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These common travel blogging mistakes are being made every day and this list of nine are honestly only the first of many that come to mind.
Personally, I’ve made each and every one of these common travel blogging mistakes (some of them multiple times) and will probably commit them again.
I could make myself feel better reading the 10,000 quotes out there about how mistakes help you grow but honestly just avoiding them from the start might be even better. It may be too late for me but there’s still hope for you!
These are the most common travel blogging mistakes I see daily, and my best tips on how you can avoid them.
Mistake #1: Not Being Self-Aware
Writing online requires a bit more editing and critical thinking than speaking to your close friends or family might.
If you’re not self-aware you’re going to turn a lot of potential readers away. In fact, Business Insider reports that it only takes people 7 seconds to form their first impression of you, so trying not to suck is essential.
Some ways a lack of self awareness can manifest itself are:
- Humble bragging
- Assuming everyone has the means to travel if they just want it bad enough
- Plastering your country count everywhere
- Looking down on people who don’t travel
- Talking trash about places deemed too “touristy” (see In Defense of the T Word for my full rant on this subject)
- Asking for money/donations to fund a trip
- General travel snobbery
It’s soooooo easy to be a d-bag when you only have yourself to judge your content and I know because I am all the time. I regularly have Daniel look at captions or read articles before I post them and just specifically ask “Is this annoying?” Often, it is.
At the end of the day, if you want to talk about something cool or awesome or exciting or that you’re proud of, that’s great. Just own it like Kanye and don’t be weird about it.
Mistake #2: Leaving Out the Details
You can write as much as you want about your personal story and experiences and it’s fine. In fact, it’s one of the best ways to connect with your audience and there’s tons of value in opening up.
There’s a time and a place to share your personal story and it’s important to know the difference. If you want to rank, drive traffic to your blog, and create useful content, then you need to write helpful and fact-oriented articles.
Some of the most popular articles on my site are How to Visit the Coba Ruins in Mexico and How to Hike to Huchuy Qosqo Without a Guide. They get read and returned to because they share facts that people need for planning a trip, like where to find the bus, what time it runs, how much the trip costs, and more.
One of the most common travel blogging mistakes that I see more than anything else on this list is writing a destination specific piece but not sharing any details, at all.
It’s great to say you enjoyed your climb up the mountain and were scared and exhilarated all at once, but what guide did you use? How much did it cost? What did you pack?
These are the real things that give posts value and it’s essential to share the specifics in your posts if you want to have a successful travel blog.
Mistake #3: Not Understanding SEO
SEO stands for “search engine optimization.” Understanding what SEO is and how to use it to your benefit is important to run a successful travel blog.
One common travel blogging mistake (and one that I made often when I was just starting out) is writing without SEO in mind.
Before your fingers hit the keyboard, your articles should have a clear focus keyword set for them.
Each one should also include images with alt attributes and have a meta description, a solid word count, and be formatted with headers, bullet points and more so it’s easy to read.
If you’re new to travel blogging SEO can sound confusing, but it’s not as complicated as it seems. For beginners, check out my super easy guide to SEO for travel bloggers to learn some specific steps you can take to improve your blog.
Mistake #4: Spending Too Much Time in the Social Media Bubble
Even though 10,000 free webinars and ebooks will tell you otherwise, you can have a successful travel blog without a major social media presence. One of the most common travel blogging mistakes new bloggers make is putting all of their effort into their social channels.
If you can’t tell, I’m not a huge fan of social media.
It’s a huge time-suck and terrible for our mental health. You can spend hours of your time and energy just to get some likes on an Instagram post… and then what?
Social media isn’t pointless but it’s not the be-all-end-all that the internet makes it out as either. If your goal is to become a travel blogger (and not an influencer) then yes, you should post regularly and engage with people, but don’t get too caught up in the numbers. People buy fake followers, use bots to grow their accounts and a million other things.
Plus, social media numbers don’t really generate as much traffic as you might think. For me, 20k social media followers only translates to about 10 visitors per day. On the other hand, my SEO efforts drive close to more than 20 times that amount.
In my personal opinion (that I’m sure plenty of people disagree with) there is way to much importance placed on social media channels.
The only good thing about the world’s obsession with Instagram at the moment is that most bloggers are wasting time on it, leaving you to focus on more important things and come out ahead in the long run.
Mistake #5: Not Writing Enough
Another seriously common travel blogging mistake is not writing enough content. Life gets in the way for sure but if you’re going to put the time, money, and effort into starting a travel blog the least you can do is update it every now and then.
If you look at my Colombia page, you can see that when I first launched Slight North I was pretty much posting twice a month. Which is ok I guess. Definitely not great.
I thought that I had to have some huge adventure to a cool place in order to have something to write about, but that’s not the case.
If you’re not traveling at the moment, consider writing about:
Or, you can shift the focus from destinations and experiences and instead:
- Interview someone who’s traveled somewhere cool
- Interview someone who works in the travel industry
- Interview someone who dislikes travel
You can also create a guide to help people:
- Save money for their next trip
- Take better photos when they travel
- Write better posts when they travel
Or, keep it short and sweet with list articles about:
- Your favorite travel accessories
- 10 travel items you can’t live without
- Your ultimate travel packing list
- Gift guides for travelers
- Your favorite shops for camping/hiking/beach/camera/etc. accessories
- Top travel songs to get you pumped up
- Top travel songs to put you to sleep on a flight
- Ways that traveling solo is different than with your partner
Finally, don’t be afraid to get personal and share:
- Who you are with an introductory post
- Your travel story and what inspires you
- Your goals for the future
If I look at someone’s blog and see it hasn’t been updated in months I probably won’t come back. Luckily, there are endless ways to blog about travel without ever leaving your couch.
Writing consistently will help you give a better first impression, generate more traffic, and improve your writing skills. Look around online to find more inspo and then commit to writing at least one post every week.
Mistake #6: Trying to Emulate Others
When I first got started my blog was straight up embarrassing. I saw all these beautiful Instagram pictures and bloggers who were just so dreamy and airy and I wanted to be like them.
I tried to emulate their style but it’s just not me at all.
It’s really, really, hard to be yourself when you write and the inability to do so is probably one of the most common travel blogging mistakes.
Slowly I’ve found my own strengths and come into my own voice, but it’s taken 1.5 years to get here. Finding your style isn’t easy and it shouldn’t be rushed. Just be open to it, write about things you enjoy (for me thats craft beer and puppies) and try not to force a brand on your blog that doesn’t fit.
Basically, if you wouldn’t say it to your friends or family, you probably shouldn’t be typing it either. Keep it natural and people will connect with you, I promise.
Mistake #7: Not Having a Long-Term Financial Plan
Quitting your job and selling everything to travel may sound romantic on paper, but make sure you think through the long term repercussions of your plan.
I’ve met a lot of travelers on 6-month or even year-long trips that were coming to a close. They had spent all their money and now had to go home, get a job, an start the cycle of saving to travel all over again.
If one major blow-out trip is your dream, go for it. However, if you want to travel more sustainably (from a financial stand-point) then avoid this common travel blogging mistake by having a more thorough plan in place.
You don’t need a profitable blog to travel long term but you do need an income.
Browse the Working Abroad series for step by step guides to get your foot in the door in a variety of travel-related industries. Some ways you can work abroad in a fixed location are as an:
- Au Pair
- Flight Attendant
- Stewardess on a luxury yacht
Or, you can travel anywhere in the world with internet-based positions that provide complete location independence, like:
- Digital Marketing
- Freelance Writing
- Teaching ESL Online Classes
I think working remote is better than backpacking for a variety of reasons, but everyone is different. Whatever you decide, just make sure you think ahead and don’t jump into any decision too quickly!
Mistake #8: Traveling Too Fast
I know I’m very lucky in the fact that Daniel and I both work remote.
Because I work as a freelance writer (learn how here) I usually spend five weeks at a time in each place that I visit. This lets me get off the beaten path and create in-depth content that just isn’t being written by other people.
Sure, everyone in Peru is writing about Machu Picchu, but how many have guides on how to hike to Kinsa Cocha?
Even if you’re planning a vacation and not long term travel, consider slowing down and limiting it to one country or even one region to create better content about the area.
Mistake #9: Spreading Yourself Too Thin
Last but not least on the list of common travel blogging mistakes is the habit many bloggers get into of spreading themselves too thin.
Between managing multiple social media channels, editing photos, writing posts, pitching guest posts, running affiliate marketing campaigns, answering emails, designing the site, working our real jobs and maintaining a social life, who even actually has time to travel?
In the immortal words of Ron Swanson: “Never half-ass two things. Whole ass one thing.”
It’s true, too.
You can’t do it all no matter how bad you want to and spreading yourself too thin will just ensure that nothing gets the attention it deserves. Pick one or two things that are the most important to you and do them well. Focus and time are absolutely essential in making anything of value.
When I launched Slight North I was guilty of this mistake.
Luckily I snapped out of it and began to focus solely on writing good content. It started to get hits, I began to find my voice, and Slight North slowly began to branch in new directions that I never even imagined when I first began.
I recently read a book called Endurance by Scott Kelley, an astronaut who spent a year on the Space Station. He shared some wisdom from the Navy Seals that really stuck with me:
“Slow is efficient. Efficient is fast. Slow is fast.”
If you build your blog slowly and with care, it will get results and it will get noticed. Don’t try to rush the process by doing everything at once.
Avoid These 9 Common Travel Blogging Mistakes
Unless you were an expert blogger in your past life, chances are you’re going to make some of these common travel blogging mistakes.
Hopefully, this insight can at least help you avoid making every single one (like I did) and make getting your blog off the ground just a little bit smoother.
Good luck, and if you have any more questions comment below to let me know!
This article is part of the Beginner Blogger series. Read the rest below:
Then, explore the complete Travel Blogging series for more articles, tips, and advice from three years in the industry.
I’ve been traveling full-time for three years, these are the resources that make it happen:
➤ I exclusively use Airbnb for savings and security on long-term stays in furnished apartments.
➤ I use Booking.com for short-term stays in hostels and hotels on weekend trips.
➤ Upwork allowed me to take the leap to travel full-time because they make it so easy to find freelance clients in any field.
➤ The Superstar Blogging Travel Writing Course launched my travel writing career and helped me become a contributor at sites like Cincinnati Refined and International Living, and even get published in the Boston Globe.