So, you want to be a travel blogger?

Posted on 25. Jun, 2012 by in Europe Travel

It took me a while to write this post.

Not only because it’s an incredibly complicated subject, but also because it made me wonder if I was a good enough blogger to write a post about being a travel blogger. Am I credible? Am I knowledgeable? When somebody as talented and professional like Kate McCulley writes a whole post about the same topic, it kind of raises the bar for someone like me.

travel blogger

But to hell with that. I am nothing if not a highly opinionated person. And trust me, I have an opinion on travel blogging. This is my 200th post, and I wanted it to be special.  Here is a peak at my reality of being a full-time travel blogger.

It’s not as glamorous as it sounds

Unless a 70 hour work week sounds glamorous to you! Sure, sometimes I get incredible complimentary stays at luxury hotels, but that’s about as glamorous as it gets. The big majority of my time is spent writing articles, editing my photos, corresponding with potential and actual advertisers, building my ever-expanding social media following, budgeting, improving my site, etc.

As Kate said, when you’re a travel blogger, the work is never done. Because nobody else will do it for you. Everything is on your shoulders, and without a proper schedule and productive habits, your blog is doomed.

It requires truckloads of patience…

Before my blog got even remotely close to being “popular”, it took no less than a year and a half of hard work, dedication, and motivation. Nobody read my blog for the first 6 months. And then I started getting 100 visitors a day for around a year. And when I decided to take the plunge and do it full-time, my traffic exploded into the 25,000 monthly pageviews I have now. But it took almost two years to achieve that.

I used to be a legal secretary in another life, and blogging is entirely different, for many reasons obviously, but mostly for one: no instant reward. When my boss asked for a injunction letter, it was pretty simple. I typed it, printed it and gave it to him for approval. That’s the reward - the approval. But there’s no such thing with a new blog. You write for yourself first and foremost, and eventually the readers will come. Very slowly, but surely.

I really pushed myself to look beyond the immediate results of my work, and focus on the big picture instead. It was hard - especially with close to no visitors for over a year. But in the end, it paid off.

travel blogger

… and truckloads of personal sacrifice

I have missed out on friend’s birthdays because of my blog and because I’m an expat. I have missed out on really fun late night drinks. After a long day of exploring a new city, I can’t just go back to the hotel to chill out - I have to work. I am sticking to European destinations for the moment because that’s what my blog is about, even though I’m dying to see Japan and Morocco. I’ve stopped watching some of my favorite TV shows (I could never drop True Blood though, never!) because I can’t justify the time in my weekly schedule.

I fully realize that these are not first-world problems and I am definitely not complaining.

But being a travel blogger does require a lot of sacrifice on my part because it became who I am. Mind you, I am very happy to give up on Say Yes to the Dress in favor of landing a press trip in Ireland - but the point is that if you want to be successful, you can’t have it all.

travel blogger

It will open up your social network

One of the biggest upsides to travel blogging is the amazing community. There are so many ways to be part of it: Facebook groups, conferences, tweetups,  press trips, etc. I’ve made really good friends over the years, that are spread all over the globe, and who I love chatting to every once in a while, be it for a blogging tip or just for an update on their lives.

The travel blogging community is kind, very funny, incredibly helpful and resourceful, and always welcoming if you’re in it for the right reasons.

It doesn’t really pay the bills

 Unless you’re part of the handful of bloggers that are sponsored by huge brands, being a travel blogger will not pay your bills nor your mortgage, especially if you only have one site. The #1 tip in the industry is “don’t do it for the money”. And it’s true - there isn’t a lot of money to be made in travel blogging. You get a few advertisers here and there, which is great, and lots of free trips, which is amazing, but in the end, you won’t live an extravagant life with champagne fountains, silver platters and Louboutin heels.

As of right now, I barely make enough to make a living, but it’s steadily growing every month. I am lucky enough to have a professional husband who can support me while I build my blogging career, but I see every day how hard it is on my budget to have switched from a 9-5 job to freelance entrepreneurship.

The key to making money is to diversify: have several sites, freelance your writing or your photography, try to land a few social media jigs. Don’t put all your eggs in the blogging basket, Chris Baker said. And he is right.

travel blogger

It will get you to amazing places

Once you’ve reached certain numbers both in social medias and in pageviews, press trip opportunities will abound, especially if you engage in the community and/or attend conferences like TBU. I just got back from a complimentary week in Ireland, I have a weekend press trip in France next week and a 5-week sponsored trip through Scandinavia in October.

Press trip are synonym of work before, during and after, but the payout is always worth it - because after all, it’s all about travel. The opportunities are endless if you work hard enough for them to get to you.

*******************

So this is my reality as a travel blogger: years of hard work, 60+ hour work week, low income, but with incredible travel opportunities and friends spread all over the world. To me, it more than evens out.

It may not be everyone’s ideal version of reality, but it’s mine. I really love what I do, and I wish I can be lucky enough to pursue this dream for the rest of my life.

Are you a travel blogger? What are your thoughts on this career choice? What tips would you share with newbies?

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46 Responses to “So, you want to be a travel blogger?”

  1. Ele

    25. Jun, 2012

    Thank you for sharing this.

    Do you think keeping a blog in the English language is an advantage to doing that in another tongue in the eyes of potential advertisers and press trips?

    Reply to this comment
  2. Mindy

    25. Jun, 2012

    Great article, and it applies to all bloggers, not just travel bloggers. I learned a few things. Best of luck to you!

    Reply to this comment
  3. Abby

    26. Jun, 2012

    You are so dedicated! Loved reading this. I often struggle with keeping up my blog, as I work full-time and run a small business on the side of THAT. But like you say here, I’ve met so many wonderful people and gotten to do so many amazing things, all because of my blog, that I will do anything to keep it going!

    Reply to this comment
    • Marie

      27. Jun, 2012

      If it’s a labor of love it’s not really work, that’s how I feel.

      Reply to this comment
  4. Laurence

    26. Jun, 2012

    Great post with some good reality checks. It’s all about the hard work - there’s no such thing as overnight success.

    Reply to this comment
  5. Steve

    26. Jun, 2012

    Excellent post and great advice/info. I also own two travel companies & two travel blogs so I can totally relate to everything you talk about…

    Reply to this comment
  6. Katherina

    27. Jun, 2012

    A very sincere post, Marie. Loved it. I’m not at all a professional blogger and already feel exhausted and stressed out some times… I can imagine it’s particularly challenging to overcome those times in which ideas are just blocked and nothing flows in. How do you manage blogger’s block?

    Reply to this comment
    • Marie

      27. Jun, 2012

      Procrastination? :) I just take a break, watch Friends and write shit for a little while. And then the inspiration comes back.

      Reply to this comment
  7. Cheryl

    27. Jun, 2012

    Great article! It seems everyone wants to become a travel blogger these days and they have no idea the work they have cut out for them. I feel we’re very lucky to do what we do and I wouldn’t have it any other way! :)

    Reply to this comment
  8. Angela

    27. Jun, 2012

    Good advice on not doing it for money, I got exactly zero pennies on my blog. I got some on my first site though, for the newest one I’m a little fussy :P
    My income is entirely from freelance writing, I’m truly dreaming of the day when I will work on my products :)

    Reply to this comment
    • Marie

      27. Jun, 2012

      See, my dream is to start making money from freelance, haha. All I need is to find the right contact!

      Reply to this comment
  9. Waegook Tom

    28. Jun, 2012

    Yes yes YES I love this. It’s not that easy - I’ve broken the 20k per month visitor mark after almost two years of blogging - and that’s because I’ve been working my butt off on everything you’ve mentioned here! Being a blogger is easy, anyone can write a blog. But as you point out here, of you want a successful blog, that’s a whole different matter.

    Reply to this comment
  10. Waegook Tom

    28. Jun, 2012

    Yes yes YES! I’ve just broken into the 20k per month visitor mark after almost two years of blogging, and that’s only because I’ve been working my ass off on everything you mention here! Being a blogger is easy but, as you write, of you want your blog to be successful, that’s a whole different matter.

    Reply to this comment
    • Marie

      29. Jun, 2012

      Yes, travel blogging requires a lot of dedication and hard work.

      Reply to this comment
  11. Jenna

    29. Jun, 2012

    Really good advice and description here. I am in the phase that you were in before you started working so many hours. I have 2 small kids and a full-time job that I love and will never give up…I love to blog and plan to do it for the long-run and hope that one day soon, I will have more time to devote to it (i.e. when my kids get a little older). I just went on my first press trip in May and that trip alone was so amazing that I am inspired to keep going.

    Reply to this comment
  12. Andrea

    30. Jun, 2012

    Man, I needed to read this post today! I’ve had my blog for well over a year, but only seriously started thinking of writing as a part-time career. I did my Europe trip from April-October 2011 and blogged almost every day *just for myself!* It was my diary of an amazing trip. But, I realized as I was doing it that I loved to write and am now taking writing courses and trying to figure out to get people other than my mom and some friends to find my blog and read it! That seems to be the BIG challenge! You can feel invisible on Twitter, with so many voices peeping at once. I love what I’m doing, and despite not having made one red cent I’m going to keep it up, and I’m uber grateful to you for your honesty about how long it takes.
    Thank you!

    Reply to this comment
    • Marie

      01. Jul, 2012

      Yes, it takes a lot of dedication to get past the first few months, which are always pretty silent. Keep up the good work!

      Reply to this comment
  13. Adventurous Kate

    30. Jun, 2012

    Finally getting to read this post! Thank you SO much for the kind mention, and congratulations on hitting 200 posts!

    You very succinctly laid out the reality of the life…and I think you’ve done a good thing by showing people it can pay off if you REALLY work at it!

    Reply to this comment
    • Marie

      01. Jul, 2012

      Thank you so much Kate. As a previous comment said, I really do think the world of you ;) I’m glad you agree with the points I mentioned. Blogging DOES require hard word!

      Reply to this comment
  14. Amanda

    30. Jun, 2012

    As an Expat myself I somehow stumbled onto this.
    Reading through it up I honestly thought the following;

    Good for you in chasing after what you like
    You seem to think the world of Kate
    You work long hours for little money
    Your husband is paying for most things

    Personally I’d just apply for a flight attendant job. Pays better.

    Hope you have a timescale when those 60 hour payless weeks should stop.

    Best

    Amanda

    Reply to this comment
  15. Cristina

    30. Jun, 2012

    What an inspiring post Marie! Thank you for writing this! I’ve bookmarked it for safe keeping and a reminder when I’m feelin crummy every now and then :)

    Reply to this comment
  16. SitesseeingUSA

    30. Jun, 2012

    I am a brand new blogger. I am documenting our journey of buying an RV and traveling the country with my husband and children with the thought of *maybe* going full time in the next few years. The blog is about our research, experiences, and general life topics.

    Thank you for this informational post! I’ll be bookmarking!

    Reply to this comment
  17. Julie McName

    01. Jul, 2012

    Thanks for posting this Marie. I’m now at the stage where I’m wondering if it’s time to give up the day job - the blog needs concentrating on and my freelancing opportunities are growing. A couple of years ago I would never have dreamed of writing for a living but love the idea of doing it now and it’s looking possible. Very difficult to take the plunge though!

    Well done you for taking that next step )

    Reply to this comment
  18. You are so right about the time committment… i dont think that most people understand that. It’s not just writing articles either… it’s answering emails, social media, editing photos… everything! And sometimes its even difficult to find good internet when travelling!

    Reply to this comment
  19. Monica

    03. Jul, 2012

    Great post. Most people have no idea how much time and work goes into a travel blog. I don’t blog full time but even as a part time blogger it’s a lot of effort. Some people think press trips are free holidays but they’re really hard work!

    Having said that, I wouldn’t change anything. As a part time job, I couldn’t ask for anything better :)

    Reply to this comment
  20. Tiffany

    03. Jul, 2012

    Great post!!
    wow have fun in Scandinavia..you’re so lucky you’re going for 5 weeks. I LOVE it there!

    Reply to this comment
  21. Victoria

    11. Jul, 2012

    Thank you for this honest and inspiring post. I’ve just started out trael blogging and am working on some other projects too. When it comes down to it, I’m doing it because I enjoy it and that feels great.

    Reply to this comment
  22. Turtle

    20. Jul, 2012

    I think you’ve hit the nail on the head, Marie. I love your really honest and practical assessment of travel blogging.
    You’ve got to do it because you love it. You’ve got to be prepared to make sacrifices. And you’ve got to enjoy the perks that come along with it! :)

    Reply to this comment
    • Marie-Eve Vallieres

      30. Jul, 2012

      Thanks Michael. There are definitely two sides to this coin ;)

      Reply to this comment
  23. diana

    31. Jul, 2012

    wow there are lots of perks of being a travel blogger ey? free travel sounds tempting!!!!

    Reply to this comment
  24. Kurt

    12. Aug, 2012

    Good honest and insightful assessment of travel blogging. Congratulations on the page views milestone.

    Reply to this comment

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