In defence of the general travel blog
Read most guides on how to start a travel blog and you will read the mantra to “pick a niche”. By writing about a defined topic you will get a more readers compared to just being a blog about anything.
As a publisher with several niche websites (including this one) I agree with this principal, but sometimes it makes sense to have a general blog without a niche. So what is the case for keeping a general travel blog?
When you don’t know what your niche is
This could also be called “because you don’t know what you want to be when you grow up”.
It’s one thing to say “start a niche site”, but what if you don’t know what your niche is? For some bloggers that’s not an issue. Some people are lucky and know exactly what angle they want to cover in travel. If you know, then yes jump straight in and start niche blogging.
Many internet marketers start new sites on the strength of keywords and expected sales commission, without any previous knowledge of the niche. A famous example was Part Flynn starting a food truck niche site. He picked this specifically as public case study to show how you can grow a niche site without any prior knowledge.
For most people though, starting a blog you either know nothing about or aren’t passionate about isn’t an option. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t start a blog though. Sometimes the only way to find your way is on your way.
It took me years to work out what I wanted to do with my life, let alone what I wanted to blog about. What I did know was that I wanted to travel the world while figuring out what I wanted to do with my life.
I started out writing about general travel at Nomadic Notes, and then it became more nomad focused. Then I started writing more about the business of travel blogging, so I set up this niche site. And then in my travels around Asia I started writing more about transport and infrastructure issues, so I set up another site about transport and construction in Asia.
Start a blog and work it out as you go
By starting a general travel blog you are learning about publishing and promotion, and most crucially you will start writing. Maybe you need to travel for a while to discover what your passion is.
Jub from Tiki Touring Kiwi started out as a general travel blog. It wasn’t until he was a couple of years into his blog that he realised that he should be blogging about sport and travel. By the time he came to that realisation he already had an established blog with the skills to run a website. If he had waited until he had a niche to write about, who knows how long he would have waited to start his site.
If you wait until you know what you want to write about you might still be waiting.
You’re not looking to make a business out of it
There is a lot of noise online where bloggers are selling the dream of becoming a full-time travel blogger. Believe it or not, not everyone wants to “make money travel blogging”.
It’s certainly an enticing dream, being paid to travel the world. Making websites and blogging has been part of my life since going full-time in 2003. I started this site to help people start a travel blog.
In my travels though I’ve met plenty of people who have no desire to make a business out of a blog. They have good jobs and would rather travel and occasionally write. In this case, a general travel blog is the best option.
Using niche sites to fund general travel blogs
Some niche sites are better off being purely informational without the need of having personal narrative or editorial attached. A niche site that makes money can then fund your travels and let you write unconstrained on a personal blog. Having a non-commercial blog under your own name can then be about general travel, or any other topic you feel like.
The world still needs story tellers
Finally, the world still needs good story tellers. With the rush to nichify and commoditize travel blogs, the art of telling travel stories is being lost. Travel blogs have been turned into travel guides, and the content is being turned into keyword-rich articles.
Even if you are running a niche travel site, it’s still good to keep a general travel blog to keep the creative writing juices flowing. There is a way to combine personal narrative with travel guide writing, and that is by running a quasi-niche blog.