Travel Blogging is hard work and time consuming.
No-one said it would be easy. Read any of the articles by other travel bloggers out there and you’ll realise that if you want to make a business out of travel blogging, you have to put in a lot of ground work. With a wealth of great travel information out there, it’s about getting your blog seen, which means making sure people are sharing it, ‘Liking’ it, stumbling over it, digging it up, emailing it, tweeting it and finding it in the search engines.
One thing I’ve discovered is that it’s really hard to keep on top of all these social networking outlets and if you’re sat on Twitter all day every day, the likelihood is, you’re not travelling! There have been countless times when I’ve sat with my eyes going square in front of a laptop thinking “Wasn’t the point of becoming a location independent that I get to actually travel?”
If you’re a travel blogger, the likelihood is you’re using WordPress. WordPress plugins can be extremely helpful when it comes to sharing your posts with social networking sites and are easy to configure and use. If you’re not that great with code and html, then plugins have easy to use panels and interfaces with a handful of options. Similarly there are a lot of online tools that can make everything you do a lot quicker and efficient.
Here I’ve put together a list of the best WordPress Plugins and internet tools for travel bloggers that have certainly helped make my life easier and lessen the burden.
- Akismet– With this blog I had a terrible SPAM problem and every time I tried to install a CAPTCHA plugin, for some reason my comments form didn’t work. Fed up of having to wade through my SPAM comments, I asked a travel bloggin friend of mine what he used. Akismet saved my life (travel blogging life that is). Once I’d installed it, it sifted through all of my SPAM, got rid of it, and left me with only the comments from my lovely readers. Ever since I’ve been SPAM free.
- Simple Facebook Like– The Simple Facebook Like installs a ‘like’ button on your pages and posts. You can choose from two styles, you can choose the word it uses and you can decide whether to have it at the top or bottom of your posts. Or both.
- Twittley– The Twittley plugin installs a Tweet button at the top or bottom of your posts so with one click users can easily Tweet your post and share it with the rest of the world.
- Sexy Bookmarks– I had been trying to find an attractive ‘Sharing’ icon for ages. I’d been using the Add This plugin but let’s just say it wasn’t the most eye-catching or attractive sharing button. Then I found Sexy Bookmarks. And god damnit they’re sexy. You can choose the social networking sites you want to add to it, you can choose the message it reads, such as “Sharing is caring”, “Share the love”, “Share the wealth” or “Share and enjoy” scrawled in sexy handwriting.
- Smart Youtube– Smart Youtube is a simple plugin that allows you to embed Youtube videos into your posts by typing in the URL into the post and adding the letter ‘v’ after http. So the beginning of the URL should read httpv://
- NextGen Gallery– The NextGen Gallery allows you to add an attractive looking photo gallery into your pages or posts. There’s also a NextGen Gallery sidebar widget so you can put the gallery into your sidebar.
- WP Greetbox– One of the keys to increasing your traffic and readership is to get people to subscribe to your blog. But sometimes it’s not always that obvious how you can subscribe to the posts. The WP Greetbox adds a message at the beginning of the post reminding the viewer to subscribe. It also changes the message according to which social website the user was referrred from. For instance, if the user found you on Digg, the box would remind them to Digg you. It’s a great little plugin and completely configurable so you can even change the message to something a bit more personal.
- All In One SEO– SEO can be a bit mind-blogging, but this plugin helps you to automatically optimize your WordPress blog for search engines.
- Gmail– Gmail is by far the best email account out there. Not only does it look more professional, but it’s so easy to search your email and I’ve never had any junk mail come through. It organizes all the replies to your emails into conversations so they’re a lot easier to find. I used to use hotmail but since I’ve had gmail I would never go back. Plus gchat is in fact just as good as skype- with gchat you can now call mobiles and landlines by setting up an account, plus if you want to call anywhere within the US, it’s completely free at the moment. You an also call people that are online like you would with Skype and the sound quality is incredible.
- TweetDeck– Twitter still baffles me, but Tweetdeck has made the whole thing a lot easier. This desktop application makes it easy for me to see trending topics, my @mentions, other people’s tweets and update my own tweets all from one simple user interface. I can also set it to notify me of new tweet updates.
- Bitly– Bitly is a URL shortener for Twitter, which is great since the character count is so small. Now you’ll have more room to Tweet!
- Google Reader– Google reader makes it easier to keep a track of all the blogs you’re reading!
- Google Chrome– Wow there’s a lot of google apps on this list, but did I mention Google Chrome? Up until recently I was using firefox, but decided that I should download all of the main web browsers so that I could see how my site appears in each one. This is worth doing so you can detect any glitches in other browsers. Anyway, having tried google chrome, I’m completely converted. Its a lot faster than the others, there’s no clutter and I can do a google search within the URL bar. Winner.
- Skype– Last but not least, Skype. You’ve always been there for me in my times of need Mr Skype. Whether you’re a travel blogger or an ordinary traveller, Skype is a great way to keep in touch with everyone for free. So get yourself a webcam or a headset, call Mum and tell her you’re still alive all those miles away on the other side of the world.
- su.pr– Allows you to syndicate Facebook, Stumble Upon and Twitter all at once and view analytics across social media sites.