Four things we did right in our first year of travel blogging

| August 5, 2010 | 11 Comments
keytosuccess Four things we did right in our first year of travel blogging

The 'key' to success—get it? We've always wanted one of these silly visual metaphors to grace one of our posts!

In the comment stream of last month’s article on our one-year anniversary—“Four Mistakes We Made in Our First Year of Travel Blogging”—Andy Hayes of Sharing Travel Experiences asked: “What four things did you do really well in your first year of travel blogging?”. In the same set of comments, we promised Shannon O’Donnell (she of A Little Adrift) that we would reveal things that worked for us in our first year. While it was fun (and useful) to share our defeats—it’s also important and helpful to recognize our successes.

Like we touched on in our earlier post, creating a travel blog is not an easy thing to accomplish. In fact, we’re still perfecting our recipe for success and striving to better ourselves while fine tuning our methods. During our first year, we made a lot of mistakes—but we did get a few things right. Here are the four most important elements that contributed to our success in our first year of travel blogging.

1. We had fun

Early on, we made sure that our blog and the topic on which it pivoted was something into which we could really sink our teeth. We love blogging—and we love to travel. Even when we’re not doing it, we’re dreaming of it—and we feel that our readers sense this joy, enthusiasm and enjoyment. Just like Malcolm Gladwell writes in Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking—and we paraphrase—your readers will begin to form an opinion of you almost immediately after discovering your blog. Moreover, they’ll read between your lines. The best way to engage your readership is by believing in the story that you are conveying to them.

Do you really want to have a hugely ‘successful’ travel blog that you hate running? Early on, we made sure that our blog and the topic on which it was based was something that we loved to do. That way, success was ours from day one. If you love what you’re doing, success will be automatic.

2. We chose quality over quantity

All over the blogosphere, so-called experts proffer tips and techniques for succeeding in the world of blogging. A lot of what you come across is good advice, but often it’s crap. Take, for example, the rule of being consistent with posting frequency. The theory behind posting frequency holds that blogs do better over time if they adhere to a consistent publishing schedule. Some prominent bloggers suggest that bloggers who publish less than two to three times per week have no strategic plans for growth. Complete bull.

This, of course, has not been our experience. We were thrilled if we got more than a post done every few days. In the beginning, however, we drank the kool-aid. Our experience told us that we were not only lying to ourselves, but also setting our blog up for failure. It was clear to us that mediocrity comes a dime a dozen. Therefore, early on in the life of our blog, we decided that we would prefer to write quality posts in lieu of greater numbers. Do we knock it out of the park with every post? Certainly not. But we do feel that the blog is better off for it.

As a reader, what would you prefer: a blogger that produced average posts consistently or great posts with less frequency? We subscribe to over 200 travel blogs in Google Reader—and nothing irks us more than a blogger who has churned out a substandard post just to meet an arbitrary count for the week. It’s a waste of time for both blogger and reader.

3.  We chose to host our blog under our own steam and on our own domain

So you’ve decided to start a travel blog, but aren’t sure whether you should host the blog yourself or sign up for a free service like blogger.com. It’s a dilemma that many bloggers face. There are pros and cons to both, which makes the decision difficult for many. That being said, Kathryn and I are very happy that we chose to host our blog under our own steam and on our own domain right out of the gate. You’ll see that Two Go Round-The-World is hosted at twortw.com and is powered by WordPress.

Our decision to host our own blog was motivated by a desire to enjoy a greater amount control and flexibility with our blogging. Standalone blogs can be configured to look and run very professionally and to be adapted into configurations that are limited only by one’s imagination—not so with free solutions. Free blog publishing tools are a great way to introduce yourself to blogging but, if you decide that you want to turn blogging into something more than a hobby—or just want more control over your work—you’ll need to consider a self-hosted option.

4. We took care of some basic SEO early

For the most part, WordPress comes ready to embrace search engines—in other words, the Mighty Google. WordPress does a far better job at allowing your pages to be indexed than every other blog platform or CMS we have used. But there’s a few things you should do to make your blog more appealing to the search gods. Check out some of the suggestions here.

Firstly, it’s imperative that you create SEO friendly WordPress URLs. By default, WordPress uses dynamic web URLs that may hinder some of your search engine optimization efforts. Thankfully, the WordPress admin panel is set up so that you can set up friendlier permalinks in a matter of minutes. If you’re interested in learning how to create SEO friendly URLs, read more at WordPress Beginner here.

Secondly, if you have checked out the most popular WordPress plugins, you will invariably see a reference to All in One SEO Pack. This plugin helps to optimize your WordPress blog for search engines. In fact, the All in One SEO Pack for WordPress has proven to be one of the most essential plugins we’ve downloaded. Since we first stumbled on it, we’ve recommended it to our colleagues as a simple way to convince popular search engines such as Google, Yahoo, and MSN to crawl their blog. More importantly, this plugin boasts features that can otherwise be found in a dozen or so separate plugins, making it a convenient and powerful option. Learn more about  the All in One SEO Pack at WordPress Beginner here.

Conclusion

Are you a travel blogger? What have you learned from creating your own travel blog? Share some of the lessons you’ve learned from while setting out! And for those travel bloggers just starting out—you might want to check out our posts focused on our experiences running a travel blog:


31DaysBook 216x300 Four things we did right in our first year of travel blogging

This posting was inspired in part by Darren Rowse’s 31 Days to Build a Better Blog—a downloadable e-book designed to help you revitalize your blog by giving you 31 tasks that will all help to improve! Darren’s book essentially provides one action or activity to do per day for a 31 day period—and a lesson around why it should be done. Today’s ‘list post’ was the second activity from the work book, the first was our post on building a better travel blog. We’ve been working through the activities that Darren has suggested and will include a note whenever a post is inspired by his program. For anyone who hasn’t checked out Darren Rowse’s eBook already, we highly recommend it. In addition to providing substantive recommendations on how to improve your blog, there is an excellent community built around his methods.


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About the Author ()

For nearly ten years now, Daniel of Two Go Round-The-World has explored how travel captures our imagination and engages our deepest emotions. One half of the duo that maintains the widely read Two Go Round-The-World blog, Daniel treats his subjects not only as works of art but also as symbols of the cultural and political forces that inspire them. Check him out on Google+.

Comments (11)

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  1. Candice says:


    I also believe in quality over quantity. Rigid schedules just don’t work for writing travellers!

    But woohoo, congrats on the one year!

  2. Daniel says:


    After re-reading our this afternoon, I realized that we didn’t distinguish between posting frequency and having an editorial calendar — as there’s a pretty big difference. We’re big believers in editorial calendars. Why? Because they force you to think about what you’re posting in advance and to try to structure your writing.

    While editorial calendars might influence posting frequency — posting frequency should never, in our opinion, influence your content. And that’s the point we were trying to make, however circumlocutious.


  3. “We had fun”

    I think that and having a passion about what you are doing is the only way that one will have longevity in travel blogging…especially if you are blogging while you travel like we are. ;)


  4. I also recommend the Google XML Sitemap Generator for helping with SEO in WordPress. If you’re not already using it. :)

  5. Emily says:


    I couldn’t agree with quality over quantity. When I first started my blog, I tried to post at least four times a week, with two of those as regular features. It quickly became unsustainable, considering my day job, freelance writing, and having a life! I now try to do one or two posts a week. If I’m having a great week with some free time, I’ll do three, but I don’t sweat it. I try really hard to do at least one post a week so my blog doesn’t look dead, but I have definitely tried to focus on good content a few times a week rather than rushed, bad copy every day or every other day.

    I’ve tried several times to do an editorial calendar, and while I’ve found it to be quite easy when working at publications, it’s been very hard to do on my own blog (probably because nobody is forcing me to stick to it). I’m going to keep trying, though :)

    I also use WP’s All-in-One SEO pack, and I think it’s worked quite well for me.


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