After four years in the travel blogging business, we feel like we’re veterans now. In this industry, few people last this long. Why is it that we’ve only been doing this for four years and we’re already considered old-timers? It’s because so many people don’t know how to build their blogs effectively, and they give up too early.
In this article, I’m going to give you 5 easy-to-follow steps to help you build a successful blog today, so that it can earn you money and pay for your travels tomorrow.
STEP 1 – Post on a Schedule
This is the first step towards building a successful travel blog. You must have consistent content. And not just any content. It has to be kick-ass content.
Posting useful content on a schedule will make your blog seem like a newspaper or magazine. Your readers will know when they can expect the next edition, and the Google Gods will reward you for your consistency.
I honestly believe that one of the reasons our site has so much traffic is because we spend a long time writing useful guides and solid articles, and we post on a schedule. Our schedule is not perfect, but we generally publish two articles a week, as well as a video.
This blog now sees over 100,000 unique visitors per month, so I believe that Google likes us. If you can’t keep up with a 2 post a week schedule, you’re probably spending too much time on your articles.
If you’re a perfectionist, you may be hurting yourself. The longest I spend on an article on this site is around 8 hours and that’s on 10,000 word travel guides that could technically be sold as ebooks. These guides are epic and combined they bring us over 10,000 readers per month because they rank high in Google and are very useful.
If you’re spending days writing an article that is about your story, isn’t useful or isn’t ever going to get traffic, you’re probably wasting your time. Eight hours should be the maximum you spend writing a post, and that’s only if you’re sure that post will be super useful and get you lots of new, organic readers.
For simple story articles and photo essays, 3-4 hours should suffice. You’re never going to live Tim Ferris’s 4 Hour Work Week lifestyle if you’re spending 12 hours on every piece of content that you create.
STEP 2 – Be a Boss on Social Media
This is an obvious one and probably a point that you’ll find on every list about building a successful blog, but it’s important. One thing you may not always read is that Pinterest is your best social media channel for building traffic to your website.
Create as many social media accounts as you can keep track of and publish on them frequently. Learn what the best times of day are for posting on different channels and always post around that time.
But your bread and butter should be your Pinterest account. When you’re trying to drive traffic to your blog, and build an audience, Pinterest is your best bet. Join share groups on Facebook which are for the reciprocal pinning of participant’s articles.
Speaking of Pinterest…if you’re liking this article, give this pretty image a pin 😉
We just started Pinterest this year (what were we thinking?!) and already it brings us more than 7,000 people / month. Some other bloggers we know get over 20,000 readers from Pinterest alone.
The reason that this social media channel is so epic for traffic is because the content is evergreen, meaning that it’s out there forever. With Facebook and Twitter, once your posts have been seen in someone’s news feed, they drop down to the bottom and fizzle out within a day or two.
If you have a specific product that you want to sell, or an article that you want retweeted, consider “pinning” it to the top of your Twitter profile page like ours above. We often change the pinned article after a few months.
Instagram is a photo platform, which is an important channel for many reasons, but generally, it won’t drive traffic to your site.
Video is key! Shake off your nerves about being on camera, and open up a YouTube channel. Try to create videos as episodes so that your readers will know what to expect from you, and when they can expect the next video. Check out our weekly GoatLife TV episodes!
Also, SnapChat is becoming a very popular social media channel, but again, it generally won’t bring readers to your actual website.
STEP 3 – Do a Guest Post Bomb
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. A guest post bomb is the number one best way to quickly build the traffic and organic SEO for your site.
Contact as many bloggers as you know and ask them if you can write for them. To find blogs to write for, you can check out this list of Top 50 Travel Blogs. Write killer content and have them publish it. The kicker is having multiple blogs publish your articles in the same day or at least within the same week. Try to get 10 – 15 blogs publishing your articles in the same week and you’ll see a huge boost in traffic on your site.
Having this much of your content out on the web all at once can create a buzz for your blog. People will see you on one of their favourite blogs, then surf to another one and see your face again. This will trigger something in their brains that tells them: “Hey, I should watch out for these guys”.
For an added SEO boost, consider choosing just three articles on your site to link to. If you’re writing 15 posts for 15 other blogs, have 5 link to one of your articles, 5 to a second and 5 to a third. Make sure that these are solid articles that you’re linking to and maybe even make sure they’re articles that have affiliate links in them so that you can earn money.
When you link to the articles, don’t just link with a random anchor text. Don’t know what anchor text is? This is pretty important for beginning SEOers. The anchor text is the highlighted text that leads to the link.
To rank for specific terms in Google, you’ll need to have numerous links pointing to your articles using anchor texts that you want to rank for.
For example, if I wanted to build up SEO for this post, I’d write guest posts on other sites and link back to this post using anchor texts like: “Build a Successful Blog”, “Tips to Build a Blog”, “Steps Towards a Good Blog” etc.
It’s important that you don’t build lots of links with the exact same anchor text. Google is smart and it will see that you’re trying to game the system. Simply create a variety of similar anchor texts like the ones shown above.
STEP 4 – Hire a VA
This is something that you don’t necessarily have to do today, but as soon as you start earning money from your blog, you should hire a VA (Virtual Assistant). It’s said that when starting a business, you should put as much money back into the company as possible, and a VA is one of the best investments you can make.
Hire VAs that are specialists in their field. A general VA can do a lot of mundane tasks that take you too much time, but a social media VA can rock out your Facebook account, while a PR VA might be able to pitch companies for you and get you sponsors.
We have a great VA named Amanda and she creates all of our Pinterest images and runs much of our social media. We don’t have her talking as our voice because we believe that it’s important that we are the ones communicating with our readers, but she helps us to share content and get our content seen.
Even if you’re only making a few hundred dollars a month, you should consider hiring an assistant to help you to free up your time so that you can do things that are more important, which in turn can earn you more money.
VAs cost anywhere from $3 – $15 / hour, but when you’re starting out you should be fine hiring someone from India or the Philippines for the lower end of these wages. And don’t think that you’re taking advantage of them either. This is a great wage for some countries and they get to work from home and become location independent like you!
STEP 5 – Get Seen
This is a big one. To build a brand, you’re going to need to be seen by lots of people. I mean lots of people. Sure, doing guest post bombs will get you in front of thousands of eyes, maybe tens of thousands, but to blow up online you should try to be seen on big media outlets.
Having one article published on Business Insider or Forbes will probably give you more traffic than 100 guest posts combined. Hitting one home run can sky-rocket your traffic and help you grow your audience quickly.
What’s the trick to getting seen on big media sites? Pitch. Sure, once you have built your brand and have lots of traffic, it’s likely that big sites will contact you, but at first, you’ll need to reach out to them yourself.
Our friend Jazza from Nomadasaurus is the reach-out master. He’s been seen on huge publications and him and his fiancé’s site has been growing at an alarming rate over the past 2 years.
One of his articles went viral and the dinosaurs soon saw themselves on News.com.au, CNN.com, Business Insider and even on Australian breakfast television!
Check out a recent video of ours that Business Insider Travel put together. We like to think that over 1.1 million views is somewhat viral!
This couple ditched their 9-5 jobs and make a living traveling the world.
Posted by INSIDER travel on Thursday, February 25, 2016
When you’re starting out, you should pitch like crazy. Pitch big websites, magazines and newspapers. Pitch just about everywhere you can. If nobody ever sees your awesome site, then how can it grow?
Stick With It!
Travel blogging takes time and commitment. You’ll need to treat it like your baby. Nurture it and do everything you can to help it grow up strong and healthy. One day it’s going to support you, so treat it right and don’t give up.
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