Today TraveLinkSites is super excited to be featuring one of the most popular and widely read travel bloggers out there, Ayngelina Brogan of Bacon Is Magic.
Ayngelina is an absolute star in the field of travel blogging and has built a strong army of followers since she started her blog over two years ago. Today she’s going to talk about how you can do the same!
1. Hi Ayngelina! Could you briefly introduce yourself, your site and your why you wanted to write a travel blog?
I’m Ayngelina and I publish Baconismagic.ca. I started my blog in January 2010 to document a 1-2 year RTW for friends and family. I wrote this small blog for my family when I went to New Zealand for a month so this was going to be a bigger one.
2. Who were/are your major influences when decided to create your own blog?
In the early days I was part of a great group that started at the same time: Johnny Vagabond, Go See Write, The Aussie Nomad, The Traveling Savage,Nomadic Chick, The Jungle Princess, Travels of Adam, Monkey Brewster, 20 Something Travel, Adventurous Kate. They were probably my biggest influence as we all learned together and supported each other, commenting when no one else was, sharing tips and advice. Without them I’d still be writing for only my mother.
3. How would you describe your writing style? How does it differ?
I write the blog as if I am writing for a good friend, so it’s very personal. I don’t tell people what I do every day but what affected me that day or how I felt. I write about being lonely, stupid or eating at McDonalds and feeling guilty about it.
I don’t write tips posts or how to get from A to B. But I am working on a new project to build some travel guide directories because I do get a lot of emails asking where I stayed. This will be in a different section of the site under resources because the focus of my site is really about introspective travel.
4. How would you describe your travel blog audience? Are they hardcore? Do they just come the once? What do you like about having an audience like yours?
My readers are really loyal and I think/hope they feel like they know me. I was in my 30s and deemed successful by other people’s standards. I had no idea where I was going with my life once I “made it” and wondered if this was all life was about. I think a lot of people can relate to that. I decided the best thing to do was buy a one-way ticket to Mexico and figure it out. I don’t believe everyone needs to do that. But as I write about what the hell I’m doing with my life I think people feel less alone on their own path.
No one read my site for a really long time, which is probably good because it was really boring in the beginning before I found my writing voice. By the time I landed in Colombia I started getting significant traffic and it just snowballed.
My readers tend to be a bit older, 27-45 and they aren’t all backpackers. In fact a lot of them will never stay in a hostel and prefer resorts. But because I don’t write about budget saving tips and rather shared something about the culture, my site is still relevant.
5. What is the best way to get a readers attention? How have you managed to stoke your readers interest so frequently?
In terms of getting new people social media is the way to do it along with guest posting.
To keep reader attention I think you need to be consistent. I have a groove of what I write about and what I won’t write about. You’ll never see tips or budget information or even hotel reviews. People know what they are going to get. That said I have tested things a bit, I have written about yoga and food politics and so far it doesn’t seem to have alienated anyone.
6. How do you interact with your audience? What tools work best?
Different tools work for different sites. I have a few that work for me.
I respond to every comment on the site and I use a plug-in that sends people an email of my response.
I do interact with people on Twitter, but its a different kind of audience because they are creators/bloggers so while they may read my site they are more often part of my community.
Lately I’ve also been really active on Foodspotting, it’s a great community and a good fit with my site. But again that works for my site because I’m so into food, for other sites Google+ or Pinterest may be a better fit – I’m there too but I don’t focus on them.
7. What are your thoughts on networking with other bloggers to grow your audience? Can this help?
Well without them in the beginning I would have never survived. There are a lot of bloggers I have never met, such as Mike from Fevered Mutterings, who I consider a dear friend. And then there are those that I have met, like Michael from Go See Write who jokes that I’m his blogging wife because we talk so much about blogging and how to become better and reach more people.
Other bloggers are my supporters, sounding boards, promoters and friends. They are the only ones who understand what you are going through and encourage you when you want to give up. In the beginning my only readers were my mother and other bloggers. I owe a lot to the community and I try to give back as much as I can. I have a lot of new bloggers write asking for advice and I’m always happy to help because when I started I had no idea what I was doing either.
8. What is the best thing about having a wide audience? What do you get from people sharing in your travels?
The feeling that I am not alone. The more I share and open up about my insecurities, inabilities, fears, the more I am comforted that others feel the same way too and were too afraid to say it. I can go into most countries and find a reader or friend of a reader who wants to meet and share their world.
9. Tell us about your most popular post.
Hands down The Year I Walked Away from Love. Although I say in my bio I left a great boyfriend, that was where the story behind my love life ended. I don’t write about dating or anything like that, it’s the one thing I leave for myself, but so many people were writing me asking how I did it and how I was so brave.
The truth was I wasn’t brave but actually heartbroken and I hadn’t shared it. I felt like I owed it to my readers the truth. I had spent the year working through it and because so many people were going through similar things I wanted them to know they weren’t alone.
10. And lastly, what would be your top 3 tips to a new blogger trying to build an audience?
1) I don’t believe bloggers should write for other bloggers but they are low hanging fruit and a good source of traffic starting out. When I was new I was commenting on about 50-100 posts a day. A lot of people found me that way because I was their reader and they returned the favour. It’s a quick and easy way to get immediate feedback on your site and start meeting other bloggers.
Right now I don’t have time to do it but I do make a habit of commenting on everyone’s site who comments on one of my posts. I think it’s only fair as they have taken the time to support me that I should do the same. It’s also a great way to discover new sites.
2) Guest post as much as you can. A lot of bloggers will guest post on their friend’s sites and it is good starting out but I also recommend guest posting on other niches. For me food works really well as do women’s lifestyle sites. I know Nomadic Matt has guest posted on technology, marketing and finance sites and it works well for him.
3) Experiment in social media. Social media can be really daunting and it feels like you should be everywhere but you won’t have the time. Facebook is a priority for me because my readers are consistently there, Twitter is where my friends are. I tried Google+ and Reddit but they didn’t do well so I dropped it. Pinterest also drives a lot of traffic for some but not others. There is no magic bullet.
And when you do participate in social media, you should be posting more from other people than you do for yourself. When someone adds me to Twitter I have a quick look at their feed, if they are only tweeting their own stuff I won’t add them, not because I want them to Tweet my stuff but they aren’t into building relationships with people but just broadcasting their own work.
Wow! What a fantastic interview jam-packed full of amazing advice. Ayngelina you are a true credit to travel and blogging alike. We salute you!
If you’d like to be interviewed, contact us.