Talking Travel Blogging at Lonely Planet’s National Travel Day
I was honoured to be invited to speak about travel blogging at Lonely Planet Traveller magazine’s inaugural National Travel Day last week, and with the event already oversubscribed, we had a full house, providing a great networking opportunity and an evening of inspiration. Offbeatours talked about travel to more risky destinations, such as Yemen, Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan; Rahhalah Tours talked about how to experience adventure tourism with minimal impact to the environment; Catalin Marin talked about how to capture the ultimate travel photographs, and Wild Guanabana talked about how to climb mountains.
The response I’ve had to my presentation has been fantastic and whilst I’m editing the video, I thought I’d share a brief summary of the points I discussed for those who couldn’t make it. Although I will stress now as I did then, that I am no expert, just someone who feels passionately about travel and wants to share practical advice and recommendations to hopefully try to help others explore more of the world.
As the subject of travel blogging is so vast and we were limited for time, I focussed on travel blog content, leaving the conversation about platforms, tools, appearance, widgets, SEO, etc for another day (I’m sure there will be plenty more after this success!)
So, back to the notes:
- Think about why you want to write and who you are writing for. This is YOUR blog, there is no right or wrong, but think about what you want to achieve with it, who your audience is and what your unique angle/viewpoint is
- Don’t try and be too general – have a niche (i.e. independent travel, travel with children, adventure travel, luxury travel, travel on a budget etc)
- Create an identity – let your personality shine through and give people something to identify with (I used Adventurous Kate as an example)
- Take the time to plan – prepare a few posts before you start so that you are never caught short and can be consistent
Choosing your posts
- What do your audience want to read? What would you find interesting? Think broadly about the knowledge you already have, even some of the things you take for granted that people know
- Do your research – check out news and events in countries and subject areas that are relevant to your blog and plan your posts to coincide with these
- Lists are ultimately the most popular type of posts (i.e. Top 100 places to see before you die, top 10 essential items to pack) – try not to use the standard numbers – top 3, 5, 10, 20 etc, instead choose 4, 6, 7, 8.
- Always think about how you are adding value to the reader – how to’s and tips are popular, whether in video or print (i.e. how to pack clothes efficiently, how to travel alone in the Middle East, how to travel around Europe on a budget, etc)
- Always try to empathise, entertain or educate readers. Share your experiences of the frustrations/issues that arise while travelling, share amusing anecdotes and funny stories, or share real life experiences and knowledge of the situation in other countries.
- Share interactions with the local community. Real travel is as much about the people as the place, the characters and community give a place its soul – try and meet as many as you can and share those experiences through your blog.
- I used Wild Junket as a good example of using these varied types of posts to keep readers engaged
Putting it into words
- Create great stories – ensuring your posts are engaging and relevant
- When writing, try to capture the imaginations of your audience – be descriptive and use all five senses. Rather than just writing a diary about where you have been and what you have done, think about what it smelt like, what the unusual sounds and tastes were – paint a vivid picture for your readers
- Be as visual as possible – make sure you have really good photos, and ideally video
- Try to keep posts short and structured (more than 300 words). Use sub headers, bullet points, numbered lists, etc to make the content easy to break down, scan and digest
- Be honest and don’t be afraid to share your opinion – share the highs and the lows, it might help someone in future, or possibly make them laugh!
- Don’t try to be an expert if you’re not – don’t try to use excessive marketing adjectives and flowery language because you’ve seen it in the brochures and on corporate websites – write as if you are talking to people you already know
- Involve your readers and reach out to the community
- Think about the timings of your posts, not just in terms of content but also of the actual posting – if you have posts that would interest the US, don’t post at times when they are likely to be asleep!
- Reach out to those you mention in your blog – share the posts with any companies you mention on their Facebook pages or through Twitter and invite them to comment, they’ll be thrilled!
- Monitor your industry/subject area and be aware of news and events that are happening that could be relevant
- Connect with other bloggers in your field on and offline, share their content (if you like it!) and see if they are open to guest posting (you could post on their blog, or they could contribute a post to yours)
- Get involved – make sure you’re actively using social media, connecting with others in the industry and attending any industry events
I finished by showing a short video and asking the question whether the audience really wanted to write a blog at all, or whether they should look at video blogging (to be discussed in more depth at the next event).
Please let me know if you have any more advice to add in terms of blog content, I have shared as much as I can think of from my own personal experiences and research, and hopefully it will be of some use to those starting out. Would love to hear people’s thoughts on this, and if there is anything else I can answer, I will certainly try my best! If not, see you at the next event!