Travel blogging isn’t a life path anyone really expects to take. No one goes to school thinking, “I’m going to be a travel blogger when I grow up!”
Although they should. It’s a pretty bad-ass profession to be able to say you hold.
As a travel blogger you get to travel the world and write about it. Even better, you get to write about it in any fashion you please. No one tells you what articles to create. No one tells you when or where to travel.
But it’s not as easy as that. Isn’t the title of this article why you shouldn’t start a travel blog anyway?
Why yes, yes, it is.
While I’ve loved this journey of travel blogging and wouldn’t trade it for the world, I wouldn’t recommend it to everyone. In fact, I wouldn’t recommend it to most.
I know this isn’t the most inspiring of posts, but keep with me here. There’s a reason behind the rant. At the very least you might be able to answer the life long question: “should I start a travel blog?”
It’s basically impossible to keep up with while traveling
So you are going on a big trip soon and you want to document the whole thing. You want to start it a few months (maybe even a year) in advance and keep up with it as you go?
Stop. Now. Don’t even.
Sure there are those few super-humans who do manage this feat, but that’s the thing: they are super-human. Basically, these unicorns of the traveling world don’t need sleep. I suppose after 8 hours on a bus they also can’t think of anything better than secluding themselves to write an article. Or edit photos. Or sit in a dark corner because that’s the only place where the Wifi works.
Working on the blog or celebrating Oktoberfest all weekend? I’ll have to go with the latter.
Obviously I’m kidding. Not about the super human part though– it truly takes some dedication to keep up with blog work after a long day on the road.
I was keeping track in Brazil and the only reason I got any work done was because some days I just didn’t make any friends and didn’t really know what to do (honestly, some days I just didn’t make any friends! I was also kind of in a slump and didn’t feel like doing things alone.) This was great for productivity!
If I actually did meet people those days, think I would have spent time on my computer? Hell no. I’d be on the beach with my new boyfriend drinking caipirinhas.
Like this one.
If you happen to be long term traveling, the probabilities of keeping up with your blog go up slightly. If you’ve been traveling for months on end, sometimes all you want to do is sit in an air-conditioned hotel room. These days make blog work much easier. If you rent an apartment in every location you visit for at least a week, (and even better if you are traveling alone) the probabilities of blog success skyrocket. (Unless you have Netflix of course.)
But you, you the one reading, how often do you see yourself doing the above while in a country for the first time. Really.
It takes A LOT of time
This article took me about 3 hours to write and draft completely. Some take much longer as I’m painfully slow at writing. Some will be much quicker if I’m lazer focused.
Overall, usually my process goes like this: stop and think (+1 hour). Get distracted (+1 hour). Edit 10 photos in Lightroom (+30 mins depending on if my computer freezes, add more time). Edit typos, edit more typos, take a break, edit the typos I missed the previous two times (+1 hour). Create an image on Canva for Pinterest and social media (25 mins). Publish post. Share post on social media, then get distracted on social media (40 mins).
That’s about 8 hours roughly for one blog post that will bring me no monetary income directly.
But I know what you’re thinking! “You aren’t blogging for the money!” This is true. I don’t blog for the money. I blog because I love it.
It also takes a lot of this.
If I began blogging solely for the money I would have been making an awful life choice.
I gladly spend hours and hours on each post because my blog is the closest thing I have (and want) to a child. When I redesigned this theme I realized I put more thought and effort into it than I do my own appearance most days. Maybe even more effort than an entire month combined, given the frequency I don’t ever leave the house when I’m back in San Diego.
Now, back to the amount of time blogging takes. Along with writing posts and publishing them, you’re also supposed to be a genius when it comes to social media.
This would be the ideal amount of effort put forth into social media each day if you’re a serious travel blogger (I often fail at most of these):
- 1-3 Instagram photos per day (edited photos with appropriate and researched hashtags. I’d say I spend about 25 minutes (or more sometimes) on each Instagram photo I put up.)
- 4 pins on Pinterest per day (I’ve realized this is optimal and can be done quite quickly actually. But being consistent is harder than you think.)
- 2-3 Facebook posts per day (this includes reading and finding good articles to share, scheduling the posts to go out when you’re busy and banging your head on your desk when Facebook won’t show your posts to any of your followers unless you pay.)
- Be as active as possible on Twitter including sharing new posts, interacting with new people and replying to notifications.
- Then there’s also Google+, Snapchat, Stumbleupon…the list goes on.
Of course, if you’re just a casual blogger you don’t have to worry as much about the above. Surely, you’ll still spend a lot of time on your articles and want to share them though. In my opinion, even if you just blog “in your free time,” you still care. Even if you don’t make money from your blog, it still can consume you.
Now there’s also the stuff that no one thinks about. There’s the emails to respond to. There’s the site maintenance or theme design. And if you do work with companies, there’s the actual pitching to them part. And boy, is that time consuming.
You’re going to feel like $&!* about your blog sometimes
I’m 70% sure this isn’t just me. There will be times when you will cry over your little space on the internet. You will feel sorry for it. In turn, you will feel sorry for yourself. You will write what you thought was the best article of your life, to only have 2 comments, one being spam and one being from your mother.
This is what happens when your private diary goes public. You care what people think of it. You care if people are reading or not even if it’s just for your friends and family. If you really didn’t care, then you’d just stick to a damn diary you keep in your underwear drawer for Christ’s sake.
They are all smiles now, but wait until we see who got the best shot!
I started this blog as a clean slate in spring 2012. Before that I had a really crappy blog. Before that an even crappier one. Although 6 months down the line I was able to pitch for hostel stays and tours in return for a blog post, that didn’t mean I was having success. I still struggled and my blog still lacked true quality and focus (it still probably does!).
It took a long time for things to pick up speed and for people to start reading.
A year and a half into it and I was still having breakdowns wondering why so many other blogs were doing better than mine.
NEWS FLASH: it was because some my stuff still sucked. Durr.
There was another reason too. I refused to cut corners. If this blog was going to be a reflection of me, I was going to do it the right way. I wasn’t going to buy followers, ask for handouts or pay someone to do things for me just so I could get off the ground.
These days, it’s still a day-to-day progression. As a blogger there’s always something to work towards. Better photography. Better stories. Better SEO. A better overall experience for readers.
Little by little these things come together. But barely anyone gets it right from the beginning.
It’s not fair
All’s fair in love and blogging.
Basically meaning, of course, no, nothing is fair.
You’ll spend 2 hours on an article and it’ll be your most shared and viewed. You’ll spend an entire week on one, and no one will give a rat’s ass. You’ll read some articles from popular bloggers and be bored out of your mind and wonder, why do so many people care?
It’s just how it is. I suppose this is how it is in life too, but unfortunately with blogging all of our ‘competitors’ are right there online for us to scrutinize, view and compare ourselves to.
Me in my “on the go” Instagram studio
Blogging is also a bit of a cliquey business. And if you’re new it can be really hard to break into. I remember commenting on some of my favorite blogs religiously, interacting with people as much as I could, and being confused when they would never comment or follow me back. (And yeah, that’s embarrassing and self-absorbed but I’m sure some of you out there with blogs have felt this way!).
Today, even though most of my days are spent on the computer either as a freelance ‘content creator’, virtual assistant or just a blogger, I just don’t have time to see who followed me on Twitter, or to comment back on other blogs. All the extra time I have I need to spend figuring out how to bring in more income.
Meeting the Minister of Tourism in Jordan! Big moment!
I’m not saying that I’m a successful blogger, but I have come to realize a few things in these three years. One being that those ‘bigger bloggers’ from a few years ago weren’t just stuck up and mean, they were just busy. Also, if you are blogging all the time, sometimes the last thing you want to do is read more blogs.
There are some of you out there (you and I both know who you are!) who comment on almost every post. It’s amazing and I love hearing from you. THANK YOU. If I had more energy and time in the day I’d be commenting right back.
Your friends and family may eventually stop following along
Okay, your mother probably won’t. But most of your family won’t read everything. If you are starting a travel blog ONLY to keep friends and family back home up-to-date then let me tell you one thing: there are better (and easier) ways to do that. It’s called Facebook. It’s also called Skype. It has other names too, they are Instagram, Flickr and who can forget….EMAIL.
Take my word for it, your friends and family will be your #1 blog fans for a while. Slowly though, they will trickle off. Months down the line you’ll realize all the people reading are people you’ve never met in person. (For many that’s the goal though.)
Still, you can’t blame your friends and family for not waiting at bated breath for your posts about expat life to come out. They have their own lives. They are sitting in a cubicle for 40 hours a week for goodness sakes, they don’t care about the ‘top 10 foods you ate at a Singaporean hawker stall.”
My cat can’t read my blog but my college roommate still does. We also like to use my new blog equipment for random birthday photo shoots.
I’m pretty sure 90% of the time, 99% of my friends are not reading my blog. These days I’m actually pretty thankful for that. My online life is one thing and my real life is another. Although I’d like to believe my personality is pretty equal on both fronts, sometimes you just don’t want every one of your friends to read all that private stuff you just exposed to the entire internet. (Contradictory, yes I know.)
The worst is with dating. The last thing I want is the person I’m seeing to go through all my articles so 1.) I no longer have any stories to tell and 2.) to see all the massive spelling errors I still contain within my writing.
Moral of the story: if you want a blog just for friends and family maybe think of other avenues (more private and easier ones) to keep them in touch.
Now to the good stuff
You may be asking why I decided to write this.
The other week I was thinking to myself about what I would say if someone asked me, “should I start a travel blog?”
And I realized that I’d honestly respond, “Don’t. Enjoy your travels without the stress. Email your family instead.”
STILL, thankfully, starting a blog was the right choice for me. It really depends on your motivation, your goals and your skill set.
Blogging took me out of my rut in Korea. It gave me a project to be motivated about. It taught me so many different things about websites, coding, social media and building a brand. It helped me meet some of my best friends. It helped me continue to travel the world on my own terms. It brought me to Jordan!
Starting a blog was one of the best decisions I made in my twenties. I don’t even want to know where I’d be without it. (I’d probably have more money for one, but I don’t think I’d be happier.)
Photo cred @ my blogging bud Julika of Sateless Suitcase
So, let’s say the negative aspects above sound fine to you. Let’s say you really do want to start a travel blog and really want to make something of it. Here’s what I suggest:
- There are TONS of resources online on how to start a successful travel blog. Read them all, but take the advice with a grain of salt. I like Liz’s How to Start a Kick-Ass Travel Blog
- Avoid cliche names but also don’t make it too weird. For example something random like, “The Conch Shell Stories”. If you can’t imagine introducing yourself with your blog name without cringing, don’t title it that. If you also have to go into a 30 minute monologue on why it’s called that, don’t title it that.
- Work hard, and for a long time. Don’t be a kiss-ass but try to be involved in the community.
- Don’t cheat the system, but ask for advice instead. My GirlsGone bloggers and I sit around a table and critique each other’s blogs every time we see each other. It’s helpful and constructive. We then help each other with our goals.
- Take said advice (unless it’s totally bonkers and compromising who you really are).
- Get off Blogger or WordPress.com. Switch to WordPress.org and have full control of your website. I can help you, see below.
If your blog is still on Blogger or WordPress.com, I can help you make the transition to WordPress.org and set you up with a hosting account (Bluehost) for free. I’ll walk you through the process (it’s unnecessarily complicated), get all your content transferred and then give you consultations on themes, designs and blogging. I do this for free (honestly) as long as you sign up for a Bluehost account through me (hey, you need the hosting anyway).
Contact me anytime before May 24th and we can get you squared away.