I’ve shared a lot about how to set up your own successful travel blog. I’m extremely passionate about helping others build the blog of their dreams and providing resources to do so, as when I started this passion project of mine, those resources didn’t *really* exist.
Today, if you’re interested in starting your own blog, there are quite a few resources out there…
But the real question is how do you make your blog stand out from the crowd?
I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again: my blog was not an overnight success. It took a solid three years before I saw my audience really take off. But it’s not a waiting game! The success of my blog has been a direct reflection of the effort I put into it.
For the first few years, I treated my blog like a hobby rather than a business. Once I started treating it like a job, everything changed. When I started putting all of my energy into the blog, really understanding who my target audience was, learning SEO, photography, and content creation—that’s when things started to happen.
Want to make things happen for you? Here’s how to make your blog stand out from the crowd!
1. Know Yourself
The first thing to ask yourself is: who am I? What am I into? What do I stand for? Before you can make your blog stand out from the crowd, it’s essential to look at what makes you YOU.
And that brings me to my next point…
2. What’s Your “Why”?
Once you have taken the time to pinpoint what makes you you, think about your motivation. Ask yourself a series of questions: Why do you want to build a blog? What do you have to say? What is your brand about?
For me, I wanted to create a site that shared my personal travels and gave others insight into how to travel as a solo female. As the years have gone on, that main “why” has stayed the same—and I’ve even expanded upon it!
Why is establishing a “why” important? It’ll help you figure what things to blog about, what categories to include, if something is “on-brand” or not. Before you write a word, get your head around what you are trying to say. It might seem like a lot of prep work, but it’ll save you time in the long run.
3. What Are Your Goals?
Sure, it would be great to make a living blogging but that is a by-product, not a goal. Most blogs do not make money, or if they do—it’s not enough to live off of. It’s a harsh reality but it’s the one you’ve got to accept. If you’re just blogging for the money, it will most likely come through in the content you produce.
This is going to lead to a lack of integrity and credibility.
Honestly, blogging is simply not the fast-track to riches; it truly is a passion project and I definitely work more than a typical 40-hour workweek.
Look at my tips on how to juggle a full-time job and a successful blog. It’s the best way to pursue your passion without stressing yourself out.
There are amazing Skillshare courses that will help you boost your skills for your career and your blog. If you truly feel like blogging is your calling, why not look into being a social media manager or a content creator? There are full-time jobs that you can allow you to follow your passion without putting all your eggs in one basket.
As your blog grows, you can use all the skills you’ve learned along the way.
4. Create Content on Things You Love
Finding a niche is everything. Travel blogs aren’t the only game out there. You can blog about knitting, period costumes, stamp collecting, or anything else that catches your fancy. If you are into, I guarantee someone else is as well. In fact, the less common it is, the more of the market you can dominate.
Of course, travel blogging is what I know best. My biggest advice: stretch your content and utilize the areas around you! Yes, I do travel quite a bit, but I am not on the road every single day of the year. It may seem like it as I take tons of photos wherever I go and use them for multiple articles on different subjects or tips about a certain place.
However, it’s crucial to keep in mind that your hometown is a destination too. Since moving to South Africa, I’ve fallen in love with my local region. Embrace the idea that the area you live in is unique and different for people that don’t live there! Exploring the area and writing on African destinations is now one of my fave things to do.
Fall in love with your home all over again. Share with others why you love it and show them places off the beaten path.
5. Who Is Your Audience?
Figure out who is going to read your blog and spend some time learning about audience personas.
Who is your ideal reader and who are you targeting? Are those two things lining up? If not, you might need to do some fine-tuning.
Picture the reader you want to attract. It makes a huge difference in the quality of your writing and how well it connects with people! Imagine writing a message to your BFF, then imagine writing a letter to your boss. They’d use totally different tones and you’d never write in an interchangeable style.
Know who you are creating content for and always keep that person in mind as you work away.
This is also huge for what kind of imagery and graphics you use, along with the overall brand you create! Keep consistency with your brand—have a consistent logo or photo you use on all platforms so you are easily identifiable.
6. Develop a Personal Style
Free People is one of my fave brands. As soon as you walk into one of their stores or scroll through their website, their distinct vibe is obvious. It fits with a certain style and they have an identifiable brand.
The best brands have a consistent tonal palette, fonts, and a logo. This should be your goal. Find a style that reflects you and your brand and keep it the same across the board.
Essentially what you’re doing when creating a blog is creating a brand—this goes back into knowing who your audience is and knowing yourself.
When you’re first starting out, Canva can be a great resource for designing brand elements and graphics! They have thousands of templates, stock photos and premade graphics for just about everything, and are very easy to customize. Once you’re more comfortable with design, I recommend getting a subscription to Adobe Photoshop and learning to use that to create your social graphics, pins, and more.
7. Focus on Your Strengths
Go with what feels natural for you—that is my best advice.
If you’re not comfortable in front of the camera, YouTube probably isn’t worth bothering with. Into photography? Go with it! While I think it’s always important to learn, grow, and face your fears, I find it’s much better to celebrate your strengths than try to create something that doesn’t necessarily jive with you.
I have put myself out there and tried to learn as much as possible about all aspects of blogging. I love learning and it’s amazing to have that fundamental level of knowledge.
At the end of the day, however, it is better to leave some fields to experts. Nobody can master everything. That is why I employ a team who are experts in their fields!
Consider things like the following: if you find yourself making tons of grammatical errors and drafting articles is not your favorite thing—perhaps outline them and hire a ghostwriter, or hire an editor to perfect your work. Do you dread editing photos or videos? You can outsource that, too!
8. Learn About Photography
While I did just say focus on your strengths, one thing that is key in social media and the online world, in general, is photography. There is a reason they say a picture is worth a thousand words!
If you want a blog that stands out from the rest, high-quality photography is crucial. There are so many different courses out there to learn from and they are well worth your time.
I utilize everything from the camera on my phone to a drone for epic travel photos. I invested in decent camera equipment as a beginner and really dedicated to learning how to use the equipment for optimal results and understanding ISO, aperture, and shutter speed.
These tools mean that I have so many unique images to use…and they’re also super fun for me to capture!
Most importantly, I have mastered the art of the edit. Using Lightroom Preset transforms every single one of my photos. I devoted a massive amount of time to perfecting my presets (check out my secrets here if you haven’t already!).
9. Engage With Your Audience
If you build it, they may or may not come! It kills me to see someone put together an amazing blog then just sit back and wait…and wait. Imagine organizing the perfect party and then just sitting there in your party dress, with no one showing up. You’ve got to get those invites out first!
While SEO and Pinterest are great for this, they are only one piece of the puzzle. If you actively want to grow a following and create a community, you need to engage with them!
Start networking with other bloggers and comment on other people’s Instagram (be genuine, of course!). Reach out to see if there is an opportunity to collaborate or do guest posts. It’s all about building and expanding your audience.
Build out strategies for what to do with users once they land on your blog! Have a bunch of incoming readers from Pinterest? Consider putting a newsletter subscribe to build up your email list, or a pop-up on your top pages to get them to stay on your site longer by sending them to another related blog post! I love OptInMonster‘s pop-ups because they’re easy to set-up and I see a great response across my blog from different campaigns I’ve set up.
10. Diversify Your Platforms
People often ask me if it’s best to focus on one platform or divide time between different platforms. As you get started, I’d definitely advise diversifying your platforms and time. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket!
While Instagram is one of the biggest platforms at the moment, it is only going to get you so far when it comes to blog traffic. It’s key to focus on your SEO and build up your audience on platforms like Pinterest that actually drive readers to your blog.
And that’s another thing—it’s one of the biggest platforms at the moment—meaning it can change as new algorithms are implemented and other social media outlets pop up.
In my Blogging Master Class, one of the core topics is being as productive with your time as possible and how to grow your platforms in a smart way.
11. Maintain a Source of Income
When I first started traveling and blogging, I was working any job I could get (wondering more about my story? Take a look at my About Me and FAQ page!). I had an ultra-tight budget and every cent went towards my next trip.
In my opinion, working a side hustle is much better than taking brand partnerships that aren’t a good fit.
12. Have a Pulse on What Others Are Doing
Take notes on what inspires you then put your own twist on it.
Finding the right inspiration is essential, but always be careful not to copy. Know yourself and your voice so that you can create unique and new content.
13. Take Time to Invest In Yourself
One thing you might not hear very often when it comes to growing a blog, or any business for that matter? Take time to disconnect—from your computer and phone.
Burnout is real. I’ve been there and when you’re working full-time and growing a blog, it’s easy to spread yourself thin. It’s not easy to flourish in creativity when your well is running dry.
It’s vital to take time off. Get offline. Do things for yourself. Find hobbies that have nothing to do with blogging or the internet. Take a pottery class. Learn how to dance. Just get off your computer!
Investing in yourself is key to personal and professional success. 🙂
Keep learning, growing, and building your brand!
Are you looking for more info on how to build an email list? Want to learn how to create a media kit? Learn about brand collaborations, Search Engine Optimization, Google Analytics, and more!
If you are really taking your blog to the next level, you are going to love my Blogging Master Class!