Gateway Drug: How Blogging Can Lead to Other Things

Where the magic happens: my travel blogging platform.

I’ve been writing a monthly travel column in The Denver Post since January, 2012, and I am the author of six books about travel. All of that work is tied back to my blog, “The Tranquilo Traveler,” which I created in 2005.

The initial purpose of my blog was to (1) display and build my evolving niche as a travel writer, and (2) to document my upcoming round-the-world honeymoon, a 16-month trip of a lifetime which I was about to take with my wife, Sutay. My intention was to eventually convert my blog entries into book chapters, and, after a decade of sorting through and chiseling down the original stories, I published Crocodile Love: Travel Tales from an Extended Honeymoon.

That’s my blog-to-book story, but The Tranquilo Traveler has led to other things as well. Early on, my blog garnered a decent Google PageRank for travel-related searches, bringing advertisers who offered to pay a monthly fee for linking to them from my home page. I made up to $10,000 per year for a roughly five-year period selling these links. Then as the landscape and revenue models shifted, that cash disappeared, and I haven’t had advertisers since.

Still, the blog has served as an important public outlet and calling card. A few years ago, Travel Editor of The Denver Post, Kyle Wagner, was looking for columnists for the newspaper’s travel section. She did a search on Twitter for Colorado-based travel bloggers and read through number of local blogs, including The Tranquilo Traveler. She is now a freelance writer and editor and I asked what made my blog stand out.

“Because your writing was consistently good,” she said, “conversational without losing journalistic integrity, and a good balance between personal anecdotes and useful information.”

In this case, my blog served as not only a public resume, but also as a representative writing sample to draw people to my books, projects, and my potential to take on something new. Four years later, my column, “Around Colorado,” is going strong and I haven’t missed a single month.  

Last year, I merged my blog with my static writer’s homepage, weaving them together through the magic of WordPress (specifically, the content-driven SimpleMag theme). The merge confirmed that my blog is indeed tied to everything—social media buttons, book sales, bio, article portfolio, and photo galleries. These used to exist outside my blog, but now they are fed by it, as new blog posts immediately appear on various relevant pages and collections, depending on the categories I assign them.

After a decade online, this recent game-changer to my website has only further strengthened the ability of my blog to lead to more, unexpected opportunities. Speaking of which, got an assignment for me?

—Joshua Berman is a freelance writer based in Boulder, CO. His website is joshuaberman.net. He is on Twitter at @tranquilotravel.

Related video, “A day in the life of a travel writer in Belize”:

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