Category Archives: Travel Blogging

The History of the UK Travel Blogosphere

As a panelist on the international travel blogger panel at the Travel Blogger’s Meeting #TBMCatSur in Tarragona, I was asked to make a short presentation on the history and current state of the UK travel blogosphere.

I struggled to think of much that was unique to UK travel blogging. I can’t be alone in that; I asked for any thoughts on the UK travel blogosphere on Twitter, Facebook and Google+ but drew a blank. Therefore, my presentation was written from a personal perspective.

tbmcatsur panel

The International Blogger’s Panel at #TBMCatSur by Planeta Dunia

I assume that English being a language in common with North America, meant that many UK travel bloggers have learned from and made contacts within the more advanced North American travel blogging scene.

There’s nothing new about travel writing, whether that be in the travel sections in newspapers, magazines or travel diaries. However, travel blogging with its low barriers of entry, means that anyone can become a travel publisher.
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I’m on panel at Travel Bloggers Unite in Manchester, England: 26-27 March 2011

 Introduction

There’s a fab event for travel bloggers taking place in the UK this Spring.  Travel Bloggers Unite is hosting a conference in Manchester, England, over the weekend 26-27 March 2011.

What’s Included in Your Ticket

The Event venue is The Studio where there will be free wifi and unlimited FairTrade tea and coffee. There’ll be time and space for networking.

There will be several “How To” sessions covering diverse topics such as SEO, PR, affiliate marketing, podcasting and videos, all run by real experts in each field.

I’ll be on the discussion panel along with the following international bloggers:

  • Keith Jenkins (Netherlands) of Velvet Escape
  • Melvin Boecher (Germany) of Travel Dudes
  • Kash Bhattacharya (UK) of Europe Budget Guide
  • Matt Preston (UK) of Travel with a Mate

Visiting Manchester

Manchester is a really interesting city, I spent a couple of nights there during my UK Summer 09 Blogging  Tour. Here are some great tips on what to do and see in Manchester.

Manchester through the centuries

My Post TBU11 Analysis

After the event, I was left thinking “Where are Travel Bloggers Heading Beyond their Next Free Trip?”

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?“.

Successful travel blogs - Travel blogging tips

What Defines a Successful Travel Blog?

In preparation for my talk at TBEX Europe on 5 November 2010, I’ve been pondering what defines a successful travel blog. From a personal perspective, I came to the conclusion that it depends on the type of blog (which I covered in my “The Future of the Travel Blog” presentation) and the aims of the blogger e.g. are they travel blogging as a hobby or as a full time job? This makes it almost impossible  to come up with hard and fast travel blogging tips for someone starting or growing their blog.

Successful travel blogs - Travel blogging tips

Me in Florence, Italy

I’m a full time blog editor, so income is an important factor to me.  However I also want to offer quality content to readers.  Interaction is a big part of blogging and being active in social media can bring more traffic to your blog, which then means you can charge more for advertising. I don’t spend ages checking Europe a la Carte’s ranking in various sites but higher ranking can increase traffic.  It would be lovely to win awards for the personal gratification but also for the possible traffic increase.

From a readers perspective, I think that the top answer is likely to be great content which is informative, useful, inspirational and entertaining but interaction on a travel blog also enriches the reader experience.

Below are the results on my Twtpoll on “What Defines a Successful Travel Blog?” in which respondents were asked to rank the six factors in order of importance.  Do you agree with the poll results that content is the most important factor, followed by traffic and interaction?

 

1st Edinburgh Travel Tweet Up, Sunday 25 July 2010

I organised the first Edinburgh Travel Tweet Up which took place on Sunday 25 July 2010 at St Giles Cafe Bar.  It was timed to coincide with the free Taste of Spain event running in Edinburgh over the weekend 24 – 25 July.  It was great to meet some virtual friends in the flesh and meet some new UK travel tweeple.

1st Edinburgh Travel Tweet Up

Attendees

Unfortunately I forgot to ask someone to take my photo.  I’m Karen Bryan, founder and editor of the Europe a la Carte Blog, you can find me on Twitter as @karenbryan.

Steve Jack, tweeting as@JackTravel, of Inn Travel , tweeting as@InnTravel, was up in Edinburgh for the day from York.

Steve Jack of Inn Travel

Kash Bhattacharya, on Twitter as @BudgetTraveller, author of Europe Budget Guide.

Kash Bhattacharya of Europe Budget Guide

Julian Stone, tweeting as @jools_octavius, author of  He thought of trains

.

Jools Stone of He thought of trains

Karma Choden, tweeting as @SimplyBhutan, of Simply Bhutan and her husband Dorji Wangchuk, tweeting as @DorjiWangchuk.

Karma Choden of Simply Bhutan

I hope that this was the first of many more Edinburgh Travel Tweet Ups.

“The Future of the Travel Blog” Presentation, Travel Blog Camp, London 11 November 2008

Introduction

When Darren of Travel Rants asked me to give a presentation at the Travel Blog Camp he was organising in London on the 11 November 2008, I decided to further explore “The Future of the Travel Blog” the theme of a live blog hosted to celebrate the 2nd birthday of the Europe a la Carte Blog in October 2008.

In order to examine the future of the travel blog, it’s important to start with defining what I see as the main categories of travel blog and their aims. Of course this isn’t rigid and there may be some overlap between categories. After explaining the three categories of travel blogs and their aims, I will then examine the future of each category.

One of the rare non-Apple laptops seen in an otherwise cool park full of cool people

by Ed Yourdon

Travel Blog Categories

1 Personal travel diary or travelogues

Personal travel diaries or travelogues, either hosted free on a general blogging platform such as Blogger or as part or a travel social networking or community site such as WAYN or Travelerspoint. The blog author here is not aiming to make any money from their writing but to keep friends and relatives up to date on their travels. If personal travel diaries are part of an community or network then the host is getting a good variety of content, free of charge, which enhances their site and the host may also have advertising alongside the posts.

2 The travel blog as an online interactive travel magazine

The travel blog as an online interactive travel magazine, either as part of a established print media outlet such as The Guardian travel blog or independent self hosted blog such as Travel Rants or my own Europe a la Carte Blog. This type of blog aims to make money from advertising and/or affiliate links on the blog.

3 The travel blog as a marketing tool

The travel blog as a marketing tool of a website which sells travel products or services to the consumer such as Smith Travel Blog part of the Mr and Mrs Smith boutique and luxury hotel specialist site. This type of blog may anticipate making directly attributable income but it adds to the content of the site, increases brand awareness, encourages regular visits to the site and can lead to increased sales and profit. Many aspiring writers also use a blog as part of their portfolio to showcase their work.

What’s the common thread with all types of blog – quality, unique content. This will attract readers, encourage links from other sites and blogs which increases ranking which in turn leads to increased visitor numbers. This then makes for a good platform for advertisers to reach readers interested in travel products and services.

Travelstart.se voted 4th best website in Sweden!

by dplanet

The Future of the Travel Blog

1 The personal travel diary or travelogue

People will always want to write about their travels and keep family and friends in the loop, as well as have a record of their trip. The individual is probably not thinking of making any income from their writing. although there’s always the chance they could progress to being a paid writer. If an aggregator can amass a steady stream of good content with relevant ads they are onto a good thing on the back of free content. However it could be difficult to ensure that all blogs have quality content.

2 The travel blog as a online interactive travel magazine

Travel blogs which are part of an existing media empire have the advantage of being a known and trusted source of information by readers and a safer bet for advertisers. In theory the revenue from advertising should enable the publisher to pay for well researched and written content but I don’t think this is always the case.

Independent blogs face major hurdles in attracting readers in the crowded market. It’s always said that if you have quality content you will succeed but I don’t think that’s enough for an independent blog. Independent blogs were beginning to make some revenue from paid text links until Google started to downgrade the Page Rank of blog with paid text links. It’s also hard to attract advertisers to an independent niche travel blog which may have a relatively low number of hits.

I see the way forward for independent blogs as working in partnership with other quality travel blogs which inform, inspire and entertain readers who love travel.

Or the collaboration could be taken step further If the content of several travel blogs is aggregated, this should increase the profile and hits of each of the individual blogs. The aggregation then becomes an more attractive option for advertisers and much simpler than seeking and contacting each blog separately. I believe that content should in the aggregation would have to be manually edited to ensure quality and I’m not sure that all content from the participating travel blogs would be included.

3 The Travel Blog as a marketing tool

Travel blogs which are marketing tools will have to evaluated for their effectiveness as maintaining a blog is going to take up a fair bit of time and effort. However they could be a very cost effective way of marketing a travel business, especially for the established travel business where the brand is already know by the consumer or for small businesses to help increase their visibility.

Michelle in Print - SilverKris Magazine

by jaybergesen

Conclusion

I see more collaboration between travel blogs within the same, as well as different, categories as the way forward. To illustrate this concept I will use my own vision for the future of Europe a la Carte blog. I envisage some content from the Europe a la Carte blog being included in a platform for great content about travel in Europe. This could have sub divisions such as budget travel, luxury travel and getting off the beaten track.

This aggregated travel content site would include content from personal travel diaries or travelogues written by travellers visiting destinations in Europe, other travel blogs which are online interactive travel magazines both independent and part of a media empire with content about travel in Europe and relevant content from blogs which are marketing tools. However the aggregated travel content site wouldn’t be limited to content from travel blogs, any quality travel content could be included with the publishers permission.

I’m looking at this from the perspective of the consumer. I know as a travel consumer myself you end up looking at so many different sources when researching and planning a trip that I’d find it really useful if there were a lot of relevant, quality information in one place.

To create a resource such as this would require very selective and unbiased editing to ensure the highest quality and relevance of content.

I believe that all sources contributing to this aggregation would benefit by increased readership and revenue.