5 ways to stand out as a travel blogger
If you want your travel blog to fade into the shadows behind the hundreds of other travel blogs who’ve come before you, then please click away.
Today’s strategies are only for those bloggers who want their travel blogs to attract a devoted readership. Who want to build a following. Who want to take internet “center stage” – so to speak.
If that’s you, welcome.
So what’s the number one way to build a following, fast? While the answer to that question is easy, the how of implementing the answer is no simple task.
You probably already know the generic, foolproof answer:
While it sounds lovely in blog posts, clever tweets, and pinterest quotes, effectively putting this command into practice is a much more complicated matter.
How are you supposed to “be authentic” when you’re typing onto a WordPress post and staring at your computer screen? How can you “be authentic” in blog posts you’re not even sure anyone’s reading?
And how authentic is too authentic? Do your readers need to know how I’m feeling at the moment, what I had for dinner, the fact that I haven’t showered or that I’m really worried about the upcoming presidential election?
Perhaps you’ve heard some bloggers address authenticity questions by talking about “finding your voice.” While writing in a consistent voice is just as important as remaining authentic, expressing your voice through blogging can be just as challenging.
Here at TMWY we’re not into travel blogging euphemisms or catch phrases. You don’t have time for that, and neither do I.
Instead we’re breaking down the infamous blogging commandment to “be authentic” into 5 applicable strategies you can implement today. Yes, to standout as a travel blogger, you need to be authentic, and here’s how:
1. Write like you talk
Writing like you talk is the number one way to nail down your blogging voice. While simple in theory, putting this into practice can be quite challenging. Go back and look over your recent blog posts. Better yet, read them aloud. Do they actually sound like you?
New bloggers face the possibility of two easy writing mistakes:
- Adding to their natural voice, or
- Detracting from their natural voice
I’m a big sucker for the first one. I absolutely love the confidence and girl-boss-power vibe of blogging ladies who drop an occasional F bomb or swear word. Because I admire these writers so much, it’s a big temptation to sprinkle in the occasional curse word. I mean, I want to be a cool bossy biz lady too . . .
But ask any of my friends how much I swear, and they’ll tell you: never. (Unless I’m really, really hysterically hurt or upset. Two emotional extremes I don’t actually write blog posts in).
Adding to my natural voice with swear words, or even extra-bossy-biz vocabulary, would be completely inauthentic. Not only would it be tiring to fake a voice and persona, readers can sniff fakeness a mile away.
Just as adding to your natural vocabulary and phrasing will kill your blogging voice, so will detracting from your vocabulary.
If you’re a classic class clown, constantly throwing jokes around, then your blog posts should be sprinkled with humor. If you’re super sarcastic, your blog posts should be sarcastic. If you are one of those cool people who drop F bombs like nobody’s business, then by all means include them in your posts.
Deciding what to leave out can be a little more tricky. If you talk to me in person, I have the bad habit of saying “like” and “uh” probably more than I should. Does that mean I need to add those filler words into my blog posts? Definitely not.
A good rule of thumb: include aspects of your vocabulary that represent your personality. Filler words or phrases don’t make the cut.
Have a close friend read your favorite blog post, and ask her if it sounds like you talk. The better your friend knows you, the better she’ll be able to give constructive feedback.
2. Tell what you know
Don’t assume that just because you’re a travel blogger you need to be the expert on all things travel. News Flash: No one is.
If you’ve never been to South America, don’t write guides on South American travel just because that’s what your audience seems to be interested in. Likewise, if you’ve never set foot in a resort or fancy hotel, steer clear of luxury reviews.Don't assume that just because you're a travel blogger you need to be the expert on all things travel. Click To Tweet
No matter your travel experience, you have a story and an expertise unique from any other traveler. Consider what you didn’t know about travel 3 months or 6 months or 1 year ago. There will always be travelers going through challenges you’ve already experienced, placing you in the perfect position to help, teach, and inspire.
Part-time travel bloggers can especially struggle with feelings of inadequacy in their experience/lack-of experience. Just remember that if you have any travel experience, there is always someone less experienced than you that you can help. (Spolier: you just need the right niche>>)
3. Engage with your readers
Blogging’s ongoing nature sets it apart from other writing forms. Unlike a book, a blog is a platform which grows and evolves.
Readers want in on that transformative magic. Too many bloggers forget to invite readers to engage.
Do you ask readers to comment after every post?
Do you ask reader input on social media?
Do you invite readers to join your email list and regularly engage with your subscribers?
If you answered no to any of those questions, things need to change asap. Your invitations need to be crystal clear. As in:
What do you think about [blog post topic]? Let me know in the comments below!
Jump on my email list for free monthly budgeting strategies to save you time + $$$ on your next vacation.
Placing clear CTAs (“call to action”s) around your blog is not pushy, but inviting. Your ideal reader will want to interact. Stop thinking of your blog as your personal diary, and start thinking of it as a community.
And don’t worry, if the idea of email list set-up freaks you out, I cover all the basics plus my fav list-building strategies in the #TravelBlogIn5 ecourse.
4. Admit your mistakes
Everybody makes mistakes. (Duh). But far fewer will admit when they make a mistake.
And even fewer bloggers will admit their imperfections and mistakes to their audience. Your email list is the perfect platform for this sort of authenticity. Suppose life gets in the way and you can’t get your post up at the normal time. Suppose that link to your freebie actually led to a link of a stupid cat meme. When you make mistakes that affect your audience (however small) let them know in an email that 1) You didn’t mean for that to happen, 2) Why it happened, 3) How you’re going to make it right.
Even if they were not bothered by your mistake (I’ll bet you $$$ that they didn’t care at all) the fact that you admitted it and made up for it will carry tremendous weight. That sort of honesty provides an authenticity and integrity rarely felt online, if ever.
5. Find a niche you’re passionate about and stick to it
A niche is the specific focus of a travel blog. You know, that defining feature that sets your blog apart from hundreds of others crowding the internet?
If you don’t have a niche yet, don’t panic. I’ve devoted an entire lesson in my jam-packed #TravelBlogIn5 ecourse to helping you find one.
Nailing down and sticking to your niche is mandatory to attract an engaged, devoted audience that you can rely on. There’s a myth that writing about lots of different types of travel will attract more travelers . . . but this is completely false.Want to attract a devoted + engaged audience? Nail down your travel blogging niche Click To Tweet
One epic blog post on budget travel for 20something females in Norway will attract – you guessed it – 20something female travelers on a budget who might be interested in visiting Norway. In fact, because they loved the post so much and felt almost like it was written for them, several of these readers subscribe to the travel blog’s email list.
If the next week that same travel blog posts a review of a 5-star resort in Florida, the post will attract new readers interested in 5-star resorts in the USA. It might even earn several new email subscribers. But it will simultaneously repel the 20something budget travelers who subscribed because of the last post.
Switching up topics like this unintentionally yo-yo’s your audience. Over time, no reader is satisfied and your travel blog will actually lose followers.
But even though I haven’t nailed down a niche, my topics aren’t that random. Why do I need to design a specific niche?
Remember the first readers in our example that felt like the post on budget travel in Norway was written especially for them? The more specific you can be with your niche, the more you can create a sense of belonging for your ideal reader.
Readers never subscribe to an email list after thinking “oh, that post applied to me.” Readers subscribe to an email list after thinking “oh my goodness that post was an answer to prayers practically written for me! I need more!”
If you want your readers to feel the latter, you need to make it easy on them by defining a niche and sticking to it.
Though we’ve thoroughly deconstructed travel blogging authenticity, this only scratches the surface on making your travel blog stand out. Grab my #TravelBlogIn5 ecourse to really whip your blog into shape.
In the meantime, I want to know how you remain authentic while travel blogging. Let me know in the comments!
The globetrotting wordsmith behind Take Me With You, Sierra specializes in sustainable, smart blogging strategies for part-time travel bloggers. Her wanderlust has taken her across 3 continents and 11 countries. She is the creator of the free ecourse, Travel Blog In 5.