The Dumb Economics of Travel Blogging • Indie Traveller


I wanted to give a bit of insight right now into how a weblog like mine operates behind the scenes — and share with you some of the motivations that may perhaps drive what I create about.

You see, it can in some cases appear like travel blogs are overly focused with particular subjects that may perhaps not be that fascinating to the extra skilled and in-the-know travellers. But there are typically fantastic motives for why we do cover these subjects, which I do not believe is often entirely understood.

What created me want to create about this is a comment I got a although ago to a post I published about Chiang Mai in Thailand. You can see the comment right here but essentially, it was a complaint about how blogs in some cases cover equivalent subjects in a pretty equivalent way, like… listing some of the major points to do in Chiang Mai (ugh… yet a different one particular of these?).

I entirely recognize the reaction. If you have by no means been to Thailand or know absolutely nothing about Chiang Mai, you will almost certainly be pretty interested to find out about this city. But it is essentially one particular of these places pretty significantly each and every traveller and their dog has visited at some point, and so several blogs have covered it. When it comes to Asia, it is conveniently one particular of the least original locations to create about.

So, then, why be the umpteenth weblog to do so? Why bother at all with such a mainstream and on-the-map spot when you could be writing about someplace way extra original? 

It almost certainly does not make sense… at least, not till you see how well-liked locations like Chiang Mai stack up against the much less well-liked ones.

Why I preserve writing about Thailand

Anytime I mention I’m a travel blogger, I believe people today typically image me scouring the planet for the Most Uncommon and Adventurous Locations.

They almost certainly image me operating on some magnum opus on the forgotten buttcracks of mid-northeastern Bulgaria — some crazy overlooked spot that will entirely surprise you. Possibly they believe my excellent sort of content material would be a story about, I dunno, drinking testicle soup with goat herders in remote Kazakhstan. Due to the fact that is super shareable, ideal?

But in reality, I commit a lot of my time considering about reasonably nicely-recognized destinations and points that are at least extra or much less on the beaten path.

That is challenging to admit, as it does not appear fairly so cool. But blogs like mine rely in significant aspect on search engine targeted traffic, and that suggests you typically finish up merely responding to what is well-liked.

That is the purpose why I (nevertheless) publish about Thailand. It is a nation visited by 35+ million people today a year, so clearly several people today seek information and facts on it. My weblog occurs to be nicely established inside the subject, considering the fact that I’ve had Thailand content material for five+ years now. Tens of thousands come to Indie Traveller every month searching for strategies especially for Thailand — and I want to give them what they want.

Here’s a chart displaying the relative quantity of pageviews for destinations on this internet site:

Whoa! Appear at Thailand just lording more than all other people like it is the Burj Khalifa.

Now, it is strange to admit… but in my heart of hearts, I’m not that excited by Thailand any longer.

Back in January, I passed by means of Thailand for the 5th time, and it felt a bit as well familiar. When I now create about Thailand, I have to attempt to see it by means of the eyes of a 1st-timer for whom every thing is nevertheless entirely unfamiliar and exotic. If it weren’t for my weblog, I’d almost certainly have been exploring someplace entirely new. 

Thailand is an amazing starter nation. But these days I get extra excited about going to extra obscure places… like off-the-trail locations in Laos, or a small-visited nation like Armenia which I came back from just final week.

However there is typically nevertheless a hand steering me towards extra clear hotspots… as these are just the ones that finish up paying the bills.

And yes, this can build an annoying self-reinforcing cycle!

Stories vs. travel guides

The varieties of content material I create are also typically dictated by demand. You may well be shocked to see the various levels in pageviews for a travel guide, versus a thing that is a story, a photo essay, or an opinion piece.

Right here are the pageviews of my major 3 guides, versus my major 3 most-study stories:

Of course, it is feasible that I just seriously suck at storytelling. Making a definitely fantastic narrative piece can be like squeezing water from a rock. Not each and every travel practical experience tends to make for a fantastic story and several angles have currently been accomplished to death. But I’d like to believe I do at least a decent job with extra inventive posts each and every now and then I like my story on the Cardamom Mountains area of Cambodia from earlier this year, for instance.

But it essentially does not matter how wonderful (or not) your stories are it is just that these days most guests come to a internet site from search engines, and these search engines ordinarily reward extra informational pieces with extra visibility.

From a cold bean-counter point of view, the travel guide style content material on my weblog is 20X to 50X extra worthwhile (at least, in terms of generating the weblog produce an earnings) than even my most-study-ever story.

And it is typically essential to reach these volumes at least someplace on your weblog, as marketing revenues do not quantity to significantly on the internet — most of my content material is, in a particular sense, completely loss-generating.

But I’m not complaining

That is just the nature of the beast although: the points that produce earnings for a travel weblog and the points that are the most fascinating/original/uncommon are not often the very same.

I typically believe of it this way: 20% of your content material is almost certainly going to be well-liked stuff targeting a wide audience that does all the heavy lifting. And this enables you to do the other 80% — the extended tail with the extra peculiar or individual stuff.

(I’ve heard this had extended been the case for travel magazines, just before blogs had been even a issue. The cover function essentially subsidized the smaller sized stories, although at the time they didn’t have detailed analytics to know this for positive.)

I believe it is vital to nevertheless do posts simply because you want to do them, not simply because you know they’ll get a ton of eyeballs. When good results is only measured in likes or pageviews a travel weblog will clearly shed its soul.

I’ll certainly be writing about Armenia quickly, but I’m beneath no illusion that these posts will be a massive hit. They’ll get like .0001% of the pageviews. But Armenia was a meaningful practical experience to me, and an individual out there may perhaps locate my posts on Armenia meaningful as well. 

I guess my point, although, is that you shouldn’t judge us as well harshly. If you see a weblog covering some very same-old stuff like Chiang Mai, or perhaps carrying out pretty clearly industrial posts (e.g. listicles on the greatest hostels to keep), then preserve in thoughts these posts may well nicely be subsidizing a thing else down the line… like that juicy narrative piece on some spot you have by no means heard of.


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