This post is a bit of a departure from this blog’s usual focus on upmarket travel. Instead, I’d like to share some tips on blogging in general.
As with any field of endeavor, those who are doing something are occasionally approached by those who would like to explore that activity and asked for tips, tricks of the trade, or simply, “How do I get started?” Because I have recently received a couple of comments and queries on the topic, I would like to share some advice on the topic of blogging.
First, take time to figure out your focus -- your "voice" if you will. I started out with a focus on upscale travel with a subset of business travel because I do so much of that. Your focus should reflect your interests. For instance (if you are contemplating a travel blog) do you travel with kids? Do you like to bike or hike? Maybe you love to work out while on the road. Find some niche for your focus, and others with similar interests will find you and your blog.
After I mentioned the fitness centre at the Park Hotel in Amsterdam, I received a comment from Matt who runs HotelGymReview.com, asking if I would post a review of that facility on his site.
Then, begin with the end in mind. What's the take-home message you want to send? Then come up with a "trigger lead-in" -- something that's going to grab the readers' attention up front. I also try to end with something memorable; a "power out" that will either recap the main point(s) of what I've said, put some emphasis on my recommendation, or finish with a "zinger."
For example, I ended a review of the Courtyard hotel in downtown Tulsa, Oklahoma with a somewhat snarky remark that focused on two shortcomings at the otherwise nice facility. Because our party had a problem with the valet parking and because I hate thin towels, I recommended that people consider the hotel but, "Be sure to park your own car. And ask for extra towels." Not Dostoyevsky, but hopefully memorable.
Whatever you do, do not give up. Writing, like anything, becomes easier the more you do it. And the more you write, the more you will develop your own "voice."
There are a number of platforms one can use for blogging: Blogger from Google, WordPress, and others. Each has its advantages and drawbacks; however, the most important drawback for those who would like to see their blogs read far and wide are the URLs that come with them: NameOfBlog.Blogspot.com, or NameOfBlog.WordPress.com. While these are fine for those who just want to share their blogs with family and friends, a more professional URL will provide a better cache for those attempting to reach a larger audience.
Think like (or consult) a marketing professional, come up with a "go-to-market" URL, purchase it through a domain name registration service, then link it to your blog using the directions on your platform’s “help” page. It will give your blog a more professional impression than the standard address of "something.blogspot.com."
Finally, don't be shy about promoting your blog. Set up a Twitter account and send a tweet when you publish a new post. Send the link to your contacts on LinkedIn if the post has appeal to business professionals, such as travel advice or a hotel review might have. Many bloggers also maintain a Facebook page specific to their blog as well.
Purchase some business cards to share with your blog's URL, your name, an e-mail address to reach you and a phone number. While I use VistaPrint, which has some nice stock photos and formats for inexpensive but professional-looking business cards, there are other options including Costco and your local print shop.
Cultivate relationships with other bloggers who have a similar focus and promote each other’s blogs. However, be sure the blogs you promote are blogs you can genuinely support and steer clear of those that are badly written or with subject matter or points of view that you find offensive. There’s plenty of room on the Internet for all points of view; you are under no obligation to promote something you can’t get behind.
Visit my main page at TheTravelPro.us for more news, reviews, and personal observations on the world of upmarket travel.