7 tips on how to start a travel blog
When I was 20, on my fourth year of college, I made a life goal of traveling to 25 countries by the age of 25. It was the height of my wander lust. I wanted to see the world, experience different cuisines, see old and new wonders, learn about other cultures, and expand my network by making international friends.
Along with this goal came my desire to document my travels. I started my blog, David Lozada travels (thedavidlozadaway.wordpress.com), to share what I learned, document my lessons, and encourage others to travel. My travel blog served as my online diary. I didn’t just publish the typical travel itineraries. I analysed local issues I encountered, gave tips on traveling on a shoestring and backpacking safely, and examined the negative and positive aspects of culture that I experienced – from the ski slopes of Lillehamer, Norway to the backstreets of Yangon, Myanmar.
Travel blogging, like any new endeavor, can seem daunting at first. After all, you might seem like you’re simply showboating on the places you’ve visited. But that is not the point. You should start your travel blog not because you want to show off. Start one because it will serve as your online journal that can potentially help other travellers who may be planning to visit the place you’ve just been to.
If that’s not enough motivation, starting a travel blog can also help the tourism industry of the country you’re visiting. This might seem ridiculous if you’re going to Europe or the US, but imagine what it might do to a country like Nepal or Sri Lanka. As people, we have prejudices of different countries based on what we consume on the media. But once you start traveling, you’ll notice that a lot of those prejudices are inaccurate. You can change people’s views by putting out your experiences in your travel blog.
Now, are you inspired to start your travel blog? Good! Here are 6 tips that can help you start a successful travel blog.
1) Travel and explore
How can you start a travel blog if you lock yourself at home during weekends? In my opinion, travel is one of the bets luxuries we can have as people. It pushes us out of comfort zones, makes us question our beliefs, and allows us to see things from a different perspective.
You don’t have to go overseas, too! Try going to an eco park near your city, or visit some of the museums in Manila. Explore the beaches of Quezon, or go on an ecotourism excursion in Antipolo. Why not try the famous street foods of Binondo?
You don’t have to spend a lot to get new experiences – although that’s a separate topic altogether. Having a travel buddy or a fellow wanderlust wouldn’t hurt too!
2) Start writing
You want to start a travel blog? Then start writing! You don’t have to have a degree in Communication or be a Palanca-winning writer to start your travel blog. It starts by going to a new place, processing your new experiences, and writing them down.
Your first travel entry doesn’t have to be an 800-word essay on the importance of the coconut industry in Eastern Samar. This is not a school requirement! It can be as simple as talking about the street food stalls you recommend in UP Diliman, or the activities you did at the Masungi Georeserve.
A useful format for your first entry is to write about your itinerary, your recommendations on what to do (or where to eat), your experiences with the locals (if you’re going outside Manila), and your tips to future travellers. Another good tip in practicing writing is to describe a simple object like a chair or a bus, or describe your daily commute routine.
Once you start writing, you’ll see that you entries become better in time.
3) Use free Internet hosting services
You’ll need a home for your travel blog. But buying your own domain or developing your own CMS may be too much for your wallet – especially if you’re only doing this as a hobby.
Thankfully, you don’t have to be a techie or to invest in websites to start your travel blog. There are readily available, free Internet hosting services that you can use for your blog. Personally, I like WordPress because it’s easy to navigate and it has free website designs that you can use.
Free and open-source content management systems – where you upload and develop your content – may seem complicated. But there are loads of tutorial videos available where you can learn this. It would take time to explore but once you get the hang of it, you’ll be uploading your blog entries in no time!
4) Go Multimedia
There’s a reason why the line “A picture says a thousand words” is an idiom embedded in our psyche. Unless you’re a literary icon who can convey powerful images with the stroke of a keyboard, you’d be better off uploading photos in your travel blogs! After all, you want to show your audience all the amazing sights you visited right?
In my experience, my readers always complement me for the photos in my blog entries. It’s not everyday that they can see inside the White House or the get a good look of the Danish Crown Jewels. Using photos can also lessen the length of your text. Instead of spending two paragraphs describing Rembrandt’s ‘The Night Watch’ – unless you’re an art major – just post a good photo of it and tell your readers what you think about it.
Travel videos are also very effective. Personally, I wasn’t able to do much of this because I didn’t have time to edit videos because of my past work. But publishing short videos or VLOGs are helpful in taking your audience with you to your adventures.
Again, you don’t need to buy hundreds of thousands worth of camera and lenses for this. All you need is the smart phone in your pocket. There’s also a lot of tutorial videos on YouTube where you can learn the basics of photography and videography.
5) Be unique
There are probably millions of travel blogs around the world. So what will set yours apart from them?
You have to be unique. Once you start getting the rhythm of your writing style, try focusing on content that only you can give. In other words, develop your own specialty. Will you write about food or cooking? Will you mostly blog about the local art scene or follow HONY and talk to locals? In my case, I chose to blog about 25 by 25 travel goal. My audiences were those supportive of my dream. I also published a lot of tips and analyses on local issues. These set me apart from other travel blogs.
Being unique also means using a special perspective. For example, are you writing from the perspective of a shoestring traveller? As a backpacker who has a full time job as an accountant? As a yuppie exploring street food around the world?
For myself, my perspective was of a full-time journalist who likes travelling. I think it worked.
6) Allot time
Hey, all good things take time. If it took you 4 years of Law School to pass the bar
exam, or 5 years of college to be good at accounting, why not in writing? It takes practice but soon enough, you’ll get your writing jam.
Allotting time also means spending time on improving your blog. The good thing about the Internet is that you can easily edit content you produce on your blog. The bad side, especially if you have a slight OCD like myself, is that you’ll keep going back to your content trying to improve it – whether by rewording your paragraphs or uploading better photos. Designing your blog can also take some of your time.
Don’t pressure yourself though. This is not news. Your travel adventure is a timeless piece so do it when you’re free! A travel blog is supposed to relieve you of stress, not cause one.
Once you get the hang of travel blogging, you’ll start enjoying it. When you do, I’m sure you’ll be spending a lot of your free time improving your blog. That’s what I did!
7) Do it because you enjoy it, not for the benefits.
Sure, travel blogging – or blogging in general – can earn you some extra income. Some people quit their jobs and do it full time because they can sustain themselves through their blogs. There is nothing wrong here but you shouldn’t start your travel blog because you want to earn money.
I may be naive but you should start your travel blog for the right reasons – for yourself, for your friends, for the tourism industry. Improve your writing and widen your reader base THEN explore whether you can make some extra income with your new hobby.
If you start with the monetary goals in mind, you’ll end up frustrating yourself if you miss some objectives. For more, travel blogging would be added work that may or may not earn you an extra buck.
In my example, I never made money from my travel blog. Some people might see this as a bad decision, but for me, I just really didn’t think about it. My goal was to share my experiences and in that, I was successful.
In June 2017, a few days after I turned 25, I stepped into country 25 – Australia – and I achieved a life goal. With that, I ended my travel blogging adventures – mostly because I started taking my Masters in Melbourne and I couldn’t find time.
But I did gain a lot of experiences from my travel blogging, and hopefully, I was able to help some giddy travellers with their adventures. Writing this article, I realised that now that I’m done with my graduate degree, I have to set new travel goals. Who knows, maybe I’ll be travel blogging again soon?
What are you waiting for? Explore the world and start your travel blog!
David Lozada is a development communications professional. He finished his Master of Development Studies degree (First Class Honours) at the University of Melbourne in December 2018.