This post is not geared to my many friends that have been out there blogging for years — frankly, most of ya’ll know a vast amount more about the blogging, internet, SEO and tech world than I do. But recently, I have been asked by a good number of very new travel bloggers some basic questions that I thought I might be able to provide a little help on when I’m not hanging out on a good beach.
So with that being said, the following are some of my basic, beginning 101 blogging tips for those of you that are just starting out.
For my experienced blogging friends, please leave a tip or two in the comment section. Again, make them the really basic ones geared towards people that are on the very early stages — just as I was about six months ago when most of ya’ll helped me out.
These blogging tips aren’t organized in any sort of priority, just my free form thinking from the really basic mistakes, errors or omissions that I notice most often from beginning blogs. They also aren’t meant to be comprehensive, I might end up doing a post on “no-follow” links, basic SEO tips, plug-in pointers and some other things I have learned along the way, if folks want me to.
- Go self hosted. As I said, I am not a techie at all. When I started my blog, I did it on blogspot/blogger. Back then, I didn’t even realize there was a travel blogging community and was just doing the blog to keep people back home up to date with my trip and keep notes for the book I wanted to write. I should have gone self-hosted a long time ago, but finally moved to that last summer. Bottom line, just do a self-hosted blog from the get-go. I don’t know about other blogging communities, but in this one, you really aren’t going to get much respect till you go that way — and with WordPress.org, the tech hurdles are not difficult to overcome.
- Descriptive URLs. URLs are the titles of the pages and posts on your website. I see way too many beginners that have left their URL settings to the default setting (like www.goseewrite.com/?4862). That is a very ineffective way for search engines to find your blog. I’ve taken a screen shot from my blog to show you the change you need to make — look in your administration screen for Settings/Permalinks. Basically you want your URL links to include the main words in your title, and exclude filler words, like “the” “a” and “in.”
- Retweet Button. This is a huge pet peeve of mine. Twitter is not one of my big sources of traffic, but like other bloggers, I read tons of posts and RT the ones I like. (1) You must have a RT button. Must. No exceptions. (2) Please make it easy on the rest of us that are trying to help you, by having your settings set so that when one hits your button, your @address shows up. We are trying to help you, don’t make us search your site to find your Twitter handle to go in the re-tweet we are putting up about… your post. I use TweetMe and the setting page allows you to add your Twitter handle. Use it, use another, just set it to automatically include your address.
- Social media buttons. Somewhere on your home page, preferably quite large, you need to have buttons so that people can click and do the following: go to your Twitter profile, “like” your Facebook fan page (and yes, you should have one), go to your StumbleUpon profile, subscribe to your RSS feed, and subscribe to your posts by email. Those are the basics that I consider mandatory — there are others you should consider, like Digg or Reddit. Mine are in the upper right and were specially made, but you can find perfectly fine ones for free.
- Links to promote your posts. At the end of your posts, you should have some plugin that allows those of us that use social media sites, like StumbleUpon or Facebook to such to one click their way to promoting your post in that forum. Again, help us help you. I currently use the plug-in Digg Digg, but I previously used ShareThis, which is also fine. Again, the concept is simple — let people help promote your stuff — it is a non-pushy way to get more new eyeballs to your site.
- Driving traffic tips: There is tons to say here, but here are some basics. Use Stumbleupon — here is my Stumbleupon guide, which also links some other guides to this tool. Comment regularly on other people’s blogs in your area. You hopefully are reading other’s stuff to help improve your own writing, but just as importantly, you are in a community — let people know you are reading their stuff and get your name and identity out there to the rest of us reading and commenting. Use Twitter, but like most tools, try to promote other people’s stuff more than yours. Again, you are part of a community and you also don’t want to be viewed as someone that merely pimps their own stuff without giving back. Needless to say, use Facebook also. Your friends there are some of the most likely people to be loyal readers and to help promote you. (Facebook postscript, I use the RSS Graffiti tool on FB, which you can set up to automatically post your stuff to your personal and fan page news feed).
- Publish regularly and on a schedule. This was one of the basics that some other great bloggers got me to realize in the last few months. I now try to post a minimum of three times a week, and shoot for four posts. The best traffic days tend to be Monday through Thursday, so in an ideal week, I’ll write four posts in a weekend and schedule them up to be released on each of those days.
- In addition, make sure you have at least one photo in every post, preferably more. These days, people want your posts to have some visual impact to catch their eye — and although I have violated this on dozens of occasions, try to keep your posts on the shorter side, 600-800 words seems to be the general sweet spot.
This are just some basic tips off the top of my head, but there are a couple general concepts that new people should try to keep in mind.
One, make it easy for other people to help you. If your stuff is good, I am going to want to re-tweet it, stumble it, digg it, and comment on it. Make that easy for me and everyone else that wants to help spread the word about you and your writing or photography.
Two, good content is king, but make your good content easy to read, good to look at, and frequent enough that you give people multiple chances to find you. We live in a world of short attention spans where the shaky camera with cuts every two seconds is now the norm — I don’t necessarily like reality, but it is reality.
Third, the travel community is amazing. I have written this a number of times, but I have belonged to a number of communities in my life — schools, politics, law, chess, poker — and there is no community I have been part of that is more helpful. Reach out to other travel bloggers and 80% of the time you are going to be amazed at how helpful people will be for you. But to the same degree, pay it back — comment on other’s blogs, RT their stuff, stumble it — be an active part of the community.
Hizzah! Publish regularly is something I’ve been majorly slacking on!
Awesome blog. I am in a cubicle ;( Im a new blogger and appreciate the great tips!
i started my brand new blog less than one week ago….and im sooo excited about it and my extensive trip to south east asia!I need as many advices as possible, reading and studying like crazy these days! And you are totally right…the travel community is just so supporting and AMAZING! thanks guys!
Lots of good tips that would’ve been soo useful when I was starting out 3 months ago 🙂 Definitely appreciate the Delicious bookmark you’ve added since I’m an avid user and have noticed that less and less sites include it.
I haven’t used Delicious yet, but I am all for people pimping me (or anyone) out over there. Feel free to click on any and all of mine 😉
These are some very good tips. I would agree with all of this especially about the travel blogging community. It really is a great community to be part of! Thanks for also reminding me about SU. I have not been using since I got my new laptop I need to download the toolbar and will do that today!
SU is one of the tools that is really easy to get traffic to you — once you get regular and semi-serious about it.
Nice post, Michael. I’m thinking about revamping my blog, so I have a question: Once you go self-hosted will the blogs that you’ve written – on say, blogspot – transfer to your self-hosted site?
Adam, you can import with one click. Here is an article about it (I did this exactly). https://labnol.blogspot.com/2007/05/move-your-blogs-from-blogger-to.html
Great tips mate, so easily many settings are overlooked when you just don’t know what you are doing. Going self hosted might seem like a lot of work in the begining but really if your serious about having a blog the few dollars to get it all working is worth it.
If you are out there writing good stuff, interacting with the community via twitter and comments everything else just comes together. So many times you can ask a question of the community on twitter and instantly have 5 answers within a minute or two.
Chris, so true about the settings. When I started using Digg Digg and WP Greet Box, I didn’t realize you needed to go into the settings to make sure that your clickers were getting sent to the right places. Took 10 minutes to get it all correct, but no one had mentioned it to me before.
Totally agree guys
Hey Michael – this is a fantastic post. We are pretty new to the community, (been stalking you all for months, but yet to launch our own website…coming soon though!) and so I find these very helpful. There are still a ton of technical things I am trying to figure out with WP etc, but tips like the ones you have listed above are very beneficial.
Skott and Shawana, the one thing I did when I started with WordPress was to go ahead and pay someone to set up my site, do my header, and my buttons. I could have figured some of that out, but thought the time/money equation weighed in favor of paying a little money to get that done. You might want to talk to someone like Chris — the Aussie Nomad or HopandJaunt (who did my site) to see if you can come to some sort of agreement.
The other thing… get your site up NOW!! Better to have it up and running, even if it isn’t perfect. You can tweek to oblivion, and all of us do, but you need to get it started as soon as you possibly can.
Not a bad idea in terms of contracting someone else…unfortunately we are probably so close to having this baby ready to go, that it is likely a little late for that. There isn’t too much tweaking left to go…it really wouldn’t take that long, but you are right, it can be tough to find the time…
The only reason we aren’t super rushed to get our blog up yet, is that we haven’t mentioned anything to our current employer about quitting our jobs, and we just fear that if we did launch it, we wouldn’t want them to find out by stumbling upon our blog. I know that would be rare, but that could seriously set us back if it did happen and we got canned three months early….yikes!
a lot of folks have done a really, really good job of posting preparation stuff about their trip before they go. Is a great way to get an audience going, since that takes a good but of time. Don’t put your real names or employer in any of your posts and I doubt anyone is going to be able to find you via a search. You might want to talk to these people, who have done pre-trip stuff REALLY well. https://breakawaybackpacker.com/ and https://whereisjenny.com/
Great article! Thanks for sharing these tips.
Very useful info, thanks so much. One thing, though, from what I could see free WordPress doesn’t let you have ads on your site, they put their own instead. If you’re hoping to make even a little bit of money eventually from your site, that one won’t work.
I went looking for a free host that had a simple website builder and not only didn’t place ads all over your site, but also allowed you to have your own. It was much more difficult to find than I expected, so I stopped looking as soon as I found one which met all the requirements. I found Yola.com, and it makes everything soooo simple. It automatically takes care of the descriptive URLs you mention and just makes everything so easy. There may be others, too. I was just too tired to keep looking.
you are probably thinking about WordPress.com — just buy your own separate domain name that you own forever (assuming you continue to make your annual or semi-annual payments) and download the WordPress.org program that is going to be the backbone for your site. You are in total control over everything on your site then. Ads, content, look, everything. No one will ever be able to put anything up on your site. The key is to own your own domain name and then go from there — that way you have total control over everything.
This is perfect! Concise and to the point, exactly for people like me who want to jump into blogging but don’t really know how to swim. Thanks, Michael!
Thanks for the tip. With regards to the first one I find it rather sad if what you say is true that you won’t get much respect unless you self host. I blog to pass on information about travelling. I get joy out of writing and no monetary benefit, and yet people base respecting me on where my post is. I would find that rather shallow, don’t you think?
Reality is reality. One can either deal with it and make the best of it, or fight against the stream, get tired and drown. The reality is that many people are going to judge you immediately by appearance. A possible date is going to judge you initially by the clothes you wear and what you say in the first 5 minutes. As an author, you are going to be judged by whether a traditional publishing house published your book or it was self-published. And so on and so forth. People have short attention spans. You want them to actually GET TO your writing and go from there. Put yourself in the best situation for people to even get to your writing — have a self-hosted site and make it visually look good. If you don’t bother to do that on the front end, the community is generally going to think you are serious enough about it to be in for the long-haul. Since it isn’t tough to do…. why not do it?
It is rather unfortunate that in this day and age we still think that way. I never do anything thinking how people will react to it. I blog because I like to. I do not want to make money out of it and that is certainly not my goal. If people like my blog I would love for them to follow, if not, then that’s life. Reality of life may be that people judge, but bringing it into focus and encouraging it is totally wrong. Just by saying that people in real life or on the internet will judge you so you must change yourself in order to gain their respect, well in my book you just lost whatever respect anyone had of you then. I think it’s great if someone has their own domain, but judging a person not on his posts but rather on the fact that his domain has blogspot on it is ridiculous. So if that is what the “blogging travel community” thinks, and I so hope not, then I would actually be happy not to have these people follow me. What is there to stop me from judging you from where you are, or what you do. I mean next someone will say that because I prefer to travel in comfort as opposed to backpacking and roughing it out, I am not a “real” traveller. Seriously, when the world is fighting against labelling people the last thing we need or want is people to judge or label anyone based on where they write a blog.
Thanks for all the helpful tips for those of us newly switched over to self-hosted! Figuring out the best plug-ins to use seems to take time, and knowing nothing about coding is a headache. Have any tips (in non-geek terms ;)) for resizing photos that come up in “related posts”? Mine are showing up super zoomed in. I tried installing your LinkWithin plug-in instead and then nothing showed up.
the thumbnails for your posts come from you putting them in in the first place. Are you submitting a photo in your “thumbnail” section when you write your posts? If not, go back and put photos in that section for all your old posts.
My theme (Platform) doesn’t have a thumbnail section on my post writing page but does have a “featured image”, which I think is what is giving me the problem. I think it’s resizing the featured image…
the other thing that is great about WordPress is that the themes all have forums and the people on there (in my experience) are very helpful. Go to the forum that is about your theme – important, make sure you are in there, so people know how to help. Then ask your questions about what you are looking to do. Be as specific as possible and make sure you put your URL info in there so that people can go look at it. I bet you get a quality answer within 48 hours.
These are really good tips for beginners. I’ve had to figure these out here and there as I’ve gone. Each change has made things a whole lot better. I think another tip for beginners would be to not give up. Just about every blogger has a moment or two early on where they just want to give up. Keep going despite those thoughts. Most of the time, it’s too early to give up.
Thank you for posting these tips. There are some here I’ve wanted to write about myself, but because they’re not about travel, I haven’t. My personal pet peeve on the RT button is not just that people don’t include their @ twitter handle, but some also don’t set it up to use a shortened URL, and sometimes the full URL is pushing 140 characters, which then puts me in the position of having to shorten their URL for them. At which point I cancel the retweet because I don’t have time to shorten other people’s URLs for them. Again, it comes back to the point: Make it easy, not hard, for people to RT your stuff.
The RT button has risen to the point that I simply won’t RT someone unless they have it set properly. Hell, I am trying to help THEM and they are making it tough to do so. That makes no sense at all for me. Keep up the good work Gray, love your stuff. In fact, I probably need to get you another guest post soon.
I won’t say that I have much expertise
Oops, sorry, didn’t mean to hit send before, though the previous comment is equally valid. In any event, I won’t say that I have much expertise in any of this stuff but here are my random thoughts;
(1) I am not convinced that Blogger vs. Self-hosting makes all that much of a difference. I know of four very popular bloggers: Nathan Bransford, Orangette, Kevin and Amanda, and Sending Postcards who all use blogger and blogspot blogs. They have amazing content and, therefore, people come to their sites.
(2) Believe in what you are writing. More than anything else, I think this is the one thing that bloggers forget . . . if you are just writing some random stuff for your audience to build a following rather than for yourself, you’re going to get bored and, within five months, like so many other blogs, yours will fizzle. From day one, believe in what you are writing, the message you want to spread to the world, and why your story is unique and worth telling.
Can it happen? Sure. But look at the numbers. You have cited 4-5 bloggers that are successful going that way verses many, many, many more successful going self-hosted, including yourself. An an example, no way in hell your blog (which is fricking incredible) would look 20% as professional and serious if it were a blogspot blog — it just isn’t a tool that can be bent to make things look as good as you have done.
In my book it is a simple question – why fight against the tide, when it is so easy, and cheap, to do what others have done successfully.
First, of all, thanks! You’re right, though . . . for us, self-hosting was the only way to go. We went one step further and Patrick built out our whole site straight using CSS, without using a platform like WordPress. (He’s a computer geek by day and night). That’s why we can easily add in unique tools BUT if I were doing the site myself, I wouldn’t have done any of that because I’m not that great at the CSS stuff. So, I think something like Blogger is valuable for someone who isn’t very good at CSS and wants a simple way to communicate via the web. If you want to create a successful blog, you’re probably right: self-hosting is much easier. But, many people just want to create a blog to share their travels with their families/friends, etc., and, for them, blogger might be the way to go.
Akila, I totally agree. When I started mine out, it was just to keep family and friends informed. If that is the case, then blogger is perfectly fine. But I’d bet that 98% of the people reading this post have thoughts of grand success blogging and perhaps making money… if that is the case, self-host ASAP. In my opinion. Thanks for your thoughtful follow-up!
Great, useful post, and good tips in the discussion here as well. Facebook page has been big for me in directing traffic. Also, do you realize that your are at 666 fans at the moment??
I am sitting right on the 666 area — people, help me out!! Get past that quickly.
Hey Michael, great tips. Particularly on the social media side, I hate it when I like a post then have to hunt for the sharing buttons! Personally i’m on a blogspot blog with a custom domain, but I suspect I will have to make the transition to wordpress at some point – I’m finding certain things are harder to do with blogger than I would like, especially on the SEO front.
easy to switch over and import your stuff. Even for me, it didn’t take too long at all.
Great tips! I agree that having a self-hosted blog is key. During my RTW trip, my fiance and I had a travel blog on travelblog.org but we didn’t have much control over the site beyond posting text and photos. We developed a strong following, and in retrospect we couldn’t capitalize on it since we didn’t have a branded site. When I returned home from my RTW trip in 2009, I started writing for Examiner.com and other sites but didn’t start a self-hosted blog until a few months ago. It seems like many RTW bloggers now start their Word Press sites months (or even a year) before they leave, to establish a following and grow their community. That’s the way to go!
thanks for your feedback Leslie — and thanks for being such a regular commenter!
Michael, this is very helpful! I try to keep to a schedule but I’ve been slacking for the past week or so! So much going on! Your post actually reminded me that I didn’t have share buttons on the new Go! Girl Guides site! So, thanks!
Excellent advice mate! Like you’ve mentioned these may not be particularly targeted to experienced bloggers, they’re still tips I wish I’d known when I started out a year ago, when the knowledge had to be collected the slow and cumbersome way.
Can perfectly sympathise with ‘getting self-hosted’ – that way you do feel a sense of possession of your own site, hence feeling the urge to maintain it. And defo agree with having social media buttons, without which you risk becoming a rambling monologist.
The thing I’d add to this already marvellous list is: don’t become too mechanical with your blogging methods.
thanks for the feedback Dylan. I agree with everything here.
This is such good advice. I’m still working on a few of the tips, but just now installed the TweetMe button. Your point about the URL is so important, too. I had a previous blog that just used the default page numbers – I had no idea about the SEO impact at the time.
Thanks so much for posting this!
RT button is SOOOO big. Went through my RSS reader yesterday, had about 1k posts to look through, simply did not even bother to RT any stuff without a RT button done properly.
Nice post Michael,
All your tips are very good and I have to start some of them right away. I’m constantly amazed at how much manual labor goes in to blogging.
Cheers for putting this out there. We’re one month in and still feel we have a lot to learn. Kudos to you and the rest of the blogging community (like you said!) for being so helpful to us newbies. We would be so much farther behind if it wasn’t for people like you who are willing to give a hand. =)
feel free to shoot me an email with any follow up questions
Some great tips – proven tactics that all bloggers must consider.
Very good information that’s opened my eyes to helping my own blog. Thanks for keeping it straightforward and simple. I’m beginning to see the benefits of the travel community. As an introvert, I find it hard to connect with people on the road, but it’s amazing to see the community via blogs, twitter, facebook, etc.
I vary back and forth on introverted and extroverted on the road, but on the interwebs…. easy to make connections with fellow travel bloggers regardless. Good luck!
Wow, what awesome comments you got on this post! Really helpful tips. 🙂
Awesome tips. SU is definitely something that we signed up for months ago and just now kind of understanding how much impact it can have. Learning more about how it works and communicating with people and sharing has really helped. I’ll also go re-read your SU post now! 🙂
SU is simple, easy and a great way to drive traffic. I’ve been enjoying stumbling some of your stuff lately. Hope you have your “accept shares” group growing.
Great tips! I would also encourage bloggers to keep it short and/or use bulleted lists. It’s a lot easier to read on the screen. When I want to read a novel, I buy a book. When my Google Reader is full, my attention span is short–so keep things pithy!
yep, this is a tip I violate ALL the time. My posts are regularly too long 🙁
writing guest posts is a great way to get traffic and recognition
Be yourself!! A blog with no personality isn’t worth reading. Make sure you inject yourself into your blog. This isn’t a business blog – it’s about travel; about YOU traveling. My most popular posts are the ones that are the easiest to write b/c it’s a great story that people can relate to…or the hardest ones to write b/c it reaches inside and people can relate to it. Either way, it’s about connecting to your audience by making sure YOU come across. Cheers!
definitely agree with you – there are a number of “content” suggestions I could have given, but just stuck with the basic tech stuff. Content is King, or Queen, though….
These are great tips for bloggers just starting out and also helpful reminders for those of us who have been at it for a little while. Thanks for the reminder about adding the share buttons – I still need to do that – and for highlighting the importance of a regular posting schedule. And of course, social media, commenting on other blogs and the occasional guest post are all good strategies as well.
I wish more people would USE my share buttons. Have them down there — can’t be that hard to “like” a post on stumbleupon and such. Arrrgggggg. 😉
I’m always trying to tweek and improve my site and have battled in my head for some time with wordpress.com vs wordpress.org. Is it really worth it to change?
I am impressed that you write all blogs over a weekend. I’m very consistent about blogging when I’m home but on the road it’s a whole other story. Sometime I feel like I’ll miss the travel experience just to get a blog out and that doesn’t seem right.
There are still a huge number of great blogs out there with great followings and very useful info that make it incredibly hard on anyone to contact them. Some don’t even give out their first name.
I think having your own site and permanent control over your own links is a big, big deal. So do almost all the bloggers I talk to. Take it with a grain of salt, but go compare how many “big” sites are self-hosted verses other methods…
Thanks for these tips. I just started out in December and had a hell of a time figuring all of this out. How I wish I would have found a post like this then! I also have to say that in the very short time I have been a part of the travel community (or, almost, I’m still planning my RTW), the people have been freaking amazing. I guess that’s what happens when you interact with a whole bunch of people that are following their dreams.
the community is really unbelievable. I am constantly amazed that some big, big bloggers return emails asking for advice and tips.
Great tips Michael. I highly agree with your descriptive url’s point. So important, yet forgotten quite often. Using StumbleUpon to it’s potential can bring in hundreds of visitors each day to your site, I, myself get hundreds/day from StumbleUpon alone. It’s all about writing quality content that gets stumbled. Sometimes your stumbled content can go viral and get thousands of hits overnight. SU is a tool that is often underestimated by a lot of travel bloggers, great job highlighting it. Keep up the good work.
yea, the descriptive URL’s are really simple — just a simple change of the default format. Everyone should be doing that, for sure.
Great tips, but there’s one in particular I’ve been wondering over for a while now – why won’t people take you seriously unless you self-host? I have full control over what my blogspot blog looks like and I like to think I’ve put some effort into making it look good and feel professional. Just because my url has the word “blogspot” in it shouldn’t have to affect others’ opinion of the content on the blog. Admittedly, the url I’m using is perhaps not the most user-friendly, but that’s another story 🙂
it is the one tip that I have gotten the most heat on, so let me preface by saying…. it is simply what I experienced. In terms of traffic, I went from about 2k hits per month on blogspot to about 20k hits per month self-hosted. There are a variety of “top travel blog” lists out there that are good to get on — you aren’t going to have much of a chance until you get self-hosted. I think the SEO options are better self-hosted. And you permanently own your links, which is a big deal down the line. Just my opinion, but going to self-hosted was the single best change I have made in my entire (short) blogging career.
Fantastic tips Michael! Just so people know there are some hosts (i.e. wordpress.com) where you are very limited in your ability to use plugins and tweak them. Sometimes you can’t add your username to your tweets. If people are serious about blogging, it’s more work and a little more money but invest in a good host.
I’ve had to learn the ropes as well with these tips. I think one of the best things you can do is engage the community by commenting and tweeting other posts. Life is hectic for me now so I haven’t had the chance to do this as much or even write lately but these are great tips any travel blogger should follow.
I love that first photo of you – awesome.
Thanks very much for this advice. I have work to do now!!! Thanks for the encouragement! Cheers.
hopefully nothing but encouragement from me — I want more and more really good bloggers out there. Helps all of us. Keep up the good work.
Nice roundup of tips Michael! For WP users I highly recommend using the All in One SEO plugin from the beginning. One of the basic elements of SEO is utilizing the Title and Description Tags for your post. The former is the hyperlink title that appears in a Google search and the later is the description underneath. Both are great places to use your keywords. It’s definitely better to start this practice early on as opposed to going back and correcting it later. Trust me on this. One other tip for SEO and beginner bloggers is to rename your photos instead of just using the generic file name the camera assigns, i.e. DSC_0077.
Yep – the All in One SEO plugin is good, for sure. And the photo tip is a great one. Going back through and naming (and filling in the descriptive/alt section as well) right now. Time consuming.
Thanks for the tips, Michael. I’m a super newbie travel blogger (preparing to “officially” launch my blog later this month) and have been slowly navigating my way through the dense jungle that is the travel blogging community. Would love any tips from experienced and new bloggers alike on how I can improve my site. Thanks!
You will find the travel blogging community is amazingly helpful — just ask any of us for help.
Oh dear. I am so bad I don’t even know what SEO means, nor did I know that you could/should change RT settings and stuff.
And I have to say–I think long blog posts are nice sometimes. I get tired of reading bullet points and top 10 lists sometimes. Just my opinion…
Glad to be of a bit of help for you with RT’ing and such. It is all just a constant learning experience.
I wish this post had been written 7 months ago when I just started blogging! I resisted SU and Twitter in the beginning but now they are 2 of my top 10 sources of traffic, so a definite must for all serious bloggers.
And I wish I knew all this when I started back in 2008. Arrggg!!
Thanks for this post. I launched my blog mid-January and have worked through some of the points you made but there were many more that were helpful. Especially this week is the point someone made to keep going!! Another was SU. I have an account with them but have been putting this off because I really don’t know how it works. Twitter is confusing me too! Those are my to do lists for the week!
Question, is it better to make comments on posts, SU, tweet them or like on FB?? Or all of the above?
When I was developing my blog I felt like I was beating my head up against a wall until the day I remembered about the support boards on Studiopress and wordpress. I know duh!! But they make a world of difference because someone has already been there done that! Use them!
the various forums and such to help you out are great, including the couple of travel blogging groups on FB. As to comments….best to make them everywhere. The more you get out there, the better.
Great tips! Having a retweet button with your twitter handle in it is a big pet peeve of mine too! 🙂
it is just one of those basics that soooo annoys me. Then again, mine recently screwed up and someone had to point it out to me. LOL.
I’m bookmarking this page for when I switch from blogger to wordpress.org, which should hopefully be soon. At first I was hesitant to convert but I think I’ve been convinced. Thanks for the tips. I know you say they’re basic but sometimes getting the basics right is the hard part.
So very, very glad you are switching over to self hosted. Don’t hesitate to ask for any follow up help.
Great tips, I absolutely need to go self-hosted, I’m afraid of losing my PR, so I’ll probably just start a new website altogether!
you can do link by link 301 redirects, which might help the PR question, but ya…. just go self-hosted regardless.
Michael, thanks for sharing these. And, also, for the Stumbleupon tips: I haven’t yet started to use Stumbleupon correctly, but I’m definitely going to start working with it.
SU is such a good traffic resource. The best one I have found yet.
Thanks Michael, this is gold! I added a RT button to my blog right after reading this 🙂
Also I suppose I need to migrate from Blogger to WordPress at some stage but frankly I’m afraid of migration & performance issues. Blogger seems to just work, whereas there seems to be horror stories about every hosting company….
Roy, I was in the same dilema about a year ago when I had to stop using blogger because I couldn’t upload (via FTP) my posts to the blog as a part of my own site. It was either use blogger’s (slash googles) servers and name or switch to WordPress. I was also freaked out though going independent (yes, it is easy to be comfortable with Blogger) though the change was a totally positive step for me. Most hosting companies now have a one click install of WordPress so it is fairly easy.
As Michael said, you can get a lot of traffic via Twitter and Facebook pages. I had pretty much ignored them until recently and have noticed a large jump in visits because of them.
OK. so who do you guys recommend as a reliable host?
I was on GoDaddy but they’re slowish, at least accessing them here from Chile. Now I’m with Hostgator which I have found a lot better (I like their live support). I think bluehost also has the one-click thing though have never used them so can’t say what they’re like.
I am using bluehost and have generally liked them, so far.
I use Dreamhost, myself. I believe it’s a “featured” or recommended WordPress host. Haven’t had a problem with them yet (knock on wood), it’s pretty darn cheap and the domain registration was free.
Thanks for the advise peeps! I’ve just migrated to WordPress successfully. Woohoo!
These are fantastic tips! Going to have to employ some of them!!!
Great tips. I really need to get the Tweet Me button or something… I do have the Twitter share button but you’re right, it needs to make it easy for people to add your Twitter handle. I just need to figure out where to put the html in my posts… More research to be done.
I use TweetButton and it is great and simple to set up and use in seconds.
Great tips! Just adding TweetMeme, and feeling guilty for being so slack about my posting schedule – thanks for the friendly reminder.
let me thank you on behalf of everyone for having a good RT button with your address in there — thank you for letting us help you!
These tips are excellent! And a good reminder to me that I need to be posting more regularly… You’re right, the travel blogging community is amazing!
need to make sure I remember to post regularly also — was supposed to be writing all day today. Whoops.
Great post – really appreciate the tips. I’ve just installed a retweet button :). It’s definitely been a learn as I go experience, and it seems like there’s always something new to do on my blog. I’m trying to balance between creating content and constant tweaking, so I think it’s going to be a gradual process for me.
the work never ends, unfortunately….
What a great, helpful post. I’ve been amazed at how supportive the online travel community can be as well. I agree with all your points (although it took some time for me to realise them all myself!)
I’d also add registering with Google Analytics and Google Webmaster Tools (both free and both easy to get started with.) That way, you’re more likely to pick up any problems with your site early on so that you can fix them. Also, back up your blog regularly.
Good point about GA and such — those are important things to have working properly from the get-go as well.
Thanks for the excellent presentation. I agree with self-hosting. It’s very important to have control of your content and you might as well start right off the bat instead of finding yourself in a position later that you wish you had. I’ve saved this for myself and with your permission would love to share with others. Thanks, also for a great demonstration of the generosity of the travel writing community!
Steve, you are MORE than welcome to share any of my posts with anyone in the world! Thanks.
Such wonderful tips for newbie travel bloggers like myself. I am fortunate that I still have some time to get things right before I journey off. And I’m always appreciative to find post like this one that helps me to get there. Thank you for sharing your insights.
there are some great blogging resources out there — glad you liked these tips. I need to get up another chapter in this series up soon.
Once again great info! Good for refreshing even if you’ve been blogging a while. It’s sometimes hard to keep on top of it all so it’s good to go back and check on all the basic for your site.
that this post got a thumbs-up complement from my favorite web design programmers is a BIG feather in my cap. So many thanks!
i’ve been a professional blogger for a few years now, but still found this pretty helpful. i need to step up my game with them social media buttons for sure. i have them, but they could be better.
We all need to constantly improve and work on our sites — it never ends!
Great content! I really enjoyed your tips on having descriptive urls and adding social network buttons to your blog/site. Very helpful advice!
thanks, Katie! Glad you liked the site.
I have been blogging for almost a year now on WordPress, so I am just coming out of the beginner stage. I am glad to know that I am following these tips. Although I did not learn anything new, reading these tips reinforced what I already know and a great resource for newer bloggers.
Michael, such great tips and information! I’m constantly amazed at how generous the travel blogging community is about sharing and helping newcomers get started.
I had no idea of the value of Stumble Upon or how to effectively use it. I’ve added a SU button to my site and will get serious about it.
Phew – Thanks for these tips.
Thankfully I am doing all of these so glad I’m doing something right =)
Great post! I am new to travel writing, and began for the same reasons you did. Then, the community swept us off our feet and now I intend to make it, somehow, the way I make a living. I really can’t believe the support I have gotten. I am still trying to optimize our blog, as most of our traffic is from twitter, I have tagged everything but still am not getting crawled much by google.
Thanks for the awesome tips! These are pretty helpful for someone who’s just started travel blogging. 🙂
Enjoy — and feel free to email me if you need any help.
great beginner blogging insights.
note: your email subscription does not work for me.
Wow. Do I ever appreciate your article! There’s so much that I’m doing wrong. Thanks for these great tips. StumbleUpon is one of my favorite tools but the buttons on my page definitely need some TLC.
Why do we always find such handy tips after we have started! We are currently redesigning at the moment and hopefully have implemented all these already. Hardest part is consistency but we are getting there. Cheers
I’m loving these tips! Thanks for putting all this together!
This is me interacting with the community. 😉
I’m a long-time professional freelance writer starting over at the bottom as a full-time traveler/blogger. Love the life; not so jazzed about trying to gain traction in the blogosphere.
Thanks for the tips. I’m implementing…
Thanks for this, so many great tips for new bloggers like myself (I’m preparing to launch my first site in a few weeks). Unfortunately, I’m getting hung up in perfecting the infrastructure (wordpress/plug-ins/photos/social media) and I’m procrastinating from actually writing. I’ve taken note of several of these ideas to implement sometime in the near future, but for now–I just need to write! 🙂
I am beginner in travel blogging.Recently I walked from alone across the Great Himalaya Trail-Nepal which was abput 2000km solo epic journey.I thought Travel blogging could be best way to share my experience.Your article is really helpful.
Good tips for anyone looking to get into travel blogging and writing. Getting a hosting account for your domain and using social media are the first steps to being taken seriously and increasing traffic.
wow. i hope to be a travel blogger like you someday. Thanks for sharing this
Hey Micheal! I’m new to the blogging community and I’m entering, as you did, initially to keep all my family and friends up to date with my trip this summer to China. I really appreciate all the great information, I’m happy that I’ll have this info at the start, since I’m learning from you experienced bloggers. Anyway, the main point it THANKS! 🙂
Thanks and good luck with your blog!
While reading it, I got inspired to take the next step in my blog and now I am in the process of redesigning it and making the transition form WordPress to self host . I may take your word of reaching out to the blogging community and contact you for some advice in the near future 😉
I have a question one question. As I said, I have been blogging in WordPress since October 2011. I have 54 posts. My question is, should I publish the new website with all the previous posts already on it? It may sound like a silly question but I want know the best way to launch it. Any recommendations?
Also, is there any guides that you can recommend to improve my writing skills?
Go ahead and import your old posts. Helps to have the pages on the new website. That is what I did also. As to writing guides, the main thing is just to write and write. You’ll get your voice.
I’m new to blogging, too. Thanks for all the great advice here! I’ll have to look into adding the retweet button. (My stats tell me I’ve been tweeted, but I don’t know by whom.)
Some great technical tips here.
Content is definitely king, but ultimately it’s also important to be passionate about what you write and of course, write about what you know.
I’ve encountered few people who started travel blogging and gave up when they weren’t getting much traffic.
Traffic isn’t something you should be worrying about when you set up. Your focus should be on writing and becoming a better writer.
Even if you never find an audience, at least you’ll have a record of your travels to look back on.
I posted up some tips the other days for newbies that cover some of the basics that might be of interest: https://www.fhr-net.co.uk/blog/2012/7/25/6-great-tips-for-travel-bloggers-2/
This is great. I’m happy to report I have followed most of the advice in this post already (or am trying to), but there was a great Twitter tip here that I haven’t seen before. Question – I clicked the TweetMeme link and it took me to the WordPress plugin site, but wouldn’t let me download. I then tried to search for TweetMeme in the plugin directory directly from my dashboard and it says there is no plugin by that name! I agree, I would much prefer when someone tweets my post that it be attached in some way to my twitter handle. Any further insight on how to do this would be much appreciated!!
Really useful tips.Hop we can implement a nice Wayanad resort blog soon.
I just discovered this post yesterday, but it’s been super helpful already… I started composing a blog a few months back (but it’s still in the making): At first I just wrote to organize my own experiences and memories and had no idea how huge the travel blogging community was… and how much work it is to eventually get some feedback on your thoughts…
I am still a little too unassertive to start promoting my blog “aggressively” 🙂 I guess it takes a while to figure it all at… 🙂
Thanks again sharing these tips!
Ops, I think I didn’t use the commentluv thing correctly… will be working on that to 🙂
Thanks so much for the tips, we always learn something new from other bloggers. I realized, while reading your post, that I wasn’t using the TweetMeme button, and so I downloaded it, however I do not see any Settings page, so when I click on the button, no via @ shows up. I put out a message on the wordpress.org forum, hopefully it gets resolved. Thanks a lot once again, and great post!
Since we are talking about tips on becoming a better travel blogger, I would like to share with you some tips I got from a recent travel panel.
Have a great weekend guys!
I’d guess that Twitter’s usefulness as a promotional tool depends a great deal on your topic and the nature of your content. The more time-sensitive or “newsy” your material is, or the more it’s about entertaining readers who care about you and your adventures
Can’t emphasize enough to read, share, and comment on blog posts that are relevant to you. Aside from getting your name out there, it’s a great opportunity to have the author (like Michael) write you back.
Yea this guy knows what he’s talking about. Tips are very helpful.
Posting 3 times a week will be a challenge, but one I’m looking to take on.
Hi Michael. Thank you for this post! We are VERY new to this community and its so good to get tips from experienced and successful bloggers as yourself when we are just starting out.
Its funny – We feel like the new kids in school, trying to become friends with the ‘cool kids’!
We have been following all these wonderful bloggers for so long, admiring them, inspiring to be like them and posts like this help get us on our way!
This is the most helpful travel blog tips I’ve ever read because I’m having difficulties on dealing with it. Thanks much for sharing this. Also, Social Media really help in gaining lots of traffic to our sites.
Nice tips from you, Mr. Michael. I already apply some tips from you, and there are also some that I have not been implemented like follow a travel community, or make a short posting.
Now, I’m starting to make a blog from my experience travelling around Indonesia. Indonesia have a lot of beautiful place to visit. But my blog still in Indonesian. Hope a lot of people want to visiting my blog and visiting Indonesia too.
Great post! I am a beginner travel blogger and this post is a good guide for me. Thanks for sharing these wonderful tips with us.