Interview with Johnny Africa

A candid interview with Johnny Africa’s creator, the avid traveler Johnny Chen, who shares with us intimately how he got into travel blogging and tips on how to keep going.

Meet Johnny, the intrepid traveler, in this intimate interview with Johnny Africa’s creator on what inspires him to continue to explore the world, one adventure at a time.

With an insatiable passion for exploration, Johnny embarked on a transformative journey that began in South Africa in 2013. From encountering lemurs in Madagascar to traversing Namibia’s red deserts, his adventures across Africa inspired the moniker “Johnny Africa.”

Returning to the US, his wanderlust persisted, leading him to Europe in 2019. He now lives mostly in Bali and Singapore. Alongside his travels, Johnny nurtured a keen interest in finance, achieving Financial Independence in 2020. Through his blog, he shares unfiltered experiences and vibrant tales, inviting readers to embark on their own transformative journeys.

Interview with Johnny Africa, a travel blogger now based in Bali and Singapore

Interview with Johnny Africa

  1. How did you first get into travel blogging and consulting? What inspired you to start sharing your experiences?

I started travel blogging when I first moved abroad to South Africa. This was over 10 years ago and I wanted to have something more than just Facebook or Instagram. I was always into sharing my photos and life on social media so why not have something more detailed and official in the form of a blog. The goal was never to make money or have a business from it, but rather, to share my experiences. 

It started really slow because I had no idea what anything meant and I certainly had no comprehension of SEO. It probably took me a solid 2-3 years before I understood the basics and decided to turn it into something more. 

2. Can you share a memorable moment from your early travels that ignited your passion for exploring new places?

My first trip ever was to Thailand in 2011. I thought it was the most amazing place and the most amazing time. I did all the super touristy stuff and loved it. If I were to do the same trip now through the ugly streets of Patong and crowded beaches in Koh Phi Phi, I’d probably hate it. Nevertheless, it set things in motion. 

Aside from the inaugural experience, I would have to say it was when I took my first extended trip after leaving South Africa. I spent about 6 months on the road traveling through different African countries like Madagascar and Mozambique. I had such an amazing time in these types of places that I knew I could just keep doing it for way longer.

3. How do you choose destinations to explore, and what factors play a crucial role in your decision-making process?

I don’t have plans to travel to every country in the world like some but I’m definitely not opposed to the idea. I used to jetset all over the world when I was living in New York City (Since this isn’t close to anywhere) but nowadays I like to travel closer to my base of operations to maximize my time. 

I don’t have criteria per se because I think every country deserves a go. I’ve still yet to find a country where I hated all my experiences in that country. Sure there are countries that I won’t rush to go back to, but it’s not because I hated it. 

I consider certain things like cost, ease of traveling around, visas, unique spots, food, and the like, but if I really want to go somewhere, I’ll go. 

Johnny snorkeling with a shark

Building an Authority in the Travel Niche

4. Building authority is crucial for SEO. How do you establish and enhance your authority in the travel niche?

I’ve read countless things about SEO and in the end, the only thing I can control well is producing good content. There might be a day in the future when this is no longer important, but for now, content is still king. 

I write long-form posts about personal experiences and write as much detail as I can.

Growth

5. I noticed that your website traffic has been growing steadily and healthily over the years and you did not seem to experience any dip in traffic. With frequent updates to Google’s algorithms, how did you adapt to algorithm changes and maintain or improve your website presence?

There is no good answer here because as much as some people might think they are Google experts, I am not one. I’ve also been hit by Google updates but never to a catastrophic extent (knock on wood). I have a few evergreen posts that have consistently performed well for the last few years so I think those have taken me far. I’ve long given up on understanding what the updates are doing and adapting my blog to it. Simply just focus on producing another (hopefully) Evergreen post. 

Johnny traveling through Cape Town Africa

6. SEO is super complex, and challenges arise all the time. As a one-man show, what are some notable SEO challenges you’ve faced, and how did you overcome them?

I actually didn’t even know what SEO was for the first few years of my blogging career. I didn’t know about keyword research and any of that stuff. I still don’t really do much keyword research because I find that it takes the fun out of blogging. I don’t want to sit around writing stuff just because some SEO service told me it had less competition. I still don’t blog for money and although I’m making money blogging now, it is more for the validation that I created something that attracts a lot of people. 

Future

7. Considering the ever-changing digital landscape with AI in the picture, what longer-term strategies do you personally adapt to ensure the consistent growth of your travel blog?

I’ve played with ChatGPT quite a bit but in the end, the content is mostly mediocre. I do use it sometimes to write things like the history of places that I can’t be bothered to research or to give me an outline to start a post. Let’s see how this space develops in the future, but I do see it playing a more significant part of the experience in the future. 

8. If there is one, what specific blogging or SEO advice do you have for a new or existing blogger to help grow the site to a size like yours or beyond?

Just be consistent and don’t give up. Write good content and write it with conviction. Only do something if you want to do it. This will resonate with your readers, and hopefully Google!

Lydia Yang

Lydia Yang

Lydia Yang is a Singaporean city girl who decided to ditch her high heels for hiking boots and become a full-time traveller and digital nomad. She has been to almost 60 countries to date! She has a knack for adventure travel, especially rock climbing, and always hunts down the best climbing spots around the world. Check out her expert advice on the best outdoor crags to climb at or what workouts to improve your climbing performance.

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