It’s a hard time to be a travel blogger.
Don’t worry, I’m not going to discuss the C-word in any meaningful way nor provide any medical advice whatsoever in this article.
First off, I’m in no way qualified to do so, and secondly, I prefer to stay in my own lane.
Instead, I’m going to talk about something I have first-hand experience with: Building blog momentum when you’re not traveling.
Despite the way it may appear, the most successful travel bloggers aren’t the ones who book the most flights, but the ones who focus on long-term, sustainable blog growth.
In trying times like these, I like to challenge myself to find the positive, change the narrative, and adapt my strategies to suit the status quo.
Frankly, I never anticipated writing a guide to keeping your travel blog afloat in the midst of a global crisis, but the world has pivoted and so must I. I hope this guide will be useful to you not just in the current climate, but for years to come.
So if you’re a travel blogger with no idea of when your next trip will be or even what your next plan is, you’re not alone.
Here’s my unfiltered, no b.s. advice for planting the seeds for sustainable blog growth from the comfort of your couch and pajamas.
This post contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase using one of the links, I will earn a small commission at no extra charge to you.
Back when I used to work in marketing, I sat across from a sign that was taped to the writer’s room wall. It was a plain, unassuming black and white sign created on basic office printer paper. No frills, no fuss, just one important message.
It read: “You’re good. Get better. Stop asking for things.”
I’d love to say that I had a deep, meaningful connection with this sign, but honestly, I didn’t get it.
In fact, it wasn’t until I started watching Mad Men and developed an affinity for Don Draper – the speaker of the quote – that I really began to appreciate it.
Today, it’s my number one mantra as a travel blogger.
If you want to be amongst the “successful travel bloggers” of the world, you need to keep improving every day. Keep learning. Continue developing your blog strategy. Keep adapting to the times and the trends.
Now, I’m not one to dwell on regrets. But my number one regret as a travel blogger is not doing a better job of promoting my work when I started out.
I’m not exaggerating when I say I literally had zero promotional strategy back then.
Unless, of course, you count the email newsletter that went out to my aunt and mother-in-law a strategy. (We all have to start somewhere, right?)
In all fairness, it’s not that I didn’t want to promote my work, I just didn’t fully understand how…
I mean, inherently I did.
For instance, I knew that SEO was important (after all, I worked as a Content Strategist at a marketing agency). Honestly, you’d be hard-pressed to find successful travel bloggers who aren’t implementing an SEO strategy.
Yet, I had this stubborn resistance and fear of applying it to my own work.
Search engine optimization was the big, bad monster that loomed in the dark, cobwebbed closet of my mind and haunted my blogger dreams.
On some level, I knew I’d have to deal with it eventually, but closing my eyes and pretending it wasn’t there was just so much easier (or so I thought).
Now, I kick myself as I painstakingly comb through dozens and dozens of old blog posts correcting my past mistakes.
Fast forward nearly two-and-a-half years later, and I never even attempt to write a post without doing keyword research first.
The moral of the story? You should always be learning new skills to improve your travel blog. If I had invested the time into learning SEO earlier, I would be so much further ahead with my blogging goals.
Speaking of, if you’re interested in tackling SEO, I couldn’t recommend the Make Traffic Happen course highly enough. It’s a completely straightforward (and totally un-scary) course that will teach you vital SEO techniques to make your blog visible to the people you most want to reach. (And this is coming from the blogger who used to avoid it like the plague.)
Within six months of investing in this course (a rather small investment, I must say), one of my blogs was ranking on the first page of Google. I was floored.
Honestly, I truly never thought I’d see the day. The reality is, I literally never would have seen the day if I didn’t invest the time into learning SEO.
In fact, I loved the course so much that I personally reached out to the instructors and asked if I could become an affiliate and here we are.
The other enormously instrumental element to my blogging success has been Pinterest, another platform I was reluctant to learn. I loved Pinterest for my personal endeavors and wedding planning days, but to learn it for business seemed way too overwhelming…
So I put it off for nearly a year until a fellow blogger told me about this incredible Pinterest course she was loving that was massively driving up her blog traffic. When I saw how ridiculously inexpensive it was, I knew I had to give it a shot.
Thankfully, I invested the time into learning this GOLD MINE of a search engine because here I am at over half a million monthly Pinterest users and watching my blog traffic climb.
In fact, a bunch of people started asking me for Pinterest advice (like, whaaaat?), so I started sharing weekly mini tutorials on my Instagram Stories. Every “Pinterest Tip Thursday” I share free Pinterest advice and strategies to help you master Pinterest and grow your account.
So if you’re just getting the hang of Pinterest or want to build on your existing strategy, I encourage you to follow my journey on the gram so you can tune in to my tips each week.
Side Note: I also have the first few weeks saved under my “Pinterest Tips” highlight if you’re eager to get started!
Keep in mind that Pinterest will typically bring you traffic more quickly if you use it correctly (as it’s less competitive than Google).
However, the long-term rewards of a strong SEO strategy will pay off for years to come. Ideally, my recommendation is that your blog strategy should incorporate both.
However, if you already have a strong SEO and Pinterest strategy, don’t stop there. Think about what else you can do to grow your blog during this in-between time.
Perhaps it’s time to master video editing so you can drive traffic to your blog with a YouTube channel. Vlogging skills will also make you way more valuable to hotels and brands.
Maybe it’s time to learn Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop so you can improve your photo editing and perfect your blog pictures.
Regardless of what you choose, figure out what’s been holding you back and focus your efforts there.
You know those burdensome blogging tasks that you keep putting on the back burner? All of those items you’ll “get around to when there’s time” but never actually sit down to do?
Now’s the perfect time to do them. When you’re not traveling, you have the luxury of time, your own workspace, and strong wi-Fi, which is all you really need to knock these off the list.
For instance, my blog used to be hosted on HostGator. While its low price point was admittedly appealing when I first started out, I started to resent it.
I began to get really tired of waiting two minutes for my homepage to load every time I visited my site, for example.
Here’s the thing about site speed. While you’ll painstakingly wait for your own site to load because you have no other choice, your readers won’t. They’ll simply find a better, quicker solution and you’ll be stuck with a high bounce rate and no real traffic to speak of.
Obviously, this is far from ideal.
So, a few months back when I wasn’t traveling and had some time on my hands, I decided it was time to take the leap. I migrated my site over to SiteGround and I’ve never looked back!
But even if your site runs faster than a cheetah on fire, there are a bajillion other website improvements you can make, including:
- Fixing broken links
- Refreshing outdated information
- Updating your plug-ins
- Revamping old posts with better keywords
- Optimizing your images
- Updating your media kit
- Rewriting your “About” page
My advice is to focus on one area at a time to avoid overwhelm.
Personally, I like to keep a running list of all my website action items. This keeps my tasks organized and out of my brain, and I feel accomplished when I cross things off.
As I mentioned earlier, Pinterest is a gold mine for bloggers, provided you know how to leverage it.
When I first started using Pinterest for my blog, I created one pin per post, crossed my fingers, and hoped for the best.
Spoiler Alert: This strategy failed.
Eventually, I realized that I was missing out on so many valuable opportunities for blog traffic, simply because I wasn’t putting myself out there enough.
You spend hours writing, proofreading, editing photos, and sitting in WordPress just to create one single blog. Why would you throw all of that effort away by designing one measly pin to promote your post?
Suppose your one pin doesn’t take off. Do you realize how much traffic you’re missing out on that you could have had by making more pins?
Think of every pin you create as a new chance for someone to discover your blog. The more you put yourself out there, the more people will find (and read) the posts you poured so much time into.
At the very least, you should be creating two pins for every post you write so that you can do some A/B testing.
Experiment with different font styles, templates, and colors so you can figure out what resonates with your audience.
Personally, I like to carve out some time to sit down and bulk design pins. I will typically create anywhere from 10-15 pins per post and release them slowly over time.
While this may seem excessive, I get so much more mileage out of each blog post since doing this.
This all said, I realize that not everyone is a designer and many even dread the process of creating new pins.
Don’t worry; I got you.
As someone who is quite literally obsessed with designing pins, I’ve decided to start offering my own pin design service.
My goal is simple: to streamline your workload, relieve the burden of designing pins, and help you get more clicks to your blog.
I haven’t launched this service just yet, but I plan to do so after hitting some of my personal blogging goals for the year.
For those of you who aren’t necessarily interested in this but could use some design direction and feedback, I will also be offering 30-minute consultations. In these discussions, I will provide actionable feedback on your current pin designs to help you create more traffic-generating pins.
If either of these services interest you, join my email list below so that I can get in touch with you when they launch!
As a travel blogger, not traveling can be rough.
However, you don’t always have to be crossing an ocean or flying in a plane to discover something new.
In between the big, exciting trips, why not explore more of your own backyard? You can get plenty of content for a blog post just by doing a simple day trip or outing.
If you’re worried about contact with others during this time, why not go on a nature hike and blog about that?
Much to my surprise, I actually created some of my highest performing content in Central Park, about an hour and a half from my Danbury home.
The funny thing is, I’ve lived fairly close to this famous park for most of my life, and I can count on one hand the times I’ve visited!
Or, if you have the luxury to travel a bit farther away, perhaps you can do an overnight getaway. For instance, back in January we did a short trip to Woodstock, Vermont and it was different enough from home that it felt like a vacation.
If you have horse blinders on that are honing in on that next flight, try opening your eyes to the beauty right in front of you. You may be surprised by what you find.
Remember: The areas that seems commonplace to you will be exotic to someone else.
You know how you get rusty after not doing something for a while?
That’s exactly what happens to me when I’m not doing regular photoshoots. My posing becomes awkward and I find myself struggling to remember basic camera functions.
To combat this, I like to keep my skills fresh by shooting content at least once a month, and more if I can.
In fact, improving my photo skills was one of the main reasons I was able to grow my Instagram account to 10k followers.
Even if my husband is the one behind the lens (which is often the case), I like to keep my composition-crafting techniques sharp.
That said, I get that creating content is much more challenging when you’re not traveling. (Trust me, I could write the book on this!)
But don’t use this as an excuse to stop taking photos altogether.
Something I like to do to keep my photo skills sharp when I’m not traveling is practice around the house.
Need some stock photos for your next blog about blogging? Why not create your own?
Spend a few hours creating some flat lays and practicing shooting techniques. Experiment with a wide angle lens if possible, as this will allow you to capture much more of the environment while shooting up close.
Even if you don’t use the photos right away, they can really come in handy when you need stock-style photos in a pinch for pins.
As a blogger, you should always be writing. Similar to sharpening your photo skills, writing takes consistent practice.
Even the best novelist in the world doesn’t just wake up and string together the Great American Novel. Good writing takes time and persistence.
I once read that the best way to become a better writer isn’t to read books about how to write but to actually write every day.
While juicy itineraries may be harder to write in between the big trips, try to keep the momentum going however you can.
This is not to say you need to craft a full-fledged blog post every day, but you should write something daily. This can be anything from jotting down thoughts in your gratitude journal to crafting compelling Instagram captions.
If you want to keep blogging but are stuck without a trip to write about, tap into your audience. Do some Pinterest research to see what kinds of posts are performing best in your niche and create your own version of them.
Poll your followers on Instagram Stories and ask them what they’d like to see from you. Tune in to the questions people are asking and craft posts that answer those questions.
All of my Instagram-related blog posts were written during a time when I wasn’t traveling. In all honesty, I was wary of going “off-topic” and losing my audience, but in reality, the opposite happened. People started sending me private messages thanking me for all of the “free value.” My Instagram caption post went viral on Pinterest.
As long as you’re providing value to your audience and tying everything back to your mission and what you do, you can’t go wrong.
Just. Keep. Writing.
Downtime is an opportunity to strengthen your connection with fellow bloggers.
Back when I first launched my website, the blogging world was lonely and isolating. It felt like me against the world.
It wasn’t until I found my blogging community that things started to turn around.
I am so grateful to have found “my people” in the larger travel blogging community.
These are the people who lift my spirits when I’m bummed about not traveling and support me through the tough times.
For instance, I’m so fortunate that I had the opportunity to meet my blogger buddy Taylor of Brown Eyed Flower Child and travel with her! We had a once-in-a-lifetime experience hiking the Camino de Santiago together in 2019.
Now, we message each other whenever we have blogging questions or just need to vent!
However, even if you’re unable to meet up with people in person, you can definitely stay connected online. Today’s virtual world means it’s easier than ever to reach out and forge connections with people all over the globe.
Personally, I’ve found Instagram to be one of the best ways to connect with other content creators.
In fact, it’s been incredibly touching to see the travel blogging community join together amidst this chaotic time. Fellow blogger buddies have been sharing swipe ups to some of my blog posts in their Instagram Stories and I’ve been happily doing the same in return.
As I’ve always said: community over competition.
On Facebook, you can find a like-minded community for pretty much anything.
I mean, if you wanted to join a cat-loving community of women ages 60+ who do scrapbooking, you could probably find it. (Granted, I’ve never tried, but it honestly wouldn’t surprise me).
As a travel blogger, Facebook is your friend. In fact, I cannot overemphasize the importance of joining blogger groups on this platform.
I’ll admit, since joining Instagram, my personal Facebook posting frequency has severely dwindled.
However, since leverage the platform for blogging purposes, it’s now one of the main ways I grow my traffic each month.
So, how do you go about joining these groups?
Generally, when you find a travel blogging group on Facebook, you’ll have to request to join. You’ll typically need to provide some personal information, such as your blogging URL and/or social media handles.
Each group operates with a different set of rules, but most of the groups offer weekly or even daily “threads” where you can promote your blogs and support other bloggers.
These threads have been instrumental to my blog growth, particularly the Pinterest ones.
That said, timing is everything. Given the current world situation, I would spend more time writing new blog posts and bulk designing pins and less time on promotion. As people begin traveling again, you can increase your promotional efforts accordingly.
I know it may seem counterintuitive – particularly in the midst of global chaos – but why not use this time to start brainstorming future trip ideas?
Personally, I love scouring Pinterest for wanderlust-inducing pins and organizing my personal boards in between big trips.
I also like to “save” inspiring posts from Instagram so I have an easily-accessible log of different places I’d like to visit.
Having the luxury of time also means you can actually read more blog posts, as opposed to just skimming the surface and pinning pretty stuff.
Reading the work of successful travel bloggers has given me inspiration to share my own journey and hone my individual voice.
While we’re on the topic of brainstorming trips, now’s a great time to start putting together a list of hotels you’d like to collaborate with in the future.
It can’t hurt to do some preliminary research so you’ll have a running list of properties in your back pocket when the time comes to travel again. In fact, I actually keep a spreadsheet of hotels in various countries that I’d be interested in working with.
If you’re new to the world of travel partnerships and don’t know where to begin, I highly recommend checking out my guide to pitching hotel collaborations as a travel blogger.
Remember that ranking article of mine I mentioned earlier when discussing the SEO course? This was the one!
In it, I cover everything from finding hotels to collaborate with, to perfecting your pitch, to creating a professional media kit. I also include a free download to my personal hotel pitching tracker that I use to keep up with my email correspondence as I’m pitching.
When you’re not traveling (and likely feeling pretty antsy), you need to be really mindful about what you focus on and what you put into your ears.
Seek out positive, uplifting content that fuels you. Avoid negativity and complaining.
Find successful travel bloggers and content creators on Instagram who inspire you and follow their work. Look at their success as a reminder that you can achieve the same things with time and dedication.
You can find so much inspiration on YouTube as well. Subscribe to the accounts of creators whose work you enjoy. (Gary Vee and Jade Darmawangsa have been my favorites for awhile because of their excellent entrepreneurial advice.)
If you’re an auditory learner, I highly recommend finding some relevant podcasts that you jive with.
Here are a few of my favorites at the moment:
- Her Life By Design
- Blogging, Unscripted
- The GaryVee Audio Experience
- The Profitable Travel Blogger
- The Simple Pin Podcast
- The Goal Digger Podcast
The unfortunate downside of following a lot of bigger creators is that you may be tempted to compare yourself to them.
If you find yourself saying things like: “I’ll never be as good as ‘x’ person” or “I’ll never have as many followers as ‘x’ account,” stop yourself.
Each minute you waste obsessing over someone else’s good fortune is a minute wasted on creating your own.
Unfollow accounts that trigger negative thoughts or make you feel “less than.” Remember, you don’t owe anyone a follow nor does anyone owe you one. In fact, getting unfollowed on Instagram is unfortunately a normal (yet sometimes necessary) part of the platform.
This was a big one for me.
As someone who spent nearly two years operating from a hand-me-down couch in the middle of her husband’s thriving bike shop, I know how important it is to have a workspace of your own.
While coffee shops are a great temporary solution for that midday caffeine fix while blogging, they can get expensive.
I personally hate having to order a coffee just to have some peace of mind while working. Don’t get me wrong; I drink coffee like water. But it was the principle of having to buy the coffee just to be able to sit.
So, what did I do?
Why, I hijacked the kitchen in my husband’s shop and turned it into my own personal office space, of course!
While I realize this example is specific to my own unique situation, the point is, you might have to get a little creative.
If you don’t have enough space for a full-sized home office, I recommend carving out a space to work from that’s uniquely yours. Get yourself a comfy chair. Create a little desk space. Incorporate a framed photo or a favorite scented candle and just take ownership of it. I promise, this will make a difference.
Also, the more privacy you can create for yourself, the better. (Noise-canceling headphones are great, but sometimes you just need a people-free spot to write!)
If closing a door isn’t an option, perhaps you can put up a room divider or find a creative way to section yourself off somewhat.
Once you have an area to yourself, you may also want to consider implementing some time management techniques.
For instance, I started utilizing the Pomodoro Technique a couple of months ago and my daily output is higher than it’s ever been.
If you’re not familiar, the Pomodoro Technique is a time management strategy that takes advantage of intensely focused, distraction-free work time.
Work is broken down into intervals (Pomodoros) using a timer. These intervals are typically 25-minutes long and separated by 5-minute breaks. Once you’ve done 4 consecutive “Pomodoros,” you can take a longer break of about 15-30 minutes.
The breaks help you recharge so you can return to work more focused. During this time, I recommend stretching, getting a drink/snack, using the bathroom, catching up with missed calls/emails, and/or moving to a separate room.
If you find that 25 minutes is not enough time to delve into a task, you can increase your focused work time, provided you also increase the break time.
For instance, instead of doing a 25-minute Pomodoro with a 5-minute break, try a 50-minute one with a 10-minute break. However, always try to step away from your work area during break time; I promise it helps!
I was honestly floored by how much having my own personal workspace and a time management strategy improved my productivity.
As a blogger, you have to wear many hats.
In fact, I recently joked with a friend that “blogging” is only one tiny part of what I actually do.
In reality, I’m a one-woman show (save for when my hubby is behind the lens or troubleshooting a back-end site issue).
As such, I also assume the roles of:
- SEO strategist
- Website analyst
- WordPress specialist
- Photographer/content creator
- Photo editor
- Graphic designer
- Social media manager
- Pinterest specialist
- Email marketing manager
- Affiliate marketing specialist
- Hotel communications manager
To say there’s a lot on our blogging plates at any given moment is an understatement.
Fortunately, however, time in between traveling means more time to come up with a plan for future outsourcing.
Personally, I fantasize about the day when I can afford a VA (virtual assistant) so that I can focus on the business aspects I’m truly passionate about (like writing).
If you’re considering outsourcing in the future as well, here are some steps I recommend taking first:
This will provide a clear direction of the tasks you should continue working on (the ones you love) and the ones you should outsource at some point.
When it comes time, I recommend outsourcing the tasks you absolutely hate first. This will help put some time back into your day (and will probably elevate your spirits quite a bit!)
Then, over time – and provided you’re financially able – you can start outsourcing the tasks you’re competent at but don’t love.
Ideally, your long-term focus should be working on the highest value activities that “only you can do” and leaving the rest to other employees.
In addition to strategizing a future outsourcing plan, downtime is also a great opportunity to think through your long-term goals.
For instance, if you’ve mainly been focusing on brand collaborations, you may want to start thinking about more scalable forms of income.
As a blogger (or anyone who works for themselves, really) it’s important to diversify your income. The more income streams you have, the less reliant you are on others and the more financially independent you’ll be.
For instance, after achieving my blog traffic goals, my next big goal is to launch my pin design services, as I mentioned earlier.
Down the line, I’d also love to put out an online course, sell my Instagram presets, etc.
Regardless of what your personal goals are, use this valuable time to strategize.
Perhaps you can start putting together some content for a course/service, research pricing for similar services, or draft some ideas for that podcast you’ve been meaning to put together.
As they say, time is money, so use yours wisely!
I sincerely hope these ideas have helped you get a handle on the next direction for your travel blog. Although “slow times” can be scary, they also present so many opportunities for us to become successful travel bloggers by solidifying our goals, creating more content, and strategizing for future success.
If you have any questions related to travel blogging or other suggestions you’d like to mention, please let me know in the comments below.
My final piece of advice is simple: No matter what you choose to do next, just keep going!