As 2020 continues to throw challenges at us, I thought it important to interview those in a changing industry and niche- Australian Travel Bloggers.
We all know travel and tourism has been pulled to a grinding halt, but as a travel blogger, there are still creative ways to connect to the world, even if it is only online.
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In these series of posts, I ask questions of some of Australia’s most influential, top Travel Bloggers for their current challenges, advice and what inspires them to continue in the current climate.
Jo Castro is a travel blogger based in Western Australia.
Her ZigAZag travel writing blog is on all things in WA, has bucket loads of travel tips and information when discovering the west.
ZigAZag has been named as one of the top 5 travel blogs to watch, and included in many top travel blog website lists.
As a successful, top travel blogger in 2020, I was keen to hear Jo’s blogging tips and of her travel experiences this far.
1) What is a favourite experience you’ve had as a traveller?
In Western Australia my favourite travel experience was a 12 day overland trip in The Kimberley along the Gibb River Road. I wrote a series of articles on ZigAZag here:
The Kimberley Outback Australia
2) Any main differences travelling and writing in Australia than in other countries?
Distances in Australia are vast, so there’s more time to get tasks done in the car on your laptop or phone!
3) Your focus is mainly on Western Australia, where you are from.
Originally I’m from North Devon, England. I’m married to a geologist and we’ve lived in 11 different countries because of his work. We moved to Western Australia in 2009 and loved it so much that we hung up our expat boots.
My focus on ZigaZag has been about WA because when we arrived there was so much to find out and write about, and I wanted to share what I was finding out with friends and family, but I also realised that it could create a platform for freelance travel features, which it did.
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4) Which came first a love of travel in Western Australia, or writing and blogging?
I’ve always loved travel, and freelance writing has been the thread that has sustained me creatively as we’ve travelled the world due to my husband’s job.
When we moved to WA I started blogging, and I think your question is interesting here because I enjoyed exploring WA much more when I knew there was a motive behind the travelling.
I wasn’t just travelling for enjoyment’s sake as we discovered WA, because there was a bigger purpose; to share knowledge and photos of a really remote and interesting part of the world.
5) What does a typical day in your week look like?
A typical day in my week is spent at the computer, writing, editing, sorting out technical issues, promoting posts, and looking for or answering queries about blogging opportunities.
6) What are 3 recommendations to those starting out travel writing blogs in 2020?
Find a good niche, because the travel blogging sector has become very crowded.
Be authentic always.
If you intend to try and make money blogging then realise that it is hard. Have a plan, decide on a business model, and start out thinking like a business person, not as a hobbyist.
7) Best advice you’ve received as a Travel Blogger?
Always make sure you answer the questions people are asking.
8) One gadget you use as a blogger, that they couldn’t live without?
I travel with my Samsung phone, a Canon DSLR camera, my MacBook Air and a hard drive. I try and travel light so don’t really rely on gadgets.
9) Which are your 3 favourite tools for marketing a new blog post?
I would research about how people intend to travel in the future, and write about all the new ways of travelling and exploring the world.
11) Any people or books have had the most influence on your growth and why?
Darren Rowse and the ProBlogger conferences were hugely informative, plus I formed some great friendships and networks from attending them. So many people have influenced me, including Caz and Craig Makepeace, Nikki Parkinson, Amanda Kendle,Jon Morrow, and Brian Clark.
Books – Tools of Titans, and The Four Hour Work Week by Tim Ferriss, Stephen King On Writing and many more from my heaving book case!
12) What would you say is a #1 key to success in travel blogging?
Knowing what your audience wants to read, and consistently delivering it.
13) What is one of the biggest failures you’ve had in your blogging career. What did you learn from it?
My biggest failure has been failing to realise that the time for action is NOW as the internet world changes so quickly. For instance, I have lots of well written draft posts in my dashboard that are no longer relevant.
From this I’ve learned that you need to learn fast and implement what you learn, write down what you see and what you do immediately, because the wheels of the world change so fast. There is no time for perfection.
14) What are your main challenges in 2020, as a travel blogger?
Within WA at the moment the only challenges to travel are my time, but worldwide there will be challenges just to travel I think, for a long time to come.
15) What keeps you going when things get tough in the blogging world?
Reminding myself that there’s nothing else I’d rather be doing.
16) Main inspiration you have found during 2020?
That when the pressure to do all the normal things is taken away from you, then you become amazingly creative at finding other things to do which sustain and enthral you.
17) What do you continue to love as a travel blogger?
The people I meet, the places I get to see, and the creativity of blogging and all it entails.
18) Anything else you’d like to add?
I think blogging is changing, and travel bloggers especially will need to think creatively about what they can deliver for what people want in the future.
Related post: Top Travel Bloggers 2020: Katie Driscoll
Stay tuned for more posts from some of Australia’s top Travel Bloggers and travel blog websites in 2020. If you enjoyed this post or are a travel blogger, i’d love to hear your thoughts below!