There are many ways to build a brand as a writer, which is what I tell students in my online course, Introduction to Internet Writing Markets. What works for one writer may not be what interests another. So, for this post, I decided to survey some successful travel writers to see what they thought.
I asked each writer: What’s the single most important thing you’ve done as a writer to create your brand?
Travel Bloggers Share Their Branding Secrets
We feel that the most important thing to building our brand was to stay true to our story and to incorporate that into everything we do. Adventure travel changed our lives, strengthened our relationship and helped us find our passion. Have a clear vision of what the foundation of our brand was makes it very clear to stay true to our brand and story and weave it into our online identity.
We constantly revisit our story and purpose and choose our travels and content based on that story.
We feel that the most important thing to building our brand was to stay true to our story and to incorporate that into everything we do. Adventure travel changed our lives, strengthened our relationship and helped us find our passion. Have a clear vision of what the foundation of our brand was makes it very clear to stay true to our brand and story and weave it into our online identity. We constantly revisit our story and purpose and choose our travels and content based on that story.
Dave and Deb tell you more in their article: 4 Easy Steps to Building a Successful Brand Online at http://theplanetd.com/building-a-successful-brand-online/
It may seem strange, but the single most important thing I’ve done as a writer to create my brand is concentrate on quality imagery. I believe in the Internet era without good photography to capture readers imagination, good writing is rarely read. I’ve now become known as a photographer.
Visit Iain Mallory at: http://malloryontravel.com/
“The single most important thing I’ve done as a writer to create my brand was to distinguish myself in a unique niche in an over-saturated travel blogging market; equestrian travel.”
Find Nancy Brown on the Web at: http://writinghorseback.com
As a freelance writer and author specializing in the newly evolving niche of chocolate travel (chocolate tourism), branding is an issue I have paid much attention to. In mid 2015, I hired a professional designer specializing in branding to create a new logo and brand identity for Chocolatour. She looked at my former three sites and used focus groups to determine how we should emerge in a new branding message.
It was determined that we would focus on the Chocolatour brand as opposed to me as the primary entity. She very cleverly designed an artistic chocolate globe to depict the notion of chocolate travel. Brilliant! And she also designed a banner header that is used on my website and on all my social media platforms. It really has helped to strengthen my brand. And with the expertise of the webmaster I’ve been working with for more than five years, we were able to migrate the posts from my former three sites onto a fresh and beautiful new slate at http://chocolatour.net that very clearly and professionally showcases my blog and passion for chocolate and travel, my books, speaking abilities, chocolate events, and freelance writing projects and expertise.
Share some chocolate with Doreen Pendgracs at http://chocolatour.net
Rhonda Albom of Albom Adventures is found online at: http://www.albomadventures.com/
Leigh McAdam, of Hikebiketravel.com/ says,
“I’d say writing my book – a two year project really gave me credibility and visibility. It was a labour of love that gave me the authority to call myself an expert on outdoor adventure in Canada. (Of course I should do more marketing but that’s another issue).”
Visit Leigh McAdam at Hikebiketravel.com/
The single most important thing I’ve done as a writer to create my brand is to ignore what everyone told me about the kind of content I should produce. I have always written long-form narrative articles that are well-researched and literate. Everyone else was writing list posts (top ten of this, best of that), because that was the kind of article that seemed to get ranked well on Google.
I was even advised by other successful travel bloggers that it would be impossible to succeed with the kind of material I was producing! Fast forward 10 years and Google now favors literate, long-form content over “shallow” content. As a result, I attract quality readers who come to me via Google searches, many of whom subscribe to my blog.
Find Barbara Weibel’s Hole in the Donut Cultural Travel blog at http://holeinthedonut.com
“The single most important thing I’ve done as a writer to create my brand was let my personality and voice shine through when I wrote my articles. I try to write most of my articles like they’re notes to my best friend.
When I started blogging, I noticed that my blog posts were coming across as dry and boring. As soon as I relaxed and started writing freely was when I started to see my traffic dramatically change. People were able to connect with me on a personal level, which meant way more to me than sounding like a professional robot. I believe that sounding like yourself and letting your personality come through in your writing is an important key to creating a successful brand that people can relate to.”
Read more from Ana Dominguez at http://www.thecitysidewalks.com/
Find Craig Gunton at http://www.theroadjacker.co.uk
Find Kenin Bassart at http://ramblingguidetocanada.com/
The most important thing I’ve done to create my brand was to design a website that gives editors an overview of my work. At a glance they can see my latest tweet and current stories, and bring up past assignments with a few clicks. It took a lot of work but I get good feedback on the results.
Debra Smith is a freelance travel writer and blogger at http://wheretolady.com
Meet René Frederiksen (note that the site is in Danish) at http://www.renefrederiksen.dk/
Honesty. Working honestly and with integrity is extremely important. People will support you if you are real and genuine.
Visit Lauren Bassart at hhttps://www.theconstantrambler.com
And finally, to my travel website/blog! It took awhile for me to situate myself in the ever-growing world of travel writers and bloggers, since when I started it was enough to simply say I had a travel website. After a lot of analysis of the destinations I’ve visited and trips I’ve enjoyed, I recently settled on the tagline: History with a Twist of Adventure. Then, I considered what traveler might be looking for my destinations–where would you go if you traveled with me? That statement might look something like “Destinations for travelers looking for adventures off-the-beaten path.” I abbreviated this and added it to my header, so it reads “Off the Beaten Path” guide2travel for “History with a Twist of Adventure.”
Not only did this describe what I’d already been writing, but it helped me achieve a clearer focus for content development, so selecting topics and angles for my posts is much easier. Find me at http://guide2travel.ca/
How to Brand Your Travel Blog
Clearly, the travel bloggers you’ve met above have different ideas on what they’ve done to set themselves apart–and that’s what branding is all about. Travel writing and blogging is an enormous field–Google brings up 399,000,000 results for the term “travel blog” alone. Travel writers who try to cover it “all” end up with a little bit of content to suit a lot of people a little bit of the time. That translates into few regular readers.
By doing some analysis, we can select the important brand elements these bloggers have identified.
- Logo/image and/or tagline and/or URL with meaning (Brand association)
- Identified vision and values (Brand promise)
- Identified important content elements (Brand personality)
- Share a narrative (Brand story)
- Audience (Brand position)
Let’s start with brand position. I described mine for you, above at guide2travel, when I talked about which travelers would enjoy the destinations I visit and write about. As you read the other comments here from bloggers, the brand position becomes clear for a number of them. Nancy Brown hopes to draw people who ride horseback to her articles–Leigh McAdam provides readers with stories of her outdoor adventures, hiking, biking, and traveling. And Doreen Pendgracs will draw other chocolate lovers along on her travels to chocolate events and destinations.
The brand association was clear for all of these travelers, wasn’t it? From URLs that stand out, like TheConstantRambler.com to MalloryOnTravel.com, each site name had a lure for readers. You likely noticed that some bloggers use their own names (ReneFredericksen.dk) and some don’t (TheCitySidewalks.com). What contributes to this decision? For me, I use guide2travel since my writing brand is much broader than just travel–and while I do connect the two–I have four historical novels and three Backroad Mapbook travel guides, for example–I want readers to be able to find the genres they’re interested in without effort.
Some of these bloggers, like Rhonda Albom, specifically noted that they use a consistent brand image or logo on all of their Web and social media platforms. I loved Doreen Pendgracs chocolate globe! Didn’t you? And Nancy Brown’s writing horseback logo removes any confusion readers may have had. The Hole in the Donut from Barbara Weibel jumps out with its artistic interpretation of the globe painted on a donut. Originality is King, after all.
And brand personality falls into this visual area for many of the bloggers, doesn’t it? We’ll all remember Dave and Deb’s homepage at ThePlanetD with that background, those expressive faces, and Dave pointing at the sky, that’s for sure. And what’s more beautiful than the RamblingGuideToCanada’s photo of the Rocky Mountains? Most travel sites promise great photography, but few deliver it better than the bloggers I interviewed here.
You may have also noticed these travel bloggers were big on brand promise with comments like Craig Gunton’s goal to educate and entertain; Barbara Weibel’s well researched and literate writing style; Lauren Bassart’s honesty and integrity with readers; and Ana Dominguez’s efforts to have people connect with her on a real and personal level.
As well as brand promise, all of these travel writers are committed to sharing a narrative–their story–with readers. Visit our travel blogs and I’m sure you’ll find that’s true.
Interested in learning more about how to create your own brand? Linda’s online course, Introduction to Internet Writing Markets, features a Build Your Brand assignment with each lesson. Her Write Effective Web Content will teach you how to develop your own blogging style. And Publish and Sell Your E-Books will take you step-by-step through the process of creating an e-book to give away from your blog or sell in online bookstores around the world.