Who doesn’t want to travel the world and get paid to do it, right? Well contrary to popular belief, travel blogging is not going to make you rich overnight, nor are you likely to be gifted $5,000 luxury suites everywhere you travel. If you really want to be a travel blogger, here’s what you need to know first.
A professional travel blogger is not someone who slaps up a post here and there, or tosses out some rambling diary with horribly composed photos. Getting page views is not as simple as sending out 1,000 friend requests on Facebook and spamming everyone’s timelines. It’s work…a lot of work. I work longer hours than I did in my litigation career, but at least I am working for myself now. It may sound surprising, but writing the actual blog post is just a small part of the whole process of travel blogging.
Envious of all the gorgeous photos you typically see of bloggers out by the pool or in some fancy hotel? Often times, the real side of the story is that the blogger was rushing through a property to snap those "money" shots, and then often retired back inside their room, or sought out a co-working space to write blog posts, send out pitches, work on email responses, schedule social media posts, etc.
You have to be disciplined – if you are going to spend all your time exploring and partying, when are you going to write your blog posts and search for income streams? There have been days where I didn’t leave the hotel in a really cool destination because of deadlines or a terrifying inbox that needed attention.
Before you run off and build a free website or Blogger domain, you need to do research and hone in on a niche. Travel blogs come and go by the second, so what is going to set you apart? Forget starting a catchall generic travel blog or having a site with the name nomad or backpacker, etc. These have been done to death, so you’ll need to find something that sets you apart from other blogs. You’ll want to do self-hosting, and put some thought - and money - into your branding and site design as a free template is only going to get you so far.
Unfortunately, a lot of the travel blogs popping up lately seem to have one goal in mind – to get free travel. If you’re starting a travel blog with the sole purpose of getting comped travel, you’re likely to be disappointed very quickly. Many of us pay our own way on a majority of our trips, and/or are very selective on the comps we take. Comps don’t really fall into your lap unless you are one of the top-tier bloggers that everyone knows. Even the most successful bloggers are still pitching hotels, destinations, etc. And, they have to show their worth to the business or destination they are pitching. Just because a budget travel blogger has 50,000 page views a month doesn’t mean they are the right fit for a $300-a-night luxury hotel.
Also, there is a duty to disclose freebies to your readers, especially if you are a US-based travel blogger. You should be thinking about honesty and the message you want to convey to your followers. If every place you write about is comped or sponsored, readers won’t believe you are being objective.
The reason the top travel bloggers are successful is great content. They write engaging posts, share stories that make people want to hop on a plane immediately, and keep readers wanting to follow their every adventure. Writing a boring chronological post about how you got up, went to the store, ate a bagel, got coffee, walked to a monument, and then returned back to your hotel is going to put everyone to sleep.
Ok, so you picked your name, got your URL, posted your first trip updates - but no one is reading them. Welcome to the reality of starting a travel blog. While some people luck out and find a niche that gets them traffic overnight, the reality is it takes awhile to build a readership. It may take six months, a year, or even two years. Keep at it and you’re likely to see your audience start to grow!
What else would you like to know about becoming a travel blogger?
Note: Available plans and coverages may have changed since this blog was published.
Erin is a travel and food writer who currently splits her time between the Netherlands and Belize. She's traveled to 60+ countries on 5 continents with a passion for culinary travel, luxury hotels, and all things Disney. Her writing has appeared in numerous online outlets including Gadling, BootsnAll, CNN, Art of Backpacking, TravBuddy, CBS, and more. She was the major author of Belize's official visitor magazine, Destination Belize 2013; wrote the official AFAR Guide to Belize; and is also AFAR Magazine's local Belize expert.. In addition to writing for other publications, Erin maintains several blogs, Our Tasty Travels, No Checked Bags, Pooh's Travels, and the brand new Caye To Belize. Follow Erin on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Google Plus.
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