I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking what could be better than an interview with Kelly Rowland? And I’ll tell you. An interview with someone who has hit up the glamorous red carpet with Kelly Rowland!
Today’s travel blogging tips subject lives a slightly more glam filled life than many of my other intervieews (sorry guys). She splits her time between adventuring and exploring the world, and taking on the neon jungle that is Las Vegas, where she’s editor in chief of Vegas Magazine.
I am of course talking about Abby Tegnelia, known to her readers as The Jungle Princess.
I was lucky enough to be able to prise Abby away from her hecktic schedule to answer a few questions about travel blogging. Here we go!
Hello Abby! Tell us a bit about yourself! What makes a jungle princess?
I started my blog when I was a city girl adjusting to life in a one-room house on a dirt road on the outskirts of a very small town in Costa Rica. I had actually packed stilettos, among many ridiculous things. I could not have been more out of place in the beginning! But now it is where I feel most at home.
Why did you first start writing a travel blog?
I had absolutely no idea what I was doing. A friend of mine had signed me up on Twitter, and I started meeting all of these travelers on it. They made me start a blog. I recently wrote about that chaotic start, and my current mixed feelings for the name, in a post called What’s in a Name.
What are your dreams for your blog?
Ohhh that absolutely depends on where life takes me! But wouldn’t we all like a book deal and a major motion picture with someone as famous as Julia Roberts in the starring role? Who do you think could play me?
Seriously, I’d be happy in a hut somewhere blogging and writing a book. For now, it is a labor of love while I work on my career.
What has been the best thing about having a travel blog?
Meeting like-minded people! I’ve met some of my very best friends through my travel blog and continue to meet other adventurous folks every day. For that alone, I will do whatever it takes to keep my blog going.
Do you follow any metrics in terms of traffic analysis / site ranking, and how important do you think these are?
A perfectionist like me? Never! Yes, of course. How can you not? But I am realistic about it. I get upset when my numbers dip, but I know that right now, in my current situation, my rankings can only go so high. Depending on what you want out of your blog, they are either important or not. Advertisers and such look at them, of course. As far as press trips, higher numbers help, but I can rarely take any because of my job.
Which social networks are you active on, and what tips would you give for success on these?
I am most active on Twitter (@abbytegnelia), however reluctant I was in the beginning! Reach out to people who reTweet your stuff, reTweet other people’s stuff, and do not rely on just replying to people, which doesn’t expose them to a new audience.
It’s amazing to me how many people don’t realize that if you start a Tweet out with the @ symbol, only the people who already follow you both see it. That doesn’t help them get new followers! I am trying to be better with Google Plus, as I don’t think it’s going anywhere. I need the most help with my Facebook fan page. Help a girl out!
What other techniques have you used to improve your traffic, and how successful have these been?
My traffic drops when I don’t post. And I often get too busy to post. So for me, it’s just finding the time to do it!
You have a full time job as well as a travel blog. What tips would you give for running a travel blog whilst not physically on the road?
I see people all the time posting about long-ago trips. It works great! I might start doing that soon. Beyond that, be a tourist in your own town. I’ve found that people love to read about Vegas! In fact, that’s the one complaint I get, that I don’t do enough reviews and such about all of the restaurants and casinos here.
I also have a group that finds adventures off the Strip, such as skiing and zip-lining. Also, even with a full-time job, I still travel. I will never not! Even though I can take only a few big trips a year, there are times when I take a getaway every single weekend.
What have you found to be the hardest thing about running a travel blog, and how do you overcome this?
My life is so busy right now that finding time to post is the hardest thing. But overall, it’s been hard to get advice out of people about SEO and ways to improve. In the end, paying someone to fix that sort of stuff on my blog and teach me was the best few hundred dollars I ever spent.
If you’re serious about having your blog long-term, I highly recommend doing the same thing.
If you started your blog today, what would you differently?
Name it differently! Also, some of my most popular posts were in the very beginning, when I didn’t know what I was doing. I didn’t know how to brand myself. I didn’t even have an About Me page! So people were reading these great stories and then never came back, because they had no idea who to come back to. It’s good for a laugh now!
Does your blog generate any form of income, and if so, how did you achieve this?
Yes, I have advertising on my site. Every single ad on there has come to me. I used to reach out to all kinds of people, but it always just turned into them wanting a post written about their product. I have a few minor paid endorsement-type deals, but they’re really for my day job. For both of them, they found me online, and then asked me to participate on behalf of my job. So my blog and day job worked together!
If you have questions or problems with your site, where do you go to find answers?
I’ve got at least six people who regularly get panicked emails from me. I try to spread it around! I ask friends with big blogs, and the few people who have helped me with SEO or the design of my site.
Travel blogging is becoming more and more popular. How do you differentiate yourself in such a crowded market?
I really try to connect with the people who are torn between two worlds, like me. You don’t have to have a life as drastic as mine – going from a one-room house to walking the red carpet with celebrities in Las Vegas overnight. But you can still be in your office or cubicle wondering what’s out there – or on the road worrying that maybe it’s time to go home.
My site is split between “good life” and “fast life.” My heart belongs to both.
And finally, what key advice would you give to people running, or thinking about setting up, their own travel blog?
Do it! And don’t be shy about asking for advice. Start with me, if you’d like!
Tremendous thanks to Abby for taking the time to answer all of my questions. If you’ve got any more questions for Abby, do fire away in the comments below. And don’t forget to check out Abby’s travel blog, follow her on twitter… and sign up to like her facebook page!