Another travelling couple take centre stage for this weeks travel blogging tips interview: Nathan and Sofia of travel blog aswetravel.com.
Nathan and Sofia have maintained a travel blog under various guises for a number of years now, with aswetravel.com launched a year ago.
The main focus of the blog is to provide travel tips for fellow travellers, as well as city guides and observations from the road.
Today, Nathan and Sofia talk about why they started a travel blog, the importance of finding the right name, and how to juggle writing and travel.
Tell us a little bit about Nathan and Sofia, and your site, aswetravel.com
Nathan comes from New Zealand and Sofia comes from Sweden – we met while Nathan was in Sweden, and after dating for a while decided to travel around the world starting by flying to New Zealand from Sweden and over a 8 month period through NZ, Australia, Vanuatu, South East Asia and Europe with a budget of roughly 6,000US each – for the whole trip.
That was back in 2008/2009 – As We Travel was started in February 2010 while we were spending a winter skiing in Switzerland.
As We Travel shares travel tips, discusses different topics and shares city guides. We’re now also working on an online travel show which follows us as we travel through different countries.
What drove you to start writing a travel blog?
When we started getting a few comments from other people who had randomly found our blog and thanked us for the information, we thought that setting up a real travel blog might be a fun project.
So we got a new domain and started to build a blog – with no real knowledge of blogging or what was going to happen…
How do you define success in terms of your travel blog?
When we get emails from people who either ask us for advice or just want to sincerely thank us or tell us that they enjoy our site and content.
Knowing that our site has helped and made such an impression that they send an e-mail thanking you is to us a fantastic feeling.
Which, if any, metrics do you follow in terms of traffic analysis / site ranking, and how important do you think these are?
Yeah – we think these are important, not for others but more for ourselves, so we can see whether or not the current content we are posting is helping us build a better more solid blog or not.
Alexa.com, Compete.com etc are a waste of time, those sites have no real access to the data from blogs, and make everything up based on tracking a few sites and assuming the rest (they pretty much told us this, when we asked for an explanation).
What technology do you use to host your blog, and how much technical know-how do you think is necessary to run a blog like yours?
We use Bluehost, and WordPress and a few other paid plugins. Technical know-how is important if you want to get your site exactly how you want it.
Most of that will be learnt by trial, error and time – we can’t count how many times we lost our WHOLE site due to simply pushing the wrong button… so now we backup everything!
What have you found to be the hardest thing about running a travel blog, and how do you overcome this?
We never thought it would be this much work! It’s all the small details which don’t seem like much but put together takes up a lot of time.
When you’re running a travel blog your juggling many things at once: first and foremost you’re travelling, but also writing, taking photos, filming, staying up to date, reading other blogs etc.
We try to create a steady work schedule, we also settle down every few weeks for a few more days to do the extra work – we hate “catching up” on things.
If there was one thing you wish you could have known before you started writing your blog, what would it have been?
Make sure you pick the RIGHT domain name – so many bloggers out there have picked domain names which might sound fun and nice at the start – but you never know what is going to happen if you build your site up. We went from nathansofia.com, nathansofiatravel.com to finally aswetravel.com.
But this also depends on what you want out of blogging – if you just want to have a nice personal site then pick something personal – but then in the future that might hold you back from expanding. Take the time to know what you want from this, and build your site around that dream.
What have you found to be the best way to go about generating an income from your blog?
Focus on building a solid travel blog which shares great content etc. and you will get advertisers contacting you and trying to work with you – that is our main source of monthly income.
We also released an eBook last year called the Pre-Travel Guide which has helped many people around the world prepare for their rtw trips.
How do you go about promoting your travel blog?
We don’t actively promote our site, but you will find us active daily on twitter (@aswetravel), facebook etc. connecting with our readers, and building those relationships.
If you share great info, others will share it with their friends, and their friends-friends – that builds your readership up without you needing to do extra work.
How do you see travel blogging developing over the next few years?
We think that more and more travel companies will come to bloggers, and try to form relationships – they will start to realize that customers want a real face, real experiences to products, destinations etc.
So what better way to give that than to connect with travel bloggers like us who are actively out there travelling the world and sharing our experiences.
What sort of time commitment do you put in to your travel blog on a weekly basis?
For us travel blogging is our full time job – so dependent on the week, situation etc. we can work from 2 hours a day to 7+ hours a day. It is our passion and our life – so the more we work and the more we build aswetravel.com – the more freedom we can create for ourselves.
And finally, what key advice would you give to people running, or thinking about setting up, their own travel blog?
Know WHY you are doing it – do you want to have a place online to share your travels, do you want to make money, do you want to help others – what is your focus?
Otherwise you might find yourself 3-6 months later wishing you had done things differently like we did.
Do your research before you set up the blog. Read, Watch and Learn from those who are already doing it. That way you can avoid many mistakes, you can learn from their mistakes so you won’t have to do them yourself.