Today marks the start of a new series of articles where I reach out to the travel blogging community and get their insights into the world of travel blogging.
I will be delving into their thoughts as to why they blog, what makes a successful blogger, and the sort of things you might want to think about if you were going to go about starting up your own travel blog.
I am starting the series, which will run as an interview format, with one of the giants of the travel blogging world: Gary Arndt. Gary is the author of Everything Everywhere, one of the web’s most successful travel blogs, and I am delighted to have him featured. On with the interview!
Tell us a little bit about Gary and your site, Everything Everywhere?
In March 2007 I sold my house and set out to travel around the world. Since then I’ve been travelling non-stop and have visited over 80 countries and territories around the world.
My blog, Everything Everywhere, has been documenting my travels since I started travelling. It is one of the most popular travel blogs in the world and was named by Time Magazine as one of the 25 Top Blogs of 2010.
What drove you to start writing a travel blog?
I had a personal website before they were called blogs. Documenting my travels was something that just was natural to me.
How do you define success in terms of your travel blog?
The difference between a blog and a diary is an audience. Obviously, I’d like to keep growing my audience, but I’ve also begun to get some really great emails from readers who have decided to take the leap and start travelling. I didn’t get into this to evoke that sort of reaction, but it has been a very good benefit of doing this.
Which, if any, metrics do you follow in terms of traffic analysis / site ranking, and how important do you think these are?
The main metric I care about are followers. People who have taken the time to at least click a button to hear more of what I have to say. This could be RSS subscribers, email newsletter subscribers, Facebook fans or twitter followers. Ultimately, it is that core group of people who will make you. Normal blog traffic is, in my mind, just a means to getting subscribers.
How important do you think technical know-how and issues such as site design are for a travel blog?
It certainly helps, but it isn’t necessary. All of that can be outsourced if necessary or you can use any number of free blogging platforms.
If there was one thing you wish you could have known before you started writing your blog, what would it have been?
How much time and effort it would require.
Do you have any regrets in terms of your travel blog?
Not really. There are some things I wish I had known earlier, but that is just part of the process of trial and error.
How important is social media to your blog, and what approach do you take to this?
Extremely important. It is my #1 source of traffic. I don’t really have an approach other than to be myself. That includes getting into arguments occasionally and not hiding my opinions. Too many people try to please everyone online. No one notices lukewarm.
How do you see travel blogging developing over the next few years?
Travel blogs will continue to grow and become more professional and an increasingly important part of the travel industry.
And finally, what key advice would you give to people running, or thinking about setting up, their own travel blog?
Set up something on WordPress and just get started. As you evolve and learn more you can always change themes, hosts or anything else. It is important to just start the process immediately and not worry about trying to have a perfect launch.
An enormous thank you to Gary for taking the time to answer my questions. If you want to find out more about Gary’s journey, check out his site at everything-everywhere.com. Gary can also be found on Twitter and Facebook.
If you have an opinion on this article, please do comment below. If you’re a travel blogger keen to get involved in the series, head on over to the contact page and drop me a line. Happy travels!