In today’s travel blogging tips article, I’m delighted to be featuring Samuel Jeffrey, better known as the man behind Nomadic Samuel, as well as the happy smiling faces of Smiling Faces Travel Photos.
Samuel burst onto the travel blogging scene with a tremendous bang last July, getting the sort of positive start that most folk dream of. Today he talks about how he got to where he is today, what drives him to blog, and his aspirations for his sites. Take it away Samuel!
Tell us a little bit about Samuel and your site, nomadicsamuel.com?
Nomadic Samuel was created on July 1st, 2011. I've personally been living overseas for six consecutive years and I wanted to share my stories, photos, videos, tips and resources with a larger audience than just family and friends. My only wish is that I would have started it sooner :P
My blog features a daily travel photo and a daily travel video of the day and I also offer articles based on ESL, travel photography tips, destinations, photo essays and quirky travel stories. As far as style is concerned, I'd like to think I cover both the positive and negative aspects of travel with a healthy dose of sarcasm and humour thrown in for good measure.
How do you define success in terms of your travel blog?
That's a great question! I think for me personally, it's a combination of connecting with my readers, growing my audience and eventually making a career out of what I do. I'm passionate about travel and there is nothing else I'd rather be doing with my life.
Speaking of success - you burst onto the travel blogging scene very quickly and achieved some impressive metrics early on - what do you think were the reasons for your rapid success?
Thank you! I'm humbled by how supportive the travel blogging community is in general. Without that support, I would not have been able to achieve much to date. I think a few factors have helped contribute to my blog growing at a decent rate.
Firstly, I have a lot of experience travelling, backpacking and living overseas in a variety of different roles. Secondly, I've really taken an interest in photography and video projects and prior to starting my blog, I had stock-piled a large amount of these resources. Thirdly, I post frequently, network with other bloggers, guest post, do interviews, stumble, tweet, comment and do my best to promote my materials and the materials of other travel bloggers.
Having adequate resources and talent is not enough. You really need to push your materials - especially in the beginning stages of your blog.
Where do you want your travel blog to be in the next year?
I'm currently pleased with the formula I have for my main site right now. If I continue with the daily travel photos, daily travel videos and 3-4 pillar articles per week (longer materials that are on my homepage) my site will hopefully continue to grow at a steady rate.
I'm actually working on four niche sites right now and rebuilding my youtube travel channel from scratch. I had previously been using music that was not creative commons with an attribution-commercial license. It was a difficult decision to dismantle thousands of hours worth of work, but I'm pleased to do things properly this time and I'll have the potential to monetize certain videos that achieve over a thousand views in the future.
Do you follow any metrics in terms of traffic analysis / site ranking, and how important do you think these are?
When I first started out, I slavishly would check my Google Analytics and Alexa ranking. Now I don't care so much about either of those. What I'm more concerned with now are my SEOMOZ rankings: Domain Authority, Page Authority and MozRank metrics; however, I would caution others from really caring too much about any of these.
Growth for your site will occur naturally if you have a formula of consistent effort that includes a regular posting schedule, promotion, networking and connecting with your audience.
Which social networks are you active on, and what tips would you give for success on these?
I'm most active on Stumble Upon and Twitter. I feel as though Stumble Upon is slowly decreasing in terms of it effectiveness and I'm considering some other options such as Pinterest.
To maximize your use of Stumble Upon, I would suggest installing the toolbar, following others within your niche, stumbling often and sharing no more than 4 articles a week with others. I un-follow those who send several articles per day. Nobody has time to keep up with that! However, sending an article roughly every other day, ensures that you're going to have the support of others who will stumble it, provided you do the same for them.
As far as twitter is concerned, I find a good balance of posting your own materials, retweeting others and being social is an ideal scene. Unfortunately, I don't feel I've achieved that yet personally. I'd like to be more social on Twitter than what I am currently now.
What other techniques have you used to improve your traffic, and how successful have these been?
The biggest technique I've used other than social media promotion is guest posting on other blogs and doing interviews such as these. I rarely turn down such a generous opportunity. The benefits are numerous. You get the opportunity to share your materials with a new audience and build back-links to your travel blog. Conversely, the host blog gets great free content to share on their site. It's a total win-win situation. Moreover, you develop a closer relationship with the partner blogger which is equally as beneficial. I'll never forget somebody who has contributed a guest post to my site or vice versa.
What sort of time commitment do you put in to your travel blog on a weekly basis?
LOL! I'd be scared to admit the time commitment I put in right now. It's basically every single second that I'm not eating, sleeping, exercising or travelling. I've sacrificed my social life to a great extent, but I certainly have plans to scale things back when my blog has become more self-sufficient.
What have you found to be the hardest thing about running a travel blog, and how do you overcome this?
I've found the hardest thing is managing every sphere that is necessary to run a successful blog. If one spends too much time on content they're not networking or using social media enough. Even if those three things are taken care of maybe your inbox is piling up. I find it very hard to keep up with it all! I haven't found the right balance yet. Additionally, one has to find the time to travel as well. What's the point of having a travel blog if you can't enjoy the passion that is behind all of it.
If you started your blog today, what would you differently?
If I started my travel blog today, I would wish I had started it 7 months ago (when I actually did) and if I can be even a bit more cheeky, I would have started it a few years ago. I think it's a much harder climate to break in right now than it was before. There are a lot of travel blogs these days.
As far as mistakes that I've personally made, I wish I had of done my youtube travel videos properly the first time. It's going to take me a long time (possibly a year or more) to build up my resources to where they were previously.
If you have questions or problems with your site, where do you go to find answers?
There are two fantastic Facebook forums for travel bloggers. One is Global Blogger Network and the other is Travel Bloggers. When I've posted a question, more often than not, I've received an excellent answer or piece of advice within minutes/hours.
Travel blogging is becoming more and more popular. How do you differentiate yourself in such a crowded market?
I think the best thing is just to be yourself and not to compete with others. I love the community spirit that exists where we (as bloggers) tend to help one another. I don't try to intentionally differentiate myself from others, but a few advantages I may have include my extensive experiences as a backpacker and as an ESL teacher. Additionally, I have a large catalogue of photos and videos that have been built up over the years.
There is no short-cut to achieving this. I've needed six years abroad to get to where I am today in all of those areas.
And finally, what advice would you give to people running, or thinking about setting up, their own travel blog?
I would say go for it! Don't wait too long like I did :P A few bits of practical advice would be to use Wordpress, find a SEO friendly theme and go self-hosted. Decide early on whether or not you want to do things casually or seriously. If you really want to grow your blog and audience an enormous amount of effort and hours come with the territory. On the other hand, if you are just interested in chronicling your trip, you can update whenever you feel motivated to do so.
Tremendous thanks to Samuel for taking the time to answer all my questions! Samuel is the wizard behind the curtain pulling the strings of Nomadic Samuel - Travel Blog - a travel site featuring photos, videos & quirky travel stories along with photography tips, interviews, esl tips, reviews and general travel advice.
Additionally, Samuel runs other related sites: Smiling Faces Travel Photos , Travel Photography Tips , Teach English Travel Overseas & How To Make Money Travel Blogging . You can get in touch with Samuel by following him on his Facebook Fan Page , Twitter , Stumble Upon , Youtube & Google + .