Since so many of you have been asking how I manage to travel to all these countries and live the life I am living, I thought it’s about time to write down my thoughts about becoming a professional travel blogger!
I have just arrived in Bologna, Italy after spending five days in Rotterdam for the Travel Bloggers Unite conference (TBU). Here, over 200 bloggers and industry representatives gathered to discuss issues and topics surrounding the industry and the influence of travel blogging. I will be here in Bologna for another two days before flying to Oslo, Norway for a quick 24 hours consultation gig with their tourism department. After this I fly back down to France for a nine-day road trip through the country’s wine region.
I loved meeting all my blogging friends at TBU – At the moment, I see my blogging friends more often than my “normal” friends. Crazy!
So you want to become a professional travel blogger and travel the world? Great, let me tell you a little bit about this…
You need a solid base to build your success!
Travel blogging in my opinion is one of the hardest niches in blogging. Since you are constantly on the move, creating captivating content that your readers want to read is hard. Not everybody can write in a moving bus or a tight seat in economy class.
Also when you travel you have no time to maintain your blog a lot. You just hope that nobody will hack it, the database will work and no plugins screw up your work after an update of WordPress.
This is why you need a web host that is reliable and knows exactly what you do. This is why I can recommend Bluehost.
Not only their hosting is super affordable (starting at just 3.95 $) but it’s a great place to start out with your travel blog!
Most blogs won’t experience their first birthday!
It’s a sad truth. Most people that start a blog stop within the first few months.
Why? Mostly because they have no idea how everything works, have no plan of action (business plan) and most importantly, they expect to see thousands of visitors to their blog within a very short time.
The reality is, you need to have a strategy for your own unique branding and a clear idea for how you are going to tackle your way into the blogging world.
Look at what’s around? You wanted to blog about solo female travel? Adventurous Kate is already doing this… Budget Travel? Budget Traveller is there to cover this niche. Maybe luxury travel? Velvet Escape is leading this segment… Not easy huh?!
You are the blog and the blog is you!
If you really want to be successful in what you do, you need to create a brand around you and your blog – The blog and you need to become one individual!
Off The Path has quickly become one of the leading travel blogs around the world and the leading adventure travel blog in Germany! It was a lot of work and I never stop talking about work.
Which brings me to the next point:
You will work harder than ever before
Writing and keeping a travel blog up to date is a lot of work. It’s a never-ending process…
Before I launched Off The Path I did a lot of research about what was out there already. Could I actually compete against all those adventure travel blogs that already existed?
Yes compete. It’s a bloody competition! You compete for Number 1 position on Google, you compete for invitations on blog trips and you compete for marketing budgets that should be spent on campaigns with you!
Last year I finished my job at a marketing agency in Thailand and became a full time travel blogger. From a 60 hours desk job to a flexible job that allows me to work from everywhere. Today I work even more. I work 24/7!
I often don’t feel like I’m working but every time I visit home or hang out with my “normal” friends they always make me realize how much I do work. Just quickly answering an email, a short tweet here, a photo upload on Facebook there… all work. Fun, but still work!
And then there is the other side, the side nobody actually sees. The side where you plan your trips, write proposals and outlines for Public Relations Reps and Destination Marketing Organisation’s, designing eBooks, tweaking the design of your blog, attend conferences… the list never ends!
What many don’t realize is that if I don’t do all those things all the time, I wouldn’t be where I am now and I wouldn’t be here for much longer!
All these things are necessary to be successful and hold a position in the travel blogging industry!
ROI in Blogging takes a while…
You will invest a lot of time in your blog and if your aim to make money online quickly, I’d like to give you an advice… stop now!
You won’t make a lot of money in the first two years. You invest a lot of sweat and time to grow your audience! Once you have a certain number of followers and engagement you will start to receive more and more emails and invitations. It’s about building a strong and sustainable brand!
There are many other jobs where you can earn more money in a shorter time. Travel blogging isn’t such a job unless you sell a ton of advertising links (which is against Google rules!)
So if your aim is to start a travel blog to travel around the world for a year and get a few freebies here and there (remember there is no such thing as something for free) then I’d recommend to only write for friends and family, cause that isn’t what professional bloggers do!
Once you start making money your income isn’t steady!
Some months you make more money than you need and other months you have to see how to pay your rent, hostel or food… After two years of blogging I’ve never had a few consecutive months where I knew how much money I would make.
Last month I made about 1000 €, this month I’m making 5,000 € until now though I have nothing for next two months… it looks scary!
You need more than one revenue stream… the blog itself will not feed you!
When I say that I make 5,000 € a month it’s not coming directly from my blog. With the blog I make between 300-500 €/month with affiliate sales with packing lists or some recommendations here and there about products I really believe in…
The rest of my income I make outside of the blog but I wouldn’t make them without having the blog because Off The Path also is my portfolio. I consult Brands, PR-Agencies and DMO’s how to work with bloggers so that once you decide to become a professional blogger have it easier to work with those brands… We are only at the beginning where brands and companies are taking us serious and there is still a lot of work that needs to be done!
So that is one of my income streams, another one is campaign work, where I work with brands and come up with campaigns how they can reach out to their target group. Next week I’m doing a big campaign in France where I will be traveling for 9 days from one vineyard to another and promote French wines…
There is also the Blog Camp where Conni and I help people like you to become a professional blogger. So far we have had 4 Blog Camps in Germany and want to expand to other countries like Austria, Switzerland but are also looking to take it further abroad if there is more demand!
Again, your life becomes your job…
Remember that I said that you will work 24/7… remember those times when you travelled somewhere and really, really enjoyed the moment?
This is becoming harder and harder the longer you are a professional travel blogger! I needed to force myself to enjoy the moment when I was standing in Bagan overlooking its famous Pagodas. All I was thinking is: “Perfect light, let’s try to capture this!”
For the first time in 4 years I took a vacation in February this year… I scheduled all the posts on Facebook, Twitter and on my Blog and just went offline for a week! It was really hard but I needed it!
Starting a travel business has never been that easy (and that cheap)!
Of course I’d recommend investing a little more, like a nice theme and maybe an online course about the basics of SEO. But if you just want to start you simply have to sign up to Bluehost and you can start publishing your first travel articles in a few minutes!
Wifi is your lifeblood
Have you ever been around a few travel bloggers? The first thing they will ask when entering a new place (and I swear to god its true) is: “Do you have Wifi?”
Your restaurant decisions will be made according to the Wifi availability. Also you might decide to skip a place due to the lack of internet… Because “No Internet=No Work, No Work=No Money!”
You make friends from around the world!
I think by now I have a couch to crash in each country around the world. As a traveller and travel blogger you will make friends from all over the world and you will meet other awesome travel bloggers at conferences like TBEX.
I’m very happy that I can call some travel bloggers as some of my closest friends. They are as crazy as I am and have the same interests!
But without you, I would be nothing!
I love this life and I love my job (Blogger/Consultant) but I can only do this because of you. Because you visit my site every few days and check out my latest posts, because you want to be inspired about places you want to go, because you send me all these great emails and leave these awesome comments in the posts.
If you wouldn’t be there, I wouldn’t be either!
If you have read all of this, don’t be discouraged about what I said, it’s still possible to become a professional travel blogger. Just remember what the old fisherman at Tonsai beach once said to me: “If you are really passionate about something, success will come from it alone.” Just remember that it takes a long time until success kicks in!