Starting your own travel blog can be overwhelming, especially without some guidance. While I don’t consider myself an expert, I will say that in my four and a half years of travel blogging, I have learned an awful lot, mostly through my own mistakes.
A few weeks ago, Fluent City, an adult foreign language school, invited me to speak at a workshop about starting a travel blog. Unfortunately, due to bad weather and rescheduling, not everyone who signed up was able to attend. But, I am pleased to announce that one week from today, I will be speaking again, this time at Albertine Books in Manhattan. For more information, and to RSVP for the event, click here. Until then, and for those who can’t be there, I’ll share what I shared at my last workshop.
Before you even start blogging, it’s important for you to decide what you want to write about. If you love travel, what do you love about it? Are you adventurous? Luxury obsessed? Carry-on only? Couch surfer? Or, like me, do you love a little bit of it all? Whatever it is you love about travel, make sure it is clear in the name and focus of your blog.
The next step is to choose a name, which can be hard, especially when there are so many blogs out there. Try to be creative, but not so creative that you have to explain your name each time. It took me a long time to come up with The World Wanderer and many of my first choices were already taken. Even after the name came to mind, I made sure I was happy with it, and I am glad I did.
After you’ve picked out a name you love, decide who your audience will be. Are you writing just for family and friends, or do you want this to be read by people all over the world? If it’s just going to be a personal blog, you can approach the next steps in a different manner. But, if you’re hoping this is your big break into the travel writing world, then you will need to take it into another direction.
Creating Your Blog
The first step here is finding a blogging platform. This is where your purpose and audience really matter. But, no matter what you decide, I suggest going with WordPress. If you want to keep it simple and track your travels to share with family and friends, host on WordPress.com. It’s user-friendly and you can host for free or at an affordable price. But, if you’re looking to turn your blog into a business, WordPress.org is your best bet. It’s as easy to use as WordPress.com, but you’ll need to self-host and purchase a domain.
Once you’ve signed up for WordPress, you will be able to choose your theme. My advice is to choose one that is simple and easy to navigate, but that also shows off your personality and what you’re trying to accomplish. If you have design experience, you can create your own logo for your header or hire someone to create one for you. In the past, I had a picture of myself wandering on a beach and “The World Wanderer” written on the top. It wasn’t very professional, but it worked for my audience at the time. Again, this is something you can grow into.
This seems simple enough, but sometimes it can be the hardest part. Once you have spent the time creating your blog, you have to pour your heart out onto the page. It can be scary, especially once you start sharing, but you are opening yourself up to a whole new world, one that is often more positive and supportive than you may realize. My advice is to just write from the heart; people want to hear your story. Share what you need to say and stand by your opinions. Before you post, be sure to revise and proofread.
You also don’t have to post as often as you may think, quality is better than quantity. Start out once a week and see how it goes from there. You also don’t have to be traveling at the time to be a travel blogger, write about your past travel experiences. Also, when you’re on the road, make sure you’re taking the time to enjoy and soak up the experience. Some of the best posts I have written have been weeks and months after the trip. There’s no wrong or right answer here, it’s what works best for you.
Share with Your Followers
Whether it’s with your parents, your best friend, or the Twitterverse, you need to share what you are writing. It’s not always easy at first, but people will read it and respond to what you have to say, and you’ll get more comfortable sharing your writing the more you do it. Trust me, it took me a long time to put it all out there.
You should join social media platforms in order to increase your audience. When creating these handles, it’s important to make sure that your name matches your blog name. Consistency is key when it comes to social media. Create yourself a Twitter account and a Facebook page for your blog and share content there. You can also share on Instagram, Pinterest, Google+, and your personal Facebook page.
When sharing, give equal attention to each social media platform, but don’t overload on content – be diverse in what you post. If you don’t have time to tweet during the day, you can schedule posts, but make sure you engage with readers who have taken the time to comment, favorite, follow, and retweet. Interaction is key to building a loyal following.
Build a Community
You want to build a community with your readers, as well as with the travel community. I would suggest joining an on-line forum or community. If you search travel bloggers on Facebook, you are sure to find groups to join. You should also attend networking events, like Travel Massive, and conferences, like TBEX. These will help you perfect your craft, and hopefully, you’ll be able to make a few friends along this journey. I have met so many amazing people on-line and in person through blogging, and it has been one of the unexpected perks.
You can also participate in travel chats that happen on Twitter. It’s a great way to discuss places you’ve been and get inspired to see the rest of the world. You’ll also gain a few new followers along the way and discover blogs and people to follow. A few of my favorite chats include: #JSETT, #AfriChat, #SeeTheWorld, #TTOT, and #RamblrChat. There are so many others, and you can easily find them by looking them up or through your Twitter feed. If you find something that interests you, just hop in; you never know what you’ll discover.
There’s more to learn, but this is the advice I wish I had when I was first starting out. If you’re interested in hearing me speak, make sure to RSVP for April 7th’s event. If you can’t make it, feel free to e-mail me with any questions you may have; I would be more than happy to help you begin this incredible journey.