Keyword research is time-consuming. Implementing a strong keyword strategy from start to finish in order to rank competitively can take hours and involves a combination of independent research and utilizing a keyword research tool. Having a solid basic understanding...
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- 1 Choose Your Career Goals
- 2 Step up Your Photography Game
- 2.0.1 Looking back on my old hobby blog I am proud of the stories I shared, but if there is one thing I wish I had improved it would have been my photography. I say this because while my family, who are from a small town in Alaska got a feel for London through my writing, sadly the only photos they saw were sideways drunken blurs, a red double-decker bus with the top cut off, and part of the Tower Bridge. I wish I had shown them more alluring photos to help them understand why visiting London was so special and how different it was from my hometown. I suggest you invest in a mid-priced digital camera that takes good photos. The Sony A6000 is a great starter camera and is the most recommended camera in FTB. Once you have your new camera, head over to read Julia’s guide on taking better photos so you don’t end up with awkward framed photos. You should also learn basic editing. When it comes to editing you can use free software like Snapseed on your phone, or Google Photos built-in photo editor. Make sure you straighten your photos and hit the auto adjust and boom your photo is instantly 100x better. For Professional Bloggers
- 3 Build a Social Media Presence
- 4 Improve Your Writing & Find Your Voice
- 5 Make your content shareable
- 6 Professional Bloggers: Take it to the Next Level
- 7 What is Next For You?
Choose Your Career Goals
Ideally, you’ve already thought about why you started blogging. Whether that is to make money by using a self-hosting option combination like Site Ground and WordPress to grow into a professional blogger, or by sticking to free hosting by blogger or WordPress as a hobby blogger. If you haven’t, take some time to think about your goals. Do you want to be a hobby blogger sharing your stories with friends and families when you have time, or do you want to turn this into a part or full-time career? If you change your mind later on down the road, that is totally fine, you can always go from hobby to full time or take it from part or full time and resort back to hobby blogging. But having an idea in your head will help you go through this post as I highlight steps for both hobbyist and professional bloggers and will help you set realistic goals.
Decide on a Niche or Theme for Your Blog
Choosing a niche is one of the best things you can do for your blog. Regardless if you want a hobby blog to share with family or a professional blog, defining the voice, niche, style or theme of your blog can help you in many ways. To pick a niche you should choose topics you are an expert in or want to be an expert in. It can be a destination you know really well or a style of travel like luxury or budget. It should also be how you like to travel. One of the mistakes I made as a new blogger was trying to develop a niche that didn’t my style of travel. As soon as I switched to my current niche I am cranking out posts left and right, securing partnerships, and building a loyal following.
For Hobby Bloggers
Some people might argue defining a style is important only if you want to take blogging seriously, but I think it can help even hobby bloggers stay motivated and focused in order to share their stories. Back when my blog was just a hobby to share my travels with family, I struggled with the organization and what I wanted to write about. It caused a lack of motivation to share. Once I narrowed down my focus to embellished narrative storytelling I started picking up on things I wanted to include in my story as I traveled. It allowed my family to know what to expect and in what style and I was able to entertain my friends and family with hilarious stories. It gave me purpose and determination to share my story and make time when traveling to keep people updated.
For Professional Bloggers
Defining your niche is one of the most important things you can do for your blog. It helps you gain authority in certain aspects of blogging, rank higher for keywords, successfully pitch for press trips and companies that align with your niche, and survive in a sea of bloggers
If you have unique information to share with your readers that they can’t find anywhere else you will develop a loyal following of people who trust you for information. Google will also treat you as an authority and you will rank better if you write detailed posts on topics you are an expert in. When it comes to pitching do you think a luxury brand is more likely to work with someone who has a defined luxury brand with luxury followers, or a generic catching anything blogger with followers who may or may not be interested in luxury travel?
Step up Your Photography Game
This is something I think both hobby and professional bloggers should do. Increasing your photography game allows for better content and showcases your travels for friends and family back home.
Looking back on my old hobby blog I am proud of the stories I shared, but if there is one thing I wish I had improved it would have been my photography. I say this because while my family, who are from a small town in Alaska got a feel for London through my writing, sadly the only photos they saw were sideways drunken blurs, a red double-decker bus with the top cut off, and part of the Tower Bridge. I wish I had shown them more alluring photos to help them understand why visiting London was so special and how different it was from my hometown.
I suggest you invest in a mid-priced digital camera that takes good photos. The Sony A6000 is a great starter camera and is the most recommended camera in FTB. Once you have your new camera, head over to read Julia’s guide on taking better photos so you don’t end up with awkward framed photos. You should also learn basic editing. When it comes to editing you can use free software like Snapseed on your phone, or Google Photos built-in photo editor. Make sure you straighten your photos and hit the auto adjust and boom your photo is instantly 100x better.
For Professional Bloggers
Having professional photos can take your blog to a whole new level. If you are able to improve your photography that is something that can easily allow you to add an additional 2-5k price for your work if you’re offering photos. Your pins will perform better, your social media will pop, and your blog posts will be more captivating encouraging people to stay on them longer.
To take your blog to the next level, we suggest you invest in a quality camera like the Sony A7 iii, invest in Adobe photography package to include Photoshop and Lightroom, and take a few Udemy courses on photography and editing. Doing so will take your brand and blog to the next level and not to mention you can start selling photos, which can fetch you a pretty penny.
Build a Social Media Presence
Social media isn’t just for driving traffic. It is a place to reflect honest and real-time travel with your audience, whoever that may be. It can be a great next step for both hobby and professional bloggers.
For Hobby Bloggers
Writing a blog post about your adventures is great and all, but what your mom and friends from back home really want to see is real-time raw footage of your and your thoughts while traveling. Including social media in your approach to blogging will help connect you to loved ones back home. You don’t need to worry about growing your audience or hashtag research, but just getting your thoughts and photos as they happen out on social media will allow everyone back home to appreciate your journey even more.
For Professional Bloggers
Social media is crucial for those who want to be professional bloggers, but maybe not for the reasons you think. Social media is not always a tool to drive traffic, with the exception of Pinterest, but rather it is a tool to grow and cultivate an audience that enjoys your personality and on the go insights into life and travel. This is the place to let your personality shine. If you use your blog for optimized posts and feel like you don’t have enough creativity shining through then use social media to show your followers the real your! This will help you grow and honest and loyal audience.
Once you have an honest and loyal audience then brands will be able to see that and social media can help you connect and work with brands. When you stop thinking of social media as a numbers game to drive traffic you will see the power it holds to connect you with your readers and brands.
If mastering all the social media’s are too hard then focus on one at a time and find an authentic way to communicate with your followers.
Instagram: try posting a longer caption this week that come from the heart and see how your readers react. Post stories at least 3x a week. It doesn’t have to be just of your traveling. Showing your real life helps people connect with you.
Twitter: Create lists of brands you want to work with and brands you’ve included in your recent posts. Tweet content to them, and tweet at them. Twitter is for conversing, chime in brand’s posts and share your own insights on Twitter. This is not just a dumping group for your latest post. Read more about using Twitter to connect with brands and land sponsorships.
Pinterest: Is a traffic driver. Learn how to make captivating pins with optimized descriptions to boost your traffic. Learn more about creating and setting up Pinterest in our Pinterest guide.
Improve Your Writing & Find Your Voice
Captivating bloggers and writers are honestly hard to find, which means if you improve your writing it already puts you leagues ahead of your competition.
For Hobby Bloggers
If you’re only writing for friends and family, improving your writing is a great way for them to enjoy what you’re writing. Similar to improving your photography they will feel more connected with you and understand how wonderful and special each destination is. The best way to improve your writing is to read narratives, read our tips for improving your writing and pick up books written by other travel bloggers like Glo from the Blog Aboard’s E-Book. You can also read Karin’s guide to improving your writing and readership.
For Professional Bloggers
In addition to the above tips, we also recommend taking professional courses on Udemy about writing, reading books on writing, and writing every day. Some of our favorite books on writing are: 100 Ways to Improve Your Writing and On Writing Well.
If there is one thing people love it is to share a good article or story that they read. Ensuring your content is sharable is a great way to help your grandma read your content all the way to going viral.
For Hobby Bloggers
Let your family or friends show off that someone they know is traveling the world. Making your content shareable will make everyone happy and proud. Make sure you set up the free share settings on your free blogging platform and connect your social media.
For Professional Bloggers
Want to go viral? Make your content shareable and make sure it is done the right way. Set up a social sharing plugin, check out our recommendations, here. From there connect your social media. If you really want to make your social media work for you choose an option that is going to allow you to choose your pin image and description, create a custom tweet, and optimize your meta description for social. The pro versions of Social Pug and Social Warfare do this.
Then you must test your share settings. Go to your latest post and click every single share option, does your pin show up, what does your tweet look like? Make sure your content looks good and is optimized for all social media channels.
Professional Bloggers: Take it to the Next Level
For those that strive to be professional full-time bloggers, these should be next on your list to take your travel blog to the next level.
Self Host, Own Your Domain
If you want to take your blogging seriously one of the first things you need to do is invest a little money into a self-hosting option and own your own domain. If you have anything like femaletravelbloggers.wordpress.com you need to make that change to start earning money. We recommend self-hosting through SiteGround and signing up for WordPress.org. The move might be scary, but we promise SiteGround helps you and it is a necessary step. An alternative option is to pay for WordPress.com premium in order to have your own URL name.
Now that you’ve decided to pursue a path that will hopefully lead you to make income off blogging full time one of the most important things you need to do is create content and increase your traffic. I know you might feel like you need to learn how to be a social media rockstar and perfect SEO before you create content, but one of the best things you can do to help you fall in love with writing, creating content and building your traffic is to write content. While you’re still building your blog create a content calendar that has your publishing at least once a week. If you are writing content in which you are an expert, that genuinely answers your reader’s questions, and connects with your audience then you are going to see an increase in traffic.
Trust me as someone who spent a few months waiting around for optimized posts to bring me lots of traffic I didn’t see success until I got more content published and indexed.
Index Your Site on Google Search Console
As you create that new content you want all your hard work to actually show up online, right? Well, the single most important thing to make that happen is to make sure Google knows you exist. You need to set up Google Search Console to essentially register all your pages and posts on Google, so when someone searches for a relevant topic Google knows to pull up your content. Read my full guide on Google Search Console and getting your site indexed.
You can also go through a similar process with Bing. Bing is often overlooked as a search engine, but it brings me about 10-20 hits a day, and hey it is something, right?
Work on SEO: Keysearch
Now that you’re in the groove of creating content, and you have your website indexed it is time to start optimizing that content. Some of the most important things for SEO are to ensure you are doing proper keyword research with a tool like Keysearch and implementing the keywords with a strategy, you are not making any of these SEO mistakes, and you are optimizing your site for things like speed, and mobile first indexing. Read more about SEO tips for travel blogs.
Improve Your Website
Writing content isn’t the only thing that will help launch your career. You want to make sure your blog theme is in line with the professional image you are presenting for yourself. Do you have the same basic free blog that everyone else has? What is making you stand out from other bloggers? Most professional bloggers have invested in a theme that allows for optimizing and content, such as Divi, hired a web developer to set up their site with UX in mind and installed the right plugins to make their life easier.I also suggest you spend some time on your own website. Open an incognito window and go to your home page, from there how do you find your travel content? When you click on tabs and links do they work? Is your website too slow? Invite a friend over, order pizza, give them quizzes and say “find my European content,” or ask them what is confusing or what they like. Readers should be able to find your content, see your unique personality or niche, and not get bogged down with too many bells and whistles. Take a look at some of your favorite travel bloggers, what do you like about their site? Your website will eventually be your resume, part of your media kit, and a cover letter all in one. If you want to land sponsorship and work with brands then you need to polish your website to put your best foot forward.
Other things to consider:
- Site speed, is your site loading in under 3 seconds?
- Easy to navigate menu
- Functional sidebar
- Striking feature images
- Branded pins
- Static homepage
- About me page
- Work with me page
- Destination landing pages
Create Guest Posts
If you’re having a hard time building content on your website, writing guest posts and participating in collabs is a great way to build yourself as an authority in a niche, build backlinks and generate traffic. I try and stick to guest posts that are within my niche this allows me to get relevant traffic to my website and get noticed by people outside my networking bubble. In fact, I think using guest posts and collabs for this over getting a high DA to link back to you is more valuable. So, when your unsure of where to go next in your blogging career try a guest post, you never know what door it might open for you. Use #FTBCollab to find guest post and collab opportunities.
Start Building Your Email List
If you want to get into email marketing then you will want to start building your email list. Divi offers an opt-in form to make this easy or you can use the free version of MailChimp or pay for Convertkit. If you plan on blogging about blogging, selling Ebook, writing a book, starting group trips or utilizing other creative ways to make money, then you will want to set this up. Start with a free opt to encourage people, but be aware that GDPR means you must be clear about what they are signing up for.
Market Yourself & Network
Is a blogger even a blogger if no one knows who they are? Some of the best opportunities in my blogging career have been brought about through networking. If you make connects with bloggers and genuinely make an effort to support and lift them up, you may be on their list of contacts if they are unable to make a press trip. They are more likely to naturally link back to you, support you on social and talk about you to their readers.
It is also important to network with brands. We suggest going to the Women in Travel Summit. This is a great place to network with professional brands who are looking to work with strong female influencers and it can give you and your brand the confidence boost you need to propel your career even further. If you want to attend WITS then use code ftb19 for a 15% discount on all tickets in Europe and ftbrocks for a 35% discount on GA for North America.
Create a Post Optimized for Affiliates
The key to making your first dollar with affiliate links isn’t to go back to any old post and throw in a random affiliate link. Instead sign up for a targeted network that aligns with your readers, brand, and blog and create a post in order to sell a product. An example: Sign up for Get Your Guide or Viator, write a post about a day trip you’ve done on your own. In your post offer a GYG tour of a similar day trip for your less confident readers who want to book an excursion. You’ll see a better conversion rate.
For more affiliate strategies, read this post on affiliate marketing strategies by affiliate wizz Jessie on a Journey.
If you’re not overwhelmed by it all you might be soon, and that is ok. Take one of these things at a time and master each one as you go. To stay motivated read Business Coach Lottie’s guide to staying motivated while blogging.
What is Next For You?
So, now that you have a travel blog, let us know what is next for you? What is your priority, do you want to stay a hobby blogger entertaining your friends and family or do you want to turn your blog into a career? No matter the stage you’re at we’re here to help. We can’t wait to see what is next for you and your blog in the comments.
Susanna Kelly is an adrenaline junkie from Alaska, on a quest to explore the great outdoors.
However, she openly admits to being a total geek at heart. Her blog, the Wandering Chocobo, focuses on adventure travel and eco-tourism, while hitting pause for what she’s defining as hipster city travel. Her hipster city guides explore craft cocktail bars, boutique hotels, markets, local businesses, and geek hideouts.
When she’s not creating content for her travel blog or freelance ventures, she likes to work on her fiction novel, LARPing and gaming, volunteering and getting to level 99 in life. She currently lives in Munich, Germany.
Connect with Susanna at her site Wandering Chocobo.