A few years ago I started to develop a course on travel blogging for beginners, called Travel Blogger High. It was a 15-part series, full of tips and advice for new travel bloggers. I always meant to write a part two. I wanted it to be the ultimate travel blogging guide, for free. Unfortunately, I never quite got round to it.
I’ve spent the last few months researching and writing to finally come up with 15 new posts on travel blogging tips to help you achieve your travel blogging goals.
Travel Blogger High Part II
So much has changed in the travel blogging world since Part I, but the basics are the same. Good quality content that’s shown off to as many people as possible wins every time.
Each topic I cover in this second instalment of Travel Blogger High could be talked about for hours, and of course there are entire websites devoted to that. But what I wanted to do with this beginner’s guide to travel blogging is to start, at the start, and give you the key points to focus on in each section. The points that have helped me to make this whole travel blogging thing my full time career.
Then, if you want to know more, you can check out some of my other favourite resources and course, linked below.
This first post of Part II is a bit of a beast, but also an overview of many of the things any beginner travel bloggers need to know, to get readers to their blogs, their stories out there, and brands to begin to notice you.
Best things about being a travel blogger
Travel Blogger Part I
Most important asset for a travel blogger
Setting up your blog
Travel blogger kit
Blogging with a day job
Blogging when you’re travelling
Quick intro on me
Just in case you don’t know me, my name is Vicky, or online, VickyFlipFlop. I set up this blog, vickyflipfloptravels.com, over six years ago now, back in February 2012.
I had a job when I set it up, and continued to work full time in an office, and part time on the blog for over two years. Things happened and I left that job and became a freelance travel blogger.
I lived as a digital nomad for three years, working from coffee shops and friends’ houses around the world, and lived off what I earned from this blog and all related activities.
In March 2017 I moved back to England, to Southsea, and finally had an address, yet continued to travel when opportunities arose. In October I bought a house, entirely with what I’d made from this blog.
I’ve now been to over 70 countries and continue to be a travel blogger full time.
Travel blogging is an awesome job. So, what I’m here to show and tell you, on a whistlestop tour, is how to actually be one.
Best things about being a professional travel blogger
– I get invited to travel the world on press trips, sometimes paid to visit a destination
– I’ve worked for many of the top travel companies in the world.
– I earn more money as a freelance travel blogger than I ever have.
– I can pick and choose who I work with and for.
– I can get up and out of bed when I like.
– I love the challenge of the technical side of travel blogging.
Previous Travel Blogger High Articles
Lesson 1: How to Be a Successful Travel Blogger
Lesson 3: What to Write and How to Write About It
Lesson 5: 7 Ways I Make Money Travel Blogging
Lesson 8: A Day in the Life of a Travel Blogger
Lesson 10: Lessons Learned from the Top Travel Vloggers
Lesson 11: 26 Travel Blogger Secrets I’ll Let You in On
Lesson 13: Essential Equipment for Travel Bloggers
The most important quality for a travel blogger
You won’t be able to follow any travel blogger course in the world – free or paid – and become a successful travel blogger without passion. It’s the absolute number one quality you need to succeed as a travel blogger.
Thousands of travel blogs are set up every year and abandoned when the blogger doesn’t see the quick results.
I think I was destined to be a writer. From diaries, to poems, to letters to my friends who were sat on the same table and scripts I’d make my friends put on, this was the life for me. I just had to find that route to make it happen. Passion falls by the wayside for many people but I kept it and stayed determined.
I’ve sacrificed a lot to travel and it kind of took over my life for a few years. If I hadn’t had the passion for it there’s no way I would’ve carried on.
Passion fires creativity, sometimes when it seems you have nothing else.
Setting up your blog
Write a few posts in Word before you even start to think about domain names for your travel blog and which web host to go with. It will help to actually have some content to play around with when it comes to the design of your blog.
I had loads of (now deleted) posts on my time in Europe.
You can then set up on WordPress.org to start, which is $18 per year, and then when you want more freedom to design your blog how you please, you can move to WordPress.com.
I recommend using Bluehost to host your blog. They have a great reputation, excellent customer service and are widely used around the world. They also have lots of blogging tips. Do not, I repeat, do not, go with Hostgator. They’re terrible and their customer service is whack.
Choosing a domain name for your travel blog is FUN, but give it some serious thought and check what else is out there too. I have a whole blog post on this from Part 1 of Travel Blogger High, but in short I recommend looking at memorability, suitability, length, SEO, what comes up in Google, and then claiming your name and handles on every social media platform ever.
Travel blogger kit
You can be a travel blogger with just a smart phone and access to a computer, or you can go all out and buy everything ever created.
I have a Mac Air, an iPhone 6S, an Olympus PEN EPL-8 camera, a GoPro HERO 4, a Joby tripod and a Canon G7X Mark II. I’ve dabbled with DSLRs, Canon Powershots, underwater cameras and all kinds of attachments but I’ve just found that that is the kit that works for me.
Sometimes it can make sense to buy a few bits cheap and play around with them to see what you like, and then you can always sell again on eBay if you don’t like them.
You do NOT need a whole arsenal of kit before you begin, promise.
Some people stumble when it comes to what to write about, I’m lucky that it hasn’t been a problem for me. Even when I was working full time in travel, and doing my blog, I still had lots I wanted to write about for both. I have a really long spreadsheet that I will never get through, with all the titles I hope to write some day.
If you don’t travel much you could write a guide to your local area, write about travel in England, or write about past travels – you just need to write and get used to writing regularly.
Keep SEO in mind
I’ll be publishing a guide to basic travel blogger SEO very soon. But in short you need to look at keywords before you start, you need to know your topic well, write over 100o words, use the Yoast plugin to help, research and act on the data on Google Analytics, but then don’t use too many SEO techniques that it makes the article unreadable.
Anyone who’s ever done any SEO will know that that is simplifying the whole process ridiculously.
Your work is not done once you’ve written your post. You need to know how to get your work out there in front of people’s eyes so they can actually read what you’ve done.
Pinterest, Snapchat, Instagram, Twitter – you need to work out where your readers are, where to find new ones and where you can make the biggest impact, or you enjoy the most. It’s so hard to keep up with them all that I’d strongly recommend you stick with one or two to focus on, and do well on those first.
Knowing how to promote yourself is one of the most difficult but important things for a lot of creatives. Your social media feeds are an extension of your blog and need to have the same thought and care gone into them. It can take a while to work out what your readers want.
I find that most of the time that’s visual content, of you.
ASSESS – Find the people who inspire you.
INTERACT – It’s like turning up to a party and standing in the coner just shouting things to people.
PLAN – In an ideal world you’d be on all the social media posting unique content every day. In the real world you won’t have time for that. Decide on what’s important to you.
ENJOY – have fun with it or you’ll soon give it up.
There’s a school of thought that you should spend the most time on your blog as that’s the only thing you actually own. But some people who identify as ‘travel bloggers’ can actually be big Instagrammers or YouTubers and their blog is actually their bit on the side.
Many of the most successful travel bloggers will have entire teams set up to do their social media for them. It’s just so much work when you really delve into it.
Photography is without a doubt one of the most important aspects of travel blogging for beginners to focus on. If you look at the top travel bloggers in the UK, their photography is incredible. This is something I want to work on over the next year, but then, to be fair, I’ve been saying that for the past three.
There are so many free courses online, or you could sign up to Lawrence Norah’s How to Become a Travel Photographer course. He’s one of the UK’s leading travel blogger / photographer people, and has developed this course with Nomadic Matt to help you be better at taking pics for your blog.
I’m signed up, so you’ll see the results soon!
YouTube is the second biggest search engine after Google. Increasingly brands want videos of their destinations and products to show off – it helps to give more of a narrative and story to what they’re trying to sell. And seeing someone doing the experience is definitely the best way of selling something.
If you’re going to set up a blog it’s a good idea to start a YouTube channel too, or at least bag the handle name you want. Having a fun personality on YouTube, in travel, is where you can really stand out in the UK.
READ MORE: Lessons Learned from the Top Travel Vloggers
Subscribe to my channel on YouTube!
Check out Hey Nadine and Hopscotch the Globe’s How to Be a Travel Vlogger Course too.
They’re two of the biggest names in the travel YouTube world!
Blogging alongside a job
I ran my blog alongside a full time job for almost three years. It’s hard but if you’re super passionate you can do it. And also, just remember the word of warning on success: work out what success means to you.
Don’t put too much pressure on yourself to create content when you have a lot of other things going on. Use all time available – the commute, during TV time etc. And if you’re chasing numbers from the start, then I’m afraid you’re most likely setting yourself up for disappointment.
Keep your expectations real!
Blogging when you’re travelling
And then for the next three years I ran this blog alongside travelling – I was a digital nomad. As I travelled to over 40 countries I blogged, took photos and created films about my adventures. Here’s a cool video I made of my travels in 2017.
What travel blogging on the road looks like
Blogging on the road is hard and brings about its own set of difficulties, mainly trying to find good WiFi or at least trying to find any Wi-Fi.
Also, trying to plan accommodation, routes, meals, activities, while trying to make the most of where you are and the people you meet too. And then of course, there’s the working.
Staying productive when everyone around you is out having fun and drinking and not having a care can be difficult. That’s why it’s important to have friends that understand you. At first the self control can be difficult but as you start to work out that you want to do this as a lifestyle and not just a certain period of time then you know that you need to work. You’re not a care free traveller anymore, you have responsibilities to your business.
My career really took off when I started networking. It’s how I jumped from my HostelBookers job to the gapyear one, with a huge pay rise!
I met people, I found out about jobs in my industry, it obviously helped that my travel blogging and full time work were related, but I also made sure I knew the right people. Substance behind the bravado.
Networking can be scary, Walking into a room and trying to find someone to talk to is definitely not my idea of fun, but the hardest time is the first time. And you can get that over and done with pretty quickly.
First meet up, now pretty much everyone I met at that first meet up I went to in 2012 I’d class as my best mates in travel blogging. Now when we’re on a press trip or at a conference it’s just like hanging out with friends.
– Find events in your niche
– Make friends
– Share practices
– Boost each other
– Get to know people who can help your career, and help them
I’ve been on some incredible trips – California, Costa Rica, Germany, Florida, Norway, Israel – the list is incredible, impressive and absolutely blows my mid.
The thing is though, press trips are not a free holiday. Getting your first few is an incredible feeling. I still remember my first one to Porto and I totally thought I’d made it in life. You start to learn that they are work, awesome work, but work. I’m going to write another post about this, but for now…
How do I make money travel blogging?
Generally the number one question when people find out I’m a travel blogger. I wrote this post on the 7 Ways I Earn Money Travel Blogging a few years ago, but I do need to do an update.
Nowadays travel bloggers earn money like celebs – they do appearances, endorsements, they have managers putting them forward for campaigns. Some of the amounts my friends earn from their huge Instagram accounts are just insane.
I also make money writing for travel companies as a freelancer, taking photos on the road, through sponsored posts and campaigns, talking at universities, colleges and events, creating videos and through affiliate marketing.
Other ways travel bloggers are making money include writing paid for courses, selling products, offering training, running tours, giving one to one blogging advice and though travel advice and consultancy.
The list is endless.
Travel blogging for beginners in 10 steps
1. Start writing – the best thing about blogging is that you don’t have to get approval from others to publish. It’s good to have some words to play with when you start your blog.
2. Domain and theme – having a few posts to play with should give you an idea of the kind of topics you’re naturally drawn to. Think of a name, sort your theme and get going.
3. Keep writing – I write all the time. Whether it’s for clients, my blogs, or just me. In fact I have RSI in my finger right now, and have had it in my thumb too. Not a good sign.
4. Photography and videos – photos and videos are now a huge part of any blogger journey. Skill up!
5. Promotion – it’s said you should spend as long on the promotion as you do the words. How will anyone know about your site in the millions of others if you don’t promote it to the right people across social media?
6. Goals – what do you want your blog to be? What’s your measure of success? How will you know if you’ve scored a goal when you don’t know where the goal posts are?
7. Network – one of the most important things you can do to once you’ve done the groundwork of setting up your blog.
8. Stand out – think about how your travel blog can be different and stay innovative with what you’re doing.
9. Stay confident and take breaks – don’t be one of those travel bloggers who burns out. Know when to take a break. There’ll be highs and lows in blogging and you need to have the strength to cope with both.
10. Keep at it! – Millions of blogs are set up every year, and millions are also abandoned. Keep at it, as much as you want to and make sure it stays fun!
Having confidence in your abilities as a travel blogger is probably the number one problem most travel bloggers have. It can be difficult, especially if everyone around you looks like they’re doing everything so well, and so easily. Lack of confidence is definitely an occupational hazard in travel blogging, and one I suffer from repeatedly.
– Look at your success
– Compare yourself with your yesterday, not with someone else
– Stop following people who don’t inspire you.
– Remind yourself regularly of your achievements
– Be confident that your writing matters. It does, if it matters to you
Travel blogging for beginners
And that’s the quick guide to travel blogging for beginners, the first session in part 2 of Travel Blogger High.
Brace yourself for the next edition, out Monday!
Also, if you have anything you want me to write about in particular – let me know in the comments box below.
Recommended travel blogger course
You can learn more about how to make money from travel blogging, and how the world’s number one travel blogger, Nomadic Matt, has made it work by completing his course on the Business of Travel Blogging. He’s made the complex world of travel blogging more understandable and accessible in his series of courses.
He’s one of the reasons I managed to make the jump from hobby travel blogger to full time professional. His course explains everything you need to know to become a travel blogger.
And there’s even a money back guarantee if you don’t agree!
Check out the current prices of The Business of Travel Blogging course.