Travel blogging is a format that is simply blowing up right now. When I first started blogging in 2008, I frankly didn’t even know that anyone else was blogging about their travels. In the beginning, I was just doing up a blog so that family and friends back home could follow along with my travels, which is still one of the main reasons that I hear new bloggers have started their travel blogs.
But that being said, if you are going to do something, go ahead and do it correctly. Even if you aren’t sure you want to try to make any money from travel blogging right now, if you are going to set up a blog, do it correctly. You might end up enjoying the process, and more importantly the travel blogging community, so much that you do want to take it up to some form of income generation down the road. With that in mind, start properly. So here are a few very, very basic tips when you are starting out.
(1) Join Twitter and dive right into the travel blogging community. You will be amazed at how helpful everyone will be to help you out down the road. These are going to be your backbone of advice givers, so participate, give back and you will be rewarded.
So, that was a non-writing tip, but the travel blogging community is going to be so important to your travels and your writing, I thought I’d start there, but back to the basic website tips.
(2) You have to self-host your blog. Period. I started using Blogger/Blogspot and wasted about two years there. Yes, it is easy to use, but you aren’t maximizing your potential there. Go to one of the domain purchasing websites, buy a domain name, go to WordPress.org and get started on your own site. You won’t regret the move.
(3) Set your URLs to descriptive terms and not just the default setting. The default setting will produce URLs that have an ending that look like this /?7643 — and those are simply horrible for SEO (search engine optimization) purposes. The change is simple. Just go to your dashboard, look for your administration tab and click on the permalinks button. Choose a title format that uses the words from your title and also try to eliminate the worthless words, such as “to,” “the,” “a” and the like.
(4) Please put a re-tweet button on your site via a plug-in. Twitter is just a universal tool at this point and it is blogging malpractice to not have a re-tweet button that is simple to use. And while you are at it, make sure the settings are set so that your @address comes up automatically when someone hits your RT button — make it easy for people to actually help you.
(5) Publish regularly. This, aside from “have good content,” is the easiest tip to follow in the normal course of business. Publish 3-4 times a week, because as you get a following people are going to actually want to follow you. If you are going to be in a place that has bad internet access, take a day out to write some posts and schedule them to go up automatically, which is also simple in a WordPress self-hosted blog.
(6) Set up social media buttons on your website. At a minimum, you need to have a Facebook fan page and a button link to it on your website. You also should be using StumbleUpon. We talked about Twitter already. There are other social media sites out there (Digg, Delicious, etc.). Don’t overdo the buttons, but you need them at the end of each of your posts, so that people that use them can — once again — help you. There are simple plug-ins for all of them.
I’ll be writing more in the future about basic tips, because I have had so many newbies ask so many simple questions. In sum, remember this. People want to help you. If you have good content, you will find that people want to spread the word. Figure out ways to make that easy on them. If you do the footwork to let people help you more easily…. people will help you.