Tips For Starting A Travel Blogger
Becoming a travel blogger is one of those jobs that most of us dream of. Are we getting pay to travel the world, take pictures of breathtaking landscapes, write about our experiences eating culinary delights, and meet new people? Where do we sign up?
Thanks to the changing nature of the internet and the increasing democratization of content creation tools, becoming a travel blogger is now easier than ever. You can easily self-publish your writing, take great photos and promote yourself through social media.
And today, more travel blogs are floating around the web than ever before. Thousands of blogs of varying quality promise to help you plan or inspire your next trip. But is it feasible to become a travel blogger? What is the economics of becoming and staying a travel blogger?
It’s no wonder there’s a lot of sand beneath the glamour: Travel blogging itself is rarely the kind of money-maker that can support a traveling (or even established) lifestyle, and a successful travel blogger has their hands in a series of income sources that require constant monitoring, updating, and expansion.
Gary Arndt of Everything Everywhere, a veteran travel blogger and photographer, is one of the few who has turned his ardor for travel into a business. But even he understands the uncertainty of the profession.
It can take years to make money, and it may never happen. It would help if you do this because you like to travel, not because you want to make money, says Arndt. There are superior ways to make money than starting a travel blog.
Arndt’s journey began at an internet company in 1994, and he sold it in 1998, eventually deciding to travel the earth for “a year or two” and starting a website to document his travels. What began as a whim turned into a full-fledged adventure.
Convert it from a Blog to a Business
Anyone can blog about travel. You can do this on a personal Medium or WordPress page or deck out a Squarespace site with a custom domain name. So the query is, how do you turn your blog into a certified business?
For Arndt, This Change Was The Result Of Slow Evolution.
“There was not a single turning point. It was an evolution, and it continues to evolve,” says. “The written press is dying. Many travel magazines have closed, published less frequently, or have far fewer pages than ten years ago. Small publications like mine compete directly with large online publications, often with audiences as large as or larger than large publications, but at a fraction of the costs. I soon realized that it could be a business, but I would have to wait for the industry to catch up, which it eventually did. I didn’t make any money in the first four years I did this.”
However, things have changed significantly on the web since Arndt started blogging. There is a larger ecosystem for writing and monetizing writing through sponsored posts on social media or brand embassies.
Invest In Yourself And Your Business
As mentioned above, becoming a travel blogger is a business like any other, so you will have to spend money just like any other business.
- web hosting
- email hosting
- SEO monitoring services
- podcast hosting
- Graphic design
- Subscription to webinars
- Subscription to a hosting course
Travel expenses seem almost obvious, but I must say that this is often the most extensive ongoing expense. Plane and train tickets (or car or bike rentals) aren’t cheap, and neither is staying or eating out often, and they can add up.
How to Monetize Your Content
Most newbies to web publishing can expect that advertising on their website is the number one form of income for travel bloggers. That might have been the case in the early days of the internet and what eventually became a blog. Not anymore, says Arndt.
“Display advertising prices have gone down all over the internet. As a result, the supply is much greater than the demand,” she says. “Most money comes from brand embassies, social media marketing campaigns, affiliate marketing, product sales, tours, etc.”
Create Other Interrelated Forms Of Income
You need many forms of income to make it while becoming a travel blogger.
Another popular and probably necessary way to make money from being a travel blogger is to use your knowledge, experience, and connections in web publishing to create additional income streams.
In addition, however, he runs a Pinterest consulting business and a three-month Pinterest kickstart program to help other people use the power of Pinterest to drive traffic to their websites.
How much can these concerts give you? For Garside, he says he averages more than 50,000 page views a month, displays ads, and affiliate marketing network for his $800 monthly. The occasional sponsored post ranges from $400 to $550 per post. Their Pinterest services start at $125 a week. And his most recent destination campaign paid him $2,000, which included 12 days of travel and lodging, meals, transfers, and a local SIM card, among other expenses.
Other possibilities to earn additional income while becoming a travel blogger include other travel-related websites, Amazon book sales, and taking training courses or offering consultancy guidance for other bloggers, writers, photographers, or web editors.
The changing role of social media is becoming a travel blogger
The importance of social media in the blogging game cannot overstates. Some people have built empires off of their Instagram and Snapchat (Facebook, not so much anymore) fame, selling ad space or promoting products related to their brand. However, you need to spend time and energy (or money, so someone else can do it for you) to build and cultivate your social media presence.
Do it long enough to become a sought-after “influencer,” becoming an increasingly important part of extensive brand marketing campaigns.
However, being a high-end influencer isn’t just about amassing more followers than other travel bloggers (with whom, remember, you’ll be competing for every sponsorship dollar). According to Arndt, “we have reached the peak of Instagram,” The future will be more about audience loyalty than sheer numbers.
Research Supports This Claim
According to marketers surveyed by Bloglovin (via Adweek), “quality/authenticity was the most important factor when choosing an influencer. In addition, 70% select for audience size. 64% for engagement, and more than half for influencer aesthetics.” That means staying true to your brand (in essence, yourself) and only promoting products or services that move with that brand is more important than rolling eyes.
Becoming a professional travel blogger will remain a pipe dream for many. It’s not clear how many of the web’s travel connoisseurs turn their passion into a business. Those who do will likely find their trips consumed with the chores of taking work notes. Photographing, planning, interviewing, and creating sponsorship opportunities. It can be a mixed bag to find your passion turned into a commodity.
There are certainly worse endeavors you could spend your time in than exploring new places and documenting your findings for friends, family. And eventually a wider audience. Even if it doesn’t work out, you’ll probably have a good time. What if he does? Even better.