The first thing you should know before starting a travel blog is that you probably shouldn’t.
The freedom of being independent, nomadic, yada yada. I get it. I love travel more than anything. But the reason most people shouldn’t start travel blogs is because they have the wrong idea about them.
Travel blogs aren’t about selling things. They’re lifestyle hubs.
If you search “Best Travel Blogs” in Google, most of the blogs that come up on the first couple pages are way too saturated with calls to action to buy a book. Or every time you try to move your mouse around a pop up asks for your email address. You get the sneaking suspicion that travel actually isn’t as fun for this person as self-promoting their blog.
But this post is about starting a travel blog…
There’s something special when you discover a blog for the first time. As vacation rental owners and managers, you have access to an incredibly particular niche in the travel industry. You know your town better than anyone and your blog will have more to offer than more corporate travel blogs or lists from Online Travel Agencies.
The Travel Blog You Fall in Love With
I started following The Everywhereist blog a couple months back, after I first watched a video of Geraldine DeRuiter talk about why people fall in love with blogs. (You can watch that video here.) Geraldine travels all over the world with her husband, Rand Fishkin — whose content at Moz I also just eat up — and upon reading just a couple articles I was hooked. I love travel as much as anybody. But even more than that I was in awe of the personality I got to read.
If you’re starting a travel blog — or food blog, or a whale watcher blog, any kind of blog — you’ll hear people tell you to create helpful content. And this is true, you want helpful content. But if you ever want people to come back to your website, don’t you think there needs to be more to it? There needs to be something about the blog you really love.
Geraldine admits that when her blog started, nobody was reading it. This is a valuable lesson to people starting a blog of of any kind. Getting the audience you want can sometime take years. So while I know blogging is important for helping to drive your business, you should think of reasons you could contribute to your blog regularly (every day, every week, once or twice a month…) and stick to it because you love to blog about it.
Geraldine writes on her About page: “Yes, it’s a travel blog. But at its core, it’s a love letter to my husband…. A big, long, cuss-filled love letter. The kind he’d appreciate. The only kind I’m able to write.”
For your “letter,” consider what you’d be best suited to write.
The Foodie Travel Blog that Makes Your Mouth Water
Migrationology is a huuge blog. Big big big blog. What I really appreciate about Mark Weins’ way of approaching a travel blog is his consistency: Learn about another culture through the food they prepare. And take amazing photos.
The photos of food on Migrationology feel really authentic. It’s not Nat Geo and it’s definitely not super Instagrammy-filtered, and that’s sort of what I like about the blog.
There’s a good lesson here to people in the hospitality industry. The blog you start doesn’t need to be fancy. It should be authentic, especially if you have a vaction rental in an area with lots of tourism. Airbnb’s “Experiences” is on the rise as they develop their Trips function in 2017. And while this will likely stay pretty awesome, it’s also at risk of going the way of other OTAs where the travel content and inspiration feels a little flat. This means if you want to stand out, you need to craft something that’s really authentic.
If starting a travel blog is what you want to do in 2017, read through Mark Wiens’ posts first. Once you’ve read through a few, then you can read his guide to starting a travel blog. You’ll be glad you did.
But it might make you hungry.
Starting a Travel Blog for Families
When you’re building content for your blog, you need to be a little bit crazy.
Well, not actually crazy. But your content can’t be neutral.
I found Courtney Adamo’s blog “Somewhere Slower” via her Instagram sometime last spring after my colleague recommended it. It’s kind of crazy. The whole family — all of them — are insanely adorable. It’s the first thing you’ll notice. But then you realize — Woah! These guys have been living on the road for over a year! They just travel.
The radical impulse to travel with your family is what I want to emphasize.
Courtney and her family have taken the time to slow down and discover new experiences. The photos she takes are often of her family doing crafts, going surfing, or stopping to appreciate something amazing and simple.
As you’re getting ready to start your family travel blog, think about that radical impulse to get away someplace and slow down with your family.
Read More Blogs, and Start Your Own
Small vacation rental businesses have a lot to offer that large travel sites don’t have the nimbleness to keep up with. These three blogs are going to be a great head start for blogging. They’ll lay down a foundation for what readers love in a blog (even the picky readers) who will enjoy following your travels, your personality, and your style. We look forward to learning which travel bloggers you love below in the comments.
Have you already started a blog? Learn about how you can set up a sub-domain on your vacation rental website with OneRooftop.