A few weeks ago, when I wrote about the essential resources we used to develop and design our travel blog, I explained how overwhelmed I felt as a new travel blogger in designing and developing our site. If you haven't figured it out by now, I spend a lot of time researching internet resources and, today, I am going to highlight the ones I have used to develop content for our blog.
Note: When I list multiple resources, I try to order them in order of my preference on that particular topic though I think all of these resources are worth the read (otherwise they wouldn't be on this list!).
Create a Writing Schedule
- Gist: Pick a specific number of posts that you can comfortably write every single week and publish that number without fail.
- Resources: Chris Guillebeau's 279 Days to Overnight Success, page 18, and Business, Blogging, and Broken Windows; ProBlogger's Finding Your Blogging Rhythm
- How we applied the advice: As reflected by our archives, I didn't maintain a schedule when I started our website. Writing fell to a lower priority than watching So You Think You Can Dance and, given that SYTYCD was on three times a week this summer, blog posts and readership were understandably low. In July, I began following Chris and Darren's advice and scheduled three posts a week. After one week, I realized that I couldn't produce three quality posts while working full-time and reduced my goal to two posts per week. I can easily post twice a week without getting burnt out and, if I have the time to write additional posts, I save them and publish them later, ensuring that even on busy weeks, I can get two posts out per week. There are, of course, wonderful bloggers out there who post infrequently, but that rhythm did not suit my personality.
Write Interesting Posts
- Gist: Don't be boring and introduce variety into your blog.
- Resources: Ree Drummond (The Pioneer Woman) on how variety makes a blog spicy; Adam Roberts' Food Blogger Episode and More Blogger Advice (I haven't found any travel bloggers who included this advice but if you know of such a resource, please let me know)
- How we applied the advice: In June, when I first started writing, I decided to sequentially write about our 17-day long Italy trip. After writing five days of posts about Italy, I began to get bored. I then found Ree's post on writing on a variety of topics and realized that all of my favorite blogs interest and challenge me because, though I know they will always put out quality posts, I never know what I will find on their site. I began jumping from concept to concept in each post and found myself amused and interested by where my own brain took me. It is fun to write about Tuscan vineyards on Sunday, how travel strengthens a marriage on Wednesday, and goat cheese stuffed tomatoes on Saturday.
- Though I stick to a schedule of two posts per week, I don't use a blogging calendar and instead keep a Google Document with a huge running list of topics that I want to write about (currently at 40+ posts). As an added bonus, I have an overabundance of content ideas because I jot down my ideas whenever I come up with them - whether in the car, at work, or at home cuddling puppies. When we hit the road, I am going to try my best to keep our posts varied by mixing restaurant reviews, travel posts, gear reviews, musings on traveling long term, recipes, and videos (if I can figure out this whole video editing thing). The variety of posts keeps me from getting bored and, hopefully, keeps you from getting bored too.
Infuse Your Personality Into Your Blog
- Gist: Readers come back for YOU so let your personality shine.
- Resources: FoxNomad's How to Build a Successful Travel Blog, Part 1
- How we applied the advice: Infusing my personality into this site has been a balancing act because, like most bloggers, I am hesitant to spill my life to the unknown, impersonal internet. At the same time, Anil is right: "[p]eople don't read travel blogs for photos, advice, and travel stories --- they read travel blogs for YOUR photos, YOUR advice, and YOUR travel stories." To infuse our personality into our blog, I first revised our about page so you get a thumbnail sketch of who we individually are and why we created this site. Second, we followed Adam Roberts' advice in his post on More Blogging Advice and included pictures of ourselves --- and, then I added more pictures of our puppies because they are so darn cute and, even if you hate my writing, personality, and stories, you can't hate on these very cute faces. (And, if you like me more because you are awed by the cuteness of Chewy viewed in wide angle, then, my evil plan has succeeded.) Third, I added a contact us section to our about page, our e-mail address at the bottom of the page, and links to our Twitter, Facebook, and e-mail address on our front page. But, that's the easy stuff.
- As far as content, I am still working on finding that happy medium between sharing too much information and not sharing enough. Right now, I treat these blog posts like a conversation with a long-lost cousin: friendly, fun, honest, and totally me, but careful not to offend or say inappropriate things that might wind its way to people who really don't need to know that about me (my mom, my boss, and my grandmother are at the top of that list). I don't post if I am feeling snarky because I heed Wandering Chopsticks' advice on Your Online Identity in her fabulous series on How to Start a Food Blog, "I am much nicer online that I am in person. Why? Because even if your memory is shoddy, Google's isn't. So from the moment you hit publish, the Google bots are searching and cataloging. You can try hitting delete but sometimes Google cache captures your blunders for all time." I want to stay honest and true to ourselves (even if that means that I will be posting an unpopular opinion), let this blog reflect my personality, but maintain privacy all at the same time. It is a tough line to draw.
* Photo credit to Kevin
So, what are your favorite travel blogging resources out there? Any other tips for a new travel blogger trying to write good content?
Stay tuned for the next part of this series --- resources I have used for photography, attribution and copyright issues, and search engine optimization.
Related post: essential resources for new travel bloggers: setting up