Phototravellers: How to Successfully Build a Blog

Michael Firnkes Updated on 22.10.2020
5 Min.
Phototravellers Blog
Last updated on 22.10.2020

To publish a well-known travel blog and make 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 done 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 since then blogging has changed a lot. What are your personal insights from that time? What do you have to do differently today?

We started out 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 live 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, that is the Search engine optimizationis a very important aspect of this. But one must never forget the reader. Even today 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 concrete measures have you taken to achieve this?

First and foremost with a lot of work and diligence. Until 2018 we both had a permanent position. We both come from journalism (Biggi worked, among others, at the Süddeutscher Verlag) and have writing and photography in our blood. 

After the normal office routine, the blog often continued in the home office until three o'clock at night. But in the long run, three to four hours of sleep are not sustainable. So the decision was made in 2018 to concentrate fully on blogging.

Travel Blog Team
Biggi and Flo from phototravellers.de

We did not regret that step. In July, we expect around 300,000 readers to come to our blog - we are of course very pleased about that.

Create range

What role does cooperation with companies and other magazines play? What are your best tips for establishing such cooperations?

It doesn't happen overnight. Even in the digital age, personal contacts are the best door opener. You close 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 do a good job are often happy about follow-up orders or recommendations.

You've only recently RAIDBOXES switched. Your old host one had some problems. What were they? And how did you deal with them on our end?

First of all, we are pleased about the extremely fast loading times with RAIDBOXES. We had problems with that in the past. In the meantime this is also an important ranking factor.  

In the past we also had server failures time and again. With more than 300,000 visitors a month, it hurts quite a bit if the blog is down for an hour or two. Even some Pluginsof them, which did not run as they should before, finally work perfectly.

The technology and the hosting

How do you make sure that your blog is running as performant as possible? With more than 400.000 page views per month this is an important factor...

On the one hand, we WordPress and all Plugins of us always keep up to date. This is also important for safety. Then we have decided on a rather large package with you.

The hosting is of course not quite cheap. But if you run your blog full-time, you should not save money in the wrong place. Already half a second loading time can be a big difference do.

You were both thoroughbred journalists before you started your own blog in 2018. How much does that help you?

That helps a site lot on one hand. As former print journalists, we know how important good research and a pleasant writing style are. On the other hand, very different laws often site apply on the Internet.

For a print newspaper or magazine you do not have to SEO Principles hold. It is important to grab the reader from the introduction to the end. On the Internet, however, people often look for very specific information without much "ballyhoo" around it.

How do you deal with the issue of transparency? Especially the travel blogger scene is considered to be susceptible to surreptitious advertising... Are your readers becoming more critical?

We finance many of our trips completely by ourselves. Simply because we want to experience on site what interests us most personally. In the case of cooperations we point this out very clearly in the articles. But even 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 label all articles that are produced in the context of a cooperation. We do not publish anything we do not stand behind.

Earn money with blogs

What knowledge should one have in general to run a blog professionally?

First of all, you have to enjoy writing. If you start a blog to quickly make money or to get free products (be careful with the tax office), will sooner or later drop the sails. Then a blog is nothing more than an office job. In our opinion, only those who are passionate about their work can be successful in the long term.

Besides, you have to bring everything you need 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 has clearly shown this. From one day to the next, countless planned cooperations broke us off - and with them income. We know some hobby bloggers who have thrown in the towel in the face of the massive loss of visitors in the wake of the Corona pandemic.

For us, however, it was clear that every crisis is also an opportunity - in other words, fire is ready. During the crisis we showered our two working students with orders. Financially, it was a game with fire - but it paid off.

With the niche to success

In 2010 it was even easier to start a new blog. What advice do you have for bloggers who are just starting it now? How can you stand out from the vast amount of content?

Every beginning is hard. If you start a blog simply because you enjoy writing, you can - as in the past - take it easy and start blogging. 

If you want to be successful in the long term and see blogging as a possible business, you should definitely consider a very good concept. A catchy name (which you can pronounce and remember easily), 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 - such as a blog with the best cream cake recipes - you still have a good chance of growing relatively quickly in your field. Those who address unspecific topics - such as travel in general - are facing huge competition today. Apart from blogs with high coverage and many backlinks, there are also larger companies that spend a lot on SEO.

Whoever starts here needs a lot of staying power and capital. Running a professional blog is very expensive. Besides the hosting there are some costs, for Pluginsexample for special programming, the tax advisor or the trademark registration, which we highly recommend.

What questions do you have for Biggi and Flo?

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Michael takes cake care of the areas of content and mental health at RAIDBOXES. He has been active in the blogger and WordPress community since 2007. Among other things as co-organizer of WordPress events, book author and corporate blog trainer. He loves blogging incredibly, professionally but also privately. Michael works and writes remotely from sunny Freiburg.

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