Welcome to Travel Blog Challenge

Welcome! It is really exciting to write this first post in what I hope will become a dynamic community of travel bloggers, ready to help each other succeed. Many of you may already know me as the author of Todds Wanderings. If you know me from there you might be asking yourself, what the heck are you doing creating another website? Dont you have enough to do with blogging, writing 3 books, and working full time for the United Nations?

Welcome to Travel Blog Challenge

While the danger of pulling myself in too many directions is certainly real, there is an even greater danger of just going in the wrong direction in general. Like many of you, I have heard (well, read) all the hype how we can earn money for traveling by blogging. How its possible to create a location independent lifestyle, travel the world and get paid to do it. Sounds nice right? Who wouldnt get caught up in this dream. It pulls at all the right emotional hooks, freedom, travel, escaping the 9-5 grind, becoming rich doing something we love. The question is, is it true? Is blogging, and more specifically travel blogging, a viable way to earn enough money to survive and support our travels?

What we are all about

The Travel Blog Challenge was created to answer this very question. It was created to shed some light and transparency on the travel blogging and lifestyle design worlds (yup, lifestyle designers are welcome too!). The Travel Blog Challenge was also created to help prejudge the answer, a place to gather together, network, to help each other out and succeed in an ethical way. Thats right, no spammers here, just a way to help travel bloggers develop sustainable online incomes.

1000-1000 Travel Blog Challenge

One of the main tools here on the TBC is the 1000-1000 Challenge. The aim of the Challenge (beside being the source of the blogs name) is to give everyone a goal to reach, as well as to help us create a standard in determining travel blogging success. This is how well be able to answer if travel blogging really is viable, and how to go about it.

Im not going to lie, this is not easy and will take a significant commitment, and a lot of time. But if youre willing to put in the effort then were willing to help you. Ill also be in it with you. To sign up for the challenge visit  the link above, but to see where it all started visit this post. I was amazed at the number of bloggers who thought it was a great idea, asked for my advice on building a successful blog, and were just stumbling around with no clear goal. In response I decided to expand the challenge to something greater than just my own personal goal.

Articles and Advice on Building a Successful Travel Blog

Besides tapping into our competitive spirits, TBC is also dedicated to furthering the Travel Blog world and finding the best ways to succeed. There is a lot written on the web about how to build a successful blog, from the nuts and bolts of web design, to finding an audience, to monetizing to the dreaded SEO. There is also a wealth of information floating around in other industries, such as marketing, public relations and tour companies. The TBC is dedicated to sharing the most useful advice on all of these topics and how they can help us all.

Knowing that we all have creative advice and hard earned experience to share, TBC is open to guest bloggers. So if you have useful tips or advice on anything related to increasing readership, monetizing, SEO, nuts and bolts, or cool things I havent heard about yet, check out how to write for Travel Blog Challenge.

TBC Network

One of the ultimate goals of the Travel Blog Challenge is to create a Network of successful travel bloggers that we can leverage to increase all of our online incomes. Ive been nothing but impressed with the willingness of the travel blog community to help each other out. Well approach advertisers and spread the wealth throughout the group. You wont have to wait until you complete the 1000-1000 Challenge to become a member. After all, the purpose of the TBC is to prove we can succeed, and to help you succeed. But you will have to commit to being a part of the group and helping others out. So to become a full blown member you have to do four things:

1) Start the 1000-1000 Challenge (click here to get started)

2) Register in the Forums and participate for 3 months (yes, Ill be able to tell)

3) Have an average visitor rate of 0ver 200/day for the past 2 month (as judged by Google Analytics)

4) Promote the heck out of your fellow travel bloggers

Once you have all four contact me and youll be added to the TBC Network List (yay, more promotion),  and youll be able to write a  Member Post to introduce  yourself and your blog. This way well ensure that Members are committed, and potential advertisers can be assured of our quality.

Commitment to Honesty and Transparency

Unfortunately, its very easy to trick people on the internet. The TBC is my answer to this trickery. We are not trying to employ emotional hooks, and promises of instant wealth with no work. What we are promising is complete honesty regarding what it takes to succeed as a travel blogger, if its even possible. I will be using Todds Wanderings as a case study and will share what has worked, what has failed, and where I stand with earnings and visitors. Anyone else who wants to do the same is free to post as well once they are a Member (although guest posting is welcome anytime).

I know, I know, this is a very ambitious plan for a new website. Thats OK, slow and steady is fine with me. and the site will evolve slowly as I add content, functions, and our membership grows. I have been blogging for the past 4 years and while Ive learned that quality takes time, Ive also learned that great things can happen quickly. If we succeed I have even more plans include: a space to promote travel and writing competitions, a jobs board to connect bloggers with those who need content and companies looking for reviews.

Excited? I am. Id love to hear what you think below in the comments.

*I would love for you to provide as much feedback, advice and even criticism as you can muster. This is a community site and it depends on its members to be successful, whether this if with guest posts or interaction in the forums, promoting each others sites, or suggesting new ways to grow. Leave your ideas below in the comments, or better yet get involved and help out. This is your site too.

1000-1000 Blog Challenge

Complete the 1000-1000

Welcome to the 1000-1000 Travel Blog Challenge. The Challenge is the competitive bedrock of the TBC and is the main tool we will use in our community experiment to answer the question: is travel blogging really a viable way to earn sustainable online income? It is also a fixed goal that we can use to motivate ourselves and each other.

What is the 1000-1000 Challenge?

The Challenge is simple. Build your travel or lifestyle blog to the point where it earns at least $1000 USD per month and gets an average of 1000 visitors/day.

Simple right? Well, maybe not that simple. In fact, we know accomplishing both can be difficult. Many people on the internet want you to believe that its easy to travel the world and get paid for it. They rely on the emotional hooks of freedom, travel and money to get you to part with your own money. The truth is, travel blogging takes time, dedication, and a plan of action. BUT you can succeed, and the Challenge is a way to help each other gain sustainable online income from travel blogging and build a legion of adoring fans (or just some really cool people).

We will do it together, and prove not only that succeeding at travel and lifestyle blogging is possible, but how to do it so others can follow in our footsteps.

How to Start the 1000-1000 Challenge

Starting the Challenge is easy and is the first step on your way to joining the Travel Blog Challenge (TBC) Network.

1) Register your site with Get Clicky so you can track visitor numbers and prove them to me and analyze where your traffic is coming from! (I switched this requirement from google analytics, because Get Clicky offers a much better user interface and is still free (there is a premium option if you want to track more than one site).

2) Install the TBC 1000-1000 Challenger Badge with pride (lots of sizes to suit your needs)

3) Write a post on your blog announcing you have joined the 1000-1000 Challenge

4) Leave a comment on this page with a link to your announcement (so I can add you to the list of challengers)

5) Write consistently, be creative and honest when earning money and building traffic

6) Selflessly promote the heck out of your fellow travel and lifestyle challengers

Why 1000-1000?

Before you send the inevitable barrage of e-mails bemoaning earning money from travel blogging, waxing poetic about all the other benefits such as social capital, engaging in a passion, and meeting new people, just take a deep breath and read some more.

There are many ways to measure success in the blogging world, and by no means am I saying that $1000/month and 1000 visitors/day is the only way to measure this. If you are happy blogging for the love of writing, great! If you are only interested in keeping a journal of your trip, go for it. If you are only interested in building a community but not monetization, this is still a great place for you.

I chose $1,000 as the threshold as this is a nice side income, and it is also the minimum monthly income needed by most long term budget travelers.

I chose 1,000 visitors (or about 30,000 a month) as this seems to be the magic number between a small website and one that has developed a respectable following. Well, to be  honest, this one was more random and I went with my gut feeling. Of course we would all love over 100,000 visitors a month, but lets concentrate on one thing at a time.

These are the standards I hoping we can use to build up credibility. When we have enough bloggers who have completed the challenge we will have a powerful lobbying group to engage with advertisers, PR reps and marketers.

Ive Started the Challenge, Now What?

The challenge is a medium term goal. It is my hope that it does not take most challengers longer than 1 year to complete. In the meantime, poke around the Travel Blog Challenge for advice and guidance on how to build a better blog.

Sign up for the TBC Network (the 1000-1000 Challenge is the first step). See the TBC Welcome post for details.

Introduce yourself on the forums in the New Challenger Introductions thread.

Most importantly, network, promote others, and engage with the community here. This is your site too and the benefits for all of us will come through supporting each other and banding together.

Ive Complete the Challenge, Now What? How will you Know?

Fear not, Im not going to forget about you, or exclude you if you are already a popular blogger.

If you are already over the 1000-1000 threshold, then get in touch and we will work it out. This will most likely be through a 1,500-1,500 challenge, or something like it. In either case this is just the first step in getting involved with the TBC Network. See the full steps here.

How to Prove you finished the Challenge

Like joining the TBC Network I will rely on Get Clicky to show your average monthly visits. While I encourage these to be unique visits, for the time being we will just say visits.

Proving how much you earn from your blog can be trickier and since this is all for self development I am going to just take your word for it. You are free to be creative in how you earn money from your blog (adsense, private advertising, affiliate sales, selling your own products, entering competitions etc). BUT you should distinguish between what the blog helps you earn and what you earn through the blog. For example a paid writing assignment that has NOTHING to do with your blog does not count. But if you win a writing competition by promoting it through your blog that is OK.

Basically, Im asking you to use your common sense, be fair, transparent and honest. When you complete the Challenge Ill ask you to post an article with your tips, advice and a breakdown of the types of revenue you earn and where your traffic comes from. This will help everyone else who follows, plus its really cool to see how others succeed!

OK, enough chit chat, lets get on with it. Good luck with the challenge and I cant wait to meet you.

How to Spend Less Time Blogging and More Time Traveling

Travel and BloggingOne of the most important aspects of running a travel blog is being able to travel.  This can be a difficult task.  While many travelers start up a travel blog at the beginning of their first around the world trip, many fail or lose interest part way through their travels.

Running a successful travel blog takes a full time commitment and this can really cut into your quality time seeing the world.

How can a person travel and enjoy their time exploring the earth while running a successful travel blog?

It is much easier to keep up to date with everything when you are at home in the comforts of your living room, but on the road any situation can pop up.  You may be in the middle of the jungle for several days or climbing a mountain without Internet access. Many countries have terrible and slow connections and you may find that you cannot upload photos or even get into your site.

You have to be prepared for any situation and you never want to have a blog that hasn’t been updated for long periods of time.

We have developed a system that not only allows us to travel, but to go on multiday adventures without even looking at the Internet while still managing to post content 7 days a week.   While things are easier when we are not travelling, we have our greatest increase in traffic and interest when we are out exploring the world. So our goal is to be on the road as much as we can each year.

Here are the ways that we manage to stay on top of social media, post content regularly and manage to contribute to other blogs through guest posts and interviews regularly.

1. Schedule Posts

Before leaving on a trip, we have two weeks of blog posts already scheduled.  We stay two weeks ahead on our blog at all times. This gives us a cushion if we find ourselves in a situation where we can’t get to an Internet.  Even though we are not in the location that we are writing about at the time, nobody knows it.  Only our core group of friends and fellow bloggers know the truth about where we are, but they are not the audience we are writing for. We write for people searching for information on a location or people that are interested in our adventures and don’t know us personally. They still get the story, just two weeks later than when we were there.

2. Schedule Social Bookmarking Sites

It is extremely important not to fall out of the loop of social networks.  We receive a lot of our traffic from twitter, facebook and StumbleUpon. We learned early in our travels that if we didn’t tweet and share other people’s content, they would forget about us. We use a combination of Hootesuite and  su.pr to schedule tweets.  Bloggers that we know who put out good solid content regularly are tweeted automatically from Hootesuite using their RSS/Atom application.   In doing so, we can instantly share their content and not even be online.

Su.pr is another great way to spread out our tweets and to post on facebook. We will spend a day scheduling people’s content to be tweeted and shared at different times throughout the week.  This allows us to add a human element to our scheduled tweets.  Autotweeting doesn’t allow any personality, but when scheduling tweets with your own little comments it allows you to engage with your audience.

We also use su.pr because it gives people an easy option to submit our posts to StumbleUpon.  It must work because we receive a lot of traffic from StumbleUpon.

Use Facebook Effectively – Start a fan page and use networked blogs to syndicate your content on facebook. It will automatically pull your feed from your blog and post your content onto facebook as soon as it is published.  This lets your fans instantly know when your new post is up.  You can also schedule facebook status updates through Hootesuite.

3. Photos

We host our photos on SmugMug and Flickr. This allows us to mass upload photos to be used on the website.  SmugMug houses our more professional travel photos while Flickr hosts our snapshots. Both types of photos are just as important to further the story of a post.  These sites are useful because it is quick and easy to upload several photos at once rather than inserting one photo at a time to the blog.  All we have to do once we write the article is to link the photos to the post where we want them. This saves valuable time online.

4. Write posts ahead of time

There is a lot of down time when traveling. You can spend hours on a bus or sitting in an airport. Use that time to do work.  Pre write your post on your laptop and sort and choose your photos for uploading. When you have an Internet connection all you have to do is copy and paste your content into the site. And when it comes to your photos, all you have to do is upload the album that you have already made.

I even pre write my tags and the excerpt for my post so that I don’t waste time having to think about anything at the Internet.  The less time I have to spend online, the more time I have to enjoy my travels.

5. Keep a Journal

When you are out on a tour jot down some notes. This will help you write a post faster than trying to remember details or having to look up information.  I brainstorm ideas all the time in my journal and keep it close by for quick reference.

6. Buy an iPhone or Blackberry

We always carry an iPhone to answer emails.  Advertisers contact us daily and we would hate to miss out on a business opportunity because we can’t get on the Internet.  We buy a SIM card and data plan in each country as soon as we enter. Our iPhone has become one of our most important items because its an excellent way to stay connected.   We can send out tweets and facebook updates and moderate comments on our blog all while stuck in transit.

7. Enjoy your travels

We travel hard and then we work hard. We will go for several days at a time unplugged but nobody knows it. By doing all the legwork, we stay connected and have posts coming out regularly while we are off enjoying the adventure of a lifetime.  Once we are finished our adventure, we then settle in for a couple of days to catch up on our work and write our next round of posts.

Take advantage of the many times that you will be stuck waiting for boats, trains, planes and buses to get your work done. There is nothing else to do in a waiting area but wait; you might as well do your blogging so that you don’t have to work when you arrive at your destination.

We like to immerse ourselves in our travels.  We aren’t a type of traveler that sits in one place for months on end. We take part in adventures; we go on treks and move around a lot.  The last thing we want to do is spend too much time on the Internet.

Anyone Can Monetize A Blog How Much Youll Make Is A Different Story

Create Blog Plan to Make MoneyBefore we get to Anils great post, I want to have my say on this topic. Yes, Im entitled to! Its my blog after all! What you are about to read is really true. There are a lot of people peddling the get paid to travel line but not everyone comes and tells you how hard it is, how you need to have a plan, how you actually need to work at it. No one is going to throw money at you in real life, so why would they in the blogging world. You need to EARN your money. I hope its possible to earn that money doing what I love, sipping cocktails on the beach, and dodging bullets and clingy groupies.

Here at the TBC we are trying one of these unique ways to add value (i.e. $$$, fame, world domination) collectively to our travel blogs. It takes creativity, and a willingness to work hard when youre not on the beach. No one ever said doing what you love is not hard work. It just doesnt feel like work.

Ok, now without further ado here is our great guest post by Anil.

How Much Money?

There isnt a single blog or blogger out there that cant make money by the end of this week with their site. Making money with a blog is easy, but if thats where your goal stops you wont be able to pay for a beer in Thailand, let alone your travels.

Without goals and a plan to achieve them, youll fail. There is no single way to make money with a blog just as theres no single way to make money from a business. Henry Ford didnt wake up one day and say I want to make money, let me figure out how. The idea came first. He monetized a dream and wasnt dreaming about monetizing.

Those of you serious about making money from your travel blog need to have some idea of how much you want to make…and how often. Monetizing isnt just turning your blog into a cash machine, in reality its converting it into a business. You need to treat it as such.

Have A Travel Blog Plan

There are two ways to go about making money online; either try and make a million dollars out of one thing, or make 1 dollar a million ways. Somewhere in between the two you need to diversify your income. Experiment, and keep track of where your money comes from and how. Talk to businesses in your field (aka. other specific travel blogs youve singled out) and see whats working for them and how.

Starting to sound like a business? Remember, it is if you have a figure in your head you want to make. Otherwise its just a hobby, and thats fine too. The biggest mistake you can make is getting caught somewhere in the hazy gray area of the two and end up frustrated with the goals you never created, realized, or achieved.

Wear Your Business Hat

While I cant make a business plan for you, I can help you get started but asking you, why should anyone give you money? Ask yourself (and your travel blog) the same question. (Dont worry, I wont look as you talk to your computer screen.)

You may have an audience that others would like to advertise to, an expertise others are willing to pay and learn from, or travel photography worthy of posting on living room walls. And probably many other things nobody has thought about or done in the same way before.

Blogs dont make money, everything associated with them does, indirectly. How much theyll make on the other hand is mostly up to you. Remember that you cant financially succeed or fail if you dont have goals to measure that success against.

 

Write for TBC

Thanks for your interest in writing a guest post for Travel Blog Challenge.

Travel Blog Challenge is a community site that relies on the experience, creativity, and insight of its readers to create and share content. Basically, wed love to get you involved. After all the Travel Blog Challenge is all about helping each other.

Travel

We are hoping to get a lot of requests and while we would love to feature everyone, quality content that is relevant, well written and above all useful is a must. While we will consider everything, you have a better chance if your guest post:

  • speaks to the travel blogging community (if you didnt read the About, you are out)
  • presents a unique and creative perspective
  • is written so that the beginner as well as the advanced blogger can use the advice easily

What does this all mean? Basically that we may politely decline to use your article if it is not well written  is not relevant to our readers or the theme of the TBC, fails to present information in a new way, we have already covered the topic, or we have too many posts. I know, it sounds strict but we arent so bad. As long as you are eager, honest, and passionate Im sure youll do fine.

Topics

As you may have noticed, Travel Blog Challenge is dedicated to helping the travel blog community succeed. This falls into two basic topics- building readership and making money. Of course this can cover a lot of ground and were are relying on your creativity to expand our knowledge and the possibilities in travel blogging. But just so we are all on the same page here are some of the topics the we cover:

  • Increasing traffic and find a readership
  • How to make money
  • Building and optimizing web sites (the nuts and bolts)
  • Marketing, Public Relations, Social Media
  • Tools
  • Writing compelling content
  • Efficiency and how to spend less time blogging and more time traveling

Yeah, thats a lot and Im open to more so suggest away.

Guidelines

Here are a few guidelines and suggestions that will make both of our lives easier and will hopefully increase the chances we can feature your post. So, before you hit send make sure your submission:

  1. is clear, concise and follows a logical progression. Basically, make sure the advice is useful and is written with Travel Blog Challenge members in mind
  2. includes all the information you want presented and in the appropriate areas, text, links, pictures etc
  3. infringes on NO copyrights laws either with text or images
  4. includes a title, body text, your byline, and an image

Length

Your post can be as long as it needs to be to cover your topic of choice. There are lots of rules floating around the internet about how posts for the web should be short to retain our attention. That may be true but at the end of the day content and quality is king. Write well, write in a compelling voice, add value and youll keep attention to the end.

Those are the rules. Now you may be wondering what you get out of it all.

What you get

Travel Blog Challenge is all about promoting others and helping each other master the 1000-1000 Challenge. Feel free to include links in the body of your article, but make sure they are relevant (abuse it and well remove them or reject completely). At the end of every guest post we will include your byline with up to two links to promote your blog, service, product or whatever you think is relevant. We love to promote!

Remember, the more useful the content the more likely people will click through to your blog to see what else you have to say.

– See more at: https://web-beta.archive.org/web/20130302125737/http://www.travelblogchallenge.com:80/write-for-travel-blog-challenge/#sthash.wBwyF2VQ.dpuf

The Power of Building Relationships

Free Hugs NetworkingOne of the most overlooked parts to your success, not just online, but in any field is networking.

Like it or not, “Its not what you know, but who you know” is a very real reality.

Some people think that this is not fair and spend forever moaning and griping about it. For me, Id rather just understand the reality of this, become an entrepreneur, and do what successful people do.

Networking is the fun part to your business. It is the part that I find is the easiest and can produce the greatest rewards.

Networking is simply building relationships. Relationships cannot just be beneficial to you from a business perspective, but from a personal perspective as well.

Networking Purpose

There are two very important points I want to make before I go any further. What I am outlining are strategies specifically to address how building relationships can benefit your businesses. We never ever build relationships with people purely for personal or financial gain. The rewards that come from networking are a side bonus. We build relationships with others because we love meeting and interacting with people. We always bring the attitude with us that we have the opportunity and ability to offer something of value as well.

The second important thing is these networking strategies apply just as much to the online world as it does to the physical world. Dont believe for a second you can hide behind your avatar on the computer. Everything you do must be backed by authenticity and sincerity or else your success with networking will be short-lived. If you are networking in the online world, these strategies will be applied through your online communication.

Get to know the other Person

After spending a whole day listening to entrepreneurs talk at a conference, we worked up the courage to approach our favourite speaker for the day after the seminar. We introduced ourselves, asked him if we could buy him a drink and then proceeded to talk about surfing, Australia, the US and travel. We spent the remainder of the evening into the early hours having a blast with him. Not once did we ask him anything business related or pester him for his million dollar secrets. The next day he found us to say goodbye, and spoke of the fantastic time he had with us. He gave us his personal details and said, “If you need any help with anything, give me a call.” That was a solid relationship building evening.

If you are meeting someone who you look up to in your chosen field for the first time, make sure you do not bombard them with questions as to how they can help you. First, get to know the real person. Make general conversation. They will appreciate it so much as they are used to so many people wanting to learn their magic secrets.

Make people remember you

In business, people are interacting and networking all the time. How is someone going to remember who you are? One of the best things you can do is have your photograph on your business card. This makes it so much easier for the person who is sifting through hundreds of them to remember you. Carry your business card everywhere and hand it to each new person you meet. Let them know how you can connect again and that you would love share ideas sometime. Make it casual.

Be bright, happy and positive. Smile lots, make jokes and light-hearted conversation. This is really the best way to ensure someone remembers you. In reality there really aren’t a lot of happy friendly people around so if you can be this way you will stand out.

Dont be afraid to share your story with others. There is a very fine line here between bragging and sharing. Speak confidently about what you do, allow your passion for it to shine through.

Let the person know you, know something about them and appreciate what they do. Without sounding stalkerish, mention a recent post of theirs you read, or tell them how helpful you found their latest book. Make it short and sweet.

Lose your arrogance

Im sure we have all met the person who thinks they are so far above you that you are not even worthy a look down their nose. These people stink and have no idea about building relationships. When their walls come tumbling down they will find no one around to help build them back up.

I dont care how big or how successful you are there is no one who is not worthy of your time. Besides, how do you know the success these people may have in the future?

The more success you have the harder it is to devote enough time with others who want to get to know you. It is like when you get married, the evening finishes and you feel really rude because you did not get a chance to speak to your hundreds of guest. Do the best you can. Always offer a smile at least, and a nice to meet you. People will understand you are busy, but that doesn’t mean you can’t treat them with respect and leave a good impression.

When talking with others always ensure that you spend time getting to know them. Ask them about their life and what they do. Do not spend the whole time talking about how wonderful you and your product, website or blog is.

Follow Up

The fortune is in the follow up. Allocate time in your busy schedule to follow up with those you have recently met and would like to build a relationship with. Send them a quick email, facebook status update or even a tweet.

Let them know how much you enjoyed meeting them and you look forward to meeting them in the future. If you spoke about any particular topic, mention it with perhaps an answer, a website, or a link you can send their way with helpful information.

Always be sure to pass on your gratitude and appreciation for anything that people have taken the time to help you with. I know it is easy to forget sometimes, but you must make this a habit. I have had people contact me via email for help before, and I have taken time out of my busy schedule to help them out. Sometimes I never hear from these people again, not even a one sentence thank you. It always amazes me as that is a prime opportunity for relationship building lost. I’m less likely to help that person in the future.

Start connecting with your new friends online. Join their social communities, comment on their work and share it. This all helps to cement a deeper relationship with these people.

Entrepreneurs are always happy to network and share. They understand the power that comes from building relationships. You just never know where that relationship may lead.

Never be afraid to approach people. You are worthy of their time and you have a lot to offer. If you approach your networking from this perspective, with an open mind for learning and sharing you will build strong and positive relationships with others.

People help open up doors that you never had the clear vision to see. You also have the ability to help open these doors for others.

Caz and Craig Makepeace have been living and travelling the globe since 97, both solo and as a couple and now with a three year old. They believe life is all about the memories and their travel tips and stories at yTravel blog and their fanpage aim to inspire and teach others how to make their life a story to tell.