Recently the Travel Blog Tips crew held a live chat on “Blogging – the Road Ahead”. Forty-five bloggers attended to discuss what they were doing in lockdown and their vision for the future. The chat was not only about what people were doing in lockdown but about the future of travel and blogging. Ultimately it was about sharing inspiration and motivation with other bloggers and ideas on how to safeguard the future of our blogs in these unpredictable times.
Welcome to our review of the Travel Blog Tips monthly chat, organized by five travel bloggers, including ourselves. Our blog niches range from travel with family, travel in South America, travel in California, slow travel and long-term world travel.
Earlier in the year the team were planning and hosting chats on “Optimizing your Site Structure for SEO” and “Blog Photography Tips for Bloggers“. And then suddenly, while we were all planning our next big trips, along came the coronavirus outbreak and we had to consider how the crisis was impacting bloggers.
Once the World Health Organization announced the outbreak was a worldwide pandemic, life became a struggle to get food and essential supplies. Travel or travel research was the last thing anyone was thinking about doing. The only travel people were doing was to get to the supermarket and get essentials. Alternatively, people were travelling in a rush to get home from trips. Countries were closing borders and airlines were cancelling flights. And how do you write about travel when no one is travelling?
So we decided our next chat would be on blogging in lockdown and the road ahead. Read on for a review of the chat and highlights.
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Blogging – The Road Ahead
Blogging in Lockdown
Q1. What problems and advantages do you encounter while blogging during lockdown? #TravelBlogTips— #TravelBlogTips | Bloggers’ chat (@TravelBlogTips_) April 26, 2020
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The problem is that we can’t travel. Therefore, we have not found inspiration to write new travel content. And we have felt torn about writing about travel. However, on the plus side, staying in one spot has allowed us to concentrate on other areas of our blog.
Other bloggers agreed with us. Though they felt like they should not write about travel at this time, they craved the inspiration provided by travelling and seeing new sights. Also, they missed the opportunity to take photos.
“Thinking about the long-term is really true right now! A lot of blogging existential moments.” @lannietravels
However, the most critical problem was the loss of traffic to their website. It had plummeted. We found this too, however with constant publishing and more visible marketing on social media, we did see it start to recover.
Further problems of blogging in lockdown included getting into a routine of being productive, not getting distracted and staying motivated. Of course, it is hard to stay motivated when you experience hardship, and you don’t know what the future holds.
And for some bloggers who transitioned to working fulltime from home, looking after kids and trying to survive, it has been extra challenging.
But, with finishing drafted posts, posting travel memories, writing future bucket lists and working on other lifestyle topics, bloggers have found their voice and a way to continue during the lockdown. Especially with feedback that readers are reading posts.
Further, we feel more bloggers are getting back to old school travel stories and not appealing to the masses with travel guides. Bloggers are digging deeper to share stories.
“Blogging and writing are literally preserving my mental health.” @strayidler
Some of the advantages of blogging during the lockdown, are that there has been time to clean up and work on site structure, update themes or edit photos. Further, there’s been time for finishing pending posts, writing new posts, working on SEO and designing new pins for Pinterest marketing. And with past posts, there’s been time to optimize them for SEO.
Also, there has been a chance to work on other things, like guest blogging. Guest blogging, not only helps with domain authority due to building backlinks but also with inspiration.
Moreover, there are also opportunities to learn new things and think about new ideas. Overall, bloggers found there was time to research and think about new ways to branch out and new possibilities, including expanding to other lifestyle topics.
So, Yes! Bloggers are writing and trying to stay motivated and looking to the future. And traffic has come back up again as people dream about the future.
“Remember that people will travel again one day and that your posts need time to rank. It might be just a perfect timing actually to post now.” @GreenMochila
To Blog or Not to Blog?
Q2. Are you currently writing travel posts or switching to other topics?— #TravelBlogTips | Bloggers’ chat (@TravelBlogTips_) April 26, 2020
Or have you taken a break from blogging?
Explain why. #TravelBlogTips
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For us, we decided to continue to write for two reasons. To begin with, if you stop writing, you get into poor blogging habits, and it may be hard to start again. Secondly, fresh content is important to Google. If if you do not publish regular content, it can have an impact on your rankings, as well as your domain authority. This happened to us last year after a break of several months. So we resolved to keep writing and publishing.
Were people reading? Yes! People wanted to hear what other travellers were doing during this unprecedented event. Further, our post “73 In-home Staycation Ideas During Lockdown” went viral on Pinterest, as well as ranked on the first page of Google for our long-tail keywords.
Through bloggers at the chat, we found out bloggers were writing with a vengeance. They have worked happily on clearing backlogs of old posts and were looking for new inspiration and collaborations. They have been happy to develop and write about things like local travel, staycations and virtual travel. And they found people still wanted to read about travel.
“Definitely still writing as I have so many posts to write that I can’t take a break! I’m trying to focus on seasonal content at least six months away (like Christmas markets) as we’d have to wait for that anyway regardless of the current situation.” @SarahsSojourns
Further, bloggers continue to write so to show their blog is active. Plus, to work on getting indexed in Google and get good rankings for when people start travelling again.
There has also been more time to read other people’s blogs. In the past, it’s something we didn’t have time to do. We found it to be valuable insight and we feel it can help us grow as writers.
“Still working on travel topics. SEO is a long game, so when all this passes, it will be good to have the content in place. I’m not relying on my blogs for a revenue stream now.” @carpediemeire
Additionally, because of the pandemic and the lockdown, travel bloggers have had opportunities to explore new ideas and new niches. We have seen a big move to other lifestyle topics such as cooking and international cuisines.
Though sadly a few bloggers stated they did not feel motivated to write and had no time as the struggle of survival took over.
And, some bloggers who have blogged for a long time have taken the opportunity to take a break. Instead of blogging, they have used the time to be with their families.
Refresh and Learn
Q3. Are you cleaning up your site or updating old posts? Learning a new skill or improving your knowledge on SEO? #TravelBlogTips— #TravelBlogTips | Bloggers’ chat (@TravelBlogTips_) April 26, 2020
With Hosts @TravelBugsWorld@MonkeysVentures @KaliTravel @GreenMochila @Clarissa_Laskey pic.twitter.com/OMddShLCCG
“Doing everything. As I said, this sanitary emergency gave us a necessary stop to rethink, redo and plan once again many things that we may be doing out of focus.” @magnomxofficial
Indeed, it was a consistent theme. Travel bloggers were not giving up. They had inspiration and motivation, and thanks to many free courses offered they had extra drive.
We too started a few blogging courses which we were able to access for free during the lockdown. Bloggers have had the time to learn about SEO and other blogging essentials, especially due to companies like Moz and Ahrefs, offering their courses for free.
Which by the way, some of them are currently still free (though we are not sure for how long). So if you haven’t had the chance to do any, we recommend you rush over and do a few lessons.
“Always cleaning up my site and optimizing posts. I look every morning at my top 10 trafficked posts and update them, check SEO and create new pins.” @Clarissa_Laskey
Besides spending time learning new skills, we found many bloggers were doing site maintenance, refreshes and cleaning up old posts or optimizing for SEO. It included interlinking posts, which is good SEO practice as it’s beneficial for site navigation, as well as a way to keep readers on your website.
Regular updating and cleaning up past posts is essential to website maintenance. Yet when bloggers are busy travelling and then writing and promoting new content, it usually does not get done even though it is excellent for SEO.
Further, bloggers have spent time updating images and visiting other blogs to learn from their site structure and writing style. And, they have been doing a lot more reading of both resources and other writer’s blogs.
Though, with daily news of the increasing number of people affected with Coronavirus, bloggers stated they had concentration issues.
Blog Traffic during Lockdown
Q4. Has your blog traffic decreased? Have you noticed a difference on Social Media? Share any ideas for improvement! #TravelBlogTips— #TravelBlogTips | Bloggers’ chat (@TravelBlogTips_) April 26, 2020
With Hosts @TravelBugsWorld@MonkeysVentures @KaliTravel @GreenMochila @Clarissa_Laskey pic.twitter.com/xQQF8qcz63
The feedback was visible, and blog traffic had decreased! However, with more people staying at home and having more time on their hands, there was an increase in social media traffic.
Initially, our blog traffic decreased. But we started marketing more on social media & it gradually started increasing again. We have also joined share threads on Pinterest & blog post comment threads on Twitter. Our traffic from Google is lower, but higher from social media.
And bloggers claimed similar results. Though, some stated their social media traffic had initially declined. But after the initial period when people were a bit shell-shocked, anxious and preoccupied with survival, once people settled into lockdown, traffic from social media increased. Some of this was a spike contributed by bloggers supporting each other, but it is a way that bloggers have been able to cope and keep going. This support is what being part of a travel tribe is all about!
Would you like to join our travel tribe? Join us on Twitter.
Further, bloggers have noted more traffic coming recently from social channels such as Facebook, which in the last few years had dropped for travel pages.
Additionally, bloggers have worked on adding new social media they haven’t used in the past. They have found results from these sources, including LinkedIn and Medium.
So the universal strategy is to keep promoting on social media, as people are spending more time online since they can not go out.
And the longer we have stayed in lockdown, we have found traffic has started increasing from Pinterest searches as well as from Google searches.
Also, a few bloggers mentioned taking the time to work on their email marketing. They stated that sending out newsletters to their subscribers had been an effective way to get traffic to their site.
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Q5. Have you been pitching or receiving any sponsored work? Are you collaborating with brands or other bloggers?— #TravelBlogTips | Bloggers’ chat (@TravelBlogTips_) April 26, 2020
Share your tips! #TravelBlogTips
With Hosts @TravelBugsWorld@MonkeysVentures @KaliTravel @GreenMochila @Clarissa_Laskey pic.twitter.com/7AtMxM8puw
Another activity that kept bloggers occupied during lockdown was the many available opportunities for collaborations with other bloggers, mainly for virtual travel.
Bloggers stated that they had worked on collaborations and guest posts with other bloggers to build backlinks.
Most bloggers stated they had not been pitching or receiving sponsored work. Some said they had received few requests, but not well-targeted.
Though, there was a few who were pitching to accommodation for anticipated travel late in the year. And a few had continuing work with lifestyle brands.
Further, the receipt of uninteresting affiliation requests was prominent.
“In the meantime, you should think about what you would want out of a collaboration. I spent some time thinking about this earlier this year, and I ended up making this page – https://lanniesfoodandtravel.com/lets-collaborate/.” @lannietravels,
Q6. What changes have you seen in affiliate schemes and advert revenue, and how are you dealing with this? #TravelBlogTips— #TravelBlogTips | Bloggers’ chat (@TravelBlogTips_) April 26, 2020
With Hosts @TravelBugsWorld@MonkeysVentures @KaliTravel @GreenMochila @Clarissa_Laskey pic.twitter.com/EjPWNI1RBt
We pulled down all travel affiliate ads. It didn’t feel right or worthwhile to use advertising space to promote travel. We initially switched them to shopping & movie services and then added more shopping links to Amazon. The short-term monetary gain is not the driving motivation behind our blog. So being that the traffic is low, we haven’t spent a lot of time on trialling other options.
A few bloggers are Amazon affiliates. Interestingly, Amazon lowered its commission structure during the lockdown. Many bloggers were not happy, especially when Amazon appeared to be selling more due to people being in lockdown.
However, some bloggers claim they currently do not take part in any affiliate schemes.
Also, some bloggers are blogging as a hobby. Their blog is a travel journal for themselves, their family and friends. They have no intention to monetize their blogs. That takes the pressure off blogging and working on ways to make money from it.
But some bloggers rely on their blogs as their only income. Many say their incomes have been affected by the drop in traffic since the outbreak started.
Strategy for the Future
Q7. Are you using this time in a positive way, working to turn you blog into a viable future business? Tell us about your strategy. #TravelBlogTips— #TravelBlogTips | Bloggers’ chat (@TravelBlogTips_) April 26, 2020
With Hosts @TravelBugsWorld@MonkeysVentures @KaliTravel @GreenMochila @Clarissa_Laskey pic.twitter.com/DakhRnKF9x
Bloggers have said they have used the time in lockdown to work on quality content. They have taken SEO, marketing, as well as other courses to help grow their blog.
Further, they have used the time to network with other bloggers and grow social media traffic.
They are looking to the future and working towards long-term results.
And that is where our thoughts lie. Our strategy has always been that we are here for the long haul. And it is essential to keep building content rather than immediate rewards. As a sign of the times, we are looking at including a lifestyle section & are further developing our travel blogger resources. And besides our guides and travel stories and posts promoting slow travel, we will also be branching out into sustainable living in the future.
Others agreed that it was vital in this time to include other niches. And some bloggers have always had diverse niches such as lifestyle, parenting or food.
Alternatively, some bloggers have niched down. They are writing local posts so to promote domestic tourism when the lockdown is over and to help restart their own countries tourism and economy.
Some have said they are looking at many ideas, and it is too soon to see where they will go. We imagine it will depend on what will happen in our world.
Travel Industry Predictions
Q8. What are your predictions for the travel industry and travel bloggers?— #TravelBlogTips | Bloggers’ chat (@TravelBlogTips_) April 26, 2020
Will people travel differently after this? #TravelBlogTips
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Most bloggers believed things would remain uncertain throughout 2020 & 2021.
Borders would take a while to reopen, and countries would open borders at different times. Flights would take a while to restart and would initially be more expensive. Also getting on flights would be more tedious, as well as unnerving. Therefore, initially, there would be more local travel and people would travel in their own countries.
The rest of the year and most of 2021 would be about staycations.
“I addressed this in a blog post a couple of weeks back: http://vancouverscape.com/how-the-coronavirus-could-impact-the-travel-industry/.” @Vancouverscape
There would be an increase in using cars to travel and more road trips. And there would be shorter flights taken. There would be more travel to the beach, park, mountain and rural destinations where it is easier to socially distance, as opposed to cities.
Initially, there would be more last-minute bookings as businesses reopened.
However, several of the bloggers predicted that travel would initially be more expensive. Moreover, fewer people would be able to afford to travel internationally, as many companies would go out of business, and this would result in less competition and higher prices. Some people would not have money to travel at all. And some people would not travel because of health restrictions.
Though for those who can afford to travel, they would be travelling with a vengeance to see as much as they could and travelling more often.
Further, there would be more emphasis and caution, particularly at airports and customs, about travellers health.
Bloggers think tourism will centre in Asia and Australia as people would not want to travel to hard-hit areas in Europe or USA. Though, these countries would not open borders to them if they are still hard-hit.
Many of the bloggers agreed, this is an opportunity for sustainable travel, to help climate change and a chance to support local communities.
And yes, there is an opportunity for this. But we can’t help wonder, whether greedy governments will be pushing the economy & people to live a fast-food lifestyle. And whether we will see ad propaganda making us all believe it was all a bad dream & selling us back to the way things were before! And people rushing to all the overcrowded major attractions for their influencer photos for Instagram.
“I can’t say that they will travel differently, but they should! We’ve even written an opinion piece, stating that we should all use this momentum to pledge to travel more sustainably in the future. https://greenmochila.com/the-shape-of-travel-to-come/” @GreenMochila
We think the bloggers who will survive are the ones who can learn to adapt to the times.
“I think it’ll be harder to make a living through blogging in future, and I definitely see people travelling differently after this.” @SarahsSojourns
But we can’t but help wonder if the golden age of travel has ended. We have lived through such lucky times these last two decades, with the world at our fingertips!
Only time will tell what the future holds, but be assured that bloggers are optimistic and the travel industry will grow again. And they are continuing to grow their travel blogs. As always, the bloggers who succeed are the resilient ones who know that blogging is not about immediate gains and short-term rewards or instant fame. It is a marathon that you run because of passion!
For me it’s been a bit of a blessing in disguise – my life was so full on before that my blog was a bit neglected so it’s been nice to have this time to do a lot more! @Coco_Travels
Thanks for joining #TravelBlogTips chat— Travel Bugs World ✈️🐞🌎 (@TravelBugsWorld) April 26, 2020
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May you be inspired to live a life of adventure where ever you are and whatever you are doing
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Were you a blogger in lockdown or had a stay at home order? Did you find this post useful? Please leave a comment below. We would love to know what you have done during this time and what your vision for the future is.