If you’ve ever thought about one day starting your own travel blog, but you just haven’t found the motivation, or perhaps you worry that you’ve missed the opportunity, this episode will surely inspire you to finally take the plunge.
Megan Singleton of Blogger at Large is an industry veteran who first began travel writing in 2006 before launching her own blog in 2009. In this episode, she shares why she believes it is now easier than ever before to grow a travel blog that ranks highly on Google, despite increasing competition. And the key is SEO.
We’ve talked about SEO and its importance on the show before, but what I especially love about my talk with Megan, is that she breaks down the exact formula that she uses to rank well on Google. She shares her process from start to finish, including the tools that she uses to find low competition high-value keywords, and the tools that she uses to then verify that the content that she’s written is fully optimized.
Megan also reveals that she doesn’t write all of her own blog posts herself from scratch. After doing the research and determining her topic and her keywords, she then outsources the actual blog writing most of the time. And then once those blogs are complete, she’ll go back and tweak them and make them into her own voice.
She goes into a lot more detail about that process in this episode, which I just found fascinating because it goes to show that there are other options out there if you are short on time and can’t imagine ever being able to pump out new blog posts on a weekly basis, or if you find that initial stage of blog writing really arduous.
We also touch on how she transitioned to eventually offering tours to her readers. So be sure to stick around until the end of the episode, to hear our chat on that. I loved my conversation with Megan, not only because she is super passionate and knowledgeable, but because she also makes everything sound so achievable. She has such a go-getter attitude, but also a really pragmatic step-by-step approach to success.
Just one last note before we dive into the rest of the show notes. As always, I appreciate any feedback you have on the show. Whether that’s leaving a review, giving the show a rating, or just sending me an email or messaging me on Instagram. I really love to hear from you all, so please let me know what you think of this episode or previous ones.
It also means so much if you could help me grow the podcast by sharing it with a friend, who perhaps is interested in travel entrepreneurship, or just likes to hear interesting stories on women doing cool things in the industry. Nothing beats a recommendation from a friend, so if you wouldn’t mind extending a recommendation for this podcast, I would massively appreciate it.
I’m so excited to share this episode with you. I’m sure you’re gonna walk away feeling inspired and ready to finally take your blog to the next level.
Starting a travel blog
In 2006, Megan originally started writing for a national travel agency in New Zealand, where she’s from. When the agency decided to terminate their blog in 2009, Megan went out on her own and developed Blogger at Large. At that point, her blog was pretty much just a hobby or side hustle. She knew nothing about SEO and shares that she only really mastered SEO in the last couple of years.
Megan was already a freelance travel writer when she started her blog, so she’d traveled a lot already and had a lot to talk about. She didn’t really have a niche, but she believes that if you want to start a blog right now, you definitely do need one. There are blogs that get hundreds of thousands of visitors a month, and if you want to stand a chance to rank in Google among that kind of competition, you need to have a well-defined niche.
Growing a travel blog with SEO
When Megan first started focusing on SEO, she found it very overwhelming. “You actually had to invent the wheel every time you were needing to do some research around a particular, you know, post or a theme of anything.”
But since then, she’s found several tools that make it a lot easier to do keyword research. She’ll still write the occasional passion post about a topic that won’t bring a lot of traffic, but most of her content is well-researched and written with the keywords that should get it to rank.
Megan noticed that most of her readers were US-based, and they would read about US destinations, so she decided to start writing more of that content. There is also more money to be made in advertisements to US readers, so this focus made financial sense for her as well.
Offering tours to blog readers
Megan has been in the travel industry for a long time and knows a lot of agents and airline and hospitality people, so she thought it would be fun to put her own tours together. Her first tour was in 2017 in Vietnam, and since then she’s taken groups to Italy, the United States, and China.
Because she wasn’t interested in becoming a registered agent herself, Megan uses travel agents to put the tours together. Her job is then to market the tours to her readers, and she adds a commission to the wholesale price the travel agent gives her.
Megan has created a Facebook group for her tours, where she asks people for feedback on her ideas and destinations. That has been a great way to get some buy-in before she decides on a certain tour, and the people in the group love getting a sneak peek into her tours before they officially appear on her site.
More from this episode
- Learn more about Megan’s content creation process. She shares how she does her SEO keyword research, how she works with freelancers to get the blog posts written, and how she makes sure the posts are fully SEO optimized. Megan explains her exact process, the tools she uses, and how she uses them. She gives so much value here, so make sure not to miss this!
- Megan shares how she monetizes her travel blog.
- We talk about other SEO elements, aside from keywords. We cover site speed and age, domain authority, interlinking and backlinking, and what you can do to get those backlinks.
- How many blog posts does Megan publish per month? And how long does it take her to produce a new post?
- Where does Megan source her blog images from? She shares what to look out for when sourcing images, four different ways in which you can get images, and how she prefers to get hers.
- Which social media platforms does Megan use to promote her blog, and where has she seen the most success?
- Find out more about Megan’s tours, how she decides on a price for her tours, and whether she includes flights in the tour packages.
- Hear Megan’s advice for you if you’re interested in starting your own blog, or if you dream about leading tours for your readers.
Learn more about Megan
Megan Singleton is a travel blogger, online store owner, and radio correspondent. She is based in New Zealand and started blogging in 2006, then launched her own blog www.bloggeratlarge.com in 2009, back before social media was even a thing! She has learned from trial and error and now gets about 120,000 views per month. In 2017 she began hosting small group tours for her readers, to add to her diversification. As long as no other pandemic wipes out the travel industry, she should be sweet!