Sophie Saint has been blogging since 2009, and is a contributor at Travelettes.net. Her favourite countries to explore are any that lie in the realm of southeast Asia, and of course the stunning and diverse country that is Australia!
Travelettes is a collaborative blog between 10 ladies who are based all over the world, and it’s been featured in European Grazia and Glamour, plus CNN news. Here's Sophie's advice for first-time bloggers looking to make it big.
What advice would you give to travel bloggers who are trying to make a name for themselves?
When trying to make a name for yourself in travel blogging, the key is consistent and quality content. It might be a long road to becoming an established blogger, but don’t let that put you off! As long as you keep bringing new and fresh content to your site from unique angles, then the followers and readers will come. If you keep it consistently updated then it will really keep the attention of your audience and make sure they keep coming back - and hopefully turn them into loyal readers who engage and share your blog.
If you find it’s too much for you to give your blog all the attention it needs, don’t feel like it’s a cop out to join forces with a friend/s to produce a brilliant blog! Some great blogs out there are from collaborative efforts, which ease the pressure of constantly getting content out, plus the variety of authors keep it exciting!
And please don’t forget that photographs are the key to a great blog. There’s nothing worse than reading a blog post that obviously had a lot of thought put into it, but it’s peppered with really shit photos. They are what keeps your reader scrolling through your post and paints a picture of your adventure or inspiration, so don’t let your images be your downfall!
How can travel bloggers ensure their content’s different from everything else out there?
It sounds like a cliché, but to make your content stand out you really need to ensure that your personality shines through your writing. Anyone can write a straight-forward guide to a place (or a 'Top 10 things to do in...'), but what makes one post stand out from another is your voice. Once you've nailed your tone of voice and have your unique stamp all over your writing, then it will really make your blog an interesting one. There’s no one else out there who’s like you, so that’s a good enough reason to keep bringing it!
Would you say that social media’s a vital tool for bloggers?
Definitely! It’s a great promotional tool and also a fab way to engage with your audience. Sure, Facebook has some mysterious algorithms that may have you questioning whether it’s being fair in getting your work out to your Facebook audience, but the sharing factor will soon see your referrals on your blog’s dashboard pin pointing Facebook as a major contributor to your traffic.
However, even if you have every social media channel under the sun proclaiming your latest blog posts, you should never neglect SEO. If you get that right, you’ll see that without much promotion people are still finding your blog from Google searches which is paramount. Keep keywords in mind when writing, but don’t let that dictate your content into nonsensical copy stuffed to the brim with golden keywords.
Which articles/stories did far better than you expected, and have you ever been surprised by a lack of interest in a piece which you thought would do really well?
I was really surprised that my '6 Ways Prague Will Romance You' post did so well, as I really felt I was just outlining some real touristy spots! I try to steer clear of going on too much about the typical sights of a place as people can easily find out about them by searching on Lonely Planet. But obviously Prague is a place that captured many people’s hearts and they appreciated the piece.
I was quite surprised that my Borneo posts didn’t do very well. For me, Borneo is this mysterious and exciting place that is jam-packed with jungle and monkeys, but it just didn’t hit the readers as hard as I thought it would! It made me a bit deflated, but the lovely comments made up for the low traffic. I just had to remind myself that numbers aren’t the be-all and end-all. Just write and only hit publish when you’re proud of your piece.
How do you deal with suggestions, praise and criticism from your readers?
You do have to take criticism on the chin. Working in the digital world means that you do get Miss Know-It-All and Mr Troll popping up sporadically, but that’s just the way it is when you’re putting yourself out there on the internet. Of course it sucks when they’ve picked up on a mistake you’ve made, but it acts as a reminder to proof-read a few more times in the future!
Suggestions are great fodder for future blog posts! If someone comments with a question regarding food in a place that you’ve written about - but you neglected to mention the cuisine - then boom! That’s the sequel sorted! If someone asks you how you managed to pack with only hand-luggage for a cold weekend break - kerching, you’ve got another blog post idea from someone who is really keen to read it! Inspiration can come from anywhere, but sometimes your readers can come up with the best stuff. And when they praise you, it makes it all worth it. To put your writing out there and to have positive feedback is just the best feeling! That’s what keeps me blogging when I’m sometimes flagging.
How often should a blogger be posting new content online, and should most of it be written content? Can video content be just as popular?
I’m lucky as I write with a great team of girls who are constantly bringing out new posts. It makes my life easier as I’m not bound to a strict blog schedule, but I have to make sure I get a certain amount of blog posts out to ensure that I’m doing my part in supporting the site. We try to get 5 - 7 blog posts out a week, but that’s quite a lot for a solo blogger! I would say that 3 blog posts a week would be great for a blogger and quite achievable.
Video content can be just as popular, but I’ve never got into the vlogging scene. We’ve made the odd video on Travelettes (my favourite was of our first meet-up in Croatia) but it’s something we haven’t indulged in too much. It takes a lot of time to edit a video well and we find writing slots in nicely with our day-to-day lives.
Which travel bloggers do you rate at the moment?
I’m a big fan of The Travel Hack and The Travelling Light. Katie’s (Travelling Light) photos are just stunning and have a lovely atmosphere about them! I also can’t get enough of Our Wild Abandon’s instagram feed. Their style is so kick-ass and they’re really cool chicks. Also, my other blog, Saints on a Plane, should be checked out (shameless plug!).
The Free People blog isn’t quite a travel blog, more of a lifestyle/fashion/travel bible, but I get lost in their pages! Their images are always so dreamy and who can resist the Pinterest perfect travel quotes they produce?
She's not wrong - her blog is great. Read her latest adventures here.
Check out our next travel blogger interview with Paul from A Luxury Travel Blog.