Travel & Lifestyle Writer, Social Media Expert, Photographer
How to Start a Successful Travel Blog
Thinking about starting a travel blog? What you need to know before getting started:
About a year ago I hit "submit" on my very first travel blog post. I'd spent most of my adult life traveling to many destinations and amassed hundreds of stamps in my passport over the years. Writing about my travel adventures and experiences seemed like a logical, and even easy, next step.
So what happened next?
My blog concept was too general and I'd made some serious mistakes during the initial technical set up process. I spent months and dollars, fixing these mistakes and learning a lot in the process. The good news is that there is a lot of helpful information available from bloggers who have found great success. The best advice I can give is to get the foundation of your blog right from the beginning for the best chance at travel blogging success..
Don't write a word until you've identified a niche
Identifying a compelling niche is the best way to grow traffic quickly. Over the past year I have been tracking how people find my site. You are able to see what keywords people enter when they find your site on Google or other search engines, and this information is super powerful as you create your content calendar and keywords for the year.
The vast majority of people will find your site by searching for super specific things. Things like "Best taco restaurant in Des Moines," "How much is a shuttle transfer from key west to Miami?"
Start with a self-hosted Wordpress site
Wordpress is hands-down the best blogging platform. Free and easy, you don't need a big budget or a degree in programming to make it look good.
Move off the free Wordpress.com platform and onto the paid Wordpress.org platform. If you want to be taken seriously as a blogger, this is a must.
Pick a good host, I love Host Papa a green energy company a local company. Go with a local host for more personalized service.
Spend time growing your travel blog social media accounts.
This may seem like busy work up front, but growing and actively engaging on social media is a great way to establish your new travel blog brand.
Use your blog's name for all social media properties, as this is your brand. If you're ultimately going to be working with travel brands on hosted press trips, your social media numbers will matter.
Post regularly to social media, share other bloggers content and engage early with brands and destinations you'd like to cover. Social media is a free and easy way to begin developing valuable relationships.
Post prolifically, at least in the beginning
While there is no set rule for how often you should publish content, a good rule of thumb is to post a few times a week always at the same time. Get a schedule going that your readers are used to.
Plus, in the beginning it's all about generating content that is shareable and will rank well with the search engines.
Learn the basics of SEO.
Each day, the majority of visitors to my travel blog reach it via tweets, facebook and organic search. Organic search means that the terms on which they are searching are found on my site, and my site is slowly ranking higher on these terms.
Learning how to research good keywords is important in SEO. Pick keywords that don't have a ton of competition and are fairly specific. Use a plug in to help, I really like Wordpress SEO by Yoast.
Be sure to include keywords in your title, URL, a few times in the article and as the title of all images on the post.
This will get you started generating organic traffic, which is extremely important.
Travel blogging is fun and can also be a great opportunity to support your wanderlust. Dedicate time to set a strong foundation from the start for the best opportunity for success!
For more than a decade, Marrakesh has been the Moroccan destination on everyone’s list. Fez, about 240 miles northeast, was often an afterthought. But slowly, quietly, a sophisticated scene is taking root. It started with expats and locals restoring riads, and continues as hotels, restaurants, and galleries pop up. The biggest news is the Hotel Sahrai, with a hip rooftop bar and 50 rooms, many overlooking an infinity pool. Other notable places to stay include the medina’s Karawan Riad, whose seven renovated suites offer a modern alternative to more traditional riad hotels, and Palais Faraj, a 19th-century palace transformed by architect Jean-Baptiste Barian. On the culinary front, Restaurant No. 7 is making waves with a rotating series of acclaimed guest chefs. It’s the brainchild of British food writer Tara Stevens and American Stephen Di Renza, part of a group of expats who are encouraging experimentation. So far, overdevelopment isn’t an issue. Whether this will last—especially with the 2015 debut of an upgraded airport, set to accommodate 2.5 million passengers, five times the current volume—is anyone’s guess. Don’t wait to find out. This is the moment to see Fez. Find out more about T+L's top pick for 2015. —Richard Alleman
The region that welcomed Jewish families in the ’50s, hippies in the ’60s, and soon, perhaps, casino gamblers is also making room for a new tribe: hip, design-crazed travelers. A string of stylish B&Bs have opened, many of them by transplants from Manhattan and Brooklyn (call them “hicksters”) who value buzzwords like local, authentic, and handmade. Among them are the bohemian-chic Hotel Dylan in Woodstock, the Arnold House in Livingston Manor, with its tavern and diminutive spa, and Phoenicia’s Graham & Co., where the retro amenities include Tivoli radios, bonfires, and a badminton court. Area farms provide the ingredients for inventive restaurants like Table on Ten, in Bloomville, which just added a trio of whitewashed rooms upstairs. The blackjack tables—and a few megaresort proposals that envision the return of the area’s Borscht Belt heyday—may be only a few years off, so now is the time to enjoy fly-fishing, hiking, antiquing, microbrewery-hopping, and other placid pursuits. —Peter J. Frank
If Amsterdam is a study in old-world elegance, then the scrappier port city of Rotterdam is all big, futuristic ambition—and its constantly unfolding city center has become one eye-popping explosion of style. The latest attraction, and reason enough to visit, is the MVRDV-designed Markthal, an igloo-like horseshoe that houses 96 stalls (Dutch cheeses to Moroccan spices, reflecting the polyglot city), 20 shops, nine restaurants, and 228 apartments. It also happens to feature Holland’s largest artwork: a trippy nimbus of mammoth, tumbling fruits and vegetables arching across the market ceiling on 4,500 aluminum panels. Other recent starchitect landmarks include the multipurpose Rotterdam Central Train Station and native son Rem Koolhaas’s nhow hotel, sitting like a pile of stacked metal boxes on the south bank of the Maas River, the city’s reigning cultural hub. After visiting the neighboring Netherlands Photo Museum and the lipstick-red New Luxor Theater, toast a trip well-taken with a Dutch Blossom cocktail in the hotel bar. —Raphael Kadushin
Far from the resort-clogged beaches of Punta Cana, the Dominican Republic’s less-frequented northern shore has remained largely under the radar. But developments slated for 2015 in Puerto Plata are bound to lure well-heeled sun-seekers. First up is The Gansevoort, offering three-bedroom apartments with private pools and four-bedroom penthouses equipped with rooftop hot tubs. Later in 2015, Aman Villas will become the second Caribbean outpost from Singapore-based Amanresorts and the first golf-integrated Aman Resort. It’s the first phase of a development that aims to introduce some 400 residential villas, along with sports and equestrian facilities. Each is a welcome departure from the island’s cookie-cutter all-inclusives—and a promising sign of what’s to come in the luxury circuit. —Lindsey Olander
You can craft a linear story arc from the first edition of Robert Redford’s film festival in 1984 to the summer 2014 purchase of Park City Mountain Resort by Vail Resorts—the behemoth operator’s second recent foray into Park City (it bought the Canyons in 2013). Along the way a small mining town became a cauldron of Olympic athletes, Hollywood’s A-list, and luxury hotel brands like St. Regis and Waldorf Astoria. But a ski region blessed to have won the geographical lottery—seven world-class resorts span three parallel canyons in the rugged Wasatch Mountains, all within an hour’s drive—remained second fiddle to neighboring Colorado, whose star has shined brighter. That’s about to change. Where Vail’s vaunted Epic Pass goes, a legion of loyal snow junkies follows. The new year brings new restaurants, high-speed chairs, and lifts, including one that connects Canyons to PCMR, making it the largest ski resort in the U.S. And the industry is buzzing over a proposal that seems headed for approval called One Wasatch, which would link all seven ski areas in a European-style mega-network spanning 18,000 acres and 100 lifts. The project will have major tourism implications, introducing a new flock of riders to what locals proudly declare on their car license plates: the greatest snow on earth. —Nathan Storey
You can’t walk through a neighborhood in Istanbul these days without stumbling upon a debutante hotel primping for its grand entrance. Political unrest hasn’t deterred visitors, with tourism numbers soaring to new highs and hotel groups rushing to meet growing demand. In September 2014, Raffles moved into the business district’s glitzy Zorlu Centre, one of many sleek additions to the ancient city’s sinuous skyline, featuring a mall, office space, and a $350 million performing arts center. Up next: St. Regis in tony Nisantasi and Soho House in trendy Beyoglu. The Vault Hotel debuted in March in Karaköy, Istanbul’s neighborhood du jour, with stately interiors befitting its provenance as an erstwhile bank: an ornate façade, an old-fashioned cagelike elevator, a steel vault–turned–liquor cabinet presiding over the bar. In November, the Morgans Hotel Group unveiled 10 Karaköy nearby, steps from a bevy of new restaurants (join the throngs of stylish locals grazing at Colonie). Even hallowed Old City isn’t immune: Morgans’ next venture, the Mondrian Istanbul, will glam up prime real estate amid Fatih’s Ottoman domes. —Sarah Khan
Famous for its 1,600 pandas, most of which still live in the wild, Chengdu has introduced a 72-hour no-visa policy that makes it easier for Americans to drop in on one of the city’s three major panda research facilities. (For seeing the black and white bears without turning blue, the best months are June to October.) But it’s worth sticking around longer to experience what’s doing in Chengdu, a city on the rise. One of the shiniest attractions is New Century Global Centre, the world’s largest building, complete with an artificial beach. And there’s a slew of new hotel addresses. London-based Make Architects wraps a three-dimensional woven façade of timber, brick, and step stones around The Temple House, which also incorporate a thousand-year-old Chinese Buddhist temple and restored Qing dynasty courtyard building. Swire’s third “House” hotel opens in January 2015 with 100 rooms, while Six Senses opens the sustainable timber doors at Six Senses Qing Cheng Mountain, with 113 whitewashed suites, 30 minutes outside town in the still-unspoiled bamboo forest near the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Qingcheng—the birthplace of Taoism and the Dujiangyan irrigation system, an ecological engineering feat dating back to around 256 B.C. —Cynthia Rosenfeld