How to Start Your Own Travel Blog
“The trouble with my line of work,” a clergyman once told me, “is that every little thing that happens during your day makes you think, ‘Is this material for a sermon?’” Being a travel blogger has much the same effect. At home or abroad, even the smallest stuff – a sleeping cabby, an old lady selling snails, someone wandering the streets in pajamas – can spark an idea for a post. Even when I’m trying to describe a magnificent setting, it’s usually the small, personal details – an impossible "fact," a goofy mistake, someone's snarky remark – that make the story come alive. Being a blogger motivates me to pay closer attention to my surroundings and the astonishing things people do and say. It keeps me on my mental toes.
You might want to launch your own blog for all sorts of reasons. Maybe you want a better way to share vacation photos and anecdotes with family and friends, especially if you have something special in mind this year. You could have a message you want to share, such as the importance of travel for mental and spiritual growth. It may be time to explore a career as a travel writer, and you want to start building an audience so you can attract sponsors and paid assignments. Whatever you may have in mind, here are a few pointers to get you started.
Study successful travel bloggers. Check out the 50 most popular travel blogs of 2014; Matador Network’s roundup of slightly edgier stories; and my personal faves. Read articles such as the Huffington Post’s How to Blog Like an Expert: Tips from the 10 Best Travel Blogs. If you’re serious about going pro, consider joining Travel Blog Success for online support and ideas.
Then throw out the rulebook. “If I were to listen to all of the advice out there about how to blog correctly, I probably wouldn’t still be blogging today,” says the phenomenally popular Wandering Earl. “ I remember trying to figure out ‘how to blog’ when I first started and I also remember getting a headache after every research session . . . If you don’t do this your blog will explode, if you don’t do that you’ll never, ever, ever, ever have any readers.” His advice? “Be yourself, not just another travel blogger.”
Hone your writing skills. Leave out the boring bits! Cut to the chase! Make the experience come alive for your readers! Put a little “ouch” in your stories; people love to read about overcoming obstacles. Spend time studying your craft. Develop your own voice. And proofread! Tripping over typos and awkward phrasing is painful for your readers, and mistakes undermine your work’s credibility.
Give your travel photos zing. Take your camera everywhere; the best way to improve is to snap photos constantly. Make friends with your computer’s photo editing program; I use iPhoto to crop, boost, and enhance photos until they go from “uh” to “ahhh!” Study high-end pros such as National Geographic for inspiration and ordinary bloggers for down-to-earth tips.
Learn the technology. (It’s not that hard. Really!) Adventurous Kate’s How to Start a Travel Blog is a great, step-by-step introduction. She uses WordPress as her publishing platform (you’ll learn what this is in her article), where I prefer Weebly; both are great, and there are plenty of others out there.
Finding that online map got me thinking about the technology of blogging – which led to this post. And in checking my facts, I learned that every 7.4 seconds a new blog goes online; there are more than eight million out there already, with nearly three million articles being posted every day. So why should you add one more? Because it’s great fun, and every new blog brings a fresh voice into the worldwide conversation. If you’re thinking of starting a blog, or have one that’s been up and running a while, I’d love to hear your thoughts and advice for others in the blogosphere.
All blogs, websites, products, and services referred to in this post are included solely because I believe you might find them interesting and useful in planning your own blogging adventures. Unlike some of my better-organized and more practical blogger friends, I do not accept sponsorships of any kind.
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2/12/2015 10:17:27 am
Great post. I am like Wandering Earl and quite reading everything to do to be successful. What I find so sad is the great number of superb bloggers out there who will never make it on to those 'top' rated lists but who have such wonderful tales to tell but with the rate of newcomers I guess I see why.
2/14/2015 07:18:31 am
Glad you liked the post, Jackie! Yes, there is a lot of competition out there, but there are also millions of readers looking for good stories. Making it to the top is tough (in any field!). But for me, the goal is more about creating an online community where we can all enjoy exchanging information and stories about travel and life. And luckily for us, that is doable!
2/13/2015 09:11:29 am
In reading your intro to The Experiment in the sneak preview you mention that you were at that time finishing up a book about your life in Seville. I can't find anything that corresponds to such a book. More info??? Thanks.
2/14/2015 07:22:09 am
Hi Linda, My book about my life in Seville is called Dancing in the Fountain: How to Enjoy Living Abroad. I didn't want to distract readers by getting too much into that book, but now you mention it, maybe I should put the name into the text of the new book. It's in the final edits stage now, so thanks for the question! Dancing is available from Amazon and most online retail booksellers, in paperback and ebook form.
2/13/2015 09:52:29 am
I love travel blogging! In 2000, I made my first one, documenting an 8 month road trip/book and CD/permance tour. I ran out of steam before the tour was over, because editting the photos and the prose cut into my badly needed sleep time. But what I did write/photo was fun stuff, and it's all up at www.aliciab4.com. Since then, I have blogged quite a lot at www.aliciabaylaurel.com, including several Japan concert tours. But I like the instant interaction I get on Facebook, so I've been posting there more often than I do on my domain site.
2/14/2015 07:27:17 am
Blogging back in 2000?! You always were ahead of the pack, Alicia! And what a perfect example of a road trip that provided great material for a stand-alone blog. I feel blessed to live in the age of technology that lets us do these things with relative ease.
2/13/2015 09:54:48 am
That's "performance." I did 75 storytelling and music shows, with all original material.
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Winner of the 2023 Firebird Book Award for Travel
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TO I'm an American travel writer based in Seville, Spain.
Wanderlust has taken me to more than 60 countries. Every week I provide travel tips and adventure stories to inspire your journeys and let you have more fun — and better food — on the road
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