It’s tempting to talk resolutions at the start of the new year. But “resolutions” typically refer to those commitments you make and break by February, like cutting carbs or only Netflix binging on the weekends.
When it comes to our travel blogs, it seems more appropriate to talk about goals. Goals are something you work towards in reasonable increments, rather than forcing yourself to do something outlandishly different at the flip of a calendar page.
We asked our community of travel bloggers what they hope to accomplish in 2016 and received a wide range of ambitious and actionable answers. We look forward to hearing about their progress in the coming months. If you’re still thinking about plans and goals for your blog in the new year, consider working towards one of these game changers for 2016.
1. Create a Product/Write an eBook
As the business of blogging has evolved over the years, banner ads and sponsored posts have faded from popularity, and bloggers have realized that their blogs are never going to make them money.
Wait… what?? Isn’t that why we’re here?
Yes,we can still build valuable platforms with our blogs, but more and more, our blogs are becoming just that — platforms on which we can promote products, rather than the product itself.
Sarah Arnold of The Sarah Story plans to write an eBook about Northern Ireland.
“My blog focuses on my home country and I want to show others what Northern Ireland has to offer. I am in the early stages, deciding what to keep in and leave out. I will plan time for some research (those spas and restaurants need to be personally tried and tested!) and I’m looking forward to the challenge!”
If you want to create a product like an ebook that you can sell to your audience, you must first identify a specific problem or topic that your audience really cares about. This can be discovered by polling your email subscribers, asking them on social media, or digging into the popular search terms that lead readers to your site.
Once you know what your audience is looking for, you can create a produce of value.
2. Build Your Email Subscriber List/Implement Autoresponder Series
Our email subscribers are a valuable asset and we want to make sure that we’re treating them as such. With the increasing number of social media platforms that need our attention, it can be easy to neglect our email list.
“I’ve blown this process up to be much bigger than it is in my head, thinking if I make the wrong choice that all my efforts will blow up in my face. It’s really not that big of a deal – best to pick one and march on with it! I want to experiment with different methods of encouraging those who land on my blog to subscribe. I plan to use a mixture of pop-ups and the promise of free goodies, such as eBooks.” – LC Haughey of Birdgehls
If you’re promoting or selling a product through your blog, an autoresponder series can be an effective way to stay fresh in the minds of your readers, and build up to a sell.
The two popular newsletter platforms, Mailchimp and Aweber, each have options for setting up autoresponder series. An autoresponder series is simply a series of emails that subscribers will receive after certain increments of time, after joining your mailing list.
Once you’ve set these up, they’ll automatically be sent to new subscribers.
Autoresponders can also be an excellent incentive to convince readers to sign up for your mailing list. Just be sure to create a series of emails that will appeal to your target audience.
You’ll want to use these emails to gently nudge your audience back to your blog or to the purchase of a product, without being too salesy. Providing valuable information that they want to read is the best way to do just that.
3. Spread the word on sustainable travel
As travel bloggers, we have the power to inform and inspire our audiences. Why not use that power to do some good?
Tourism can have a serious impact on places around the world. Consider the fact that 30% of greenhouse gases in the United States comes from transportation. So while encouraging our readers to take a cross-country road trip is great, encouraging them to offset their carbon footprint or find ways to reduce their impact while traveling can be even better.
Spreading the word on sustainable travel can help you establish trust and respect with your audience who will likely appreciate the tips for traveling more sustainably, especially as this becomes an issue that more and more people are concerned with.
It’s also a great way to give back and hopefully produce a positive impact on the world we all love to explore.
“I plan to track a collaborative 2-5 month travel project about volunteer tourism in Central America to highlight organizations that offer first hand experiences in local communities in exchange for time and effort towards a particular cause. It’s my belief that as we travel, we must also contribute; both for the sake of the community’s where we leave our footprints and to assist in our evolution as a more worldly society.” – Kellie Mogg of The Wandering Movement
4. Build your authority on a single topic or location
Once upon a time, bloggers could be successful by writing general travel blogs that covered round-the-world trips or budget backpacking. These days, with such a huge amount of travel blogs out there to compete with, bloggers must be more specific in the topics they cover and the niches they tap into.
Narrowing your blogging efforts on a more specific topic or location(s) can help to focus your efforts while attracting a bigger audience.
Our recent Member of the Month, Jeremy Jones, started a new travel blog that focuses on one location — Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Jeremy had great success with his more general travel blog, Living the Dream, but has seen much faster progress with his new, location specific website.
Demonstrating authority on a specific place or topic allows you to tap into a very specific audience when it comes to monetization.
“I will pitch the idea to newspapers and magazines that even though it is a great destination for safaris and game park, Africa has much more to offer, not only to leisure travelers, but for backpackers as well.” – Miguel Santamaria of Viviendo en Chanclas
5. Add travel videos to your content plan
2015 was a big year for online video. With the rise of platforms like Vine and Snapchat, and the boost enjoyed by videos on Facebook, video became the star medium.
Travel videos can be especially powerful pieces of content, allowing your audience to be transported to the places you’re sharing.
Video can also share a more personal glimpse into your life, allowing your audience to experience your personality. Snapchat is a great way to provide an instant glimpse into the travel experiences that are might be difficult to share otherwise, perhaps because they are fleeting, or simply not significant enough to produce an entire post for. These short, personal videos can be very entertaining and help to establish a relationship with your viewers.
Whether you’re furthering your videography skills or just getting started with learning the art and craft, video is sure to take your blog to the next level. Travel Blog Success offers a course on videography for those who wish to dive into learning this medium.
“I plan to pre edit and upload my videos and put them on a schedule, as to not impact my blogs goals. I would also like to reach 1000 subscribers by the end of the year.” – Yvette Barnett of Whirl of Wanderlust
No matter what you goals are for blogging in 2016, don’t be afraid to try new things and experiment. The landscape of blogging is constantly changing, and if you aren’t willing to adapt and to change with it, you’ll be left behind in the previous year. Make 2016 a successful year for your blog by mapping out your goals and holding yourself accountable.
Would you like more advice on reaching those game changing goals for your travel blog? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.