Is it just me or did travel suddenly get super duper extra popular, especially with twenty-something girls (guilty as charged))? Was ‘wanderlust’ the most overused word of 2015? Is getting a tattoo of a world map on your back and filling it in one country at a time the new thing to do? Okay, I got a bit carried away there…but you get my drift. It’s all sunsets and sandy beaches on Instagram, check-ins and new friends on Facebook, Snapchats from 30,000 feet. But what’s the reality of it all? Is it as good as it looks?…. Do you want to be a full time travel blogger? Then lets delve in behind the scenes…
I’ve asked both new and long established travel writers and bloggers about their work. Surely it’s not a real job is it? Do they make enough to earn a living? Is it as glamorous and carefree as it looks? Can anyone do it?
When I first decided I wanted to take travel writing seriously, I organised a coffee meeting with a travel editor from one of the Irish newspapers for a chat. He told me straight up not to go into this industry if you’re interested in making money. Sure, if you make it big as a full time travel blogger the cash will come rolling in, but that’s the wrong reason to do something like this. He was right! I’ve never been money-motivated. I’ve always preferred ‘doing things’ than ‘stuff’ (don’t get me wrong, I own a lot of ‘stuff’… too much!).
You’ve got to LOVE traveling, I mean ADORE it. Enjoy being in an airport, be happy with your own company, not cry when faced with ten hour delays 20 hours into a sleepless journey, always remain positive and learn to travel light. Sound like you? Want to be a full time travel blogger? Then keep reading…
“My blog was incredibly successful growing to 240k subscribers in 18 months — 11 months of which I spent fully-nomadic; but this came at a cost.
Chauffeurs, body guards, yachts, and laser tag in private jet planes don’t make up for the strain my lifestyle put on relationships. I met the most wonderful people in the world, but then had no choice, but to leave. If you’re always going somewhere, you’re always leaving and that hurts.
I’m ecstatic of what I accomplished in 2015 and will never forget what my first year of travel blogging gave me, but you can travel the world without starting a blog. If anything, now I value balance and that’s hard to find when you’re WORKING while on the road.“
“Professional blogging isn’t always as glamorous as it sounds. It involves working 7 days a week, 365 days a year, a lot of admin work, and non-stop negotiation of contracts, pricing and sponsorship deals. But it also has the benefit of allowing you to be your own boss, set your own hours, and have a career you’re passionate about. If you want to become a professional blogger, my new Advanced Blogging eBook can help.”
“Being a full time travel blogger is the best job in the world. It really is and I consider myself so lucky to do this as my full time profession. But it is just that, a job. When you look at a blog from the outside you see lots of glamourous holidays and think that’s all there is to it, but blogging is just like any other job too. I work 40+ hours per week and that’s not including travel time. That’s admin and emails and putting together campaigns and reports and strategies and meetings. There’s a lot of boring, behind the scenes work that we bloggers don’t talk about so much.
Another thing with blogging is that most bloggers tend to work alone. This is the hardest thing for me and I miss having an office filled with people who can bounce around ideas and give their honest opinions on upcoming campaigns. I regularly have to try and step back from my blog and see it from an outsiders perspective – something that’s much harder than it sounds.”
“Since taking the plunge to become a professional travel blogger just five months ago, it is hard to believe how many hard truths I have learned. While there is no denying I love my job more than any other job I have had over the years, I have discovered that I now need to work harder and for longer hours than ever before. The truth about being a full time blogger is that it really is full time. I can’t remember the last time I was able to have a digital detox that lasted longer than 24 hours, for fear that I would forget a writing deadline, miss out on a press trip opportunity or simply have too many emails to deal with once I turned my computer back on. I can’t remember the last time I took an evening off to relax and watch TV or read a book, opting to spend almost every day for the past month working on my blog and worrying that I have not yet done enough improvements. I am no longer just a blogger; I have many titles, many duties and far too many daily responsibilities. From being my own PR manager, social media manager and publisher to writing and editing, seeking out new paid writing opportunities and working our the best way to monetise my site, there is always a million things to be done. When I end up in a place with no WiFi, I almost get panic attacks and as this has been happening more and more throughout my travels in Africa, I must now carefully consider where the next stop on my digital nomad journey will be, one thing is for sure…there had better be good WiFi.”
“What most people don’t realise, is that when you’re a full time travel blogger or travel writer, you’re a business owner. This means you have to HUSTLE. I have to pitch clients, network, keep social media going, communicate with clients and contractors, craft invoices, chase payments, keep my admin up to date, pay other contractors, set aside tax (ouch!), and that’s all aside from actually doing the work you’re paid to do. I’ve spent many hours indoors working on articles, while my friends or family were out enjoying the destination we travelled to. Essentially: every hour we are out enjoying a location, we don’t earn money. When we’re sick, we don’t get paid. When we’re on holiday, we don’t get paid. Showing up simply won’t cut it. This is where the saying ‘work hard, play hard’ comes in. There’s definitely something to be said for simply showing up for a job and getting paid for it at the end of the month. Running a business is a lot of hard work, but in the end I’m putting hours into building something for myself, not my boss, and I wouldn’t change it for the world. I get to choose the projects that I’m most excited about, pick my own hours, and work from anywhere. I even get to wear pyjama pants to work. It’s fantastic!”
“I recently made the big decision to quit my job and relocate to New Zealand on a Working Holiday Visa. I thought I might be able to get an easy job (I didn’t), but I also knew I wanted to work on building my brand and get started writing about my travels. I have so many stories and so many ideas that finally spending time on my blog and brand was a big deal to me.
Unfortunately, the reality is that not everyone can be big name full time travel bloggers like Liz Carlson (Young Adventuress), Nomadic Matt, Goats on the Road, Adventurous Kate, etc. So while I’m completely and totally qualified to write about travel, I can’t afford to hire someone to do PR for me, pitch to potential sponsors, design my website, or monitor my Google Analytics. I do it all myself.
My daily schedule is something along the lines of; read the news, check emails and Instagram, do some correspondence, then sit down at my computer. Two hours later, I will have some posts written and scheduled, Twitter feed scheduled, photos edited, emails to sponsors written, or business plan tweaked. I also write for several websites through an online freelance website, called UpWork, where I can pitch to potential employers who will pay me to write about travel. It’s NOT good money, but the more I do it, the more I can charge to write. It will take me time though, which I know.
I’ll also do a few hours of work at the library or a café, so spend about four to six hours a day at a desk, plus I work at night too if I’m not out exploring. Since my niche is about my travels, I know that I need to spend time exploring in order to have something to write about, so I’ll take half a day and go for a bike ride, or a hike, or I’ll take a few days and go somewhere. I’m always writing in my journal though, or posting Instagram photos. All of this is considered work – it’s building a brand.”
I’m not sure if I want to be a full time travel blogger, while the perks are undeniable, there’s a lot more work involved than you think. I’m not afraid of a bit of hard work, (I’m typing this at 9pm on a Friday evening alone in my shared offices in Dublin) I just want to find the best option for me (that ideally involves as little work as possible)….and I’m having a lot of fun figuring it out.
So, you think you want to be a full time travel blogger?