Some time ago I wrote an article called 5 Reasons to be a Travel Blogger‘ It got a very enthusiastic response, understandably, given the nature of the role and the lure of travel for so many of us. Most people love to travel, if only for a holiday, and most people can write; ergo most people can be a travel blogger, right? Wrong. Yes, it is easy to set up a blog and start blogging but to make a success of it takes a lot of hard work, time and effort.
When I use the term ‘travel blogger’ here, I am referring to those who want to blog on a regular basis and maybe eventually start to make an income from travel blogging. There are lots of reasons to start blogging, but here are some of the negatives …
The DISADVANTAGES of being a Travel Blogger
1. You spend a lot of time in front of a computer screen
Some people imagine travel bloggers spend all their time gadding about the globe on exotic trips. We actually spend long hours at the pc/laptop/tablet/mobile, not only writing articles but creating content to share across various Social Media platforms. If you want to be a travel blogger you need to keep up with the latest trends in digital marketing and be able to assess where to put your time and energy. Before, during and after a blog trip, you’ll often be required to write/produce a number of posts/videos/podcasts and share with your audience. The more successful you are, the more emails/comments/requests you will get and they all need to be dealt with. All of this has to be done online and is very time-consuming – and not good for your back …
2. Writing a readable blog post takes skill and craft
Crafting a readable blog post can often take ages. You need to pull together your material, do research, write a decent piece then edit your writing and proof read. If you’re serious about the craft of blogging you should consider going on a blog training course or travel writing workshop to learn how to do it better. These cost money – at least the good ones do. Of course there are plenty of free online tips and courses but they also have a cost in hours. Choosing and editing photos to go with your blog post and support your social media marketing is a skill in itself and again time-consuming.
3. You need a broad range of business skills to be successful
When I started blogging about 10 years ago, hardly anyone knew what it was, Facebook was just for students and Twitter a mere fledgling. It’s a highly competitive digitital world now and to be noticed in amongst the racket online is increasingly difficult. At a talk I gave at Blogstock So You Want To Be A Travel Blogger? I emphasised to a very enthusiastic audience of (mainly young) wannabee travel bloggers, that to succeed you need to think of your blog as magazine, and yourself as the owner, chief editor, finance director, HR specialist, project manager, marketing manager and general dogsbody. You’ll be dealing with PR companies, Tourist Boards, DMOs, travel companies, media specialists, brands, journalists, fellow bloggers and many others, so you need excellent people skills as well a good communication. There has been an on-going debate about the difference between a travel writer and a travel blogger; many travel writers are bloggers, and I think it is in the skill of running a blog that the main difference lies.
4. Making money is NOT easy
One of the questions I get asked most, is how do you make money from blogging? Travel bloggers make money in a number of ways. These may include publishing ‘sponsor posts’ to be hosted on the blog, writing blog posts for other clients’ websites, becoming a brand ambassador (though the blogger may be ‘paid in kind’ ie product), taking adverts in the form of ‘buttons’ or banners on the blog, e-books, affiliate programmes, being paid to post social media updates (yes some people do that), host a ‘Twitterchat’ or maybe take part in some form of media event. Each country has its own advertising code and it is important that bloggers abide by this.
Sometimes a client will pay the blogger a daily/campaign rate to go on a visit and/or produce content. As bloggers are required to do more and more both during and after the trip, many are now negotiating payment, which recognises the blogger’s time and work for the client. I take occasional ‘sponsor posts’, write for other travel companies including Laterooms and am occasionally a Brand Ambassador. I don’t tweet or post on Facebook for money though some of my posts are paid for. I am paid for some of my trips, especially in Travelator Media campaigns. Up to now I haven’t taken adverts but am considering it if the right client comes along. However, I don’t make enough to survive solely on blogging and have a separate Training and Coaching business that supports my blogging. if you ask most bloggers for an honest opinion, they often don’t make significant amounts in a year and very many have full or part-time jobs (often tourism-related) and blogging is what they do in their spare time.
5. Travelling for work is tiring and not always enjoyable
Oh, I can hear you saying, she can’t be complaining about the travel, surely? Well, no, I’m not but you are working when you go on a blog trip and the working day can be a long one. It may start at 4am (at Uluru we were up at that time 3 days’ running but it was to see the MOST magical sunrise each time) and not end until the early hours of the morning. You’ll stay in amazing places but often only for a night and you won’t have time to really relax. You’ll be wined and dined, which is lovely, but you do have be able to make polite conversation with your hosts and fellow travellers, however tired you may be. You have to try to stay sober(ish) when being plied with excellent wines and not make a fool of yourself if possible! There are some who think that a blog trip is a freebie and that they can abuse their hosts’ hospitality. The industry soon gets to hear of them and unsurprisingly, they are often not invited on other trips.
You’ll often be asked to tweet/instagram/facebook/periscope whilst you are on the trip, all of which can detract from your enjoyment of the sight, experience or meal that you are there to promote. In the early days of my blogging career I used to write blog posts DURING the trip. The most memorable was on a Cunard cruise to Norway aboard Queen Elizabeth. I was going to my cabin after a lovely evening and working until the early hours trying to write a decent article, edit photos and post; all with dodgy internet connection at sea. Very tiring – I don’t do that now. It’s important to clarify eactly what you and the client expect. You are being invited on a trip by a client who is hosting you to promote their ‘product’ and it is important that both sides recognise that and are happy with the ‘deal’.
I look upon travel blogging as a job. It’s a very enjoyable one and I wouldn’t swap it for the world, but there is a downside. Every job has its negative side and if, having read all this, you want to make a go of travel blogging, good for you. It’s incredibly rewarding and you’ll have some memorable, magical, marvellous experiences that you’ll never forget … What do you think?
I started travel blogging for fun, because I love travel and writing, simple as that. It’s become much more now, a way of life and it’s rewarding in so many ways. But it wouldn’t be fair not to share the ‘other side’ as many people think it is simply a very glamorous way to see the world. Love to know what other bloggers think 🙂
You’re spot on.You can spend hours typing and no one on Social Media shows any form of acknowledge. Then other times when you hardly put any effort into it.
People love it.
Video is also now part of the Bloggers must need skill
Not any easy job but youre hooked on Travel.
Thanks Dougie and for adding the video skills. This was a personal view and I am aware that not everyone feels the same. As you say, if you’re hooked on travel it makes it all worthwhile and the downsides are nothing compared to some jobs. I wanted to balance the previous article to show there are pluses AND minuses. Keep on blogging!
Completely agree with all your points Zoe! Most of our readers have no idea just how much work is involved when travel blogging professionally — as in for your primary source of income.
Work increases exponentially those first few years after you graduate from “hobby blogging” into the professional work, and you realize just how much there is to stay on top of. Sometimes it can be nearly overwhelming. In fact several years ago I wrote a similar post entitled “The Occupational Hazards of Travel Blogging” hahaha 😉
Unfortunately after being a professional travel blogger for so long, many begin to realize the only way to advance their career is to move beyond mere blogging and focus more on clients and consultant work in the travel and tourism industry. That’s where I am now (not sure I’ve even written ten articles all year) but I’m actually earning more, outsourcing more, and relaxing more.
The point of all this is, like any job, the job is never done. Just because you are able to fund your travels off your blog today, what will you be doing tomorrow?
I’m not saying doing become a travel blogger, just know that it’s a lot more work than you think — and it has gotten exponentially more competitive these last two years…
Plus being forced to eat so much food on press trips is making my clothes too snug.
As you say, Derek, the work does increase in those first years and there comes a time when decisions have to be made as to which route to go down in terms of pursuing the love of travel and blogging v the need to make a living. Good to know that you have found a way to combine your blog with your life and work plus being able to relax a bit more. Long may it last!
Oh yes, Charles, that’s another downside! After all, one doesn’t want to appear rude by saying no to all that delicoius nosh 😉
You’ve certainly managed to see a lot of the world via blogging! I know you travelled before you were writing – now you can see more. Your blog inspires a lot of people 🙂
Thanks Alex. It’s great to be able to combine two loves; travel and writing. Hopefully you will get to travel a lot more too.
Zoe Dawes you are very creative and your creativity of writing post inspire me a lot. I also travel and write my experiences. Not in blog but in diary and I am thinking to write down them.
Thanks for your kind comments Avantika. Good to know you enjoy writing about your travels and writing about them in your diary. That’s how I started out and maybe you will begin a blog someday 🙂 Travel quirkily …
Such a Great blog….Zoe Dawes….
You’ve definitely achieved to perceive a lot of the world through blogging.
Yes, Alexia, it is a very rewarding job and a great way to see the world, in spite of the drawbacks!
Thanks for this post, Zoe. It’s refreshing to get a glimpse of the other side of the coin, after reading endless blogs/articles about why/how to be a travel blogger. Since I’m just starting out on this adventure, it’s welcome advice!
There is a lot of smoke and mirrors about being a travel blogger Sue. It looks so glamourous and exciting seeing all the places people go and the fab photos they post. But it is hard work to make a living from it and there are lots of people who don’t. I woudln’t survive if I didn’t have other work. Another danger can be going on too many trips and not having time to do all the writing and social media needed to follow up. Some bloggers are now suffering from ‘burn-out’ but you won’t hear that spoken about much. My advice is 1) keep focused on what brings yuo pleasure from blogging 2) if you want to make a living, think of it as a business not a hobby 3) develop a niche that enables people to know what you’re offering. Good luck 🙂