Whether your goal is to get more subscribers, more social media followers or to start earning an income from your blog, there are a number of important skills you need to learn to improve your travel blogging game. With that in mind, here’s a summary of five of the most important skills you need to master to create a brilliant blog!
1. Writing Skills
Strong writing skills are unsurprisingly an essential foundation for any successful travel blog. Stringing together a coherent article is one thing, but the best writers tend to stand out thanks to their unique style.
Standing out is essential, otherwise why would someone want to read your blog, or an editor hire you to write for them? Above all, that means getting rid of the usual travel writing cliches, like lazy adjectives (quaint, cosy, charming), outdated words (like bustling, nestled, beckon), or the wild generalisations that barely even register with readers (something for everyone, a rich heritage, a hidden gem).
Many of these issues are down to being too eager to hit that publish button and not taking the time to sit on a post and return with your editor’s hat on. It may mean delaying your post by a day or two, but coming back with fresh eyes once your piece is written up is the best opportunity to dramatically improve it’s quality.
Fortunately, there’s plenty of useful resources out there that can help you improve your writing skills. Below are some great starting points:
How to Be a Travel Writer – Don George
A definitive guide for both aspiring and experienced travel writers by legendary travel writer Don George. If you can only afford one book, get this one!
The Elements of Style by William Strunk Jr and E.B White
This short and sweet book is the perfect way to start writing clearer, more concise copy. Follow it’s teachings and your articles will flow much better and will be easier to understand!
The Renegade Writer by Linda Formichelli and Diana Burrell
If you’ve already got a blog and want to start earning money by writing for top magazines and travel publications, this book comes highly recommended. This book takes the conventional rules of freelance writing and turns them on their head!
Take a Travel Writing Course at Udemy
The Travel Writing course by Dave Fox, professional travel and humour writer, is the highest rated and best selling course on the subject on Udemy.
Aside from taking courses or reading books on the subject, a great way to improve your writing output is simply to read a lot of other great travel content. Seek out some of the top travel writers, read top publications like Condé Nast Traveller, and see what makes those writers the top of their game first hand.
Photography is another key way of improving your blog. Great visuals really help to tell a story, and adding an extra element of authenticity to your posts.
A good bank of your own photography also means you can avoid having to find stock photos, along with the headache of licensing or paying for good quality photos.
Not only that, it can also open up avenues for selling your own photography and adding an extra revenue stream to your blog. Find out how to do it here!
You don’t need an expensive camera to start taking better photos – learn about how to compose a great photo and you’ll find you can get great results with your smartphone. Only once you’ve mastered this and want to get some more flexibility or quality, then it’s time to look for a dedicated camera.
The Photography Masterclass at Udemy is a perfect place to start, offering countless hours of useful video lessons, covering all major areas of photography. It really is a complete package!
You can also check out our post, 15 travel photography tips every beginner should know if you’re just starting out.
3. Video Skills
We all know that google is the world’s biggest search engine, but what’s the second? The answer is YouTube, which helps to demonstrate how big online video has become.
Sure, becoming a vlogger isn’t for everyone, not everyone’s comfortable in front of a camera for a start, however adding video material to your mix of content is a great way to help offer a more immersive experience. A short video montage is a great accompaniment to your blog post, helping to tell your story.
On top of that, if you host your videos on YouTube, you’re opening up another avenue for people to find your content and click through to your blog.
Creating video doesn’t have to cost much, either. Chances are you already have a smartphone, which can record high quality video, so there’s no need to break the back to get started.
As with photography, a great way to start is to take a course on the subject first to give yourself a base level of knowledge about what to do to create a good video. There’s nothing worse than coming home from an incredible trip to a new and exciting country, only to find that almost all your video footage is jerky and unusable. That’s exactly what happened to me first time I tried to take some footage without really knowing what I was doing. I’ve learn the hard way that the trial and error approach is not the best way to go when you only have one opportunity to get the perfect shot!
A great place to start is The Complete Video Production Bootcamp on Udemy, which covers everything a beginner needs to know about taking amazing videos, no matter what type of camera you have.
If you want people to be able to discover your blog in search engines then Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is essential. In a nutshell, Google and other search engines work by visiting web pages all over the internet, looking at what the content is about and how different sites are connected together, for example does a website link to another. Every time a user does a search in Google, the system reviews all the information it’s captured and ranks pages based on how valuable they are in answering that user’s question.
SEO is the process of optimising your site to tick more of Google’s boxes and therefore be more likely to appear higher in various search rankings.
While it can get quite complex, SEO is one of those things that’s quite easy to get started with. Just by learning some of the basics, and understanding how and why search engines work in the way they do, you’ll be more likely to create content that gets picked up in relevant search results.
There’s a great beginners’ guide to SEO over at moz.com which explains the subject in layman’s terms and covers the essential steps you should take to get your blog set up well for Google.
Offering a good user experience on your blog is essential to build up a community around it. Let’s face it, if your site doesn’t look great, has broken features and functionality, or at worst, has been hacked and is spreading malware to your users, people are unlikely to come back!
Unfortunately, without properly maintaining your site, things can deteriorate over time. As you install new plugins and features, things can break, or your site’s design can become unwieldy.
Having a basic understanding of coding helps you to diagnose any issues and understand the building blocks that make up your site. Yes, you’ll probably find website builders out there that claim you can use them without any coding knowledge, but the truth is if you get yourself clued up on the basics, then you’ll have a better idea of how things work on your website, and will be more likely to get things set up as you’d like.
Plus, if you want to work on your site’s SEO, then some coding knowledge is essential to make all the improvements you need to get better visibility in search engines like Google.
The tools and resources above offer a great way to get started at either no fee at all, or a very low cost (if you do go on to buy one of these then we may get some commission which goes back into running this site!)
What are the most important skills you’ve learnt to improve your blog that are missing from this list? Let us know in the comments below!