How to improve you travel blog so that people enjoy it more?
No, I’m not talking about the best times to post on social media or creating clickbait bullshit. I’m talking about how to actually make readers better enjoy what you write.
Anyone who has kept a travel blog knows how difficult staying motivated about making updates can be, especially while on the road. When you finally manage to plop yourself down in front of a laptop on slow Wi-Fi, it seems like half the things you wanted to write about have vanished. The details get lost. You end up staring at the screen with a dysfunctional brain until you cave in, slap something out there, then go play on Facebook.
Where the hell did all those mental notes from earlier go? With a whole new world waiting just outside the door, throwing in the towel with a lame Facebook post rather than blog post can be all too tempting.
Believe me, after 12 years of travel blogging, I am so very guilty!
The free travel blog that I began in 2005 just before I left to go vagabonding somehow mysteriously blossomed into a source of interest for readers all over the world. I had an average of 500-1,000 return readers a day, and felt a strange sense of responsibility to keep them entertained with new content. Many of these people were stuck at home, sitting in offices and cubicles, and I offered them the fantasy of escape.
Now days, my blog gets updated once a month — at best. I once made weekly or bi-weekly posts, so what happened? Success. Suddenly, I cared a little too much about those updates. They started feeling like unpaid work rather than a joy.
What I used to sling out there in 20 minutes from a broken keyboard in a noisy internet cafe turned into a multi-day project.
A big part of the problem is the ability to recall those tiny details that transport a reader to the place. No one cares that you ate pad thai for lunch. They want to taste it for themselves. You must convert words into experiences for your readers, no matter how seemingly ineffable. Hours or days later, digging those little gems out of their cranial hiding places isn’t easy. It hurts.
The Best Way to Improve Your Travel Blog
I have since learned my lesson. Moments get lost, so they must be captured immediately, on the fly. Recording updates on a smartphone (or a tiny voice recorder if you don’t carry a phone) really helped me a lot.
And what about recording the exciting sounds of a frantic market, a street performer’s traditional instrument, or someone pronouncing words for you in a foreign language? All those things come in handy later.
Who cares if it looks goofy. It does. But you don’t make the audio clips sound like Captain Kirk making a captain’s log entry from his chair that begins with “star date.” Keep them informal.
Simply say what you see, smell, taste, hear, and feel. These words won’t be used in your blog post later; they’ll be used to help you relive the moment so that you can reconstruct it later.
Your readers will be pleased.
Improve Your Blog With the Senses
Everyone wants to escape something. Give it to them. The only way to transport a reader somewhere is to tickle every sense. Try to include all of them in each post.
After those are covered, begin thinking beyond the expected senses. Go deeper:
- Pulse rate / heart rhythm
- Temperature on skin
- Condition of stomach
- Condition of throat
- Condition of feet
- Eyes and pupils
- What is your hair doing?
- Feel your joints, especially the back and neck
- Emotional sentiment
- Any memories evoked?
Break yourself apart biologically and record how each part of your body feels. Try to make someone’s skin crawl.
Your readers may not know what the horror of being lost in a blizzard feels like, but they are human. They have been terrified before. They have also been emotionally elated before. They share the same senses, emotional framework, and biological composure as you. Find ways to tickle those nerves that combine to simulate the experience for them.
As a blogger and not a journalist, you have the freedom to describe a place filtered through your personality and opinions. Be as subjective as you like. If someone doesn’t like it — you will inevitably receive hateful email and comments — ignore. They can bugger off to one of the other 1,000,000,000 travel blogs that makes them happier.
When I write, the main two objectives are to transport a person from the white walls of their living room or office. Beam them away temporarily. At the end of the ride, I try to tell them how to get there themselves one day. That ignites the fantasy of escape.
Everyone loves the daydream of potential escape.
As you take your notes, don’t do as many bloggers do and focus only on what you see or how it makes you feel inside.
Your readers also posses other ways to feel something. Stimulate them. Crossing biological boundaries works well. Do you taste exhaust or wet leaves? Is the oil frying in a wok burning your eyes? Can you feel the thick incense burning in a temple? Is the sun making your eyes squint? Can you hear the sweat moving along your skin?
When you get back to a computer, writing a good blog post will be so much easier with your audio recordings of the senses just doing what they do best: