After traveling for the first time or spending a significant amount of time abroad many people start wondering how they can turn their experiences into something that pays the bills and can keep them traveling for extended periods of time.
Starting a travel blog and wondering how to become a successful travel blogger are probably one of the first things that crosses your mind if you’ve ever wanted to try to learn how to make money online in a way that directly relates with your traveling and travel experiences.
To be completely upfront, there are no guarantees that you’ll ever be successful even if you put in loads of work but in this post I want to go over some tips that you’ll be able to take advantage of that will help you on your way towards hopefully becoming a successful travel blogger.
Just like with anything else in life, just because you want something to happen doesn’t mean it’s going to and if you want to achieve success with anything you have to be willing to put in the time, hard work and effort that it takes to make it big.
Too many people just think that they can open up their laptop, create a WordPress account, start writing some content and then the money will start pouring in.
Unless you’re extremely lucky this is never going to happen and even if you’re blogging every day it’s going to take you a few years to turn your website into something that’s profitable and to keep you afloat.
The problem arises when you start writing and you realize how long it takes to write 500-2000 words, find, edit and upload photos, format your writing, publish your post, share it on social media, look for blog post ideas, and so on.
Ideally you’ll actually want to stop traveling for a short while so that you’re able to spend some time on your blog and get it to a point where you can finally start traveling again.
If you’re traveling full time then you might have the time or the energy left to spend hours blogging every day and if you don’t have that time then the road to success is going to be a very long run.
As a little disclaimer, I don’t recommend that anybody quit their job to start traveling and hope that they’ll be able to turn their travel blog into something worthwhile.
When you’re first getting started it’s better to work a little bit, travel a little bit and grow your blog over time rather than jumping into it headfirst and hoping for the best.
Anyways, enough with the negativity, let’s get into some helpful tips and practical info that you’ll be able to use when it comes to helping you become a successful travel blogger.
How to Become a Successful Travel Blogger: Helpful Tips
When it comes down to it failure can be attributed to one thing – giving up.
The best way to turn your blog into something worthwhile, profitable and successful is to be persistent and keep at it until you reach your goals.
The popular quote “don’t sweat the small” stuff can definitely be applied to blogging and while you might not know anything about it when you first get started will eventually learn how everything works.
The more you write, the more you post and the more time you spend blogging the easier it becomes and the more efficient you become at it.
Take a look at all of the most popular travel bloggers and you’ll see that none of them have started their blogs in the past six months or even in the past two to three years.
All of the major players in the game have been at it for a few years now and some of them have been around since the mid-2000s when blogging really started to take off.
Don’t worry, it’s not too late, but you just need to remember that nothing happens overnight.
If you want something you need to work for it so keep plugging away at your travel blog even when things are not looking so great for you and you’ll improve the odds of becoming successful, or at the very least you’ll have a web-based property that puts money in your pocket every month and helps travelers from all over the world.
To be completely real with you I recommend you look at 3 to 5 year time frame for growing your blog and making it profitable.
Always Add Value
One of the most important things you want to remember when you’re blogging on a regular basis is that you always want to be adding value.
What I mean by this is that everything you write should have a purpose and should be created in order to help other people solve their own problems or be entertained.
Basically that’s what people going online looking for: answers to their questions and entertainment to keep them occupied when they’re bored or looking for something to do.
How does this relate to your blog?
Well, it gives you the idea that there are two types of content that you want to create.
You can create content that’s entertaining where you tell stories about yourself or give your opinions on certain destinations or experiences that you had.
People will find this entertaining and will become interested in reading what you have to say.
On the other hand, you can create content that’s helpful and informative where are you answer people’s questions and give them a better idea on the best travel gear, a more in-depth look at destinations and just generally help people become better travelers.
If you’ve read some of the content on StefanRTW you’ll see that I fall into the helpful and informative section.
The majority of the posts on my website are created in order to help other people and to make the overall traveling experience a lot easier and stress-free.
So how do you add value exactly?
The best way to add value is to make sure that whatever you’re creating, whether it’s a blog post, YouTube video or any other form of digital content is the best that you can make it.
For blog posts you can go a lot more in-depth on a topic, add more images and write more content so that people are able to find it more helpful than whatever else is out there.
Check Out Other Blogs
Reading other people’s blogs not only gives you inspiration on what you can write but will also give you a better idea on how to improve your own writing and what other people are looking for when they come online.
There really isn’t any need to take any courses or pay for any ebooks in regards to travel blogging, you just need to check out what other people are doing and basically reverse-engineer how they became successful with their content.
You can start by checking out a list of the best travel bloggers and seeing the types of content they write, how their websites are designed, how they promote their content on social media, how they interact with their followers and just read through their blog posts so that you can get a better idea of what works and what doesn’t.
Apart from only sticking to travel you should also check out other blogs and websites on marketing, SEO, web design, driving traffic and anything else that might help you grow your own travel blog.
It’s hard to get anywhere without support from your peers and colleagues so from day one when you start travel blogging you should make an effort to develop relationships with other travel bloggers.
It might seem difficult at first but the more you interact with other people online the more popular you’ll become and people will start recognizing your name whether it’s from blog comments, forum posts or anywhere else that you interacted with others on the internet.
Make a list of all of your favorite bloggers and everyday spend a few minutes reading up on their new content and seeing what they’ve posted on social media.
If you’re able to leave a helpful comment or share anything they’ve posted I recommend going ahead and doing so.
Once you develop a small relationship with someone you can just go ahead and email them letting them know that they’re an inspiration to you and how helpful their content is.
Other bloggers love hearing great things about their work and they’ll be sure to remember you if you’re interacting with them on a regular basis.
In the future they might think of you and link to one of your posts or if you’re very interactive on social media they might be more inclined to share your content and give you some helpful pointers and tips as well.
Choose a Niche
I don’t actually agree with this principle anymore but when you’re first getting started with your new blog it’s a good idea to choose a specific niche and focus on that while your website gets bigger.
What’s a niche?
A niche is basically a focused and specific topic that is a subset of a more general theme.
For example, travel is a general idea/theme but backpacking in Europe is a niche.
A few other examples of travel niches include:
- Living in Bangkok
- Train Travel in South America
- Budget Travel in the United States
- Diving in Australia
Do you get the idea?
At first, when you’re still a small fry, I recommend choosing something specific to blog about and then as your website grows you can move on to creating more general travel-related content.
The reason I absolutely disagree with this principle is because you kind of back yourself into a box when you choose a specific niche, especially if you include the niche in your name like “TheBudgetBackpacker.com”.
With a name like that you’re really only be able to blog about backpacking on a budget and once you run out of ideas or things to say you won’t see as much growth in your web traffic and you might even lose interest.
I’ve started talking about more general topics and it has really helped my website grow and at the same time I’ve been able to help even more people with traveling.
Create Your Own Products/Offer a Service
If you want to make money travel blogging there are quite a few ways to do it.
Many people start with affiliate marketing or earning through display networks like Google Adsense and this is definitely where I would recommend getting started but if you want to take it to the next level then it’s a good idea to consider creating your own product or offering a specific service.
When you have your own product you’re able to promote it on your own or work with other bloggers where they can become your affiliate.
You’re able to set your own price and you’re in full control of how everything runs.
With your own product you’re also able to invest into it upfront and reap the benefits of it for as long as it’s relevant.
Some products that you can create include:
- An online course
- Travel gear
Creating a service is something you’ll want to consider as well.
Some services that you can create include:
- Travel consulting and trip planning
- Freelance writing services
- Tour guide
Choose the Right Sponsorships and Press Trips
If you’re getting into travel blogging with the aim of getting free trips and product sponsorships then you should quit while you’re ahead because it’s very likely that none of these things will pan out for you.
I think that I was blogging for more than a year before I ever got my first sponsored hotel stay and even after a few years I’ve only received a handful of products to review.
I’m sure I could have received some more things had I done a lot more outreach and just directly asked people for products or free accommodation but I don’t think that it would be sustainable to do so and I recommend avoiding asking for anything at all.
As your blog grows you might start hearing from people interested in working with you and at that point you can start accepting sponsorship or press trips.
However, keep in mind that you should only work with companies that you support and are comfortable working with and you should avoid working with companies that you don’t agree with their business practices and that don’t relate to your blog in any way.
People that are reading your blog on a regular basis will be able to see how disingenuous you’re being with the free stuff you receiving and it’s better to just work with companies that match the style and theme of your content rather than just accepting anything that comes your way.
Invest In Your Blog
One of the worst things you can do when it comes to the long-term success of your website is to cheap out on everything and buy the cheapest hosting, use free themes and avoid paying for anything.
It’s not only your readers that will see the lack of investment on your part but if you don’t choose the right hosting or you don’t use better quality, premium themes then even Google won’t see your site as something that their search engines will want to promote.
When you’re getting started you can go with a more affordable hosting option but as your traffic starts to grow I recommend upgrading to something a lot faster and more powerful.
From the get-go I suggest picking out a premium theme to get your website a nicer look and to make it easier for your readers to navigate and find your content.
As you get bigger you can eventually start to invest in editors, web designers and anyone else that is going to help grow your website but for the time being you shouldn’t have to worry about that (focus on good hosting and a good theme at first).
SEO, or Search Engine Optimization, are the changes you can make to your website and your content so that it’s better optimized for Google and other popular search engines.
It might sound pretty intense but once you get the hang of it it’s quite easy and it will really help to set your travel blog apart from many of the others that are too lazy to implement any of these techniques.
I’ve actually written an in-depth guide on travel blog SEO so I recommend checking that out to get a better idea on what you should be doing any time you start a blog and whenever you’re creating new content.
Get on Social Media
In 2016 everyone is on social media and if you’re avoiding it for whatever reason you’re making a huge mistake.
Social media platforms like Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter and Facebook are huge when it comes to web traffic and if you use them correctly you can really help to grow your travel blog quickly and efficiently.
Using social media is also a good place for you to find people to build relationships with and it allows you to interact with your readers on a more in-depth and personal level, rather than just responding to them through email or comments.
There are plenty of social media guides online so I won’t get into the details about how to use them right now but I recommend creating a dedicated accounts for each popular social media platform as you get started and take some time every day to help grow them and interact with your followers, fans or anyone else interested in your content.