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Think Globally Act Locally Travel Blogging Strategy

I’ve recently found myself in conversation with two readers about the disadvantages of running a multi-country/ multi-region world travel blog compared against one that focus on only one country or region of the world. I know that many readers who come to VJT regularly are also travel bloggers or are considering making a start in [...]

I’ve recently found myself in conversation with two readers about the disadvantages of running a multi-country/ multi-region world travel blog compared against one that focus on only one country or region of the world. I know that many readers who come to VJT regularly are also travel bloggers or are considering making a start in the blogging profession, and I just want to share my biggest piece of advice regarding this matter:

Single region/ single topic blogs will generally be more successful than global travel blogs.

A big world made up of geographic regions

The reasoning behind this is simple: a single location website has a more focused topic and is more attractive to long term readers who have a prolong interest in the topic. It is my impression that there are far more vacationers, travelers, arm chair travelers, researchers, and expats who are seeking information on a particular region of the world than their are people with a general interest in the world as a whole. The reader with an equal interest in Mexico, Mongolia, Iceland, and Namibia is a true rarity, but it is this sub sector of the travel world that a world travel blog appeals to. If you want to attract a successful following using blogging as a medium through which to collect a tribe of followers, focus your sights down to the lowest common denominator: aim for a single region of the world and make a landmark site on that region.

This may sound counter-intuitive, as a world travel blog that takes in many regions and many topics can cover a much higher range of interests than a single region blog, but many of these freshly netted readers will quickly escape quickly after a handful of entries are published which lie outside of their individual range of interest. While a global travel blog has the power to bring in a higher number of visitors in total, the amount of these visitors who become regular readers will generally be less than a single region publication. To build a large audience with a blog, refine your topic so that each article is within range of a particular interest sect.

A good example of this can be found in the Gringo Travel Network of blogs.

A world travel blog, like this travelogue at VJT, sort of treads water in terms of regular readership: when I am in a particular region of the globe I will gain an audience who are interested in that specific region or country, but as soon as I leave that area many of these newly gained readers will stop visiting. I traveled in Mexico for six months, and built up a big body of new readers with an interest in this country, but now that I have left Mexico the readers left as well. I am now back to my base audience as I transition between regions of the world, I am back to my consistent set of long term readers: the people who are interested in this story, the people who are interested in the world as a whole and vagabond travel in general.

Admittedly, if I only traveled to high yield tourism regions like Mexico, Central America, Western Europe, Southeast Asia, or Japan (like most other popular travel bloggers) I could just substitute one “boom” audience for another and keep traffic constant while maintaining a global travelogue. But if I go to Africa, the Balkans, the Middle East, Mongolia, or off the tourist trail in any way, this is not possible — the boom readers will quickly dissipate. Any way that I strategize my moves about the world, a large bulk of my readership is going to be temporary: they will stay around while I cover their area of interest and then shoo fly away as soon as I make a geographical shift.

Like this, there are natural limits on the regular readership a world travel blog that focuses on the culture, current events, and the landscape of each destination it covers. Most global travel blogs reach a point of diminishing returns within a year or two of beginning publication — regular traffic will continue to rise, but at a ever decreasing rate. Newly arriving readers just take the place of the ones who depart, and, like a popular hostel, a bed is emptied just to be filled again without the number of occupants ever changing. To publish a world travelogue is to tread the waters of readership numbers.

Better monetizing strategies for a regional travel blog

Sometimes local business approach me about advert placements on VJT and I directly shoot them down. “Your ad may do well on my site when I am in your country, but as soon as I leave it will be next to worthless.”

I do not want to rip people off, I want to have a mutually beneficial relationship with advertisers, and want business partners, not quick shots of cash. I know that an ad placed for a hostel in San Critobal de las Casas in Mexico may perform well when I am in that country, but as soon as I am in Iceland (or somewhere else) it will become irrelevant. A multi-country travel website presents many natural barriers to advertising, as there are relatively few global travel businesses outside of the insurance and airfare sectors — both tricky markets for a website to monetize well.

But a single country/ region travel website with a focused and ever growing audience could soak up the local ads, continuously renewing them into the future. There are tons of competing local travel businesses, and a website that consistently puts out content within the interest range of these businesses could flourish relatively easily.

New Local Emphasis on Vagabond Journey Travel

Local is the new buzz word of the internet. This is where the money is being made, this is where the big traffic is. A global travel blog excludes the “local” through its generality of topic and diversity of locations. If I did not enjoy my interactions with daily readers and like having all my travelogue entries in one place I would start a new blog for each destination/ country that I spend any extended amount of time in. I would publish all of my local topic entries there, build up a audience with an interest in the region,  and then go around and acquire advertising in person. When I leave this particular region I would pay bloggers who are in/ traveling through that particular region to publish a weekly post, and keep the destination specific blog alive while I move on and start a new one in another location.

If I were to convert Vagabond Journey Travel into a federation of destination specific blogs I could probably raise my traffic and income ten fold. Though I feel that I’ve come too far in the direction that I have traveled to turn back now. In point, it is the story here that I feel to be of value, and though I make vastly less money than I could otherwise through this global travel blog, there is a deeper level of essence that I would not want to give up through dividing up the content into destination specific sites.

Perhaps I will look for a way to monetize each continent category of this travelogue separately, so the Africa section functions as its own blog, the Central America category does the same, and so on. So I will have a federation of distinct regional blogs functioning under the mother blog, VagabondJourney.com/travelogue/. All regions already have their own RSS feeds, so any readers who are just interested in receiving notifications of entries from specific destinations can sign up.

Africa RSS

Asia RSS

Caribbean RSS

Central America RSS

Europe RSS

Middle East RSS

North America RSS

South America RSS

Oceania RSS

Map of world with regional links

If you look at the homepage of this blog, you will see a map of the world where each individual region links to its corresponding category. So if you want to read entries from the Middle East, just hover over this region on the map and click to go to articles this part of the world.

While I am redeveloping Vagabond Journey the old adage “think globally act locally” resounds ever more clearly. If any bloggers out there would like to do some regional specific guest posts, your contributions would be more than welcome.

Filed under: Blogging, Vagabond Journey Updates

About the Author:

Wade Shepard is the founder and editor of Vagabond Journey. He has been traveling the world since 1999, through 88 countries. He is the author of the book, Ghost Cities of China, and contributes to The Guardian, Forbes, Bloomberg, The Diplomat, the South China Morning Post, and other publications. has written 3422 posts on Vagabond Journey. Contact the author.

Support Wade Shepard’s writing on this blog (please help):

Wade Shepard is currently in: Prague, Czech Republic

4 comments… add one

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  • Bob L May 15, 2011, 11:48 pm

    A thought. If you created an actual website for each region/area, then just redirected to your regular website, would that not be the same as having separate websites for each area? Frankly, I don’t see the internet being very lucrative for anyone honest, unless porn is involved. I just don’t see where the honest cash comes from.

    But then, I have never been a good business man…….

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    • Wade | Vagabond Journey.com May 16, 2011, 9:54 am

      Right on here, but I would like to take it a step further: media is not a lucrative pursuit for anyone honest. But having available “on topic” ad space available would open up the possibilities of attracting more advertising. This is a project to work on piece by piece throughout this next year, but I am taking pages like Middle East Travel Blog and am going to make them more locally unique. Such as ad space for Middle Eastern business in the side bar, a middle east map in the content area, as well as some evergreen content about traveling in the Middle East and instruction on how to get started. It is a big project, but I think it would be cool to have regional portals within the larger world travel blog.

      Don’t know how lucrative this could be though, but I think it could be good for visitors who just want info on a particular part of the world and don’t want to sift through the mountain that has become this site.

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  • Bree May 21, 2011, 9:29 pm

    Thank you. I am a global travele. I am preparing to embark on my tavel blogging career. I will begin traveling in October once my daughter is situated in college. I will start by taking a sabatical from my 9-5 job ( 30-45 days) I am hoping to blog for many years to come. Any advice is well appreciated

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    • Wade | Vagabond Journey.com May 22, 2011, 11:07 am

      Well, blogging is good if you enjoy doing it. But don’t expect it to be a career in any sense of making money — there is very, very, very little to be made and it is very difficult and takes a ton of time. All for all, I think if I added up all the time I put into this website and how much money I’ve made, I may come out with a 25 cent an hour pay rate. But after more than six years of doing full time work, I am probably up to making $5 an hour each day now. The first four years of building a travel website, there is very little money to be made. After you get established — outlast the competition, build up a solid body of content and a readership, there are more spoils to be taken. I am one of the longer lasting full time independent travel bloggers out there, and the people who have made this a career were the ones who didn’t give up. There are only a few of us — in fact, I can count them on my fingers. But, the “make money with your travel blog” bubble has burst, and fewer and fewer people are now attempting to blog professionally. There was a wave of travel bloggers who came up a couple years ago with the attempt of making a living from it, and 99% of them hardly made 10 cents. The one percent that stuck around were either the cream of the crop or used corporate bullying tactics to prop themselves over the rest.

      Becoming a professional independent travel blogger is much like trying to become a professional athlete or a movie star — many will try and few will succeed. The attempt is almost futile, and the money to be won — at best — is, in even the best cases, under $20,000 per year.

      I got in early, I worked hard each day for six years, but I still struggle each day to make a living. It still seems futile for me to keep at this, but I’ve come too far now to give up. This is not to discourage you, but, as I’ve pointed out at the beginning, blog for fun first as a business model a distant second.

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