In today’s travel blogging tips interview I’ve been able to grab hold of Cailin O’Neil, the writing and video talent behind no less than three travel blogs covering her life, her travel stories and food. There was me thinking one site was hard enough to run!
Cailin is the first person I’ve interviewed in this series to focus heavily on video as part of her work, and her dream is to have and host her own travel series. A dream that is quickly becoming a reality! Read on to find out more about what motivates Cailin to do what she does, and how she finds time to fit everything in.
Why did you first start writing a travel blog?
After finishing University with a major in Film I started traveling a fair bit and the blog just came naturally, originally as a way to keep friends and family updated back home.
After a few trips I thought to myself why not start making travel videos and my first time filming was in Spain in 2009 with my own camera man who followed me around for a week making the first episode of my own travel TV show and from there Travel Yourself was born.
At last count you were running at least three separate sites. What's that all about?
Sometimes I ask myself that same question :) Travel Yourself was originally meant to be a travel video specific niche site to create a following for my own travel TV show / webseries.
Cailin Travels was set up to be a more personal blog about my travels outside of Travel Yourself and the newly launched The Taste Of Travel was an idea I had over a year ago and finally just put in motion this January.
Food is such a big part of the way I travel and who doesn't like food? I thought it would be great way to put two of my favourite things together food and travel just like Travel Yourself put two of my favourite things together film and travel.
One of your passions is video. What tips do you have for travel bloggers looking to include video on their blogs?
My number one tip is don't force it. Video isn't for everyone, if you don't feel comfortable in front of the camera or can't afford the proper equipment then maybe it isn't for you.
My other tips are, 1. Use a tripod as often as possible. 2. Get a good microphone to record your audio. 3. Have good copyright free background music. 4. Have fun with it and make sure your personality shines, don't be dull and don't forget to smile.
How do you define success in terms of your blogs?
I think the success that I have had for my sites is far from what others might think success is but honestly as long as you are doing something that makes you happy and you can stick with it and sometimes other people read it too then you are pretty successful in my books.
What are your dreams for your blogs?
I think this might be an obvious answer from some of my previous answers but of course my long term goal is to hopefully (fingers crossed) get my own travel TV series out of this and to essentially get paid to travel the world for the rest of my life.
(Since sending this interview over, Cailin has announced a partnership with Ocean Entertainment to bring a new travel series to life. Way to go Cailin!)
Do you follow any metrics in terms of traffic analysis / site ranking, and how important do you think these are?
I check Google Analytics from time to time but I try to not get my head wrapped up in it all. I think they are important if you are wanting to make a business out of this but if you spend too much time worrying about it or putting yourself up against other people you are most likely going to make yourself crazy.
Everything is important for its own reason but try to not make it something you are going to lose sleep over.
Which social networks are you active on, and what tips would you give for success on these?
I use Twitter and Facebook the most and my only tips might be are stay consistent, be yourself, share other peoples posts/links just as much as your share your own and don't post too much.
What other techniques have you used to improve your traffic, and how successful have these been?
I link to my sites on my videos on YouTube and I use StumbleUpon. Also commenting on various other blogs gets your name out there as well.
What sort of time commitment do you put in to your travel blogs on a weekly basis, and how do you manage your time between your various ventures?
This isn't anything that I have actually thought about to measure. I put as much time into it as it requires to post about 7-8 posts a week amongst the 3 sites combined with more time being put into it when I have a new video being put out.
What have you found to be the hardest thing about running a travel blog, and how do you overcome this?
Often finding time to maintain the sites while traveling. I would much rather want to be out exploring a new place rather then sitting indoors hunched over a computer and sometimes it’s hard to find a nice balance between the two.
As I sit here and write this I am actually in Sydney, Australia but thankfully the weather hasn't been the greatest so I don't mind being inside instead of exploring.
If you started your blogs today, what would you differently?
I probably would have kept Travel Yourself and Cailin Travels as the same site. I also would have started making videos earlier than I have, aside from that I'm not sure what else I might of done differently.
Do your blogs generate any form of income, and if so, how did you achieve this?
I have made a small amount of money from links on one of them but aside from that they are not currently generating income. I am working towards changing that in various different ways through partnerships, sponsorships and more.
If you have questions or problems with your sites, where do you go to find answers?
Two words, Chris Richardson. I'm sure this is the answer many people give to this question. (It is!) Chris runs the site The Aussie Nomad and is a long time friend of mine that I have travelled with a couple times, once in Copenhagen and more recently to Cardiff, Wales. He actually just recently quit his job and created a website called RTWLabs to give technical support to travel blogs.
Travel blogging is becoming more and more popular. How do you differentiate yourself in such a crowded market?
I think I have the benefit that I have been doing this a lot longer than others and would like to think that I have a "known" name in the biz. Aside from that I just keep making videos and doing what I'm doing and try not to worry about things like that. Just being myself will hopefully be enough to keep me different from the others.
And finally, what advice would you give to people running, or thinking about setting up, their own travel or video blog?
Good luck. Hahaha :)
Tremendous thanks to Cailin for taking the time to answer my questions! You can find Cailin at her above linked blogs, as well as on Twitter as @TravelYourself, @Cailinoneil and @tasteoftravel or over on facebook at The Taste of Travel and Travel Yourself! Get following!