Four Mistakes We Made in Our First Year of Travel Blogging

| July 6, 2010 | 38 Comments
worstbloggingmistakes Four Mistakes We Made in Our First Year of Travel Blogging

Let's make better mistakes tomorrow!

We’re not going to mince words—creating a travel blog is not an easy thing to accomplish. We’re still perfecting our recipe for success and striving to better ourselves while fine tuning our methods. It would probably have been even more difficult to leap the hurdles had we not had the support of the travel blogging community!

During our first year, we made a lot of mistakes. Here are four of our biggest, in hopes they will help bloggers starting out.

1. We stopped commenting on other sites

Since our inception, we have actively sought blogs on which to link to, comment on, and actively support. As a reader, you probably enjoy reading the comments that are left on blogs—perhaps it even motivates you to join the conversation. From the perspective of bloggers, I can tell you that we love them.

When taking part in the conversation on other sites, we’ve enjoyed great discussions and exchanged ideas with other bloggers and readers. However, at some point over the past year, we forgot that commenting on other blogs is as important to our blog as posting fresh and relevant content.

This conversation is what makes blogging and the blogosphere what it is. In fact, I believe that a website can’t rightly be called a blog if the comments are disabled or not there at all. It’s a beautiful thing really. And that’s why we intend to renew our efforts and dip our toes in a greater selection of comment streams over the next year. If you’re a travel blogger and you’d like to exchange links, give us a shout and we’ll make sure you’re included in our blogroll.

2. We neglected to promote our RSS feed

Robert Scoble, a preeminent blogger focused on the Internet ecosystem, once wrote: “If you do a marketing site and you don’t have an RSS feed, you should be fired.”

Sure, we posted the RSS link for people to subscribe—but we didn’t take subscription promotion seriously until 5-6 months following the launch of our blog. At that time, we signed up to Feedburner and began to track our metrics through their service. I think our RSS numbers would be a lot higher today if we had done some actual promotion. Have you signed up to our feed? Click here.

Because RSS is subscription-driven, these subscribers are our most stable source of traffic. For example, if Two Go Round-The-World were delisted from Google’s index tomorrow, our RSS subscribers would still be able to find us. And let’s face it, the majority of our RSS subscribers are savvy travel bloggers themselves, which makes them more likely to link to our content because they are seeing our articles in their feed readers. Going forward, we are going to promote our feed more prominently and invite people to sign up via RSS at the end of each post.

3. We stopped reading other blogs

A while ago, we were asked which blogs we were currently reading, and we realized it had been a long time since we really sat down to read a blog—I mean really read a post. Sure, we found we skimmed a lot, looking for the punchlines, rather than settling in to absorb the narrative flow or the information that the blogger wanted to present.

If you want to be a good travel writer, read good travel writing. Thus it follows that if you want to be a good blog writer, you should read blogs with solid fundamentals.

Now we use Google Reader to find the latest news and keep our fingers on the pulse of what’s happening within the travel blogosphere. We subscribe to dozens of news sources, travel blogs and Google searches to find relevant articles, with which we can share, comment on, or use as inspiration for our next blog post. We usually check Google Reader 2–3 times a day for 5 minutes at a time and choose from the stream two or three posts to read deeply and thoroughly later in the day. We’ve stopped skimming!

4. We were not Twittering enough!

While we knew that the purpose of Twitter and other social media outlets is to engage in a two-way conversation, we underutilized this aspect of a very important tool. Twitter has the social media power to help you build your blog, but if you just start an account without a plan, you will not maximize its potential.

Let’s face it—there are so many travel blogs out there. Your audience gets inundated with hundreds of messages each day—one-sided messages that are easy to ignore. But if you have a relationship with a follower via Twitter, it’s more than likely that they are going to pay attention to what you have to say. That’s a very good thing! Remember that Twitter followers offer a wealth of knowledge, connections and opinions you can use to improve your blog—and yourself. So don’t simply view Twitter as a broadcast platform to drive traffic to your website.

Going forward, we intend to continue building our online reputation and driving traffic to our Twitter profile. Have you ‘followed’ us? For us, the benefits of Twitter come from using it as a conversational/networking tool, so we’ll be more concerned with the people we follow than promoting our own blog. And that’s the way, we think, it should be.


Are you a travel blogger? What have you learned from creating your own travel blog? Share some of the lessons you’ve learned from while setting out! And for those travel bloggers just starting out — check out our post entitled “Building a better travel blog“. It was posted way back in July of 2009—when we ourselves were just setting out!

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Category: Dan's Blog

About the Author ()

For nearly ten years now, Daniel of Two Go Round-The-World has explored how travel captures our imagination and engages our deepest emotions. One half of the duo that maintains the widely read Two Go Round-The-World blog, Daniel treats his subjects not only as works of art but also as symbols of the cultural and political forces that inspire them. His latest book, The Physics of Flocking, gathers his favourite writing featured over the past two years on Two Go Round-The-World in columns like 'Looking Back' and 'The Whole Picture'—along with new reflections.

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  1. Travel Blogs: Best of the Week (July 4-10, 2010) | Adventurous Kate | July 13, 2010

  1. Well, these don’t sound too terrible and they’re all fixable, so hooray. :-) Now tell me, what four things did you do REALLY WELL in your first year of travel blogging?

    BTW, Happy Anniversary (blogerversary?).

  2. flip says:

    yay! im not doing any of those as well… sucks to have a day job…

    thanks for sharing :-)

  3. Theodora says:

    I’ve just got into using Google Reader. It is a godsend. And, you’re correct, blogging is a dialogue. Quite a hard one to keep up when you’re actually on the road, though…

    When do you guys leave?

    • Daniel says:

      Hey Theodora — it’s still all very tentative but we’re looking at leaving some time next year. But right now, I’ve just got into a job that I love (in the travel industry on top of it) — so have been concentrating on pursuits there. There will be travel, though — and it will be long-term!

  4. Shannon OD says:

    Ooo – love Andy’s comment too! It’s great to see where you guys plan to head, but I would also love to know what you’ve found out that is working well! :-)

  5. Emma Field says:

    Thanks for being so open about your mistakes. I’ve made far more than you ;) – it’s difficult to be on the move everyday and run a blog, although there really are no excuses! Now that I’ve finished my trip I plan to work harder on my blog and enter into all kinds of dialogues, as you’ve suggested here. Checking out Google Reader now… Thanks for all the tips – inspirational.

    • Daniel says:

      This was by no means a comprehensive list, Emma! We made a lot, as well. Kudos to you, though. I know how difficult it is running a blog from home—I can only imagine the difficulties once faces from the road. Thanks again for commenting!

    • Daniel says:

      Thanks for the comment — I agree that it’s difficult to be on the move and run a blog — so more power to you! Thanks for the comment — we’ll be sure to get you up on our blogroll!

  6. Emily says:

    Great post! It is SO hard to keep up with all of those things in addition to simply churning out regular blog content (especially if you have a day job!). It’s all very time-consuming, and there are also times when I slack on one or two of those things, but you’re right–they are all very worth it.

    • Daniel says:

      Oh, we feel your pain — we’re in the exact same position. After struggling with it a bit, we slack when we want to and right when we want to — after all, we already have day jobs — we don’t want something that we consider enjoyable to become tedious!

  7. Norbert says:

    Thank you so much for those tips. I myself am somewhat new to the travel blogging community and I have to admit it takes some work to keep an active “profile”. Don’t get me wrong, I do love reading other blogs, commenting, tweeting, and other stuff… but wow, sometimes it is time consuming. I think that’s one of the main reasons why bloggers stop commenting, “sharing” on other sites, etc. But still, like you mentioned, commenting, promoting your RSS, and keeping an active profile and community will be one of the best features to have a successful blog. Great post! :)

    • Daniel says:

      It all really boils down to content, I believe. And although a lot of people will tell you otherwise, great content is the single greatest differentiator that will set you apart from the crowd. We’re not there yet but will concentrate our efforts over the next few months, time and energy permitting. There’s a signifant amount of travel bloggers out there—with more coming online everyday. The sobering fact is, however, that a majority of them would see better results learning how to write than learning how to further promote themselves. Great well-written content will rise to the top over time. People will find you, eventually!

  8. Rick says:

    There is so much to do in a day. So it is understandable to avoid reading the countless number of other blog out there.

  9. Hi, Daniel –

    I was wondering whether I commented on others’ blogs often enough, and your post confirms it — I don’t! Thank you for sharing your mistakes. These tips are always helpful to the rest of us!

    • Daniel says:

      We now try to spend as much time interacting with other blogs as we do on our own. This is set to fluctuate, of course — but we’re really enjoying the dialogue!

  10. Amanda says:

    All very good tips. I hadn’t really thought much about promoting my RSS feed… I guess I should start! It’s tough starting up a blog and knowing what you’re doing right and wrong. I suppose, as with everything in life, it just includes a lot of trial and error – and making mistakes! Thanks for sharing yours.

    • Daniel says:

      Remember that to many,tThe concept of RSS feed is new and not everybody understands it as we do. If you’re going to promote it, I think it would be make things easier if you prepared some instruction on your site where people can learn more about RSS and its benefits. There are some websites that provide easy Java Script snippets that you place on your website, and the whole process becomes much easier for your visitors.

  11. jon says:

    thanks for the tips.. Just starting out and trying to figure this whole travelblogging thing out as I made a ton of discoveries since moving to Ecuador two years ago.. I´m adding you to my links as well!

  12. Merav says:

    A great post which I think is relevant to any blogger. I like people who are not afraid to talk about their mistakes, share their experience and help others. It got me to subscribe to your blog :-)

  13. Julie says:

    Nice post!

    I am definitely guilty of number two: neglecting to promote–and not just my RSS feed. I feel awkward about the self-promotional side of travel blogging and yet, when I do ratchet up my confidence enough to do it, it always ends with good things happening. So you’ve given me a good reminder to keep blowing that horn…

    One thing I did right was bring the best of my professional practices from 20+ years in traditional print travel writing to my blog. For example, I have a comprehensive disclosure statement which I know from my analytics is well-read.

    I say please and thank you to the PR people who support my site with prizes, subsidized travel, and even paid ads. (And I say “thank you for your interest but we’re not a match” when we’re not.)

    I don’t make promises about what I’ll write. Ever.

    I don’t lie about my numbers.

    I generally keep to my all-Canada travel niche–but redirect good ideas to colleagues I think might be able to follow up.

    So thanks for this post, because it’s nice to be able to reflect not only on what we might improve, but on what we’re doing well already!


  14. My site isn’t yet a dedicated travel site, as I am transitioning from doing full time wedding & portrait photography…but when I do make the transition, these are definitely notes I will come back to! Thank you soo much for sharing these tips!

  15. I am printing this off and taping it above my computer!

  16. Hey thanks for the advice I agree it’s hard work but really important to keep up with those things…now to make that to do list!

  17. ayngelina says:

    @shannon OD also gave me advice that has really helped – TweekDeck. I have formed a few lists and one of them is ‘favorites’ so that when I only have a bit of time on the road I make sure I check out those I know I want to follow and when I have more time I can check out the others on Twitter. It has really helped me.

  18. Jaime says:

    Im new to the blogging world. Thank you very much for this advice. I have the twitter thing down, I just need to be sure to work on the 1st 3 & keep at them.

  19. Miley says:

    How do you promote your RSS ? Ours has been on for years yet we only have handful of subscribers.

  20. KiteZA says:

    Very helpful, thanks.

    I’ll take a look at improving my own blog with these shortly. I’ve already made my RSS feed more visible.. Hopefully that’ll help a tad.

    I’m using Tumblr, which has a useful tool to send all of your posts through to Twitter, so that’s significantly easier (particularly when goes down every 5 mins or so on my line).

    Good luck for the next year!

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