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Congratulations! You’re a brand new travel blogger looking for help in how to get started. Travel blogging is one of the most rewarding jobs, but it is a lot of hard work. Although, if you make any of the travel blogging mistakes on this list, it is going to be a whole lot more work.
And you probably won’t be terribly successful if you make a lot of these rookie travel blogging mistakes.
I’m not going to sugar coat it.
Being a travel blogger isn’t as easy as it seems.
It isn’t all travel and glamour. There is a lot of work behind the scenes that the reader never sees and doesn’t know exists.
It is 100% worth the hard work though!
I’ve made a lot of major travel blogging mistakes in my years of owning a travel blog.
I look back on a lot of my previous travel blogging mistakes and shake my head in embarrassment.
A lot of my mistakes were silly, and I should have known better. In fact, in some cases, I did know better but didn’t listen to the advise I got from mentors.
Don’t be like me!
Today we’re running through the absolute worst travel blogging mistakes you can make. They will sabotage your blog and make it infinitely more difficult to be a successful travel blogger.
If you blog is new, and you’re not making much money from it yet, check out the top digital nomad jobs for beginners. You can start making money before your blog starts picking up steam and becomes your full-time job!
1. Not Niching Down
Okay. This may be a cliché at this point, but it is 100% true.
There is too much competition on the internet now for you to just be a travel blogger.
You need to specialize in a certain type of travel.
I knew that I had to niche down when I started my travel blog, but I didn’t know how important it really was.
My blog header always advertised that I specialized in solo travel, but my content didn’t reflect that.
I was more of a general travel blogger for the first year and a half I had my blog. I didn’t start seeing any substantial growth and traffic until I buckled down and started writing about solo travel.
Once I niched down and got serious about solo travel, Google recognized me as a solo travel expert and started ranking all my solo travel posts on the first page of Google.
It also helped my older non-specialized posts rank higher as well.
Niching down is basically the only way to be a successful travel blogger in this day and age.
Pick a niche, write about that niche as much as possible, and do everything you can to show Google you’re an expert in that area.
Tips if you want to increase the scope of your content
Of course, you don’t have to write only about that niche. You can branch out a little bit, but the majority of your blog should focus on your main niche.
I know it can seem constraining to only write about one thing, but it will help you be successful.
I suggest focusing on one niche until you’re established and making money on a regular basis.
After you’re established, you can start broadening your content a little bit.
If you start writing about stuff slightly outside your niche, be sure you write a lot of content in that area. It helps you rank for that content.
For example, I have an entire digital nomad section on my blog. I didn’t write just one post about being a digital nomad. I have multiple posts on the topic.
This makes me look legit in the eyes of Google and in the eyes of my readers.
Please don’t just write random one-off articles and never touch that subject again.
Have at least five to ten posts on a single subject matter. Anything less than that, and it probably isn’t something worth focussing on.
This means you don’t know enough about it to write more on it (and are not an expert). It also means you can’t build up any authority in that new niche with so little content.
2. Choosing the Wrong Hosting Provider
Having a good hosting provider can make or travel your travel blog.
At a minimum, it can increase your stress and frustration.
A hosting provider is the company that allocates space on the internet for your website’s files to be stored.
It is also responsible for all that fancy back-end stuff that shows your website to the internet and keeps it alive and well.
It is essentially the engine that makes it possible for your WordPress website to be shown and found on the internet.
No hosting provider. No website.
Every single blogger needs a hosting provider, but not every hosting provider is made equally.
You need to choose one that suits your budget and your needs.
Select the wrong one, and you have to deal with the annoyance of transferring your blog to another provider. And potentially rebuilding your entire website.
The two hosting providers I recommend are:
Bluehost is probably so popular since it offers a very high commission for affiliate, and people tend to promote it to make a lot of money. It is a good hosting provider but not the best on the market.
I like Green Geeks so much (and recommend it) for a number of reasons:
- It is really affordable
- Your hosting package comes with a free caching plugin, which helps increase your site’s speed (a very important aspect of having a health site)
- They are extremely reliable and hardly ever have any downtime, which means your website is basically never offline due to hosting issues
- It is the most eco-friendly hosting provider on the market, and it is a small and easy way to help support the environment
Whatever you do, do not choose a pre-built hosting provider like Squarespace or Wix to build your travel blog.
They are not very customizable, and your blog will never look (or succeed) the way you want it to.
Those platforms have their place on the internet, and it is not for bloggers.
While they advertise that they work for bloggers, they are more designed for businesses and stores rather than bloggers.
Things to Consider When Choosing a Hosting Provider
Here are a few things you should consider when deciding what hosting provider to go with:
- The cost
- Whether they offer a trial period where you can get a refund if you don’t like it
- If they offer any free perks (like Green Geek’s free caching plugin)
- Does your host backup your website?
- How reliable their server is (e.g. do they often have downtime where your website is offline)
- Their customer service options (how easy is it to get help if you need it)
No matter who you choose to get your hosting from, I strongly recommend you purchase a hosting plan for the longest length of time possible.
This is normally three years.
Basically every hosting provider runs a promotion where you get a significant discount on your hosting plan the first time you sign-up with that company.
After the initial time frame you signed up for is up, you have to renew at the full price, which is normally two or three times the introductory price.
This is why I suggest choosing the longest time frame you can afford.
It will save you money in the long run!
3. Focussing Too Much on Social Media
It is tempting to try to grow your presence on every social media platform out there. We’re fed a narrative that in order to be successful, you have to be everywhere.
But that simply isn’t the case.
In fact, focussing too much of your time on social media is one of the biggest travel blogging mistakes you can make.
Are you shocked?
That may sound like an absurd statement. Of course you want to be all over social media. That’s how people are going to find your blog!
You’re just going to spend hours a day on social media platforms trying to get people to follow you but not have anything to show for your efforts.
Platforms like Instagram and Facebook don’t want people to leave their platform. They make it hard for bloggers to get traffic from social media sites to blogs.
Instagram only lets you put one link in your bio, and Facebook is known to push down and not show posts that have links to outside websites compared to other posts.
The amount of traffic you get versus the effort you put into social media platforms simply isn’t worth it.
Also, contrary to what you may believe, you don’t have to be on social media to be a successful blogger.
I have plenty of blogging friends who don’t have any social media presence other than a stagnant Facebook page.
And they make a full-time income blogging!
It isn’t necessary by any means to have a social media presence and following outside your blog, but it can help. Brands like to sponsor bloggers who have a following outside their blogs, so you should avoid social media altogether.
How Bloggers Should Approach Social Media
The best way for bloggers to approach social media is to hold off on creating socials until their blog is established.
You need to get in the groove of blogging and start getting traffic before you can put your time and effort into social media channels.
When you first start your blog, 100% of your energy should be focussed on creating blog content.
Only after you are comfortable with blogging and have traffic coming to your website can you focus on building a presence on other platforms.
Even when you get to the stage of building your social media presence, you shouldn’t jump onto every single social media site.
Choose one or two you want to grow on and focus on them.
You won’t have success on any platform if you try to have success on all of them at once.
Start small, become an expert on one platform, and then move onto the next.
I suggest making YouTube your first target once you get your blog up and running and getting traffic.
YouTube is a great platform and one of the most lucrative social media platforms.
More people consume content via video than any other way, and you want to get your share of that market.
YouTube is a great compliment to a travel blog. You can have more reader-based informative content on your blog and have more creative freedom with your YouTube channel.
You can highlight your travels through a travel blog on YouTube and have your audience fall in love with your personality. Then you can use your YouTube channel to drive your viewers to your more informative written content.
It is truly the best way to have the best of both works. Personal and reader-based. Informative and creative.
Have your cake and eat it too!
4. Not Taking Advantage of the Power of Pinterest
Okay. I know this is completely contradictory to my last point, but go with me.
Pinterest isn’t really a social media site. It is a visual search engine!
And not taking advantage of Pinterest is one of the biggest travel blogging mistakes you can make!
Pinterest is one of the best ways for bloggers to drive traffic to their sites, and you should under no circumstances not be promoting your blog posts on Pinterest!
There are some bloggers that get tens of thousands of blog views per month just from Pinterest alone!
Pinterest is a complicated beast, and there is far too much to learn about Pinterest in this small little segment of this post.
I highly recommend you take a few free Pinterest courses and watch a few YouTube videos on Pinterest best practices.
It takes a while to get the hang of Pinterest and figure out what people want to see, but once you do, you will see a spike in your traffic!
Pinterest is a lot of work, but the results you get from excelling at Pinterest are worth it!
Pinterest marketing is often the first thing bloggers outsource since it is so much work, so that is something to look forward to!
But please. Whatever you do, do not disregard and ignore Pinterest.
You don’t want to be kicking yourself later for making one of the biggest rookie travel blogging mistakes on the list!
5. Being Unrelatable
This is one of the worst and most annoying travel blogging mistakes you can make.
There is hardly anything more off putting than reading a travel blog that is completely unrelatable and the writer seems a bit rude and out of touch.
I’m sure we’ve all read an article by someone who tells you you can afford to travel if you just try hard enough. Totally disregarding the fact that the majority of people live paycheck to paycheck and have trouble feeding their families.
Or the person who complains that the luxury villa they stayed at for free just didn’t cut it, and it wasn’t nice enough.
Don’t be that person.
You will notice that people don’t stay on your blog very long, and they never come back.
I’m not saying that you can’t go on those luxury vacations. Heck your blog niche may be luxury travel.
Just don’t be totally unrelatable and out of touch with the world when you write.
We discuss this more in tip 8, but you should make your reader the centre of the post you’re writing.
Tell them what they need to know to have a good time rather than bragging about your expensive, luxury trip.
Even if you’re not writing about luxury travel, you should still be cautious not to be unrelatable.
It is easier than you think to come off as a bit of a snob (even when writing about budget travel). Be aware of how your readers might interpret your writing and be as relatable as possible.
6. Not Focussing Heavily on SEO
SEO (search engine optimization) is your best friend.
Not focussing on SEO (even though I needed to) was one of my worst travel blogging mistakes. I regret not leaning in and giving SEO my full attention from day one.
Don’t be like me!
Writing SEO-focussed posts is how you rank in Google searches.
The better your SEO, the more likely you are to find yourself in the number one search results on Google.
And that’s a great feeling!
There is a lot that goes into SEO, and it is definitely a learning process.
You get better at it the more you practice.
SEO takes time. You won’t start to rank high in Google search results right away. Be patient. Keep following best practices, and you will see results!
SEO Best Practices
- Write long-form content that answers your reader’s question
- Build links organically and avoid two-way link swaps at all costs (no matter how tempting)
- Organize your content in a readable way (lots of subheadings and short paragraphs)
- Write clusters of content and interlink your content between blog posts
- Make sure your website is fast
- Include keywords in your URL (but keep your URL as short as possible)
- Have a positive user experience on your website (make it easy to navigate)
- Keep your image file size small
- Use a keyword finder (like Keysearch) to research and write about topics people are actually searching for
Lots of SEO “gurus” try to get you to buy their courses that are over $500! That isn’t necessary, and I regret buying an expensive course. I recommend starting out with this affordable SEO ebook and then move onto a specialized course if you still have questions that need to be answers.
7. Relying Only on Ads to Make Money
The first thing everybody asks me when I tell them I blog is “how do you earn money? With ads?”
Most people think that bloggers make money only on ads, and that is a very wrong assumption.
Ads are a nice cherry on top, but they aren’t the main source of income for any blogger I know.
Thinking you’ll become a successful blogger with ads as your only form of monetization is one of the biggest travel blogging mistakes out there.
Unless you have hundreds of thousands of views per month, ads aren’t going to cut it, and you won’t be able to turn your blog into a full-time gig.
There are many different ways to make money as a travel blogger.
The most common and one of the most profitable ways is to start affiliate marketing.
I’m sure you’ve heard this term thrown around all the time by your favourite influencers.
Affiliate marketing is where you love a certain product or company, and you promote them on your blog by using a link unique to you.
Whenever someone clicks on that link and makes a purchase, you receive a small comission.
There is no additional cost to the user!
What I love most about affiliate marketing is you don’t need a huge audience to start making decent money.
You just need to know how to promote your products in a way that makes people want to buy them.
I’ll admit I was completely lost and overwhelmed at the idea of affiliate marketing. I put off getting started for 18 months because I was so intimidated.
That was silly of me because it isn’t that scary, but you do need an affiliate marketing strategy.
I took Leanne Scott’s Passive Income Superstars affiliate marketing course, and it made affiliate marketing much more manageable. She covers different affiliate marketing strategies, so you have a plan on how you’ll make money.
8. Not Prioritizing the Reader
It is so easy to make your travel blog all about you rather than the reader.
This is one of the worst travel blogging mistakes you can make.
If you’re only talking about yourself and your experiences, why would anyone bother to read it?!
I know that sounds harsh, but it a truth every blogger needs to hear.
Your blog is here to help the read with their problems and questions. If you don’t do that, you will never be successful and have a profitable travel blog.
Ouch. That hurts doesn’t it.
The internet isn’t like it used to be. People no longer consume blogs just for a writer’s story.
People aren’t connected to blogger in a sentimental way anymore.
They really don’t care about you that much and just want you to help them with their query.
There are 100% places on the internet where people still connect to and care about content creators.
Use platforms like Instagram and YouTube to connect with your audience.
Blogs are more for providing information to your audience than bonding with them.
Make your reader the centre of everything.
Think of how you can give them everything they are looking for and more.
That is how you’ll build a loyal audience base that seeks you out on other platforms and start to care about you there.
How to Sprinkle in Some Personality
If you’re writing a city guide (like this one), don’t tell the audience what you did.
Tell them what they should do. Where they should stay. How they can have the best trip possible.
You can (and should) sprinkle in a little personal information, but it shouldn’t be the focus.
I like to tell my readers my mistakes, so they don’t make them. That’s a good way to insert my experience while still making it mostly about the reader.
You should always have the reader at the front of your mind when writing a blog post.
Put yourself in their shoes and think of everything they need answered by the article you’re writing.
They will begin to trust you, remember your name, and come back to your blog again and again when they have questions.
This is another reason why it is important to niche down. If you’re all over the place, your readers won’t know what to keep coming back to your site for!
9. Using Crappy Photos
You’re a travel blogger, and people expect you to have amazing travel photos to go along with your writing.
This may not seem like one of the worst travel blogging mistakes you can make.
Especially compared to some of the other more technical travel blogging mistakes on this list.
But it is!
If you have crappy photos, it does a number of things:
- Makes it seem like you haven’t been to a location
- Might appear like you’re an inexperienced traveller
- Your readers aren’t as entertained or engaged, and they will probably leave your blog pretty quickly, which is bad for SEO
It is imperative that you put some thought and effort into what photos you share on your blog.
They should illustrate what you are talking about and be high quality.
If you don’t have a photo of your own to use, using stock photos is 100% okay. I recommend using Deposit Photos for your stock images.
I personally use them for a lot of images, and they have a lot of selection to choose from.
They are a paid service, but it is a good investment for your blog.
You get stunning photos, and you have zero chance of being sued by the photographer for using them on your site.
Yes. Being sued is a major possibility if you rely on free stock photo sites.
You should also use horizontal photos on your travel blog. They look better on the screen and make your post flow better.
If you’re using your own photos, I use these Lightroom presets to make colour editing a breeze.
10. Not Having a Strategy
This is one of the biggest travel blogging mistakes I see newbies make.
They are excited about blogging but don’t have a strategy.
They have no plan on how to monetize their sites, how often they are going to post, what the goals of their blog are, and on and on and on.
And I was one of those people the first year I had my blog.
It is so easy to jump into the deep end of blogging and not think about your strategy until you start to gain some traction and get readers.
That sounds good until you realize it is taking you ages to get readers, and when you do, they just leave and never come back.
That’s because you don’t have a plan.
You don’t need to have it all figured out, but you need to have some of it figured out.
Building a Strategy
I recommend you write down the answers to the following questions before you get too deep into the world of blogging:
- Where do I see this blog in five years?
- How do I plan on monetizing my blog?
- What is my niche?
- How often am I posting a new blog?
- How many hours do I realistically need to work on my blog per week to be successful?
- Do I have that many hours per week to dedicate to my blog?
- How am I measuring success? How often am I measuring success?
- What happens if I don’t meet my goals? Give up? Invest more in education? Hire a coach?
Having a broad business plan will keep you on track and make you a more successful travel blogger quicker.
Trust me. Not having a strategy is going to hinder your growth immensely.
If you don’t have a strategy one, implement one.
You’ll have amazed at how quickly you start to see growth and start to earn more money.
I know this from experience.
If I were building a brand new blog today, I would focus all my efforts on SEO.
Do your keyword research and write really informative long-form blog posts.
That is the tried and true way to become a successful blogger.
Pinterest is a good shortcut to success, but SEO is the key to long-term success and growth.
One of the worst travel blogging mistakes you can make at the beginning of your career is just writing willy-nilly posts on a bunch of different subjects and not publishing on a consistent schedule.
Bonus Tip: Giving Up Too Early
All the travel blogging mistakes on this list are bad and should be avoided, but this is the worst mistake you can make!
You will undoubtably come across a number of blog posts when starting your blog and deciding if it is the right choice for you that glamorize blogging and make it look easy.
I remember reading a post about how a woman made $22,000 in the first six months of travel blogging! That’s amazing for her, but it isn’t realistic.
It takes a lot of time, effort, dedication, and sacrifice to be a successful travel blogger.
You won’t become successful over night, and there will times where you think about quitting because you just aren’t seeing results as quickly as you want.
That is normal, and you have to push forward!
It can take months if not years to start seeing results from your travel blog.
Heck! I didn’t earn a penny from my blog the first two years I had it.
Keep pushing. Keep putting in the effort. It is worth it.
You never know when your time will come, and you don’t want to quit just before your time is coming.
So many people give up travel blogging less than a year into it and quit right when they are on the cusp of seeing results and making money.
I know it is hard. It is tempting to give up and quit blogging.
You put so many long hours into creating your blog, and it sometimes doesn’t feel worth it.
Resist that urge!
You can do it. I have every bit of faith in you even if you lose faith in yourself.
You got this!
Protecting Your Blog
Your blog is your baby.
You put countless hours into creating content and marketing your blog, and you need to protect it.
There are two essential things you need to do to keep your blog safe:
- Install Akismet Anti-Spam plugin on WordPress
- Install a VPN on your laptop and use it when connected to public wifi
You will be shocked when you see the stats from the Akismet plugin. There are so many attacks every single day on every blog.
Even blogs that aren’t established and don’t get much traffic get a lot of bot attacks!
Akismet keeps those unwanted bot attacks at bay and also block all the spam comments.
So. Many. Spam. Comments! Gahhhh.
A VPN is also an essential safety app. It keeps you safe when you’re using public wifi network.
I’m not sure if you know this, but you can even have your online data stolen when you’re using a public wifi network with a password. Anyone can get that password and hack your devices if they know how to and want to.
A VPN essentially puts an invisible forcefield around your devices and makes it impossible for unwanted eyes to access your online data and private information.
It makes using a public wifi network just as safe as using your home wifi network where you’re the only person who knows the password!
My Favourite VPN
I’ve used a lot of VPNs during my years of travel and hated all but one.
NordVPN is the only VPN I’ve used that I actually like and didn’t cancel after the first year.
It is the fastest VPN on the market, which is something we need as travel bloggers.
Most VPNs are painfully slow, and I end up not using them because I get frustrated with how slow they are making my laptop and phone.
Which isn’t great considering the whole putting my devices at risk of being hacked when using a public wifi network thing.
Besides being very fast, by other favourite feature fo NordVPN is the ability to cloak my location.
You can make it look like you’re anywhere in the world.
You can be sitting in Canada (like I am right now) and have your NordVPN show you as being in South Korea.
This means you have access to that country’s Netflix library and can watch movies and shows you can’t access in the country you actually are.
This comes in very handy when you’re travelling and want to watch a particular show that isn’t available in that country.
All Netflix cloaking excitement aside, internet safety is no joke.
It is an essential part of travel and even more important when your income is earned online.
My philosophy is that if you can afford to travel, you can afford to protect your online data with a VPN.
A subscription to NordVPN (that covers up to six devices) costs less per month than the cost of a single Starbuck’s latte.
There is simply no excuse not to protect your online data with a VPN!
Holy smokes! That is a long post.
I apologize for it being so long. I’m just so passionate about blogging and want every single one of you to succeed!
As I’ve mentioned a few times in this post, being a travel blogger isn’t the easiest job in the world.
It is a lot of work and not everybody is willing to put in the work required.
But it is worth it.
100% worth the effort it takes in the beginning to be successful in the long run.
There is hardly a better feeling in the world than running your own successful business and being as busy or as quiet work wise as you want.
That type of freedom is worth the up-front time sacrifice and effort to build a blog.
Truthfully, there are tons of other travel blogging mistakes you can make.
And will make.
But the travel blogging mistakes on this list are the ones you need to avoid the most. They will hurt your blog the most in both the short-term and the long-term.
Avoiding these travel blogging mistakes will put you on the path to success far quicker than most travel bloggers.
You can do this! I know you can!