HOW TO START A TRAVEL BLOG?
For several years, two opposing opinions have been competing in the network: "blogs are a thing of the past", some say. "Blogs are getting more and more popular!", oppose the others. Sometimes these negative statements prevail, other times the majority of votes are on the optimists’ side. These fluctuations are related to the popularity of blogs in general, algorithms (f. ex. those from Google) and data analysis. In fact, it is not sure who is right, the only truth is that blogging supporters prefer to vote for, and opponents: against popularity of the blogs. Depending on which side you are on, today's post will be very interesting for you, or completely useless. If you choose the first option, keep on reading :)
It is hard to imagine how many blogs about various topics are being created in the world every day. Virtually every user in the Internet has to deal with them every day. Blogs are not personal diaries or electronic notebooks anymore, but rather online stores, corporate business cards and enterprises of all sizes. More and more brands keep a blog referring to the products on their business website, including news related to the company or content that encourages customers to contact them directly. The possibilities are endless. And entrepreneurs are willingly use them.
Running a blog is a satisfying activity, especially for people who publish content about their personal passion: hence so many travel blogs on the online map! ;) Travels and adventures are great topics for the blog, from which you can create engaging stories, or practical guides (such as, for example, Altertonative). Many travel bloggers, however, complain about saturation, high competition, difficulties in distinguishing themselves and finding long-term readers, but in my opinion, this shouldn’t discourage novice authors. Aren’t the clothing, beauty products, food, etc. industries in a similar situation? And yet, new businesses and start-ups are being created every day. Sure, many of them will fall, but hey, why not to try?
HOW TO START A TRAVEL BLOG STEP BY STEP?
1. THE CREATIVE SIDE
TOPIC – Start by specifying what you want to write about? About travelling, right? Yes, but that’s too general. Think about whether it will be about local or foreign travels? Or maybe focused only on one region, the chosen country, the way of traveling, or even time of traveling? The more accurately you can determine it, the easier it will be for you to find readers. Over time, it can change or expand, but it is important to start with specific topic.
AUDIENCE – Ask yourself one of the most important questions - who do you want to write for? How do you imagine your ideal reader? You can specify his / her sex, age, interests, education, time, in which (s)he reads the blog most willingly, or even the weight and the style (if it is justified, of course). Then think about what content such a person would like to read, in what style blogs (s)he likes and how you can write your posts to attract his / her attention. If you don’t want to write only for yourself, imagining the ideal reader is crucial to the development of the blog and it’s worth finding out at the beginning of your blogging journey.
TITLE – For some it is obvious, others have a huge problem with it. Choosing the right name for your blog is not an easy thing, so you need to consider a few important things:
- blog titles usually don’t change, so think about whether it will still be up to date in a few years and whether you are still able to like it,
- the name should be easy to remember (catchy!),
- the name should carry a blog message or refer to it directly,
- check if the domain (.com, .eu, etc.) with the chosen name is available (even if you don’t plan to invest in it - for now),
ARTWORK – Search for blogs that you like visually and get inspired. Pay attention to the details of the layout: where are the content and photos displayed, how clear is the navigation, whether the message of the blog immediately catches the eye, what colors are prominent and what emotions do they arouse? Now imagine your ideal website - it's supposed to be your business card, reflect the message of the blog and look professional. In the era of availability of tools for creating websites, it is simpler than ever, so use your imagination freely ;) In case you have no skills, ask your friends for help or even hire a freelance designer.
2. THE PRACTICAL SIDE
SOFTWARE – Before you choose the right software = web (blog) creator, do an accurate research and test 2-3 of the available services. Prepare some favorite photos and some text and work! You won’t be able to check all the options right away, some of them may start disturbing you in later stages of blogging, but at this point, be guided by the intuition, opinions of others and the possibility of cancellation. I personally recommend the following three:
Squarespace (paid) - I use it for Altertonative and I am very happy with it! This creator is incredibly easy to use, offers professional, beautiful templates, automatic data analysis, unlimited space and many other useful tools. You can try it for free for 14 days (it has limited features then). Unfortunately, it is not cheap.
Wordpress (free) - very popular software dedicated primarily to blogs. It has a range of templates and it’s an intuitive system, but requires installation and this part may discourage some from the very beginning (a 5-minute installation may supposedly last up to an hour). In addition, you have to get your domain at an external supplier. Wordpress, however, offers great opportunities thanks to the innumerable number of available plugins, which (when you know just the basics of coding) can be easily implemented onto your blog. In my opinion, this is an ideal option for bloggers who don’t know yet whether the blog is a temporary hobby or a long-term passion that they would most likely transform into their full-time job.
Wix (free / paid) - similar system in action to Squarespace, however, it has a free, very limited version, which, however, can work for some people. I’ve seen the paid version (f. ex. Pick Up Limes) and it looks great!
FREQUENCY – When you have a clear vision of your blog and know which creator you want to use, it's time to think about the content, and more specifically about the frequency of its publishing. Do not throw yourself into the deep water from the beginning! I know from experience that one post a week is already a lot of work, so before you declare yourself to the future audience, think about how much time you can really spend on your blog (write 2-3 articles to check it out). Why set any frames at all? If you want your blog to be taken seriously, you have to consistently develop it and show that you care about it, and nothing secures faithful readers more than regularly published content.
PLANNING – If you already written 2-3 posts, you know more or less how much time does it take you. Now it's time to check what the technical issues look like. Depending on the software, adding photos, hashtags, comments, scheduling publications, etc. is done differently. Test the capabilities of your creator a few weeks before publishing your blog. Then create a work schedule. Planning is the key! It doesn’t matter if you do it in the Google calendar, set a reminder on your phone or stick notes above your working desk. For the next few weeks after publishing your blog, you need to know what to do.
SOCIAL MEDIA – Thanks to social media, you will promote your blog. There are many possibilities: Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter...the more connected accounts, the better. Remember to create new business accounts. Personal accounts do not look professional, they just may serve as an additional place to promote and share publications. Choose one, high-quality profile photo that you set up on all your accounts - this will be your trademark next to the blog name. Remember to invite all your friends to like and follow you in all social media. One more thing: start with the social profiles a bit earlier than with the website. Thanks to this, readers will be checking your blog from the first publishing day.
PROMOTION – If you take your blog seriously, consider a paid promotion from the very beginning. Think about a monthly budget that you can spend on it and try what works and what doesn’t. Knowing who your potential audience is, personalize the ad. You can do it by editing the promotion, which means choosing the age, location and interests of people to whom the promotion is to hit. Take care of the visual aspects of the ad (short videos are great), then select the daily budget and duration of the promotion. In my experience, it's better to make longer promotions with a lower daily budget than vice versa.
RELEASE – The day that your blog will see the light of day is now the most important date for you. Prepare for it properly and treat it as a special event. First of all, make sure that there are several valuable articles on the blog (minimum 5) on various topics ready to engage your future audience. Check if all links are working, if there are any errors, and whether the photos load without problems. It's best to test it on your computer, tablet and especially on your phone, because most of your readers will consume content on mobile devices. Create an event on Facebook, mention it on Instagram and write a catchy Twitter headline, let people look forward to your blog’s launch and let them anticipate for awhile. Ask your friends to enter the blog on the publishing day, comment on posts, share them in the media, and to make a bit of so-called "noise" around it. If they like it, let them invite their friends to follow your accounts, and so the group of readers will slowly begin to grow!
How long does it take? Seems a lot to do, right? It shouldn’t be a surprise that a lot of work awaits you, but the better you prepare, the easier it will be to focus on creating valuable content later on and the faster your blog will gain popularity. Of course, there is no golden rule and even the best preparation for running a blog will not guarantee you a success. The next step after amazing publication is perseverance, consistency and analysis of data, and further implementation of changes in accordance with the results of these analyzes, but this is another topic that you will face in the future. At this moment, think about all the exciting travels that you want to share with the readers. Good luck!
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