I started making a living by writing about travel quite by chance. Having discovered a new career that combined two of my greatest passions, namely, traveling and writing, I embraced it and don’t think I’ll ever stop. Over the years, I have used many different tools encountered online or recommended by other bloggers. These are the best free tools for anyone who is truly serious about becoming a great travel blogger and making a living from it.
Tripadvisor is the prime source on the web for user-generated content about travel. You can use it to find out what the top sights are in a specific destination or to find great free images. You may include any user-uploaded image from Tripadvisor as long as you insert them by using the provided code, which links back to their site. Additionally, the site is a great tool to increase your travel-writer authority.
Over the years, I have received countless tips as to where to find the best free images for my travel blogs. While I often have pictures of my own to use, sometimes I have been at a place without a camera or I am writing about a destination that I am looking forward to visiting. In these cases, I have found that Flickr is the place to go.
To find stunning images of any of your favorite spots, simply click on Advanced Search and select Creative Commons images. When you do this, all of the search results you obtain are free to use, provided you follow attribution guidelines. Likewise, you can work on your site´s link-building by uploading photos into Flickr and offering them free of charge in exchange for a backlink.
Normally, I am not a fan of spell and grammar checks. I generally feel that they are far less precise than a proficient writer. However, I have tried out Grammarly for proofreading, and I have to say that many of its suggestions were correct, especially when it comes to my unfortunately frequent abuse of commas. While nothing beats a great editor or proofreader of the human type, Grammarly is the prime tool for writers looking to improve their style in the market today.
While many people blog about their travels, the few who publish texts written in impeccable English certainly have an edge over those publishing error-ridden, poor quality content. Grammarly offers many free tools as well as a 7-day free trial, but a full subscription is the way to go for anyone who is serious about improving the quality of their writing.
Blogger Linkup is a guest-blogging market created by Internet wiz Cathy Stucker. When you sign up for the service, you start receiving daily emails with listings of sites accepting guest posts and writers offering them. You can post your own offers with details about your site or your expertise, if you are a writer, so they can be included in the Newsletter. Cathy also offers many cool tips for bloggers and webmasters.
This is the most dynamic guest blogging market on the Internet hands down. I have tried a few, and this is the only one that really works. If you are a writer, you are sure to find quality, high traffic sites on different niches looking for articles. If you are a site owner, you can select one of the guest blogging offers or simply post a request for guest posts and wait to receive replies. I have used the service often in both directions with excellent results.
There are many travel-related hashtags on Twitter. By attending virtual events like #Travelthursday and joining in the travel community’s different conversations, you can increase your Twitter following and promote your travel blog. My experience is that when you engage in the conversation and start building relationships with other travel bloggers, the effort always pays off. Here is a great list of popular travel hashtags.
I actually started using Piwik because someone who hired me to develop a travel blog installed it for the site. After trying numerous other traffic stats and demographic data tools, I have to say that Piwik is at least one of the best stats counters and analyzers in the market. Piwik is free, and it can be easily integrated into WordPress, Joomla, Drupal, and many other platforms.
WordPress is a miraculous tool for bloggers. If you are a writer like me, and your knowledge of programming and web design is limited, WordPress is the best option for managing your travel blog. There are thousands of free themes that can make your site look great, and you can find Plugins to do almost anything you like, from adding ads to your site’s code to protecting it against security threats and backing it up regularly.
If you are starting a travel blog, you can buy WordPress-based hosting from your Hosting provider. This will cost a bit more than regular hosting, but you will be ready to blog from day one, and you will not need a designer to help you set up your site. If you have a limited budget, and you are mainly interested in writing, this is the best option.
Travel bloggers Academy is possibly the richest knowledge hub on the Internet when it comes to travel blogging. From crafting good headlines to mastering SEO and creating great shareable content, this site offers useful advice on everything. Full of monetizing tips, this virtual Academy also offers numerous courses, some of which are paid. Whether you choose to simply browse through their public articles or purchase one of their training courses, this site is a must visit for both newbie and seasoned travel bloggers.
A Library Card
Quite simply, there is no great writing without great reading. If all you read are blogs, chances are your style might suffer. Reading great writers can inspire you to become a better blogger. Many great novelists have written about their traveling adventures, and reading them is essential to develop your craft. When you read Miller’s account of his travels around Greece or Paul Bowles’ short stories about Northern Africa, you can discover new ways to look at things, new turns of language. It is only by reading the great masters and acquiring sufficient personal experience that great writers come to be. I would lend you some of my books, but I love them too much to part with them. Whether you use Amazon or a library, you should never stop reading great books if you are serious about becoming a writer.
When I started my site, I had no idea what Pagerank was. Now, I use it a lot. I have a Google Chrome add-on; you can easily find the same for different browsers. First of all, a Pagerank tool tells you what Pagerank your site has, it gives you your Alexa traffic rank, number of incoming backlins, etc. When looking to guest post to build backlinks, this tool can tell you quickly whether a certain site is worth guest-blogging for.
I have used many different tools over the years. I have made money with some of them, like Adbeans, but some people have had worse luck than me, so I cannot recommend them. The 10 tools listed above are both useful and reliable, and I can highly recommend each one of them. Feel free to add other valuable tools you have used in the comments sections.
Featured image by wackywanderlust.com. Pagerank art by by Felipe Micaroni Lalli.