In the past year, I’ve been able to build my own little space on the internet here at Traveling Nine to Fiver. It’s been an amazing journey so far and as much as I still have more room to grow and more things to learn, I wanted to take a bit to share some of the tools I have found to be the most helpful.
This list below is of the blogging resources that have allowed me to build a successful travel blog and following in a relatively short period of time. From courses to social media tools there is a little bit of everything that has helped me hone my abilities or just save me time. This list isn’t inclusive of all the things you need to have a successful blog, but I hope you find it as a start, and that you might find one or two new tricks that are useful.
You’ll find affiliate links in this post which allow me to continue to improve Traveling Nine to Fiver. I hope this article is useful for you.
Travel Blogging Course & Blogging Networks
A travel blog training course and access to a wonderful network of travel bloggers. If there is one thing that helped me above everything this is it. If you’re looking to beat the learning curve of blogging and travel writing you’ve found how. The courses help you go from setting up your blog to how to build an audience to making a profit. Even more valuable than the course is the network, a Facebook group of almost 1,000 travel bloggers, many of which make a living off their blog. This has been an invaluable resource since you can ask any question you can think of and get solid answers to help you from fumbling your way around the process of building your blog. The one-time fee may seem like a lot, but it will put you ahead of the curve of bloggers out there.
Different from TBS, this is a small group ran by Alexa from the Break Into Travel Writing podcast. While most of this group is still starting out, it’s a great place to ask the “stupid” questions. Alexa also runs a challenge each month helping your blog take that next step whether it is booking a media trip, building your Instagram account or starting to use affiliates. For $39 a month you get great tips and motivation to keep growing your blog.
Social Media Tools
If you aren’t already making an effort to grow your Pinterest you are missing out. It is mine, and many travel blogger’s, top referral. One great way to do this well is by scheduling your pins. This means not pinning all 20 pins you want to share at the same time, or being able to schedule your pin to multiple boards with one click. TailWind makes your Pinterest more professional, all while saving your time. The $10 a month to join is worth the increases you’ll see in repins and click throughs. If you want to give it a try click here for an extended month long trial.
For me, Buffer is the easiest of the social media tools to use. Add their plugin to your browser and you have retweets at one click, sharing web pages at maybe three and it’s already scheduled on your best times to share. Their free service only allows you to schedule 10 posts at a time, which is limiting so it can be worth the upgrade at $10 a month. If not you will need to use another tool to help with long term social media scheduling, but is still worth as a part of your toolbox.
With fewer limits on their free version, Hootsuite is a solid option for planning long term social media. Scheduling your best posts to repeat a few months out is a must. And while it isn’t as user-friendly as Buffer it will still allow you to save time by scheduling your social media posts.
While you need to manage how you share on social media, you also need to make it easy for others to share from your blog. Flare by Filament is an ideal and free plugin you can use to make it easy for your readers to share your post. With a clean floating bar that you can personalize it is a necessary addition to your site. While they have a paid option their free version has been successful for me.
Photo Editing & Management
Not a graphic designer, but need to make Pins for your blog, or add text to images? Canva allows you to do so easily as well as so much more. It’s perfect for just about any design needs for a blogger, whether it’s social media or developing your media kit. I’ve found it easier to use than the alternatives.
Not wanting to continually pay for Lightroom, I wanted a lower cost but good enough alternative. Affinity Photos (Mac’s only sorry) allows you to easily do the basics of photo editing but for those with more skills allow you to step it up. At a one-time $49 costs, it fit my budget much more than paying for the Creative Cloud.
You need somewhere to easily store and access your photos, as well as other documents. I’ve used Dropbox for a long time now but finally started paying for it when I stepped into blogging. I have practically unlimited storage and access to my photos on any device. No need to keep my iPhone packed with photos since I can pull one off Dropbox and post it on Instagram in just a minute.
I don’t have perfect grammar and need a good spellcheck. While word does okay, I prefer writing directly in WordPress. Grammarly is a plugin that adds a top-notch editor to just about anywhere you can type in your browser, meaning Facebook, Gmail, and WordPress. It allows you to catch things like typing form instead of from, or your missing commas. If you aren’t already using Grammarly its a must.
Did you know you should write at a 4th-grade reading level to reach the general public? The Hemingway App is a place where you can see at what level you’re writing at. Is your writing clear and concise or is it complex and hard to understand.
Emailing & Newsletters
If you aren’t already collecting subscribers, it is a resource you are missing out on. It’s easy to set up with MailChimp and free for those of us with less than 2,000 subscribers. MailChimp helps you manage your list, create forms to capture emails and send out professional looking newsletters. I’ve found it takes a bit to learn it, but nothing you can’t figure out quickly.
I know you hate those popups on blogs asking you to subscribe. The problem is they work, and if you don’t have one you’re missing out on valuable subscribers. Set them to only pop up when someone is leaving and you’ll avoid upsetting too many folks. MailMunch is an easy form to set up and integrate with MailChimp.
Travel Planning & More
Of course, one thing you need to do to be a successful travel blog is travel! Whether you’re traveling near or far, pop over to the travel planning resource page. Here you’ll find my favorite sites, tricks and travel accessories.
If you haven’t already, you’ll find there is so much more to blogging than writing about your travels. It takes hard work and learning a lot about the field. These blogging resources will help you grow your blog without wasting too much of your energy on the other sides of blogging. If I missed one of your favorite tools let me know, I’m always looking to learn more. And will be growing this list and I find even more resources.