10 things to know before you start up a travel blog
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by Chloe Green (@SharedBucketList)
Want to start your own travel blog? It isn't as straight-forward as you might think, folks...
If you were thinking of setting up your own online travel journal in the near future, we've compiled a list of all the obstacles you might not have thought about just yet. Some of these were things we knew in advance and were prepared for; others, we soon found out for ourselves. But don't worry - our intention with this post is not to discourage you! Instead, we hope to offer some insight which can help you get ready for this new and exciting project you are about to undertake.
Here are our top ten tips for new travel bloggers:
1. The travel blogging/ vlogging/ influencer community is already enormous
If your goal is to become Insta famous or go viral overnight as a result of one or two holiday selfies you've posted, you might be waiting a while. Just search the hashtag, #travelblogger, and you'll see what we mean. However, don't see this as a threat or a demotivator when you're starting out. Instead, use it as an opportunity to see what existing users are doing successfully and see if you can borrow some ideas. Note: we didn't say 'copy' - you need to be unique if you want to really stand out from the crowd. Even better if you have your own niche and can actually offer more than just a photo of you/your spouse in a bikini. (Not dissing the bikini pics either by the way... but try to offer a bit of variety too!)
2. Designing your own website isn't easy (or cheap)
There are many useful online resources to help people create their own websites. Popular platforms such as: squarespace.com, wix.com and webflow.com (to name a few) offer different packages to their customers which often include tutorials to help guide users through the designing process. However, if you've never done anything in the realm of website designing before, it can be quite fiddly. It's going to take a lot of time and effort to get your website looking the way you want it to. And don't get me started on the mobile version! That's right - just when you think you've mastered the aesthetics on the web, you realise that your website looks completely different when people are visiting it on their smartphones. That's most of your traffic by the way (if you're lucky to have any in the first place). Back to the drawing board!
For the slickest-looking designs, you'll probably need to pay out a fair bit. You will definitely have to reach in your pocket if you want your own site domain. Oh, and to remove the platform's own promotional content, that'll be extra. Hence, we haven't got rid of that just yet.
3. Creating content and maintaining your posts is a big commitment
Generating new ideas for content is one thing. Filming, photographing, editing and writing it is another. Even then, you're still not finished. You need to consider how to promote it: what caption you're going to use, when you're going to post it and where. Should you re-post it a few days later to manipulate the algorithm or to just seem more active? (Yes, by the way - you should.) To be truthful, we haven't really read much on this; it's just something we've discovered over time. We certainly haven't nailed it either because, as is the case with most things, you think you've finally got your head around it and then something happens to disrupt that feeling of security. In any case, you'll need to spare a lot of time to create content for your blog and to post frequently. If you aren't willing to invest in it, you can be certain it isn't going to flourish.
4. If you don't like writing or taking photographs, it might not be the best hobby/career for you
Following on from the previous point, it's only human to neglect the things we don't enjoy. Therefore, if you aren't already passionate about photography/videography/writing or even travel itself, what in the world are you thinking getting involved in all of this? Honestly, if I didn't love writing as much as I do, typing up articles (like this one, in fact) would be the very last way I'd choose to spend my evening.
5. People don't want to hear you bragging about your experiences; they're seeking tips for their own
In a nutshell, social media is vain enough as it is without the addition of a brand new 'blogger', preaching #YOLO and just boasting to the rest of the world about how many places they've visited. That isn't what travel blogging is about. Or, at least, it shouldn't be. Rather than disgruntling your followers by failing to offer them anything but envy, consider how you can make your blog worth viewing, reading and, with a bit of luck, sharing. What are they getting out of it? Far too many Instagram accounts seem to have mis-identified themselves as 'blogs' when they are in fact galleries of self-indulgence.
6. Be mindful of over-sharing on your own social media accounts to promote your blog
Even if you do mean well with your blog and your intentions are to serve the people, as it were, don't be surprised if the followers on your personal social media accounts get tired of hearing about it. It's only natural that you'll want to promote your new posts to the loyal followers you've already acquired from school, university and places of work but just bear in mind that they might not share the same level of interest in your expeditions.
7. Search Engine Optimisation is worth looking into
This is far too complicated to divulge in this section alone but SEO is an acronym you will need to familiarise yourself with if you want to maximise your website traffic. Perhaps, we will elaborate in another post. If you can't wait until then, do a quick search. I'm sure there are lots of thrilling articles all about it. (Totally not a thrilling subject)
8. Synergy across multiple platforms is a must for exposure
Another technical term you might want to look up. Basically, you should be making your content visible in as many different places as possible if you want it to reach a large audience. Hard to do if you're not able to keep posting to your own social media accounts though, right? It's all about striking a balance. Or, better yet, create new accounts using the blog domain you've paid for! (The only issue with that is you won't have any followers to begin with)
9. Read up on copyright laws
If you're going to feature somebody else's work in your posts, it isn't only courteous to give them credit, it's a legal requirement. This includes (but isn't limited to): photographs, videos, soundbites/other audio and citations. There are some exceptions, e.g. stock photos, however some of these still have various licensing laws in place.
10. Crediting the work of others does not mean you can use it in whatever way you want
If you have featured somebody else's work in one of your posts and they contact you directly to remove it, despite whether or not you have credited them, you must honour their request and remove it at the earliest opportunity. The easiest way to avoid getting involved in these sorts of scenarios is to exclusively use your own content. Having said that, it's worth knowing about, in the event that somebody attempts to copy something you own the rights to, one day.
In conclusion, there are many aspects to web-logging (if you were wondering, that's where the term, 'blog', was originally coined from) to consider before you take the plunge but we felt these were the ten most important for those beginning from scratch. If we happen to think of any others which are key to a successful start, we'll be sure to share them with you. In the meantime, any fellow globetrotters who have some additional tips to share, please type them in the comments below so we can share them with others in our travel community.
Thanks, and good luck to you all!