My TBEX Europe talk: So You Wannabe a Travel Blogger? – Keeping It Real

Here’s a summary of my “So You Wannabe at Travel Blogger? – Keeping it Real” talk at TBEX Europe in Copenhagen on 5 November 2010.  When I was asked to be a speaker, I wanted to be both inspirational and realistic, ensuring that attendees could go away with useful blogging tips as opposed to me just talking about Europe a la Carte.

Talk Overview

  • Introduction
  • Video: I want to be a travel writer
  • History of Europe a la Carte
  • What Makes a Successful Blog?
  • Keeping It Real
  • Acknowledgements
  • Contact Details

Introduction

I’m the founding editor of the UK based Europe a la Carte Blog.

Video: I want to be a travel writer

This video made me laugh out loud the first time I watched it, it’s hilarious but very insightful too.

History of Europe a la Carte

I summarised the growth of Europe a la Carte which started life as a standard site in July 2002. The name came from the fact that travel was becoming more “a la carte” with the growth of the internet and emergence of European low cost airlines.  Travellers could now put together their own holidays arranging flights and accommodation separately as opposed to the “set menu” approach of the package holiday. The Blog was launched October 2006, becoming a multi author blog in June 2008. (You can meet the current members of the blogging team here.) I finally gave up my part time day job in June 2009 in order to work full time on the site.

What makes a successful travel blog?

How do you define a successful travel blog?

I created a TwtPoll asking this question where the respondents were requested to rank six criteria: awards, content, interaction, income, rankings and traffic in order of importance. The results are displayed below:

 

Which type of travel blog?

I defined what I believe to be the three main categories of travel blog in my “The Future of the Travel Blog” presentation at Travel Blog Camp in London in November 2008:

  1. Personal travel diary or travelogue
  2. Online interactive travel magazine
  3. Marketing tool for travel company

Finding a niche

You can’t be all things to all readers, so what’s your angle e.g. family travel, a specific country or destination, luxury travel.  Also having a speciality can make Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) simpler.

Attracting and retaining readers

Readers are your lifeblood, you need to have great content, as well as keep on top of SEO, so readers find your blog and then keep coming back to read it.

Keeping It Real – Lessons I’ve Learned

Be realistic about your aims

You are one person and you can only do your best. I came to the realisation that even if I worked 24/7 I’d probably never get everything that I could or should do completed. It’s unlikely that you’ll be making a lot of money quickly.  It took me 7 years to give up my day job, I waited until Europe a la Carte was well established and bringing in some revenue before I took the plunge.

Stay focused on your aims

Why are you travel blogging, what do you want to get out of it? This closely relates to how you define success.  I wanted to do something I enjoyed, that was flexible and would keep me happily (well most of the time) occupied, enable me to travel and earn an income.

Press trips are great perks but they don’t pay the bills

Going on free trips is a great perk and gives you material for your blog.  However, press trips take up your time and energy, when you could be doing other tasks on your blog.  If blogging is your main source of income, you still need hard cash to pay your bills.

Summary – So You Still Wannabe a Travel Blogger?

With hard work, perseverance and dedication you can build a successful travel blog but remember to keep it real.

Acknowledgements

  • “I Want to be a Travel Writer” video by Naked Hungry Traveller
  • Current and former members of the Europe a la Carte blogging team
  • Gary Bryan

Update March 2011

My thoughts after being on the panel at the Travel Bloggers Unite conference in Manchester, “Where Are Travel Bloggers Heading Beyond the Next Free Trip?“.