This is a guest contribution from travel blogger Chris Appleford.
From the moment we made the decision to sell everything we own and travel the world indefinitely, we wanted to have our own travel blog. Went spent hours looking for the best templates, making lists of what blogs needed to be written when we ‘go live’, signing up to affiliate programs, reading other blogs to get travel and blog advice, coming up with the all important name, blah, blah, blah. We had high hopes that within no time we’d be seeing big numbers visiting our site every month and we’d have made our first dollar.
Well guess what? It turns out it’s not that easy. And guess what else? I’m questioning whether we should have started a blog at all. Everyone who starts a travel blog will tell you they’re “doing it to keep their friends and family back home up to speed with what adventures they’ve been getting up to”. But we all know that’s a load of garbage, right? Deep down they did it because they want to be ‘internet famous’ like Nomadic Matt, and fund their travels with sponsored posts, banner advertising, affiliate sales, eBooks, the list goes on. They want to be ‘location independent’, the great buzz phrase of blogging superstars!
But the reality is, just because you’ve decided to travel, doesn’t necessarily mean you should start a travel blog. And if I’m going to be honest, most of you shouldn’t. Here’s why…
Do you know how many travel blogs there are? No? Neither did I, but when I typed ‘travel blog’ into Google, there were 1.2 million hits. Are you as old as I am and remember watching the World Wrestling Federation when it was allowed to be called the WWF, with Hulk Hogan, The Iron Sheik, Andre The Giant and the ‘Macho Man’ Randy Savage? There’d be 25 wrestlers in the ring at the same time and it was a Battle Royale until there was only one man left standing. That’s what travel blogging is going to like for you, except there are 1.2 million in the ring instead, and it’s not fake! If the aim of your blog is to make money and help fund your travels (be honest), then you’ve got some major competition. There are only 10 spots on the first page of any Google search, and if you think you’re going to be sitting anywhere near the top of the pile of a search query any time soon, you’re dreaming. Unless of course your blog is soooooo niche that you’re basically the only one in it! If you want to be duking it out with Nomadic Samuel, The Planet D, The Professional Hobo, or any of the other big hitters, then you’d better be prepared because it’s going to take a long time.
How long are you travelling for? Six months? A year? If you’re going to be gone for anything less than two years, and you want to make decent money from your blog (and when I say decent, I mean enough to pay for food and accommodation), then don’t bother. I know, I know, there are a few success stories where people have started making decent money within 12 months of starting their blog, like Chris Guillebeau and his originally titled site www.chrisguillebeau.com. But they are few and far between. Have you read articles online that made you think, “yeah, I could do that?” Be honest, I did too, like ‘How I make $40,000 a month from my blog’ and ‘$72,000 in eBooks in a week – 8 lessons I learned’. Here’s the harsh reality: unless you’re willing to spend years building your audience, this is never going to happen for you.
To build an audience quickly, one of the thousands of tasks you need to do on almost a daily basis is write good articles. If you’re a good writer, you might be able to pump out a well-written, articulate piece of prose in about an hour or so. If you’re an average writer, it’s going to take longer. And if you suck, it’s probably not going to take you that long at all, which is why your article is going to suck and no one apart from your mum and dad are going to read it! Your article has to optimised up the wazoo…SEO, key words, outbound links, internal links, attention grabbing headlines, the right URL, meta data…I think my head is going to explode! And that’s before you even start promoting your posts. Triberr seems to be the ‘in’ thing, but does anyone actually click on those automatically scheduled tweets? You need to build your audience on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, YouTube (if you make videos), Vimeo (if you make really good videos), Google+, Pinterest, StumbleUpon…have I missed any? Probably, and of course you don’t need to be on all of them (I’m honestly not so sure Facebook is worth it any more), but whatever platforms you are on, developing those takes time.
Then there’s commenting on everyone else’s blog posts to generate inbound links, the holy grail of SEO! Not that these kind of backlinks are worth much, but they’re better than nothing. And of course, guest blogging, like I’m doing here on ProBlogger (thank you Mister Rowse for all eternity). The better the site you guest blog on, a) the better quality the backlink is, and b) the better chances of enjoying a little surge in popularity with the faint hope that some of them will stick (until they realise your blog sucks and go back to what they were doing before).
And I’ve just scratched the surface of what you need to do. I haven’t even mentioned things like research to keep up with the ever-changing world of blogging, networking, creating products to sell, pitching for paid media junkets, etc., etc.
Do you know what SEO stands for, or any one of the thousands of other digital TLA’s there are (that’s Three Letter Acronym for those who don’t know)? I bet you’ve read about big bloggers who said they didn’t have a clue about blogging when they started but “with hard work and dedication I taught myself and made it to the top, and you can too”! Guess what, that was in 2006 when they said that, and hardly anyone knew about blogging back then. Now EVERYONE knows what SEO is, everyone is working their butt of to make sure every article they write, and every post and page they create, is optimised like crazy.
But as I’ve already mentioned, there are only 10 places on the first page of any Google search, and if you’re not on it, chances are you’re not going to be found by very many people. So I suggest you bite the bullet and pay for some education, do an online course and see what you think of blogging once you’re done. I did a course called Travel Blogging Success and really enjoyed it. My blogging improved out of sight. Doing a course may give you a buzz, or it may make you see the light and you explore other ways to make an income. Either way it will be money well spent.
It costs money to blog. There are small startup costs like purchasing your domain name and buying a decent premium template. There are ongoing costs like hosting and cloud storage. There are educational costs if you want to get better, faster. I paid a few hundred dollars to do the Travel Blog Success course, and it accelerated my learning about 1000%. I may still have learnt how to blog had I not joined by just doing my own research, but this helped me improve my blog immediately. Then there’s the cost of time. You see, when you’re spending hours and hours, days and days, weeks and weeks, working on your blog, that is time you’re not spending on making actual money by doing something else. I have to make money while I travel, otherwise the bank will take my house back in Australia, so I get work on Odesk. But if I’m going to set aside time to work on my blog, then that is time I’m not working for a client and getting paid real money. It’s an important consideration that we sometimes forget.
What you miss when you blog
When you’re blogging, you’re not doing something else. Sounds obvious right, after all, we’re not Neo from The Matrix who seems to everywhere at the same time. So when I’m at my laptop bashing out another article that next to no one is going to read, and my two-year-old son is tugging at my arm begging me to chase him around the room, I’m missing out on that play time. Or I’m not wandering down the Champs Elysees at night in one of the most beautiful cities in the world. Or I’m not watching the latest Quentin Tarantino movie I’ve been dying to see, or Skyping friends and family back home. The truth is when you’re working on your blog, you’re not doing something else you would probably rather be doing. You need to ask yourself, “Is it worth it?”
Some people just can’t write!
Ok, this is going to cause some people a little pain, maybe even dent the pride of a few people, but some of us were not born to put pen to paper (sorry, but I couldn’t think of a digital analogy about laptop keys and Microsoft Word)!
If you can’t spell, and don’t know how to use the built-in spell checker, your blog site is going to suck. If you can’t string a few words together in a coherent, engaging way, then guess what? Everybody together now…”your blog is going to suck”. Why would a company inject funds into you and your blog if you can’t write something that somebody else is going to want to read? They’re not, because any brand that a company sponsors is a reflection on them.
Be honest with yourself, if you want to make money from your blog but you can’t write to save yourself, then do yourself a favour and find other ways to make money while travelling. You don’t have to be Ernest Hemingway, but you can’t be Lloyd Christmas either (Google him).
Is there any hope?
Just kidding, of course there’s hope! Where there’s an Internet connection, WordPress, and a will there’s a way. There are many, many success stories out there of people who make a living from their blog and the associated income streams they generate from it like guest speaking, digital products, and membership programs. But be honest and ask yourself the right questions before you plough time and money into your travel blog. How long am I going to be travelling for? What’s more important to me, keeping a travel blog or spending that time doing something else? Is there an easier way for me to make money while travelling? Do I suck at writing?
If you’re still keen to start that travel blog then I commend you. You’ve obviously thought long and hard about it, and are willing to put the time and effort into making it a success. From my research, it seems like any blog that is making serious money started around 2007, give or take a year or two. That gives you some idea of how long it’s probably going to take to start raking in those six and seven figure salaries.
In hindsight, we were on a hiding to nothing starting a blog about nomadic family travel, after all there are plenty of those like yTravel blog and Travel With Bender who are already firmly established in that niche. We would have been better off trying to get even more specific and targeting a smaller, but far more receptive and loyal audience. If there’s one thing that I’ll always be grateful for having started our travel blog, is that I now know what I must do to make my NEXT blog a success. Unless of course the brilliant readers of ProBlogger become loyal followers of Travelling Apples and send my monthly unique visitors numbers into the stratosphere!
You can follow our journey on our website, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube. Happy travels!
I just pivoted one of my domains into a travel blog last month.
I wrote about travel for my personal site, now I’m just siloing it into its own domain. I’ll continue to do it so I can share with friends recommendations for places I’ve visited. People always ask… “hey have you been to Iceland!” I can say yes, and then point them here http://localpony.com/what-to-eat-in-iceland/
If someone wants to know what they should do on a weekend escape in the Rockies, I’ll show them this: http://localpony.com/winter-weekend-itinerary-in-banff/
And I got much traffic from warning Redditors to avoid a place in Lima where I was robbed. http://localpony.com/robbed-in-lima/
So my traffic will be modest. But in addition to being able to sell some of my pieces to travel magazines, newspapers, etc, I will get to claim my travel expenses as a tax deduction. I will make some money from referrals and adsense and that will legitimately allow me to deduct my travel and expenses on my taxes.
There’s always a reason to blog. Hanging up your 9-5 and being a nomad with millions in passive income doesn’t always have to be at the top of the list to make it worthwhile.
And you know what? You can write and you write so well. Excellent article. Blogging does make you question at times ‘Is it worth it”?
Thanks Nishu :)
I agree with most of these comments if you are NOT a professional travel writer. For those of us who are, and by this I mean in Australia you are a substantiated member of The Australian Society of Travel Writers, I believe it is a different story. Had I not started my blog 2.5 years ago, I doubt I would still be alive as a professional travel writer in the traditional print media for which I also write. It has become one of my most effective marketing tools and is now seen as a value-add when being selected by tourism organisations and editors to travel the world. Increasingly, I am being viewed as a travel blogger, as opposed to a travel writer, while keeping a foot in both camps in this transitional media landscape. So, yes, there’s value.
Absolutely right–if you launch your blog backed by an established career as a trav journalist in other media, you’re adding a new showcase for your expertise and your niche subject, and that = $
I am not sure if everyone who blogs is doing it for the money or as their only means of income. I agree that it takes you away from other things but you also get to build something and for a lot of people that is the reward.
I think you’re right Dave, there are no doubt many people who are simply doing it for the love of writing.
If someone is in it for the money, forget it. The author is right – competition is fierce, and it takes way more than 40 hours a week to succeed. If you love it, though? Go right ahead. Find your path. Make money, or not. Do it for the joy of it. If you do want to make money, then be an entrepreneur and treat it like a business. Then you will succeed.
The thing is? Travel to enjoy travel! If you love sharing the world, then a travel blog is a fun way to do so. But the more time you spend on your site, the less time you have to get out and experience things…not to mention, your family knows automatically to not enter a hotel room or take a bite of their meal until the photos have been taken. ;)
Thanks Jessie. It’s definitely hard work, and I must admit I love it. But perhaps travel blogging is not for me. But I have ideas for my next couple of blogs and I’ll be excited to build them regardless of their success.
You mentioned that you spend a few hundred dollars joining TBS and that it really helped accelerate your learning curve for starting your travel blog…
Really curious: Did TBS help you earn money from your blog? Or teach you enough to go earn money from it?
Would love to know. cheers, Lash
Having a blog is just like owning your own business, heck I l know, because I did that for 19 years before starting my own Travel Blog and I couldn’t be happier! Sure it is work, but it is the kind of work that one has to have a passion for and enjoys. Travel can be hard, but it can also be the best time of your life!
I love travelling Cacinda, and writing about it is great fun. I think if people want to make money from their blog they need to treat it like a business from the start.
Ummm…I write my blog for me, I have been for the last 4 years. So what if no-one reads it? I like looking back on what I’ve done, where I’ve been and what I’ve achieved each year. I like seeing my personal development when I look back on my older content, whether that be my writing style, or just that I no longer feel petrified standing in a foreign airport on my own, without a clue of how to get to my next hostel.
The beauty of blogs is the freedom they have. If you want to write, you can write. If you don’t, well…then don’t! You as the author sound like you went into writing with the wrong aspirations, and that you’re no burnt out from trying…don’t lump everyone else into the same category, especially for those whose hobby still entertains them.
Hi Sara, I think it’s great you write your blog for you. I’m delighted with the fact I’ll have this resource forever to show people what we did on our adventure, especially our son Jack who probably won’t remember much. I also love that blogs offer the freedom for people to voice their opinion and gives others the chance to respond. Like right now! I can assure you I’m not burnt out, in fact I’m invigorated to continue blogging well into the future. I hope that comes across in my next blog “Why people should DEFINITELY start a travel blog”.
By the way I have not pitched this blog to ProBlogger yet…
Wow. Why you should NOT start a travel blog. That is so wrong. Having a travel blog is a fantastic idea, you are just looking at it from the wrong perspective. You are looking at making a successful blog. That isn’t going to happen straight away.
If anyone starts a blog with the first goal as “make money” then it will fail. Make your first goal as ENJOY YOURSELF, do what you love! To me, travelling is the greatest in the world and travel blogs are great to have. If anyone out there wants to start one, ignore this post and go for it if you love travelling. Just make your passion travelling and you’ll be fine.
Don’t say dont make a travel blog just because you couldn’t do it. And don’t contradict yourself in your title to your content either. I hope I’m giving enough constructive feedback for you to improve your own writing for your future projects. Cheers.
Hey Toby, I totally agree that creating a successful blog won’t happen straight away, as I mentioned in the blog. But I will have to disagree about the making money part. I think in 2015, if you want to monetise your blog, you should think about it as your business from the start. Since starting our travel blog I’ve discovered that I do love blogging and can’t wait to get started on a couple of other ideas I have swimming around in my head.
As I said at the end of my post, if you really want to start a travel blog, then I encourage you to do so. I just wanted to outline a few truths for people who may be going into it like I did. Each to their own though.
By the way I could do it, and am still doing it, and when I write my next article “Why you should DEFINITELY start a travel blog”, I hope that comes across. Thanks for the constructive feedback, although it hasn’t helped me improve my own writing…
Kudos to you for getting on pro blogger, and also for getting the blogging community a little stimulated. It’s very interesting that you are so about nailing the coffin shut on blogging, when many writers are succeeding through it. To say that because only a small percentage are now professional, it’s like saying that because only a small percentage of kids are becoming pro football players – that kids should not bother playing sport.
But you infer that if your not an overnight success than give up – you’ll never make it. Yes, many people who are top ranked have been around for a long time. They created the now ‘legitimate blogging career’ you are so desperate to break into. Yet you don’t appreciate the time and effort they spent getting where they are – in fact you just say don’t even bother cause it’s too hard.
I believe that if there’s an audience, there is always a way to engage them on another level and still make money. Hell look at how many movies are being remade these days – same shit different approach, right?
We have worked at blogging for 2 years and now don’t need to go back to our day jobs. It takes time to grow an audience who appreciates you for your personality, not some top 10 list. The ability and willingness to learn from those more successful than you is important, as no one is ever really an overnight sensation. And it takes some patience, because if this is what you really want in life – you will work hard (as you have to in most things in life) and make it happen.*rant over
I’m definitely not all about nailing the coffin shut on blogging, in fact I can’t wait to continue travel blogging, and starting a few other blogs I’ve got ideas for. My post was all about the reasons why people should not start a travel blog. I emphasised the point that there are many people making a success of travel blogging. I also inferred the opposite of your immediate success comment. I also emphasised the point that it takes a long time, and people need to put a great deal of effort into it, which I absolutely appreciate. In fact I think I highlighted most of the facts you say I neglected!
Hopefully when I write my next article “Why people should DEFINITELY start a travel blog” I will show how much I really enjoy blogging and what I’ve learned since I started. This blog was about why people shouldn’t and some of the challenges I’ve faced, and misconceptions I had.
P.S – I love your blog and have read it many times!
We started our “travel blog” (http://PuertoRicoDayTrips.com/) back in 2007. We’ve morphed it into a “travel guide”, and we’re still going strong today!
Great post but now i’m going to be that guy…
“If you can’t spell, and don’t know how to use the built-in spell checker, you’re blog site is going to suck.”
I think you mean “your”! Perhaps you should use the built in spelling AND grammar checker!
Can I just say I was shaking my head when I read my article after it was posted. I’m always picking out when people use ‘you’re’ instead of ‘your’ and vice versa…and then I go and do it. And it wasn’t the only spelling and grammar error either.
Back to the spelling AND grammar checker for me…
Thanks for this post. I agree and fully disagree!
I agree because yes, there are very, very few people out there doing money with a blog (I am not considering a few hundred USD, but really living out of it). And they started almost all a long while ago, and they are very good, and they all work 60+ hours a weeks on their blog. It’s not easy money!
I fully disagree because you ignore potential other targets of a blog. If you take a career break, a blog will show what you did and is an excellent way to market this time for future employment. I did it when I went on a RTW in 2007 and guess what: even for Management position, the blog was a real plus. Blogging is also a good way to reflect on the many experiences you had, which can turn overwhelming after a few months, with everything mixing up if you did not.
If you want to make money from a blog (live from it), look at 5+ years (3 years if you are a genius) of hard work.
Thanks for your comment. You make some great points. When I write my next article “Why you should DEFINITELY start a travel blog” I’ll be sure to use a few of them.
Wow you are sounding burnt out and there are so many points in there that are just WRONG.
I, for one, did start a travel blog to keep friends and family informed. I started blogging ten years ago and only even heard of SEO, started social media accounts, etc less than 2 years ago, and my motivation then was to inspire other families. I had no idea that people made money from blogging until about a year and a half ago. And it always seemed like more work to me than what was worthwhile which is why I have always put more energy into other income streams when I decided to be a digital nomad.
Honestly, it just sounds like you should have done your research before starting if your motivation was money.
Let me start by saying I love your blog. It was one of the blogs I used when I did extensive research about travel and blog writing.
I must say that I am definitely not burnt out from blogging, and I can’t wait to carry on travel blogging, and starting a couple of other blogs I’ve got ideas for.
In my next article (not necessarily here because I haven’t pitched it to ProBlogger yet) “Why you should DEFINITELY start a travel blog” I hope I can make a few of the points many other people have kindly pointed out. After all, the blog post wasn’t titled “The pros and cons of starting a travel bog”.
Not bad advice, anyone who scares away after this article about travel blogging, won’t have made it anyways, since it takes a certain illogical tenacity to make it out here.
Thanks Luke :)
Interesting information. I never would have guessed there were so many travel blogs.
I think the main thing about travel blogging is that no one really wants to hear what you have to say. There isn’t much value in “watch me as I visit Paris.” That’s the problem with travel blogging in general. You need to give the audience something they value.
Totally agree, if you discount family and friends back home.
It hurts my feelings that you touched on every aspect of what is tough for me in learning to travel blog; and I’m not even trying to make any money! Still, in your way, you’ve taught me how much more I’ve yet to go before I make the impact (if not the dollar) that I dream of.
Karina @ http://www.karinasextraordinarylife.com
I didn’t mean to hurt your feelings. I hope when I write my next article “Why you should DEFINITELY start a travel blog” it will put a smile on your face instead.
I get people asking this question almost daily. How to start a travel blog. Should I start a travel blog.
Can you start one? Of course. Will you make money with it? Probably not. Unless you’re in it for the long-haul & naturally love everything that goes with it (the technical & self-promotional stuff too), it’s not going to provide a reliable source of income – if any.
I make $6000/month with mine, but it’s taken 4 years. Are you prepared to put in that much effort? There are easier ways to make money, if that’s the purpose of your blog.
As Chris mentioned, travel blogging far more work than it looks like. Get ready to spend thousands of hours and hundreds of dollars learning everything there is to learn. A steady 2nd source of income and backup plan are also helpful, because chances of failure are high.
However another important trait for most successful people I know, including bloggers, is the courage to take risks. So there’s that. :-)
I love the layout of your blog. In fact I was mentioning to my wife only a few weeks ago that if our blog could look like anyone else’s, it would be yours!
Without Prior Experience in Blogging, just starting a travel blog in the hope that it will start making money to compensate your travel cost (food and accommodation), is just day dreaming. And the author of this post has little experience with SEO. Just searching Google with the Keywords: “Travel Blog” and deciding that it is a big competition in that niche, it does not work like that. A travel blog can focus only one niche and rank well. People will not search for how many travel blog is there. And Google Search Result does not show any competition. Of 1.2 million SERPS, maximum are garbages. Whatever, hope that the author will learn a lot with the course of time.
This post is incredibly negative; while you raise a lot of points, they all revolve around the idea that there are so many people doing this already, why bother? And that is just a lame attitude to have. I run a jewellery business and if I’d thought “oh but the market is saturated; there are already loads of jewellery companies; this is going to be hard work” then I never would have started the business, I never would have quit my lousy day job, and I never would have become full time self employed.
The same goes for my blog; I started a beauty blog two years ago, there were and still are tons of beauty blogs, but I did it anyway and the blog was successful. It’s evolved into something different now, but the premise remains the same: you only achieve what you believe you can.
Really, what it comes down to is.. you have to be good at it to succeed and you only know that until you try.
I love the layout of your blog. In fact I was mentioning to my wife only a few weeks ago that if our blog could look like anyone else’s, it would be yours!
I certainly didn’t say not to bother. I just pointed out that there are many reasons why you shouldn’t. I believe there are many reasons why you should as well, and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed learning what blogging is all about and I can’t wait to get started on a couple of other blog ideas I have.
Totally agree with your last point, you are absolutely right.
Phew! Glad I’m not a travel blogger. This sounds awfully depressing! I do agree with the sentiment that if you’re going to start a blog as a get rich quick scheme, you’re in the wrong business. But blogging is FUN. And a fabulous record of your travels. Let’s not forget those key elements.
Hey Bec, you’re absolute right. I can’t wait to show my son, who probably won’t remember much of our trip, the blog we kept while travelling.
My spouse and i completely disagree when you overlook potential various other targets of your website. If you take a profession split, some sort of website will indicate whatever you does and also is an excellent solution to market this time for upcoming career.
I don’t disagree with your overall point but this is probably one of the worst written articles I’ve ever read on this site. If you want people to take this piece seriously you could at least put together a coherent article that had headings to support your argument and doesn’t include the likes of ‘sooooo’ in a non-ironic way…
I’m sorry Alyssa, but I have no idea what you’re talking about.
I agree to this article about traveling blog. In fact, it goes with any blog trying to make money from your blog in any market. This article is correct about the amount of work and getting traffic. Blogging does take serious amounts of work and determination. Learning and applying everything you learn and not afraid to fail is also key. I found it best to due your diligence and research before jumping the blog band wagon. Make sure its something you want to get into. Its like a business and if you don’t work hard you will fail. Marketing correctly and writing great content that keeps the readers coming is something that takes time and self education. The more you learn the more you write to tell. The biggest part about blogging for money is create your own products and sell them through your blog.
Thanks for the good post and will take it in consideration.
Thanks Tony :)
I agree with the author.a successful blog needs the time,money,education etc.these things play a vital role for a travel blog and for another blog writing.market competition is also a very important part which we have
to consider while blog writing.
Interesting point of view. I liked the article very much because is fair to understand that money shoudn’t be the main reason.
Is is possible to live with a travel blog?
The answer is the same as if it’s possible to live being an astronaut, a soccer player, or a rockstar. Yes, it’s possible, but not everybody can.
To have a blog and write for passion and fun?… yes! totally. Everybody can…! And everybody should do that if that’s the main reason.
I can live and travel with my blog because was the first written in spanish ten years ago. If I should have to start from zero, I better do someting else. The only thing that kept me doing this is just I never started for the money or looked for that.
Best wishes for all the people starting this wonderful adventure!
I went through the post and comments, as well. It’s true that a travel blog is time-consuming and it’s really hard to make a living from it. But it’s not impossible.
Anyway, most of the comments sounds strange to me. I tell you why! It’s a great idea to start a travel blog just for passion. But on this site (problogger.net) I would expect people who wants make money blogging.
Great point Emilio. I must say I wasn’t a passionate writer when I started the travel blog, but since I’ve been doing it I’ve discovered I really love it. I can’t wait to start others too!!!
My first blog was in the travel niche, made many research and saw that this niche is very lucrative, and I ended up creating my blog, envestir time money and at the end you can not get the results they wanted because the niche was very concorido and each keyword has a lot of competition.
If I had read this article at the beginning would not have wasted so much time and money.
An interesting article that perhaps should be retitled ‘why you should not start a travel blog and expect to be a millionaire’? I’m an expat living in Germany and currently watching the snow outside my window. I write a food blog so different camp but I broadly agree with what you say. I started ‘blogging’ years ago with live journal (is it still going?) then a few blogs then went on to write articles and recipes and teach workshops.I decided to start blogging again upon preparing to leave Australia.
A few truths of blogging I like to think about:
1. Not everyone will get a book publishing deal.
2. If you do publish a book, you may not make the money you think you will (we ran a vegan publishing company in Australia a few years ago and the money is tight, especially in niche areas).
3. Your prose may be scrolled by whilst people pause for the pretty pictures of cats or babies
4. You will be working every day pretty much in front of a lap top whilst life goes on around you (or in my case in the kitchen testing recipes).
5. Comparing yourself to other people’s success will only leave you feeling inadequate.
In short, it’s not unlike having any dream or passion, like running your own small business. The risk of failure is not a good reason to not try, but going in with realistic aims, some training and plenty of savings is imperative.
Thanks Cate :)
Well! First, it is so worth reading for me. Secondly, Really inspired by you Darren. I am also in a stage to spend more and more time in designing now days. But I am 90% ready with my blog. Darren, what if I purchase your 31 days to buld a better blog, how much it is going to help me?
Interesting article and thanks for the mention! :) I don’t think anyone should start a blog for the money, it will take a good while and it is a lot of work. You have to do it for the passion. I love writing, I love marketing, I love social media!
I’m with Sharon. I did start my blog for my family and friends and had no idea you could make money on it or benefit from sponsored travel until about 6 months in when I met another blogger.
But please. Whatever you do. Don’t start it to be the next Nomadic Matt.
Hey Erin, you’re blog was one of those that inspired us to travel with our son. I totally agree that it takes a lot of time and energy before you can even think about monetising your blog, if that’s your goal.
My wife and I have decided that won’t be our goal for this travel blog, however it has sparked a blogging interest in me and hopefully I can make a financial success of a couple of ideas I have in my head.
Thanks for sharing your thoughts on travel blogging and mentioning us! This is by far the hardest I have ever worked, and I used to chip barnacles of pearl shell for five weeks straight in a remote camp in the Kimberlies!!!
But, it is by far the most rewarding work I’ve ever done. Yes. We now have a life that we’re totally in control of. We get to spend every day with our children (sometimes I don’t think this is so great) And I make way more money than I ever did teaching. But, I get to spend my days doing what I love AND contributing in a positive way to the lives of thousands of people.
The key to being successful with this is to have a reason for doing it that goes way above yourself. I would have easily quit years ago, as it is hard work and we went a good two years before making any decent money. But, I’ve stuck with it because I know how much we are helping other people to change their lives. We write for them. Even though I’m now making good money and are having pretty good success, I still want to quit often. Every time I decide to I get another email from a reader sharing the positive impact we’ve had on their lives. How can we turn our backs on that. It fills me up so much to know that I have this impact when for me, all I feel like I’m doing is sharing my greatest passion.
That is the key to success. Those who get this will create the right blog and business regardless of what everyone else is doing because they know what is in their heart and they understand what is in the heart of those they serve and they help amplify that.
The thing that makes travel blogging so challenging is that you are trying to balance travel with the work. We’ve been on the road full-time around Australia for 16 months now, with two children, one of which we homeschool. We travel fast and we’re highlighting a lot of experiences and destinations.
A travel blog looks so attractive to many on the outside, yet when they started it and then try to work it in with the travel, they don’t want to continue with it. To be honest I don’t blame them. My husband and I worked and travelled around the world for 12 years before we started travel blogging. We’d already had a lifetime of travel experiences, just to enjoy the travel. If you’ve never done that before and then start travelling while travel blogging, then I think it’s tough as you’ve never given yourself the chance to just dive into the travel and be immersed fully into that culture.
That’s why I think anyone who starts a travel blog just to get “free” travel or to make money is purely crazy. You’re better off going to work on a pearl farm!
Thanks for sharing this article. This is the most effective way to know and learn more about Why You Should NOT Start a Travel Blog. Read and understand the article and you will get a brilliant idea. I will share this information with my friends. Very informative.
Thanks Jeremy. I just wanted to highlight the struggles of travel blogging should you go into it expecting to make money straight away.
Your “Some people just can’t write!” section hits one of my hot buttons. The web is cluttered with blogs and ebooks by people who can’t write their way out of a paper bag. In talking to some of these writers, I find many believe themselves to be excellent writers. In fact, their skill level is so low, they are unable to differentiate between good writing and poor writing.
So when you say, “be honest with yourself,” I’ll bet your message isn’t getting through to its target. If you can’t tell good writing from bad, you aren’t able to be honest with yourself and see that your writing sucks. What you need is someone else – a competent writer – to hit you over the head and get you to see the light.
Thanks Anita, I certainly didn’t mean that everyone has to be the next J.D Salinger, but being able to put a sentence together is important.
Everything you say is true Chris. Travel blogging is very tough if your primary goal is to make money from it. For most travel bloggers I think it’s much more about the lifestyle than the money. I spend half my time travelling and writing and the other half running workshops and whilst the latter pays a hell of a lot more than my blogging I wouldn’t dream of giving up my blog to run workshops full time – and I’m lucky in that I actually enjoy running workshops. I know bankers and IT consultants who exchanged lucrative careers for travel blogging and are much happier and more fulfilled as a result. The prize doesn’t always have to come in the form of hard cash.
Thank you! very nice information. I will use the information from this article and applied to at another niche, I know this talk about Travel blog, but the information is great start before starting new blog.
Thank you for the breath of fresh air. There are too many get-rich-quick sites and even more people that believe it is true.
Good article slash reality check.
Speaking of which, all the links to your stuff in the last sentence are broken. You forgot the http://
The niche you’ve mentioned isn’t the only travel blog niche. I’ve got a website since 2002. It’s been a success for me without blogging. At some point, I added a blog to it. Does it matter if I have a lot of audience or not? Not really! The best way it’s helped me is through SEO. I sell tour packages to those who want to travel to Iran. I’ve got a lot of pages about Iran, visa, travel tips, testimonials, etc. Blog is one of them.
What does blog do for me? When I publish one, there’s some new unique content added to my site. I share it across the social media. I send it to my newsletter readers. It created a buzz, but it’s not the best it does for me.
When someone searches tour to Iran on Google and finds me, he visits my site for the first time and reads so much information that ordinary travel website don’t have it. Then, they go to the blog section and read the posts, search the posts, etc. The blog establishes my credibility and attracts my readers’ trust. I convince them I know what I’m talking about as I’ve been there and written about it for years.
Where does the money come? It’s a business with a different niche. People pay to travel with me or via me. Then look at me as an expert who know the destination he writes about. Why? Because they read my blog and find out.
I’ve recently added particular sections for advertisement, but I don’t agree to sell my website add space to anyone who pays. Their ads should help my readers, be relevant to world travelers’ needs, etc.
Bingo, you’ve cracked it. Congratulations, that’s awesome :)
“If you can’t spell, and don’t know how to use the built-in spell checker, you’re blog site is going to suck.”
Come on, really? You can’t expect people to take you seriously.
Haha Kate, it’s a shocker right. Using ‘you’re’ when I should have used ‘your’ in that exact sentence. By the way it’s not the only spelling or grammar error in the article!!!
If you do not try then you’ve already failed. I think the real question is: How unique are you willing to be in order to stand out from other travel blogs?
Six years earlier from now, a publisher did not need to think much about the topic or competition. Almost all areas were available for the brave. But now if we want to start a blog, we need to really think hard about what it is going to be about and what will be our strategy to maintain it. How much is the competition will your blog face? Bigger the competition, more energy, attention and focus your blog will require from you to become a successful blog with an impressive audience. I have been registering few domain names and I wanted to start blogs or websites for each of those domains but to my surprise whatever ideas I had in my mind, other publishers seemed to do it better and quicker than me. Eventually I had to drop those ideas and domains. Now it is very essential to do research before you select a niche or start a blog or launch a website. Good article, Chris.
great points. Totally agree here. In my seven years of blogging it’s been a continual learning process. I also feel like a large percentage of time is networking, building relationships and adding value. A lot of these relationships take YEARS to build for the right project to come together.
Justn, founder of Justin’s nut butter, to me once that “an overnight night success doesn’t happen over night. It usually takes AT LEAST 7 years.”
Q: How many travel bloggers does it take to change a light bulb?
A: At least six. One to actually change the lightbulb, one to Tweet it, one to Facebook it, one to Instagram it, one to Stumble it and one to complain how bad the WiFi is!
If you want monetary success I think you first have to identify what you’re passionate about and then combine said passion with something of unique value. For us it has been picking a country we fell in love with and writing content that focuses on travel tips for that country (though depending on which place you choose, that might not even be niche enough!) Jury’s still out on whether we’ve made the right choice, but fingers crossed!
I also agree with Caz Makepeace’s comment,about giving yourself the chance to just experience travel for travel. I have no doubt I would’ve folded within a few months if I started blogging on my very first backpacking trip…was too busy doing all the fun stuff (please note, fully admire people who can do both!). Gather experiences, reflect on those experiences and if you still think you’d like to have a go at making money from travel blogging, go for it!
There’s no sugar coating it…trying to make a success out of blogging is bloody hard work. But hey, it’s better than watching hours of tv, so if you’re up for the challenge why not have a crack! Great post btw :)
Yeah from my experience with helping travel bloggers with various web development projects I can honestly say most are bottom feeders looking for things for next to nothing if not free. I remember one blogger was trying to convince me that $100 was a fair price to pay me for a total site redesign that was mobile optimised.
What they tend to not understand is that it does cost money to run a successful blog and getting things done right is not cheap. The part that really gets me is that when travel bloggers get a decent sponsored post offer or a comped hotel for one night they start complaining that they are worth much more than what the is being offered with the excuse that they are experts and they should be paid accordingly. Are people who provide services to like web development, SEO, social media etc. to travel bloggers not experts and deserve to paid accordingly? I just think that everyone is out for themselves and trying to be the next big thing but are not willing to pay for it monetarily or with sweat and tears. That being said I don’t think all travel bloggers are like this there are the 1 percenters who are doing amazing things and for all the right reasons. I just think most are bottom feeders fighting over scrapes of a over saturated and already be done corner of the internet.
Thanks for your heartfelt article, Chris.
All very valid points and a great sturdy warning about the realities of travel blogging.
One thing I’ve noticed by being immersed in travel blogging and really watching who is and isn’t making money from this line of work is this: Every single travel blogger I know who is making good money has a degree and or many years of experience in business and/or marketing. Knowing business & marketing seems to be the key to success in travel blogging…and probably every other online venture. AT least for those whose goal is earning a living at it.
Thanks for your perspectives…and kudos for getting a guest post here on Pro Blogger! woot woot!
Interesting article. I guess your suggestions perhaps more applicable for those who wish to earn money from blogging. How about foodie or photography blogs? I thought these are even more in the web land compared to travel blogs.
Your last questions are excellent for evaluating the main reason why we want to blog. My suggestion is – people should blog what they love to blog unless if they are looking for money. I have WP blog for nearly seven years and didn’t do much about it until last year. Last year I decided to blog about travel and photography (mostly underwater photography taken during my diving holiday) and that just because I love scuba diving, travel and photography. I write and study more due to this – since I include monthly article about marine life and conservation. Then finally I got my works published (printed) and recently receiving invitation to submit articles in magazines – which I am still considering to do it or not. Based on my experience, blogging without earning money could give you satisfaction and rewards in another manners.
And, please excuse my lousy English. English is my third language.
And most people would say “start a travel blog.” Ryan Biddulph did and succeeded. BloggingfromParadise is his mantra. Yes, it does pay to do a spell check and strive to have good grammar, though most writers have to go back later and make corrections after publishing to the web.
Ryan’s site Blogging From Paradise is doing very well, but it is NOT a TRAVEL blog. It is all about HOW TO blog successfully. He just happens to do his blogging while traveling. He’s teaching people how to BLOG, not how to travel. Completely different genre. His site and all his eBooks are more like ProBlogger or Daily Blog Tips.
This is one of my future plan, to travel blogging,…. Hope we can do it!!!!!