Shivya Nath is a very active travel blogger for whom travel and blogging both are hobbies as well as profession.
Shivya maintains an outstanding travel blog, The Shooting Star for over four years. No wonder, the blog finds a place in The Directory of Best Indian Blogs year after year.
We requested Shivya to share her blogging secrets with our visitors and despite her travel schedules, blogging and social media engagements (She is quite active on Google Plus, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.), and a jammed laptop for a while, she spared time for us.
Since Shiyva has been very forthcoming in her interview, we'd go straight to her interview. [Emphasis by underlining text here and there is our mischief.]
What do you think as your biggest success points in the blogging journey?
The emphasis on quality. In every blog post I publish, my aim is to take my readers on a virtual journey and experience, live and see the world the way I have [lived and seen it]. My blog and I have evolved in many ways over the past years, but I've tried never to change or ignore this aspect.
Any regrets about blogging or any blogging-related actions you think are worthless or a waste of time?
I think in my early days, I spent a lot of time trying to manually promote my blog rather than learning about SEO. If I were to do it all over again, I'd try to understand (and even get help for) SEO from day one. You can have the best blog, the best quality content, but if no one can find it on Google, no one will read it.
How much importance do you give to these: passion for the subject, quality of content, consistency, use of SEO, engagement with others, look & feel, or anything else?
I rate quality of content the highest. Whatever your subject is - travel, lifestyle or even just personal rants - quality trumps all. If readers stumble upon your blog but never come back, it's a serious red flag.
Engagement with others is important in the early days, but your SEO and social media efforts gradually give higher returns.
Look & feel is important to keep your readers engaged, but a simple, easy-to-read blog, in my opinion, is better than something too fancy or difficult to navigate.
I know a lot of blogging tips emphasize consistency, but personally, I feel quality trumps consistency. It's hard to churn out high quality content on a timetable - and I really admire the small number of bloggers who do!
Do you wish to share any monetization tips with bloggers?
A universal way of successfully monetizing a blog is through sponsored posts, but the trick is to never compromise on the quality of content or your own integrity. When I run sponsored posts on my blog, I pen all content myself, and ensure I'm writing about a topic I would genuinely care to write about even if a paying brand wasn't involved. The fine balance between staying relevant to your readers and giving real estate to a brand is the key to monetisation through sponsored posts.
How paying is the travel niche? How long does it take for an Indian travel blogger to start getting offers to write or participate in blog tours?
Different travel bloggers make money through their blogs in different ways, though in India, the industry is only starting to evolve. It could take anywhere from a year to 3 years for serious funds to start pouring in, but a lot depends on the strategy, approach, quality and reach of the blog.
Journalist-style press trips for travel bloggers are fairly common, and once you enter the consideration set of PRs, it's not hard to have offers pouring in. The challenge is to find relevant campaigns that understand that bloggers are very different from journalists, and that are willing to pay for their influence.
More on it can be seen here: So You Want To Start a Travel Blog?
Has blogging helped you in building your career, or the blog is one of the many writing and social avenues that you use?
When I started out, my blog was a portfolio of my work, which I used to score freelance writing and social media gigs. Since the past couple of years, I rely almost entirely on my blog for my income, and consider myself a full time travel blogger.
More here: How I’m Funding My Adventures Around the World Through Travel Blogging
Did the blog happen because you were already writing for papers etc or the blog acted as your showcase, or it happened both ways?
It was a bit of both. I ran personal blogs for a long time, purely out of the love for blogging and writing. The Shooting Star was somewhat an extension of that, rejigged with a travel focus. At the time, the blogging industry was still in its infancy and most bloggers mainly made money through advertising. My aim was never to advertise, so I started thinking of it as an outlet for stories that were too personal to pitch to publications, and as a portfolio to showcase my work.
Along the way, I realized the immense opportunities and potential of travel blogging, and glad I found a way to exploit it while staying true to my voice and travel style.
You write about travel destinations far and wide. Have you to travel all the time? How do you get time to write?
Since August 2013, I've been living out of a backpack, a digital nomad if you may! I try to travel slow, so I have enough time to get under the skin of a place, while also working. It takes discipline, but I'm not too hard on myself. It helps that I really love writing, social media and blogging - so I don't need to motivate myself too hard to keep working.
Any tip on how to keep writing original posts?
Do things that inspire you. For me, it's pushing my comfort zone and traveling to remote parts of the world, learning about different ways of life, and immersing myself in natural beauty. When you are surrounded by things you love, you automatically feel inspired to write about them.
Any tips on travel photography?
I don't think of myself as a photographer, and only take photos to help tell my stories better. I avoid editing my photos, and try to show a place like it is. Generally speaking, I find the amount of photo-shopping and planning that goes into making a perfect travel photo frustrating, because it takes away from the very essence of spontaneous travel.
Considering fast growth of social networking sites and other such media, what in your opinion is the future of blogging?
I think storytelling, which is the essence of blogging, is here to stay. The medium might evolve, but the conversations won't stop.
What advice would you like to give to budding or less established bloggers, especially travel bloggers?
To travel bloggers, I'd say travel! Make every opportunity to travel and fall in love with the world, find your voice, and figure out what kind of stories you want to tell through your blog. That's the first step to 'making it' in a world where new travel blogs are popping up by the minute.
When we approached Shivya, she was looking for an assistant. So our last question was, "Have you found the assistant that you were seeking or you are still on the lookout?"
Happy to say I've found her :-)
Content quality and passion make a blog successful, proves travel blogger Shivya Nath.