10 Timeless Blogging Lessons Learned from World Travel

joke about texas bbq being a serious business for travel bloggers

Texas BBQ is serious business.

You know travel’s good for the soul…

… but did you know it’s good for business, too?

It’s true.

After three INSANE years of world travel, I’m going to share with you ten business lessons I’ve learned around the world… and how you can use these to improve your own travel blog.

As billionaire Richard Branson once famously said…

Business opportunities are like buses, there’s always another one coming.

Indeed.

The first lesson I’ve learned is…

#1. Differentiation is key.

My wife Darcie and I walked through Banos, Ecuador. While there, we saw 35 stalls in a row selling the EXACT same taffy.

Taffy!

If just one of them sold fried chicken they’d stand out (and make more money).

The lesson: Develop your Unique Selling Proposition and make sure everyone knows about it.

#2. The “hard sell” doesn’t work (as well).

You know the feeling, when you get off a bus in a new town and find yourself hounded by taxi drivers? True, I do need a taxi, but the hard sell makes me walk away.

It creates more work for me (the customer) just to avoid it, and those guys don’t make the sale. Instead, I love the guys who ask where I’m headed, how long I’ll be there, etc…. and then they offer their services.

The lesson: Offer to help first… and then offer your solution in that light. The soft sell works.

#3. That “little extra” is worth a lot.

We look at a minimum of three places before deciding where to stay. Often times, each place is close in price… but one usually stands out.

And you know what? It’s usually just a few minor details. Maybe the sheets look cleaner… or the floor has been swept… or they’ve got a book exchange.

Whatever it is, these “tipping points” can be easily done by everyone else.

The lesson: Focus on improving the little things about your blog – create a personalized “thank you page” when people subscribe, offer something for free or send a personal email to your old subscribers wishing them a happy holiday.

#4. Be helpful.

Many guesthouses stock mini-fridges (or sell drinks at the counter). They offer meals, tours, steam baths…. which helps their guests and makes extra revenue.

This means they can charge the same amount for a room and make up for it on the back-end.

And guess what? These are products/services people actually WANT and are willing to pay a premium for. If you’ve ever been in a tropical area, that cold beer (or bottle of water) is definitely worth the small markup!

The lesson: Always ask yourself “How can I make my audience’s life easier?” Then give it to them! A great example of this are the “Hire Us To…” pages from the Vacation Gals. If you read their blog, of COURSE you’ll want to hire them – and they make that very, very easy to do.

#5. Get to the point.

In foreign lands – with foreign languages – it’s tough to understand each other. I’ve gotten quite good at communicating in basic Spanish…

But you what? The most confusing thing in Latin America (to me, anyways) are the ads. They’re too clever. They include puns and double meanings which fly over my head. Instead, if the ad said “Cold Beer: Five For A Dollar!” I’d be first in line!

The lesson: Make your blog easy to understand.

Travel bloggers: Don’t write for bloggers – write for people.

Click here to retweet!

#6. Patience isn’t a virtue.

It’s a requirement. Ever sat in a Third World bus that didn’t move for two hours? It happens. And your travel blog’s success takes time, too… so don’t sweat success just yet.

The lesson: Success takes time. You’ll need 6 – 12 months before seeing traction. But it’s oh-so-worth it!

#7. The world owes you nothing.

Walking through India we came across a man… with no arms… and no legs… propped along the street… and…

He was smiling. A big ole’ you-know-what eating grin that could light up the Taj Mahal.

Incredible.

The lesson: The world is a beautiful, horrible place. Fate deals out bad hands every day – and while you can’t always control what happens, you can control what you do about it.

So if you’re blog isn’t where you want it to be, you need to…

Because if you don’t… well… no one else will.

#8. Put fear behind passion.

I’m scared of flying. Does that stop me from traveling? Hell no!

Know why?

Because my passion exceeds my fear.

And if your passion for travel blogging exceeds your fear (of failure, nasty comments on Facebook, etc.) you cannot fail. No matter how many haters you pick up (I’ve gotten a few), they cannot stop your passion from shining through.

The lesson: Accept fear as a necessary ingredient for success.

#9. Frugality.

In my early twenties, no room was too cheap. Now in my thirties (and married) I’ve stepped it up. But I still spend considerably less than I make each month to help build a nest egg.

Frugality is a good thing.

The lesson: Spend money on your blog when it makes sense. For example, paying for a professional design is money well spent. Paying for so-called “linkbuilders” from India? Bad idea.

#10. Don’t take buses in northern India.

They’re dirty (I’ve seen people vomit outside them more times than I care to remember), run slow and drop you off in some dodgy places in the middle of night.

The trains, however, run (mostly) on time, have sleeping compartments and filled with pleasant, educated people.

The lesson: Take the path of least resistance.

  • Why struggle developing your blog… when you could hire a developer?
  • Why learn Photoshop… when you can hire a designer?
  • Why spend months learning things you have ZERO passion in (see lesson #8) when you can have it done better, cheaper and faster by hiring someone else?

Why indeed?

What lessons have you learned on the road?

About adamcosta

Adam Costa is co-founder and Editor in Chief of both Trekity.com and TravelBloggerAcademy. He currently lives... um... somewhere.

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Comments

  1. Good article! I have seen the same as you did (#1) all over Georgia and Armenia. First two kilometers of cherrie stands, then five of strawberries (one in between that had also raspberries was the big highlight), then one kilometer of hammocks, some kilometers of some liquid in plasticbottles (homemade wine? benzin? I don’t know), five tire shops, eleven times boiled corn. Once you made it to the corn and you are hungry for cherries there are none. Why don’t those guys mix up in the entire street? I keep asking that question to myself all day.
    Uh yes and the one about fear (#8). If I HAVE to do an interview with somebody because my boss asks me to do so then it is no problem at all for me. But if I do it for myself, my own “company”, my little blog, then I turn red and start brabbling stupid things like a twelve-years old that met her favorite boyband. I did face the fear but the results ….. well I’ll keep training :-)
    I like especially #4: Be helpfull. Have learned that several times even before the travel.
    Good one again, thanks for sharing!
    Annika

    • Hi Annika,

      You’ve touched upon the Catch-22 of working for yourself. As the “employee” it’s great… but then again, you’ve got to be “the boss” too. Tough to balance ;)

  2. Adam, lovely article – the issue about India bus is always thesame that I read everywhere that means you guys are speakin the truth. I’m actually thinking of living in India or Philippiens for my internet business.

    Frugality is only part of the option for people trying to get out of debt though.

    Nice and serious business there…

    Sheyi

  3. Totally agree with all of this advice, and very well put. Lots of good ideas to implement and work on. Thanks, Adam!

  4. Laughed out loud from all of these experience-based lessons. I’ve seen how those buses in Northern India are and they just fail in comparison with the trains, (although they get a little bit jam-packed too, based on what I’ve seen in the TV). I understand the get to the point part, but the comparison of advertisements are kinda off – I mean, they do puns and other odd stuff to attract attention (at least, that’s what I think).

  5. Wonderful article, loving the tips. I came her from your comment on travelllll.com

  6. Well done, though I particularly disagree with the last tip. If someone is thinking of creating a travel blog inmediately and spend a few bucks, that could work … I do like the other kind and try to get involved in the process as much as I can. Before any kind of monetization or success, you are already getting a lot: lifelong learning that can be really challenging but totally worth it.

  7. Well I have to work on my blog (a lot) still i have to say Never take a bus when you can take a train unless its free, takes half the time or you missed your train. thankfully i know photoshop and can now edit basic html of free designs so i didnot have to pay anybody. Still i feel you can get your blog up run it for a while and then pay for a design you might seem serious to someone with a professional design but it will take a lot of time till that happens.

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