Everyone and their dog has a blog these day, literally, and I’m no different. While there may be a few naysayers who poke fun at the blogging community, I have made great friends through blogging, made a bit of money and had some amazing experiences – being flown to Denmark and Switzerland, partying with Rihanna, writing for my favourite magazines are just a few. So if you’re going travelling I urge you to start a blog, even if it’s just for you and your friends back home to read, it’s an excellent way to document an exciting time in your life, and it could lead to lots of great opportunities!
I do not claim to be the expert at blogging, far from it, but I have been blogging in some form or another since 2010 – both personally and professionally – so I’ve picked up a few tricks (and some awards). If you’re interested, read on, ‘cos I’m sharing them!
Get a Head Start
If you know you’re going away in a year or 6 months just set up your blog now. Like, right now. Believe me when I say no one will read it, so you can peacefully hone your craft safe in the knowledge no one is checking out your blog. At all. The reason I say start now is that setting up a blog takes time, and a reliable internet connection, you need to choose a host (Blogger, WordPress or Self-Hosted), pick a theme or design, create a bit of a back-catalogue of posts. Not to mention the social media bits, ‘about me’ page and a whole host of other stuff.
Get your blog to the point where you can simply write, upload a few pics and you’re good to go. As much as I love to blog, I know for a fact that if I’m on a Fijian beach the last thing I’ll want to do is tinker with widgets and plugins. WordPress has a great app which makes it a breeze to write and upload images straight from your phone which is fab for on-the-go blogging.
Write Drunk, Edit Sober
This is my favourite Ernest Hemingway quote, actually, that sounds incredibly pretentious… this is the only Hemingway quote I know, and I got it from a hotel notepad. Anyway, the sentiment is perfect. Seriously, smash out as many articles as you can, the beauty of a blog is that you can go back and edit your ramblings infinite times. I cringe at typos from 2012 – but at least I can correct them. If you’re a newbie blogger, find your flow by writing a lot and without discrimination.
Even if you’ve blogged before, like I had, travel writing is likely a new niche for you so try your hand at some travel-focused articles. I really love to read posts about trip planning and saving tips so while you’re doing just that, document it! Travel doesn’t start the moment you leave the country, there are a million things leading up to it and a sh*tload of planning. By the time you land in Bangkok you’ll be able to blog like a pro.
Think of a great name, get a logo to match
My fashion blog name has always irked me because it’s a bit obtuse, I wish I’d have picked a name that had ‘fashion’ or ‘style’ in it so it would be more easy to search for and people would instantly know what it was about. I wasn’t going to make that mistake a second time so thefashionablebackpacker.com seemed fitting.
Hopefully this blog will do what it says on the tin. I’m going backpacking and I want to do it stylishly. Some might say the word ‘backpacker’ is limiting and that even if I strike it rich I’ll always have to write about budget travel, but I think a/that will never happen and b/backpacking is way more glam these days, I think the meaning can be interpreted as ‘extended travel’ so I’m not too worried. A note on outgrowing your blog name; the Man Repeller is happily married so…
Once you have a name you love, get a logo to bring it to life, I asked my friend Amy who is a designer to whip up mine but you can easily create one yourself on websites like PicMonkey – I think simple always works best but just choose something you can live with for a long time.
Now you’ve got your name, your host and lots of articles you’re almost good to go! Blogging (let’s face it) is primarily an online pursuit, but there are elements that you need to do offline too. Firstly, tell all your friends and family you’re writing a blog, the nosy buggers will want to stalk your travels and you need readers, so tell them. Tell anyone you meet.
Another way to spread the word is with a business card, get a simple one with your blog address and social media handles from somewhere like Moo cards or Vistaprint and you can hand them out to people you meet on the road – professional, easy and you never know what opportunities it could bring (…if you’re backpacking there’s a chance it’ll end up as someone’s roach paper).
Blogging, lest we forget is just plain old writing by another name, and most bloggers I know are great, skilled writers – so write. Get a notebook to jot down stories and ideas for articles. And while we’re at it, pictures help bring words to life, ESPECIALLY in travel blogging, there’s only so many superlatives you can say about a beach before the people demand to see the azure blue waters. So get a camera and snap, snap, snap away.