Exploring the world of travel blogs
How do you define a travel blog?
A travel blog is written by an individual to record a voyage and publish his record. It is also called a travelogue.
In many more words:
According to Wikipedia “a travel journal, also called road journal or travelogue, is a record made by a voyager. Generally in diary form, a travel journal contains descriptions of the traveler’s experiences, is normally written during the course of the journey, intended on updating friends or family on the journey.” (…) “Travel blogs are online travel journals, sometimes known as travelogs.” (…) Many websites now offer free or cheap travel blog formats where travelers can upload photos and map their trips as well as meet other travelers. Many sites allow users to display their experiences with little or no technical expertise while keeping an archive of all their past trips. Many travel blog websites also publish articles and guides focusing on travel related issues.”
What is the purpose of the travel blog?
The purpose of the blog, and the readers of it, may be found on three levels: Personal, relational, global.
- You the blogger. You may do this to keep track of your life, i.e. for keeping a personal diary thereby effectively dropping the traditional paper diary.
- Your family and friends. The purpose would be to show them where you are, and what you do, during the course of your journey. This replaces the postcard and letter from the days of snail-mail. Inclusions of photos and maps on your blogging site also rules out e-mail as a means of communicating from across the globe.
- The general public. This is what is genuinely new about travel blogging. The internet has made it possible for you as an individual to show the world what you have been up to.
Let’s forget about levels one and two (you and your family will read just about anything you write anyway), and concentrate on reaching the public.
Trans-Sibirian train in bend (Russia)
Who are the unknown readers you want to target?
Remember that content is king. Finding who you are writing for should determine how you write, and what you include. But the content of a blog or blog entry has a different meaning to different readers.
- A person going on the Trans-Siberian Railway would typically read up on (and bring along) a travel guide, he will google pictures and videos to be inspired, and browse a few blogs by people who have been there and done that. This person would in a blog look for inspiration on where to go and what to see, but will also be inclined to be reading details of a more practical character.
- An armchair traveller just intending to fantasize about a destination will perhaps think differently. He will possibly not have an interest in what clothes to wear, but browse a blog entry with pictures and a basic commentary on the side. Like this one.
And there may be more types as well. In my opinion much of the advice on how to write, see below, stems from a desire to stimulate this latter category, the volatile reader. I do not always agree.
The Treasury in Petra (Jordan)
Which blogging platforms exist?
Content drives readers to your blog, but how you design it holds them there. Prior to building a design and upload content here on Travellerspoint [my host at the time of blogging this article, I have later moved] I explored the opportunities offered on the web. A Travelfish article examined three of the most common or best travel blog platforms:
Beware that their evaluation dates from 2007. Read also what Matador wrote about the same question in 2009.
By the time I chose my platform in 2011 it all boiled down to this:
Travelpod is the grand old man based on a downloadable program with few opportunities and you will basically have to host the site yourself. It is for the professionals. Travellerspoint is a free dedicated online travel blog system with very few themes but a number of add-on services (guide, forum etc.). For me it is still important to post my free travel blog on a dedicated site with add-on services. That is why I’m here on Travellerspoint.
There are a number of platforms for blogging in general, as evaluated in this 2010 article and this one from 2012.
Blogger is free and has all the stash you can think of, but your blog may get lost in all kinds of blogs. The same goes for the very popular WordPress.
Girls and alpacas in Cuzco (Peru)
Where can I find more tips on travel blogging?
Interesting content and a good design is not enough. There is more to it of course. This is a list of links to articles concentrating on writing travel blogs.
5 ways to craft brilliant travel blog headlines
Start Your Travel Writing With A Bang
7 Ways to Improve Your Travel Blog
How to blog your way to the top
Tips for bloggers Archive
Taking Your Blog to the Next Level
Keeping a Travel Blog Your Friends Will Love to Read
How Does Travel Blogging Fit Into the Travelogue Tradition?
There are certainly more out there, but I had at least collected these ones before launching my own site in 2011. What is their collective advice?
- Write elegantly
- Don’t overload with details
- Illustrate with pictures and a map
A variant of the above are the pushers of SEO knowledge and tools: The Search Engine Optimizers. That is interesting for those who want to make an income from their blog. I don’t.
In another post I pose the question: Where to find good travel blogs? Have a look!
The Eiffel Tower in Paris