Launching a well-known travel blog and making a living from it - still a dream of many bloggers. But nowadays it is anything but easy to get started with a blog. Biggi and Flo from Phototravellers have made it. They tell us more about their recipe for success, the necessary requirements and blogging in times of crisis.
Blogs and SEO
Your travel blog has been around since 2010, and blogging has taken quite a turn since then. What are your personal insights from this time? What do you have to do differently today?
It all started back then as a classic travel diary for friends and acquaintances. That was still the original blogging. Today it's completely different - at least if you have to or are allowed to make a living from blogging, like we do. Back then, we wrote as we pleased - that's no longer possible today.
At least not if you want to achieve a certain relevance in the search engines. SEO, i.e. search engine optimization, is a very important aspect. But you must never forget the reader. We still write primarily for our users and not for the search engine.
Phototravellers.de is one of the travel blogs with the highest reach in Germany. What specific measures did you use to achieve this?
First and foremost, with a lot of work and diligence. Until 2018, we both still had a permanent job. We both have a background in journalism (Biggi worked at the Süddeutscher Verlag, among others) and have writing and photography in our blood, so to speak.
After the normal office day, I often continued blogging in the home office until three in the morning. In the long run, however, three to four hours of sleep are not sustainable. So in 2018, we decided to concentrate fully on blogging.
We have not regretted the step. In July, we expect around 300,000 readers to come to our blog - which of course makes us very happy.
What role do collaborations with companies and other magazines play? What are your best tips for building them up?
That doesn't happen overnight. Even in the digital age, personal contacts are the best door opener. You can make them at events, in our case at the International Tourism Fair (ITB) in Berlin.
Such contacts must then also be constantly maintained. Those who then deliver good work can often look forward to follow-up orders or recommendations.
You have recently switched to RAIDBOXES . There were several problems with your old host . What were they? And how did you get them under control with us?
First of all, we are happy about the extremely fast loading times at RAIDBOXES. In the past, we had problems with this again and again. In the meantime, this is also an important ranking factor.
We used to have server outages all the time, too. With more than 300,000 visitors a month, it hurts a lot when the blog is down for an hour or two. Also, some Plugins, which did not run as they should before, finally work properly.
The technology and hosting
How do you make sure that your blog runs as performant as possible? With more than 400,000 page views per month, this is an important factor...
On the one hand, we always keep WordPress and all Plugins up to date. This is also important for security. Then we have chosen a rather large package with you.
The hosting is of course not cheap. But if you run your blog full-time, you shouldn't save money in the wrong place. Even half a second of loading time can make a big difference at the end of the month.
You were both full time journalists before you started your own blog in 2018. How much does that help you?
On the one hand, this helps a lot site . As former print journalists, we know how important good research and a pleasant writing style are. On the other site , completely different laws often apply on the Internet.
For a print newspaper or magazine, you don't have to follow SEO principles. The important thing is to grab the reader from the introduction to the end. On the Internet, however, people are often looking for very specific information, without a lot of "hoopla" around it.
How do you deal with the issue of transparency? Especially the travel blogger scene is considered susceptible to surreptitious advertising... Are your readers becoming more critical?
We finance many of our trips ourselves. Simply because we want to experience on site what interests us most. In the case of cooperations, we clearly point this out in the articles. But also here it is important to us to recommend only things that we personally like.
No, to be honest, we don't feel any difference here compared to before. As I said, however, we also mark all articles that are created in the context of a cooperation. We don't publish anything that we don't stand behind.
earning money with blogs
What knowledge should you have in general to run a blog professionally?
First of all, you have to enjoy writing. If you start a blog to earn money quickly or to get free products (be careful with the tax office), you will sooner or later drop out. Then a blog is nothing more than an office job. In our opinion, only those who bring passion can be successful in the long run.
Besides that, you actually have to bring along everything that is important for any self-employment. In addition to passion, every founder must be able to cope with setbacks - because they come. Even those who want to see a fixed income in their account every month are likely to have problems with self-employment.
The Corona crisis clearly demonstrated this. From one day to the next, we lost countless planned collaborations - and thus income. We know some hobby bloggers who threw in the towel in the face of massive visitor losses in the wake of the Corona pandemic.
But for us it was clear: every crisis is also an opportunity - so fire away. We showered our two working students with orders during the crisis. Financially, it was a gamble with fire - but it paid off.
With the niche to success
In 2010, it was much easier to start a new blog. What advice do you have for bloggers who are just starting out? How can you still stand out from the vast amount of content?
All beginnings are difficult. And that's even more true today than it was in 2010. If you start a blog because you simply enjoy writing, you can approach blogging - as you did in the past - quite calmly and write away.
If you want to be successful in the long run and consider blogging as a possible business, you should definitely think about a very good concept. A catchy name (which can also be pronounced and easily remembered), a DE domain (and preferably all other important domains) and an appealing design (which also works on the smartphone) are the basic requirements for a successful blog.
With a niche - for example, a blog with the best cream cake recipes - you still have a good chance of becoming big in your field relatively quickly. Anyone who tackles non-specific topics - such as travel in general - faces huge competition today. In addition to blogs with a wide reach and many backlinks, there are also larger companies that spend huge amounts on SEO.
Who starts here, needs in any case a very long breath and capital. Running a professional blog is quite expensive. In addition to hosting, there are some costs, such as for Plugins, special programming, the tax advisor or the trademark registration, which we highly recommend.