Sitting down and writing my first travel post was both intimidating and exciting. We dream about building a travel blog that will become popular one day, maybe even make us some money. But there are so many mistakes that can be made along the way–it’s no wonder the average travel blog lasts only six months. I just wish someone had shared with me the travel blogging tips for beginners that I’m about to share with you today.
My lesson was grueling and difficult.
I spent thousands of dollars on SEO companies that yielded no results; they gladly took the money and made off with empty promises. Although I found plenty of advice online, nothing was truly actionable. Nothing showed me a real live case. The advice I read sounded okay, but I just didn’t know if it would work, or if it was all theory.
What I am about to share with you are the techniques I used to hit Google’s first page for the keywords I choose.
These 5 travel blogging tips for beginners will help you focus on what works, and forget what doesn’t.
I’m also going to back these travel blogging tips with some concrete numbers for you to chew on. First of all, let me preempt this by stating an unpopular opinion:
Leaving an amalgam of comments on each other’s blogs (ie comment-sharing) is really not the right way to build popularity with your true readers.
Time and patience is.
Investing time to get real readers.
I did try leaving comments on other travels blogs, hoping to generate traffic. Result? Not worth mentioning. I don’t know about you, but I just don’t have the time to spare chain-commenting on travel blogs. I would rather hone my SEO techniques and drive real, buying traffic.
Disclaimer: Before I get started, let me say that this is what has worked for me–and that no two travel blogs are alike. So what has worked for me may not always work for you, and vice versa.
Here are my top 5 travel blogging tips I wish I’d known when I first started my travel blog:
1. Don’t Comment On Other Travel Blogs
There are twenty new banks, each of which has a banker. The bankers all agree to open an account with each other’s banks. Now each bank doesn’t look so new. They each have twenty accounts.
That’s twenty useless accounts, considering the target customers are buyers out there, not the banks themselves.
Unless you really enjoy your fellow blogger’s article, don’t spend hour upon hour mechanically commenting when truly deep down you don’t give a rat’s behind about the 7 Ways To Sleep In A Cave. Seriously. I found myself even doing comment exchanges and having to read 30 posts (I won’t lie, it felt like homework), leaving 30 comments or more a week, and not enjoying the process at all. It’s not that I didn’t love some of the posts, it’s just that it became inefficient. The results were definitely not worth the effort.
I even hired a guy to help me out at some point.
That’s just how tedious it got.
Today, I only comment on a post if I truly enjoy it. This is the way it should be. If I don’t leave a comment, it doesn’t mean I didn’t enjoy the post. I just may not have time. Why is this one of my top travel blogging tips for beginners?
Because you should use that valuable time instead mastering SEO. Which leads me to point 2, and a graph.
2. Learn SEO, and Learn it Quick!
Almost every one of my articles ranks on the first page of google for the keywords I choose. How much does it cost to move abroad? Cost of living in Saudi Arabia? Lebanon? Vietnam? Cambodia? Nepal? Laos? Travel Blogging Mistakes? Best Cities for Digital Nomads? I can keep going on and on. All of them rank high, and I’m not bragging. I’m just trying to drive my point home.
The rise to page 1 takes about 3 months–the ensuing traffic is a relief. If I could give a new travel blogger one big piece of advice, it is to learn SEO, AND LEARN IT WELL. You can write a great post and still have an awesome SEO foundation. It is a lot easier writing a valuable post and watching automatic Google, Yahoo, and Bing traffic roll in, than having to leave a ton of half-hearted comments on travel blogs.
I get an average of 1.6 pageviews per session, so today, in my 9th month, I get about 250-300 pageviews per day just from Google alone. I simply applied bank marketing theory to my blog, nothing more.
The beauty of SEO is that If you sit down and do absolutely no social media marketing, you will still get tons of pageviews every month from Google and other search engines. Banker in the Sun gets about 9,000 pageviews a month from Google right now. If I activate social media, I can spike monthly pageviews to 20-40,000. Here’s an example in August:
This is targeted and buyer traffic. Which leads us to…
3. Targetting Your Traffic
There are too many travel blogs out there competing for the same precious free minutes of a reader’s time. So how do we capture their attention? I found out that by targeting my traffic, I captured a lot of page views and scored more points with Google.
If your blog is about 50 year old+ travel–stick to it. Don’t start adding gap-year posts into the mix. That was my problem at first. I was all over the place. It got me nowhere in terms of lasting readership; they couldn’t figure out what I was about. Today, Banker in the Sun is about Saudi Arabia and about financial advice for travelers. It isn’t necessarily about budget travel. It is about working and the costs of living abroad, with a generous side dish of Saudi Arabian culture.
That doesn’t mean I don’t talk about other stuff, it just means my primary focus is specific. I’m a banker. I talk about money.
I write about what I know and what I love. I don’t search to see what the popular keywords are out there, or what google’s trends are. I write about what I truly enjoy sharing. By doing this, I automatically target traffic which can relate to me, as you would to those who relate to you.
4. Interlink and External Links
This may seem trite, but it is one of the most important travel blogging tips. Links prevent your readers from “bouncing” off your travel blog to your competitor’s blog. I always add plenty of links in my posts. I’d recommend ten links or more. These should be a mix of interlinks within your blog, as well as external authority links.
I always use authority links, such as BBC, Lonely Planet, and other trusted names. The higher their page rank, the better. I also try to choose links whose posts look appealing. I’ll never send a reader to a crappy or plain-looking page.
Linking alone takes me a good hour or two per post.
Last and definitely not least, is understanding your value proposition. I would venture to say that this the most important of all travel blogging tips for beginners. When people visit Banker in the Sun, I want them to feel like they got their time’s worth. I hope they did. I write about topics which draw heavily from my banking and Saudi Arabian background, and share what I think my targeted readers would value.
I don’t write about stuff like How to Catch A Bat In 5 Easy Steps. Even if it was a popular travel keyword, I’ll leave that to the bat experts. Again, I only write about what I love. What I know. Success may not be quick, but I believe if we’re true to ourselves, success will come.
I don’t think anyone ought to approach a travel blog with the intent to make money
but rather the intent to share good, sound advice and stories. If readers value this, the money will eventually come.
If you’ve run out of topics to write about, check your Google Analytics. See what keywords got people onto your website. Write about that. When I wrote one post about Saudi Arabia, I saw a huge demand, so I wrote many more posts–each of which guided me to new keywords.
Each one of the travel blogging tips above merits an entire class. Even the subject of value gets complicated, but I hope my trials and errors have shed some light on what may or may not work for you.
I haven’t talked money at all, because I believe value is what needs to come first. I hope these travel blogging tips for beginners help you. I wish someone had told me to quit worrying about Alexa ranks and all that useless stuff, and instead focus on building solid, SEO traffic.
Again, there are many techniques to drive big traffic. I am sharing what worked for me,
I’d love to hear what has worked for you!
What are your top travel blogging tips? What is the single, most important piece of advice you would give a new travel blogger?