The blogosphere is a cutthroat universe where only the strongest survive. The sheer level of competition out there is fierce and getting noticed let alone read is an ongoing struggle. The travel sector is one of the most competitive, and bloggers competing in this niche arguably have more of a fight on their hands than others. The approach when creating and maintaining a travel blog is slightly different from other sectors and means that this special breed of digital nomad must work even harder to get their voice heard.
Whether you run your blog or write for other people’s, the travel audience is amongst the most discerning, and any content that’s not engaging, exciting, useful, and genuine will be disregarded by consumers who are short on time and attention spans.
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Here are the top ten tips for travel bloggers to succeed;
Nothing will make you a more confident travel writer than actually having first-hand experience of what you’re writing about. Nothing will give you inspiration for a great post like actually being in a destination and getting involved in the local culture; the people, the language, the customs, the sights, and the food will all give you reams of ammunition to write sincerely and creatively about a place, no matter if you loved it, hated it, or were completely indifferent
Travel audiences demand minute detail and simply regurgitating found information from Wikipedia won’t cut it with savvy travelers and holidays makers who are looking for genuine personal accounts and experiences of specific cities, towns, facilities, attractions, and events. If you’re writing about Phuket in Thailand, you had better be prepared to drill down into some appreciable detail about local restaurants and shops or you have little chance of being taken seriously.
If you’ve been away on holiday, chances are you took hundreds of pictures on your digital camera or smartphone that you planned to upload and share with your friends on Facebook. The best writers can evoke the spirit of a place through words alone, but the rest of us need a little helping hand. Images are the perfect aid to a blog post, and on the right blog, they can even form a post in their own right. Take lots of photos.
Pick Your Niche Wisely
Travel is a niche in its own right, but there are hundreds of sub-niches that come under the ‘travel umbrella’. Picking your sub-niche should be defined by two things; your audience, and you’re your expertise. Starting a Canadian travel blog is of little use if you are trying to appeal to Australian enthusiasts. Similarly, don’t launch a Canadian travel blog if you’ve never been there.
Don’t Be Afraid of Creativity
Some of the best travel blogs are based on locations you may never have thought of visiting, or indeed may never want to visit. We’ve all read about Bill and Marjorie’s ‘lovely trip to the Maldives’, but have you ever read about a holiday in communist North Korea, or camping in Death Valley, or staying on an oil rig in the North Sea? Probably not, but that’s a good thing. Venture off the beaten track and become an authority in your sub-niche.
Cut the Fluff
The travel industry is plagued by clichés and buzzwords, in both promotional material and blog posts. Meaningless words like ‘spectacular’, ‘amazing’ and ‘picturesque’ (as well as tens of other sickeningly familiar adjectives) are grossly overused in travel copy and you’d be well-advised to avoid them completely. Always be specific, snappy, and to the point; a fluffy, overly descriptive copy is so 2000s! Even if that ‘white sandy beach’ is ‘beautifully picturesque’, find another way to describe it.
Enlist the Help of Others
The best blogs in the world aren’t operated by one individual, but a team of many. Even if you don’t plan to hit the dizzying heights of the Huffington Post or Mashable, having a few extra team members on board will help your efforts no end. This doesn’t mean hiring staff or even paying people to write for you, simply create a ‘write for us page on your site, and offers of content will soon come flooding in. This will save you some time but more importantly diversify the range of writing styles and opinions on your blog.
Don’t Just Stick to Travel
Even though the primary theme of your blog is travel, don’t be afraid to branch out into other Niches. A post like The Top Ten Travel Apps (you can think of something more original than that!) will appeal to both techies and travelers. Cross-pollinate your blog with tidbits from other corners of the blogosphere.
Engage with Your Community
Well, it was inevitable, a blogging post with a mention of social media. Cut through all the nonsense and hype, however, and social media can be an incredibly useful tool for drawing in traffic to your blog and keeping readers coming back. This is about travel blogs though, so aside from the obvious (Twitter and Facebook) what are the best communities to be a part of? Try the vowel-omitting trio WAYN, Dopplr, and Driftr to get you started.
One thing that stands out on great travel blogs is the level of intimacy conveyed to the reader. Cold, un-personable blogs written in the 3rd person fail to connect with audiences hungry for first-hand experiences they can relate to. Always write in the first person, write about what YOU did and what YOU saw, use ‘I’ instead of ‘we’ to make your message more powerful, and use photographs of you to back up your stories.