The first decade of 21st century was when the internet was flooded by people who called it quits on dreaming about being travel writers and actually got involved. And this is the same period giant social media platforms popped up. By harnessing the trends of social networking and multimedia content, independent travellers have gone on to become some of the most inventive bloggers on the web. What’s more, the ultra-savvy ones are turning their enthusiasm into an income.
In today’s Travel Blogging guide, we take a look at how you can use travel blogging to successfully market to the masses, get traffic to travel website, gain followers, mass market your travel services to the masses and create a successful travel brand.
Could travel blogging be the key to a successful income?
“If you are really committed, then yes, you can make it, but it takes a lot of work,” says Edison Birungi, who has been blogging since 2010, writes a blog on gorilla-tracking-uganda.com, and has made a stable income from it.
Edison says “There are ways for the small travel websites to earn money. And I think that’s what most people want: they don’t want to make it a lifestyle but they would like to gain some traffic, get inquiries and make a living from their tour websites.”
There are also plenty more advantages to be had from blogging other than making money, such as building a relationship with a worldwide audience. And, as Yugen of Destinationuganda.com points out, “creating a popular travel blog website could provide “a good chance to create a thriving travel business”.
A Travel Manager’s Guide on Travel blogging to get traffic to travel website fast
On a scale 0-10, how well does your website perform?
Blogging is all about building an audience, having a dedicated number of followers who diligently want to read and view whatever you post. Because the truth is that you can only earn from a group of followers who believe and want to consume the stories you tell. First create an audience, then money will come.
Travel blogging is a crowded field — and it gets even more crowded by the day. After all, the idea that you can just start a blog, talk about your experience and get paid seems like an amazing thing to try to do. It sounds so simple to do, huge numbers of people that have stumbled on this dream job idea have immediately bought a domain and set up a website.
Burt Systems alone has designed and or managed over 300 travel blogs in the last 7 years
Later they all discover that running a successful travel blog – or any blog in any industry – is hard work and time-consuming. Putting posts up is not going to result in money falling like rain (though judging by some of the blogs we’ve designed, it can at least amount to a drizzle). You have to work for it.
Blogging takes persistence. Unless you publish a couple of viral posts, you should expect to type away for at least 1-2 years before you start to see sustainable regular traffic flowing in.
Building a blog is like building any other business: success takes time, patience, and dedication.
Think of travel blogging as any crowded market space. All sellers bring their products into the market hoping to make a sale and most probably all do make a sale at one point. But the business owners that standout are those that cultivate a great business mindset of patience, craftsmanship and empathy.
The blog that can provide relevant, timely and rich content will get a huge dedicated following willing to buy your services, defend them and promote your travel brand.
“Just because someone can travel and write doesn’t mean they can write well or become a good travel writer. No, most travel blogs are terrible so don’t worry about the number of blogs out there. Worry about the quality of blogs out there. It’s not a crowded field when you look at it that way.”Matthew Karsten, nomadicmatt.com
It’s so tempting to entertain a thought that you’ll just punch a few words into your blog and get anyone that reads them to click. We all know that today’s travelers are turning to the web to be inspired and take action—but because the web is overcrowded already, the users have become fickle. They’ll jump to a blog that’s blogging their language and addressing their needs along the travel planning journey.
Good travel blog content will be the cornerstone of getting massive traffic to your travel website.
Writing about your escapade of your travels for family & friends is easy, but other than them, no one else gives a damn. If you want strangers to read and diligently follow your travel blog, you’ll need to write something more useful.
You’ll write about budget safari tips, food recommendations, hacks on what to do or where to stay, travel photography inspiration, video testimonials, beautiful flowing narrative, travel humor and anything that can grab a traveler’s attention not just once, but keep them coming back.
What are people searching for?
Hit the search bar and find out what questions related to travel are being asked in online forums, Reddit, and Quora? If you already have customers, what are they asking or saying in comments & emails? Go where your prospects hand out and eavesdrop. Give your followers what they’re asking for!
A while back we published a post about a travel customer’s journey: moments or stages a customer takes in consuming online content before they book a safari trip. It helps to publish content relevant to those moments to grab the prospects attention at the exact time when they’re searching for the content.
For tourists, these moments tend to fall into four categories—I-want-to-get-away, Time-to-make-a-plan, Let’s-book-it, and Can’t-wait-to-explore moments—your goal is to deliver great travel blog content across all of the moments that matter to the traveler.
When that happens, you have the prospect’s attention and they’ll expand your network by sharing your content.
Travelers don’t just search and click. It’s a journey from search to booking.
Round-the-world travel blogging is now as common as a Toyota brand car. See if you can pick up on a new trend or become an authoritative guide on something interesting people really want to know about and stay committed to it.
If you’re serious about building a following, you need to blog regularly. Most successful travel bloggers aim to post at least three times a week. If you know you’re going to be away from your computer without writing, a common trick is to write posts in advance and schedule them to be uploaded automatically (WordPress allows for that).
“I have been blogging about gorilla tracking in Uganda everyday since 2010. My travel blog now attracts upto 10,000 visits a day. That’s only because I stuck to talking about something I was so passionate about and a good number of people online want to find this stuff. Type anything about mountain gorillas and I’ll be damned if my website doesn’t show up first.”Edson Birungi, Encounter Africa.
At face value, the heading above seems pretty basic. But when we say pick an interesting travel niche, we do really mean INTERESTING or something no one has exhaustively written about, something sensational, fascinating, or challenging. The kind of stuff that gets noticed.
Writing about how to get a visa or where your country is found on the map? Maybe that will get you a 0.6 on the 0-10 awesomeness scale.
Hiking in the misty dump rainforests of Africa? Walking across Uganda? Camping in the Serengeti in a Migration season? Vacationing in Zanzibar? Sailing the coast of East Africa?
These activities break the awesome scale, the topics are unique, and as a result, they’re more likely to be shared with a larger audience. Your whole blog doesn’t have to read like Wikipedia, but make it a point to include some truly epic, original stories from time to time.
Knowing who your customer is can be important in growing a thriving business.
Unfortunately when you launch your blog, no one will know it exists except for a few people you’ve shared a link with. First you have to get search engines to acknowledge your travel blog’s birth and crowl it for indexing in search results.
And the quickest and cheap way to get published on other popular travel blogs with large audiences so that they link back to your travel blog. Which is guest posting in web language.
Not only will you be able to siphon some of their readers over to your travel website and reach a targeted audience this way, it also helps with your branding and credibility as an authority on travel.
However, before you go pitching other blogs for guest posting, first check to make sure they even allow them. It helps to have some kind of relationship with the blogger too. Cold pitches to someone you’ve never even spoken with are less likely to work.
Be picky, guest post on travel blogs that you think will provide the best return on your investment in time. Because time is limited when you’re trying to gain an audience and earn a living travel blogging.
Social media has created a new style of communication, and there are now billions of conversations happening online. People are discussing popular travel articles, sharing photos of their vacations, and even engaging with travel brands. And it all feels relatively natural to the consumer. It’s just part of how the web operates now.
Staying active on social media during those moments and conversation is important if you want to attract web traffic from travel blogging. But it can be a huge time suck up too.
There’re very important questions you need to ask yourself before you dive into promoting your travel blog posts on social media:
You need to plan at least 30 minutes a day. You’ve got to remember that you need to write travel copy, design or find images to support your message, and then evaluate your results so you can improve the social media strategy. Next, think about what resources you have available.
Will you hire a freelancer? Once you factor in the time requirement, you might decide it’s worth it to pull in more help.
But if you want to gain knowledge and improve on with time, then start small, build your numbers and get perfect later. And finally, pencil out your budget.
You need to attract followers and this can be challenging without investing in paid advertising.
Even if you’re not doing any paid ads, make sure you still factor the time you or your team will be spending. Calculate the hourly rate and include that as a part of your spend.
If you are doing paid ads, I would try to allocate at least $50 – $300 a month to post booting, especially at the start when you’re trying new things and exploring how your spend is most efficiently used.
Be sure you’re talking to a specific audience and not being too broad in your approach. Social media is a moving target. If you’re able to adapt and scale alongside a specific type of customer, your website traffic will shoot and your travel brand will benefit in the long term.
With your persona or target group identified, research on when is the best time to post your updates on social media. You can find this information in your social media page’s “insights” or “analytics” areas, or use third party tools.
We’ve found that posting on Facebook at 12:00 midnight to 03:00 East African Time gives us the best results, while on Instagram, 04:00 to 06:00 EAT works like a charm.Yugen, Travel Bloger, Destination Uganda
What works for one travel blogger may not work for you though, and it can change. The location of your target audience will be highly influential on this matter. Always be testing to find what works.
Remember to be social on social media too. That means actively responding to comments, and sharing other people’s content if you think your followers will enjoy it.
Here’s what our research from working with dozens of travel bloggers tells us:
Facebook: 1-2 posts per day, postcard type photos with short captions work well. So does uploading 10 different images as an album. Video and Facebook Live have been doing well in conversions, many bloggers are going for it. Remember to tag yourself in photos you post on your fan page, and your friends will see it too, increasing engagement. Facebook doesn’t like 3rd party sharing apps, so don’t use them. Follow our Facebook Page and get more of these tips.
Twitter: 4-5 posts or updates per day, links shared along with a few photos will get better engagement. One hashtag only, or none. Schedule new blog posts to share 3-4 times each spread throughout the month. Occasionally tag relevant companies/tourism boards where appropriate, they may re-tweet it.
Follow us on Twitter to keep up.
Instagram: At least once a day not too many times. Tag the location so people searching can find your shots. Use 2-3 hashtags in the caption. Longer descriptions seem to work well on Instagram — tell a story. Ask a question at the end to encourage engagement. Get inspired by our posts on Instagram.
Youtube: I would rate youtube as the top of them all if you want more inquiries. Vlogging has capptured the travel world because, how else can you test an experience before you buy than watching a video of someone else or take a virtual tour of your destination? Post a video at least once a month when starting out and invest in video creation apps on your mobile.
Are you ready to become your own PR manager? Gather yourself up and market your travel blog to the masses by securing great features in some of the most popular news blogs.
That’s because news blogs (like huffingtonpost.com) have large audiences that are way too massive compared to popular travel blogs. Start by actively pitching your story to someone in there, rather than wait around for someone to notice you.
Here’s what one of our favourite travel blogger, Mathew Karsten – Expertvagabond.com, does to land himself insanely great news blog features.
Spend time researching media blogs that sometimes publish travel features. Especially those featuring bloggers. Pay attention to the authors of those articles.
Connect with the authors on Twitter or LinkedIn. Follow them. Add them to a public list. Share their articles with a mention. Ask a question. Send a compliment. But don’t be annoying.
Put together a polished project/article/idea with mass appeal. Something that many people will find fascinating, just be interesting.
Finally, pitch them your great idea a few months later. I sometimes sweeten the deal by explaining that I’ll be sending out a press-release soon but wanted to give them the opportunity to cover it first.
Now that you’ve dedicated time developing a relationship with the writer, your chances are much higher that they’ll be interested in your pitch, landing you a feature on a major media website!
Search engine optimization is all about impacting how visible your website is in a search engine’s organic results. You’ll be making changes to your website’s technical setup, as well as the content on each page in an effort to improve rank.
SEO has had a bad wrap in the last few years, many had stopped believing in it because of trickstars that had mastered the game. But Google’s lateat changes that focus mainly on the user intent have changed the game.
If you can regularly guest blog for high ranking travel blogs and feature in elite news blogs to have powerful links back to your site, a few technical alterations on your safari website will do the magic. It’s not voodoo, it’s a relevant skill some people learn to get ahead.
Travel blogging and SEO are, and always will be linked. Don’t be scared of what you don’t understand. Instead, spend time learning how to master it for yourself. Or hire a professional SEO specialist to help out.
Because like it or not, ensuring Google (and the world in general) can find your amazing travel content is a necessary ingredient of how to get traffic to travel website.
To better understand SEO works, let’s look at how search engines work.
A company like Google will have a bot (a tiny spider like robot), basically a software program that crawls the web looking for any changes made since its last visit. It does this by following links on every website. Links from the popular travel blog you guest featured that point to your website page and any others out there. When they get to your site, the bots will crawl your site based on your page structure. And if you have a link to another site, they’ll crawl through there and disappear on the web.
Now zoom out. So, the crawler arrives at a page, reads the code and stores the information. That stored information is called the index and your initial goal is to be indexed by Google. If you’re indexed, you’re ranked. You might not rank well, but you have the potential for ranking.
Only if your web page has been indexed (stored in the search engine’s servers). When the user searches in the search box, they’re searching in Google’s index, not the internet or your website. It’s only when the user clicks on your link in the search results that they get to your website.
Search Engine Optimizing your web pages and blogs will assure you a seat in Google’s search index and rank you among other related website. Your goal is to climb the ranking index in the search results to the top page by publishing more web pages, blogs and getting more authoritative travel blogs to link to your content.
SEO is a huge topic, but if you want to read more about it, I highly recommend studying everything you can find on Burt’s SEO Resource. Clicking through it quickly doesn’t count, spend a few hours (days?) reading everything!
How to use search marketing to reach the masses.
Having an email subscriber list is one of the most effective channels of getting traffic to travel website. Much more effective than social media.
Followers that subscribe to your email list have given you legal permission to talk to them directly. What better direct marketing channel is there? Please challenge us in the comments below.
To many, email marketing feels a little old and antiquated. It almost comes across very similar to direct mail, in that you’re sending a newsletter, an offer, a flashy graphic message, alongside dozens of other letters, in the hopes that someone not only reads it, but responds to it.
And sure, the older model of email marketing was a lot like that. People purchased giant lists of email addresses from strangers and then sent completely irrelevant offers in hopes of catching a handful of leads, and thus, the boom of spam.
Like we pointed out earlier, the web is crowded. If one can get this information curated humaly into their inbox rather than spending hours on social media being interrupted by cat videos and disruptive ads, they would prefer to subscribe to your generous subscription list.
On one hand, your email marketing efforts will be about acquiring new subscribers to your list, and on the other, retaining and generating revenue from those subscribers.
There are many ways to collect emails from your blog readers but we usually recommend two: give away something free and two, make it so easy to get it.
For example, offer your readers to download an ebook, a travel guide or a relevant and much needed something they can get in exchange for an email and a click.
Use Mailchimp, for a start they’ll not charge you for the first 200 emails if you use this link. (It’s free anyways for the first 200 subscribers). You can send out campaigns and study their behaviors while adapting to the kind of content they like more.
Start email marketing even if you have a list of 3 subscribers, you can inform existing customers of new products, upsell them to a more premium package, or even encourage them to share your business with their peers and keep growing your list.
If you’re wondering about what to share in your newsletters, use your blog content. In fact, everytime you publish a blog, make sure it also goes to your subscribers.
Think about your own email habits. What are you opening, and why? What are you clicking on? You might even consider keeping track of every marketing email you open over the next couple of weeks, or even looking back at those you opened historically. Try to identify patterns, and use those ideas to your advantage.
Identifying your customer’s emotional needs is crucial to your marketing.
You’ve noticed that even if you post on Facebook or any other social media, no matter how many followers you have, only a handful will get to see you post. They most probably will be your close friends you occasionally interact with.
To reach a bigger audience and get traffic to travel website, you’ll have to spend money advertising your travel blog on Facebook. Also spend some dollars advertising on Twitter.
Our travel bloggers have had ads on Twitter, Facebook and even Google to gun up a massive following that they can leverage on. You may also consider paying for advertisements on other blogs.
You’ll not be attracting “fake” readers if you follow the empathy path. You’ll be paying to reach a large yet targeted audience. A percentage of them will discover your blog for the first time and become regular readers. Or if you sell travel products, become customers.
If you invest in advertising to build an audience, rather than make a quick sale, in the long run you’ll be earning from your own followers allowing other bloggers to have ads and links in your blogs.
Magazines, book publishers, photographers and of course nonprofit organizations all have search advertising budgets, how the hell do you think you can do it differently? It works!
Treat your blog as the heartbeat of your travel website, invest some money in it if you want to earn a good living out of it.
Pay Per Click Advertising and SEO, where should you invest more?
If you’re an entrepreneur or a self-made success, you know how important networking is. Networking while travelling is especially clever because you’ll be meeting professionals from other parts of the world who have a different perspective, different connections and will offer valuable insight for your travel blog.
If you’re you’ve just joined the blogging world, networking is essential to your brand’s growth, and the best thing you can do is grab every opportunity to form a new connection with new followers and new email subscribers to your great newsletter.
To make a name for yourself in travel blogging, networking with others in person at conferences is pretty powerful. It’s an investment in time & money, but a worthwhile one.
When you meet potential business partners, colleagues, and clients in person, you’ll be at an advantage over those who don’t have that relationship. They’ll think of you over someone they’ve never met before.
Search the internet for upcomming conferences and sign up. If you’re inhibited by long distance movement like the current covid-19 internation lockdown, try online netwroking.
Online networking also has great benefits. Stay active in blogging Facebook groups and social media conversations. If you contribute in a meaningful way or ask good questions, other people in the industry will take notice.
Collaborations with other travel bloggers can expand your reach and get traffic to travel website. It doesn’t matter if you’re competitors, if you can bring forces together to increase both your revenue, go for it. We’ve tried it with two safari companies in Uganda before. This exposed both their audience to each other, benefiting both of them.
Blogging regulary to grow your audience is like running a publishing magazine but without staff to help you out. You’re your own photographer, editor, graohic designer, PR, web designer, secreatry and coffee girl.
People spend years in prison (or shool if you prefer) to learn those skills and land those jobs. Are you really convinced you can do all of them on your own?
As a travel blogger, you are responsible for everything — while also dealing with the stress & challenges of running your travel business. So when you start earning income from your travel website, hire others to help you run your business or take over the travel blogging.
Hire virtual (online) assistant to help with research, public relations, pitching emails, social media marketing, and tracking campaigns. Get an accountant to take care of the finances, video editor, writing editor, graphics and website designer.
Hiring others allows you to focus on the stuff you’re good at while leaving the rest to those who are probably better than you anyway. We recommend spending diving deep into analytics data on how your campaigns get traffic to travel website, they’ll help you make better strategies.
An important key to success to travel blogging, or any kind of blogging out there, is standing out from the web crowd. Branding is how you manage what others think about your company.
In 2. Above we talked about finding an interesting travel niche. For branding purposes, you’ll have to stick to that line of action. Rather than trying to be everything to everyone, it’s better to focus on the smallest viable group of interested followers you’re passionate to serve so that they can increasingly grow your brand name with new followers.
People who intimately connect with your brand become your brand defenders or will answer any question (on your behalf) posted on any forum. You can not get your brand to do that if you’re scattered everywhere.
When planning a new article/project, ask yourself, does it align with your travel brand?
“My own branding is based around gorilla tracking, so a majority of my articles are about this theme.”Edson, Encounter Africa
Branding will differentiate you from other travel blogs, so when someone is looking to read or work with a leisure travel blogger, they are more likely to find you.
Maintaining a consistent identity across all your online channels and marketing helps drive your brand. Your logo, photography, social media accounts, and blog content should all reflect the values & mission of your brand.
When done right, you can own your demographic. Take a look at muzungublog.com, traveluganda.co.ug, expertvagabond.com for inspiration.
Effective branding leads to a steady stream of readers searching for information on the topic you cover, recognition & influence, plus rewarding partnerships with other companies that want to tap into your followers.
You can build a powerful travel brand just blogging. Not just to get traffic to your travel website but to build reputation and authority among travel followers and the industry at large. If you’re thinking of getting quick traffic to make a sale, blogging is not for you. But if you’re invested in growing a following, your brand and earning a living in the long run, then what are you waiting for. Write your first blog and if you include a link to this blog post in it, send us an email and we’ll give you an authoritative linkback for free. .