My mum was the primary audience for the Kid Bucket List when we hit publish on our very first blog post. We could never have imagined that we would be working with some of our favourite travel brands and attractions a few years later nor that our audience would span the world and reach over 10,000 unique visitors every month. Whilst some of it was mere luck, a lot of our success has been due to some key strategic know-how that we have learned from some of the best friends a blogger can have – amazing networks. So are you thinking of starting your own travel blog?
Over the last couple of months a number of friends have been approaching me for help setting up their own blogs. They’ve read our blog, seen our Facebook page and pretty much think that they can do it too. I tell each and every one of them that there is no magic formula to blogging, that it is primarily hard work. The business of blogging can be complicated. However, there are some tips and tricks that they could pick up early in their game to get things running.
Where Did We Learn Our Stuff?
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Back in 2009 I was approached by Ergobaby Australia to become their sole blogger. I had zero experience, but was an avid babywearer and I knew how to write. This led to more work. I was soon the senior writer for KidStyleFile and HomeStyleFile. But I still had no real idea of what happened behind the scenes to help Google find an article when someone searched for it. It all remained a bit of a mystery. Keywords? No idea.
Dana from Talk About Creative was instrumental in setting the foundation for the Kid Bucket List site. I had been blogging blind and was wondering why I wasn’t reaching the goals I had set for myself. I read the Talk About Creative blog religiously and joined the accompanying networks and things began to change. It was here that I learned how Google Algorithms work (well, a better understanding – it still confuses me!); a little about Search Engine Optimisation and the need to actually set up my Search Console for the Kid Bucket List (no one tells you this!) and how to use Google Analytics so it would work for me. The blogging fog, which I think all non-tech bloggers feel, started to lift.
So what do you do once you have set up your blog? I thought I would use some of what I learned through Talk About Creative.
Understanding SEO (Search Engine Optimisation)
I’ll put it out there and say that I am still getting my head around SEO. It’s a labyrinth of concepts that could quickly give you cognitive fatigue if you try to take it all in at once. My suggestion is to take it slow, use the tips Dana sets out in the Talk About Creative blog so you get the business of blogging happening early so you can be well on your way to starting your own travel blog in no time. But how?
First Step : WordPress
Firstly, start with a good platform. I highly recommend WordPress and I’m finding that it is the industry standard for blogs and most sites these days. It’s fairly user friendly, doesn’t require any prior coding knowledge and you can install great themes which will have your blog looking just how you want it to in no time.
The next choice you need to make is self hosted or not. Some bloggers start off with wordpress.com until they’re comfortable with the platform before moving across to self hosted. This does provide some limitations, for example, you can’t use google analytics until you move across. But the good thing is that it is free.
If you are moving to self-hosted you will need to find a hosting company that you are comfortable with. There’s a plethora to choose from so do your research. You can point your domain to either (choosing your blog name and securing the domain is probably the very first thing you should do, but I going to assume you have done just that).
Yoast is a WordPress plugin that is a must if you’re starting your own travel blog. It allows you to create a sitemap easily to upload to Google Search Console (more of that later), and it will help you with keyword optimisation and placement. That’s gobblygook to you at the moment, but I swear it gets easier. Set it up, then head over to Talk About Creative to read how to use it.
Of course then there’s link building, but let’s wait until you’ve started writing your posts before you start thinking about that.
The Kid Bucket List started because I wanted to document our adventures as a family and have it hosted in an easy to access location so my parents could read it at their leisure. It was also a great way of keeping track of our bucket list. To begin with, our blog was written for pleasure without any thought of evolving it into a resource for other parents wanting to adventure with their family. Content came naturally, we just covered what we were doing.
I believe that content should be organic but if you are trying to start your own travel blog for profit a strategic approach to content creation is going to be necessary. This isn’t something I have really mastered or attempted to. A true master would research their keywords before even starting a blog post BUT that takes the fun out of the whole thing for me, so I often rank poorly for posts simply because I’ve written it for me rather than for profit making. Do the opposite of what I do if you want to rank high!
When it comes to content creation, ideally you will want to hit around 1000 words per post, use rich keywords and have optimized your SEO. You want to get your meta descriptions right! Again, Yoast will be your friend for this!
Follow Vs No Follow Links
Say what? I had no idea that every time I linked another page in any post I wrote I was providing them with a little linky juice. This means, I was providing them with a google point which would help with their ranking. Google doesn’t like that if your post is sponsored, if you have received a product you’re covering as a gift or if you have received any type of benefit (other than feel good tingles) from providing the link. To get around this, you can add a little html code to make the link a no follow link. If you’re like me and not necessarily confident in the use of html coding, the Yoast plugin that I discussed earlier will do the code for you with a press of a button. Easy peasy!
But Wait, There’s More
So these are just some of the tips I learned from Dana at the team at Talk About Creative. How to use SEO, Search Console and Google Analytics was probably the most valuable. I’ve just touched the surface but highly recommend heading over to the Talk About Creative blog at a starting point, joining a few Facebook Groups and then asking as many questions as you can!
Thank you to Talk About Creative for sponsoring this post. All opinions are my own.