What’s the difference between blogging and other writing?
In many ways, they are similar. They are both about creating a sense of place and trying to take the reader on a journey with you. The biggest differences come from the format in which they’re published. Blogs are updated regularly (traditionally by the same author) and so you’re able to extend the story over multiple posts. It may not be in chronological or even diary style, but you’re able to gradually create a personality and a style of story-telling that readers will have a deeper association with.
For this reason, blogging also allows for a more personal style of writing than many other traditional forms of travel writing. The reader already knows the author and their personality and so the blogger is able to use that as part of the narrative.
What are your most popular types of article?
My most popular articles fit into two (rather different) categories. The first are articles that have a lot of practical information and help readers plan their own travels. I think people are suspicious of information that they think has been created by organisations with vested interests. They see practical advice from bloggers as accurate (because it’s based on first-hand experience) and balanced (because bloggers are normally not pushing any particular agenda).
The other articles that are the most popular for me are those that tell the stories of unusual adventures. There are so many stories published by travel bloggers every day that are similar to hundreds of other stories already out there. I find that unique experiences, told in a way that inspires and excites readers, can be really popular.
Can you give us two practical tips for writing a travel blog?
1. The most important tip is to know who your audience is. Unlike traditional travel writing, where you’re often writing to a mainstream audience, travel blogging is all about writing for a niche (but not necessarily small) audience. You need to understand who a typical traveller reading your content is, and then tailor recommendations, tone and focus to that person.
2. Another tip is to think about what you can offer that makes your stories more engaging to readers than any alternatives – it’s about the reader, not you. With online content, it’s not enough to just create great content. It also has to be good enough to make someone click on the link to read it in the first place. The best way to do that consistently is to be of value to the reader – help them answer a question, make them laugh or inspire them, for example.
How do you increase audience engagement?
There are lots of different ways that readers may end up on my site – through a post on social media, a link from another site, or by typing in the address directly, for example. But I’ve found one of the most effective ways of bringing readers to my site is through search engines like Google. This makes SEO really important and it’s something I always take into consideration when writing my posts. While, unlike many other bloggers, I don’t choose the topic of my stories based on SEO considerations, there are definitely some things I do to increase the chance of being found on Google. This includes the way I write the title or the headings, particular phrases that I will use when I’m talking about key topics, and including practical information and advice. I have found the key is to think about what people may be looking for in a travel story and then try to give them the best possible answer.
Michael Turtle began his travel blog, Time Travel Turtle, in 2011 and has been travelling full-time since then. He uses his background in Australian TV journalism to tell stories about the history, culture, and people of the destinations that he visits.
For more advice on how to get into travel writing, take a look at The Travel Writer's Way: