Composing A Good Hiking Blog Post
Blogging has been a huge learning experience for me. Learning how to properly compose a good hiking blog post was an issue I first learned how to address very quickly. I read so many articles during my first few months of other bloggers and their hiking posts and many of them were back and forth. Others showed mainly pictures and no story or information about the hike. Some were even a brief 2-3 paragraphs speaking only of their trip without any details about the hike and how others can experience it. I've even read one once with mainly links. Don't get me wrong, everyone has their ways of writing, but when you are publishing an article, you want to engage your audience.
To engage your audience you need to experience the trip yourself, write a story of your own personal experience about the trip, give juicy details that will keep your audience wanting to keep reading. You need quality pictures. By quality I mean well edited pictures that highlight the true beauty of the trail. You also need a good outline. I can't stress this part enough. Without a good outline you can catch yourself doing a lot of back and forth on your post and this can be annoying to some readers.
On this article I plan to cover the basics on composing your adventurous blog post in a way to engage your readers and bring in new ones. These are just some of the things I have learned throughout my time of blogging that I want to share with you guys.
Disclaimer: There are affiliate links in this post. To learn more about how affiliate links work please read our Disclosure Policy. Thank you for using our links and for your support.
DO THE TRIP
Yes! If you want to write about it in your own personal experience, you must do the trip. You want to provide your readers a first hand opinion of the hike and not an opinion you found online from another party. The only reason your readers should be reading a post on your blog from another party is when you are doing a blog collaboration or have a guest blogger. If you don't experience the trip you won't be showing credibility or personal opinions and experiences that pertain to you. Always be honest and genuine with your readers.
PLAN YOUR TRIP
I usually plan my hikes in advanced. Reading any reviews online that I can find that will help me prepare my family and myself is important to me. Also asking questions online about gear, the hike, what to expect, etc. can be very beneficial. You can ask questions on different Facebook groups or even read reviews online.
If I'm needing more detailed information I will even call the park. My dad and I are planning a backpacking trip and I called the ranger station at the park for a more detailed map, prices, and what to expect. They immediately sent me an email with everything I needed to be prepared for this trip.
Related Article: How To Plan Your Next Hiking Trip
During your trip, I recommend taking a notebook or travel journal and taking notes of key things that you enjoyed. For instance, the time my daughter's shoe broke and we had to carry her back to the campsite (read about it here). It was one crazy experience to remember for a lifetime. Also take note of everything that you pack, answers to your questions, or anything else. This way after your trip you can write down what you should of brought and what you didn't need to bring, your own personal answer to your questions, and also any stories, key points, memories, etc.
A travel journal is more personal then just taking notes. A journal is a more in depth personal experience that you may or may not want to share with your readers. This can come handy too if there's an experience that your readers will enjoy. I usually do this after the trip cause with kiddos I kind of lose track of time to do anything else.
TAKE YOUR OWN PICTURES
When I read a post about a hike that I want to personally do I like to see pictures that the author or his team took during their trip. There's nothing else that grinds my gears more then seeing a well worded post and then realizing that it's not even their pictures from their own trip. If you want your readers to engage take it to a personal level. Do stories on Instagram during your hike, post your own pictures of what you saw, and show your readers how much you enjoyed this hike on social media. Show these pictures on your website, create a gallery or post them all on the specific blog post you will publish of that trip but make sure that they are your own photographs.
CAMERA AND GEAR
I like to take pictures of everything. Literally everything I can find. I currently use a Canon DSLR EOS Rebel T6 and absolutely love it. It is a great start up learning camera. I would also recommend using a tripod if you are trying to take a picture of yourself, your family, or even a scenery. A tripod is also very good to have when taking long exposure shots like of the night sky or a waterfall. Below are the items that I personally would recommend getting for your adventures.
- Canon EOS Rebel T6 - This is a great camera for people just starting out. It has many options and it is perfect for playing with manual settings.
- Camera Batteries - It is always a great idea to have extra batteries.
- SD Cards 32gb and 64gb- I always have about 4 or 5 memory cards on me for back up.
- Albott Travel Tripod - Having a tripod can be very useful for taking pictures of yourself or even long exposure shots.
- Camera Lens Cleaning Kit - I like to always have something on me to quickly clean my lens. If you are like me that is always accidentally touching your lens then these are perfect to have on you. They also avoid scratches on your lens unlike your shirt or pants.
- Introvalometer - This is perfect to setting up your own timer for selfies. You can also use your camera settings depending on the camera that you have.
- GoPro Hero 5 - I got the new GoPro Hero last year and absolutely love it. You can view some of the photos I took with it on this post.
You can also check out this Canon EOS Rebel T6 full camera set which includes almost everything mentioned above.
Editing your pictures is crucial to your post. You shouldn't post pictures without editing them first. Your readers want to see the hike through your eyes. Editing your pictures to bring the colors to how they were in person is very important. I read a blog post once where the pictures weren't edited and the colors were dark and gloomy. It really kind of got to me cause I have done this hike before and the hike is absolutely beautiful. Sadly the way it was portrayed on the post, it wouldn't of had motivated me to do the hike if it was the first time hearing about it.
Editing can be tricky sometimes. Don't use just any program to edit your pictures. I personally recommend using Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Lightroom. Hikes are beautiful and it is up to us to visually show the beauty of them. I will be making a blog post soon of how I edit my pictures. Lightroom also has presets that you can purchase that will help you edit your pictures. Michael Matti has some very beautiful presets that I have been eyeing for a while.
COMPOSING YOUR BLOG POST
Now that you have your audience excited on social media about your recent trip, it's time to start composing your blog post so you can share all the fun stories, experiences, and everything else they need to know. Here's a step by step guide that I personally use and works well for me. Please note that what works for me may not work for others.
I like to compose an outline. I created this habit back in high school when I did research papers for English and Science classes. Creating an outline helps you stay organized and focused on the topics at hand. This is the outline that I usually use for my hiking and camping trips.
- Tell A Story
- About The Park/Trail (or both)
- Park: slight history, details about the park, amenities, activities, events, etc.
- Trail: difficulty level, key points about the trail, slight history if any, elevation, distance,
- Planning Your Trip
- Regulations: Things allowed or not allowed on the trail, requirements, etc. ( I usually do this if there's strict rules on the trail/park.)
- What To Bring: packing list (use your notes).
- How To Get There: You can put any key points on how to get there like a hidden driveway or a certain road. You can even use Google Maps on your post.
- Details/Information: Address, Phone Number, and Website
- Outdoor Etiquette: Leave No Trace (I stress this subject a lot on all of my posts but it's totally optional for you.)
- Disclaimer: I usually write this on the bottom and italicized. It is very important to always have a disclaimer. Disclaimers help protect you and those you work with from any lawsuits or legal issues. More details on this below.
Your outline doesn't have to be exactly this to the point. Depending on the park, trail, etc. I leave out a few things or add other things,
Another tip, for good SEO it is important to have good headers. These headers should have keywords in it as well as keywords throughout your post to help you rank better.
TITLE PICTURE / FEATURED IMAGE
It is very important to create a title picture or featured image. The title picture should be one that key emphasizes your trip. Say I did a hike that is known for the beautiful waterfall, I would take the best pictures I can of that waterfall and make it my featured image.
For Pinterest I like to create one that will attract others to re-pin my post. The more re-pins you get, the more traffic you get coming to your blog. If you don't use Pinterest then you don't have to worry about editing one picture with a title and everything but it is still very important to have a Title Picture. I usually do both. The very first photo on this post is my Pinterest image. Some people also add these to the end of their blog posts as well.
IMPORTANCE OF AN INTRODUCTION
I'm sure your teachers and professors have taught you the importance of having an introduction in your paper. Your readers want to know briefly what they are going to be reading about. If your introduction is not awesome your readers will most likely not continue reading. This is your first chance to engage your reader to continue reading this post.
IMPORTANCE OF A CONCLUSION
Once again, I'm sure we have learned the importance of a conclusion in school/college as well. You don't want to just stop at a random spot. You have to recap and say your goodbyes. Look at it like if you are talking to a friend in person. You are not going to walk away in the middle of the conversation. Right? You will finish the conversation and finish off by saying goodbye or see you later. Your conclusion is like that. Don't skip it.
WRITING A DISCLAIMER
This is a very important thing to have on your blog post. There's rules to this too, especially if you are using affiliate links and you have to make sure that you are abiding by FTC regulations. I usually use Amazon or Target affiliate links when pointing to items on my packing list that I like to use. Here's an example of my disclaimer that I personally use.
- Disclaimer: Please proceed with caution to any of these hikes. Only YOU know your limits and experience level. For more information on Safety please refer to our Disclosure Policy.
- Disclaimer: There are affiliate links in this post. To learn more about affiliate links you can refer to our Disclosure Policy. Thank you for your support.
Your disclaimer doesn't have to be exactly these but something along those guidelines. For affiliate marketing please refer to the company you are affiliated with and read their rules and regulations on disclaimers. Remember that these disclaimers are there to protect you and your brand from others.
PROOF-READING YOUR BLOG POST
I can not stress this enough. Before you hit publish it is very important to read your own post. I usually revise my posts a good 4-5 times before publishing them. Here's a few things you should look for in your post before hitting publish.
- Grammar mistakes: One thing I hate to see if grammar mistakes. I'm sure I've made a few of my own cause no one is perfect but at least try your best to avoid them. I see bloggers make the same mistakes over and over again. I have even read a few blog posts that you can tell they wrote it and hit publish without proof-reading their own post.
- Flow of words. You don't want to run on sentences or a paragraph that doesn't relate to the topic outlined. When writing it is very easy to drift away from your subject (at least for me).
- Proper use of sub-headings: Sub-headings is important in your blog posts. This is your outline and helps separate the different topics within your article helping your readers to distinguish what your are telling them about.
- Intro and Conclusion: Just like any article, it is very important to have an introduction and conclusion to your post. Make sure that in your introduction gives a brief summary of what you are about to tell your readers about. Your conclusion should be a very brief overview of what you just told your readers.
TIME TO SCHEDULE YOUR POST
Once you have proof-read your post several times and feel confident about it it is time to hit publish. Before doing so, you need to know when is the best time to publish your post. You can do this by monitoring your stats. I usually schedule my big posts for either Saturday or Sunday mornings around 7am or 8am and my smaller articles during the week either before people go to work, during their lunch time hours, or before bed time. This is the time when most people sit and read something online before heading off to their next daily task. You can monitor these times with Google Analytics or even your own stats on your platform. I will be having another blog post about this topic in the near future.
OTHER KEY POINTS
Here's a few other things to watch out for while composing your blog post.
If for some reason you are using someone else's picture, give them credit for it. Say I go on the backpacking trip with my dad and he takes one awesome picture that looks 10x better then my picture I would first ask if I can use it and then give proper credit for it. Please make sure that these are pictures from people that were experiencing this hike with you and not of another person who you don't even know, less hiked this trail with. Remember be honest and sincere with your readers. They want to see your work, team, friends, etc.
You should never copy or steal someone else's work. Be creative. This is the beauty of having a blog. You can be you and you can be as creative and intuitive as you want to be. Let your imagination flow. Be you! Also you can get in a lot of trouble for stealing someone else's hard work. Remember that hard work always pays off. 😉
LINKING TO OTHER WEBSITES
Just like giving proper credit, also link back to where that picture, statement, etc was found at on the internet. Say I use my dad's picture and he has a blog (he doesn't), and he has this same picture on his blog, please link back to it.
If you mention a blog post of your own, link back to it as well. You can even do this for companies that you mention on your post or if you are talking about a certain product that you highly recommend using during this trip, link to it. It helps your readers stay loyal to you.
One thing I hate is reading an awesome post of a review of a product and not knowing where to find it or even purchase it at. Or when someone talks about another blogger, photographer, etc. but doesn't link back to their website. Doing this gives them also credit and recognition for their hard work. It is proper blogging etiquette.
I've mentioned this several times already but I can't stress it enough. Be genuine, honest, loyal! Be yourself! No reader wants to read your blog from another person's point of view. They want to read about your experiences from your own point of view. This applies to any posts that are not with blog collaborations or even guest bloggers. If it's your post... Make it your own!!!
PROMOTE YOUR POST
Well! You have hit publish. Now what? I remember the first time I hit publish I didn't get over 20 views on the first week. I immediately learned that I have to promote my blog myself. People aren't going to magically find it in the huge internet world. Good places to promote are Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, Google+, and a few others. This will be a more detailed topic for another day. But promote your blog and your blog posts. Get it out there for everyone to read. Don't be shy about it. Be confident and proud of the hard work you are putting in. Don't let it be unknown to the world.
Well I hope you have learned how to compose a killer hiking post with all the juicy details your readers are dying to read about it. Doing this, or something similar to this that works for you, will keep your readers engaged and waiting to read all about your next adventure. Awesome pictures, cool stories, and all the details to make this event possible is exactly what your readers are looking for.
What works for you when you are blogging about your trips? Let us know in the comments below.
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