Confessions of a tween-age travel blogger

Baldy Top Quilpie

Travel blogs need photos!

Today we have the fantastic Aussie travel blogger Red Nomad Oz on the blog to share about her travel blogging journey.

I’m more actively adventurous than the average Aussie grey nomad.  But I’m WAAAY beyond backpacker antics.  And I blog about my travels.

So that makes me a tween-age travel blogger, right?

Right!  This is my story.

Before I started the blog, family and friends were already victims avid readers of the Australian travel tales I loved to write.  I’d graduated from postcards to emails, so blogging was the next frontier.  My devastatingly brilliant writing would also attract hordes of other readers interested in my off-beat Australian travel stories. Wouldn’t it?

And so I made Blogging Blunder number one.  I misjudged the medium.

Weirdly, even though I loathed reading from a computer screen myself, especially if it was more than a page, I assumed my friends would be happy to read lengthy screeds of drivel erudite wit unrelieved by photos.  Even more bizarre – I actually expected this approach to attract complete strangers!

Writing a good blog post is different to sending an email, dashing off a postcard or writing an article.  To avoid blunder number one:

  • Balance text with photos or illustrations
  • Use space – shorten paragraphs and sentences, and use gaps between photos
  • Preview screen layout before publishing.  Is it easy to read?

My goals were modest.  I would change the face of Australian tourism by going off the tourist trail beyond Uluru, the Great Barrier Reef and the Sydney Opera House.  My friends and those mythical readers would learn about the hidden side of Australian travel because that’s what they NEEDED to know.  Wasn’t it?

See how easily I fell into Blogging Blunder number two?  I made assumptions about my audience.

The world's biggest crocodile replica: my most downloaded photo

The world's biggest crocodile replica: my most downloaded photo

As I read my way through the blogosphere, I found that different blogs fulfilled different needs.  Many I liked had nothing to do with my Australian travel expertise.  So that meant – gasp – that I couldn’t predict who’d be interested in MY blog!  Or WHY!

I’m still going to change Australian tourism.  But not by telling an audience that doesn’t exist things they don’t want to know.  People read my blog for different reasons – like entertainment, enlightenment, education, experiences and enjoyment.  Oh, and photos.  Who knew?!

Avoiding blunder number two is easy:

  • Experiment with your posts to attract new readers
  • Broaden marketing to make it easy for readers to find you
  • Be prepared to change your approach based on reader comments or reactions.

Stunned by a mixture of elation and terror when I read my first international blog comment, I  allowed myself a momentary self-indulgent confidence crisis.  My family and friends were virtually obligated to read my blog, but would it really appeal to total strangers?

Well … mostly.  As I assessed my blog through international-coloured lenses, I detected Blunder number three loud and clear – careless content.

Mt Sonder was mislabelled in a previous post. This is the real one.

Mt Sonder was mislabelled in a previous-post. This is the real one

Pleasing everybody all of the time isn’t possible – but readers won’t return if blog posts are unprofessional, poorly edited and littered with dodgy facts.

To change the face of Australian tourism, I couldn’t afford to let excessive erudition, smart-mouth statements and laconic language spoil my chances.  Not to mention incorrectly captioned photos or incomplete information that gives the wrong impression!

Here’s how I (mostly) avoid blunder number three:

  • Explain or footnote anything unclear or unfamiliar
  • Double check facts and link to relevant sources
  • Balance humorous, factual and personal content

Even if I never travel again, my diaries, photos and souvenirs could keep Amazing Australian Adventures in posts until the outback turns green and it snows in the desert.  But once I started blogging about my travels, each journey, new landscape, scenic public toilet, quirky find and experience became a travel post complete with photos waiting to happen.

And waiting.  AND waiting …

While enjoyable, writing posts can be hard work.  Sometimes it’s easier to fool with Flickr, talk on Twitter, lurk on Linked-In or play on Pinterest, all under the guise of ‘promotion’ or ‘networking’ or ‘market research’!  I’m even REALLY good at justifying procrastination by calling it something else!

Yet to post about Windorah but always intend to

Yet to post about Windorah but always intend to

But once I identified Blogging Blunder number four – post-writing paralysis – I took steps (mostly successful) to overcome it.

  • Prepare a post plan for the next few weeks and stick to it
  • Strictly allocate time to promotion, networking and market research
  • Keep writing.  Even if you don’t want to!!

By now I was in a frenzy of self-congratulatory blogospheric correctness.  My posts – now complete with excellent photos – looked great.  My varied content was attracting and pleasing a growing audience.  My prose, unsullied by factual errors, beamed from the screen in a positive and timely manner.  And my network was growing too.

I even had unsolicited comments suggesting I should be paid for being an Aussie ambassador!  Hey, maybe I really WAS changing the face of Australian tourism!!

Then I hit the road again.

Because I was an experienced travel blogger by now, I didn’t lose momentum.  I posted.  I answered comments.  I read and commented on other blogs.  I took photos and uploaded them.  I wrote guest posts (!).  I planned for having limited internet coverage.

I was slaving away in the camper trailer one evening – I guess it was pleasant – when partner Pilchard suggested a walk.  I refused – I really was WAAAAAAY too busy with my travel blog, my travel blog network and my travelblogospheric business.

Yes, I’d fallen for Blogging Blunder number five – the tween-age travel blogger’s time trap!

Current travels Victoria River Croc Cruise Northern Territory

Current travels Victoria River Croc Cruise Northern Territory

I was too busy to actually travel!  Or at least to see the staggering scenery, have the amazing adventures and unearth the off-beat quirks that I write about on my travel blog.  Or even to take the photos that will one day make me famous illustrate my blog posts.

If I couldn’t overcome blunder number five, why even bother with blunders one, two, three and four?

It’s not difficult:

  • Prioritise.  Have the experiences, then write about them
  • Focus.  What’s your blog about?  Is that what you’re doing right now??
  • Respect.  Don’t waste your readers’ time

Thanks Red!

Do you blog about your travels?

  • Red Nomad Oz

    Thanx for the opportunity to confess my blogging blunders!  Hope you enjoy reading about them as much as I enjoyed reminiscing.  I just hope I can continue to take my own advice!!!!

  • Annie

    I did enjoy reading how Red got to have the wonderful blog she has now!  I am always entertained and informed when I read her work and see the great photos.  Plus, on top of all that, I better listen to her advice and knowledge on blogging.   Its trickier than it seems!

    • ExploreAustralia

      Red makes it seem so easy on her blog! It was great to get the perspective from behind the computer screen.

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  • river

    blogging Blunder ala River: no travelling and forgetting to carry the camera sometimes. Seeing a baby Kookaburra in the city and not having the camera…sigh, big blunder.
    I’ve learned so much by reading Red’s blog and can’t wait to get traveling when I retire.

  • Grace

    Always thoroughly enjoy Red’s posts, have been especially appreciating the West Australian content put me to shame Red, I’ve only lived here for forty years and you know so much more about the top end of WA than I ever will..

  • Life Images by Jill

    What a great blog post Red. I love your style of writing and your hints really hit home for me. I love your blog Red, I think you have ticked all the boxes. I am looking forward to more.