Our small corner of the internet is nearly two years old.
Its beginnings were not particularly glamorous. It was an uncomfortably hot Thursday lunchtime in July and we had a few moments before returning to work. Bored and restless, we impulsively set up an Instagram account, decided on the catchy (yet on reflection, grammatically incorrect) name 'Twins That Travel', loaded up a photograph and headed back to the office.
Et voila: Twins That Travel was born.
Almost two years on and quite unexpectedly, TTT has become a central feature of our lives. What began as nothing more than a bored decision to set up an Instagram account, has become a source of growing opportunities, adventures and experiences.
In this time, we've learnt a few lessons about the 'travel blogging world'. Navigating this fickle and often competitive industry has been exciting, frustrating, often confusing, but always fun.
And so in the spirit of nearly reaching the grand old age of two, we decided to compile a number of lessons we've learnt along the way.
1. Anyone can be a (travel) blogger
Once upon a time, everyone had a blog. Building on generation MySpace, people were blogging happily away without a care in the world. SEO, analytics, themes, social media counters, figures and collaborations, all meant very little. Instead, blogging was simply about enjoying writing; having a 'dear diary' moment; telling your story and connecting with others.
These days, blogging has become incredibly competitive. With the rise of 'super' bloggers, blogs have moved away from the private musings of angst-ridden teenagers and have instead become big brands. A hierarchy has been established and a gulf exists between those incredibly successful bloggers and well, the rest of us.
Yet don't be put off by this. If you travel, enjoy travel or just want to write about previous trips, then do it. You are just as much a travel blogger than anyone else.
It's been said a hundred times over: content is King. This is something we read time and time again when beginning the blog and it holds much truth. The more content you can get out there, the more people are likely to read your blog. It's the law of attraction.
This is something we experience firsthand. With busy day jobs outside of the blog, there can be a few weeks where our blog languishes, all alone in the World Wide Web. During this time, perhaps just one lone soul will browse our blog (Mum, is that you?), before drifting off again to some other content-crammed and fun blog. Sigh.
However, one thing we have learnt is that whilst content is King, that does not necessarily mean you must cram your blog full of mindless content fillers. Like a good magazine, your readers want one that is interesting and enjoyable to read, not one full of junk mail and rehashed articles.
Top of all content fillers is perhaps every bloggers' favourite: the 'list'. From your top 50 travel essentials, to top 10 things to see in Paris, there is a list for everything. Whilst these can be genuinely useful, often they can also be superficial; gleaned from a Google search and not very helpful to readers. We've compiled a few lists in our time, but try to and avoid throwing too many out there.
4. Find your voice
At the heart of every blog is your voice.
When I first began reading travel blogs, I was surprised by how similar the tone was amongst many of them. Many seemed to be 'voiceless' lists, offering deadpan recaps of where they visited and in what order. Whilst they were useful, they weren't necessarily interesting. What I was searching for, and have indeed found in many of my favourite bloggers, is instead a real, distinctive voice: a character behind the flashy website.
5. Mix it up
Whilst we claim to be travel bloggers, we also ensure that every now and again, we go a little off-piste and write about something else. The reason behind this? It makes your blog personable.
Whilst it is lovely to read about people's adventures, luxury hotels and experience of flying first class with Emirates, it's also reassuring to know that behind it all is a real person. Some of our most popular blog posts have been on breakups, anxiety and the realities of being twin sisters (whilst my literary masterpiece on the Isle of Skye has gone largely unnoticed).
6. Fake it till you make it
Something that we learnt is that when you're starting out, the worst thing you can do is to sit anxiously waiting for that first email, inviting you on a press trip. It's unlikely to happen.
Instead, bite the bullet and get in contact with people. We began by simply putting together an introductory email that provided an overview of who we were; what are aims were as travel bloggers; our audience; our demographics and of course, those great buzzwords: our social media following. We then sent that out to everyone we could ever think of. Honestly. Nobody in the tourism industry was safe.
And you know what? People responded, positively. So, what have you got to lose?
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