Common Mistakes That Travel Bloggers Make

Pam asked me to talk about the mistakes that most travel bloggers make when starting out. I’ve made plenty of mistakes since I started my first blog several years ago, so I suppose I’m qualified to common on the topic. And yes, as a blog coach, I’ve seen a lot of common themes. You may or may not be surprised to hear that the mistakes most travel folks make are the same as any new small business owner. Your blog is a business, right?

Confusing a Blog with a Business

Let’s jump right into it, eh? You can’t just install a blog and say ok, there’s my business. It’s a crazy concept in the real world: buying a storefront on a busy street, and there’s my business! Nope. What is going on those shelves? How will you make money? What is your plan? You don’t need a 3 or 5-year plan, but you need to know how you’ll be paying the rent next month. Or is money even part of the plan? Maybe your business is a non-profit.

Knowing Who Your Ideal Reader Is

Who, besides your mother, are you writing this blog for? To put it more harshly: why should someone tune in? Do you provide useful information, entertainment, or solve some sort of problem? I like to tell people that they need to have their Ideal Reader pegged down to a first name and hair colour. Then write to that single, individual person. There are lots of blogs out there, travel and otherwise, and you can’t afford to market and promote yourself to everyone. So write and target “someone” special.

Looking for Overnight Success

Nobody is gifted overnight success, so stop looking for it. If you want to build a blog (a business!) that will last a long time and that will provide you with the feedback, income, or whatever you’re looking for, it will take the time to build. Minimum one year, but more likely two or three. If you’re not willing to wait that long, then perhaps you shouldn’t work for yourself. Having said that, celebrate your early successes, and press on, it gets easier as you go.

What’s Your Niche

Pretty much all successful, independent travel blogs have a niche (whether they realize it or not). It goes hand-in-hand with knowing your Ideal Reader. It’s a bit of a game as to figuring out what niche is too generic and what niche is too specific. “Travel” is too generic. “Travel for divorced 30 somethings who are raising several children in a single parent household”, might be a little too specific.

Get Feedback

Great businesses (blogs!) never work in a silo. They thrive on external feedback from peers and from Ideal Readers as to ways to improve. Does your website theme or template confuse people? Do your articles not have enough images? Are you focusing too much on adrenaline travel when your Ideal Reader wants chill-out time? It’s easy to set things on cruise control and just, do your thing. But without feedback, you won’t know whether or not you’re doing the right thing. How to get feedback? Just ask for it.

Andy Hayes is a small business coach, and travel writer/blogger. 

About The Author

I'm a travel writer and photographer who specializes in bespoke travel experiences. I write about boutique, savvy and cultural travel. My writing has been featured in Outpost Magazine, Travel + Escape, and UP! Magazine.

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22 Responses

  1. Gwen McCauley

    Hi Andy

    Excellent article. I’ve bookmarked it to share with clients and colleagues.

    Most of your advice works just as well for any small business owner. I find that with my new business clients, that concept of Primary Target Market is a hard one to grasp. But as a book publisher once told me ‘a book for everyone is a book for no one’!

    I currently have a little post-it on my computer screen that reads “What’s In It for My Audience”; it is a reminder to me to keep this in mind each and every time I write a blog post or, indeed, tweet a message on Twitter.

    We all need to remain awake to the needs of the folks we are writing for. You speak about that most eloquently. Big thanks.

    Gwen McCauley

  2. Stephanie

    I’ve gotten the opportunity to learn from Andy one on one and he is a brilliant dude. These are such important tips!

  3. Andy Hayes

    Aww, thanks everyone. Perhaps we should take a cue from Gwen and put a post it note on our laptop to remind us of who we’re writing for. Good idea.

    And Stephanie – flattery will get you everywhere 🙂

  4. Anna

    I love this. I think many people confuse “brand” and business when blogging. While a blog can surely enhance and even create your brand, there’s no model for business within simply writing posts. It takes a combination of these (niche, composure, character) and some know-how editorially, legally, to have a real business.

    Good post.

  5. Cam

    When I had the pleasure of meeting Andy a few months ago in Vancouver, I asked him what he thought the key ingredient to a successful blog was.

    His response has stuck with me because of its simplicity. “Endurance”

    I’ve learned firsthand that this tiny nugget of advice is probably the one most often overlooked. It’s not a sprint, its a marathon!

  6. Jessica Skelton

    Great tips, especially for us newbies! Thanks for sharing!

  7. Bryan

    All of these tips are definitely true. Sometimes people think that when they set up a website or a blog, then readers will just come in droves. That’s not quite true as any experienced blogger will tell you!

  8. Matt

    Good advice, I’ve been getting slightly discouraged as of late, but maybe some of these tips will help.

  9. Christy - Ordinary Traveler

    Great tips! I love the idea about asking for feedback from your piers. I have tried asking for feedback from my readers with no luck. I’ll have to try the other route.

    I’m happy to hear that it takes a year or longer before blogs tend to get a good following. Maybe I can stop giving myself such a hard time now for not being an overnight success!! :p

  10. Jeremy B

    Outstanding list! As a relatively new blogger, I admit I made some of these mistakes, especially the expectations of too much too soon. It’s been a nice journey of a year now and while it has taken time, it’s an enjoyable ride.

    I think more than the money aspect, you should enjoy what you are doing with travel blogging. The fact that it takes so long for many people to actually break through is a good test of how committed you are to this.

  11. Nick Laborde

    Although I’m not a travel blogger, there is a travel component to my blog. This is great advice for any type of business. If you don’t know who your writing for then your writing for no one.

    My personal blogging goal is to be interesting and useful. Not everyone will find my blog interesting or useful but the right people will, thats who I write for.

  12. Nedemgirl

    Great advice! Being persistent is really important too, things can’t just ‘happen’ overnight.

  13. Craig

    I didn’t know Andy’s become a spunky girl since I last saw him her! At least he she still know what he she’s talking about! Good stuff, Andy 🙂

  14. Craig Zabransky

    agree, agree, agree…..But the most important, know who your audience is, so important… why do they want/need to read you – or is it just for your Mum…

    Andy, thanks for being a SpunkyGirl for the day… this was so timely as I get ready to enter year2 of my blog.

    stay adventurous, Craig


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