Being a Travel Blogger is NOT Easy

“You’re a travel blogger?” -this question is usually asked as more of a statement, rather than a question. Eyes are generally wide, the mouth is slightly drooling and a smile creeps across their face. “Wow, that is so cool!”

For the most part, travelling, blogging and blogging about travelling is fun. But there is a lot of hard work involved, especially if you want to monetize your blog. The fact that there are many get rich quick pitches floating around, doesn’t help. Yes, you can make money on a travel blog. No, it will not just fall into your lap as soon as you buy and read someone’s eBook. It requires work and dedication. Sound familiar?

I’m not bashing travel blogging. Hell, I am a travel blogger! However, there seems to be some misleading information floating around and I think it is important to set the record straight.

Be YOURSELF!

The most important piece of advice I can give you is to be yourself. Sounds simple enough, yet there are a lot of people who don’t do it. Your personality is the most important part of your blog. Nobody wants to read hollow sounding articles all the time. Sure, they may come and read a few from time to time, but the people who connect with you, are the ones that will be loyal readers and tell their friends about you. It’s the difference between reading a magazine and reading a book.

We will buy a magazine or book based on its visual appearance, advertising or recommendations from others. If we’re buying a magazine, we will generally skim the pages, look at the pretty pictures and maybe read an article or two, then toss it into the pile with all the other magazines. If we’re buying a book, we’re making an investment. We’re sitting down and delving into the pages and if we can connect with the characters, we’re hooked. We will find any and every excuse we can to set time aside to read. We will tell our friends about it, and in most cases, we will find time to read it again and again.

Blogs work in a similar way. Readers will visit your blog based on its design, things they’re friends have said or what they’ve seen mentioned through social media. If your articles lack personality, they will probably read a few and move on. If your reader connects with your personality, they will come back and tell their friends. You’ll have loyal, involved readers who love you for you.

What if nobody reads your blog? What if you don’t fit in with the other travel bloggers? Being yourself can be a scary thing, but pretending to be someone else is a lot harder and more exhausting. You don’t have to be like everyone else. Not every traveller is a party animal or wants to leave their life behind and travel the world non-stop. It just looks that way because a good chunk of blogs is about one (or both) of those things.

It Won’t Happen Overnight

Overnight success is a rare occurrence -in any field. If you’re creating a travel blog as a way to make money, be realistic with your goals and time-lines.  Blogging is hard work. It requires a lot of hours, which is something that some successful bloggers don’t actually tell you about.

If you want to reach a wide audience, you may decide to join twitter or create a facebook page for your blog. Both are great ideas. However, both require time and patience. If you’re starting a travel blog just before your big trip, remember that you will probably end up spending a lot of time online. You’ll need time to write, edit your photos, post stuff on facebook and twitter and reply to messages and emails. If you’re not careful, this could eat up a lot of precious travel time -remember the trip you’re on? The one you spent years saving for?

Travel, blogging and blogging about travel is a delicate balance. Sit down and decide how much time you want to dedicate to your blog and social media while you’re away. When you’re on the road, set up times. When the ‘online time’ is over, stop everything you’re doing and close up shop. This is easier said, than done. Believe me!

It Takes Time, Be Patient!

Remember up above, where I said expecting to be an overnight success is unrealistic?

Building a travel blog with loyal readers, and solid advertisers take time. If you’re looking to monetize, you will spend a lot of time online, in the beginning, building your brand and your audience. If you’re building a blog with personality and have a blog/life balance, you’re on the right track. Be consistent. Make goals.Write interesting stories.

Visit other blogs and read the articles. What do you like about them? What would you change? How do they interact with their readers? Do you feel connected?

Finding your niche and making money off your blog will take time. Be patient and keep things consistent. Many travel bloggers do not start to see consistent income until they’re into their second year of blogging and even then it is not huge amounts of money. Yes, there are a few out there who tell you about all the fabulous money you can make. What they don’t tell you is that most of the money they make is from their other websites, not their travel blog.

ANYONE Can Be A Travel Blogger

It’s like every other job out there. Not everyone will become a CEO or make big bucks. But that doesn’t mean that you cannot try. Being a travel blogger does not mean you’ve left your life to travel the world non-stop. Anyone can be a travel blogger. Anyone can write about travel. Whether you can write an interesting blog that people will want to read is a totally different topic.

If you have a passion for travel and you want to share that passion, do it. It doesn’t matter if you work full-time and only get 2 weeks a year, or whether you’re going to quit everything and travel the world. Travelling for 3 months and then coming home for awhile does not mean you’ve stopped being a traveller or a travel blogger. There are a lot of fabulous travel bloggers who live in their home country and travel on and off throughout the year. Get to know them. Read their blogs. Learn from them.

At the end of the day, your travel blog is about YOU! If your dream is non-stop travel, great! If you love your job and travel on and off throughout the year, awesome! Create a blog that has personality, set realistic goals, spend time online, be consistent and patient. Remember that travel blogging is not a get rich quick scheme. It requires a lot of work.

Andy Hayes of Travel Online Partners wrote a fabulous guest post for this blog called Common Mistakes That Travel Bloggers Make. I highly recommend giving it a read. Andy makes a lot of really good points and he knows his stuff!

I’ve been blogging here, on Spunky Girl Monologues for just over a year now. I spent the first 7 months blogging while I was working full-time and I have been travelling the remaining time. I love to travel, I love blogging and I love blogging about travel. Finding a balance between travel and blogging is hard. When I get into my zone, I tend to ride it out. Sure, I have done some fabulous things here in Asia, but I have also spent time in my room writing, tweeting and Facebooking. I make some money (Started a couple months ago), but not enough to pay my rent back home -at least not yet.

Although my time is Asia is ending this week, and I am flying back to Canada, this does not mean I stop being a traveller or a travel blogger. I have many things planned for 2011. I will continue to write about my travels from over the years, as well as my upcoming adventures. This girl may not be getting rich quick, but she is here to stay! I hope you’re here to stay too.

About The Author

I'm a travel writer and photographer who specializes in bespoke travel experiences. I write about boutique, savvy and cultural travel. My writing has been featured in Outpost Magazine, Travel + Escape, and UP! Magazine.

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36 Responses

  1. Migrationology

    Hey Pamela,
    Excellent article and good tips.
    Travel blogging definitely has some difficulties, but being yourself and persevering for your goals are ways to keep doing what you love. To write a travel blog takes a lot of time and dedication, but it’s very worth it!
    Keep up the good work on your blog!

    Reply
  2. Skott and Shawna

    Great article – Shawna and I were were just discussing this today. We are leaving for our trip next summer, and I have been following dozens of blogs over the last little while. I can see where I can get myself in a situation where I am trying to “compete” with the other blogs. The reality however is, I don’t consider myself a writer, and I am most definately not technically ept…we have a lot of work to still do on our blog, and what I have done so far has taken me ages…

    So yeah, like you suggested, be yourself, share your adventures, and I think (at least in our case), if people offer you money…awesome, but if not, just chill out and savour the adventure!!

    Reply
    • Pamela

      That’s exactly it. Spot on! You don’t have to compete. You can be yourself and blog for the fun of blogging -and the painful work of figuring out HTML and other such nonsense. You don’t have to be like everyone else. Figure out what you want your voice to be and go for it.

      Reply
  3. Gillian

    I love blogging! I loved it before we left, I loved writing while we were away and I still love it. I think I’m better at it now b/c I have more time…still plenty of stories, tips and tricks to share but more time to craft it and share it! I think you’ll find the same when you come home too!

    Reply
  4. soultravelers3

    So true! Blogging while traveling is really the hardest niche I think & why so few do it full time, yet some pretend like it is easy & effortless.

    I think perhaps travel blogging gets even harder the longer one does it & the bigger the audience… unless you are a company.

    We’ve been blogging & traveling the world as a family now for 5 years which is quite old in blog years. 😉 Hard to keep up with all the new travel blogs & people that know us when just one person is doing it all in there spare time. 😉

    Nevertheless it’s gratifying when you know you are helping other people. That is my biggest passion, to let others know that travel can be so cheap, even for families.

    Hope we cross paths one of these days, always so fun to meet other travel bloggers on the road. 😉

    Reply
  5. Erica

    While I try to keep travel blogging light and fun I can say that I’ve had my fair share of tears and stress when it comes to the work involved. Great post Pam! Love your points – personality is key!

    Reply
  6. Audrey

    I still find it hard to reach that fine balance between traveling and being immersed in what’s around you and finding time to write, post photos and connect on social media. In the last years, we’ve moved more to the mode of traveling for some time and then taking time off by renting an apartment for a couple of months to work on projects and catch up on content. That way we don’t get burned out by the constant movement, but still are in a foreign country and have a chance to explore at a slower pace. Good food for thought here.

    Reply
  7. Andrea

    Thanks for some great tips here! I’m wondering how we will balance online time with travel time as we set off around the world in less than two weeks. I’ve been spending heaps of time online promoting the blog and meeting people. I love the online interaction but wonder how much time I’ll have when we’re on the road. I’m really glad we got started earlier this year to work out all the kinks and get some solid posts in well ahead of going on the road because I don’t think we would have had as much time to work these out once our travels start.

    Reply
  8. Gray

    On behalf of those of us who hold down full-time jobs in our home countries and travel on our vacations (and still manage to be travel bloggers), thank you. 🙂 I will say though that the time-consuming aspect of blogging doesn’t actually get better the longer you blog. I spend more time on it now than I did in the beginning, and I’m almost on year 3.

    Reply
    • Pamela

      Haha, you’re right, Gray. The work doesn’t really slow down. I would like to think (and I hope) that I will be able to manage my time better as I go along. That is one of my personal challenges when it comes to blogging or work for that matter.

      Reply
    • Marsha

      Here, here! I’m just seven months in and while the work can be overwhelming at times (plus full-time job and part-time grad school work on my end), the benefits are so rewarding.

      Reply
  9. sarah

    Love this post, love the site! Great tips that are helpful yet grounded in reality. Feeling inspired!

    Reply
  10. Kelly Harmon, HipTraveler

    Thanks for sharing your POV Pamela. Writers should find their authentic voice, but I particularly liked the part about creating a balance between time spent traveling vs. writing and promoting your site (while on the road).

    Safe travels back from Asia!

    ~cheers, hiptraveler

    Reply
  11. Andrea

    I love travel blogging, even though it doesn’t even come close to paying the bills! I think using social media is the key to getting loyal readers as is showing your personality, as you said.

    Reply
    • Jade

      Me too! I love the community and friends I’ve made through the travel blogging world. You immediately have a connection with someone that is runs so deep and genuine. Hope to meet up in person!

      Reply
  12. Kevin

    “I want someone to pay my mortgage while I swim with turtles in the Bahamas!”

    Great post. All so true. Beware of bloggers selling get rich travel blogging schemes the same way you’d be suspicious of offers to make $4000/week working from home. When you see novelists, for example, teaching classes, you can guess either 1) they are bored, have free time and love to teach, or 2) can’t make a living off the writing alone. Same is true with blogging.

    Reply
  13. kiwivic

    This is the practical inspiration I need – I blog cos I love travelling and I love writing and taking photos but it does take a big time commitment and my friends don’t really understand that!

    Reply
  14. Nick Laborde

    One of the key takeaways here is to embrace your personality in your blog and don’t water yourself down. I’ve found that to be most effective since I’ve started.

    Yeah, not every one will dig it… who cares. Write for the ones who do.

    The more real I am, the more readers connect with me. I read travel blogs because I want to read real peoples experiences, good or bad. Thats just not something you’re going to get from the mega sites… most of them anyways.

    The internet doesn’t need any more boring crap.

    Thanks for reminding us of this.

    Reply
  15. Lorna - the roamantics

    great post pamela! really like the time budgeting tip. it’s really easy to let the social media side of blogging eat up huge amounts of my time! great to budget and “close up shop” like you suggest. for me it’s equally tough to keep up with writing enough while dealing with some tough life stuff. but that’s part of the beauty of your last point. we don’t have gatekeepers dictating the who, what, why and how for us travel bloggers and there’s a lot of freedom in that 🙂

    Reply
  16. eat-laugh-love-anon

    Hey Spunky Girl!
    This post is really valuable. I am just starting out, trying to get a handle on design and social media. There’s A LOT of work involved in presenting and maintaining a great travel blog.
    I’m planning to prepare some “timeless” posts to store up, so I can publish them during the busy times. Does anyone else do this?

    Reply
  17. Everywhereist

    Amen, sister – it ain’t easy. But we keep doing it, don’t we? Seems that we must love it.

    Either that, or we’re nuts.:) Maybe it’s a bit of both.

    Reply
  18. Adam

    Great post and great tips. I started my site back in August, and it really is tough. It’s rewarding and I love doing it, but it is also very frustrating at times. I have often wondered if it’s all worth it, if there’s any chance of me making any money at all doing this. It requires a tremendous amount of patience and work. Even though I’ve had my doubts, on the days when I’m solely working on my site, those are happiest for me. So I’m going to continue to bust my ass and try to make it work.

    Reply
  19. jamie-cloudpeopleadventures

    i have been wondering how the top travel bloggers sleep! pumping out stories, tweeting non-stop, digging, pinging, stumbling AND travelling. definitely is a tough gig. although not profitable at all, we have found running ours a great experience, and obviously you and a hell of a lot of others find the same things with their blogs. keep up the great work!

    Reply
    • Pamela

      The secret is scheduling.

      On a good day, if I can write 2 or 3 posts, I am laughing. I’ll schedule them to post on a specific time and date. I also schedule tweets for certain things. I know that may sound disappointing, but it allows me time to breathe 🙂

      Reply
  20. Scott

    As someone brand new to the travel blog world, this advice is welcome and is awesome. Thanks for putting it out there. I am in the early stages of planning a big trip for 2012, and have already thought to myself “well, i love doing this, but i sure don’t want to spend all my time online out there”, so that topic struck a chord for sure!

    Reply
  21. Kristina

    Thank you for noting that you don’t have to be a full time traveler to be a travel blogger. I started my blog 12 years ago with a RTW trip but have maintained it by blogging about 2-3 trips a year since then. It’s not a competition.Iif you don’t do it for yourself, because you love it, then you will just end up frustrated. And yes, it IS a lot of work!

    Reply
  22. MKL

    Hi, I’m MKL and I’m a travel blogger. These are Travelholics Anonymous, right? 😛

    Reply
  23. Sarah Wu

    I really love your last note about anyone can be a travel blogger. I’m not a rtw traveler or a backpacker, maybe one day I’ll be. However, I love to travel and I work full time. This mean 2 week of vacation a year. I always try to make the best out of it (Also long weekend getaway). I may not stop by a place for a long time but if I do find a place I love that may be the reason for me to revisit for a longer time. I live in New York, so I try to explore NY as much as I can and write about it too. like you said, if I have a passion for travel just share that passion 🙂 great post!

    Reply
  24. Davvi

    Love the post. It can likely be applied to starting any type of blog that’s supposed to make money. Same goes for people’s reactions when I tell them my wife and I travel and post about it, or that we work from home… “You guys are so damn lucky”, as if the money flowed in on its own. 🙂

    Lots of hard work. But, no pressure, no diamonds.

    Reply

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