I remember the day I launched Drink Tea & Travel like it was yesterday. Drowning in uncertainty, I posted an update on my Facebook profile, announcing to my 1000+ Facebook friends that I have launched a travel blog. Congratulation messages flooded my wall and my little blog gained its first 200 followers. I was ecstatic!
A few weeks later, I sat down to think about the future of the blog and my goals for its first year…
“In 12 months”, I wrote “I hope to reach a target of 6,000 unique visits per month. And if all goes well, I hope to quit my job and commit to travel blogging full time, so I can travel the world, and sustain myself with travel writing/photography on a full time basis.”
I’ll let you in on a little secret. I didn’t think the goals were actually achievable. But as they say…
Reach for the moon! Even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars.
And that’s really all I wanted.
Today, just 15 months later I am floored by Drink Tea & Travel‘s achievements. Since May of this year, this blog has consistently seen between 10-15K unique visitors a month, a result that’s almost double my initial 12 month goal. But it’s not just about the numbers.
Today, Max and I are actually earning money from this blog (it’s not a fortune yet, but its a great start)! We are working with tourism boards, hotel chains, tour companies, and other businesses in the travel industry that want to partner with Drink Tea & Travel on exciting campaigns. Thanks to this blog, we have actually been able to quit our jobs to pursue our ultimate dream of long term travel.
I still can’t believe this is happening!
But I didnt write this post to brag about our achivements. I wanted to take some time to reflect on the last 15 months of our experience and share some of our best tips and advice. I know that many of our readers are aspiring travel bloggers so I hope these 10 strategies can help you get a bit closer to your goals and your ultimate dreams, just as much as they ahve helped us!
1. Get Serious From the Start
The Tumbler version of Drink Tea & Travel started off as a little hobby, a way to share my travels with family and friends back in 2008, but when I launched www.drinkteatravel.com in May 2014, I knew I wanted to take my blogging to the next level.
I read everything I could find online about travel blogging, following advice and suggestions from other bloggers and industry publications. But if there was one thing that really propelled the success of this blog, it is Travel Blog Success.
Travel Blog Success (TBS) is one of the biggest travel blogging communities, offering the most comprehensive and helpful course on travel blogging. At first, I didn’t think TBS was worth the investment so early on in my blogging career, but a 30% sale back in May 2014 was just too good to pass up. So I signed up and boy was I glad I did! I learned more from the 48 comprehensive lessons of the TBS Course than I would have in years of trying to figure it all out on my own. To this day I refer to the lessons in the course and often rely on the knowledge of other members in the TBS Facebook Group to help me with my blogging dilemmas.
Whether you are new to travel blogging, or are considering taking your blog to the next level, I highly recommend that you invest in a membership to Travel Blog Success and do it sooner than later.
2. Post Often
I worked hard to update the blog 3-4 times a week from day one. I pre-wrote 5-10 articles before publishing the blog and continued to write on an ongoing basis post launch. I quickly learned that new and fresh content increased visits to the site, brought in new users, and grew my audience one follower at a time.
You’ll often hear established bloggers talk about content being king. It’s 100% true!
3. Learn About SEO
SEO is possibly the most confusing thing in the history of the Internet. Well at least I thought so when I started blogging (and to be honest still sometimes do)! Luckily, Max knew a thing or two about SEO and forced me to pay close attention to it from the get-go.
If you are blogging on WordPress, you are already a step ahead of the game, as the platform is known to be one of the best for SEO, but that doesn’t mean you should stop there. We found WordPress SEO Plugin by Yoast to be one of the best tools for tracking SEO quality for each post and it’s one we now rely on for every post we publish. Google’s Adwords Keyword Planner tool is another fantastic SEO resource that we use on an ongoing basis. It allows us to get search volume data and trends for a variety of keywords to help pick the best performing keyword to focus on when writing our posts.
When I first started out, SEO seemed to be a waste of time, but today when almost 50% of the traffic to Drink Tea & Travel comes from Organic Search, I finally understand that it played a critical role in our journey to 10K visitors.
Content is king, but so is making sure it reaches those interested in reading it. Early on I promoted the crap out of every post on Drink Tea & Travel. I took the time to make sure that I shared every post on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and Google Plus.
I also frequently invested in Facebook ads, boosting posts that showed good organic engagement. Successful ads often cost me only $0.10-$0.15 per engagement, a price that I still consider a complete bargain!
5. Reach out to Tourism Boards
If you are looking for ways to promote your posts beyond just the standart social media channels, consider reaching out to Tourism Boards, Destination Marketing Organizations, tour companies, hotels and other companies in the travel industry whose goals align with yours. More often then not, they are incredible powerhouses with tens of thousands of engaged users just waiting to read yet another article on their favourite destination.
Having our posts shared by Tourism Boards all over the world has probably had the biggest impact on the success of Drink Tea & Travel. Our posts have gone viral (at times generating over 10k views per post) in India, Denmark, Brazil, Singapore and of course in many parts of Australia. All it took was a short message to the tourism board sharing our post with them and many were happy to share the articles with their readers.
But having 1-2 posts go viral didn’t send our stats soaring, because the majority of the visitors that come in through viral posts never actually return back to the site.
6. Focus on a Niche
Carving out a niche for your blog early on in your blogging career is imperative, but it’s also one of the most difficult things to do!
I struggled to find a niche for Drink Tea & Travel, until the niche sort of found us. We have spent the last 2 years traveling around Australia, so over time more and more content on Drink Tea & Travel became focused on Australia.
Now Drink Tea & Travel has one of the most comprehensive collections of posts about Australia. A few of them got shared by Australian regional and local tourism boards and it set off a chain reaction, attracting engaged readers and turning them into loyal followers.
7. Collaborate With Other Bloggers
Participation in communities like Travel Blog Success allows you to not only learn from others but also serves as a great place to find other bloggers willing to collaborate with each other. I ran 2 collaboration posts on Drink Tea & Travel last year and both have proven to be extremely successful.
The key to well done collaboration posts (at least for us) was to reach out to bloggers with a slightly better ranking and bigger following than ours. We got a spike in traffic any time one of the collaborators shared our post and continue to enjoy roughly 50 views on each one of those posts per day.
8. Don’t Ask and You Won’t Get
In the early days, we were shy about approaching businesses with proposals to work together. We felt like our numbers weren’t high enough and that we couldn’t offer enough value. Now, I wish we hadn’t waited this long.
If you do want to turn travel blogging into a career or monetise your blog, it doesn’t hurt to start approaching businesses early. The worst thing that can happen is they will say NO! And if they do say yes, you can start building a portfolio of brands you have worked with early on in your career.
Yes you can work full time and run a travel blog on the side, writing about past travels and short trips you take with your 3-4 weeks of vacation. I did it and lots of other bloggers did as well. But the truth is the engagement that we get when we are on the road, sharing updates on a daily basis can’t be beat! We have seen this happen over and over again with every one of our latest trips and it is one of the many reasons we decided to leave the 9-5 routine behind and try our luck at full time travel blogging!
You don’t have to quit your job to travel, but frequent travel will undoubtedly lead to better traffic on your blog and social media channels.
10. Don’t Give Up!
Few travel bloggers talk about the dark side of travel blogging. All those nights we spend writing content, killing ourselves over social media promotions, and doing all those 100 other tasks travel bloggers are meant to do. It’s incredibly time consuming and exhausting. It takes great effort, dedication and commitment no matter what challenges we face.
There’ve been times when I’ve thrown my hands up in the air and questioned whether my efforts were worth it. There’s been many times when I didn’t think sticking with it was worth it. But today as we look at all the incredible opportunities Drink Tea & Travel has landed for us I am so humbled, grateful and inspired to keep going!
I’m glad I didn’t give up and I hope you don’t either. We are just at the beginning of our journey and there is always another goal in sight. So buckle up! We are not getting off this ride!