Lost in the Mail: How to Start a Blog

Blogging Your Trip, Lost Boys, Lost in the Mail, Websites and Blogs — By on July 24, 2007 at 1:12 am

A few weeks ago, we launched a new section where we try our best to answer readers’ burning travel questions. Whether it’s a query on deeply discounted airline tickets, the rules for dating on the road or where to find the best brands of quick-dry skivvies, no topic is too embarrassing (or too precious) to discuss online. Send us your best Qs and we’ll do our best to provide the As. We may be Lost Girls, but we’re never adverse to asking for (or giving) directions.

Q. I am planning a one year trip around the world that will start in Sept. I will be taking along a DSLR camera, camcorder and laptop to record my journey. I was wondering if you could tell me how you made your website. It’s really laid out well. Any tips for creating an award winning travel blog like yours? Don’t worry, I’m not in competition with you since I’m a solo traveler 🙂 I’m all ears if you do!
Cliff Williams, 28 (whereiscliff.com)
A. Hey Cliff…congrats on taking the big leap! We’ve checked out your website and are truly awed by all of the places you’re planning to visit. We also appreciate the kudos on our own blog, which was created using a standard Blogger.com template that we souped up a bit by tweaking the HTML template. In the next few months, we’d like to migrate over to WordPress, another blogging program that allows its users the flexibility to do cool stuff like add interactive features, organize archived posts any way you want and to work on blog entries while you’re offline.

To learn more about launching your own blog, check out the article we wrote for Budget Travel called “DIY Travel Blogging.” If you’re hoping to make it award winning, here are a few tips:

1. Focus on what makes you different: There are about 40 zillion travel journals in the blogosphere, so it helps to have some sort of a “hook” or point of difference. We love Six in the World, a blog written by parents currently circumnavigating the globe with their four children (bless ’em!), and Hometown Invasion, written by a dude visiting people’s homes for a week each in all 50 states. Whether you’re traveling the planet with your girlfriend, going it alone or with your five Persian cats, be sure to share right up front what makes your trip unique by writing a one-two line subhead that sums up the adventure. When other bloggers decide to pass along the word about your site, they’ll usually re-print the tagline you’ve come up with…so make it good.

2. Flex your writing muscles for someone else: While its critical to update often–and write well–on your own blog, it pays to submit your work to other, more popular sites. For example, our pal Ian recently started handing out $20 bills to bloggers who contribute great content to his baby, Brave New Traveler. Not only will writing for him boost your bank account (hey, a Jackson can cover a couple nights lodging in many parts of the world), but a link back to your own blog definitely help increase awareness and traffic. Other great websites that take submissions are Chick Speak (for college age travelers), WorldHum.com (they say “you may be compensated”) and TangoDiva.com. Of course, if you’re a Lost Girl with a great story to share, you can submit to us too (see Q below for details) and we’ll be sure to link back to your blog.

3. Keep it simple: This means the writing, pictures and layout…we can’t tell you how many blogs that we skip reading simply because the font color is florescent green on a polka dot background, or because the photos are so large they take 45 minutes to load! If you’re not sure how to build a blog from scratch, for the love of your family and friends who feel obligated to read it, use a simple web-based blog hosting program. Most allow you to personalize your adventure with maps and other fun sidebar stuff, and they keep the focus on what’s most important–your writing, your pictures and your trip.

4. Get nominated and spread the word: At this point, Lost Girls World has been nominated for two online awards (thanks to our readers) but there’s usually no rule that says you can’t nominated yourself! We’ve found that even being in the running for a blogging honor can bump up your traffic significantly. Do a little google research to see what’s out there (start with The Bloggies, The Bloggers Choice Awards and The Best of the Blogs) get nominated and get your family, friends and readers to cast their votes!

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    6 Comments

  • Anonymous says:

    A friend of mine sent me the link to your site after I was telling her about http://www.podcastGO.com at the Go Travel Channel. I think the best part of travel blogs are when people include videos (podcasts) of their trip. That way those back home can get a more of feel of what you discovered. That was just a thought. I love what you guys have done.

  • travelphilippines says:

    i have found out about this blog thru bloggers choice award and i can say you are doin an amazing job girls… just wanna ask when are u goin here in the philippines?

  • ianmack says:

    great post girls! this section is a great idea – answering burning questions. i look forward to more.

  • Gonggg says:

    Seems like you girls are enjoying yourselves very much.
    I can see the good work that you are doing, simply raising the general awareness of the countries that you have visited.
    I noticed that you did not come to Singapore, my country, even when you were in the South East Asian Region. Hope that you will pay Singapore a visit.
    Trust me…it will be an interesting visit.

  • Great blog! This is now decidedly by far the most good way of seeing things on that subject matter. Thank you your time and effort, I am going to come back to read the changes 🙂

  • I delight in the knowledge on your website. thnx.