Travel blogging tips from the experts: Travel Rinse Repeat

TRR-Osaka

Today I’m interviewing a relative newcomer to the travel blogging scene – John of Travel Rinse Repeat.

Unlike many of the folk I have interviewed in this series, John’s travels come about as a result of his work as a management consultant – a world I am more than familiar with from my past life! This means he has less control over his destinations, and gives his site an interesting twist.

Today John talks about the challenges he has faced starting up a travel blog, the direction he hopes to go in, and what he might have done differently with hind sight. Lets get going with the interview!

Tell us a little bit about John!
I travel for work every week – I’m a management consultant who criss-crosses the country as part of my job. This comes with a lot of benefits (free flights, hotel rooms, and rental cars and the elite perks that come along with these) but also has some drawbacks (I have to spend the majority of my time at work when I travel and I have no control of what destinations I’m sent to).

I’ve logged way too many frequent flyer miles and spend more nights in hotels than in my own bed. In addition to business trips, I try to take at least two personal weekend trips a month, which leaves very little time back at home.

TRR-Quandary

Why did you first start writing a travel blog?
Over time, I started to become a bit jaded by all the travel. I had one-too-many ‘where am I right now?’ moments and that scared me a bit – I didn’t want travel to lose its sense of adventure.

Starting my Travel Rinse Repeat Travel Blog was not only a way for me to keep a record of my travels, but also a way to bring the excitement back to it. Now, producing content based on my travels is an incredible motivator for me and it has added another element of excitement to my daily routine.

How do you define success in terms of your blog?
I would define success as the amount of positive impact I can have on others traveling. My travel motto (and the philosophy of my blog) is ‘make the most of every travel opportunity.’ Most of my travel comes in the form of business trips. I don’t necessarily get to choose the destinations, but I try and make sure I make the most of the opportunity wherever I am.

To me, success would be inspiring others to make the most out of their travel experiences, whether they’re traveling for work, leisure, or any other reason.

What are your dreams for your blog? 
I’d love to take it international at some point. Of course, that means scheduling some personal vacation since there is almost zero chance of that happening with work. I have some plans in the works for international trips this summer, but the details aren't finalized just yet. I expect to be announcing it really soon though!

TRR Biopic

Do you follow any metrics in terms of traffic analysis / site ranking, and how important do you think these are?
I use both Google Analytics and Alexa frequently. Knowing where my traffic is coming from is extremely important in determining future traffic generating strategies. Alexa isn’t as tactically useful for me, but it’s a fun way to track my progress as Travel Rinse Repeat grows.

Which social networks are you active on, and what tips would you give for success on these?
I am active on twitter, facebook, Stumble Upon, Flickr, and YouTube, though it depends what your definition of ‘active’ is. To be honest, I kind of detested the whole social media side of this when I started and saw it as much more of a chore than anything else.

Over the months, I have (slowly) come to embrace it. I really love Stumble Upon and use it all the time. I feel like I’m starting to get into a twitter routine (thanks to Hootsuite!), but I’m still having trouble turning the corner on Facebook.

I have used facebook personally for almost eight years now but using it for a website is a whole different animal. I’ve been learning a lot but still have a long way to go. I currently have a whopping 10 fans, so if you feel like showing me some facebook love, make sure you stop by and ‘like’ my page!



My best tip for social media? Don't waste too much time on it. I think making real connections through emails, phone calls, and face-to-face meetings has yielded much greater results for me. It can't be ignored, but I don't think spending hours on twitter or facebook yields a healthy ROI.

What other techniques have you used to improve your traffic, and how successful have these been?
Interestingly enough, Reddit has been extremely helpful in improving my traffic. I never even considered using it until someone else submitted one of my posts without me knowing it. My traffic skyrocketed that day and I’ve been using it since.

Many of your travels come about as a result of your job. How do you balance the time between work, life and blogging?
On the road, it is easy to maintain a balance. I generally have a quiet hour or two back at the hotel each night where I can respond to emails, edit photos, and write new content.

When I’m back at home, it’s a little more difficult. With all the distractions present in my house, I tend to hunker down in my neighbourhood coffee shops on the weekends. I spend a lot of my time on Saturdays working on the blog but as a rule I always keep my weekend evenings free.

TRR-Turtle1


You are fairly new to travel blogging. What have been your biggest challenges to date?
The biggest challenge for me was learning how to build a website in the first place. I knew I wanted a customized website that didn’t look like anything else, but I didn’t really have any web design skills and I didn’t want to pay someone else to do it.

I spent over a month figuring it all out; I read a lot, experimented even more, turned out some truly atrocious designs and finally settled on what I have today. I still tweak elements of the design and functionality every week and I still have a lot to learn, but I feel much more comfortable.


If you started your blog today, what would you differently?
I would have spent more time reading other travel blogs. I read three or four pretty religiously before I started – now my list of travel blogs I read is well over 50.

I have realized since then that the handful of blogs I read weren’t especially representative of the entire community. I think it would have been better if I had a wider view of the travel blog spectrum when first getting started.

If you have questions or problems with your site, where do you go to find answers?
I have been extremely impressed by the helpful nature of the travel blog community. I’ve reached out to other travel bloggers with both general and specific questions. I’ve yet to receive anything but helpful advice. I’ve been extremely impressed with the community as a whole – everyone seems incredibly positive and willing to help out.

Other travel bloggers are likely to be reading this interview. What questions do you have for them?
Will I see you at TBEX? It’s in my home state of Colorado, so I’m hoping to see a lot of you there! I have only met one other travel blogger in person thus far; I’m excited to meet many more.



Travel blogging is becoming more and more popular. How do you differentiate yourself in such a crowded market?
I think taking on the business travel angle has given me quite a different niche in the market. Unlike most of the other travel bloggers, I don’t get to choose the destinations I go to – my employer does. For me, this adds a unique variable in the formula.

I’d love to be writing about a beach in Thailand, but the reality is work is sending me to Wichita, Kansas next. I have no idea what I’m going to write about when I get there, but you better believe I’ll do my damnedest to seek out the interesting, unique, beautiful, and delicious to keep the posts interesting.

And finally, what advice would you give to people running, or thinking about setting up, their own travel blog? 
Find your voice. This is definitely something I'm still 0working on; it's important to let your personality shine in your writing. My favourite travel bloggers do an amazing job of this, and it is something I'm still practicing each and every day.

Thanks to John for taking the time to answer all my questions! Don’t forget to check out John’s travel blog, Travel Rinse Repeat, follow him on twitter, and like his facebook page. And if you’ve got any questions for John – pop them in the comments below!




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