Blogging is something I really enjoy doing, it is definitely the hobby that takes most time from what I have left after work. And in the past I dreamt about becoming a travel blogger, but not anymore. Why and how did I change my mind?
A bit of a background of how I started as a “travel blogger”
First of all, why did I put “travel blogger” between quotes? Because in fairness I don’t think I am one. I have a blog, and that maybe makes a blogger? And I write about traveling. But does that define me as a travel blogger? I don’t know, up to you to judge that. What do you think?
This blog started as an interface to share my life as an exchange student with my family and friends, and that was back in 2007! Before I, my parents or even most of my friends had Facebook. Blogging was a great way to share my stories with those who were really interested in my boring student life abroad.
I remember back then that I didn’t even think that one could make a life out of blogging. That was my “social media”, and there was no other use for that. Just writing gibberish and some stories, nothing else. Maybe one or two strangers would read my blog, no one knows why but that could happen. And for sure I was not writing for anyone else rather than myself.
Then I moved to Greece, where I kept using my blog as a journal. Back then I already had facebook, so blogging was just a fun way of sharing stories rather than just some silly facebook status that no one really cares about.
Once I moved back to Portugal, due to my lack of free time and energy, that was being entirely consumed by my former job, my blog basically became stagnant. Very few new posts, and I couldn’t even afford to travel.
Stalking other bloggers…
Only when I moved to Ireland and I met other bloggers I started to think about becoming a travel blogger. Maybe being paid to travel the world and share my stories could be a dream job?
I met one of those bloggers I kind of stalked online and I saw what she was doing first hand. I actually followed her even since before she became a real travel blogger and I thought that maybe I should improve and focus in what I was doing.
Back then she was not yet a full time travel blogger, but thanks to her I learnt a lot about blogging, groups to join, collaboration and much much more that one can’t even think of.
Eventually she became a full time travel blogger, and I have to shamelessly admit that I thought that maybe I could do the same. Oh boy, I couldn’t have been more wrong…
I also stalked other bloggers, some of them also Portuguese. Learning with others is the best way of improving, even better if they are normal people like you and I. It’s easier to relate to, and to see that with hard work anyone can achieve what they did. And note that I highlighted and underlined hard work…, being a blogger is definitely not an easy task..
How I reorganized my blog to focus on travel
Probably you noticed above that I didn’t link to any of those past experiences, in Germany, Greece or even Portugal. One thing I did when I decided to focus on travel was to delete all those articles that had nothing to do with traveling. Sometimes I regret doing that, those were some memories that were written with a total different mindset and perspective from the one I have now, and memories change the older we get…
I kept some of those old articles, and I am reviewing them all, to improve them and make them more interesting to read. Though, also trying to keep the same voice of when I wrote it.
Nowadays my blog is focused on traveling, and I write mostly in Portuguese. That’s my focus group. I have it structured in several different sections to make it easier to navigate, and to keep my content also focused. If I want to write something that doesn’t fit within my categories? Maybe my readers might not want to read it either.
How to write for a travel blog
Writing a blog post it’s easy. Think about a subject -> Write about it.
But writing an article requires much more than that, it requires research, accuracy, quality and proper spelling and grammar, structure, photos and much more. We need to look into which keywords will bring more readers to our blog and make sure they fit perfectly with our article, without making it hard to read. Without readers a blog has no reason to exist. We must write for our readers.
Then there is also all the media that will make our article more appealing. Great photography, great videos, great graphs. And all of that has to make sense to the reader and make the article something worth reading.
Travel blogging isn’t all sunshine and roses
Just the content creating part already requires a lot of time, and in order to publish great quality content, one needs to work really hard.
Social media and travel blogging
With all those new groups I joined I started seeing a whole new different world. Wait, readers don’t just magically come to my blog and become loyal forever? You need to make them know you exist?
Loads of sharing happens, in several social networks. And loads of collaboration, other bloggers sharing your content and you sharing theirs. I’d say that just sharing articles is a big chunk of being a blogger. Readers need to know you are out there, and if it is thanks to Google, then that’s awesome. But when you are small, you need some extra help.
And for this, much more has to be done. For Pinterest we need to create great quality images in a whole different format, so that they will blend perfectly with how their community presents information. For Twitter and Facebook we need another format. And for Instagram another format… That’s a lot of work just for the images.
How about the text presenting your work? Each social network works in a different way, so we must write introductory texts suitable for each of the networks we are trying to advertise in.
Every day I check what one of those bloggers I do stalk I end up learning something new. Something changed, or something should be done differently. Even recently I exchanged a few messages with an Instagram content creator. A guy with over 93 thousand followers! He told me how careful he has to be with the content he shares, the clothing his friends wear that could be advertising unintentionally a competitor brand of the one that sponsors him. Or the fact that his feed looks like he is a solo traveler, when in his stories you see it all raw and you see that he travels with friends and family, but the feed stays there as long as he wants, so everything has to be consistent.
Having a profile is easy. Sharing a few photos? Not a big deal. Having a great account and keep all those followers stay with him? Now that requires A LOT of hard work!
How to make money as a travel blogger
Now this is the part that gets interesting for most of us. Being paid to travel the world! Who wouldn’t want that?
Here in my blog I only have targeted advertisement for accommodation or products I recommend, and so far I haven’t got a cent out of that. People need to click the ads, buy stuff and that would only give me a few cents. But for that to get to a level of a full time travel blogger, I would need a few thousand more readers every month. And that loops back to the content creating and social media part. Everything has to be perfect until we start making money.
But if one wants to become a full time travel blogger, it requires much, but much more than just ads. Ads might be enough to pay for the domain, hosting and a few other tools that a professional blogger might need, but certainly won’t be enough to pay for their time and work and to make a living out of blogging.
A travel blogger has to contact several companies, hotels, agents, magazines and so much more. Receiving a no will stink at first, but persistence is what makes them grow. Learning with all theirs noes and yeses, always improving and pitching for freelancing work. A travel blogger’s job doesn’t stop on their website.
Some bloggers also sell products on their websites, like books, ebooks, or even some goodies. One needs to be creative to make money, and not put all their eggs in the same basket. Keeping exploring new ways to monetize their blog, and finding new ways to make sure their independent lifestyle will stay independent for a long time.
Putting all it together
Now, there are already a few bloggers who make enough money from their blogs and work to have a team working for them, and have people specialized in some of the jobs I mentioned above. But before one gets to that point, they need to work really hard and do all of those jobs mostly on their own.
Being a blogger always starts as a one-man-job, or woman (obviously).
Create. Advertise. Pitch. Sell.
And there’s more… As a travel blogger, work has to go outside your home office, and they have to travel. Or else, what’s the point in being a travel blogger? It is not about collecting passport stamps, or counting countries. A travel blogger can be very local and have a very specific niche and write about their cities. But a travel blogger has a lot of “field work”.
But why did I give up the dream of becoming a travel blogger?
In 2016 I took a non-paid leave and I went to Australia for two months, an adventure long overdue that I really wanted to experience.
Back then I was already eager in becoming a travel blogger, and I was quite active in some of those collaboration groups, I had a few contacts and I was really writing almost on a daily basis.
Since I would be already traveling for two-months, why not keep blogging and being a real travel blogger for two months? I was already doing almost all of the above, except pitching and freelancing. So it shouldn’t be that hard, after all, I would be on holidays and I would have all the time I needed to write…
Sometimes all we need is a taste of reality to understand what we really want. Or in this case, what I did not want.
Don’t take me wrong, working hard doesn’t scare me. My incentive is not to make money of this blog or to have it help me sustain my lifestyle traveling the world while not working a normal 9-5 job. That hasn’t stopped me from investing loads of time with my blog, and learning how to make it better.
And I also do love to travel. Oh yes, I do love traveling! Not having a flight booked makes me anxious, I need to have something booked to look forward to! It is almost like an addiction, a very pleasurable addiction I’d say!
But sometimes merging two things we love might not be the best idea. After two weeks of being a full time travel blogger I realized that I couldn’t do either. I was either stressed that I wanted to write at least an article a week, and I didn’t want to share something meaningless. Or I was stressed that I wanted to do that amazing tour, but it would collide with my blogging schedule.
Why it didn’t work out
Maybe that didn’t work out because I knew my holidays would be finite, I would either enjoy my time and come back to work. I would be stressed with blogging, and not doing half of the things I did. Maybe a full time travel blogger knows how to organize their time better because that’s their full time job.
But for me, I noticed that I was not having pleasure with either of two things I love doing. And that wouldn’t work for me. That’s not for me.
Get paid to do something you love, and don’t work a day of your life.
It is a great quote indeed, and it is really accurate. Maybe one day I will learn how to make blogging and traveling work together, and maybe one day I will be paid to do something I love. But for now, I am loving both things, and that’s working perfectly for me.
Inside an office 9 to 5, and I will keep trying to explore the rest of the world as much as I can!