This week has brought together over 60,000 people from all around the world to take part in one of the world’s most unique global platforms. So, what exactly am I talking about here? Social Media Week of course!
Social Media Week offers a series of interconnected activities and conversations around the world on emerging trends in social and mobile media across all major industries. In less than three years, the global event has expanded to 21 cities, including New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago, Toronto, Vancouver, Sao Paulo, Rio De Janeiro, Bogotá, Buenos Aires, Mexico City, Istanbul, London, Paris, Rome, Milan, Glasgow, Berlin, Moscow, Beirut, Hong Kong, Tokyo, Singapore, DC and Miami. While there were countless interesting events happening all around Toronto, there was one that I knew I couldn’t miss. That event was called, “Getting Serious About Travel Blogging.”
The amazing Alicia Taggio of My Life Untethered and Mariellen Ward of Breathe Dream Go, put the event together along with their team and sponsors. The inspirational panelists were made up of Travel Bloggers Dave and Deb of The Planet D and Evelyn Hannon of Journey Woman, Account Coordinator for High Road Communications, Meredith Howard, Editor for Vacay.ca, Adrian Brijbassi, Director of Communications at Ottawa Tourism, Jantine Van Kregten, and Social Media Manager for GAdventures, Andrew Hickey.
The reason why I wanted to post about this event is because I’ve been getting several emails lately from readers who are interested in started their own travel blog. Along with all the technical questions I won’t bore you by writing about, quite a few of you have asked me the same following questions:
What it is like to have a travel blog?
How many hours do you need to put into blogging?
How do you get your content out there for the world to see?
How much money can you make money from blogging.
When it really comes down to it, I try to tell people who want to start a travel blog that you MUST have the passion and perseverance for it. For me, those two things are entirely necessary and is what will make you a successful travel blogger. As I say, and the panel of judges from the event reiterated, if you want to start a travel blog so you can go on a free trip, don’t waste your time. If you want to start a travel blog because you want to share your pictures and stories with your family and your friends and that’s it, then I would definitely recommend signing up for a free WordPress blog. If you are thinking more seriously about started a travel blog as a business then I would suggest considering the following suggesting brought to you by the panel of judges before you commit your time and money into it:
“First and most importantly, set a goal and a game plan if you want to make blogging into a business.” – The PlanetD
This is so important. If you don’t have a set goal for your travel blog, then how will you be able to expect anything to come of it? You need to really think about how serious you want to take this. Do you want to make this into a full time job? Are you willing to put 8-15 hours a day into your blog? Spend some time to sit and write down your goals. You can set both short and long term goals for yourself but be realistic. Decide how much work you are willing to put into your blog. If you are honest with yourself about your goals and give yourself a reasonable time to achieve them, I guarantee that you will be successful.
“Find your niche and set yourself apart from everyone else.” – Dave and Deb/The PlanetD
This is a must because there are so many travel blogs out there now. What can you bring to the table that isn’t already out there? What are you good at? What interests you the most? What is going to drive your passion to produce quality and consistent material? What can you offer to the travel industry that is new, exciting, and is going to make them want to work with you? Find your niche, make it obvious, and stick with it!
“Be true to yourself. Be who you are!” – Evelyn Hannon/Journey Woman.
“Personality is what makes your readers come back to you and your travel blog.” – Dave and Deb/The PlanetD
Both of these points fit very well together. These points also fit along side with finding your niche. Be true to who you are. The readers who come to your blog are coming to your blog because they like you and want to know what you are up to. You may have a lot of travel experience under your belt, but if you don’t demonstrate your work in an honest, true-to-yourself way, people aren’t going to become loyal followers. Let your personality shine through in your work. The one thing that you can truly be the best at in life is yourself. There is only one you!
“Take yourself seriously first and then others will take you seriously.” – Dave and Deb/The Planet D
If you are serious about making travel blogging a business, then you MUST take yourself seriously. Be professional. Be consistent. Treat your blog as a business and come across as a professional. That means create quality content, and keep it consistent. Another huge one is proof read your work (this is something I really need to work on myself). You may have a wonderful and interesting story, but if there are spelling and grammar errors, it really takes away from your work. When you approach industry professionals, talk about your blog in a serious way. Show them who you are and that you are serious about what you are doing. This will set you apart from the rest the people out there that call themselves professional travel bloggers but are nothing more than people who write about their travels as a hobby rather than a profession. Don’t get me wrong, if your goal is create a travel blog because it’s a fun a hobby for you, I say do it! But again, this goes back to setting goals and a game plan. Your travel blog can be whatever you want it to be, and you can take it as far you want to take it.
“Market yourself correctly and take yourself seriously as a brand and a lot of opportunities will b there for u.” – Dave and Deb/The PlanetD
Marketing yourself is key. If you want to attract readers, you need to get yourself out there. Find ways to showcase your work. Write guest posts for other travel blogs and write articles for huge travel networks such as Matador. Get yourself familiar with all the different social media platforms and how to use them to your benefit. The more you can expose yourself and send your work into cyberspace, the more hits and potential following you will gain in the process. As you continue to market yourself and develop your following, more and more opportunities will present themselves to you, but at the same time, you need to go out and create your own opportunities.
“Engagement is key! Is your audience listening to you. “Social proof .” – Meredith Howard/High Road Communications
“Influence is the key consideration – how engaged are the readers?” – Jantine Van Kregten/Ottawa Tourism
You may have 1000’s of Twitter followers and Facebook fans, but are they engaged? Are they commenting on your work? Are they asking questions and keeping the conversation flowing? The great thing about blogging is it gives readers a chance to express their own opinions and continue the conversation with the blogger just by leaving a comment. You build relationships with your readers this way, which is great! Numbers are numbers, and you should keep track of them, but what industry people are looking for are whether or not you are engaging your audience and keeping them coming back for more.
“Build your brand and then build brand partnerships.” – Dave and Deb/The PlanetD
This is the point where I feel I am at. I have built up Hopscotch the Globe. I have a steady following and I feel that I have established myself as a serious travel blogger. Let me remind you that I have been doing this for over a year and a half, so it definitely has taken time to get to where I am, and I still have so, so much to learn and a lot of growing to do. It has taken a while for me to establish what I have to offer to the travel community. I am a young travel addict, thrill seeking and adventure-enthusiast that teaches others that you don’t need to be rich to see and experience the world. Whatever your income, there are endless opportunities for you to go out and explore.
“Travel blogging is a job. It’s not about getting a free trip. Bloggers need to have a plan.” – Andrew Hickey/GAdventures
As I said before, if you are looking for a free trip, then there are other ways of doing it. There are many travel contests out there where you can win a free trip. To have a successful travel blog, you have to have a lot more than a free trip in mind to keep you going. It takes a lot of time and commitment but if you preserver, you will see results. It is possible to make a living from travel blogging, but first you need to have the love and passion and let that drive you because it takes a while to get to the point of making money. Money should definitely not be your leading cause of starting a travel blog.
This event was definitely a success. I was really inspired by all of the panelist and I look forward to the future of Hopscotch the Globe. I hope all of you out there who are interested in starting a travel blog found this post informative, and I wish you all the luck on your endeavor, and if I can help you in any way, don’t hesitate to ask.
Kristen Sarah is a full-time traveller, tiny home owner and adventure junkie. She has one of the leading YouTube travel channels and is the head honcha of award-winning travel and lifestyle website, Hopscotch the Globe.