Below are the notes from which I constructed slides for my seminar on blogging at the 2016 Adventure Travel Show.
If you’re reading this it is likely you were at the seminar (thanks for coming along!), or have been sent the link via a savvy blogger, either way, feel free to email me with any questions; I’m always happy to chat!
SO let’s get started …Blogging Seminar Notes
WHAT IS TRAVEL BLOGGING?
The travel blog has evolved into more than a traveller’s online diary: so too has the job description of a travel blogger.
A Travel Blog is:
- A destination resource
- A how-to guide / practical travel advice
- A source of travel inspiration
- Offers new insights into popular destinations
Travel Bloggers are:
- Destination Experts
- Digital Influencers – 24% of travellers who use the internet read travel related blogs – Sprout Insights
- Social Media Managers
- Content Creators
- Ordinary folk from all walks of life who channel their passion into an online resource for others to enjoy
WHY DO YOU WANT TO START A TRAVEL BLOG?
Other than to keep your nearest and dearest updated as to your whereabouts of course!
- To become an authority in your field by sharing your knowledge of travel?
– take a look at yourlittleblackbook.me – Anne publishes guides to the city of Amsterdam (where she is based), and other major cities across the globe.
- To sell products, secure affiliates and sponsorships, and build a recognisable brand?
– take a look at theplanetD.com – Dave and Deb have made a name for themselves as ‘Canada’s Adventure Couple”.
- To act as a portfolio or provide a platform to further employment?
– take a look at gottakeepmovin.com – Emma has chosen a theme which acts more like a portfolio showcasing her writing and photography.
Want to know why I blog and why I don’t want a real job. Read this.
WHAT DO YOU HOPE TO ACHIEVE?
Your initial goals may change once you start your blog but it is important to stay focused if you are to succeed.
- Hone your writing / creative skills
- Earn an online income / create a flexible lifestyle
- Build a PR platform for your start-up / business idea
- Network with influencers in your industry
- Organise your thoughts / express creativity
DEFINE YOUR SUCCESS
Based on the latest statistics on worldwide blog activity published by Technorati, there are over 1.3 million blog posts written every day. What is going to set yours apart from the rest?
- Define your success on your own terms and don’t give in to distractions
- Dare to be great; achieve your full potential
- Don’t rest on your laurels
- WordPress (hosted or self-hosted) – The default choice for many bloggers, WordPress remains the most popular choice and comes in two forms. WordPress.com offers a freemium hosted service that provides free sub-domains and limited customization to users, or WordPress.org’s free self-hosted option that doesn’t contain the restrictions found on the hosted version.
- Squarespace – simple, versatile, beautiful, free and paid options, customisable, popular with creative types.
- Medium – a beautiful interface and a network that can reach a lot of people. Free, simple, great for long-form writing, however no options to customize themes or look and feel of your ‘blog’.
- Tumblr– trendy, very simple, free, numerous beautiful designs. Content is quite transient – it flows down like a Twitter feed so isn’t so good for building up categories of old searchable content. Great for trip updates/online diary as you can post lots of short content easily and quickly.
- Strikingly– simple, versatile, beautiful, free and paid options
- Blogger– simple, owned by Google, free, ugly, not responsive
- YouTube– a platform for Vloggers
FIND YOUR NICHE
- Start with your passion – you’ll be living it 24/7
- Know your subject – be knowledgeable – generic content is boring
- Experiment with ways to present your passion
- Don’t feel pressured
- Avoid analysis paralysis – take action – nothing you publish is set in stone
- Stand out from the crowd and let your voice be heard
- Have faith in yourself
FIND YOUR FANS
- Join social media channels and promote your content – but don’t over stretch yourself – start with Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pintrest, and Snapchat (perhaps!).
- Reach out to influencers in your niche – bloggers, brands, regional businesses
- Like, share, and leave insightful comments on other relevant content – look for blogs that have comment luv
- Start a conversation with your audience, invite a response to your posts
- Create useful and engaging content and then promote it
- Write regularly
HOW TO GROW YOUR AUDIENCE
- Never forget that content is King – provide value – here’s an indepth guide to promoting your own content that a pro blogger contributed to my blog – it is very comprehensive so don’t be put off by the sheer volume of content.
- Build a community
- Utilise social media – and strong images that appear on social media when your content is shared
- Attract new readers with giveaways and additional/free content incentives
- Network – guest post, invite influencers to contribute
– Facebook groups to join – We Travel We Blog, Travel Bloggers Network, Global Bloggers
– Blogs that accept guest posts – listed here – Google this, there are lots of sites with lists like these. Just remember to make your initial email personal, pick out something you like about their site or that resonates with you and start a conversation.
- Link to authoritative content – inform web owners of their inclusion
- Syndicate your content on other websites
PRACTICAL BLOGGING TIPS
- Be organised – publishing schedule, social media management plan, set goals
- Carry a notepad, pen, camera to collect your content
- Spend time on your design – make sure you give your readers the tools they need to search your site, share your content, interact with you – make it intuitive, don’t make navigating your site hard work
- Keep your sidebars simple – don’t get widget fever
- Create a memorable ‘About Me’ page – most important page on your blog
- Use high-res, engaging images optimised for social sharing – if you don’t have your own images, use Creative Commons licensed images.
- Use keywords and implement good SEO practises – ensure your content is searchable
SKILLS YOU MAY NEED / WANT TO LEARN
- Recording podcasts
- Website design
- Website analysis
Remember, when in doubt, Google or YouTube will likely offer a handy how to guide!
WHAT IS SEO?
- SEO stands for “search engine optimization.” It is the process of getting traffic from the “free,” “organic,” “editorial”, or “natural” search results on search engines.
- Google and Bing are the librarians of the internet, use keywords, strong URLs, rich snippets, and meta data to help them catalogue your content
- Good SEO practises ensure that your blog posts are catalogued by the search engines and served up to users searching for similar content.
Here’s a great beginner’s guide to SEO.
Implement a good SEO plugin – I use the Yoast SEO plugin which is the most complete WordPress SEO plugin that exists for WordPress.org users.
SHOULD I CARE ABOUT ANALYTICS?
NO. Well, not when you first start blogging. But if you are curious here’s a great beginner’s guide.
- the percentage of visitors to your blog who navigate away from the site after viewing only one page
Average Session Duration
- the average length of time visitors to your blog spend on your site
- the amount of time a unique IP address spends on a website during a specified period. The number of user sessions on a site is used in measuring the amount of traffic a website gets.
CAN I MAKE MONEY? HOW?
Of course. Once you have established yourself as an authority in your field and built a following you can provide value to brands and advertisers.
Here’s a guide from the team at Wanderlust.co.uk
- Advertising / banners / product reviews
- Sponsored content / sponsored links
- Sponsored travel
- Affiliate Marketing
- Brand partnerships
- Digital Products
- Physical Products
- Services – selling your skill set as a freelancer
5 MISTAKES I MADE WHEN I STARTED BLOGGING
- Trying to take on too much at once
- Caring too much about what other bloggers in my niche are doing
- Putting more value on the quantity of blog posts rather than quality of my content
- Underestimating the importance of good blog design
- Publishing posts for the sake of it
CONCLUSION / TAKE-AWAYS
Here are four take-aways from me:
- Don’t underestimate the challenge ahead, but relish in the opportunity to develop yourself.
- Start with your passion and write about a topic you enjoy.
- Don’t get bogged down in the technical aspects of blogging, learn as you go along.
- Be creative, innovative, and play to your strengths.
✈ ✈ ✈
Leave any questions you have in the comments below, or send me an email via my contact form.