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.
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.