Starting a travel blog is a great idea right now since people are more eager than ever to travel and experience new things now that life has returned to normal following the pandemic.
As per RankIQ’s findings, travel has the third highest percentage (10%) of blogs (after food and lifestyle), with over 50,000 monthly sessions and the 4th highest earning amongst all the niches. The travel bloggers had a median monthly income of $5000.
So, if you have been thinking of starting a blog for quite some time now, this is the right time to do so. Moreover, if you want to choose travel blogging, then as a travel blogger, you’ll have the opportunity to inspire and educate people about different cultures, places, and ways of travelling.
You can share your personal experiences, tips, and recommendations and be a trusted guide for people who are planning their next adventure.
The common procrastination about the blogging industry is that it’s a little bit insane. It’s difficult to believe that it is a profession and that you could make a livelihood doing it.
Not very long ago, I had no idea what blogging even entailed, much less how to use it to generate passive earnings. I am assuming that many of you have faced the same situation or have the same question on your mind ‘how to start a travel blog and make money’?
Today, starting ‘Wanderlust and City Dust’ has unquestionably been one of my best choices ever.
When I talk to people about what I do, they frequently ask me the same set of questions. In light of this, I thought it would be amazing to know the journey of a travel blogger who is quite a long time into this journey and wants to share his thoughts and experiences with people who want to get an idea of how to start a travel blog and become a travel blogger, along with insights.
Let’s get started!
Jump ahead to:
How To Start A Travel Blog – An Interview with Mike Clegg
Travel blogging has grown significantly in recent years, and a thriving community of travel bloggers is eager to share their knowledge and wanderlust experiences with others.
It gives me immense pleasure to present you to Mike Clegg, the accomplished traveller, and photographer who creates the popular travel blog ‘TravelAndDestinations.’ Mike’s blog has grown into a go-to resource for tourists looking for ideas, advice, and breathtaking images from around the world.
Today, we have the chance to learn more about Mike’s background, goals, and experiences as a travel blogger. This will help you get your answer on how to start travel blogging, what you should follow to become a successful blogger in this niche and more.
Without further ado, let’s get started with our in-depth conversation with Mike Clegg, the creative force behind the illustrious travel blog TravelAndDestinations.
1. Can you tell us a bit about your background and what led you to become a travel blogger and photographer?
I’ve always travelled a lot since I was a child, but for a long time, my photography was quite poor, and I felt I needed to improve. I therefore started reading a lot of photography books and magazines, as well as spending a lot of time practicing. I would try different techniques and settings to see what worked for the look I was trying to achieve. As well as actually taking photographs, I taught myself Lightroom and Photoshop for editing them.
When I moved to Canada, I got into blogging and started sharing my pictures on Instagram. I was also connecting with a lot of photographers during this time, and one of them said, you’re travelling so much, why don’t you start a blog to share your tips that’s when my website started.
2. What inspired you to create TravelAndDestinations, and what is the vision and mission behind your travel brand?
After the conversation where it was suggested that I start a website to share tips I started TravelAndDestinations, and I did this so as to share my tips and experiences. Many of my most successful articles are related to travel and photography, so when I travelled what I would do is create articles on the best Instagram and photography spots. These seemed to be quite popular and helpful to people.
Nowadays, I have other writers to help create content for places all over the world and to provide more value to people visiting my website. I also publish a variety of content, and many of it will be on travel, but not always on photography.
3. Travel blogging is a competitive field. Can you share your journey of how you managed to build such a successful platform?
I have tried to create really helpful content and I also experiment a lot to try and determine what content people would want to read or find useful. As well as this I conduct keyword research to try and get an idea of what the demand is.
Finally, I spend a lot of time trying to optimise the speed and user experience that someone gets when they visit my site.
I think the visual design is also important so as to convey a professional and high-quality resource. I am often trying to think of ways to improve the aesthetic design of my website, but even since starting it has come a long way.
4. Many aspiring travel bloggers struggle with finding their niche and unique voice. How did you discover your niche, and what advice would you give to those looking to define theirs?
I started publishing content that resonated with me such as on travel and photography. Although my website name isn’t that creative it’s fairly obvious what it’s about before you arrive. My website probably now sits more on the travel destination side rather than the photography side though.
5. Building a personal brand is essential in the blogging world. What strategies or actions have you taken to develop and nurture your brand as “Mike Clegg” and “TravelAndDestinations”?
Well, actually I do often wish I’d created a more creative and catchy website name. I think although my website name is very clear it’s not that memorable or easy to type. I think in some ways this has made it harder for me to define a brand and attract more of a loyal readership.
I would recommend anyone starting to try and create a brand which is catchier and more creative, plus use shorter words and make it easy to type.
6. Traveling and photography go hand in hand for you. How has photography played a role in the success of your blog, and do you have any tips for aspiring travel photographers?
I have always enjoyed taking photographs way before the blog started, although my photographs weren’t very good quality in the past. I had spent a lot of time reading and practicing and I think over time this has helped me to get to a good level.
Nowadays I use my own photographs where possible in my articles but I also license images from stock sites when I don’t have something available.
I think having the ability to take good photographs will help you to enhance your website and content, but as well as this you can also save you money (as you don’t have to license them). Brands will also like it if you are able to take good photographs yourself too.
Plus, photography is fun, and being able to travel and take good pictures is quite rewarding.
7. SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is a key aspect of running a successful blog. Could you share some strategies or tactics you’ve used to improve the SEO and organic traffic growth of your website?
I use various tools such as Ahrefs and Keysearch.co to try and find website issues and also to do research into keyword demand and competitiveness. I often spend time optimising older articles to include extra relevant keywords, as well as work to include keywords that I may rank for in new content too.
As well as this I spend a lot of time trying to optimise for speed, so as to prevent render-blocking where possible, keep images optimized, and have a good caching setup (among many other speed and UX related things).
Both on-page and off-page SEO is definitely an ongoing task for me and I’m also trying to constantly keep up with changes in search engines etc.
8. Content creation is at the heart of travel blogging. How do you consistently come up with fresh and engaging content ideas for your audience?
It’s definitely not easy and I am still trying to get better, but I generally often think of ideas that might be helpful or interesting and then use keyword research tools such as keysearch.co to see what kind of demand there might be. As well as this my writers often propose ideas based on places they visit or they’ve been and this can help me to publish new content that I may not otherwise think of.
9. Can you share some of the most memorable experiences or destinations you’ve encountered during your travels that have left a lasting impact on you?
Some top experiences for me include visiting Banff in Canada during the winter where I got to see Elk, go snowboarding, ice shoe walking, and enjoy various other winter activities.
I’ve had some wonderful hiking experiences, including in the Dolomites, in the mountains near Chiang Mai, and also in Bohemian Switzerland. I love being outdoors so these kinds of experiences are some of the most memorable.
I’ve also had some experiences where I saw situations of poverty and hardship which is very eye-opening. Of course, poverty and hardship happen in many countries around the world so my point is that travel can help you to see it and get a better understanding of how different people live around the world, both good and bad.
10. Travel blogging often involves facing challenges and overcoming them. Could you tell us about some of the challenges you’ve encountered in your blogging career and how you’ve dealt with them?
I’ve had website security issues before including DDoS attacks and hacking attempts. I have put in lots of levels of security to counter this.
As well as this, I’ve had issues where people have copied or duplicated my entire site and then set up a live copy. I try and put in technical solutions as I discover these to make it more difficult but it’s always a pain when it happens.
There’s also writer’s block and motivation issues. I run this website on the side of a full-time job and it can definitely be hard to stay motivated and make time for the site sometimes. As a result, I generally just keep chipping away at it and also don’t allow myself to feel too guilty if I need a break.
11. TravelAndDestinations is known for providing inspiration and ideas for travelers. How do you research and curate the destinations and travel tips you share on your blog?
Generally, a lot of the content is based on what I do, as well as what some of my writers do or places they have travelled to. So, for example, when I’ve done various hikes or have visited new and exciting places I will try and create an article based on that. I also do keyword research and try different topics and themes to try and identify what will perform well and attract a lot of readers.
12. Social media is an integral part of a travel blogger’s toolkit. How do you leverage social media platforms to engage with your audience and promote your content?
I used to spend an awful lot of time on social media mainly Instagram and Pinterest but I’ve scaled back in recent years. I plan to get back into it in the future. I do think it’s important though but it’s incredibly hard to keep up and make a return on investment (both on the time you put in and money you may spend). Plenty of people have done it though so if you find an inspiring voice and create something unique and interesting then this can help you grow pretty quickly.
13. Building a loyal community of readers and followers is essential. What strategies have you used to connect with your audience on a deeper level?
I have tried a few things including having a newsletter, but I found it was taking an awful lot of time without enough return. I was also in the past focusing a lot on Instagram and really connecting with my followers, but over time it became a bit too much, so nowadays I mainly just focus on optimizing my main site, pushing out new content, and updating older stuff too.
I do think it’s important to build a following and regular readership though and it’s something I do need to work on.
14. With the travel industry constantly evolving, especially post-pandemic, what are your thoughts on the future of travel blogging and the trends you anticipate in the coming years?
It does feel like it’s getting more and more competitive and with the future of AI being used as a tool I imagine people will need to make more detailed and thorough content, but as well as this the content should be laid out in such a way that it’s easy for someone to absorb or find what they’re looking for. Unique and original ideas are important too, more so if there is a demand for such content that you’ve managed to find.
You can also keep up to date with any changes or trends and try and jump on the opportunity whilst they are growing and less popular. Such as the next social media platform that comes out. I tried this with Vero but it didn’t seem to kick off.
15. As someone who has traveled extensively, do you have any sustainability and responsible travel practices you adhere to and encourage our readers to follow?
I think we all need to support local businesses and have a positive impact when we travel, so a few things important to me include helping some people in need during my visit (such as giving money to the homeless), buying food, drinks, and other items from local businesses, and also trying to minimize my plastic and waste where possible.
I would generally always try and carry a reusable water bottle and coffee cup and use this instead of disposables. I also avoid plastic bags where possible and almost always carry my own.
16. Collaboration can be a powerful tool in the blogging world. Have you engaged in any noteworthy collaborations or partnerships, and how have they benefited your blog?
I sometimes take guest posts from other bloggers and this could often be thought of as a win-win where someone provides an article and then I provide a link and bio which gives the other blogger some exposure.
If the article does well then it would also provide lots of referral traffic too. I have also interviewed other photographers and bloggers in the past too with the aim of showcasing their work and giving them some exposure. Some of these interview-type articles have had thousands of reads since publishing.
17. With your extensive experience, you must have some exciting plans for the future of your blog. Can you give us a glimpse into what’s next for TravelAndDestinations?
There isn’t anything 100% in the pipeline but I am exploring ideas and always trying to think of new ways to bring excitement to my visitors and help to answer their questions. I am quite experimental and technical though so I do sometimes think of new ways to implement third-party technology into my site.
Outside of this, I plan to spend a lot of my time focusing on updating and optimising existing content so as to keep it fresh and competitive against other content out there.
18. Lastly, what advice would you give to aspiring travel bloggers who are just starting on their journey to creating a successful travel brand/blog like TravelAndDestinations?
I’d say just be patient and keep learning, experimenting, and don’t give up. As well as the content that you’re publishing also focuses on the user experience so this includes site speed and having a user-friendly UI (user interface).
Blogging and growing a website is certainly not a quick easy task and will take time so remember this if you’re starting out, but it can be very rewarding when you see the traffic and results come in and knowing that you’re helping others and having an impact.
Mike’s experience as a travel blogger provides an interesting aspect of the world of travel blogging. Mike’s journey to success wasn’t a quick leap at all; it was more like a scenic road trip with lots of detours.
So, what is Mike’s secret sauce?
Well, useful content, keyword research, a speedy website, and an eye-catching design are a few of the most important aspects for sure. Oh, and a catchy blog name would have been nice, as he admits. If you’re thinking of becoming a travel blogger, choose a memorable name!
Moreover, photography played a massive role in Mike’s success. He turned his not-so-great photos into stunning visuals. Being a skilled photographer saved him money on image licenses and impressed brands.
Don’t forget about SEO! Yeah, he’s got it down. Tools like Ahrefs helped him find keywords, and he’s constantly tweaking older articles for SEO gold.
What should you do to create fresh content?
It’s not as easy as it looks. Mike gets ideas from his own travels, keyword research, and writer contributions. Social media helps him connect with his audience and spread the word.
Finally, Mike’s advice is to be patient, keep learning, and never give up. Most importantly, focus on the user experience, read expert tips, and get inspired by successful sites. This will help you grow in the long run.
Building a blog is like a slow-cooked stew; it takes time, but the flavour is worth it.
I hope you find this interview helpful to get some ideas on how to start a travel blog and what you should follow when you are just starting out. So, get ready and start your blogging adventure now!