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7 top tips to running a successful travel blog

I’m often being emailed for tips by people starting out with a travel blog, but replying to those emails can be a little time-consuming. For this reason, I’ve decided to jot down my thoughts in a blog post – this way I can simply refer any future similar enquiries here, and hopefully some aspects of this post may also be useful to already-established travel bloggers. Running a travel blog sounds quite a glamorous job. You travel the world and write about it… what is there not to like? Of course, the reality is somewhat different. Running a travel blog that’s truly successful – to the point of making it your job – is a much harder proposition and one that only a very, very small minority of travel bloggers ever actually achieve. So, with so many travel blogs out there, how do you go about running a successful one? Here are my 7 top tips to running a successful travel blog. 1. Work first, monetise later For the first year or two, the likelihood is that your travel blog is going to be nothing more than a labour of love. When you first start your blog, nobody knows about it but you. With time, you’ll no doubt tell your friends, get indexed by Google and – slowly but surely – you’ll get the word out to more and more people. But don’t expect to make money from your blog right away – in fact, don’t even try to. Focus at first my next two tips… finding a niche and content. 2. Find a niche Don’t just be any old travel blog – focus on a particular niche within travel. That might be a particular geographical region or a particular type of travel. Decide on your niche and stick to it. 3. Write engaging content It probably goes without saying but write articles that you think your readers will be interested in. Use a title for your blog posts that is ‘catchy’ and stands more chance of being shared and re-tweeted. Don’t be tempted by the option of just re-gurgitating press release after press release – invariably, they’re not very interesting, but rather just thinly-veiled advertisements. Record personal experiences, or interesting events related to your niche. Maybe even invite guest bloggers on to your site if they have an expertise in your particular field of travel. If you do go down this route, be wary of allowing them to place unnatural links in their posts – this is something we categorically wouldn’t accept as, in so doing, you could risk a Google penalty which would undo a lot of your hard work. 4. Use great – not just good – photography If there’s one thing a travel blog needs besides great content, it’s great photos. Invest in a good camera, go on a photography course and try hard to hone your skills. If your budget allows, buy photographs in. If it doesn’t, there are resources out there that offer free images but check the smallprint on the exact terms of use. 5. Be active on social media Engage with people on social media Not in a spammy way, but in a way that enables you to interact with others in the same field, and thus become more widely known. Be nice to people… share their Facebook posts, thank them if they re-tweet you, and so on and so forth. Of course, there are lots of other tools at your disposal besides just Facebook and Twitter – Google Plus, Pinterest, YouTube and more. Find what works for you and use them regularly. 6. Persevere If you’re going to make money from blogging – to the point of making a living from it – you’re going to need to work hard. Keep posting on your blog… and keep as active as you can on social media. Be hard on yourself and understand that it’s not going to be easy. If you’re away and happen to be without internet access, that’s no excuse. Plan ahead and do some scheduled posts so the blog keeps ticking over even when you’re not at the computer. You don’t want to risk losing that loyal reader that keeps coming back day after day just because you decided to have a week’s break. Remember, there are probably hundreds of thousands of travel bloggers out there all looking to get noticed. If you give up too soon, you’ll just become yet another travel blog. Blogs need you to post frequently, not only to keep your readers coming back, but also to provide Google with plenty of fresh fodder to index. 7. And finally… monetise, but don’t sell yourself short! Only when you’ve really become an established travel blogger should you contemplate trying to make money from your blog. There are lots of ways you can go about doing this, be it through affiliate opportunities, advertising (contextual or direct), merchandise and more. But don’t sell yourself short. You should say a resounding “NO!” to anyone wanting to place a link on your site for a measly $10 a month. You haven’t done all this hard work just to be insulted! Look at other avenue streams away from your own site also. For instance, as a respected member of the travel blogging community, people may want to hire you to write for travel sites besides your own, you may be asked to be a speaker at travel conferences or hired on a consultancy basis due to your particular area of travel expertise.

Paul Johnson

Paul Johnson is Editor of A Luxury Travel Blog and has worked in the travel industry for more than 30 years. He is Winner of the Innovations in Travel ‘Best Travel Influencer’ Award from WIRED magazine. In addition to other awards, the blog has also been voted “one of the world’s best travel blogs” and “best for luxury” by The Daily Telegraph.

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  1. I’ve just started a travel blog for our website. Thank so much for all the great tips. It’s not the photos I’m mainly worried as we are a virtual tours website but the content as I’m not the best writer in the world.

  2. Solid tips, Paul! In the past couple years, I’ve discovered my favorite blogs via Twitter. It continues to be a powerful platform for bloggers to be seen and heard.

  3. Great tips and thanks for sharing. I will admit, I haven’t been too active with writing our agency’s blog. Thanks for giving me hope and I’ll retweet!

  4. Thanks for these great tips Paul! My problem is sometimes fighting between what I want to write, and what I think our readers want to see! When they both combine, they’re our most popular posts!!

  5. Thanks for sharing! Great tips! I so wish I had read this a couple of years ago, especially the niche thing, it is no important not trying to “cover it all”. I am constantly busy trying to “downgrade” my ambitions.

  6. Thank you for the useful advice Paul, I’ll keep this in mind. Do you have any idea of roughly what a travel blogger can expect to earn in an average month?

  7. If I had to take away one point from this article it’s definitely #6. I’ve read so many stories about bloggers that start and then get discouraged and give up before the world has time to notice them. It’s also important to find encouragement in the small victories. Sometimes we look at large well known blogs with tens of thousand of page views and subscribers and we don’t realize we are looking at years (not weeks or months) of hard work. We’ve been at it for about 5 months with our blog and we’ve seen incremental increases in traffic every month. I can only imagine where we’ll be in a year!

  8. Great tips. Still getting started in the travel blogging world…and you are right…it is totally a labour of love! I have become a fan of the pre-scheduled posts and need to use hootsuite a little more! Have been loving learning so much from more established bloggers and gain so much inspiration from them!
    Finding a niche is always a challenge – I have been inflicted with the I want to do it all gene! My travels tend to be so eclectic…from backpack to luxury, cycle or walk across country to stay put and really experience a place! I guess time will tell where my travel style settles! Thanks for the pointers!

  9. Thank you everyone for the great feedback.

    Philip, I don’t think that’s an easy question to answer – it will depend on so many factors – whether the travel blogger is full time or part time, how established the blog is, what niche it covers, etc. etc. I would suggest a significant number of travel bloggers (though probably a small minority of the total out there) are making $x,xxx a month and a very small minority are making $xx,xxx per month from a single travel blog.

    Ergo, most travel bloggers – myself included as I run two travel business (A Luxury Travel Blog being part of one of them) – don’t just run one travel blog. They usually have other interests elsewhere, whether it be another travel-related venture or job that involves doing something altogether different.

  10. Nice tips, thank you very muchs. It really makes me want to start it now. I had one in the past but seems like it did not works well, maybe because I have not read it before :)
    Again, thank you very much!

  11. Really good information – especially your point about picking a niche – something I have a tendency to forget about. Good reminder. Thanks.

  12. Yes, the main tips are these 7 tips you mentioned ;) The worst thing is that you gotta work harder than in any other ”job” because you are working for yourself :)

  13. love your blog and thanks for the great tips. You put in a list what i’ve painfully figured out myself. Thanks for your generosity.

  14. Thanks very much. Your article was very interesting. I love your blog and it has given me great inspiration. I am working on a travel blog for South Africa – but as you say perseverance is the key & finding the right niche content to write about.

  15. Great advice, particular #6. Whilst your end goal may be to earn a living from it, it’s important to enjoy the journey along the way. I think it’s important to identify and enjoy small milestones as you reach them – reaching 100 twitter followers, then 200, then 300 etc. The first time someone comments on your post, the first time someone shares your content.

    Thanks for the tips!

  16. Thank You for the tips but I’m pondering why I’m not getting the traffic I thought I would after 5 yrs. of blogging. I’ve employed all your tips here except I don’t accept advertising. I’m often sent comments that people like my blog & yet my traffic numbers still stay low. Any thoughts would be appreciated.

  17. Hello Terry

    I’ve had a look at your website and it is a bit of a mystery as you do indeed seem to be active.

    Going through the points I raise, I wouldn’t quite say you are doing them all, particularly when it comes to point 4.

    1. you are doing that obviously, if you have not yet accepted any advertising

    2. I’m guessing your niche is the cruise industry, although some of your posts seem to be on different areas of travel (I’m guilty of veering away from luxury sometimes myself, so that shouldn’t be an issue)

    3. I’m noticing some of the content is duplicated elsewhere. Are you the original source for all your content, or are you getting some of it from other places?

    4. This is one of the biggest things I’m noticing. You say you are employing all the techniques listed, but I don’t see any photographs on any the blog posts I’ve looked at. Travel is an extremely visual thing… photographs are critical IMHO.

    5. You certainly seem to be active on Twitter. I can see you are on Facebook (from a Facebook search) but didn’t at first notice the link across from your website, as I see you have it under the heading of ‘blogroll’. That could account for why you have just 21 likes, and your Facebook posts are not helped by the fact that again there are no pictures.

    6. Can’t fault your perseverence.

    7. Obviously you haven’t started this yet, and IMHO are right not to do so until you get more traffic.

    So, going through all this, I’d say there are possibly some issues with point 3, and definitely some issues when it comes to 4.

    Hope this helps.

  18. Great post! Just started my own blog and it’s great to get some advice from those with a bit more experience. Happy to see I had some of your tips in mind already, but will definitely use this as a resource in future!

  19. Certainly persevere….that is the key to just about any worthwhile endeavor. There are some great quotes from FDR,Winston Churchill, Thomas Edison and more that all point out the need to persevere. How many people have given up just before they might have succeeded?

  20. Excellent tips!

    I have been working on my blog for a couple of years and it certainly is a lot of work.

    Being active on Social Media Channels and interacting with other members, like-minded people, is vital!

    I am working on my style and need to find a specific niche.

    I’ve been discouraged some days but something kept telling me to keep going. So glad I listened!

    Thank you so much for the great advice ;)

  21. Hi Paul,

    Thank you for sharing your years of experience with us. This is a great post because its got real advice, and is encouraging in a practical way.

    My little blog is just 6-months old, and mostly a labour of love. I have two other paying jobs, necessary , but not as rewarding. Finding the time to work on Claire From Vancouver is not easy, but it is so rewarding, personally. Every new post feels like a victory. Thank you for reminding me to celebrate the small milestones, and also to take the long view and consider the road to two and three years on. Yes, 2016 will be a good year! Wink!


  22. Thanks for the very useful info. I started my travel blog 3 years ago.
    It was extremely hard to keep it updated and full of fresh ideas.
    Above all during very busy seasons.

    I have now delegate Italy & Golf blog to a professional writer..
    And I am super hyper happy with that.
    Keep posting!!

  23. This is awesome post. My concern is on that point about monetize, that you should not allow $10 for your site be linked. Do you mean I should not allow external links or what? I did not get you there. Thanks

  24. Hi John

    There are two points to raise here.

    Firstly, if you’ve invested a lot of time and effort into your blog, you are more worth more than $10 a month. So essentially I was just saying you shouldn’t undersell.

    Secondly, be very wary about selling text links in any case. Selling anchor-rich dofollow text links (ie. links that pass PageRank and/or are designed to manipulate search results) is an activity that is very frowned upon by Google. This kind of behaviour can result in a Google penalty for you as the publisher (as well as potentially for the advertiser) which is something you want to avoid at all costs.

    Hope this helps,


  25. After my solo backpacking excursion through Thailand, I decided to get back on it and start my blog. I definitely agree with the points you stated. This post has been a reminder to stay humble with my writing, and not be so hard on myself when I attract no readers. Quality vs quantity! Thanks for the post!


  26. Hi, thanks for the great tips.

    I’ve started a blog/portal about my hometown – Belgrade about a year ago. It had some problems in the beginning, but it now started lifting off the ground.
    I’m sticking with most of your tips (except for the first one, since I’ve found a relatively unobtrusive way of monetizing :-) )


  27. Simply amazing. Its so hard to find successful people willing to help and share. Thank you so much for this, its always good to read tips especially for myself as a new blogger,these perspective point of views are always an eye opener. Looking back now at my blog I can totally say I am a mess! Ha! Thanks Paul! :)

  28. These are great tips!! I am always told to just keep up with it but some days it is very hard to write and motivate myself when the traffic numbers are low, I can see why many bloggers give up. It’s always good to hear from a successfull blogger that they were once in the same position as us and now have some very useful advice to pass along. Thanks so much! :)

  29. Do you have any specific places for finding photographs? I know there are free and paid stock sites, is that what you use or are there tricks to finding great photos like you use which have no copyright?

  30. I enjoyed your tips and found them to be useful. Reading your blog is educational and leaves me in awe. The matter of fact tone and down to earth suggestions without a lot of self promotion is refreshing! Do you ever sleep?

  31. Thank you for sharing. I just started my travel website, and it is nice to learn from someone who has succeeded.

  32. Hi Paul,

    Thanks not only for thoughtful post but for responding to questions as well. I’m writing weekend travel advice in California and would like to capture my take on new attractions (hotels, restaurants, exhibits, etc.). Do you have thoughts on getting on (appropriate) list to receive those dreaded press releases you reference?



  33. Hi Garrick

    I would be wary about trying to get on press release distribution lists. You’ll invariably find (IMHO) that you’ll end up getting bombarded with a lot more than you would like.

    If you’re looking for inspiration, why not instead just sign up to Google News alerts or have a browse of the press release sites for content that is relevant to you?


  34. Hi – Thank you for such a compelling article – I just started my blog about 5 weeks ago and I worry about what I’m doing – is it right – is it with the right voice – is there a place for my niche – what direction is it exactly I want to go in with it – in other words I worry – it’s all very important to me. I’m encourage to have 42 blogs/people following me already and 10-20 people popping into my blog – no comments though – if you have five minutes to take a peek at it – I would be so honored!
    Thanks again and Happy Labor Day!

  35. Hello Deb, and good luck with your blog. I can see you are working hard on it. A few thoughts: 1) that first page is awfully long and will add to its load time; 2) personally I don’t like how portions of text are seemingly emboldened – almost at random in some cases – on most lines that one reads, and find it rather off-putting; 3) your ‘about me’ page doesn’t really tell me anything about you! :-)

    Hope these preliminary points are helpful,


  36. I started my blog as a way to just record my last days living in Canada before moving back to California. I just wanted to remember my transition accurately. I wasn’t planning on marketing it at all or trying to find readers.

    After completing this project and traveling over the summer and writing about it daily I realized I really liked to write and take pictures and I wanted to keep the project going long term. So, I renamed the blog as a travel blog, and have been trying to find a niche (the most difficult part IMHO).

    The niche that comes most naturally to me is sort of an academic approach to travel and thinking about the world philosophically… how travel affects one’s life view. Of course, I find this rather hard to condense into something readable, and I doubt I will ever have a large audience.

    But, my main question is this. What do I do with the older posts, which are A) not as well-written as my more recent stuff, and B) outside the direction that I’m currently going? Do I delete them, rewrite them, or just leave them? It’s difficult too, as there is no particular cut-off point where the niche radically changes direction, it’s more of an evolution.

  37. Hello Sonya

    If the posts are not directly relevant to the direction you’re wanting to take now, I think I’d be inclined to omit them. What I would do however is retain those posts at their old location, and include a note (perhaps the latest blog post), explaining that you are now blogging elsewhere. That way you can still get some traffic from the old site through to your new blog.


  38. Very interesting blog post Paul!
    I have always wanted to run a blog and I finally decided to setup a photo blog for Lesvos island! I am going to add more text content in the long run.
    Out of instinct, I have already followed your 3 first advises and I can confirm that indeed, things are the way you are saying and that you offer valuable advice to all the travel bloggers-wannabes! Keep posting!

  39. Valuable tips! I know I am on the right track – I post regularly, engage in social media, use good pictures, and I am ready for hard work!

  40. Hi there, I found your post via TBEX.
    This is very useful and encouraging. I’ve just started my blog which is almost 4 weeks old. I probably will have issues with the niche as I’m so new so I’ve categorized myself as a “lifestyle” blog for now!
    If you have a moment, could you take a look. Thanks.

  41. Hi Victoria

    I took a very quick look but the first thing that greeted me (and that took up most of the screen) was a broken image. Further down, you have much smaller images which are clickable, but I would suggest these are a bit larger so that people don’t have to click on them and click on their back button in order to see them properly – that would make it a bit more user friendly, I think.

    Content looks to be good but obviously it’s early days at this point in time with just 3 posts there. May I suggest you get a domain name if you are serious about the project – it gives a bit of added professionalism and is probably something that’s worth doing now rather than later…

    Good luck!


  42. Hi Paul,
    Thank you so much for taking the time to look at my blog.
    I’ve just made another post in which I made the pictures much bigger. They look nicer too.

    I do actually have my own domain which is with a German host but as I was so eager to get started, I decided to leave it until later…
    Based on your advice, I have made steps to map my domain and I will enlarge the photos from the other posts later in the week.

    Thanks once again.

  43. I am an experienced writer but new to blogging, where there are so many more things to consider. It’s frustrating how long it can take to build your site and I think many people become disheartened and give up so thanks for the tips.

  44. That’s corect, Emma, which is where point 6 comes in. Writin for existing publications (where the marketing work is done for you) is a very different challenge to writing for your own blog where the bucks stop with you as a blogger.

  45. Thanks for the tips.

    One thing I noticed lately that to catch readers’attention, not only the photos need to be of great quality and the size matters too – the bigger, the better. But getting good quality photos with limited budget can be tough. So, I often ‘borrowed’ them from Flickr and gave credits back to the owner.

  46. Thank you so much for the great advice. I did my travel blog for a few months, dropped it and recently picked it back up. It’s so hard to get the traffic though. It seems that the only time I get real heavy duty traffic is when I pay for promotion on facebook for a status posting which directly links to my blog. That seems to work wonders for me. I know it’s going to take time to build an audience that will come back again and again on it’s own, but it does get frustrating when you have less than 10 views a day, or none at all without the constant promotion in social media portals. I will utilize more of your tips, find a niche and remember that this is a marathon and not a race! Thanks again.

  47. Yes, it can be disheartening at times when you seem to put so much effort in, and yet the rewards seem slim. This is where point number 6 kicks in. Without persevering – and possibly for longer than you are comfortable with – you won’t really give yourself a sufficient chance.

  48. Thank you so much for taking the time to help out us new travel bloggers. It really has been eye opening to me to see such a huge community of travel bloggers out there! I think my site had been up for about a month now and I already see how challenging it is to get noticed. I need all the help I can get. The reminder to persevere is probably the best tip!

  49. Thanks, Kerry… yes, there’s an incredible number of travel bloggers out there. I think one of the TBEX events last year, held in Toronto, had more than a thousand travel bloggers in attendance. Bear in mind there’s also a European equivalent of that conference, as well as other travel blogging organisations, and that by no means everyone attends, and you start to get some sense of how popular the industry has become.

  50. Hi, just like to say how nice it is to see someone who really enjoys what they’re doing and is willing to help other people out with advice! I’ve been blogging for 4 months now and am currently creating our own website! Any feedback much appreciated!

  51. Thanks, Aaaron… looks like you’ve made a great start.

    Just one quick tip… the images you’re displaying: I realise they are clickable and bring up larger versions, but the smaller ‘thumbnails’ are actually just the enlarged version with the dimensions changed in the HTML. This means that when you load your homepage, people are having to download a number of quite large images, when really you could do smaller versions of these images with much smaller file sizes (which could then be clickable to the larger versions).

    I hope this makes sense. The upshot is that people will be able to load your homepage much more quickly and you might even go up in Google’s estimations for having a faster load time…


  52. Hi Paul, thanks for the feedback yes ive noticed about the photos so am trying to sort that out for the new website!


  53. Thanks for the tips… I only started blogging 2 months ago, and started out of pure enjoyment of writing and sharing my travels. Sometimes I wonder why people would read my blog over the hoards of other travel blogs, and it is easy to get disheartened. But #6 is so true, I need to persevere!

  54. If you are not running a “labor of love” project then step #1 is to do a business plan. If you pick a niche that has no business value you will not be able to monetize your efforts.

  55. I’m very glad I found your post through Twitter. I’m struggling to define my niche and going through a blog identity crisis. Thanks so much for offering so many useful tips!

  56. Some reassuring tips! It’s easy to get discouraged when you don’t get the traffic you want, as quick as you want, but I guess perseverance and determination are as important as the content.

  57. Still read this months later. Approaching my one year anniversary of Life of a Traveling Navy Wife and what a difference between then and now. I’ve read this a few times, especially during those times I needed a little kick in the pants. Thanks again. -Heather

  58. Thanks for this article. It made me decide to change a lot of pictures on my blog. Instead of just any picture take the time to look for the best ones.

  59. Thanks for this article, I recently started a travel blog and love getting tips from the pros :)

    I could only dream it would be as popular as your blog :P

  60. Hi,

    Thanks for the great tips. I’m mainly doing travel vlogs. I think it is the way of the future. What are your views on this? Do you have any tips for travel vloggers?

    Looking forward to your insights.

  61. thank you so helpful :) have been travel blogging for nearly 6 months and loving it so far!
    hoping to continue a point where i make my first dollar, but until then i’ll just go on holiday a lot!!

  62. Hi! I just loved reading your tips and I found them very helpful. Just started my blog about 2 months ago and am currently working on previous cruises and day trips. I have a fb page and twitter plus links to pinterest for my webpage pictures. are there any tips you could offer from looking at my page on how to “fly”? I would appreciate anything you could offer, your site is the pinnacle for us new travel bloggers. great job! thank you so much.

  63. I’m a huge fan of your blog! I’m in the planning stages of starting my own. Do you use mailchimp or aweber, or which do you recommend?

  64. RE #7.

    Different sites are worth different prices. For some basic sites, someone offering $10 a month is actually a pretty good deal. Your site is pretty high end so I’m sure get better offers, but still, those on the lower end of the spectrum need to be realistic and can’t charge people $400-500 for a link (because I really don’t think “holding out” would work as you’d just be holding out for something that would never happen).

  65. Of course, different sites are worth different sums and command different advertising rates. But the article was geared towards successful travel blogs. I’d argue that if your blog can only command around $10 a month – which, let’s face it, is never likely to be enough to make a full-time career from travel blogging – then really more time needs to be invested in the site before trying to monetise.

  66. I think that the most important tip is to travel a lot and in many interesting places.
    If you travel at least one time a month, you get nice and original images for your blog, you meet new people, so you can write tons of great content based on your experiences.

  67. Thanks for the great tips – everyone is always learning, especially in blogging, and sometimes it’s helpful to break it down to simple steps like this.

    I particularly recommend the section on niche, it’s perhaps the most important part. Too many blogs these days look like they’re churned out en masse or direct copy of template – which has proven to work, mind – with the only different being a theme.

    Keep up the great work :-)

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