Travel blogging promises to be the perfect way to live the dream of being a full-time traveller and getting payed for something you truly enjoy. But is it all peace, cake and roses or is there more to it? Let’s take a close look at the challenges of being a travel blogger.
Sure, the idea of funding your travels with sponsored posts, banner advertising, affiliate sales and eBooks seems intriguing. The possibility of being ‘location independent’ makes your heart skip a beat. But have you ever considered that blogging about your travels to make money, could take the joy from an otherwise beautiful experience?
This post deals with the challenges of being a travel blogger and tries to inspire you to leave the beaten path. It is directed from one travel blogger to the other. If you don’t consider yourself a member of that club, I hope you will enjoy it nonetheless and gain an insight on what we do and why. A lot of the following might be just me, getting thoughts out that have been going through my head for a while. Wether you agree or think this is complete non-sense, I would love to hear your opinion on the matter, so don’t forget to comment below, share and link related articles.
First of all: I don’t consider myself a professional travel blogger!
My very loose use of the term implies, that a professional travel blogger makes most of his income via his website and social media presence (I will talk more about the ways travel bloggers make money as the article continues).
I am not traveling the world for a living. I often write about the places I travel to, sure, but no one is paying me to do so. My flights are all paid for out of my own pocket. So is my accomodation and each and every restaurant visit or activity.
Why did I take the conscious desicion not to monetarize my website?
Often enough I made clear that I don’t intend to make money with my writing on this blog. I have always referred to this as a passion project, a personal blog on sustainable traveling, a conscious lifestyle and veganism. A ton of advertising and sponsored links would just not feel right to me. I also don’t care about the numbers very much. Alright, the truth is, I do check stats or social media numbers, and having a good month motivates me to put more time and energy into this project. But overall, my idea of blogging is, that as long as I enjoy it, that’s all that matters. I guess, even if nobody would read this blog, I would still write it.
Further into the article you can learn more about how I afford to travel the world full-time.
My lifestyle allows me to explore the places in the world I always dreamed of visiting, and getting to know them without rush and in my own rhythm.
Being A Professional Travel Blogger Is A Full Time Job
Most people think that being a travel writer and blogger is some kind of easy and glamorous dream lifestyle. Understandably, since the internet and many very successful bloggers sell it as just that, a jetset lifestyle where anyone can get paid to travel the world with little more effort than occasionally taking some selfies.
Blogging is much more than that. The real life of a travel blogger is often very far from what you see on Instagram. Being a travel blogger is a job that takes a lot of time, hard work and effort to make a success from it.
A travel blogger is basically running a small enterprise by himself. He or she does the writing and editing, takes photos and videos, edits them, the blogger has to know about SEO and be able to apply it, should do a decent graphic design and website development. But it doesn’t stop there. He or she is also social media manager, marketer, business developper, networker, pitcher of ideas and has to be able to negotiate with companies, write invoices and to taxes. All tasks that in most organisations would be covered by teams of people. This makes it already seem a lot less accessible, right?
Great Travel Blogs Tell A Story Within The Journey
Travel Blogging has become an essential function in marketing, inviting all levels of writers, journalists, photographers and amateurs. Travel blogs focus on answering common travel questions about a destination while supplying invaluable travel tips on local customs, the best modes of public transportation and much more.
Really great blogs manage to tell a story within the journey, whether it is about the destination’s impressive culture, people, landscapes or history. Blogs are also an important and fairly new source of unfiltered information, inspiration and an outlet for creativity. There is the beauty in it, but also a good deal of danger.
The Struggle Between Telling The Truth And Writing A Good Story
As it happens with so many things, there is a huge difference in quality between one blog and the other. We as readers have to be aware of how little reliable some articles actually can be. There are no fact checkers or editors who make sure all the information is passed on correctly. I have read blogs, whose authors took the saying “Never let the truth get into the way of a good story”, a little too seriously.
As bloggers, we have the responsibility to pass on information correctly. We should focus on adapting a more professional way of researching and writing, instead of focusing to get our content spread as wide and far as possible to glam up the statistics. This of course means a lot of work, and not all are willing to invest that much time and energy – Which brings me to the next point.
How Do Travel Bloggers Make Money?
Great question! There is a list of possiblities that involve: Affiliate partnerships, press trips, sponsored campaigns, freelance writing, social media promotion, google AdSense, photography and videography, digital products (such as online courses), brand ambassadorships etc.
The Dilemma Of Being A Travel Blogger
I fear that large parts of the blogging community are becoming a little too obsessed with the idea of making money with our websites, that we risk losing our passion and thrive. The danger being that we don’t enjoy the privilege of traveling as we should and that our writing suffers under the pressure of making enough to pay for the next flights, airbnb’s, yoga retreats and the rather expensive travelers health care.
I have met plenty people who turned traveling into a successful business and I am happy for them, but I do not envy them one bit. If I’m being really honest, one of my biggest fears about becoming a ‘travel blogger’ in the first place, was that travel, the thing I loved so much, would eventually feel like work.
As a travel blogger your work is never done, you need to constantly be producing great content, promoting it and answering an endless stream of emails and comments. It is not a 9 to 5 job, but a 24/7 project. When you’re taking notes, getting that perfect photo, editing it and sharing on multiple social media platforms, responding to comments and emails and thinking about keywords you can’t really relax and enjoy the moment.
It is not all about the work. I love to take a day off and play explorer. Sometimes the camera is in my bag and things like this video happen. But I never have the pressure of producing content. Often, I leave the camera where it is and end up living the moment instead of documenting it.
I Found An Alternative – Working Remotely
As the time goes by, many people ask me, how I afford my nomadic lifestyle. Some of them don’t understand my point of few and try to give me tips on how to monetarize my site. I understand it and appreciate the effort and their worries (read this last sentence with plenty of sarcasm in your voice).
Anyways… How do I make it happen?!
What actually earns me a living is not directly related to my travels and that is not a bad thing. I get to fully enjoy each stay, to immerse in my slow traveling adventures, without any pressure at all, to come up daily with fresh content on the fanciest destinations. I secured my income with freelance social media marketing jobs for small and big companies, writing articles and doing a translation here and here.
And of course, there are other, easier ways to fund your travels. Because remote work, after all is an expensive career to get started. You will at least need a decent Laptop and probably further equipment such as cameras.
If you’re thinking of starting a travel blog just to get a free trip you’d be far better off working in a bar or coffeeshop and saving up for a few months instead – you’ll most likely get there sooner and have a better time being able to relax and fully enjoy the trip. If I stay in a place for a longer period, I will look for a part-time job, just to get away from the computer for a couple hours. I have been helping out in hostels for a free bed, did some nannying and worked at events.
There’s a lot wrong with the way we travel. Emissions from airplanes, hotel chains who don’t contribute to the local economy, cruise ships polluting the environment and travelers who trivialise a country’s culture… You get where I am going. The way we are traveling has a huge impact on the planet. Slow Travel can be the answer! This is how you can travel responsibly and still make the most of your trip!
There is Hope For The Full-Time Blogger After All
Don’t get me wrong. You can actually make a living from travel blogging. There is a lot of proof. Many successful bloggers, make a decent income by doing the actual traveling and producing loads of content from those trips. They are the faces we see all the time on Instagram, YouTube and Facebook, spreading content that it seems, as if they were not one person, but identic triplets.
Sponsored trips offer incredible opportunities to go to places and do things that we might not have a chance to do otherwise. Those trips take bloggers to the most beautiful places of the earth to see and experience the best of the best, feast on the most decadent meals, and enjoy the most luxurious lodgings available.
But let’s be frank. Even if you’re not getting paid a day rate to be there, going on a trip with all expenses paid isn’t exactly a bad deal. We travel bloggers love to travel, after all, so who are we to turn down such an experience.
You want to learn more about how to get started?
Featured image by Rachel Crowe / Unsplash