I just finished my first year of travel blogging and learned so much. Here are 19 nuggets of advice for first-time travel bloggers!
1. Your content should be one of these 3 things to succeed: helpful, entertaining, or inspiring
Your content needs to provide something to your readers. Don’t forget that you’re not only writing for yourself, you’re writing for them too. If you’re writing in a way that isn’t of service to anyone else but you, you will be but another travel blogger in the sea of travel bloggers who write for themselves. As you write your post, ask yourself, “what will my readers get out of this post?”
2. Content is king
High-quality, structured content + high-quality imagery = Killer content your readers will keep coming back for.
If you’ve been blogging for a while and you’re wondering why you don’t have a loyal & engaged following yet, take an honest look at your content. Your content is the source of your success.
3. Your voice and your brand will change and that’s okay
It’s part of the process of starting a new venture, you won’t be able to understand the identity of your brand right from the start. Keep doing what you’re doing while being in the discovery of your voice and what you stand for.
4. You do not need to post that often
Quality over quantity. It’s better to have fewer posts that stand strong and are aligned with your brand than to have plenty of shorter posts that are loosely aligned with blog topic and that aren’t well-written. So with every post you have, be intentional with what you’re writing and write it well. Your blog is your portfolio and this is what you show to brands you want to collaborate with down the line. Also if you post all the time, you’ll get burnt out.
5. You do not need to travel that often
You can create countless posts from 1 trip alone. And you can plan out these posts before you head out so you’ll know what content to shoot and take notes for. Here are examples of posts you can create from 1 trip alone:
- “Top 10 Things To Do in Coron”
- “What to Eat (and not eat!) While Traveling Through Coron”
- “20 Photos That Will Inspire You to Fly to Coron TODAY”
- “3-Day Itinerary in Coron for Beach-Obsessed Travelers”
- “5 Ways to Get Around Coron (Perfect for Budget Travelers)”
- “Coron’s Best Instagrammable Spots”
- “3 Things I Regret Not Bringing with Me to Coron”
- “I Got Food Poisoning in Coron– Here’s How to Avoid It” → true story 😭
So if you post once a week, you’d have at least 2 months worth of content covered from 1 trip.
6. You can “wing it,” but if you want to go far, you will need to create a structure
If being organized and structured isn’t your thing, this is something you’ll end up doing anyway i.e. editorial calendars, scheduling social media posts, batching, creating a list of brands to contact, tracking the money your spending/earning, etc. Keep in mind that if you want to make money as a blogger, you need to treat your blog as a business and a business needs structure.
7. You Need to put in 1,000 to get 10,000
You’ll need to start investing in things like buying a domain, upgrading your equipment, hiring a designer, hosting giveaways, etc. Just like starting a business, you need capital and it’s best to figure out how much you’ll need before you get started. If you’re not willing to spend/borrow money for your business, you’re not ready to run one.
8. be Willing to Give Away things For Free
Going off of “You need to put in 1,000 to get 10,000,” GIVE, GIVE, GIVE! Create content worth selling and give it away for free. Host irresistible giveaways for your readers to give away things for free. This is how you build a loyal & engaged following that way when you want to sell something to them, you’ve already built trust from them.
That’s how I grew my following. Also, you might think that with where I’m at now and with the title of this post, I’m already earning money. While I do get sent products in exchange for promoting them, I have not earned a single dollar. Technically, I could already but my business goal for my first year of Traveling Petite Girl was to build a loyal following of 30,000+ readers around the world 1 year after launch. Making a certain amount of money is my goal for year 2 and that’s what I’m up to right now.
9. Create goals that are realistic but are worth failing at
Like a business, create a business plan with measurable goals. Where do you want your blog to be in 1 year, 3 years, 5 years, etc? Create goals that scare you. This will tell you if you’re headed in the right direction and stretching yourself out. Also, work backwards– start with your end goal and your goals before it will fall into place. Here’s an example:
- 5 Year Goal: Have built an international following of 150,000 loyal readers, worked with 5 tourism boards, and earned $50,000 in revenue
- 3 Year Goal: Have built an international following of 80,000 loyal readers, have been on 3 press trips and have earned $20,000 in revenue
- 1 Year Goal: Have built an international following of 30,000 loyal readers and have collaborated with 5 brands
10. you don’t need to spend that much time on Social Media
Growing your following, reply to messages, commenting on other blogger’s Instagrams i.e. building and connecting with your community is important but don’t forget that you’re entitled to have a life outside your blog. Your blog is not you and you are not your blog. And the number of likes, comments, and followers you have do not define how successful of a blogger you are. I HAVE TO REMIND THIS TO MYSELF ALL THE TIME.
11. The higher your following is, the lower your engagement will be
This is especially the case for Instagram with the current algorithm.* So if your engagement has gotten lower after your following has grown, that’s normal. This usually happens once you’ve reached ~6k-10k followers. And the ratio will continue to decrease as you grow.
*As of October 2017
12. Many people will slide into your DMs and you are not obligated to reply to every single one
People will genuinely be interested in getting to know you who you are, be friends with you, ask advice from you, learn to do what you’re doing. And then some people are– for lack of a better word– thirsty. I did not post that photo of myself in a bikini so you can hit me up and call me baby. It’s up to you on how you want to handle this like deleting their messages/comments or blocking them. It’s best to figure how to handle this now because you’ll be doing this much more often down the line. That said, different people will ask you the same question again and again and once you find out what it is, you can write a post about it. That way when more people ask you, you can link them to your post and save your readers’ and yourself time.
My top 2 questions I get were, “What camera do you use?” and “What camera do you recommend?” So I wrote “Amazing Travel Photography Gear for Female Travelers” and “The Best Travel Cameras for Beginners | 2017.” Because these posts are based on common questions I get, these are my most popular posts. Everyone wins!
13. Numbers are important but do not let the numbers run you
If you find that certain posts don’t get many likes, comments, or shares, this will tell you to focus more on content that does get you more likes, comments, and shares. This will tell you what your readers like and what you should keep doing more of. Just don’t forget to create posts that you love, not only what your readers will love.
14. Not every travel journey needs to be blogged about
You’re allowed to enjoy your travels without writing about it. Travel blogging may look like a vacation from an outsider’s perspective but it’s not. You’re constantly planning your trips, researching for your content, creating content, managing your social media accounts, communicating with brands, etc. Take a vacation from your “vacation.”
15. Succeeding as a blogger depends heavily on building relationships and communication
You won’t grow without networking so it’s time to put your social skills to use. These people you network with will connect you to opportunities. Just last week, my friend contacted me for a spot in an exclusive yoga retreat she’s hosting at a beach resort in Thailand worth $1099 in exchange for promoting it. You never know what will come out of building relationships and you will be surprised with what you can get out of it.
16. you may be the face of your blog but that does not mean you are the only person running it
You don’t need to be the lone wolf who wears many different hats. In fact, you’ve probably learned how much work it takes to run a blog. Now’s the time to expand your leadership and invite people to join your team as you grow. If you’re getting burnt out, it’s time to assign some of your tasks to someone else.
17. You will have to screw the idea of being a “sell out”
You’re already being generous sharing your knowledge by blogging. Be a boss ass bitch and take that money because there’s nothing wrong with earning money doing what you love. Additionally, if you’ve taken the time to build a loyal following, it won’t matter if you’re a “sell out” or not they will continue to support you.
18. At a certain point, You’ll find yourself doing it for the likes and lose sight of your authenticity
You can always turn that around. Share about where you’ve been inauthentic and people will find you refreshing in the already superficial world of social media & blogging. If you think about it, people love hearing bad things about others and they will appreciate you more if you share something authentic, vulnerable, and real and things like that isn’t always good news. People had already known me as the free-spirited, bubbly blogger of Traveling Petite Girl until I shared a story about an abusive relationship I was in. Suddenly, I wasn’t some happy-go-lucky travel blogger who posts FOMO-causing travel photos, I became an approachable friend people can be vulnerable with and have coffee with if I ever happened to be in their city. I became even more of an inspiration to others and people found me much more relatable to them.
As a blogger, you’re developing your skills in leadership by building yourself as an influencer. Being a leader doesn’t mean you have to be the strong one that knows everything, being a leader means being vulnerable and allowing others to contribute to you so that you can further contribute to the world. And being vulnerable touches, moves, and inspires people. If that’s not one of your goals as a blogger, I invite you to think bigger of yourself.
19. You are not “just a blogger,” you are much more than that
When I introduce myself to others, I don’t say “I’m a travel blogger” because for one thing, not everyone knows what that means. Instead, I say, “I run a website for female travelers that teaches them how to shoot beautiful travel photography which further inspires them to travel and I do that by creating photo and video content that fuses inspiration, discovery, and creativity.” BOOM. Get your elevator pitch down.
That’s it! I know many of you are interested in travel blogging or are in their first year of travel blogging, so I thought I’d share advice that would’ve been useful to a newbie like me when I started a year ago. What are your thoughts on these nuggets of advice? Comment below if you got something out of my post and if you’d love to contribute something that you learned yourself!
Stay tuned for my next video, “Traveling Petite Girl Answers Your Questions (Q&A)”
I love you & talk to you soon! 🍍
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