Thursday, January 11, 2018

Thursday, January 11, 2018

If you want to be a travel blogger in this age of social media, no one’s stopping you. Blogging isn’t dead yet contrary to what a lot of Facebook and Instagram influencers have been actively professing. As long as there’s a platform for it, you can still blog. Being a responsible one, however, takes more than having the ability to express one’s thoughts. The ability needs to be seen in a solid content.

Should you be blogging for more than five years now, this article is not for you. Chances are, you’ve already achieved a level of responsibility with your craft. You can share this online, but your opinions may very well vary with mine just because we may have had different experiences going through what we’ve been doing.

This article is actually for those who have tried blogging once or twice but left it altogether because of frustration or lack of motivation. They sincerely want to express their thoughts on a blog, but they seem to face familiar hurdles whenever they try to sustain the activity.

This is also for those who have had a blogging hiatus once or twice after consistently publishing interesting content. They might have encountered a blogging burnout that prompted them to publish weak articles that they’re not really proud of before disappearing from the blogosphere.

In my case, I started with a personal blog eight years ago. I had to always be personally compelled to write about something enough to publish it as a blog post. Three years into personal blogging, however, I could only share enough intimate information about my life and had to redirect my energy to a more manageable category which is travel. It's been five years and I don't see myself stopping anytime soon. 

So you still want to be a responsible travel blogger?

Check out the following tips I gathered based on my own experience as content manager of

Working on a blog post
1. Write and Edit Your Articles

It isn’t enough that you can express yourself in English (or Tagalog, depending on your blog’s target readers). You need to write well in order to reach an expansive online readership. With a category such as travel, you will certainly need to be more than introspective.

Not everybody will be receptive to poor grammar. Along the way, you will have to face the fact that the world has writers for bloggers and communication is something that’s not tossed about like a flimsy toy. Writing is integral to blogging which makes breaking the rules thereof essential to knowing what’s basic. You will need to have a sense of responsibility going about it.

Be Mindful of The Basics

Go through the process of creating an appropriate title that’s at least Search Engine Optimization (SEO)-friendly (include the main topic, location of the trip and a well searched keyword), making an outline and expounding on the items of your outline into paragraphs from the introduction, body, to the closing paragraph. 

Proofread your article at least twice before publishing it and read it again as a published blog post. Should you determine more errors, edit it again. No one’s giving you negative points online for editing anyway. It’s allowed as there’s no one to play the supreme role of moderator. You have the control to be lazy or to be mindful.

Being Mediocre Versus Being Responsible

If being mediocre is part of your system, no one’s going to shut down your blog as a result of poor grammar. You will simply be exposing yourself to the world with an online journal that has a lot of errors.

Writing well ascertains that you’re doing the activity right. If you’re mature enough to do it that way without an online constitution to answer to, then you’re on the right track to responsible travel blogging.

Go In Tandem With A Writer

If you don’t have the capacity to write well, you can enhance your expression by getting the help of a writer friend. You can go in tandem with another blogger who knows how to write well and agree to be part of the travel blog as a duo.

Even Photo Blogs Need Text Content

You can also apply this strategy if your strength is photography and your travel blog is categorized more as a photo blog. In this case, you can’t deny the fact that you will need to put text content in every blog post in the form of introductions and captions. Swallow your pride and seek the assistance of a friend who can write by making him or her part of your blog as either editor or co-content creator.

Read A Lot To Hone Your Skills

I know a lot of travel bloggers who started right but struggled to sustain publishing well written articles for so many reasons. Because they’re voracious readers, they managed to hone their writing skills and eventually evolved as full-fledged writers, writing for newspapers and magazines while maintaining their blogs.

Visiting Binumbunan Island with the mayor of Burdeos
2. Be Factual

Travel blogging doesn’t end in creative expression. Even social media influencers can be as creative and expressive. So what makes a blogger different from someone who has a social media account as platform?

Unlike Facebook, a blog can be lengthy in text content. There’s less distraction to browse through a blog post than on a social media timeline. This means that you can write more in-depth articles that contain more information. With such an opportunity, you can be factual without being boring because your reader has less of a chance to leave your blog. He or she is most probably reading your blog post because the interest is there from having read your title and introduction or having seen your main photo. Don’t waste it by writing nonsense.

On-Site Research

You can be factual if you’ve done your research. Some travel bloggers bring notebooks in their trips to jot down notes. Some prefer to simply listen well and remember every conversation they’ve had with the resort owner, boatman or market vendor. Some prefer to do both.

It’s beneficial to converse with contacts when you have the chance. The contact can be a hotel representative, a town’s barangay captain, a tour operator or a resident that you happen to meet in your destination. Use those conversations as opportunities to gain insight into the local scene.

Interviewing Harvest Hotel's chef (Photography by Aubrey Gacer)
Along the way, you may need to collect printed materials from establishments like brochures and flyers when necessary. They might contain information that you won’t be able find back home.

Depending on your quality of research, you will come up with enough information to make your article meaty. And a meaty article is always beneficial to readers.

Online Research and Proper Attribution

You can enhance your on-site research with online research. There’s nothing illegal about learning new facts online and making them part of your article for as long as you give proper attribution to the source of the additional information.

Visiting the sleepy town of Baggao, Cagayan
3. Use Original Photos and Go For Minimal Editing

If you’re not going to work with a contributing photographer or a co-content creator who’s in charge of taking photos, you’re responsible for producing your own original photos as part of the travel blog’s content.

A travel blog’s online relevance relies a lot on its published photos, so it’s essential that you take your own photos when you’re visiting a destination.

Refrain From Producing Vacationer-Type Photos

Remember that you’re not just a vacationer. You’re a travel blogger and it entails capturing images that are not just for personal use. It’s important to keep your readers in mind whenever you’re taking that shot. It’s essential to find vantage spots in the destination to be able to get more engaging shots or ask permission from establishment owners if necessary to have that interesting perspective. Push yourself to wake up early for sunrise shots and avoid snoozing in the late afternoon for sunset shots. Give more effort in your photos. You owe it to your readers.

At the end of your trip, you will need to have been able to take enough photos to choose from for publishing on your blog. It will be costly to miss out on a situation just because you failed to capture a moment. Waste no time and always be prepared to snap a photo.

The scenery at the beach of Santa Ana
Apply Photography Basics Before Breaking The Rules

Photography basics include knowing the principle behind the rule of thirds, capturing images on a correct horizontal alignment so as to have less efforts in editing and taking shots that are not against the light. You can always break the rules once you’ve become comfortable producing photos that are well done. First, go through the discipline of being knowledgeable about the basics, then you can experiment with the status quo.

Go For Minimal Editing of Photos

Gone are the days when we had cameras that didn’t truly capture the colors that we’ve seen when we took the photos. These days, most cameras already perform well in that technical aspect which makes necessary editing less nitty-gritty. As a result, minimal editing of photos are enough from adjusting the brightness and contrast to enhancing the hue and saturation.

What About Filters?

It’s really up to you if you want to use filters, but just make sure that you will need to stick to at least one type of filter to make your content coherent which is significant to establishing your travel blog as a brand.

Stay Authentic For Branding

What’s important is that you’ve remained true in terms of authenticity of captured images. You wouldn’t want to deceive your readers into thinking that the pink sand of the beach is actually white. That can result in unnecessary confusion and can create a backlash on the destination.

As it is, the performance of your chosen camera will already build the blog as a brand in terms of visuals because editing need not be over-the-top.

Lastly, save and publish your images with SEO-appropriate filenames. The filename will have to include what the photo is about, where it was shot (town or city, province and country) and other information that you can identify it as. This will ensure that your visual content will appear in the priority page search results of Google Images, especially if your photo's destination is quite unique.

Viewing Mayon Volcano from the Legazpi harbour
Do You Still Want To Be A Responsible Travel Blogger?

Before you can even tackle other responsibility issues about travel blogging such as sponsored stays, mass tourism, sustainable tourism, familiarity tours and freebies, there’s the main issue of content – well-written article that’s informative and supported by interesting photos.

If you don’t have it right with your content, there’s no point in pursuing travel blogging any further. You can get away with poor content but that will soon burn you out and reveal the true blogger that you are – mediocre and irresponsible.

Main photo courtesy of Aubrey Gacer

Check out my travel stories:

• The Quiddity of Bani's Coralline Beach In Black and White
• The Enduring Forge of The Cobo Blacksmiths In Tabaco City
• The Ruse To Displace The Dumagat Tribe of General Nakar
• A Glimpse of The Modern Day Santacruzan In Marinduque's Santa Cruz
• A Black and White Infatuation of Itogon Highlands
• Callao Cave In Reclusive Black and White
• A Tribute To My Pet Dog, Lancaster
• Creepy Travel Tales
• Why I Sketch Views In My Travels
• Baguio City Has Two Faces
• Finding Humor In Travel


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