Tips and advice on how to keep the motivation when you’re a new travel blogger.
Staying motivated as a new travel blogger is no easy task, especially when you feel like you’re talking to a brick wall.
Trust me, I’ve been there. In fact, I am there. After almost a year of hobby-blogging I’ve finally decided to take it seriously, only to feel seriously deflated by the sheer amount of content there is out there.
I started travel blogging for a creative outlet. Holed up for six weeks in winter in an impossibly boring, rural Spanish town, where the ‘heating’ was a bucket of hot coals placed under a table, writing was the one thing standing between me and outright insanity.
In terms of consistency, I did pretty well for a while. I managed to blog a couple of times a week over a few months, despite the fact that my biggest reader was my mum.
Then, just after post number 40 – I hit a rut.
I started looking at the major success other travel bloggers had attained: sponsored trips, thousands of dedicated readers and a huge social media following.
Sure, like I said, I started travel blogging as a creative outlet – but seeking gratification for all your hard work is only human nature.
It’s a Catch-22 situation: keeping up the consistency is super hard when traffic is low, but consistency is also the key to boosting traffic. Here, we take a look at a few different ways new travel bloggers can stay motivated, and avoid falling into a big ol’ boring inspiration-less rut.
Look where successful travel bloggers started
Everybody’s got to start somewhere: even that crazy-successful travel blogger you stalk on a regular, their Instagram constantly updated with amazing trips that someone else paid for. Chances are, they’re probably pretty embarrassed about their early blogging days.
One of my favourite things to do on a down day is to pick a well-established travel blogger, go to their archives, and have a look back to where it all started. In the shady depths of their websites, you’re sure to find oddly written, first person recounts of a trip to their uncle’s sheep farm, blurry photographs and comment-less posts.
“Treat your blog like an experiment! Keep checking your blog and social media stats to figure out what does and doesn’t work and tweak accordingly.” – Tamar, Portjam & Co
If you want to go even one step further, you can use Ahrefs to remind yourself that no one was reading their blog once, either. Ahrefs was made for blog-stalking: by entering another site’s URL into the site explorer bar, you can see how many social shares, backlinks and traffic it’s receiving.
Yes, it can be depressing. Really, really depressing. Especially when you enter the URL for a blog that (at the risk of causing offence) is really terribly written, only to find that it has 10,000 hits per day.
Don’t do that; instead, pick a blog you actually really like. For this example, I’ve chosen one of the most successful female travel bloggers out there. As you can see on the graph, she, like me, started off on a big, fat zero. No backlinks. No traffic. No motivation.
But watch how, after a few months of serious writing (and you can check the archives to see what she did during those months), slowly her backlink stats start to rise. On her blog, you can see her posts change from first-person recounts to informative, SEO-friendly articles.
There’s hope for you yet, kid.
To learn how to use SEO to drive traffic to your blog, have a look here.
Join Facebook groups and Twitter hashtag chats
I’ve admitted previously that in my first year of travel blogging, I was way too self-conscious to market The Longest Haul on social media. Self-promotion made me feel icky (confession: it still does), and I was wary of coming across as self-absorbed and narcissistic.
But, since signing up for Twitter and creating a Facebook fan page – I’ve seen the light. Social media drives traffic to my blog in unimaginable ways and, more importantly, it has given me an incredible support network of like-minded bloggers.
Every week, I take part in Twitter hashtag chats on travel, where I can discover great content and share my own. Plus, I’m a member of a few travel blogging Facebook groups (such as Girls vs Globe and The Aspiring Travel Writer), where I have first-person access to new travel bloggers like me, and brilliant travel bloggers who I want to be like.
“Do it because it’s something you love to do. Getting to share your experiences and tips to help other like minded people is so much fun!” – Charlotte, Following my Wanderlust
These groups and chats are a constant source of inspiration and motivation. They’re a way to collaborate with others on new, exciting projects. And, they send ego-boosting little momentary jumps in traffic to my blog.
Rebrand your blog
When I found myself stuck in a bottomless pit of no-motivation, I realised that part of it was due to my blog itself. Formerly known as Aussie Andaluza (I’m an Australian expat currently residing in Andalusia – get it? Get it?!), my blog was purely about culture and travel in the Southern region of Spain.
Then I hit a wall. I wanted to write about things outside of that context, but was scared that they’d seem out of place. It was almost as if I were forcing myself to write about things that I honestly didn’t want to write about.
“Connecting with other travel bloggers by commenting on their blogs and asking questions has connected me with a great group of bloggers. A simple comment from someone telling me they liked my blog keeps me going for a few weeks!” – Cathy, Roar Loud
So, lots of doodling and fretting and about a thousand cups of tea later – I rebranded. My blog was reborn as The Longest Haul – a space where I can write about living and working overseas, travelling long-term, and the business of blogging itself. I want to teach and inspire others to move abroad, and help fellow travel bloggers with their digital marketing.
And you know what? It’s given me an entire new lease on life.
Sure, my traffic statistics are nowhere near where I’d like them to be, but I no longer feel pigeon-holed and categorised and forced to write about a certain genre. I can write whatever the bloody hell I want… and it feels pretty good.
If you want to read a really good how-to piece on rebranding your blog, might I suggest this post by Jayne Gorman of Girl Tweets World. I came across it after changing my blog but, good God, I wish I’d found it beforehand!
Use your job to improve your blog
If you’re like me and are trying to keep up travel blogging with a full-time job, you’ll know that finding the time and energy to write isn’t easy.
“Do it because you love to share all of your crazy experiences and adventures with others. Connect with others by leaving meaningful comments on their social media and blog.” – Estefi, Find New Adventures
Don’t look at your job as a bad thing – in fact, it’s actually pretty great. Travel blogging can be an incongruous existence, and having full-time work can be that little bit of stability (and income!) you need.
As a travel blogger, you don’t need to be on the road all the time – the weekends are made for little trips, long weekends for short hauls and annual leave holidays can make for months of blogging fodder.
Karisa Klee of Flirting with the Globe is a great example of this: she works full-time as an attorney, but still manages to squeeze in enough travel to maintain a wildly successful (and visually gorgeous) travel blog.
Plus, if you’re lucky, your career may even be useful to your travel blogging. I work in digital marketing, for example, so I relish the opportunity to test out new strategies and ideas at work – then re-implement the best ones on my blog.
Remember, your job is someone else’s business; but your blog is you baby.
Set goals that you can control
When you read well-established bloggers’ advice on starting a travel website, they often talk about setting goals for traffic, backlinks, and social media follows and shares. Try as you might, however; these will never be goals that you, personally, can control.
Instead, set little goals that contribute indirectly to the growth of your blog. Aim to tweet a certain amount of times a day, comment a number of times per week on other blogs, or contact at least one blogger who inspires you.
“Don’t be afraid to disappear to somewhere with no wifi for a few days. Schedule social media to share your old posts, take a break, recover and come back fresh and inspired.” – Michelle, Anywhere at Home
Having little personal objectives keeps the motivation pumping and, if it drives a little bit more traffic your way – that’s just a bonus.
Do you have any motivational tips to add to the list? How is new travel blogger life treating you? Leave me a comment, or drop me a line on social media.