6 Things To Know BEFORE You Start a Travel Blog

| | Making Money

Are you someone who loves the feel of a fresh notebook?

Those crispy, white pages offer limitless possibilities for how to fill them. You haven’t spilled coffee on it, or torn off a piece of paper to jot down a grocery list. It’s waiting for you to produce perfectly crafted words or doodles.

The thrill of starting a travel blog is similar. You haven’t built a brand yet. You haven’t honed your blogging style or zeroed in on a target audience. The possibilities are all still there and you haven’t screwed up once!

While mistakes are part of the learning process (don’t worry, you WILL make them), it’s always nice to hear advice from those who have gone before, to hopefully better prepare for what’s to come.

That’s why we’ve compiled a list of things some veteran bloggers wished they had known BEFORE they started their travel blogs.

Now, before you spill coffee on that beautiful, blank notebook (or your keyboard — gasp!), consider these words of wisdom from those who have already made plenty of mistakes and survived to blog another day.

This is all valuable advice for those who have yet to start a travel blog, but equally helpful to consider, no matter where you are on your blogging journey.

blogging hard work
It’s not quite THIS hard. But it’s not easy, either.

1. Blogging is seriously hard work.

This might seem obvious, but it can’t be emphasized enough. If you’re hoping to create a profitable travel blog and/or use your blog to support your travels, you’re going to have to dedicate A LOT of time and effort.

Blogging requires the skills of nearly every position a traditional publication might employ, from graphic design and WordPress maintenance to writing, editing, and photography skills. You might even want to master the skills of videography for your blog.

The workload of blogging doesn’t cease when you’ve become adept at these skills. Producing regular content, promoting that content, creating products, networking, pitching, and developing your business are all tasks that must be attended to regularly.

This often means more time sitting at a computer than you would commit at a traditional office job.

When I started my travel blog in early 2011, I suddenly switched from an active travel life to sitting 10-12 hours a day at my computer. I worked my a** off for two solid years, 10-12 hours per day, 6 days a week – until I literally broke my body. In Dec. 2012, I suffered a bad slipped disc, which I attribute almost entirely to blogging work. – Lash of Lash World Tour

While physical injuries are rare, blogger burnout is something you hear about a lot.

The New York Times even covered it last year, profiling the couple behind Young House Love who recently decided to step away from their hugely-popular, home-improvement website to focus on their family and other career options, despite their impressive success.

Blogging can be exhausting. But it can also be a joy. The ability to write about something you love and share that passion with the world is incredibly rewarding, if you’re willing to put in the work.

Get ready to feel dirty.
Get ready to feel dirty.

2. You’ll need to develop thick skin.

As mentioned above, blogging involves a variety of challenges. But often times, it’s the simple act of hitting “Publish” that causes bloggers to freeze up with self-doubt.

Even when your audience consists of just your mom and a handful of supportive friends, the vulnerability you’re exposed to by putting your words out into the world can be terrifying. Will people judge you? Criticize you? Correct you?

At first, I was quite apprehensive to publish posts and share them with my friends and family, as I thought they would judge me. But soon I realized that having this great website that was mine was something to be incredibly proud of. -Petra Chappell of The Global Couple

Usually, you’ll find those fears unfounded. Readers will admire your dedication, your skills, and your stories. They might even tell you this in the comments section of your blog, or through social media, which feels great.

Then again, bloggers should be prepared for the criticism that inevitably comes with having an online audience. The more popular your blog becomes, the most likely you are to receive critical, or just downright mean, comments.

 I wish I’d known that worrying about other people’s opinions was a waste of time. Before starting my blog, I worried about what my friends and family would think of my writing. I quickly realised that I needed to trust myself. The majority of people are always going to be supportive. -Grace Harding of The Beauty of Everywhere

Wouldn't that be nice?
Wouldn’t that be nice?

3. The way you travel will change.

That image of a travel writer lounging on a beach with their laptop perched on their tan legs and a cocktail in hand is nice and all — but it doesn’t work that way. There’s no way the hotel wi-fi reaches the water and the sand would make a mess.

The ability to travel is great and many of us are so lucky to be able to do so. But blogging does change the way you travel.

If you’re looking to use your blog to support a nomadic lifestyle, you’ll have to learn to balance your time between experiencing the places you’re in, and working on your blog so that you can share those places with an audience.

I used to think that once we were traveling full-time it would be all relaxation and fun. But the reality is, it’s hard work! We don’t want to return to our nine to five life, but sometimes, we’re exhausted. We are three years in, and trying to figure out how to create a balance of traveling and being at our “home base”. – Shannon Lynberg of 2 Travel Everywhere

Consider what you require to be productive at home. Do you need a quiet space to work in? How much time do you require to develop an idea and write a killer post? What sort of equipment do you use regularly that you’ll need to lug around once you’re on the road?

All of these factors will effect the way you work from the road. They’re important to consider before you start a travel blog, especially if you’re going to do so while traveling. But heck, it sure beats an office.

Offer something people will pay for.
Think of something people need.

4. Creating products is key.

If you want to make money from your blog, it’s beneficial to approach your blog as a platform to sell something else.

Sure, there are people who will create a profitable website through banner ads, sponsored posts, links, and other more passive streams. But the most reliable way to make money off a blog these days is through products like books, ebooks, courses, consulting services, design work, photography, art, etc.

Jodi Ettenberg of Legal Nomads does a great job using this strategy. The Legal Nomads Shop, prominently displayed on the home page of her blog, showcases hand-drawn posters and t-shirts of Vietnam.

Jodi has written extensively about her time in Vietnam, and knows that many of her readers have a connection to that country. Offering them a product that directly relates to what they read about on her blog is a sure win.

Darren Rowse of Problogger aptly compares blogging without a product to busking on the street without a CD to sell.

You might collect some tips by playing your music (or by slapping a couple ads on your site) but the real money comes in when you’ve got something to offer those people who love your music and want to take it home with them.

It might seem like a lot of work to create a product but once it’s available, you can ideally rely on it to continuously make you money.

Writing my first Ebook was not easy. After 7 months of hard work it was finished and that was it — a passive income product was created. Now it just sits there on Amazon, a reliable stream of income comes in each month, and I do nothing. The more passive products you build the more reliable income you can create for your blog. – Dave Brett of Travel Dave

Let's be honest.
Let’s be honest.

5. Honesty with your readers shines through.

When you first start a travel a blog, you likely have zero intentions of misleading your audience. Why would you?

But then opportunities start appearing in the form of money and freebies. You’ve likely dumped months, or even years of work into your blog by the time you’re offered compensation for that time.

Would it really be so bad to promote a brand that you don’t actually use, or write a glowing hotel review after a terrible experience because it was free and you feel like you owe it to them?

These ethics can be confusing to navigate when you first begin facing them, but if honesty with your readers is a top priority, that should give you a guiding light when faced with business decisions.

You’ll develop a better relationship with your readers when you’re honest about your travels and where your income comes from. Not everything has to be rosy and peachy, either. Sometimes the best stories are the hard ones. – Candice Walsh of Candice Does The World

People read blogs because they’re personal. You provide first-hand accounts and personality that people can’t find on bigger publications. If someone likes your blog, it’s partly because they like you. (Or at least the version of you that’s displayed online.)

Don’t cheat them out of that relationship by being dishonest. Readers, especially once they’ve taken the time to get to know you and your work, will see right through it.

6. Your email subscriber list is your most valuable number.

I wish I had thought to start an email list right away. When I finally started one after blogging for several years, it was disheartening to think how many readers I missed out on capturing by not having an email list from the start. – Katie Gard of Domestiphobia

It’s easy to get caught up in the page views per day game. Those WordPress stats and Google Analytics are fun (and torturous) to track as your numbers grow. It can also be REALLY exciting when a post gets a lot of love and suddenly your numbers soar. But to develop a sustainable, dedicated audience, you’ve got to capture those emails.

When a reader gives you their email address, they’re telling you that they want more. They want to know when you post new content, and when you release a new product. They don’t want to forget about you.

That’s an impressive commitment to tourism boards and brands looking to work with bloggers. Your list of email subscribers tells them that people are listening to what you have to say, rather than happening upon your blog for just long enough to skim an article and then leaving, never to return again.

It might feel fruitless to start an email list in the beginning, when your numbers are low and the growth of your list is slow. But every single reader counts. ESPECIALLY the ones that find your blog and love it form the start.

Starting a travel blog is an exciting adventure with plenty of challenges to face along the way.

travel blogging adventure
The road ahead might be long, but it’s worth it.

 

Those who truly feel passionate about it and are willing to dedicate the time and effort it requires to build a successful business from their travel blog, can trust that despite the frustrations and the many mistakes you’re bound to make, hard work will pay off.

Then again, no matter how successful your travel blog is when it comes to making money, you’re creating something special and documenting experiences you’ll want to remember forever. That accomplishment alone is priceless.


Recent Comments

  • These are great to read! Thanks for letting me know what I can expect!

  • Great post! I would also add that you should try and outsource what you cannot do yourself. I spent days trying to learn basic coding and CSS but then just made an effort to find a good and recommended freelancer. My blog has really improved since and I can focus more on content creation. The biggest challenge remains promoting the content. That alone is a full time job!

    • Good tip! In the beginning, I tried to do everything myself because I wanted to save money, but in time, I realized investing in others who have the skills I don’t would pay dividends in the long run. Now I’m much more comfortable with the idea.

  • I laughed so hard at the picture of the overloaded wagon-that does remind me of blogging! I knew writing and being consistent with posts would be hard work-but I didn’t know I would be learning about plugins, SEO, and other multiple how-tos. I’ve only been blogging four months and I still am struggling with the steep learning curve. Thanks for the great reminders!

    Jodi Ettenberg of Legal Nomads does a great job using this strategy. The Legal Nomads Shop, prominently displayed on the home page of her blog, showcases hand-drawn posters and t-shirts of Vietnam.

  • Great article for getting good lessons from those who’ve been there before!

  • Inspiring and helpful, thank you! And I love the pictures 🙂

  • Very nice and useful blog post, thanks for sharing with us!!!

  • Great advice.As a new blogger i found this post really helpful.thanks for sharing.

  • This is a great short-list of concepts to keep in mind! It is honest in what to expect from choosing a blogger’s path, but also useful tips to creating passive income and connecting with readers. Thanks a million!

  • Hey Brittany,

    Thanks for writing up this very helpful post to help guide new bloggers. Great points, all.

    And thanks heaps for including me. 🙂

    … I’d like to add that the main point I wanted to make is that it’s very important to know correct ergonomics for working on a computer/laptop and doing a ‘desk job’, which is what blogging ends up being. It’s important to sit correctly, have your screen , desk and keyboard at proper positions and to take breaks, exercise and maintain a balanced life. That’s what will avoid common office ‘injuries’ like my slipped disc or carpal tunnel syndrome, sore eyes and other afflictions.

    Best luck blogging everyone!

    cheers, Lash

  • This is an underrated topic; travel blogging does completely alter the way you travel and it is an important thing to consider before you launch into it. I think the most important thing is finding a quiet place and an hour or two to work, which can be extremely hard while on the road! Thanks for the wonderful advice!

  • Hi Britany,

    Reading this article got me thinking extra hard on the next steps in travel blogging. Yet, I am convinced that there is a gap within my environment to educate, entertain, and inform people about the world.

    I’m glad I read this and I do look forward to sharing thoughts and information, travel tips, advice etc with you.

    Fantastic read.

    Regards

    Detoun, Ajalatravelsng

  • Thanks for this article. It’s the most useful I’ve read so far. I’m at the beginning of the blog and really need tips. I’ going to save money to buy the course.

  • Wow, this is the third time today that I read that I should build a list. I just did now, thanks.

  • Hi….good article but the piece that I think is always missing in these “how to’s” is what are the tips, tricks and strategies for actually advertising/marketing your blog when you are a startup. Everything I read seems to talk about SEO etc. You’ve got to have good content to start with and enough of it, but then you want someone to read it as well. Any ideas? I’d be interested in what strategies other bloggers have used.

  • Thanks so much for the tips! This really is an exhausting endeavor lol

  • Thanks

  • Great Post. I felt nervous by reading some lines about nomadic lifestyle and stress of travel blogger but,creating a successful travel blog and earning from it is really an unique thing.

  • Fantastic post! I found the step-by-step instructions and screenshots to be super helpful. I just made the big switch from WordPress.com to self-hosting this week. Thanks so much!

  • Please correct the title of this post, it hurt me to read “BEFORE Your Start” that should, of course, be “BEFORE You Start.” Thanks for good info.

    • Thanks for bringing this to our attention, we’ve corrected the title.

  • So informative! Gives me a great heads up, appreciate the list. Definitely keeping this all on my mind as I think about travel blogging.

  • This is a great short-list of concepts to keep in mind! Thanks for posting these beautiful photos. Inspiring and helpful, thank you!

  • This is the most informative guide about starting a travel blog, I’m so excited after I read your article. So thank you!

  • Your article on “6 Things To Know BEFORE You Start a Travel Blog” is very amazing and interesting but images are very very matching with article information so good combination. Thanks for sharing your knowledge with us. Once again images are amazing.

  • Great article for us starting our own travel blog. May I ask what plugin are you using for the comment section?

  • Thanks for the great article it really helps to find out those tips you share with us. I just want to start a travel blog about my country, especially, my region, and I knew it is hard, but not that much. I hope that, because I am experienced web designer it will be at least some what easier to me. Thanks.

  • Thank you so much for this great article and practical, actionable advice! Really useful:-) Happy travels!

  • “That image of a travel writer lounging on a beach with their laptop perched on their tan legs and a cocktail in hand is nice and all — but it doesn’t work that way. ” Haha. I enjoyed those lines, because in most travel blogs I have read, I see those images often.

  • Great read and very helpful as I’m working on my blog and it’s a mess right now. But the more I read these type of post it fills me with hope and motivation!!

  • This is simply my treasure!! It’s been like a month that I’m reading this wonderful article and following it step by step, word by word. The result is the birth of my first travel blog (https://bottleoftravel.com) I’m sure many people would be inspired as I was to do great job!
    Thank you so much

    • Hi Marc, that’s awesome to hear. Congrats on taking action to get your first travel blog up and running! 🙂

  • As a new blogger, this post is very helpful. Kudos!

  • I am in fact delighted to glance at this blog posts which carries plenty
    of valuable information, thanks for providing these kinds of
    information.

  • I’ve just started travel blogging that might actually be helpful to travelers. I love reading others blogs as well. The information you have shared here is truly amazing. God bless you.

  • Thanks for the tips! I wish I had an email list with my first blog… I just started to realize it’s really worth it!

  • Thanks a lot, this helps

  • Very helpful article for a new blogger such as myself. Though one thing I would say. I don’t see why you would start creating products at the beginning. I would have thought the best thing to do, would be to focus on growing your blog first and then trying to make money from it, once you have built up a good list of readers.

  • Great article. I learned some few tips. Thank you! and Kudos!

Comment