Writer’s block got you down? I frequently am at a loss for ideas when it comes to adding new content on this site. I am better at objective writing, writing facts and figures and data, rather than subjective writing, such as ideas, opinions, and my feelings. Another thing that holds me back from writing more is the fact that I am not living that nomad lifestyle, like many of my fellow travel-blogging peers; I travel when I can for now, to be able to hold a day job so that I can finish paying off my student loans and some other bills, and then I do hope to join the ranks of the long-term traveler. As I was pondering ideas for travel blog posts, I figured I’d write about some of the things that I came up with (plus, writing it down here translates to another post for me ;) ).
- Write about your hometown or where you live – Just because you know your city like the back of your hand doesn’t mean that everyone else does. As travelers, we tend to forget that the place we constantly like to leave may be a destination on someone else’s bucket list. When I travel, I like to meet the locals, because who better to show you this city? Likewise, who better than yourself to show off your home to someone visiting?
- Interview others in the travel industry – A great option to write about when you’re stuck on your next post is to try to interview someone in the industry. Send a few emails out to some of your peers, some travel writers which you look up to, and see who bites. They might want to go both ways with you and have you answer questions for them. Similar to a link exchange, reciprocal interviews can be a win-win for both sites.
- Make a list – Lists (“Top 10 of…,” “15 Best…,” etc.) are great ways to quickly come up with a blog post. Not only are lists great way to keep readers amused and/or sated intellectually (at least for a few minutes), lists are great at building backlinks to your site, increasing your site views. Lists are always popular, and people and other websites who find them will more likely link back to them as a result. They are also able to be scanned through quickly, because it is easy to get the gist of each point in the article. When someone searches for the best places to eat in Rome, or the most famous tourist spots in Paris, lists are almost always at the forefront of the results. As a travel writer, pick a topic and a destination, such as food and Rome, and get to it! Don’t come up with a number first; get as many points as you can, and when you are satisfied, that’s your number.
- Tell a story – Haven’t traveled lately? Don’t assume that you’ve worn out all of your travel stories just yet. Tell a story from a childhood trip, perhaps, or maybe even something that happened on your commute to work; you can take these stories and show how they are relevant to your traveling today. For bonus points, write with some humor!
- Write a “How To” – Once you’ve been somewhere once, you at least have a slight say as to what local fare to eat, the sights to explore, and the activities to do. Why not write a guide explaining the steps that you took, and what the next person should/should not do? Like lists, these are also great ways to gain hits to your site, as they are quite search engine-friendly.
- Talk about history – I remember several years ago when the debate between “travelers” and “tourists” was raging full-strength. However, I believe that every traveler is somewhat a tourist, and of course every tourist is a bit of a traveler, even if only for the moment. So, as a traveler and a tourist, I believe that relaying some historical facts and figures and stories about certain places would really be appreciated. Most written material talks about the hottest places to go and the most popular activities to try, all thing current, leaving the historical record behind. Communicating the story of the location can help travelers appreciate the place they are going to visit. Also, similar to learning just a bit of the destination’s language, knowing a few points about the local’s past will endear you to them exponentially more than remain ignorant.
- Reviews – On your travels, and as you do so more and more, you undoubtedly acquire items which you just cannot travel without; maybe it’s a travel pillow, the perfect piece of carry-on luggage, or an indispensable passport wallet – whatever it is, when you can’t think of much else to write about, write a few pros and cons about that dear item. There is much mistrust lately among consumers over review sites, as there have been countless instances of paid sponsorships. Even Yelp.com has been under scrutiny as there have been reports of companies paying individuals to write good ratings for them or write horrible reviews for their competitors; a review from a travel blog would stick with somebody. Similarly, if you’ve had a shitty experience with something, write about it and let people know!
- Answer basic questions – Let’s say you just went to Germany. Though you may think that everyone knows even something so simple as the fact that Berlin is the capital of Germany, it doesn’t hurt to allude to this as an answer in a new article. You won’t believe the amount of hits Google gets querying these most “basic” of answers, and it makes sense. Not everyone is geographically inclined, and different parts of the world are familiar with different segments of the map. Don’t assume that everyone knows something just because you do. Add substance to the article by expanding the content to include a little history, key facts, and other information; answering more questions than somebody searched for can really be only helpful.
- Be introspective – As a traveler and a blogger, I often describe physical or tangible experiences, such as the look of an old synagogue or the taste of an enchilada cooked on a makeshift grill from a stolen shopping cart; however, it is a good idea to write once in a while about your feelings and what’s going through the ol’ noggin. Dedicate a whole post to an introspective look once every few months. This will give your readers a little more insight into what makes you travel, and it will allow them to perhaps feel more connected to you on some levels.
- Write about the news – The travel industry, especially lately, always has developments and updates, yet most of these never make headlines from any large news source. Writing once a week or once a month on the latest news in the travel world is a great way to keep people up to date, and it will really set your blog apart. Don’t be afraid to write about even the most trivial of updates; someone is bound to appreciate you mentioning that a new, inexpensive hostel has opened in Quito, or that there is a pilot’s strike going on in Paris.
- Post photos and videos – Almost all of us take photos while abroad, to remember the moments we had or to document a beautiful building, for example. Videos are growing ever-more common, as well, as video cameras become less expensive and more compact. A great idea for a post is to take a special photo or video and share it; write a small description but make it succinct.
- Communicate legends – Cultures around the world and all their differences really excite me, and I love learning every little fact that I can about each one, as they help me feel a greater connection with the people I am about to meet or have just met. Say you meet a native while abroad, and somehow a local legend gets told to you over a beer. Stories such as these make for compelling reads, and many of your readers will appreciate the interesting addition to their guidebooks.
- Post a favorite recipe as an article – I am not a “foodie,” per se, but I do enjoy trying local foods of various places I travel to. When you blog about your travels, you write about your favorite destinations, your experiences, the nightlife, the people; why not post a recipe of that tasty dish you tried? This will add a totally new dimension to your blog and set you apart from other websites. In the U.S., I can easily find recipes of the foods of other parts of the world, whether online or otherwise, but they never feel authentic. Sites like AllRecipes.com have many people adding their takes on each dish, but wouldn’t it be great if you got the legit Indonesian Sate Ayam recipe from a mother you met in Bandung, rather than the myriad anonymous versions online? Explaining to your readers that your recipe is authentic, and providing them with a backstory, is a great way to gain readers’ approval and positive feedback.
- Inform readers of the foreign lingo – Similar to recipes, perhaps you picked up a few colloquial phrases when you were abroad, and they are useful and not found in many language guides. Share these with your readers, along with pronunciation and context, and someone ought to be grateful for the article sooner or later.
- Ask your readers – To keep up the valuable relationship that exists between your site and your readers, it is necessary to interact and make them feel welcome and important. Look through some of your old comments from readers; there are often many pointers or tips that can be expanded into an article. Ask the readers questions, communicate on Facebook, take polls on Twitter; construct the results of your questionnaire or poll into a blog post, and this kind of post will usually have people more than willing to continue the conversation.
The sky’s the limit with ideas, and I am certain that I missed many good ones. However, I hope that I have helped in some way to remove any writer’s block. If you have any comments, suggestions, or other ideas to add to this list, please post them in the comments below!