How to Grow Your Travel Blog by Guest Blogging
Guest posting is an excellent method to grow your blog, regardless of niche, but travel bloggers actually get a surprisingly large range of opportunities that most other blogs simply lack. For example, with a marketing blog, you can reach out to other marketing blogs, SEO blogs, small business blogs, and so forth, but that’s all a highly competitive niche. Guest post slots are limited and you have a lot of other people vying for them.
With travel blogging, you open up a wide array of possible guest hosts with every trip you take, and you have a wide variety of possible subjects to cover. As a world traveler, you cover a lot of different bases, and you open up a ton of opportunities.
Table of Contents
Make a List of Places You Visit
The first thing you should do is make and maintain a list of the places you visit, the things you do, and your thoughts on it all. At the time, this might not seem like an important step to take, but having documentation, notes, and subtle thoughts you might not remember is a great help. What happens if you find an excellent guest post opportunity for a trip you took two years ago, but you don’t remember enough about it to write something specific? You lose that opportunity.
My recommendation is to keep a journal of some kind. You should probably keep it online in a cloud service, whether it’s simple Google apps or Evernote or something else. My conceptual setup would look something like this:
- Each trip gets a document divided by day, and within each day, by event. Make notes and review everything you do. Write about public transit, write about meals you eat, write about the culture, the smell, the friendliness of the people, anything else that catches your eye. I recommend carrying a small notebook to do this by hand, in case your device of choice is not accessible in your location. Each night, transfer notes from your handwritten copy to your digital copy, expanding upon them and adding thoughts in retrospect.
- Your overall adventures get a spreadsheet or a solo document as a “table of content” for your travels. Note down important overall information, like the location of the trip, the dates, the overall cost, and other such large pieces of information you want to see at a glance. If possible with the system you’re using, include a link to the document that contains the trip notes, so it’s easy to go from table of contents to notes document.
- In your table of contents, for each trip, keep a list of the guest posts you’ve written, where they have been published, and what their topic covered. This helps you remember what you’ve done so you don’t accidentally duplicate a post too closely, and it helps you remember connections you have that you might forget.
This will serve to spur memories down the line, to get overarching data about your travels that might be useful for case studies or data-driven guest posts, and to simply remind you of opportunities.
Do Widely Varied Things and Have Adventures
This one should be a no-brainer. You’re a travel blogger because you like to see the world and experience new things, not because you want to hide in a hotel room in your comfort zone. The more adventurous your experiences, the more you have to blog about. Unique stories, interesting experiences, and special moments make for more engaging – and this more viral – blog posts. This benefits the sites you post on, and it benefits you.
It helps if you have a gimmick you can use to spur conversation or start adventures. I know a gal that carries a hula hoop around everywhere she travels, so she can just find a public space and put on a show. She’s made friends all around the world, made some money, found connections, and even found jobs because of it. Finding something you can do to attract benign attention can go a long way. Of course, you have to be safe, whatever you choose to do.
Take Way More Photos Than You Think Necessary
Photos are an insane value add for guest posting. Most sites don’t think about getting images from their guest bloggers, and either go with no images or just stock images. However, travel blogs in particular benefit from a lot of exceptional imagery. The goal, after all, is to inspire readers to want to visit these places, to live vicariously through you.
If you take 100 pictures, you can expect 25 of them to be good and usable, and most of them only with some minor editing. As you grow more experienced you’ll be able to take more, better pictures and be able to adjust to a quality over quantity model, but before then, I always recommend taking way more than you think. Some will turn out bad, and some will be duplicates, but that’s a good thing. So, take a lot of photos. It may seem excessive, but you’ll be able to cherry pick the best ones.
When you pitch a guest post, you can mention that you have pictures that you not only will allow them to use, but you can give them the rights to. This can be hard to do, particularly if you want have made money selling pictures before, but it’s potentially quite valuable. This is also why you want to take a ton of pictures; if you have 3 good pictures of a particular landmark, you can use one on your blog, one on your social media, and one to give away to guest hosts.
Locate Local Blogs in Those Areas
Once you’ve finished with a trip, do some research into the area you just were. Chances are pretty good that there are a bunch of blogs centered around that local area that can be potential guest post targets. This is where I say travel blogs have a ton of opportunity that other blogs don’t. You’re one of the few global presences that can guest post on local blogs without looking like a shill.
- Blogs specifically about the night life or party scene of a city.
- Blogs about the food you can find in a particular location.
- Blogs about a particular type of cuisine found only in X country.
- Blogs about tourism in a particular city, county, state, or country.
- Blogs run by a hotel chain you stayed at.
- Blogs dedicated to couch surfing, Air BnB, or hostel life.
- Blogs about travel around a specific area.
- Blogs about specific, niche interests, like trains in a local area filled with train history.
Once you’ve built up a bit of a reputation as a travel blogger, you can start doing this research before you go, and build part of your itinerary around potential guest posts. In fact, once you have some contacts in certain areas, you can tell an editor that you’re going to be in a specific area, and ask if there’s something they’d like you to cover. You’re much more likely to be accepted than if you have a blind pitch.
Pitch Guest Posts for Local Blogs
With your notes and your blog list, you can start pitching guest posts. I have a guide right over here for helping you write an excellent guest post pitch. You can leverage the unique perspectives, information, experiences, and images you have on your side.
You can showcase posts you’ve made about other similar locations and topics on your site. You can also leave some room open for the editor to tell you what they want, if that’s how you prefer to operate. It might take a few pitches to get some posts accepted, and you might have to go a ways through your list to find blogs that are willing to accept guest posts in the first place. Make note of the sites that reject you, ignore you, or aren’t willing to link to you; these you can discard from your list, or move to a “not worth it” column so you don’t try to pitch them later, forgetting that they’re not valuable to you.
Find Other Travel Blogs and Pitch Guest Posts
All of the ideas up above are for local and area-specific blogs. However, as a travel blogger, you are already part of a surprisingly exclusive and wide-reaching network of bloggers.
Check this list out. They list 2,300(!) travel blogs, separated by broad niche and theme, with descriptions that can help you figure out what they might like and how you can approach them.
Some of them aren’t going to be huge or valuable, and many of them aren’t going to match the kind of content and perspective you bring to the table, but hell; there’s over two thousand of them, I guarantee you can find at least 100 that fit your needs and will be willing to work with you. Who knows, maybe you’ll even make a friend and travel partner.
Post in Location-Specific Forums and Reddit Subs
You don’t have to keep your sights narrowly on blogs, either. You can make yourself known as a traveler and blogger and post your experiences, anecdotes, and general small items that don’t deserve a blog post, on communities. Just about every location has a subreddit, for example, ranging from country-wide subs to specific city subs and even district subs for larger cities. By becoming part of these communities, you open up two types of opportunities. On the one hand, you can post before you visit to get ideas from locals about what you can do and where you can go. On the other hand, you can post during and after your trip to network with potential local bloggers who might want to feature your experiences. Plus, you get readers that way, even if you’re not actively pitching yourself.
Pitch Guest Testimonials to Product Blogs
Did you think I was done? You have even more possible guest blogging opportunities, this time in the higher end blog arena. When you travel, you bring items with you, you use services there and while traveling, and you partake in the luxury of chains. All of these tend to run blogs, and many of them might link to or feature you. For example, if you travel in the wilderness, maybe you can look up the blog of the people who manufacture your tent, to write an adventure testimonial about using it. Maybe you can write about that time the knife you carry saved you from a sudden storm.
Many of these larger corporate blogs won’t respond to guest posts, and some of them barely even keep a blog. That’s fine; there are virtually endless opportunities as you travel and use different products. Anything you can guest post about, you can write about on your own site, with affiliate links and reviews. This can make you some money for the same type of content. Plus, sometimes the companies will even reach out and give you products in exchange for your testimonial.
Reach Out to High End Press
On top of all of that, as if there weren’t enough opportunities already, you can get highly featured guest spots on big name sites that do travel features, like Forbes, Mashable, and The Weather Channel.
- Find high profile sites that run travel features, like those listed above.
- Identify the authors and contributors to those features and start to network with them. Add them to Twitter lists, follow them on Facebook and LinkedIn, share their posts, ask them questions, and generally become a friend without being annoying or pestering.
- Put together a blog post pitch, a polished idea that would fit well with one of those big name sites, specifically the one the author you’re networking with works for.
- Pitch the idea. Either pitch it to the author directly, if they’re an employee of the site, or ask that author if they think it would fit on that site and if they can give you a reference for the editor.
You’re networking to get your foot in the door, and you’re doing it in a way that makes you friends, gains you followers, builds your exposure, and creates connections.
With so many possible opportunities available, with some dedication, you can absolutely rock the travel blog world.
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