4 Tips for Standing out as a Travel Blog
Here’s a fact you can bet your entire stack of chips on: your travel blog will not reach success by the quality of your content alone.
Sure, you’re writing awesome, engaging, and insightful posts about utterly fascinating destinations. You’re doing everything you can to generate traffic. But your bounce rate might still be super-high, and you simply can’t seem to build an audience.
In this article, I want to talk about how you can elevate your site above those that are simply phoning it in. These tips will make you stand out from the majority of travel bloggers who think that success relies on choosing the right WordPress template.
1. Become Your Brand
The more we engage with a particular brand, the more loyalty we feel towards it. The travel blogger’s audience may not know this, but they WANT to make an emotional connection with the writer. It’s easy for people to feel like they’re there with you when they “know” you.
If possible, use your name in the site’s title. Have your face visible in some of the site’s imagery. Apply some restraint, though, and be tasteful about it. Coming across as a narcissist is kinda defeating the purpose here. You want people to like you, not think you’re desperate for attention.
I am Aileen is a master at this. She’s found a perfect balance between inserting herself into her content without being ham-fisted about it. She uses photos of herself sparingly, but the more you read her blog, the more you get the sense that you’re traveling with a friend.
2. Offer Valuable Knowledge for Free
Your travel blog’s content doesn’t have to have that typical “I’m on an awesome adventure, wish you were here” angle. Sure, many readers simply want to live vicariously through your adventures, but many of them also want to learn some actionable tips from your experiences.
If your site’s primary focus is offering a free knowledge base about adventure traveling, you’re entering a sub-niche that’s likely to see you alienate some readers but instantly gain the loyalty of others. It’s somewhat of a risky play since you can never be sure whether you’ve gone so granular that you have almost no audience or not enough topics to write about.
If your travel blog is about educating rather than entertaining, you’re perilously close to this scenario. But there are ways to mitigate this risk, and I have an excellent example for you. Take a look at The Adventure Junkies.
Their site’s objective is very obviously to educate novice adventure travelers. It literally says so in their hero header. “We’re here to help you prepare for your adventure,” is the message it conveys to the visitor. Their strategy is to educate, not entertain.
What did The Adventure Junkies do to avoid painting themselves into the corner I mentioned earlier?
It’s simple – they took a very liberal interpretation of the term “adventure travel.” Plus, their content categories are extremely niche, and there are plenty of them. Their knowledge resource is vast, with over a thousand articles available for free.
If you’re still in the early stages of planning your blog and haven’t decided on a niche yet, education is a very feasible direction for you to go.
3. Appeal to a Specific Global Community
While you can choose to go niche in terms of your content’s purpose, you can also niche down in terms of your target audience. Different communities of people expect different experiences from their travels. Catering to these is a terrific way of differentiating yourself from your more generic competition.
Choosing this niche could be a bit of a challenge, though. If it’s a highly specialized field like photography or medicine, you should probably only consider these if you’re a (real) photographer or a doctor. If it’s a relatively accessible topic like street food, simply having a discerning palate and a fundamental knowledge of cooking should be more than enough.
A blog that chose its angle wisely is Not a Travel Club. While the site covers a range of travel topics, the vast majority of content is focused on Asia. This will appeal to travel enthusiasts who look to go to Asia over other locations.
It goes without saying that it’s probably not a great idea to create content aimed at a community you’re not part of. At best, you’ll be writing boring content. At worst, you could be called out on social media and have your reputation crushed.
4. Use Exceptional Photography
Travel and high-quality imagery are like peas and carrots. No amount of words can describe what you’re experiencing as well as an exceptional photo.
And no, I’m not talking about an Instagram snapshot with the right filter applied to it. I’m referring to semi-professional level photography here. The kind of travel photography so exceptional that it is more than a mere accompaniment to your text.
If you are a photographer or are keen to learn how to take truly excellent photographs, invest in a DSLR and a course on the basics of using it. Understand how to use light and learn the fundamentals of composition.
Then do another course on using Adobe Lightroom or any other reputable post-production tool. Knowing how to enhance your photos digitally can sometimes be the difference between a very good photo and a great one.
A travel blog that exhibits photography skills way above the normal benchmark is Anywhere We Roam. Mark and Paul have a terrific eye for street photography – something that goes a long way towards elevating them above their competitors.
Your travel blog is never going to be “the best.” The market is too saturated, and the criteria for determining the best travel blog are impossible to define.
What you can aim for, however, is to create a travel blog that stands out from sites that aren’t willing to go the extra mile to create truly exceptional content. If your goal is to publish the best media you’re capable of creating and constantly improve your craft, you’re well on your way to creating a successful travel blog.