Starting up a travel blog can be a great way to share your stories and adventures from the road.
But how does one transition their travel blog from having a few family and friends checking it out to actually making it a leader in the travel blog community?
Many aspiring travel writers start up a blog and magically think that their writing skills and vivid imagery will attract readers to their site. After all you are traveling to some of the most interesting places on the planet, so why wouldn’t people read what you write, right?
Wrong. There are thousands of travel blogs on the Internet and it can be very difficult to become noticed among the mass of bloggers writing about the same destinations that you are writing about.
My husband Dave and I ran into this same problem over our years of travel. We loved writing about our adventures and enjoyed sharing our photos with friends and family. But when we returned home, we realized that not many people really checked out our emails or posts.
We wondered why we bothered to write and take photographs when nobody was really paying attention.
It was just before our last trip to Africa that we decided to market ourselves and try to make something out of our travels. Our focus was to attract people with the same interests and love of adventure. We wanted people to visit our site because they wanted to be there. Our family and friends had stopped by once in a while because it was their duty to be supportive, but that doesn’t really generate a lot of traffic or interest.
Having traveled extensively for the past 10 years, we decided that we needed to set ourselves apart from other travelers. We wanted to entice readers to visit our site. So we started to look into unique ways to travel and we knew that we wanted to focus on traveling as a couple.
When we read about the Tour d’Afrique, a 12,000 km cycling race from Cairo to Cape Town, we knew that that was our chance to really turn our travels into a career.
We hired a publicist to gain publicity about this crazy undertaking and before we knew it, people were calling us “Canada’s Adventure Couple“.
We had already done adventures around the world together, but crossing a continent by pedal power alone really cemented our reputation as world-class adventurers. It didn’t hurt that I won the women’s race and that Dave placed 5th, and held his own against some very elite men’s cyclists.
We wrote articles for newspapers, we appeared on television, and we were interviewed on the radio. Things were looking like they were going in the right direction.
Then problems occurred when we returned home from Africa. We didn’t know how to keep the momentum going and soon our readership faltered. We eventually found ourselves back at work trying to decide if we were going to travel again, or settle down once and for all.
It didn’t take long for us to conclude that we would never settle down, so in April we decided to give it one last push. We had climbed to the pinnacles of Borneo, cycled the continent of Africa, summitted Mount Kilimanjaro and Mount Kinabalu. We had taken part in adventures on five continents and there was no way we were going to give up on being Canada’s Adventure Couple.
We realized that just because we weren’t traveling at the moment didn’t mean that we couldn’t share all of our past experiences with our readers. We visited several websites and read eBooks on how to make a travel blog work . We studied other successful blogs and found a great deal of information right here at The Travel Writers Exchange.
We were already ahead of the game. We had a niche and a very unique one at that. However, a niche alone will not make a travel blog succeed.
It became a full time job working on developing our following. We joined all of the social media networks like Twitter, Stumbleupon and the travelblogexchange. At first we didn’t have any followers. We wondered what we were doing on those sites. But in no time, things grew.
When I look back to just a few months ago, I can’t believe how bold we were. We already had a lot of content on our site because we were blogging through Africa, so we had the confidence to really sell ourselves. We contacted many of the respected bloggers out there asking for advice and links, and took part in discussions on forums. We introduced ourselves to the community and engaged in conversations with other bloggers.
We visited dozens of websites and left comments everywhere. Soon if a person visited another travel site, they would most likely see our Gravatar at the bottom of the post, giving out opinion.
When people asked us for an interview or to write a guest post, we didn’t hesitate to say yes. Eventually our brand was quite visible on the Internet and people started to think of us as an authority on adventure travel. Finally it wasn’t just us thinking that we were an authority on adventure travel. We were giving advice and sharing stories with people that actually wanted to hear about it.
We cannot get over how giving and supportive everyone in the travel writing community is. We have developed strong relationships with other travel bloggers. We all support each other in promoting each other’s sites, we share information and experiences, and at times we chat about the trials and tribulations of being a travel blogger.
Our site focuses on adventure travel to remote destinations. That is our identity out there in cyberspace and our blog attracts other extreme travelers and backpackers, as well as people that love to read and learn about travel but aren’t intent on leaving home. When we travel, we make it an adventure wherever we go.
There is no other career that I would want after blogging about adventure travel for these past few months. I can’t wait to get on the road to India in November, and to share the adventures of Dave and Deb with the world.
What have you done to brand yourself or your travel blog? Share your experience!
Dave and Deb – I LOVE that you have stayed true to what you both really love (adventure travel) and have managed to really build it into a wonderful niche and brand identity, and I admire your determination. That must be what drives you both across deserts and up mountains – determination and perseverance. I have no doubt that you’ll be very successful!.
Thank you Trisha! Your site has been one of the most valuable resources for us and your support means so much. I am so glad that I found the Travel Writers Exchange and we are honored to be able to contribute in our own small way to this awesome site!
Dave and Deb ~ You are a great example to those of us working to build a name in the travel blogging industry. Keep up the great work!
Thanks JoAnna! We have had many people inspire us as well and what we love about this community is how much we all support each other. We have loved making connections and knowing that we are all going to grow together.
It is a full time job! Gary V says to write a post or do a video takes 20 minutes, then you the next 14 hours of the day is spent hustling!!! No matter what niche you’re in:)
Great post, very inspiring and motivating. I think I’m going to hustle some more right now:)
Wow, I wish that it only took me 20 minutes especially for video. Editing takes time. I agree, it is a full time job. I cannot believe how much of the day goes into hustling and networking. But luckily I love every minute of it!
Hi Dave and Deb. Good on you for having a crack. I enjoy what you are both doing, and it does take a lot of persistence and committment, which is something that you obviously both have (I guess you wouldn’t ride from Cairo to Cape Town if you weren’t motivated!). I hope to meet up with you someday and share a few beers! The niche idea is great – for others out there who want to start or keep going with your travel blog, it takes time and loads of persistence. Just remember, if you have a passion for something, it’s most likely that there are others out there who do as well. The internet allows you to find them easier these days!
Hey Anthony – thanks for stopping by! You’re another travel blogger who has done an amazing job of developing your own brand identity – proof that being unique (in your case, extremely unique) and niche oriented really does work.
I agree Trisha. Anthony has done an amazing job at developing a niche. It is so difficult to stand out among the many amazing blogs. It really took Dave and I several years to figure out our niche without even realizing we had one. After many adventures it just came naturally. Many people say wow, you have done so much in a short amount of time, and yet to us…it has been 5 years in the making. (10 if you count all of our travels)
We are definitely sharing a beer when we make it to your part of the world. Looking forward to it!
I love your story, Dave and Deb! You two are just super- Add to that great adventure travelers. So glad we found you and connected with you. Looking forward to following your journeys in India.
Thanks you two! We have absolutely loved the connections that we have made these past few months and you too are an inspiration. I am sure that we will meet up in Asia in the next year or two and we will be following you also!
Very inspiring post! As with all of your writing, you explore the successes and challenges with each venture and offer a very personal account that is easy to connect with.
It is also very appropriate for this post to appear on Travel Writers Exchange – Trisha offers travel writers great content and lots of food for thought. We look forward to reading and learning more as we build out our own site!
Thank you Jennifer. Thank you for the comment about exploring both success and challenges. That has kind of been our motto. Keep it real and honest. Sometimes it can be tough to talk about the obstacles that we encounter, but the travel community is so supportive that it makes it easy to share and discuss.
It takes a lot of time and effort to grow a blog. When you’re the sole person writing and doing social media along with article marketing and networking can be draining and tiring. It’s very easy to get frustrated and want to give up, especially when you see others prospering and they’re not doing half of what you do. What advice would you give to travel writers who are not seeing success even though they are working hard to grow their blog?
Excellent Question Sarah. It is overwhelming every day. We have found that supporting other blogs that inspire us has worked very well. Develop a community of your own and start promoting each other. Blogging is all about giving back. I love finding new blogs and letting everyone know about them. Don’t become upset over their success, learn from their success and join in on the discussion.
When we first started many people out there were willing to give us heaps of advice and we will never forget their help and we have really developed a great relationship making sure to promote their articles and sites as much as possible.
Now people are starting to ask us for advice and we are making sure to pay it forward. I really think developing a network, staying positive and supportive is the best way to make a mark in the community.
Scour this website. It is filled with valuable information. I read the archives And visit the Travel Writers Exchange everyday.
Make a schedule and try to stick to it.
I try to keep a regular schedule of which days I post so that people will get used to the routine and I ask questions.
I focus on Twitter on Tuesdays and Fridays and on Saturday Mornings I read through my RSS feed and stumble, tweet, reddit etc. peoples posts.
The more you give the more you receive. Really.
And most important…
Leave your site address when leaving messages. I wanted to visit your site and leave a message, but I had no way of contacting you.
It is a lot of work but you guys are really providing quality content online. It’s worth the effort!
Thanks Anil. You are one of the sites that inspires us as well!
And that is an excellent point for Sarah’s question as well.
Content is the number one reason that people visit a blog. And that is always the first thing that we focus on.
If we don’t have anything interesting to say, then I don’t expect people to stop by for a visit.
Your methods for promoting your blog, sound like they could be easily (well not easily) applied to any sort of niche, not just adventure travel. Thanks for posting, and I look forward to getting to know you guys and to reading about your travels..its great to be able to live through someone else if I can’t do all those great exciting travels.
Adam, You are right. It could be done for any niche. What I love about all of the blogs that we follow regularly is just how different they all are. Everyone focuses on travel, but every one is completely different.
Deb and Dave are doing everything right. They have a unique story, they are connecting with followers (a lot!) and the are working damn hard on all of their projects. They deserve phenomenal success!
Thanks John. Hopefully we will have the success that you are enjoying. I love the things that you are doing at JetSetCitizen.
Great advice and inspiration! It can be very frustrating when your audience and network are all in the virtual form- it’s a very lonely existence. But when we receive emails thanking us for our site, that keeps me motivated, even when those are few in number right now.
And I love your tips on keeping to a schedule. I know that is important but I can get so easily distracted! Moving forward I’m going to keep to that as well.
Thanks Dave and Deb!
This is a super old post but we are really glad we found your site. We love hearing all about what you guys have been up to on the Planet D site and are trying to focus more on creating our niche as an Adventure Couple as well. Thanks for all your tips and help so far. Cheers Cole and Adela
Good luck Cole and Adela. you can do it! It takes a lot of hard work but like we said, the Travel Blogging world is very supportive and people are always willing to give advice and help out a fellow traveller. Cheers!