I mentioned in an earlier post that the inspiration for this blog was two fold; as a diary of our 2017 round the world trip, and to inspire and offer advice to other 30somethings considering a gap year.
Of course, blogging isn’t for everyone, it’s time consuming but if you commit to it, it’s great fun and a fantastic way to remember everywhere you’ve been and all the amazing things you’ve seen.
It’s been just over a month since we launched 30somethinggapyear.com and we’ve already had over 15,000 visitors to the website and 50,000 page views as well as over 5,000 likes on Instagram and Facebook. The interest and feedback has been mind blowing so with that in mind, here are our top tips for writing a travel blog:
1. Decide up from what your blog is going to be about and who you audience are – and stick to it. We identified our friends/ family/ social media audience as our key audience for the diary posts and then people searching Google as the audience for our tips/ advice section. These audiences formed our SEO keyword strategy and end-to-end user journey strategy.
2. Build your site infrastructure before you leave home as wifi signal is often not strong enough for major uploads and it can be incredibly stressful testing UX and design when the internet drops every 5 minutes.
3. Download the WordPress app – blogging from your mobile is far easier, particularly as the majority of your photos will be on your phone and it’s easier to connect your phone to wifi in hotels/ restaurants than taking a lap top with you!
4. The iPhone notes application has a direct WordPress plug in – allowing you to write blogs very easily offline while on trains/ buses and then quickly uploading them to WordPress without having to ‘copy/ paste’ each article. I also found it more reliable as it kept the font/ style.
5. An SEO strategy is critical if you’re wanting people outside of your network to find your blog. There are some great YouTube videos explaining SEO. We spent 3-4hrs prior to departing on:
– researching and agreeing keywords and site infrastructure/ tagging
– setting up social media/ social sharing functionality
– understanding content writing for SEO
– researching inbound and external linking/ backlinking
6. We knew the importance of social media so started building an audience which we’ll actively grow through out our travels. We’ve focussed on Twitter and Instagram. Remember the saying – “Content is king but distribution is queen. And she wears the pants”.
7. When it comes to writing blogs – like any writing, write about things that interest you BUT that people want to read and will find useful. My top tip is to have ten draft blog titles at any one time and develop them using 5-10 bullets under each header. Personally I find it easier to write 3 blogs in one sitting – blogs should ideally be 700-900 words, so can be written in about 30 minutes each.
8. Following on from above – I try and use any downtime to stay on top of my posts – particularly the ‘diary’ entries. If you leave them more than 2-3 days you’ll start forgetting what you’ve done and it will feel like a chore to catch up. Use the inevitable long bus/ train rides to get your writing done! By writing 3 or more at one time I can then upload and schedule publish dates when I get wifi – so new posts are publishing even when I’m not busy writing.
9. Consider also sharing the workload – getting the thoughts of travel buddies and guest bloggers is a great way to introduce more perspectives and opinions and also reduce the amount of writing you have to do.
10. Photos, photos and more photos – the more photos and videos the merrier but remember image size and dimensions as this will impact upload time and site time. You may need to upload videos to YouTube and embed them in your blog rather than upload directly. A bonus tip – most sites need landscape photos for featured/ header images consider this when snapping – also if uploading from a phone, create a folder with the dozen or so photos you need for your latest blog so that you’re not stuck flicking through thousands of pictures, looking for the one you want.
So, there are my ten top tips for starting your own travel blog. Whilst it may feel hard work at first, it can be great fun and very rewarding.