Overwhelmed. In one word, that is how I often feel as a new travel blogger. Don't get me wrong; in the last two months, I have loved developing our site, photographing and writing our content, and interacting with the wonderful blogger network. But, there is such a huge learning curve for new travel bloggers that, at times, I find myself spending more time researching how to be a good blogger instead of actually blogging. Google turns up 78 million results for How to Write a Travel Blog; so, many resources get lost in the digital air while others are duplicative. This list summarizes the resources that we have found helpful and whether and how we followed their advice.
Note: When I list multiple resources, I try to order them in order of my preference on that particular topic though I think all of these resources are worth the read (otherwise they wouldn't be on this list!).
- Gist: Blogging is hard work but rewarding.
Chris Guillebeau's free manifesto,
279 Days to Overnight Success
; Darren Rouse's
Is a Blog Right for You?
What is a Blog?
How we applied the advice:
Before we wrote a post, before we designed our site, we read Chris's manifesto. Direct yet supportive, Chris lays out the mind-set that bloggers should have: blogging takes a lot of hard work and dedication but the rewards can be immense. When I get frustrated by our site, I remember the last page of his manifesto: "I hope you keep going. The world needs more people like you. If you have something to say, go and say it. Keep working. Be awesome. That’s the most important thing you can do, because if you’re in the process of creating a community, then what you say will be important to people." Thank you Chris for, at times, preventing me from wrenching my own hair out of my head.
Finding a Niche
- Gist : Travel bloggers need to find a niche, preferably something in which they have expertise.
- Resources : Travel Writer's Exchange Why Travel Writers Really Need a Niche ; ProBlogger's How to Choose a Niche Topic
How we applied the advice
: We found our niche by happenstance. We actually started this site with a generic name and didn't publicize it or give the link out to many people. One day, my mom remarked that she loved reading the food parts of my posts and suggested that I post some of my recipes on the site. I felt kind of foolish that I hadn't realized before how we integrate food and travel into our lives, but when we did so, we found our niche.
Developing a Site (the technical part)
- Gist : Develop a site on WordPress and self-host your site using a dot com name with a catchy and memorable blog name.
- Resources : Go Backpacking's Developing a Successful Travel Blog Series, Parts 3 and 4 ; ProBlogger's Choosing the Domain Name ; Nomadic Matt's How to Make Money With Your Travel Blog* , Chapters on Creating Your Blog and Installing and Building Your Blog.
- How we applied the advice : Ideally, we wanted a two-word blog name that incorporated both food and travel in a clever way. We tossed around ideas for blog names for about a week when we were walking the dogs, making dinner, and just hanging out. At the end, we had six top contenders and asked a bunch of our Facebook friends to vote for their favorite. While we self-host our site, we decided against using Wordpress. Patrick decided to build the site from the ground up because he didn't like some of the limitations of Wordpress; obviously, that works for us because Patrick programs (and no, ladies, I didn't just marry him for his programming skills but it is an awfully nice benefit) but may not make sense for non-programmers.
: Plan ahead to create an attractive site design.
- Resources : ProBlogger's Blog Design for Beginners ; Blog Design Blog's The Secret to Great Blog Design .
How we applied the advice:
By far, blog design has been the most difficult part of creating our site. We started off by finding blog designs we loved and narrowed down the reasons why those designs attracted us (when we first designed our house, we did the same thing and, to Patrick's dismay, watched HGTV non-stop for about two months). Our favorite blogs used vivid pictures and a clean design so we designed our site on those principles. We built a wireframe using Powerpoint because we didn't have the fancy wireframe tools that ProBlogger recommends and I didn't feel like fiddling around with Photoshop. Since launching two months ago, we have done three major site design edits because we keep finding new features we want to add and areas we want to develop as the type of content we write changes and grows.
* Matt's e-book How to Make Money With Your Travel Blog is the only resource listed here that is for sale. He sells it for $27 on his blog.
Travel and the World
all have reviews of it on their blogs. I am not planning on adding my tiny voice to the masses, but if you have specific questions about the e-book, let me know.
** Photo credit to Kevin
So, what are your favorite travel blogging resources out there? Any other overwhelmed new travel bloggers out there who want to start a support group? If so, I'll bring the wine and cookies.
Stay tuned for the next part of this series --- resources I have used for writing content and travel photography.