Build a better travel blog: go offline

You have the power (button) to build your community (photo courtesy yum9me at flickr's Creative Commons.)

What makes a travel blog worth reading?

That’s something that I consider each time I sit down to write up a post, and assess whether a particular subject is something that my Family Travel readers would enjoy and find useful. 

Not everyone wants to read about the same topics. 

Some folks are excited about side trips from Tokyo, or side trips in Oklahoma.  Some would rather hear about side trips from London, and some just wonder why the ‘bleep’ would I want to go there at all?

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about blogging, what with speaking at BlogHer in Chicago, my upcoming blogging panel for the Austin chapter of the Association for Women in Communications (AWC) and my prospective travel blogging panel at the South by Southwest (SXSW) Interactive tech conference.

How can I do this better, and also reach more people who might enjoy reading about travel with kids?

Good thing that I just stumbled upon the latest ProBlogger project; 31 Days to Building a Better Blog.  Aussie professional blogger and writer Darren Rowse periodically does these group events where people write up posts about a specific topic on their blog, and he links to them on his, for massive link love and a ton of useful info from around the world. 

This post is my contribution, but I’m not going to talk about monetizing or better photos or Search Engine Optimization, or put up a list of bullet points on better travel writing.

I want to think about going offline to build readership.

News flash — I’ve noticed that a lot of people do not spend a bunch of time on the computer, but they’re still pretty smart, they lead full lives and oh by the way, they love to travel.  A lot of people don’t give a rip about Technorati.  They go to a few favorite Web sites, do a little online banking, Google for directions to a restaurant and that’s about it.   To paraphrase the pre-wardrobe malfunction Janet Jackson, what have you done for them lately?

The answer is to go where they go, and convince them that your blog is worth adding to their list of things to read online.

  • Offer to speak to community groups and professional organizations about blogging.  For my blog’s subject, for example, a great place to start might be a YMCA “Mom/Dad & Me” playgroup.
  • Give a class about getting started as a blogger.  Try your local community college continuing education coordinator, find out about teaching blogging at the senior center (those elderbloggers are fired up!) or at your local high school.
  • Remember that many may still consider bloggers some sort of strange, Mohawk’d, ultra-geek faddish bunch who prattle on about obscure tech topics or detail the daily activities of their cats.  Show the doubters that there are “regular” people who write about useful, interesting things every day in blogs, and you’re one of them.  Don’t make fun of your audience if you must start out just defining “blog” for them; I’ll bet there are subjects that they know about that would stump you
  • Contact the staff writer at your local paper who covers your blog’s area of interest, and let him/her know that you’re a blogger who’s willing to be interviewed for an “online” view of your topic.
  • Send out an old-fashioned press release if something significant happens that relates to your blog (an award, perhaps.)
  • Put your blog’s URL in the signature line of your emails, or even on your business card, if appropriate.
  • And for the really old school among you, tell everyone including Aunt Mabel about your blog in your annual Christmas/holiday letter.  You do one of those, right? 🙂

Build a community through people-to-people links, not just online links.

Some of my most loyal readers look at very few blogs, but they are kind enough to look at mine because they love travel.  A few dedicated people like that are a precious audience, much better than someone who just surfs through from a random link and never returns.

So, get out more, willya?

Technorati tags:  travel, blogging, ProBlogger