10 Easy Steps to Kill Your Travel Blog
Some time back I was in Goa in a large gathering of bloggers. Some of the folks I was meeting for the first time in person but I had interacted with them earlier on social media like twitter and Facebook etc. After the event, we all sat down for some gossip and like all blogger meet the topic of discussion soon was how to make money from blogging. One of the conclusions of the discussion was that to make money from blogging you need to grow your blog and get loads of traffic. Naturally, the next question was how to get traffic for to your travel blog.
Before we move further let me warn my regular readers who are not bloggers – If you have no interest in blogging this post is not for you and I will not feel bad if you do not read it. ( just don’t tell me). If you are a blogger and want to grow your travel blog please carry on.
So back to that Goa evening with my blogger friends, I was soon declared ” Vintage Blogger”, though I am not sure it was due to my old age or the age of my blog. So I peddled some gyan and tried to extract some information about the best practices from other bloggers present. I stayed in touch with a few of them over social media and was surprised to see that though the travel and other bloggers wanted a growth in their traffic they were doing exactly opposite. What I mean by this is that irrespective of the genre of the blog most of the bloggers were doing self-goals and things that will kill their blog rather than grow it. So recently when one of them called me again and pinged me on Facebook for some more gyan about how to grow a blog I in my typical desi style told him just the opposite or how to ” Kill A Blog” I share the very same poison pills for you to kill your blog on a priority basis. Of course, you are welcome to do just the opposite and I am sure the opposite results will come. But as I am no expert take these poison pills at your own peril and remember – “Neem Hakim Khatrae Jaan”
- Don’t write regularly – Blogging is fun, hobby, and passion, personal, so why have any kind of discipline for the same? If I wanted discipline in my life I would rather focus on my day job. Regular writing is for that fame and fortune hungry greedy bloggers who have nothing better to do than write a blog post. Losers. Or you can just be the opposite and try and follow the routine of Dr. Mridula Dwivedi who writes almost daily no matter if she is in town or traveling, and no wonder she is the most respected and sought after travel blogger in India.
- Don’t teach Old Blog new Tricks: So you have an old blog and everywhere you mention the same. Guess what dear, nobody cares, if you don’t write regularly. Age of blog matters only to some extent after that you need to have a solid regular content update in your blog. So no need to update theme, add any new widget or plugins, continue with that same old WordPress.com or Blogspot domain and claim to be proud owner of a “DECADE OLD BLOG, and pioneer in Blogging” I am sorry to be rude here but friends the world of blogging is changing and you need to keep pace with the changing technology and medium otherwise you may have a 10-year-old blog but it may be read by only 10 people including you. So update your theme, make sure you have the latest version of security patches etc. if you are on WordPress and regularly update yourself of new developments in the field of blogging.
- Forget your reader: Well you should never write for readers, you can write for expressing your thoughts you can write for your blogger buddies you can write for PR folks. PR folks? Yes, they are the wonderful guys who call you for free lunches, send you mobile phones for reviews, and throw in the occasional FAM trip. So you need to be on the speed dial of every PR agency intern and their first cousin. Readers? Why should you focus on losers who have nothing better to do than read a blog? I mean does anybody except for other bloggers even read the blogs, so why waste time on readers, let us focus on making friends with PR who send us all those invites, I mean who does not need the 127th pen drive in Key Chain and invite to the next Corn on the cob festival in the town ? To hell with readers.
- Be a HERMIT Live In Isolation: Why do I need to read other blogs? Comment on other blogs? Why do I need to do that? Never be part of any blogging community, do not interact with other bloggers, make sure nobody is able to comment on your blog. Yes, make sure that nobody is able to comment on your blog. First, have a captcha, and then a secret question and then you approve the comment after one week. Most people leave comments anyway to say “Nice post” So make sure it is very difficult to leave a comment on your blog and as a blog that is not fed by comments is soon bound to die a slow death due to deficiency of Vitamin C ( C for comment ) so will your blog, or it may linger on slowly existing but never blooming into the dream blog you once imagined.
- SPAM Other Blogs: This is the opposite of the above one. So you have identified the top blogs in your niche, then you wear your SuperBlogger undies and start attacking all of them. Any post anybody has written you have written better. Aarti in Benaras – here is mine not just Benaras but also Rishikesh, trekking in Spiti? Here is a link to my Spiti blog and I went there in slippers, Food walk in Chandni Chowk,? Well, I ate 2 Kachoris more than you here are my pictures. So as soon as you find any blog has updated, be the first one to go there, and put a link to the post you have written or plan to write, or better still say — , “ Your trip to Zehannum looks awesome, I too have been there, but not written about it, though my post is ready I was waiting for the right moment to make it live, will soon share it with you” You get the idea, any and every blog worth its readership needs to have your comment and link back to a post on your blog, over and above the link to your homepage that 99.99 percent blogs allow.
- Sell Links on your blog: You started your blog to make money, not to share your passion with the world. So there is no harm in getting paid for the sponsored post. So anytime anybody offers you even small $$ you jump on the offer and put up a sponsored post on the blog, with a do follow the link back to the client. Awesome, you just put a nail in the coffin of your blog. If you sometimes wonder why your decade-old blog still gets exactly 22 page views per day, you just found the reason. For every time you sell a link on your blog in exchange for money or goods the big Uncle G aka Google, comes to know and pushes your blog lower in SERP (Search Engine Ranking Position). No wonder you don’t get much search traffic, but who cares about traffic you love those emails that say, “Hi there: I came across your blog and found it to be wonderful, unique, and really useful. I would love to contribute an SEO optimized article on your blog for one of my clients and would be happy to pay your $ 25 for your efforts” Once you see $$ sign everything else is immaterial, including the fact that every time you sell a link your Google ranking takes a dip. But I never mention that it is a sponsored post, you say. Well, read on the next point. While there is nothing illegal and unethical in selling links on your blog as it is a perfectly acceptable business practice and allowed by law, the challenge is Google ( the biggest source of traffic for most blog), considers this to be a wrong practice as the folks at Google think that when you accept money in exchange for a link you ( both buyer and seller) are trying to manipulate the ranking in Search Engine results and hence they penalize such website by not bring them up in the search result. Exception: If you have a big blog with loads of traffic it may or may not impact you, but if you have a new blog or an old blog with negligible traffic then you need to think about selling links again. But note this is my guess not Google’s policy and it may still impact you irrespective of how big your blog or site is if you are selling links. So to err on the side of caution.
- Hide that it is a sponsored post: So you do accept money for selling links on your blogs or reviewing product and services, but the best part is you think that nobody ever can find out, including Uncle G, because you did not mention it. So dear blogger let me tell you that Google employs some of the smartest engineers on earth. I mean these guys are working on things like a driverless car, they can find you the proverbial needle in the haystack and are getting better at it with every passing day as they update their algorithm with every passing day. For a moment even if let us assume Google will not find that you are violating their sponsored post guidelines, what about your readers? Don’t you think you owe it to your readers to mention that this is a sponsored post? Ah, you think how will the readers find out? Well, when a reader visits some of the blogs and all of them are suddenly singing praises for one particular company and their awesome hotel in Jhumri Telaiya, people come to know either cash or kind exchanged hands. Worst if you do not mention sponsored post and your blogger buddies do, then? Or even worst, if your best friend whom you confided about your bounty of $ 25 for sponsored post (replace $ 25 with whatever amount you charge), may report this to Google using this Google form for reporting Paid Links. Now both Google and your readers know that you charged money for the post and are not disclosing it. Nothing wrong with it, you are paying taxes on the money earned ( I hope you are ! otherwise, you are in for some correspondence from THE desi Taxman too !), but what is frowned upon is not disclosing the same and giving link passing juice for SEO purpose.But that should not worry you as you are anyways hell-bent on killing your blog asap. BTW this could be one of the biggest reasons why search traffic is not increasing on your blog as you are selling links and are in violation of Google policy of sponsored post.
- Copy Content for your blog: I mean what could be easier than copying content and pictures from another website. I mean who will know? People have no idea about Copyscape and even if somebody finds out, I can just say “Hey I found that Picture on the Internet, so I thought I can use it”. If copying pictures are not enough and not writing content how about copying things from Wikipedia. I mean those guys proudly say “Your Free Encyclopedia or something. I am not sure as I have not copied this. To elaborate taking a picture or two from a friend or Wikipedia for a blog post is a different thing but when you copy complete paragraphs, & all images from somebody else, then is it even your work? Worst case when you are not even giving credit to the original writer /photographer then you are telling your readers and search engines that you have no respect for creative work of others. So even if you get some kudos and spike in readership in the short run, you will suffer in long run. But that is exactly your aim, right? To kill your blog in 10 easy steps 🙂 Check this Post about Hebbar’s Kitchen.
- Keep your blog Unsecured: One of the easiest ways to kill your blog is to keep it unsecured, keep an easy to guess password like Password123, or Blogger123, so that it becomes easy for some poor hacker sitting in some remote corner of world to enter your account and add 100s of spammy link to the same. Here is something happened to my blog some time back and I am yet to recover from it completely. Check my post when desi Traveler was hacked.
- Forget Why You Write a Travel Blog: Let me try and explain this. When you started the blog it was a very personal thing and the idea was to share your personal journeys, personal stories, personal travelogues. Somewhere down the line, you learnt big words like Monetization, SEO, Followers, Engagement ratio, Top Blogger list, blah blah blah, so in order to get traffic ( and here I counter all the above 9 points ), you forgot that you are a blogger and people come to your blog to read you. So I see no reason why just to optimize for Search engines you are forgetting yourself and also ignoring your reader ( refer point no 3). Do you really think your blog has a chance to compete with Lonely Planet Guide or a native of Singapore or Andalucia in Spain, who writes about his city? So why are you trying to become something you are not? Share your experience about the place you visited, but I don’t think you can claim to be an expert on a place by visiting it for few days. So share your story, not your pseudo-expertise is my opinion, though I could be wrong here, so you take your own call. But in any case, don’t write a travel blog about a place you have not visited, no matter how many people are searching for it in Google or how much you are being paid. EXCEPTION: If you are to visit a place in next few weeks, you may write a teaser post about your plans. Be yourself write from the heart for yourself and your readers, don’t write to please PR, don’t write for SEO, don’t write for coming into top blog lists, don’t write to compete with other bloggers. Remember it is your voice who the reader wants to read so don’t write about places you have not been just because they will let you rank in search engines. Trust me a post will not rank in search engines no matter how much you optimize it if you write about things you are not passionate about ( the original idea when you started the blog remember) . Just to summarize : Write for Humans and optimize for search engines, not the other way round.
Here is a bonus tip for you: If you have human readers then the search engines, the wonderful PR folks, and the list makers will contact you, just focus on nurturing your blog. If you are struggling for readers but basking in PR glory please do some hard thinking, and try to find out why the PR folks love you. I am sure you are smart enough to figure out.
And finally here is something Lord Krishna said more than 5 millennium ago just before the epic war of Mahabharata started – “ You do your work rest will be taken care of”. Just like anything else in life, there are no shortcuts in blogging also and whether you want your blog to blossom or die it will take time but you can decide which direction it takes.
readers blogger just follow the above points from Blog wale Baba jee and soon you will be able to kill your blog silently and effectively. Bolo Blog Wale Baba jee kee Jai.
Images on this post: All Images for this post have been taken from the wonderful site Canva. Check it out you will love it.
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