10 things you should know before starting a travel blog
You won’t make money straight away, so make sure you have saved enough for your travel plans! It can take months, if not years to make enough money from your blog to pay for your travels. One of the best ways we found to fund our adventures was to use Patreon. It’s a creative platform where people can pledge a certain amount of money to subscribe to your videos, or they can pay per video. If you are able to record regularly and upload clips to Patreon, you are far more likely to make money through this than via Youtube.
You don’t need to be travelling all the time to have an interesting travel blog. Nomadic life is exhausting and unsettling, so certainly isn’t for everyone. However you can still maintain an interesting travel blog without constantly visiting new countries. As long as you aren’t sat at home everyday doing nothing, you must have something to talk about! Trips to local tourist spots, reviews of restaurants, sharing your favourite things to do in your area, or even writing about previous travels and places you’ve visited… it’s all helpful and interesting to someone!
You don’t need fancy photography equipment. Sure, expensive cameras are usually better, but they’re not necessary. A lot of viral videos on Youtube are shot on camera phones or digital point-and-shoots; it’s the content (and the way you advertise it) that counts. Most mobiles take great pictures nowadays; perfect for Instagram and Twitter. Once your blog kicks off and starts to make money, then you can splash out on new gear. If you are still desperate to upgrade your photography equipment, we’d recommend getting a GoPro. They’re great for action shots, time lapses and videos. Plus, they’re perfect for travel and adventure blogs because you can strap them to your chest, helmet, bag or bike, they’re usually waterproof and they’re pretty sturdy!
It isn’t necessary to pay for blog management apps. There are tons of posts advertising blog management apps, but these aren’t necessary if you understand social media and how to keep your audience happy. For busy bloggers with full time jobs, we’d recommend using Buffer. You can schedule your posts through it, or it will work out the best times for each social media platform and will publish your posts for you. It’s free and easy to use. The other free app we love is Canva. It has templates for anything you can think of, but we mostly use it to create Pinterest images and thumbnails for Youtube.
But you should pay for a web service such as Squarespace or Wordpress. Building and maintaining a website can be a pain, and requires a lot of attention to make sure none of the functions break. Most bloggers pay for a blogging platform, such as Squarespace or Wordpress. We use Squarespace because they have beautiful templates and all the hosting and coding is done for you. It’s easy to add social media share buttons, email subscription sign-up and many other functions a blog page might need. Google Analytics is built in, so you can see how your blog is performing, and the commenting function is super easy for your followers to use. Wordpress is similar, but a little more fiddly to use and get the hang of.
Branding is everything. Not only does your website need to look good, but your social media pages will also need to be impressive if you want to stand out and attract new followers. Think about the image you want to create for yourself. Are you a fun party animal, bold and adventures, arty, serious, romantic? Try to create a brand for yourself and your blog; think about the fonts you use, the types of photos you share, whether you want a colour scheme or a logo. Choose a blog title that you won’t get bored of, so you don’t have to change it. You want people to recognise your posts and know it’s you. If you want some inspiration, check out this book by Vanessa Hunt.
Social media engagement takes up a lot of time, but needs to be done! We don’t want you to become addicted to social media, but don’t underestimate the importance of it when managing a blog. Almost 90% of our web traffic comes from our social media accounts. Make sure you spend time every day engaging with others; comment on posts, retweet and share things from other bloggers, join Twitter Chats. It all helps to build your friendships, and once you have more blogging friends you’ll start seeing your posts shared via their platforms too.
You need to know your audience and use Google Analytics. Google Analytics will tell you how many people are viewing your posts, where your audience are from and how well your posts are doing on search engines. Keep an eye on this as it will help you to write posts that your audience enjoy. You may also notice that some days of the week are better for publishing and sharing posts than others. For example, we have a lot less traffic to our site on Fridays, so it doesn’t make sense to publish new posts on this day as less people will see them.
Learning about Search Engine Optimization will really help! SEO is all about getting your posts noticed on Google, Yahoo, Bing etc. The higher up in the search results you are, the more traffic you’ll get to your site. It may sound complicated, but taking time to learn the basics of SEO will be really useful. For example, having short titles that clearly describe what your post is about and using these key words throughout your blog will help to tell Google which search results your post should appear in.
Things will slow down and get tough, but keep writing and posting as much as you can! Don’t expect your blog to kick off right away. Things take time and there will be quiet periods, but use this time to re-share old posts, engage with others and create beautiful pictures for Pinterest. Keep going and eventually it’ll pay off!