Travel the world, write about your journeys and before long the sponsors will be lining up to get their ads on your blog, providing you with ample cash to fund your globetrotting lifestyle.
Sounds like a dream job, doesn’t it?
The market is there, but creating content that resonates with global audiences isn’t as easy as you might think.
Keith Jenkins, CEO of travel blogger network iambassador and a creator of the Velvet Escape travel blog, says the world’s top 50 bloggers have a combined audience of over 10 million people.
According to the latest Travel Trends Report released at ITB Berlin, the world’s largest tourism convention, 92% of social media users are influenced by travel blogs, with up to 72% willing to change their destination based on the opinion of friends and networks on social media.
So how do you take your love for travel and turn it into a viable career?
Here are seven tips from successful travel bloggers around the world.
1. Blog for the right reasons
Many people think of travel blogging as a great way to see the world and make cash while doing it.
But the desire to succeed must come from a deeper place.
“Have a clear vision of where you want your business to be in the future,” say Caz and Craig Makepeace at Y Travel Blog.
“Let that craft your decisions, the content you create and the experience you provide for your reader.”
In other words, start blogging for the right reasons.
Blogging should be about something more than just free travel, which is a poor and unsustainable value exchange.
Would you praise a lackluster destination just because its tourism board sprung for the junket?
Did you actually pay for the hotel room you’re trying to tell your readers is paradise on earth?
“Be it sharing your travel experiences or giving travel tips, you should write from the heart and build a credible reputation,” says Pinoy Adventurista.
“That way, you will gain loyal followers that will read and follow your adventures.”
2. Own your niche
One day, you write about staying in a luxury hotel in Thailand.
The next, you write about budget restaurants in Berlin.
You’re confusing your readers.
When you focus your writing, you can become an expert on your subject and own your niche.
“It’s imperative to have a unique point of view because you need a way to stand out from the thousands of other bloggers,” says James Feess of The Savvy Backpacker.
“In general, the most successful bloggers write about one subject – solo female travel, family travel, luxury travel, fashion travel, budget Europe travel, senior travel. That’s the best way to find an audience.”
Should you focus on underrated destinations, interesting encounters or human stories?
The choice is yours.
Whatever you do, it’s best to offer a unique perspective.
“An interesting angle will set you apart from countless others, build your credibility and establish a personal brand,” says Yoshke Dimen of The Poor Traveler.
“Loyal readers will come eventually, but first give them a reason to visit your blog and follow you, and a much bigger reason to help you spread the word.”
3. Tell good stories
Everybody loves a good story.
That’s why aspiring travel bloggers should learn the art of “legend storytelling” and use it when writing about a destination.
“Remember how you would tell a story of a legend to kids?” asks Anton Diaz of Our Awesome Planet.
“There’s a sense of awe and discovery. You can feel the tension between the hero and a villain.
“You end with a moral or lesson and a call to action.
“Ignite the sense of adventure in the kid inside your readers.”
4. Solve a problem
The most popular websites combine wonderful storytelling with a service mindset.
That’s why one of the best ways to stand out from the crowd of people trying to pay for their travels is to create a website that has nothing to do with you.
“You are merely the vehicle through which information flows,” says Matt Kepnes of Nomadic Matt.
“Treat the website as a business designed to solve a problem – i.e., people want to know how to travel more – and not as a place where you tell everyone about the amazing places you are seeing.
“Don’t make your writing about yourself; make it about how you can better the reader’s life and travel experience.”
5. Hit the details
Another way to assist your readers is by sharing your experiences in a way that makes it possible for them to follow in your footsteps.
Yes, sharing your story and posting photos can be fun and inspiring.
But you must think about how to provide readers with as much value as you can.
That means not forgetting to provide all the small but important details.
“In the blog posts you write, include helpful tips like prices, opening hours and how to get to places,” says Mark Wiens of Migrationology.com.
“When you can create a blog post that’s inspiring while providing information on how to do it, your readers will remember your post and appreciate your information.”
6. Be in it for the long term
Are we there yet?
Travel blogging done right takes a lot of time and effort, so you have to be patient.
“Starting out is tough, particularly nowadays with so many established travel bloggers who have already built up a strong following,” says Paul Johnson of A Luxury Travel Blog.
“So you’re going to have to put in a lot of time and effort in the first instance, probably with little reward, just to get up to speed with the competition.”
If you’re serious about making a career out of travel blogging, don’t worry about potential short-term gains.
You need to be in it for the long haul.
“Focus on quality content and building a strong following, be that through a mailing list, social media channels, or something else, rather than trying to make a quick buck from some spammy link,” Johnson says.
“This will serve you far better in the longer term and build more of a foundation to attract more serious revenue potential in the future.”
7. Stop reading this
Albert Einstein once said that nothing happens until something moves.
That something has to be you.
No, you don’t have to go to faraway places; you can write about where you already are.
And no, you don’t need fancy blogging skills or a brilliant web design.
All that can come later.
What matters most is that you get started now.
“The number one tip I would share for aspiring travel bloggers is to make sure that you take blogging seriously,” says Marcello Arrambide at Wandering Trader.
“Blogging can seem like a daunting task and it takes quite a bit of work in the beginning.
“But if you take it seriously there are huge rewards. Set a schedule, decide your specialty or angle and get to work.”
Eugene Yiga is a lifestyle and entertainment writer in Cape Town, South Africa. He’s written about travel, media and more for more than 50 different websites, newspapers, and magazines. Follow @eugeneyiga on Twitter or eugeneyiga.com.