been concentrating more on travel, so I have become a little disillusioned. But I will keep powering on and take on board your handy tips.

  • Anna: Congratulations on your 100th post!! I totally know how you feel after hitting mine a couple of months ago. I concur with most of what you say. It is gradual and people do find you.

    My blog has been fun, but it has also been therapeutic for me as it takes me back on my journeys. And I have joy in sharing my backroads adventures to quirky and off beat places.

    Keep up the great work. Looking forward to seeing some of your earlier posts!

    David “Sumoflam” Kravetz
    Lexington, KY

  • Awesome work Anne! I absolutely understand the becoming ‘dispirited’ part – when I started back in July ’13, I was so focused on getting everything done yesterday, that I would often become overwhelmed, and think to myself, ah, I’ve missed the boat. Now, I simply focus on publishing two posts a week, which allows time to refine the site and be active on social media. Totally agree with you about building followers on social media first. Understanding these different platforms was a big challenge for me initially (and still is), and remaining consistent really takes some effort and planning! Congratulations on your 100th article – I think that deserves a week’s worth of celebration 🙂

    • Anna, thanks for your comment. There is a really steep learning path when you start blogging but it is important to focus on the basics and try to keep learning as you go. Over time you definitely learn how the system works, but things keep changing so there is a constant learning activity you need to be undertaking.

  • Many congratulations on 100 posts Anne, that is a very notable achievement. Many bloggers give up before then. You have also demonstrated with your history how easy it is to be disheartened and give up. Thankfully this time you’ve persisted and now you see the increase in traffic and a driver of passion for your blog.

    It was very interesting to read what you’ve learnt along the way and how you’ve developed your writing.

    Wishing you every success.

  • Oh, wow; congrats on your success so far and the success that’s about to come!

    I just passed the 100 posts mark about two months ago I think (I’m so busy I already forgot!).

    It’s all about enjoying the journey because it’s going to be a long one.

    Keep up the good work!

    – Samuel

  • Congratulations !

    It’s a great achievement and I agree with you it is quite motivating once you start getting traffic.

  • I think your points are all very good. I love to write stuff that I know I’d find useful myself. Am also a firm believer in updating and improving posts and re-posting them. I love this medium because it’s so easy to update, unlike the printed media.

  • As a relatively newbie blogger myself, it’s very intetesting to read other people’s experiences on their blogging journey. My one other piece of advice would be to try to guest post on blogs with a higher PR than yours. I did this quite by accident when another blogger asked if I’d be interested in doing a guest post after I left a well written comment on her blog. Meeting other travel bloggers virtually and in person has been another enjoyable part of the process for me. Also, I’m kind of old, so learning new tricks is fun—even if somewhat challenging at times. Write on!

    • Suzanne, thanks for your comment. I agree that guest posts can be a great way to build your blog audience and traffic! And I also enjoy the travel blogging sense of community which builds over time and as you get to know people both online and face to face as the opportunities arise.

  • What a fabulous summary write-up Anne –
    Its great to see where you’ve come from, what you’ve learnt and where you’re headed.
    Congrats on securing your first sponsored post among that first 100 – Great work!
    And I certainly look forward to reading the next 100 🙂

  • Congratulations on your 100th post!! Thank You for such an inspiring and helpful post. I am a newbie and have been feeling discouraged and your post is so encouraging. I am slowly trying to build contact with other travel bloggers and I have found such great support so thank you for the tips and encouragement. I wish you much sucess and here’s to the next 1000! 🙂

    • Lila, thank your for your comment. I am pleased to hear that my article has inspired you. Travel blogging is a challenging journey, particularly in the early days. I wish you all the best and encourage you to persevere as once you learn how to blog and are doing the right things you will definitely see the traffic grow.

  • Hi Anne, thanks for sticking to your guns and not giving up!

    Just followed you on Twitter as well – great travel blog you have 🙂 Looking forward to connect!

  • Anne, this is an excellent article. I love it when I stumble across gems like this that contain very useful and insightful information. I completely agree with the learning process and my advice to anyone wanting to improve is to keep reading travel articles and keep writing travel articles. In no time you’ll notice an improvement and then want to go back and re-write your older material (well, that’s what I did anyway!). Keep up the good work Anne, it’s much appreciated.

    • Adam, thanks for your comment and support. I agree with re-writing my older material! I have certainly done some of that.

      I have also noticed that my writing confidence has progressively grown as I have wrestled with / written each article. I have many false starts behind me where I just couldn’t get an article idea to work properly… But then I get the gems where it just works and the sense of self satisfaction is great, especially if it is compounded by having lots of traffic to that article.

  • Congrats on making it this far! The word count thing is a bit scary. I don’t want to think about how many words I have written (I have written well over 1000 posts!).

    It is crazy how much time and effort trying to build a successful blog can entail, and just how depressing it can be at time. On top of work and kids, it can drive me totally crazy and I can wonder why the hell I am even bothering. Then I have some breakthrough and it all seems worthwhile. So yay for keeping it going and hopefully lots of glorious firsts and milestones this year 🙂

    • Sharon, thanks for your comment. You are correct that it is amazing how the number of words adds up over time! Thinking about 1000 articles is a bit far away considering that I only publish once per week… but over time they definitely build up and provide a rich catalogue of information.

    • Dave, that is because I did not earn any money from the blog for those first hundred posts, apart from 3 sponsored posts. I am now taking further actions to earn an income from the blog and maybe I will have more information to share on that topic when I reach 200 articles!

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