As Editors for We Are Travel Girls we see a huge amount of travel story submissions of varying quality, where simple adjustments could really improve the post. With this in mind we have put together our top 14 tips on writing a great blog post and helping to get your story chosen for our site!
1. THINK CREATIVELY & BE ORIGINAL
With literally thousands of blogs out there it’s hard to be original, but you should still try. Whether this is originality in what you are writing about or your writing style, both can be important. Personally, I have been drawn into reading blogs such as My Life’s A Travel Movie simply because I love the writing style and the author, Alyssa in that example, writes with such personality that it pulls you in and makes you want to read on.
If you are writing about a destination, try and look for a unique thing to tell your readers about. There are hundreds of posts about the top 5 main attractions in Paris, so think about different ways to engage your readers. Venture away from general posts about tourist attractions and instead narrow your focus to specific topics that may not have been written about as much, such as The Most Instagrammable Doorways In Paris or Hidden Rooftop Views In Paris.
Before you visit a new destination think about what posts you want to write and do research, check out photos other people have taken, the best time to visit a place to avoid crowds and identify the specific locations you want to see or photograph. This will ensure that you get to all the information you need and get the right photos to match the story you intend to write. There is nothing worse than getting home and realising you missed an incredible spot or that you need to source images because you didn’t get the right ones.
Information is readily available to you over the Internet. Take the time to add some history or background that relates to the post that you are writing. Whilst you probably learnt a brief history of the destination from a tour taken whist visiting a place, remember that the reader didn’t and would be interested in knowing a little history too. Often this can be the most captivating part and more important to the reader than simply the easiest way to to get to a place or what your favourite gelato spot was.
4. PICK A GREAT TITLE
This is the first thing your audience will see, and along with a featured image, could make or break whether the reader clicks through and actually looks at your post. Keep the title short, and if you can naturally include keywords to help with your SEO then do. After 65 characters Google will truncate your title on search engine results so keep within this. Also use words that evoke a reaction from the reader, like “20 Awesome Places… “, “Epic Destinations You Cant Miss” or ‘Things To Avoid In…”.
5. BEGINNING, MIDDLE & END
Remember at school when you had to write a story or an essay, there was an introduction, a middle section and a conclusion? Well nothing has changed! Make sure to properly introduce your post and draw the reader in with the first paragraph. Use short paragraphs at the beginning to encourage your reader to read on, because a huge block of text at the beginning can be daunting for the reader.
In the main body of the post, try to guide the reader through your thoughts by using transitions at the end of each paragraph. It is jarring to go from talking about a great hike you went on to missing your connecting flight in the next paragraph, so try to pay attention to what you will be talking about later and ease the transition.
End your post with a call to action, ask your readers to comment or share their own tips, sign up to your blog or whatever it is you want to reader to do in response to your post. Engaging readers is one of the most important parts of any post and you will know you have created a good article when it organically creates a conversation in the comments section!
6. LAYOUT & DESIGN
Even if you get all the above right, you can still mess up the post if your blog layout, design and font size is not appealing to the reader. Make sure you pick a font and font size that is easy and attractive to read. Break up the text with headers and sub headers, because you can lose a reader’s attention if there are extremely long paragraphs with no breaks.
7. SENTENCE STRUCTURE & GRAMMAR
Each paragraph you write should consist of a few sentences, preferably no more than five. Re-read them, and make sure they are not too long and use connecting words effectively. But make sure you don’t repeat these too often. We see lots of submissions where the writer uses the same connecting word such as ‘also you can..’ , ‘also you should..’ and ‘also there is..’ all within the same paragraph, which reads terribly.
Check your grammar, use correct punctuation, and use full words and sentences. Slang or shortened words may be fine for texting your friends, but they are not for professional blog posts.
8. USE LINKS CORRECTLY
This is so simple and makes the reader experience better. Add links to landmarks, monuments, restaurants, tour companies, literally anything that you are recommending in your article. Yes, this will direct the reader away from your site, so just makes sure you links open a new window and the reader will come back and finish reading your post.
Once you have these, make sure you regularly check through your site to ensure links remain active. Broken links will not only have a negative impact on the reader experience, leading to potential loss of followers or customers, but it will also negatively impact your Google search ranking. Add it to your monthly site checklist to go through your site and check these links still work.
9. BREAK UP TEXT WITH PHOTOS
Good blog posts should quickly grab the readers’ attention with a combination of words, layout and photos. There is nothing eye-catching about a bunch of text with no corresponding pictures. Use photos to break up big chunks of text. If you keep your reader visually stimulated they will be more likely to finish reading your post!
10. RE-SIZE YOUR PHOTOS
Ever browsed through a post such as ’25 Images to Inspire Your Wanderlust’, and got bored by photo number 3 after waiting patiently as the images slowly appear on your screen? Yes, we have too! I am surprised at how many blogs and websites don’t resize their images appropriately so that these load quickly and do not slow down your site. It’s easy to do and greatly enhances your readers experience.
Typically we ask contributors to submit their photos between 300KB – 500KB which is optimal for our site. Do a bit of research to work out what size best suits your site based on your hosting package. Then look at your posts from another computer and on slower wifi to check they load ok.
11. RE-NAME YOUR PHOTOS
Google reads the name of your photos to add these to search results and this will help with your SEO if you get it right. Make sure to name your photos according to what they are of, like this: name-of-the-photo.jpg How To Re-Name Your Pictures
12. SOURCE PHOTOS
If you didn’t manage to get a great shot of something you are writing about then consider sourcing an image. Readers are often visual and want to see what you are talking about. There are plenty of places to source photographs available on the web, one of the most well know paid services is Getty Images. Alternatively if you are looking for royalty free stock images then Un-Splash is a great site for sourcing images you can use for free, plus they have a handy plugin for WordPress so you can select photos straight into your post.
13. PROOF READ
If you are using WordPress, a spell check function is built into the site, so use it! Or if you prefer, write your post in Word and check all grammar and spelling and then transfer it into your site. If you can, have someone proof read your post, after staring at it for hours its easy to miss errors so always get a friend, boyfriend, family member to read it through before publishing.
Now you have done all the work writing a great post, you want to make sure people read it! Whilst you may be able to promote your posts via your own social media channels you want it to do well in Googles search ranking. At the bare minimum you should be completing the basic SEO features (load Yoast SEO plugin) at the bottom of your post, adding a keyword and editing your meta description, the description that appears under the post on Googles search result pages. Whilst Google no longer uses this description for their search engine algorithms you should still make sure to write 150-160 character description that will entice the reader to click on your post.
FINALLY – WHAT ARE WE LOOKING FOR?
As editors we are looking for submissions that stand out to us, either the destination is unique, the posts is inspirational or the photos are outstanding. But alongside this we look for you to follow the detailed guidelines that we have included on our submission page and here in this post. These have been written to help our contributors get their posts published, with a high volume of submissions we do not extensively edit posts and look for a high quality submissions that have followed the guidelines.
We also suggest that you look through our Destinations and Activities pages and see where we have not yet published a post yet. For example, we have very few posts on staying fit whilst travelling, hiking or diving, and plenty of countries we haven’t yet written about where you could be the first!
We Are Travel Girls carefully curates stories from our community of over 245k followers. This post details what we are looking for when we read through our submissions and was written to help you get your post published! Please consider these tips when you are writing a new story for your own site or for We Are Travel Girls. If you have a travel story you want to submit please do so on our CONTRIBUTE page. Thank you for being part of our travel community!
Do you have another suggestion on how to write a great blog post?
Please share with our readers in the comments section below!