10 Things You Didn’t Know About Travel Blogging

travel blogging

Photo courtesy of Florian Klauer/Unsplash

“You get paid to travel the world?,” “You work from the beach?” “How do you afford all this?” On a daily basis I get numerous emails asking me how I got my job and how they can do it too. The thing is, while travel blogging is a dream job it’s also a lot of hard work. I’d like to share with you some top things you probably didn’t know about the job to shed some light on the mysterious profession. Note: This list is based on my personal experience, although it is generally true for many travel bloggers. That being said, the way travel blogging is approached can differ from blogger to blogger.
blogging tips
1. I sit at a desk quite a lot. While I may be off seeing the world and having unique experiences, you better bet I’m waking up at 4 or 5am to edit posts and popping into Internet cafes throughout the day to check emails. When I’m home, it’s a constant game of catchup for the many hours I’ve missed away as well as making sure blog posts and social media updates are scheduled to publish during future trips.

2. I don’t work from a beach. Well, maybe if there is WiFi on the beach, although I’m not really a fan of the idea of getting sand granules in my MacBook Pro. You’re more likely to find me working from a hotel desk or in the lobby using the WiFi.

3. It’s a waiting game. While I’m able to publish freely on my own blog, because I’m also a freelance travel writer I’m constantly waiting for pitches to get accepted or declined before I can pitch others or begin writing. Sometimes it can take over a year to see an idea actually get published.

4. Sometimes I don’t know where I’ll be the next week. I’ll admit it, I take press trips. While there are many arguments for and against them, taking press trips allows me to visit more places and have unique experiences I wouldn’t be able to on my own dime (Note: I only write about what I truly enjoy and am always honest about my experiences). This means I can produce more content for my readers to enjoy.

5. It’s more than just writing. I think people assume I go to an exotic destination, throw some words down on my website and then spend the day lounging under a palm tree sipping milk from a coconut. The truth is, because I travel so much I’m constantly writing new stories; editing posts and photos; re-sizing images; doing internet research; working on my sites’ designs; networking; promoting my work and others on Facebook, Instagram, twitter, google+, Pinterest and whatever else is the new social media platform of the moment; working with advertisers; pitching ideas to magazines; working on an editorial calendar and business plan; reading press releases and other blogs for inspiration; and a slew of other tasks that arise on a daily basis. It’s not easy (but it’s worth it!).

6. I don’t make a ton of money. While I make a full-time income that I can live off of I am by no means rich, which I think surprises people as I’m constantly being asked “How can you afford to travel so much?” Along with getting travel help from tourism boards and public relations firms through my websites I’m a backpacker, so when I do travel on my own dime I’m doing so by staying at hostels, eating street food and using public transportation.

7. Not traveling is just as important as traveling. This is especially true if you run your own websites and freelance like I do. While traveling gives me the experiences to create content, I get much more work done when I’m at home working in my quiet room at a desk without the distraction of exotic offerings outside my window.

8. It isn’t something you go to school for. I get emails on a daily basis from college students and recent grads asking me what my major was and how I applied for my job. The truth, successful travel blogs are usually born out of a passion for travel and the desire to share stories. Sure, taking courses in journalism, photography, video and web design can certainly give you an edge above the competition, but it’s not a job you apply for. You’re either going to be building your own site and/or writing for a different blog where they’re going to be more concerned with your writing clips and travel experience than where you went to school (to be honest in the two years I’ve been blogging I’ve never been asked if I had a degree, although I have been asked if I’ve ever been to Japan, what my thoughts on solo female travel are and if I enjoy writing narratives over top-10 lists).

9. Many travel bloggers do social media consulting on the side to supplement income. Travel bloggers are social media experts. Promoting our blogs through social media is just as important as actually writing nowadays, and over time most bloggers learn essential tips and tricks on each platform. Many times, social media consulting can also bring in a more reliable form of income than blogging.

10. There are many different ways travel bloggers earn income. Personally, I rarely get paid to actually travel unless I’m promoting a tour company and they’re sending me somewhere. More often, bloggers make money through selling articles, advertising, digital products, content writing campaigns, sponsorships, brand ambassador programs, offering knowledge-based classes and services, social media campaigns, and product placement, among other avenues. One of the most exciting aspects of travel blogging is figuring out how to make it lucrative in a creative and mutually-beneficial way for the blogger and client.

Curious how other bloggers feel about travel blogging? Here’s an inside look from my friend over at Escaping Expectation.

What are your perceptions of travel blogging? Do you work in a job you feel is misperceived? Please share in the comments below.

Recommendations:

Global Gal Travel Wallet [Travel Style]

Going Against Societal Norms: Following My Dreams Instead Of The Crowd [Blog Inspiration]

Blogger’s Travel Journal [Blogging Gear]

642 Things To Write About by the San Francisco Writers’ Grotto

15 Comments

  1. Great points! I was just at TBEX last week and it was very eye-opening for me. The overlap between being a blogger and a freelance writer is ever-increasing so it was really interesting to hear from someone who does both!

  2. @Alyssa- Definitely! Since I do travel writing full time it really helps to freelance for both money and getting my name out there to build my portfolio for client and sponsor relations.

  3. Good points. I have done seasonal work on the side to help cover bills and other expenses in between freelance gigs. On the plus side, I think I’m getting better in marketing myself to others and developing stronger pitches to outlets.

    1. @Michele- It’s such a learning process. I’m constantly figuring out new ways to make money and create partnerships. It can be challenging, but very rewarding! 🙂

  4. Jessie, I’m more of a magazine writer-editor than a blogger, so our jobs are not identical, but neither are they altogether different. We both take press trips, spend way too much time on social media, work long hours for less than spectacular pay, and stagger through paradise in search of wi-fi signals.

    I didn’t quite get it when I got into this biz in the 1980s, but I finally did come to understand that friends who followed less glamorous career paths (medicine, law, business, academics) but made more money never go to Destination A or B because that’s where the press trip goes or that’s where the story is. Unlike most journalists, they travel where — and only where — they really want to travel.

    What’s more (and this is key for me) they always travel with their spouses, partners, children, and/or friends. A journalist like me travels more frequently and stay in 5-star places, but sleeps alone in that $1,000-a-night romantic suite.

    Don’t get me wrong: The travel writing life is exciting and stimulating. However, I do want people to understand that there’s a certain thrill to really being in charge of your own itinerary and your own sleeping arrangements, whatever the Amex bill may be.

    1. @Ed- Couldn’t have said it better myself! I like how you mention sleeping alone in the 5-star romantic suites. It’s so beautiful, but it always makes me feel a tiny bit lonely.

  5. Well explained Jessie – the idea of being a travel blogger obviously does sound very romantic to lots of people but I have spent many years explaining how it isn’t – heck I almost wish I had a burning desire to be a dentist or a lawyer or something instead!!

    1. @Amanda: Sometimes I think that, too! Especially when I hear what certain jobs pay and then look at my monthly check ha. But you can’t deny how awesome it is to work on your own time and for yourself, not to mention getting to see the world. I just always feel the need to correct people when they say “Wow! You have the best job ever!” Yes, buttttttt it’s certainly not easy!

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