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..
Here are five things I wish I knew before starting my travel blogPlanet Blue Adventure
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!
Blogging Basics 101 www.bloggingbasics101.com
Social Media Today 101 blogging Tips for Beginners
ALSO ON HUFFPOST:
Puerto Plata, D.R.Robert Lerich
Rotterdam, NetherlandsGetty Images/Flickr RF
Istanbul, TurkeyTatiana Popova
Catskills, New YorkGetty Images/iStockphoto
Fez, MoroccoGetty Images/Flickr RF
Wasatch Mountains, UtahKyle Krause