Travelling the world, documenting your experiences and maybe even getting paid for it - what a dream. In this article, we look at how you can get started with a travel blog.
The travel blog is the modern equivalent to Jack Kerouac’s literary classic, On the Road. Reading a blog is an inspiring look into how people live while they’re overseas, whether it’s West Africa or the remote Arctic wilderness. A good travel blog takes us to another world, inspires us in both our daily lives and when looking at where in the world to visit next, keeping us coming back for more.
The benefits of travel blogging are overwhelmingly positive. Unlike a paper travel diary, a blog allows you to share your experiences with your friends, family and even strangers who happen across it. Depending on your traffic, you can sign up advertisers and make some money. You could live the ultimate dream of getting paid to see the world!
But with the plethora of travel blogs out there, it can be hard to know where to start. Here are some handy hints for you to keep that dream alive!
All the gear
When you’re on the road, what you carry on your back (or in your suitcase) is a crucial consideration. Unless you want to be relying on a dodgy hostel desktop that had seen better days in 2002, take a laptop. iPads are a pain to type on, so a lightweight laptop is your best bet. Of course, carrying something expensive around is another risk, so probably don’t take your top-of-the-line MacBook Pro.
With blogging, images are as crucial as good content. But again, don’t blow your budget on a semi-professional Canon number - you could use that money towards a flight to Nicaragua! Smart phone cameras are increasingly common on the backpacker circuit, and the quality is good enough to upload for a blog. Bonus - if you want to promote your blog via Instagram, the snaps are already on your phone!
Make sure to insure your equipment - nobody wants to find themselves a travel blogger unable to…well, blog, in the middle of the Mongolian desert.
A blogging platform
WordPress is a user-friendly, professional platform with hundreds of formats for your blog. If you’re more inclined to just upload images and captions, try Tumblr. A social media presence is also recommended - get on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook, and promote your blog to everyone and anyone. What’s the point in all this work if nobody reads it?
Trekking to Base Camp or getting a suit tailored in Vietnam is a whole lot more fun in real-time. Unfortunately, if you’re not committed to writing your blog regularly, you’re going to lose any regular traffic you might have developed. People don’t want to read five hastily put-together recaps of “and then I did this, and then I did that” when they come to your blog, they want to see current, regular, consistent writing of a good quality. Give the people want they want (or they will find another travel blog).
Develop a niche
A computer and a camera are really all you need for a good travel blog, and that’s evident in their explosion - thousands of holidaymakers worldwide are documenting their experiences for everyone to see.
As such, the competition is fierce and in order to stand out you need to do something different from the rest. What’s your favourite thing about travelling? Figure that out, and own it. You could write a blog about street fashion around the world, document your own surf tour to 100 beaches across the globe, or skateboard through South America… there is a whole world of possibility out there.
Find your niche and post about it on social media. Comment on other people’s blogs, Trip Advisor and Lonely Planet. Eventually, you may come to be recognised as the go-to person on the wildlife of Madagascar or Russian sports.
Money, money, money
Many blogs have Google Ads on their platforms. But don’t think that’s going to fund your boat trip around Croatia. The revenue from Google ads is very slim unless you get massive traffic.
Think about your niche (you know, the one you just developed) and your audience - then think about brands that might want to get in touch with that audience.
If you’re the adventurous type and are writing about hiking in Norway, get in touch with brands like Patagonia and Fjallraven. You may be able to get some free travel gear for posting photos of their products on your Instagram feed. If you’re riding a motorbike across the USA, consider contacting motels along the way for discounted accommodation in exchange for blog reviews.
Once they see the value of what you’re offering them, they might pay for an advertisement on your site, or they might offer you something for free - a night’s accommodation, a winter jacket - if you blog about it. Airlines also play ball, as do tour groups, ski resorts and other big-ticket players. Upon accepting this kind of sponsorship, be sure that the terms and conditions are clear to both parties.
Enjoy every moment
Being paid to travel the world, what could be better? Have a great time on your adventures, be a smart traveller and don’t forget to keep on blogging about your experiences!
Here’s some smart travel blogging tips from World of Wanderlust blogger, Brooke Saward.