As any successful travel writer knows, creating an engaging travel blog or online article is not as easy as simply typing out your unedited thoughts. If you want to lure in readers and attract web traffic, you’ll need a better plan.
It goes without saying that quality is paramount. At the same time, most travel writers don’t have the luxury of just sitting around and waiting for that ‘lightbulb’ moment. Whether you’re looking for inspiration for your written travel content or for new formats to shake up your blog, here are 10 types of travel blogs that help increase web traffic.
1. The list
These are everywhere on the web and for good reason. They streamline information into an irresistible, easy-to-read package and, as it turns out, we’re actually hardwired to like them. Some naysayers claim the format has been done to death, but audiences don’t lie, and as BuzzFeed’s impressive readership stats attest, this type of post remains as effective as ever.
In case you’ve been living under a rock, here are some examples of the unstoppable list post: This one from the Huffington Post counts the ’10 Greatest Travel Books of All Time’; and this one from Landlopers.com lists ‘Seven Travel Moments on Seven Continents‘. We like lists at World Words too, as this blog (and previous ones) attest.
2. Thesis with expert opinion
The key to a good thesis post is knowledge. You have to offer a theory that challenges the status quo and then, most importantly, back it up with some expert opinion. What’s best about this type of blog or web article is that they tend to have legs and can attract new readers long after they’re first published.
3. Topical post
A topical post requires you to have your finger on the pulse. You don’t necessarily have to report on breaking travel news stories; there are other ways to create timely content. Plan blog posts around upcoming events, anniversaries or holidays (as Time Out have done with this Christmas markets blog); link your post to a current news story (as the Independent have done with this Ukraine piece); or capitalise on recent industry buzz with a reactionary piece (just as this Wall Street Journal columnist did during a spate of reclining airline seat incidents).
4. Advice post
Audiences flock to ‘how-to’ blog posts like moths to a flame. If you can provide valid advice or walk your readers through a tricky process, you’re onto a winner. As an added bonus, this type of post boosts your own profile, helping you develop and maintain authority and — if your content is good — cementing your credibility. Two great examples of this are this National Geographic offering (‘Tips for Flying With Fido’) and this Matador advice post on how to behave when visiting a cemetery.
Let’s begin with a caveat: a man or woman staring at computer screen does not make for compelling travel content. However, if you’re lucky enough to have some more interesting stuff going on at your place of work, then behind-the-scenes content can prove to be a real draw. Examples of behind-the-scenes travel content that works include this post from Google Street View, which show us what it’s like to be a cameraperson at Google Maps, and this blog from Lonely Planet, which introduces us to one of their writers.
6. Curated content roundup
To create a roundup post, you need to do the heavy lifting on behalf of your readers. Sort and sift your way through the mass of travel content on the web and pick out the best of the bunch. Provide some context and arrange it in an attractive, readable format. Take a look at this September travel roundup we recently created for Pimsleur or at Lonely Planet’s daily travel news roundup to see how it’s done.
7. The interview
The success of an interview piece rests on who you choose to interview and what you ask them. Generally, an industry insider is always a good bet (see Michael Hodson of Go See Write’s Lucky 13 interview series), as is a comedian who can bring a touch of humour to the table (see Wanderlust’s interview with funnyman Simon Pegg).
8. Research or original data
If you have the means, conducting or collecting original data can be of value to your readers. Alternatively, leave the studies and surveys to the experts and focus your attention on picking out highlights, summarising key findings and making dense information more palatable. For example, this article sees the Telegraph spotlight the most interesting results from hotels.com bi-annual survey.
9. The review
Not a day goes by that we don’t see the launch of a new travel app, gadget or hotel. And the more people purchase online, the more likely they are to read reviews as part of their pre-purchase research. For examples of this type of post, see Travel + Leisure test and rate travel various apps and websites here or read NY Times’ take on the benefits of Apple’s smartwatch for travellers.
10. The personal story
We mentioned before in a previous blog that travel writing is not just an opportunity to transcribe your personal journal. But there is still plenty of room for storytelling in travel writing, especially when you’ve got an interesting tale to tell (this Indie award-winning piece and this Paul Morris masterclass are two great storytelling examples).
To see which blog types we use most, check out our latest projects or look at our other blog posts, many of which feature more expert travel writing advice. To hear more from World Words, follow us on Twitter, where we share travel writing content and advice, as well as examples of some of the best travel content out there.
This is an updated version of an article published on the World Words blog in September 2014. Read the original.