Part 3 - How to Grow Your Travel Blog's Audience

How to Grow Your Travel Blog’s Audience is the third segment in our How to Build a Successful Travel Blog workshop. Take a look at the previous segments first:

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How to Grow Your Travel Blog

Step 1: Start with Your Content

The first way to grow your travel blog’s reach is to publish great content. Here are a number of things to consider when thinking through your conten.

Be authentic

People want to read what you have to say and they follow your blog because they feel connected to you. If you’re not really there to provide value, then you’re wasting everyone’s time, including your own. It’s super obvious to readers when your end-goal isn’t sincere. Being inauthentic is the fastest way to turn readers off.

Consistency is key…

Like with many things, consistency is vital when starting a travel blog. First, as your audience grows, you’ll need ongoing content and a social media presence to keep them engaged or they’ll fall by the wayside. Second, consistency in posting content is a factor measured by Google when determining your search rankings. And third, a content structure keeps you in line and motivates you to continue producing great travel content.

…But be realistic!

One of the biggest mistakes by new bloggers is that they set unrealistic content goals at the onset – like posting daily. We often think that we can do more than we actually can when we start out blogging. You might have a ton of energy and a backlog of articles but both will dry up fast and you’ll be scrambling to stick to your content schedule, meaning you’ll be writing content all the damn time. Pick a posting frequency that will be sustainable in the long run.

An editorial calendar is key to maintaining consistency. It’s also helpful for layering themed content, planning your social media, and keeping you focused on getting content onto your site – sometimes the hardest part is figuring out what to write about. Pushing that out of the equation entirely can keep you on track and grow your travel blog’s reach.

Pick a niche

But travel is my niche, you might be thinking. Not so fast. Travel is a crowded space for blogs, with a small few dominating the pageviews, FAM trips, and brand dollars. While we’re all writing about destinations we think readers should visit, you have to define yourself differently to stand out. For example, Departful provides high quality travel content to millennials who are seeking boundary-pushing travel experiences. Here are a few other examples from some of the largest travel blogs:

Alex in Wanderland: Diving & sustainable travel
Y Travel Blog: Family Travel
Be My Travel Muse: Solo female travel

Giving some thought upfront on what your angle will be will help shape your identity early on and define your target audience. Many new bloggers think that narrowing down will result in less traffic, but as the classic adage goes, you can’t be all things to all people. Better to have a hundred enthusiastic fans than an audience pool of thousands who don’t give a damn about what you have to say.

Mix up your content

Play around with content types to appeal to more readers, which will also help keep things interesting for you. Many bloggers start out writing word-heavy articles and publishing them one by one. Visitors to your blog will gravitate toward different types of content, so switch it up from time to time. Examples of content that you can produce include:

• List articles
• Photo articles
• City / Country guides
• Hotel / Tour features
• Gear / Product reviews
• Infographic
• Videos
• E-Books
• Tutorials
• Podcasts
• Current events
• Link roundups
• Interviews

Some of these will work better in search rankings and bring in organic traffic, while others will be more suited to social media promotion. Test what works and adjust your content plan as needed, but maintain a balance of different content styles to keep it interesting to readers.

Understand your audience

Like in any business, you shouldn’t blindly go about making things you think your audience will want. Any business class will preach the basic fundamental of a successful organization: know your customer. Pushing out content that you think your readers will like without actually knowing who your readers are is the ultimate time waster.

One of your best tools as a travel blogger is Google Analytics. If you’re not already set up, go get it immediately. Google Analytics has a lot of great information about your site’s performance including users & page views, bounce & exit rates, acquisition source, and demographic information on your readers. I won’t attempt to define and explain each metric – but here’s a good guide for setting up Google Analytics and here’s one with definitions for all of the core metrics. Use Google Analytics to understand how many people are visiting your site, where they come from, and what they’re reading. Drive your content decisions from there.

When you’re just starting out and don’t have sufficient data, do a solid review of other travel blogs in your niche and understand what type of content does well for them. I’m certainly not advocating for ripping them off (just don’t) but it will give you an idea of what the most successful travel bloggers consider a priority. Or just ask your readers what they want via social media, comments on your blog, or even through a survey.

Have a target reader

Defining your target audience is an important part of any business. However, don’t generalize your target reader into a faceless group. Think of your target reader as an actual person, maybe someone you know, who you want to appeal to. This will make it easier to make decisions on content and strategy moving forward.

Step 2: Develop a Social Media Strategy

Social media is a game changer for travel blogs, allowing new sites to reach an enormous audience right off the bat. And while there’s so much potential to grow your blog’s audience through social media, it can be downright overwhelming trying to use your platforms effectively to your advantage.

My biggest piece of advice for those embarking on their blogging journey is to focus on mastering one or two platforms first. You can add in others if you think it’s necessary down the line. Ask any travel blogger and they’ll tell you that one social media stream in particular is their most valuable, and where they put the majority of their effort.

In the beginning, it’s far better to funnel your efforts into one or two platforms than dilute it across several. Decide upfront which social media channels you want to be synonymous with your brand. Add in social share methods and counters to your articles so that it’s easy for readers to share content they love.

Here’s a quick overview of each social media channel and why they’re valuable to grow your travel blog.


Facebook has always been a popular way for bloggers to connect with their audience. Bloggers can build a brand page or a group to showcase your content and reach readers. However, Facebook’s new algorithm makes it more difficult for brand pages to get into the feeds of their supporters without spending money on promotional campaigns. And with all the recent data issues, Facebook has been losing support with businesses and brands across every industry.


People who do well on Twitter do really well. For me, Twitter is a valuable social media platform for engaging with other travel writers and businesses in the travel industry. I personally find it the most difficult to build a community from scratch for those who weren’t early adopters or don’t put significant effort into it. Best practices for Twitter include adding photos & videos to your tweets and posting frequently as the feed is ever-evolving. The Everywhereist is a fabulous example of the potential for travel writers on Twitter.


Instagram is an important platform for many travel bloggers as awesome photos and travel go hand in hand. The key with instagram is to use intriguing and high quality photos, and to write engaging captions. If you’re editing your images, use VSCO or A Color Story – never use the preset Instagram filters. Instagram stories are an excellent method for bringing your audience along for the ride.

The caption that follows your instagram image is important – it’s another opportunity to hook your reader with your writing style so don’t be boring! Use the caption to engage your audience by adding in personal details or asking a question to generate a conversation. Hashtags are essential for reaching beyond your followers as well. These often do better when they’re location specific rather than generic hashtags that cover everything. Here’s a good guide to instagram hashtags for travel bloggers.

One of the fundamental goals of social media marketing is to bring readers from the social network to your website. Include a link to your latest article in your bio to encourage your followers to interact with your travel blog.

We use Hootsuite for Instagram automation, which just got so much better. Instagram didn’t allow posting from desktops, meaning Hootsuite ‘pushed’ scheduled content to their mobile app and we had to manually post it in Instagram. Now you can schedule directly from Hootsuite on your laptop, making it much more time efficient as you can just set it and forget it.


Many bloggers dismiss Pinterest as a spot to find craft ideas or paleo recipes. However, for many savvy bloggers Pinterest is a major source of traffic. With over 150 million monthly users (and growing), people are increasingly using Pinterest as a search engine to find unique content. I guarantee that Pinterest will be a key factor in your travel blog’s growth.

Content on Pinterest has a long tail, meaning that it can take some time to pick up but pins can consistently bring in traffic for years. And unlike other social media platforms where engagement is immediate and then drops off completely, a pin can go viral a long time after pinning, making it a great passive strategy for driving readers to your blog’s content.

Register a Pinterest business account and use rich pins, which link back to your website. Create at least one design-forward vertical pin using Canva or PicMonkey for every article that you publish. Join group boards, which include many pinners. Write keyword heavy board and pin descriptions – just as you would in your SEO strategy. Group boards can help boost your pins as you can reach a much larger audience and pin alongside other travel bloggers who will likely share your content. Here’s a round-up of the top Pinterest group boards for travel blogs.

Share the love and pin other peoples’ content as well. This isn’t only common courtesy, it’s a consideration part of Pinterest’s algorithm. You’ll benefit from pinning valuable content that’s relevant to your followers, which Pinterest appreciates.

Continuing to direct visitors to your site takes a lot of time to maintain. We use Tailwind to amplify our Pinterest performance. Tailwind is a pin scheduling tool that makes it easy to pin your own or other peoples’ pins. I use Tailwind for two purposes: scheduling pins (I love Tailwind’s Chrome extension) and for Tribes, which is quite possibly the most ingenious innovation in Pinterest marketing. Tailwind users can join various tribes across many niches, where they routinely share their pins with the tribe. Tribe members pin to their Pinterest boards directly from the tribe, amplifying the reach of everyone’s pins. The beauty of Tailwind tribes, and what’s missing from group boards, is built in accountability: each tribe has rules outlining how many of other members’ pins you’re required to share per pin you share to the tribe. You can get a 30 day trial for Tailwind to test it out – I know you’ll love it.


Video will continue to be big for the travel industry. Many travel blogs have integrated video into their content and used Youtube to reach a larger audience. Video content tends to appeal more to travel companies when working with travel bloggers. But the standards are high, so ensure you’re producing top quality video content if you’re interested in using video to grow your travel blog.

Social Media Tips for Travel Blogs

High quality content – First and foremost, your social media feeds should showcase excellent content. The travel blogging community is crowded and subpar material just won’t cut it. All of your efforts to boost your following is irrelevant if you’re sharing shitty stuff.

Automate & schedule – It’s really time consuming to manage several social media accounts (especially when you have 14 as we do). Tending to your social media channels in real time can take hours, making it difficult to focus on higher priority projects – like making money! Instead, batch process it all. With handy scheduling tools, you can manage your travel blog’s social media presence with a lot less effort. Set it and forget it. We often spend a couple of hours each week setting up all of Departful Media’s social activity using these tools:

  • Hootsuite: This is an amazing product for scheduling your Facebook posts, tweets, and instagrams. Hootsuite’s web-based interface is well-designed and easy to use, and gives you useful data to see what works and what doesn’t.
  • Tailwind: I love this product for Pinterest – super intuitive and the analytics are highly useful. Access to Tribes is reason enough to sign up for Tailwind. Many travel bloggers on Pinterest use Tailwind exclusively with great results.

Quid pro quo: Don’t just pursue your own self-interest when it comes to social media – spread the love. Sharing others people’s content not only makes you a decent person, it generates engagement with your audience, can boost your rankings and legitimacy, and allows you to forge connections with other travel bloggers that can lead to benefits down the road. Okay, you’re setting these channels up to bring attention to your blog, but there’s an automatic cringe reaction when readers come across a social media account that’s so blatantly self-promotional – so there needs to be balance. Ultimately don’t be a social media leech as it won’t have the long term benefits you’re hoping for.

Promotions: Most social networks give you the option of paying to promote your profile and/or post (it’s how they make an insane amount of money every year). Facebook and Instagram (sister companies that have the same promotion set-up) offer excellent ad targeting that can be relatively inexpensive depending on what you’re promoting. We’ve used Facebook ads successfully to launch new publications and products in a cost-effective way. Pinterest rolled out their promoted pin concept awhile back. Though it appears to have potential to drive a lot of traffic (or sales if you have a product), its price point (super expensive!) makes it more relevant to brands looking to reach paying customers. You can decide for yourself – here’s a good overview of Pinterest’s promoted pins.

There’s so much more I could touch on but I’m not going to rewrite the book on this – there are hundreds of useful guides out there on how travel bloggers can master social media, including this great one by Happy to Wander.

E-mail Marketing

A list of email subscribers is one of your most valuable assets. Here’s a group of people who care about what you have to say. The problem, though, is that many bloggers just starting out fail to take advantage of email marketing. A number of resources exist that can help you like MailChimp, Sumo, Opt-in Monster, and ConvertKit.

Promote sign ups

There are a few tactics you can apply if you’re looking to grow your blog’s email list. First, having a sign up field clearly displayed on your site is vital. It shouldn’t just be on the homepage as many people will find your blog through a post and never actually make it to your homepage. Another proven method for getting more email subscribers is a pop up, which can be created using Buzz Sumo or MailChimp.

Be respectful

Given how much garbage we all get in our inboxes each and every day, it’s a bloody miracle when someone gives you their email. So don’t f it up. Every single email should be used as an opportunity to connect with your core fans and contain useful information – not crap. Don’t sign people up without their permission (a huge no-no), don’t send too many emails (best to be upfront with the frequency before they sign up) and never, ever, EVER spam them.

The power of a freebie

Email marketing is one of the best ways to reach your audience and convert them into customers. And many bloggers know this so there are a lot of blogs trying to get their readers to hand over their email addresses. As a result, a lot of would-be subscribers now have newsletter sign-up blindness, and often there has to be something in it for them to be incentivized.

I see a lot of travel blogs offering freebies if readers sign up, but they’re not always that relevant to the content the visitor has landed on (ie. 30 beaches in Croatia when your visitor has found your article on road tripping Canada).

It often takes a long time to create a freebie. You want to go above and beyond the information you have on your blog, so don’t waste your time with something that will only appeal to a handful of people. Consider your top posts to glean what your readers are interested in. Look to see if you can support them or solve a pain point, as they’ll be more inclined to click.

Network with others in your niche

New travel bloggers often avoid networking with more established travel writers – either because they feel inferior or they view them as competition. Let’s stop this now! The travel blogging community is friendly and welcoming (for the most part) so start making connections and working together. This can benefit you in so many ways – likeminded bloggers sharing your content, guest posting opportunities, someone to bounce ideas off of, and an overall support system of encouragement.

Facebook groups for Travel Bloggers

There are thousands of Facebook groups that can help you in your travel blogging journey. Some will be relevant specifically to travel bloggers while others may appeal to bloggers at large. Others will focus on a single aspect of blogging strategy like advertising, affiliate marketing or social media. Do some research (both on Facebook and off) to find relevant groups that will help you grow your travel blog – but be selective. Joining too many just clutters your Facebook feed and is a surefire way to suck more of your time. A few of my favourite groups are The Business of Blogging, Problogger, and Boost Your Blog.

Travel Massive

Travel Massive is a worldwide phenomenon connecting the travel industry. The 120 chapters around the globe bring the community of travel content creators and industry together – both online and offline. Local events are hosted to encourage learning and networking amongst both sides of the travel sector. If your community has a Travel Massive chapter, sign up and start connecting.


Conferences can be an excellent way to learn from successful travel bloggers and connect with others like you. The big travel blogging conferences are Tbex and TravCon. TBex hosts a conference each year in North America, Europe and Asia, and brings an enormous crowd of travel bloggers together.

How to Grow Your Travel Blog photo courtesy of Unsplash