Two birds

Two birds

Canberra
Australian Capital Territory
19 Jan 2017

I’ve been looking at travel blogs recently. There are thousands out there, but I’ve only seen hundreds. They all look great, with photographs of colourful, dramatic, interesting landscapes, tales of luxury holidays, road trips, city visits and so on.

It’s been good fun reading them and admiring the photos and envying the travellers, but ultimately arid and unsatisfying. At least for me.

A few bloggers have shown signs of seriousness. They have their own domain, a premium theme, installed Google Analytics, reserved social media accounts, put up a few ads and affiliate links. Like me, they have checked some of the boxes for “How to Travel Blog”.

Very few will make it to the point of generating even a tiny profit for their owners, let alone making a full-time living. Why? Blogging is hard work. Those social media accounts must be tended, the photos must be edited, the stories must be entertaining and informative. Day after day after day. If the blogger has a day job and/or a family, the time is squeezed away. If the blogger is travelling, that’s more time taken up, with internet access becoming scarcer and more expensive.

The posts start to dry up – and with them the readership – or the writing becomes stale and the same old stories and photos rehashed.

A few prosper. Two reasons I can think of beyond ticking the right boxes.

  1. The blogger has a genuine “voice” and their personality shines through.
  2. There is something more than travel being presented.

Here’s what I mean. See the main image? It shows two birds in a tree full of fruit and berries. Most bloggers are like the bird gorging itself on all the good things. The thrills, the food, the exotic places.*

The other bird is just watching, calm and detached. It sees further, it sees below the surface, it sees the reality.

Travel is a consumer product nowadays. If a blogger is nothing but an unpaid promoter of whatever travel products are on the market, they will be shallow, second-rate. If they were any good, they would be getting paid for it.

If a blogger steps back, finds the real substance, presents the good along with the bad, provides information that is useful or perceptive, then they may survive and prosper. Because apart from giving their readers a reason to keep on coming back, they are giving themselves a reason to continue.

What do you think? What do the top bloggers have to keep their audience, and why do they keep doing it?

Pete

* This can be amazing fun, but probably not good for the long term. See here for a classic and hilarious example.
(Main image: Two Birds in a Tree by Jeffery Courtney)