The Hard Truth About Travel Blogging
August 10, 2018
No, people won’t just give you free stuff. Travel blogging is a lot of work, but it is also an awesome journey. Find out all about what our lives are like as travel bloggers and what it takes to become a serious travel blogger.
The Truth About Travel Blogging
Travel blogging, or just blogging in general, has become such a trend nowadays, I mean, almost everyone has a blog! And those that don’t are seriously considering starting one. Part of the reason for this is the glamourized lifestyle travel bloggers claim to have, and claim that you too can easily have.
“Website traffic doesn’t just happen, followers don’t just happen, and money doesn’t appear out of thin air. “
Now don’t get me wrong, some travel bloggers do live glamorous lives and make a ton of money – but only a few, and most of them have a decade or more of work behind them.
With the countless ads from bloggers popping up all over the internet telling you to quit your job and just be a travel blogger, I just wanted to tell the truth about what being a travel blogger is really like. In no way is this post meant to discourage you from being a travel blogger, I’m just letting you in on our truth, which is a hell of a lot different than the “truths” many of those bloggers selling blogging courses are telling you.
Let’s start at the beginning…
“Little did we know that a year later this blog would be literally running our lives.”
We have been at this travel blogging thing for about 1.5 years now, and let me tell you, it has been nothing short of an ongoing learning process. When we started Destinationless Travel it was simply just to keep our friends and family informed about what we were doing and where we were while travelling in South America. Little did we know that a year later that this blog would literally be running our lives.
Running a successful blog is a lot more work than you think.
When we started blogging it was just for fun and it was easy. We wrote a few words on the app on our phones and then added photos. No big deal right?
The real work comes when you want to take travel blogging seriously and potentially make a business out of it. Website traffic doesn’t just happen, followers don’t just happen, and money doesn’t appear out of thin air. There are so many things you need to do (and all the time) in order to grow your audience and run a smooth and high-quality website especially one that may turn over a profit one day.
Let me break it down for you.
So much learning
One of the things I love most about our travel blog is how it has pushed us both so much to develop skills that we would’ve never had without the blog. Daniel is now an established photographer who uses professional equipment and software that people go to University to learn. I can make websites from scratch and consider myself somewhat of an SEO guru. We are both social media masters and can write a blog from start to finish in less than 20 minutes (once upon a time a blog article actually took us hours!)
All of these skills that we have now are awesome and definitely skills we can use for the rest of our lives in future jobs or other business ventures.
But learning all of these skills took time. In fact, the problem with the internet is that things are always changing so we are ALWAYS learning, reading the latest articles about SEO development or Instagram algorithms. Learning is great, and developing skills from learning is even better, but it is important to know that in order to be a blogger you need to be ready to do some serious learning no matter what you think you already know.
Which takes me to my next point…
So much time
“…I work 40-50 hours a week on the blog.”
Figuring out how to do everything takes a lot of time. There are fast-track courses that are meant to teach you the in and outs of blogging in “5 easy steps” but they are mostly all fluff. I have taken so many online courses, watched webinars, read e-books, and the information provided is not even remotely a fraction of what you need to know to succeed in blogging. There is no shortcut. If you want to blog you need to research a lot, trial and error, and practice.
Even after becoming a master at this blogging game, time is always the enemy. I find myself pushing myself to the limits knowing that I could always write more, get more backlinks, take better pictures, post on social media more regularly, contact more companies for partnerships, the list goes on and on really. Everything takes time!
I currently only work a part-time job (20 hours per week) and on top of those hours a week I work another 40-50 hours a week on our blog. Daniel works full-time 45 hours a week, and works another 20 hours a week on the blog at least. These hours don’t count the activities we do to blog about like hikes and weekend trips, this is based strictly on computer work.
Oh, and money
I have read a few articles written by other bloggers stating that you can start a blog for only a few dollars. While this is true for starting out a personal blog, but there is a lot more to it than that if you plan on making the blog a business.
You need to buy the right platform to be able to post ads on your website, software, editing programs, cameras, computers, themes…the list goes on and on. Not to mention the travel you need to do to write about and all those countless hours spent blogging instead of working for a “real” hourly wage.
Blogging is a huge monetary sacrifice with little monetary gain, especially at the start.
But don’t people just give you free stuff?
We get asked this all the time. The truth is, no. We don’t get “free” anything.
Any travel, accommodation, tours, or items that we get given to us is not actually a gift at all, it is in exchange for a certain amount of work we have to do. Posting a photo on Instagram isn’t a lot of work, it only takes minutes to be honest, but the work comes from the countless hours we have spent beforehand building and maintaining our Instagram following and engagement.
The work also comes from reaching out and making these partnerships with companies. Partnerships don’t just happen, someone has to write the email and negotiate. We also follow up with all of the partnerships with statistics and confirmation of all of the work we completed for them. Some businesses are harder to please than others and it can be stressful.
Oftentimes the “free” stuff we get is for writing a blog post or taking photos and then editing them.
It is also important to know that we didn’t get our first partnership until about 6 months into blogging. We only received a small discount on a tour in exchange for a couple social media posts, a blog post, and we sent the company photos that they could use freely as well.
The bad reputation and misconceptions about travel bloggers
Dan and I are both pretty confident people so the bad reputation that can come with being a travel blogger doesn’t bother us much. But I’m sure for some people it would.
There is this notion that bloggers are “entitled” or “lucky” because they look for sponsorship or partnerships with companies. This stigma hangs over our heads everytime we tell someone we are travel bloggers. In fact, telling people that we blog is not something we lead with in our day to day lives just because of this stigma.
Sometimes when we reach out to companies we get nasty emails back. This is one of the things we just have to let go and realise that not everybody will see that value in what we do, and that’s okay!
Our lives as travel bloggers
“Our poor friends literally listen to us talk about our blog consistently.”
As I said before, 1.5 years into it and we still have to work “normal jobs” to pay the bills. We make a supplementary income off blogging but realistically we don’t think we will earn a solid income from the blog alone for a couple more years yet. Developing a strong website and a big following that allows you to make serious money takes time.
Any of our good friends know how much work Dan and I put into this blog. When we aren’t directly on our computers working, we are thinking about the blog, brainstorming, or planning our next big adventure that will “have an awesome keyword!” Our poor friends literally listen to us talk about our blog consistently (sorry!)
Would we suggest travel blogging?
100%, hands-down, without a doubt, a solid YES!
Even though it is a lot of work we absolutely love it. Plus, without hard work, there is no reward, right?
If you want to start a travel blog, then do it! But just know, it isn’t as easy as those other bloggers trying to sell you’re their course say.
NOTE*** Even the free courses about blogging take your email address which means that the person offering the course is actually building their following and reach statistics by “gifting” you the course. And beware, many people giving out information have not had any success themselves yet. Make sure you look into the credentials of the people who you learn from, unfortunately, there are a ton of frauds out there today.
What are the benefits of travel blogging?
There are so many benefits to starting a travel blog. The biggest one would be that it pushes us to constantly try new things and go on new adventures. It is easy to get stuck in a certain way of life, or even travel, and our travel blog forces us out of comfort zones almost daily. The number of places I’ve been and things I’ve seen is priceless.
Travel blogging has also allowed us to have the best online-journal! We have a record of where we went, where we stayed, what we did, how much it cost, what we thought and tons of pictures. It is already fun to look back on our blog posts from when we started, I can’t imagine how fun it’ll be to reminisce over blogs five or more years from now!
We have also met so many incredible people through blogging. Lots of other bloggers, travellers, and business owners. These connections are great and we would have never had them without blogging.
And last but not least, the skills we have developed from learning to blog are a huge plus!
Our best advice for those who want to start blogging
Do it! Just start, even if you don’t know what you are doing you will learn along the way just like we did. Facebook groups can be a helpful place if you have questions and Youtube videos about SEO are awesome.
Make sure you go into your blogging venture with excitement and passion but also have patience. Building a blogging business takes time and perseverance. This is something Dan and I still struggle with today but we try to remind ourselves to keep working hard and be patient. Our views go up daily and we know that we are on the right path.
Are you a blogger? What is one thing you didn’t anticipate about blogging before you started?
If you have any questions about blogging, ask us in the comments or email us! We are more than happy to help.