Successful travel blogging is hard work. With millions of blog posts published every day thanks to the ease of entry to the blogosphere, there's a lot of competition for eyes on your content. With the lure of making money online, blogging has become mainstream. Everyone’s at it. And that makes it more difficult. But the truth is, 90% of blogs aren’t worth reading. Yet, the remaining 10% of excellent blogs still accounts for hundreds of thousands, if not millions of websites.
Leveraging blogging tools and resources is a great way to get a little extra advantage on your competition. But where to start and which resources and blogging tools are the best? I’ve tried them all. Because I’m a geek, I naturally love experimenting and I love data. Trying lots of tools out is enjoyable. Here are my choices for the travel blogging resources you need to take your blog into the big league.
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I used to use SiteGround, and I was happy with the WordPress hosting service. But they have quite a high renewal fee so after getting hit with a big second and third-year bill, I tested half my website with FastComet web hosting. The results were great. Equal or better results on an easier to manage system, with a hosting price that doesn’t increase every year.
Starting A Blog
Read this post for everything you need to know about getting started blogging in the wonderful world of travel
MailChimp is a great email service for people with less than a few thousand subscribers. It offers a lot of the features of many high-end email services. What I dislike about MailChimp is the confusing layout and features that are hard to find. It’s not the most intuitive software in the world, but it’s great for beginners. Once you outgrow MailChimp and don’t want to pay the fees for upgrading (which are high compared to other services), I’d recommend Active Campaign. With Active Campaign, you also get webinar software and tools for launching courses.
Email List Building
Sumo offer free (affiliate) tools for building email lists, creating heat maps (for analysing where people click and spend time on your site) and a host of other cool features. The only negative about Sumo is that it can be a little resource hungry and adds some extra loading time to your site. If you need a heat map and A/B testing (for trying out variations of your content) alternative, then InspectLet is a lightweight and feature-packed tool. For capturing email addresses with lead magnets and in-content sign up forms, check out ConvertFul‘s conversion and engagement tools.
Infographic, Social Media and Blog Image Creation
If you want to make sure that your images are optimised for our blog and your social media channels, you’ll save a lot of time with Stencil.
Another free option is Canva. Canva is a good option for that travel ebook you’ve always wanted to produce.
These days, to stand out, you need more than just content. Visual imagery works well. Although infographics had their heyday in around 2016, they are still a powerful way of getting shares and backlinks to your website (great for SEO). But apart from that, great infographics can provide great value to your readers. If it tells a story and is loaded with useful facts, people will love it, and people will love your blog. My favourite tool and the only one I use for creating infographics is Visme.
You know how important video is these days. Making quality videos with graphics and titles can be expensive and time consuming. It doesn’t have to be. Check out Rocketium.
The best value tool out there for keyword research is keysearch. I haven’t found a better one for the price.
If you want to see how your blog posts are doing in the organic search results, you need a rank tracking tool. Google Search Console is great but it can be a little vague when it comes to tracking keyword rankings. The highest ranking position of a keyword does not mean it currently ranks anywhere near that. SERanking is one of the most affordable rank trackers out there and it’s the one I use for analysing how my target keywords are doing.
Social Media Management
I’m not a huge fan of social (I prefer to write stories and guides) and I don’t employ an assistant to help with posting. So I use software to assist me with the posting, analytics, and other essentials. Social Media can eat up all of your time if you’re not careful. So learning to use a tool for scheduling and analysing is worth your time up front. I use ContentStudio to post articles, discover content worth sharing. For Pinterest, I prefer to use the awesome Tailwind. Trust me when I say that this app will take your Pinterest marketing to the next level.
Those sharing buttons you see at the top of posts and on the left-hand side (in desktop) and bottom of the screen (on mobile) are provided by Monarch Social Sharing tool.
There are plenty of books on travel writing out there. But it’s a busy Internet out there so you need to stand out. Reading books that inspire travel but are not actually travel books can really spark your imagination. Think about all the different ways you can incorporate travel and other topics: History travel writing, writing about cultures, food & travel. There’s a lot of different sub-niches and ways to set yourself up as an authority. Too many people follow the guidelines for travel bloggers and end up producing the same Top 10 things as everyone else. We’re all guilty of it. But it doesn’t mean we should continue that way.