My 9 Biggest Tips for Blogging Success

I know that the majority of my readers are not bloggers (at least I hope not- go outside! Get some air!), but a lot of you are. This post is for you. I so rarely write about travel blogging on this site (for reasons listed below), but today is different.  I thought I might share some “expert advice” of my own on blogging success.

I’ve been blogging seriously for over three years now. That is a horrifying number of hours of my life spent in front of the computer agonizing over word choice, editing photos, answering emails and procrastinating on Facebook. Now that I think about it in those terms, it can’t be healthy. I’ll most likely be blind by age 35.

You know what: don’t blog. Go lay on the beach or climb a mountain or something.

If you aren’t convinced by my tale of woe, then I guess I better get on with it. In addition to eyesight issues, carpal tunnel syndrome and an aversion to leaving my bathrobe, I’ve racked up a ton of institutional knowledge and advice over the years. I’ve seen a lot of good things, and a lot of mistakes, trends that I like and trends that I despise. Now I’m going to share with you, the most important blogging advice I know to reach blogging success:

1. Don’t Write about Blogging on Your Blog

A Laptop and a Cup of Tea in My Hotel Room - My Top Tips for Blogging Success

Ugh, I know. I’m already a hypocrite. I AM writing about blogging right now, but I don’t do it very often and for good reason: This blog is about travel. Not travel blogging.

It’s very tempting for travel bloggers to write about blogging and the blogger community because those articles get a ton of attention (travel bloggers love to comment on each other’s posts). It feels good. However, 90% of my audience are NOT travel bloggers, and they pretty much don’t give a crap about insider baseball and how to improve their non-existent blog. Insider articles are simply not interesting to the majority of your audience. Unless your audience is all travel bloggers, which isn’t a very good strategy for blogging success.

2. Don’t Expect to Make Money

As I wrote in my post, “Should You Start a Travel Blog?” it’s really important to consider your motivations before you start blogging.

Don’t start a blog to make money. I know this is rich coming from someone who blogs for a living but trust me, on a dollar to hour ratio, blogging for money is a terrible gig. It’s not going to make you rich, it’s probably not even going to fund your travels. Know this going in and find some other motivation for blogging. Love writing, or photography, love sharing your experiences. Find some reward in blogging that is not monetary and the rest will be gravy.

 3. Quality Content Above Anything Else

A Photo of Me in the Side Mirror - My Top Tips for Blogging Success

This tip is number 3 but it should be number one. Actually, it should be the only tip for blogging success in this entire article, because it’s so important that I can not possibly stress it enough. Publish work you’re proud of.

This is the first step towards everything else. You have to walk before you can run, and you have to write a good blog before you can leverage it into a free hotel stay or an ad deal or whatever (actually you can probably get a hotel stay or two with even a crappy blog, but when it comes to the long haul, the only thing that lasts is quality). This doesn’t mean you need to be Hemingway; I really believe anyone can blog, you just need to focus on creating clear, readable and entertaining work.

Quality takes time. It takes work. It takes constant refining and practicing and improving. It can’t really be taught, you just have to keep working at it, which is kind of a drag. But it’s the cornerstone of every blog worth reading.

4. Don’t Just Talk About Yourself

After I write just about any article, I sit back and ask myself, “so what?” Why should people care about this story or soapbox rant? What’s in it for them? Why should anyone read or share or like this article? If it’s not immediately evident to me, that means it’s a boring article and I have to I go back an rewrite it.

Think about the websites you like to read. They all teach you how to do something, entertain you, provide you with cute cat pictures or inform you. There’s always some sort of pay off. Learn how to do that for your own readers. If you write crazy funny articles, or publish breathtaking pictures, or offer some sort of unique insight that can’t be found anywhere else, your audience will basically build itself.

Put your readers first in order to reach blogging success. Sure, blogging is kind of inherently narcissistic, but you are nothing if you don’t serve the kind people who read your blog. Without your readers, you are a lonely person on a laptop alone in the dark.

 5. Network Until You Die

Making New Blogger Friends in Sydney - Tips for Blogging Success
Making new blogger friends Down Under

I used to hate networking. All that blatant self-promotion and small talk with people I barely knew. Not great for an introvert like me.

Well in blogging, it’s all about who you know. Without connections, you are writing into the void. You’re going to need friends and business connections to teach you, collaborate with you, promote you and more. Probably the biggest things that have helped me grow my audience are: getting on Twitter, attending blogging conferences and guest posting on other sites.

Surprisingly this has turned out to be one of the most enjoyable parts of my job. I’ve met so many fascinating people and made some true friends (and well, more). Take advantage of the community- it’s a terrific resource.

6. Find a Mentor

Not always easy, but great if you can swing it!

When I first started out as a fledgling blogger, there was a whole hell of a lot I didn’t know. We didn’t even have facebook groups back then so I was quite totally on my own until David Lee, of Travel Blog Success and Go Backpacking, took me under his wing. He taught me so much about the industry, gave me my first advertising contacts and coached me through the process.I might have got there on my own eventually, but it definitely speeded things up.

Now that I’m a little more established, I try to give out as much advice as I can find time for through travel blog forums, speaking at conferences, through events like the Blog House and more. There is a lot of help out there if you ask for it.

7. Don’t Get Discouraged

Driftwood on the Beach - Tips for Blogging Success
Took a long time to get to here. Figuratively AND literally.

Blogging, when you’re in it for the long haul, is hard. You’ll work long hours, late into the night, essentially for free. Projects will fall through, hopes will be dashed. You’ll pour your hearts and soul out into a post that expresses you perfectly and someone will write a nasty comment correcting your spelling.

You’ll probably want to throw in the towel but don’t. This is a business that rewards tenacity. It took me a year to make my first dollar on my blog (which came as a totally unexpected and welcome surprise). All of my major milestones have been hard fought and hard won. It’s a business of tiny battles and relentlessly slow climbing up and up. It’s not an easy road, but the people who are going to make it, reach blogging success, are the ones who don’t give in.

8. Think Creatively

This make come as a shock since I know my advice is so brilliant and all, but: you don’t have to follow it. Just like there is no wrong way to travel, there is no wrong way to travel blog (although a lot of people will try to convince you otherwise).

The craziest thing about the travel blogging industry is that there is no working model or mold yet. Everyone is still stabbing around in the dark, trying to find the best, most sustainable way to make a living and reach blogging success. It can be discouraging, but it’s also really exciting because there is so much freedom.

When I look at the future of travel blogging, I know that the ones who are going to make it long-term are the ones who think beyond the model of writing posts and selling ads. The people who are finding new and creative ways to tell stories and to interact and work with the industry.

We’re still in the Wild West here, so carve out your own piece of land.

9. Don’t Do Drama

Travel Blogging Friends - My Tips for Blogging Success
Hugs not war

I’m saving this for last because it’s an important one to me. As the travel blogosphere gets more crowded and more competitive, I’ve begun to see a dramatic rise in infighting, petty rivalries, and take-downs. There are people out there whose sole-purpose in travel blogging seems to be to mock and act superior to other travel bloggers.

It’s bullshit. It’s unprofessional and it’s a distraction. Travel blogging is not high school and nobody actually likes the catty girls in the back of the classroom. Over time I’ve started to remove myself from the various blogging facebook groups and to withdraw from these negative discussions. Nothing good can come from them.

Don’t be drawn into the drama, it’s unprofessional and a waste of time. When you feel like making a snarky comment, go write a blog post instead. Ignore the haters, they just mean you’re actually doing something interesting, worth objecting to. There is room for all of us here. Channel your energies productively and your blog will bloom.

So, that’s all I’ve got. 9 semi-helpful suggestions for blogging success. Do it for love. Don’t get discouraged. Treat your blog like a business and act like a professional. What do you think?

 

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My 9 Biggest Tips for Blogging Success

68 thoughts on “My 9 Biggest Tips for Blogging Success”

  1. Some good advice right here.
    Although I’m not so sure how I feel about #4, seeing as my blog is almost entirely about myself. And, well, my cat. 🙂
    But I’m in complete agreement with #8. I am so grateful that when I first started blogging some 6 years ago I had no idea there were any “rules.” I had never read a blog in my life and had no idea there was a blogosphere. I just started writing. By the time I got clued in to the fact that there was a supposedly right and wrong way of blogging (some 3 years after I had started), it was too late. I’d already developed a style and a voice that I was comfortable with and that people enjoyed reading. While I’ve taken a lot of advice that I’ve received & read — added more photos, TRIED to make my posts shorter, etc — my blog still goes against what a lot of people say a blog should look like. But, you know what, it works.

    1. Your blog IS about yourself but it’s also immensely entertaining, so it passes the “provides a service” bar to me!
      I think it’s important to do what works for you- there’s definitely no wrong way to blog.

  2. Great post steph! I’m working my ass off on the quality content and being creative! Luckily thanks to the Bloghouse I feel like I got a bunch of mentors! I don’t know what I would have done without you and Michael-gushy moment 🙂 thanks for everything!

  3. Thank you for writing this! I’m a very newbie blogger – clocking in under a month – and these tips are helpful and encouraging. I’m trying to focus on 3 and 4 and keeping 7 in mind.

    And along the same lines as 8, there is a bit of initial struggle with finding my own voice. Or, maybe with questioning my voice. Because a large chunk of my time is spent reading other travel blogs, it’s hard to write what I want to write, as opposed to what I think I SHOULD be writing to “fit” into the community. And easy to forget that I started blogging for love of travel and love of writing, nothing else.

    So, thanks for the reminders on how to go about this blogging thing 🙂

  4. This is a really good and useful article Steph… i’m new here (have no haters yet, i should start working on it seriously!! lol) the rare times when you write about blogging you always stress the point that this is hard work , and boy, you are so right! when i read your articles (and the ones from other bloggers i like) they are alway smooth, clear…really enjoyable and easy to read and i think “wow! i wish it could be so easy for me too!” but then i think that maybe you had to work on it too to get to this result, and i dont feel too bad about my failures 🙂
    In addition for me is even harder because i learnt english 5 years ago frm scratch and sometimes when i write i get a bit frustrated and i just want to throw my blog away, and start writing in italian 🙂 But i’m stubborn!
    Another good point is the “no drama” one… I hate, seriously HATE, when i see that. Im not involved of course, but is not a good publicity for the people who are. This behaviour just tends to push away readers like me, who enjoy honesty and cooperative connections in the community.
    I don’t know if i ever become a succesfull blogger. For now i like what i do, it’s hard, but i enjoy every minute of it, and when i see some results i’m SO happy that all the work behind it just disappear in a big smile and helps me stay motivated!
    Thanks again for another very helpful article and congratulation for Michael’s new exciting project, i’m sure it will be great! Cheers!

    1. I have so much respect for bloggers who have English as a second language. I struggle with my writing and it’s my native tongue, so I think that people who can blog in another language are super impressive.

      1. Thanks Steph! yeah sometimes is a bit of a struggle (for me at least) but also a really exciting challenge!
        Ps: Love the shot of the beach in the post. It’s amzing,it looks like a painting!

  5. Brilliant post, Steph! I’m still in the phase where I try to find my own voice and style, but I’m amazed how my life has changed through writing a travel blog already. Honestly, I have no real clue what I’m doing, but I do know that I love to write, that I love the feeling of a sudden writing inspiration, and that I love what I experienced within the blogosphere so far. It’s an adventure and I’m excited to see where I’ll end up!

  6. Great post, Stephanie!

    I fully agree with number 3. and 8. However, I must admit, I sometimes find it hard not to feel discouraged. The fact that it takes me a lot of time to formulate my sentences in correct english english (the disadvantage of this only being my second language) and that a day only has a limited number of hours… sometimes makes it difficult to be “regular” (something I read SO often to be crucial for blogging success…). I guess it’s important to learn how to block these limitations and, as you said, just be creative 🙂

    Thanks for the great advice!

  7. Thanks for the info Stephanie,

    I have to admit as a newbie blogger myself there is so much to learn and so many consideration regarding the content of a blog, it can seriously overwhelming at times. Over the past month I have worked to get my blog live and am now looking at what I can do to improve it. It’s a never ending task! I’m excited to find out more about Blog House 🙂

    Spread the Wanderlust.

  8. Thanks for this honest and thoughtful post, Steph. Only in the past 7 or 8 months have I started thinking about my blog as anything other than a way to let my parents know I wasn’t dead in a foreign country, so as I start to figure out my goals for it it’s really helpful to have tips from folks who’ve gone through it already–and had success! 🙂

  9. Did you mention having fun blogging is *very* important? I mean it’s ok to *have* a blog but don’t really enjoying the whole experience is a recipe for disaster (blogging – wise).
    Oh and… Blogger’s don’t stay in the house all day… My next destination: Florida-US. I’m from the Netherlands…

  10. This post was so honest & down-to-earth and written with such kindness, so thank you for that! At times it can be really disheartening writing a travel blog, and yes, it really does become a full-time job, even if you aren’t making a single cent off of it but hope to create something meaningful and of quality. All of these tips make so much sense, and I plan to embrace them all with an open heart.

  11. Have you ever been part of a conversation where everyone keeps banging on about the awesome party they went to that you weren’t invited to? That’s kind of how I feel about #1. I don’t have a blog but I’m saving up to travel and I have a few travel blogs in my reader for ideas and inspiration (and escapism from the high-savings/high-boredom lifestyle I’ve got going at the moment). I used to follow heaps of travel blogs but lately I’ve found myself unsubscribing to a lot of them because they feature way too much of #1 (and any hint of #9 is an automatic unsubscribe for me for any kind of blog) for reasons that are probably similar to why I wouldn’t continue to hang out with the people from the party scenario above.

    That’s not to say that I think blogging about blogging is always a bad thing. I really enjoyed this post for example and I think a lot of people like to get a glimpse of how their favourite bloggers make their lifestyles work for them, even if they’re not part of a professional blogging community. I certainly don’t begrudge anyone the opportunity to earn a living (hey, I like buying food too!) but an endless feed of posts that read like media kits just isn’t going to hold my interest.

    For what it’s worth I think you do #3 and #4 really well. When I think about the blogs I read (travel and otherwise), my favourite ones all generate conversation among a variety of people – professional bloggers, folks with wordpress.com-type accounts or a social media presence, and your friendly neighbourhood anons. Those are the kind of blogs I like to read and engage with. Blogs with endless posts about their ‘brand’ and their ‘professionalism’ don’t seem to get them same diversity of commenters.

    Thanks for this post. It really got me thinking about what kind of blogs I want to continue following and I think I’ll be more inclined to engage with people in comments and social media from now on.

    1. Thank you so much for the kind words! It’s really good to hear a non-blogger weigh in. So often I think my/other bloggers perspective gets skewed from all talking to each other all the time.

      1. I think it’s great that you have a supportive community around you. I really hope I didn’t come off as bashing all travel bloggers because I really do enjoy a lot of their content. I think it is totally normal human behaviour to seek out like-minded peers in all kinds of life situations (I certainly did so during my insular high school/clique-y university/niche job years and I think many people would say the same).

        I think it would be great if there was more dialogue online between content creators and consumers in general. I guess that would require people like me to click through from their readers and start commenting (really it would only take a few minutes away from my funny cat video viewing time). I often don’t feel like I am the intended audience though when I read blogging-about-blogging posts which stops me from commenting (I mean come on, I’m not even on twitter yet and I only recently found out that there is a difference between blogger and blogspot, I’m hardly a professional blogger in the making!).

        I’m glad you appreciated the input from someone with a web following of exactly 0. You’ve inspired me to be less passive with my online consumption.

  12. A really nice post here Stephanie. I ignored all the buzz for a long time about ‘getting traffic’ and ‘making money’ and how you’re supposed to blog. When I started, I said to myself… just write stories. Then, after a year…I finally looked at my numbers and started to think how can I attract more people to read my stories? Now…it’s been about two years so I might just dabble into the idea of making a bit of money…but not at the expense of me having fun!

  13. I think some people get so wrapped up in the success of their blog that they forget about what’s most important…the readers and quality content. It’s crazy to think that a year ago I had no idea that this serious blogosphere existed and now I’m trying my best to put out content that is meaningful to me or would be helpful for someone else…while still trying to keep my head above water ! When times get rough maybe I’ll refer back this post and make sure I haven’t started any of these blogging no-nos and am on the right track 🙂 Thanks Stephanie.

  14. I really, really enjoyed this article, and found it incredibly honest and useful. I’ve been blogging for a while but have never really tried to make it a career or even something that makes me a bit of money. In the past year a few opportunities have come my way because of my blog and it still really surprises me; blogging has always been something I do because I love it, not because I was attempting to make money from it. I do know that I need to network a lot more, if only to make some more blogger friends! Thank you for providing some inspiration, and for confirming that yours is one of the best and most relatable websites out there.

  15. Great advice!! Thank you for sharing 🙂
    As a fledgling travel blogger this is super helpful to me! I’m not really in it for the money, I just really love to travel and share my experiences. That must be annoying how for some people it turns into drama, I know I would hate that haha!

  16. Great advice! I’m just a beginner with plans to travel around the world. I started my blog to let my friends and family follow my adventures, and I do enjoy writing and photography. While It would be cool if my blog got as popular as some of my blog idols, I’m defiantly not holding my breathe lol.

  17. LOL, Sally cracks me up.

    I LOVE this post. Your blog was one of the first travel blogs we stumbled upon and it still remains one of my fave. I value your advice and your content is always entertaining, educational and rewarding. Definitely like your last point.. no drama. 🙂

  18. I found this post really motivational, so thank you for writing it!

    I’m still trying to work out exactly what blogging is about (and at the moment I’m agonising over whether I need to move from Blogger). I just know that I want to write and try to inspire people to book more trips and see more places!

    I’m glad I found your site!

  19. Wonderful post! Probably the most honest and useful thing I have ever read about travel blogging. I really appreciate your tips. For now my blog is pretty small and mainly for friends/family but thanks to you I can see the potential in growing it. Thanks Steph!

  20. My biggest tip would be to ignore what everyone else is doing and do it for yourself first. I think that is a culmination of all of your tips in one brief sentence.

    With that being said, I’m going back into my hole to write because it is what I love to do. Tomorrow I’ll go back to work in my day job, then come back and write some more 🙂

  21. Thanks for this post! I have only recently (within the last few months) been open to sharing my work, possibly going so far as to ‘promote it’… I never realised how competitive and tight the market is, but that’s okay because I’m not doing it for money or anything else, just because I love writing and would love to reach more people with my words. That said, I had no clue that there was cattiness in the travel blogging community! Thankfully, I’m not part of it!

  22. Usefull tips, thanks for sharing your knowledge!! We are new in the blogosphere but trying to do our best sharing our personal experiences!! Muchas gracias!! 😀

  23. I just wrote Inspirational Haiku #31 over at my blog. I’m not blogging for wealth, but I did just search for the topic “blogging success” and I happened to end up here. Maybe it’s a sign. I like your advice. Maybe we’re supposed to partner. Any thoughts about posting inspirational travel haiku?

    Any- thanks for this post. I am sure I ended up here because I needed to.

    Jeremy

  24. Loved hearing you speak at TBEX last summer – very clear, concise and logical for my wee little brain to handle!

    I still struggle with writing and finding my voice…and hate the logical answer, “write more” even though I know it’s correct! Thanks for being so honest about how HARD it is to write – makes me feel less discouraged and incompetent!

    1. Thanks so much! I’m hoping they will have me back again.
      Writing IS hard, and anyone who says otherwise is a lying liarface.

    1. Hi Steph,

      I am a new blogger and this is my first month of blogging. This is a great article- while I am not looking to make money, I would love to increase viewership of my blog to see my stories and experiences being shared with a larger audience.

      This is just what I needed!

  25. Hey! Thanks for the great article. I’m really enjoying reading your blog. We’re coming up on our one year mark of blogging and wow is there a lot to know & learn! Every little bit of information we can pick up along the way is helpful. Thanks for taking the time to write about your tips for success 🙂 Us amateurs appreciate it.

    Cheers & Safe Travels.
    Dariece

  26. Great tips, Steph! It can be really frustrating at times, but I keep plugging along because every so often someone steps out of the woodwork and tells you how you’ve inspired them as they quietly followed along. Here’s to countless more hours of trying to be successful!

  27. Great tips! Being new to the whole blogging thing, I am really loving it, and I’ve bookmarked this for future reference. Thanks again for the great tips 🙂

  28. Great tips. I’m pretty sure I do #4 all the time. And I agree that quality is king. Write good stuff and they shall come (or something like that)

  29. These are really insightful and useful tips. Thanks! Since travel is a personal journey and there’s no right or wrong way to do it, then it just makes sense to me that travel blogging would be exactly the same. We write about what we enjoy and we hope that someone reading will appreciate our personal journey and experience and/or offering of information. I think as with anything in life, it’s important to be creative, genuine and positive. You’re right on about avoiding the drama. It’s useless,negative time and energy. Shameful that others feed on that 🙁

  30. This was a very helpful post, thank you! I adore your blog, and I’ve just started travel blogging myself. I don’t think I’ll ever become a big name in the industry, but it has been a great exercise for myself, and I can’t wait to see where it takes me.

  31. Thank you so much for this great post! I am a newbie (VERY new!) and its posts like these that helps us to learn, grow and succeed.

    Ive been a long time follow of yours, from before we left on our nomadic journey (on the road for 12 months) so I wanted to say thank you for helping us and inspiring us.. even before we became bloggers.

    Here’s to many more years of success for you… and to new success for us 🙂

  32. Majority of bloggers create blogs so that they start earning instant money. Also they create blogs without understanding how Google ranks pages. When reality hits them that it takes a lot of patience and hard work to start earning an income through their blogs, they quit.

  33. I just landed here by accident through Google. That kind of proves that you practice what you preach. If you’re found so easily, you’re doing a damn good job! Thanks for the tips!

  34. I have been working in the travel industry (marketing) for over 8 years and I have worked with bloggers in the past and always thought it was an easy job..(it’s just writing at the end of the day!). But then I became a blogger and I never knew how tough of a job it would be.

    I have a passion for travel and I always write about my experiences on my blog. My biggest problem is I am not travelling 24/7. I travel when I can afford to travel (being currently unemployed doesn’t help!) and I see so many successful travel blogs are written by people on round the world trips with fresh new content every couple of days, visiting new places every couple of days.

    I sometimes sit here and think how will I ever be able to compete with that? I mostly write for the enjoyment of writing and sharing my stories and I know that the majority of my readers are just family and friends. It’s an incredibly hard job to get your blog noticed in the big world of blogging….how to get your blog to rank, SEO, getting published, let alone getting trips paid!

    Quite often I wonder if it’s all worth it, the long hours of writing, editing pictures….but then I get one new comment from someone who has found my blog and my experience has helped them plan their trip or make their adventures more enjoyable….then it’s worth it!

    You are incredibly talented and you must be doing something right to be so successful! I follow your blog and your tips are invaluable to people like me who are just starting in the world of blogging. I will follow your advice and hope for the best 🙂

    1. Thanks so much!
      As to whether it’s worth all the work, I really think it depends on what your long term aims are. If you’re happy to just sharing with family and friends then it’s probably not worth it to pour effort into SEO etc. If you see a potential career path, then yeah, it helps to treat it in a professional manner. For me it’s been worthwhile for a whole variety of reasons but when I think about the amount of hours I must have put into this thing over the years… it’s a little bit crazy.

      1. I’m hoping to make a career from it now. I have worked in the travel industry for around 7/8 years now in marketing and sales so I have a good background knowledge…for me the hardest part is knowing where to begin with blogging….there doesn’t seem to be a set formula….feels like I am stabbing around in the dark!

        1. Yup, definitely no set formula. It’s more about finding your own unique way to stand apart from a very, very crowded space.Good luck!

  35. We’ve been travel vlogging for over two years and now we’re adding in the blogging component.

    We totally get it when you basically put it all out there this is by no means a glamorous job. Of course, it beats working in a cubicle with no windows, but most travels really are “work.”

    In any case, we wouldn’t trade it for the world! Thanks for the tips!

  36. Thank you for sharing some of your wisdom! I just recently stared my own travel blog and am learning something new everyday during this process. I never realized how much time, effort and knowledge this really takes. I will be taking your advice into consideration as I move forward!

  37. ‘network until you die’, that’s very true, you got the best point on that.
    Besides, beginners are always expecting money when deciding to start blogging, which is always huge mistake for beginners.
    Anyway, great tips 😀

  38. I needed to read this! So refreshing! I’m a newbie trying to find my feet (and voice) and it’s a struggle. With so many blogs out there it’s so difficult to be confident and find an identity with out just trying to fit in. I keep finding myself reading and reading and not doing when all I want to do is write and get lost in adventures again. So happy to have read this today you’ve turned my day around. Thank you! 🙂

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