Travel Blogging 101: Finding Your Niche
Five years ago blogging was a totally different ball game. There were fewer players and even fewer rules. Now there are millions of bloggers and readers have even shorter attention spans. The bar for bloggers is at its highest ever. This makes finding a niche absolutely essential. In fact, it’s the first step to starting a successful blog. I know, because I started a few unsuccessful blogs before I found my niche, quit my job, and started making more money blogging than I did working full-time.
WordPress, a popular blogging platform, reports that 42.6 million blog posts are created each month. Consider that your competition! Yes, blogging is about competition. Bloggers compete to keep readers engaged, which in turn attracts advertisers. Readers now expect bloggers to turn out content that is as good or better than mainstream publications.
Don’t Start a Chinese Restaurant in Chinatown
Think about starting a blog the same way a chef would think about starting a restaurant. Don’t start a Chinese restaurant in a town with hundreds of great Chinese restaurants. Do something that few are doing, or better yet, that no one is doing! Finding a unique niche is even more important than being an authority on the subject. Your knowledge of the theme can grow the more experience you have and the more research you do.
How can I find a niche in travel blogging?
But, you may say, there are already thousands of excellent travel blogs. How can I compete? That is the exact question you should be asking. The answer? Find a subject that has not been exploited to its full potential. Travel blogging isn’t just about creating postcards from beautiful destinations. Consider these sub-genres of travel blogging:
- Budget travel
- Solo travel
- Female travel
- Travel photography
- Adventure travel
- Luxury travel
- Around-the-world travel
- Traveling for work
- Food destinations
- Music destinations
- Off-the-beaten path travel
- City or country guides
Let’s talk about the last one because that’s where I found success. Before I started Global Girl Travels, I created The Guam Guide. Can you believe in 2011 there was no guide to the U.S. Territory of Guam? I couldn’t either, so I quit my job at Guam Visitors Bureau to devote myself full-time to my blog. In less than four months, a local news station asked me to host a weekly TV segment based on my blog. Within a few years, The Guam Guide became a household name here on Guam. I believe a huge part of my success was that there was virtually no competition for an English language website about Guam (most were in Japanese).
In this day and age, it’s very difficult to start a totally unique blog about a subject that no one has covered, but I still recommend you push yourself to find a unique niche. Are you an expert on GoPro travel photography? Do you know Central America like the back of your hand? Have you stayed at every castle featured on the BBC?
Even though I recommend having a very specific theme, it doesn’t mean you can’t expand your editorial content to include other topics. Blogging is like writing a symphony — even a 30-minute opus returns to the motif several times.
This is the part that you may not want to hear… Just as senseless as it would be to start a Chinese restaurant in Chinatown, that’s how much of an uphill battle it would be to blog about popular travel destinations. That being said, if your travel experience has been mostly mainstream, ‘niche’ it up. Everyone covers New York City, but are you an authority on Polish delis, Salsa clubs, or vintage shops? Can you share the perfect itinerary for 12 hours in NYC? Can you recommend something to do in all five boroughs?
And one final piece of advice on this subject, the last thing the travel blogging world needs is another picture of the Eiffel Tower. Now, get out there and be original!
Case Studies: Travel Blogs That Nail Their Niche
Couple travel from Brussels to Hong Kong strictly on land since April 2014, capturing the soul of each city. Expect honest portraits, mouthwatering food, and unexplored Middle Eastern destinations.
Belgian power couple showcase immaculate photography in uncommon destinations like North Korea, Bhutan, and Antarctica.
Twentysomething sisters chronicle outfits in exotic places like Iceland and Istanbul. Come for the travel, stay for the hyperreal, yet dreamy photography.