10 Ways to Run a Successful Travel Blog

Today’s Travel Tip comes from the dynamic blogging and traveling duo, Dave and Deb, a.k.a. @theplanetd. The are a really cool couple and buddies of mine who travel fearlessly and write passionately about the world, as seen through the eyes of two adventurous travelers. Their dedication to their blog really shines through and has inspired me to keep pushing my own to new levels. Here they are with some really helpful tips on how you can successfully run a travel blog.

India-Punjab-Amritsar-5

It’s a very romantic notion to travel the world, while writing about it to your adoring fans and earning money at the same time. It all seems so easy. There are millions of travel blogs on the Internet and it seems like all a person has to do is visit exotic destinations, share their experiences and everyone will follow along.

If only it were that easy.

Running a travel blog is hard work. It requires a full time commitment not only to travel but to take fantastic photographs, write compelling stories and finding your unique voice.  There isn’t a magic formula or quick solution to making it to the top. It is a long and slow process, but if you stick with it, you too can travel blog for a living.

Here are some steps you can take to attract a large audience to your travel blog.


India-Holi-flying-color-festival1. Find a Niche – If you don’t have something that makes you stand out from the crowd you will end up like most of the travel blogs out there and have only have an audience of friends and family. Find a niche and focus on it. Are you a humour writer? Are you fascinated with religion or historical sites, are you interested in voluntourism?  Find your unique voice and write about what you love.

2. Self Hosted Blog – Get rid of that blogger.com or wordpress.com blog.  There are many technical reasons why you should invest the small amount of money it takes to host your blog but it also looks more professional.  I don’t take a blog seriously that has domain name that looks like this. www [dot] nameofblog [dot] wordpress.com. Start looking like a serious blogger right off the top.

3. Write compelling and unique content – Write posts that people want to read targeted to your niche.  Be original. You may want to provide information about destinations or maybe you want people to come to your blog because you have strong opinions and you want to generate a discussion. People will come back because they want to hear your thoughts and opinions.  The great bloggers are passionate about what they write about, will defend their points of view and love every minute of it.

Base-camp-everest-trek4. Be Consistent – Be consistent when posting content.  Make a schedule and stick to it.  Do you want to post twice a week or five times a week? It doesn’t matter what you choose, just be consistent.  Remember quality over quantity.  If you want to post often, make sure you have the commitment and content to keep people’s attention.  It is worse to put up poor quality content than no content at all.

5. Attractive Website – Blogging is a visual medium and people browse the Internet looking for something that will catch their eye. You need to attract their attention quickly or readers will move on.  Whether it be with photographs, titles and headers or using colour you need to find a way to grab the reader instantly.  Internet surfers have a short attention span and if you blog doesn’t look good they won’t read what you have to say even if it is the most important content in the world.  Design a blog that conveys your personality and make your content easy to read.

mount-kilimanjaro-tanzania-trek6. Create Links and build Relationships – Approach other bloggers to be added to their blog roll.  It is an excellent way to introduce yourself to the popular bloggers and to start building friendships.  Link building is a very important aspect of blogging.  When writing a post, link to blogs you admire and use them as an example in your article.  They will see the pingback from you and come to check out your site.  If you have compelling and interesting content, they will probably come back regularly and possibly mention your blog in on of their posts in the future with a link back.

7. Guest post – Write for as many people as you can.  Gaining exposure is very important.  If people don’t know you exist, they won’t come to your site.  Search for travel websites that accept guest posts, read their guidelines and submit a query or email them and ask if you could write for them. You will be amazed with how many travel blogs and websites accept guest posts.  We do.

8.  Harness the Power of Social Media– Create a Facebook Fanpage and Twitter account. Start building your friends and followers early.  We receive a lot of traffic from social networking sites.  Engage with your fans, ask them questions and in return answer theirs.  A large and engaged following adds to your credibility as an influencer.

deb and dave in Africa9. Make Sharing Content Easy – Social Media is becoming more important each day.  Have buttons on your blog that make it easy for people to post your article to Twitter, Facebook, Stumbleupon, GoogleBuzz or whatever social bookmarking site they prefer. If they like what you have to say, they may want to share it so make it easy for them. People don’t want to take the time of having to open another site and manually insert your post. If you have a like button right beside it, they can quickly give you a like on facebook and move on.

10. Put in the Time– Many a successful travel blogger will tell you that they spend many hours a day blogging.  Running a successful blog is much more than simply putting up a post a day and hoping people will come.  Hours can be filled up with social networking, writing guest posts for other websites, seeking out advertisers, moderating comments and tweaking the look of the site.  We are constantly evolving and changing our websites design to suit our needs.  We are regularly looking for new ways to promote ourselves. We never turn down an opportunity to write for a site and we support as many of our fellow bloggers as we can by promoting their websites.

Like most things in life, the more you give, the more you receive.  The same can be said for Travel Blogging.

About this week’s Guest writers:

Dave and Deb are a Canadian blogging couple who have been married for 13 years. In that time they have managed to hike, bike, paddle and climb their way across 5 continents and 45 countries. They have built a large following at their adventure travel website ThePlanetD attracting the attention of media campaigns where they have taken part in the Rocky Mountain Adventure Drive with General Motors, were selected for the Princess Cruises “Follow Me At Sea” Twitter Cruise, Blogged from Paradise with the St. Kitts Marriott and most recently joined Fiji’s Influencer tour as a part of their FijiMe Campaign. Dave and Deb consistently rank among the top 10 in the world’s most influential travel bloggers and websites.



39 Comments

  • Juno says:

    Great tips. 🙂 Fine the niche- yep this apply for everything. D & D are doing such a great job. You inspired me so much! 🙂 Wonderful to see all your adventures.
    Thanks for the great tip and Mei for organizing this! xx

    • Dave and Deb says:

      Thanks Juno. I agree that niche is probably the most important factor. We all need to figure out a way to stand out from the crowd.
      Thanks Mei too for allowing us to write for your great blog!

  • Cynthia says:

    Enjoyed this article. The photos are fantastic, especially the one from India with all the dyes.

  • Iamthewitch says:

    Such great and useful tips! Definitely going to put some of that to good use!! 🙂

  • Camemberu says:

    Great tips, many of which apply to food blogging too! 🙂

  • I have been following Dave and Deb for quite some time now and I have learned a lot from their blog and what they do. ThePlanetD is one of my favorite travel blogs, they share great photos and adventurous experiences.
    Thanks for sharing these great tips!

    • Dave and Deb says:

      Thanks so much Mark. We have been following you too and you inspire us as well. That is something we love about the blogging community. Everyone is very supportive and inspiring and we learn from each other every day.

  • I love their blog.. and they sound like a very cool couple. Hoping that one of these days our paths will cross.

  • Karina says:

    Great tips!really helpful!

  • Laura says:

    Great tips as usual! I agree that it’s beneficial to try and stick to a regular posting schedule, but as you mentioned, it’s more important to focus on quality over quantity. And of course, simply putting in the time that it takes to do all of these things successfully requires a huge commitment. 😉

    • Dave and Deb says:

      Laura, you are absolutely right, putting in the time is a huge commitment. We travel hard and work hard. The minute we have a free moment, we are on our computers. Like right now, we have been off the grid for almost a week on a work assignment and have to catch up on our one day off between adventures. Today would be a great day to relax by the pool and sleep, but we are in Starbucks working like mad before we go offline for another week:) -back to work, but work is fun and the payoff is worth it. Our work consists of having to go elephant trekking, mountain biking and taking a motorcycle trip to the Burmese border. Not a bad trade off.

  • Sarah Wu says:

    Visual appeal wins for me 😛

    • Dave and Deb says:

      Sarah, good point. A blog has to look good and keep evolving. We have to redesign our blog too. We were just talking about how we loved the look of our blog a year ago, but now it is time to give it a few tweaks and updates.

  • Mark Robertson says:

    Thank you for articulating some of “brutal facts” of travel blogging. I believe in the content of our blog, but I understand that the bandwidth between the ears is shrinking.

    I travel-blog, but I think your rules stand for communication in 2011. I look forward to using them as a guide to my personal blog and my media class’ blog to the next level.

    Much appreciated!

  • Sound advice, these. 🙂

  • LeslieTravel says:

    Great tips from @theplanetd! Thanks for sharing. I love the photos too 🙂

  • What a great article! I think this touched on a lot of points that people are interested in. The idea of being a travel writer is very glamorous, but once you put your first foot forward–be ready to battle for what you really want. Meaning, what do you plan on getting out of your writing and how do you plan on getting recognized?

    • Dave and Deb says:

      Good point Nicole, you have to know what you want out of travel writing. When we first started blogging we were torn between submitting articles to magazines and newspapers or focusing on the blog. We decided that we couldn’t do both, so we chose to put all our efforts into growing and promoting our blog. Everyone has different goals, so it is good to know exactly what you want.

  • Great tips from great bloggers! I guess domain name is the one tip I need to work on quickly. After almost one year of blogging that should be the next step.
    But please: also take the [dot] wordpress.com blogs seriously! There are a lot of best-kept secrets out there, just waiting to show their full potential. They might have just waited for blog posts like this 🙂

    • Dave and Deb says:

      Emiel, you answered your own comment, a lot of [dot ]wordpress blogs are hidden gems. The first step to getting noticed is to host their own domain. I have no doubt that these blogs are excellent, but it is our feeling that they should get rid of the .wordpress to really succeed. It is a very small investment too.

  • As a new blogger, I really appreciate reading this post. My friends and family ask me how I’m ever going to make money. My answer is – I’m following my passion. If money ever comes my way from it then that will just be a bonus. I write about what I’m passionate about and that is the exotic world of chocolate. I live in Mexico from where it originates and I’m inspired everyday by it. One could say that chocolate has a spell on me. If you are curious you can take a look at http://www.chocolatecentral.com. It meets with your 10 must do list.

  • Andrea says:

    Thanks for sharing your secrets, guys. We try really hard to make each of our posts as good as they can be so we only post about twice a week. Traffic is going okay but might be better if we posted more often. One thing I found is that it is really difficult to keep up with the blog on the road and networking. A more difficult balance than I thought. Hopefully when we get more used to the pace it won’t feel so hectic!

    • Dave and Deb says:

      Andrea, you are so right. The networking is extremely difficult. A trick we do to make things easier is to subscribe to the blogs we love in our google reader and go through them once a week. Choose a few posts that stick out, give them a tweet and a stumble and leave a comment and your work is done for the next few days:)

  • joshywashington says:

    Solid advice and great photos! You two look very happy! Safe travels and happy blogging.

  • flip says:

    love it… will share this in my network… 🙂 im trying everything mentioned above except for guest post… 🙂 ill try it soon….

  • cumi&ciki says:

    Hi Dave and Deb!
    Thanks for agreeing to write this wonderful and insightful post on how to keep a travel blog well & alive.. and relevant in this day and age when life’s commitments and daily activities can really hamper us from doing our best! You have highlighted some great practical tips for blogging and the Comments and Reply section, has even more hidden gems/words of wisdom. Your generosity in sharing ‘tricks of the trade’ has overwhelmed us!
    We are big fans and this means a lot:)

    xoxo,
    Cumi & Ciki

  • Abi says:

    Great practical steps with a hefty dose of inspiration. I love it! Finding the time is so tricky, especially when I’m travelling. Simply finding an internet connection can be such hard work, never mind finding a fast one! Thanks @agentcikay for inviting D&D to guest post.

    • Dave and Deb says:

      You said it Abi. It can be tricky to balance time and travel. Internet is always an issue. It is funny, we need to travel to be able to write about our experiences and opinions, but whenever we do travel, we end up not being able to find and Internet connection…the very thing we need to be able to our work.

  • Thanks for sharing these tips! I enjoy reading your blog and you’ve clearly carved out a niche for yourself. Happy travels 🙂

  • That’s a very good list of the crucial steps every blogger has to take in order to make it in the online world. A lot of newbie bloggers tend to focus on their content only, but it’s the right promotion methods that will get them noticed (just as you mentioned in points 6-8)!

  • shahrin says:

    Thanks for sharing the tips…would work on a few

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