Make every day your adventure!

How To Become A Professional Blogger

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…How to become a professional blogger

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)!

Do you know people that started a business for only $ 3.95? But it’s true starting a travel blog business is as affordable as that. All you really need is a domain and web hosting and your are good.

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! 

So thank you from the bottom of my heard for reading everything I write and for following me on FacebookTwitter and Instragram.

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!

Leave a Reply

42 comments on “How To Become A Professional Blogger

  1. Tiana Kai on

    Good for you! You can really tell that you take blogging seriously and that you love what you do. It shows and that’s when the benefits come rolling in.

    I started my blog 8 months ago and I am starting to write posts that are different from the initial posts, so I feel like I am still finding my way and trying to figure out what MY blog is all about. I am a consultant too, so have the luxury of working from anywhere, but I really need to put more love into my blog and give it some focus. Once there is focus you can go so much further.

    It has been a pleasure following you and reading your posts and checking out your Instagram shots. It is always great to also know your back story and that it did take years.

    Nothing is over night and I feel like most recent bloggers want to make money over night from a blog just because it looks easy… not because they love it and really want to connect.

    Reply
  2. Sarah Lee on

    Great piece, Seb, and some great truisms as well. One that resonated with me (aside from the endless search for wifi!) was the idea of never going on a normal holiday again – living your work day after day. This in particular is so true: 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!” Ah, but then, who’d change it for the world!

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  3. Crazy sexy fun traveler on

    I LOVE this post! Says exactly what we really need to do. I work 24/7 too and it is tiring but we do it cos we love it 🙂 I also wrote a similar post about it last year as many people were asking me how it really works.

    Reply
  4. Sophie on

    Wifi is the travel blogger drug of choice, isn’t it…
    Really important (but so hard) to put away all the equipment and just enjoy the moment now and again.

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  5. grasya on

    I’M TAKING NOTES! Professional blogging is not as easy as others would expect it to be but I’m having fun doing it and its all that matters at the moment.. hopefully money comes in later ^_^

    Reply
  6. Adam on

    A few things. I don’t think it’s true that you should have to wait 1-2 years to make money off of a blog. Plenty of successful websites can be turned around and made profitable very quickly (2-3 months). It just simply depends on the business model. But of course if you’re going the personal blog route, building an audience like you say is definitely key.

    I understand where you’re coming at with the 24/7 life, but that’s something I definitely don’t want. While it’s nice to have friends who are also bloggers, I find my life much more rewarding with friends who are doing other more interesting and unique things. Blogging is just like any other career so you’re bound to end up spending lots of time with co-workers, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Plenty of people can (and sometimes should) separate work & home life.

    I am curious about your BlogCamp thing because you say you only make a few hundred Euros per month off the blog and the rest comes from consulting and marketing work. No offense, but how do you advise to make money from a blog then? Personally I’m not a fan of the “here I’ll show you how to blog to make money (and that’s *how* I make my money)” whole spiel. It seems to be quite the trend in travel blogging, though – but there are plenty of other revenue models.

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  7. Alastair McKenzie on

    Seb hasn’t even mentioned the extra work he is creating for himself by blogging in German, English, and soon a bunch of other languages! #GetStaffQuickly !

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  8. Peter Parkorr on

    Hey Seb, I’m glad I didn’t read this before finishing my post on blogging. They cover different aspects of blogging but yours is a great compliment to mine! I feel like I’m working all the time too – it’s addictive and thought-consuming stuff. I agree with what Adam said about going down the personal blogger route being slower, harder, but think all your points are spot on for personal blogging, especially around brand building. Someone with bloggers skills could find it easier to create sites with more direct sources of income, but it’s a different game with less perks and without the fun of the community too. Your post is really useful for anyone wondering what it looks like on the inside tho, nice work man!

    Reply
  9. Shaun on

    Great tips Seb!

    I’ll going to TBEX in Toronto in a couple weeks, really looking forward to that and learning from all the great people attending.

    Reply
  10. Mark Hodson on

    Hi Seb, this is a must-read for anyone would-be pro travel blogger. You give a taste of how demanding this career path can be. It would be great if in a future post you could drill down into some more detail about income sources and time allocation.

    Reply
  11. Author, Catherine Lyon on

    HEY Mr.S……So good to see your update! Love the Pic with you, and what is the background? Looks like old ruins? Thanks for this post! I just had to move my Blog to a New home on WordPress.com due to people wanting to follow my recovery/addiction posts. Shame, because my 1st *Little Blog that could* just won a 2nd blogger award, sponsored by *Wendy McCance* of *The Oakland Press* The Top 7 Inspiring Blogger Award*……my 1st blog is http://www.Simplesite.com/CatherineLyonAddictedToDimes But I love my New Blog Home! Many Safe Travels my friend! Your USA Pal! Catherine Lyon 🙂

    Reply
  12. travelyn on

    I found you comment on this subject very insightful. When you are thinking about blogging and taking photos all the time it is easy to forget ‘the moment’ and that moment may never come again. Advise on income source would be interesting. Good luck as you say it is a lot of work to gain success.

    Reply
  13. Britany on

    Thanks for the honest advice, here! My blog is about to celebrate its second birthday and just like you said, I’m just now starting to hit the numbers and receive the invitations and inquiries necessary to start making money off this labor of love. And yes, I definitely base many of my eating decisions off the availability of wifi. Its never ending!!

    Reply
  14. Melisa on

    KLike Alex, I know very little about wine, You must be familiar though with the term kalimo txo though right? Imagine having one of those during the tour

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  15. Clark Norton on

    After decades of working in print media (magazines, guidebooks etc) , although I’ve done a lot of writing for the Web as well, I’m now moving seriously into travel blogging. I love it because I don’t have to run it by editors and don’t have to wait for publication (sometimes months or even years when dealing with print). Hearing from readers all over the world is also exhilarating. Your advice about finding a niche or brand, especially today with the proliferation of travel bloggers, is crucial. Mine is baby boomers.

    Reply
  16. Shannon Chow on

    it’s really important to start blogging from passion as being a blogger myself I did not started thinking to monetize my blog but now, shannonchow.com had been doing well (although our income are not fixed) it’s a rather interesting lifestyle blogger have. I’ve also joined trips sponsored by tourism board indeed the experience are priceless. Best wishes to bloggers in which ever field they are in be it lifestyle/beauty/fashion. Keep doing what your doing, always be willing to learn and improve, next thing you know… reward will come. Just be true to urself, never blog about something you do not believe in yourself.

    Reply
  17. Sab on

    Thank you for this post! Very interesting insights. I think I’m really lucky because I didn’t feel it that way.

    I started blogging 8 month ago. I actually started for fun, I’m a lazy writer, in 8 months i wrote only 11 posts. This month I hit the first time 40,000 visitors. For me having a blog is fun, I work a lot on it, but definitely not 24 hours a day. I even stopped blogging while I was 2 months in the Philippines earlier this year. Surprisingly my numbers barely went down. After 5 months of blogging I started to monetize it and it works better than I expected it.

    I guess by the end of the year I can live off my blog. Being said, living in a cheap country helps (I live in Turkey atm). The best advice for new travel bloggers I can give is to write epic posts that people wants to share. And promote the hell out of your blog! Compare other blogs and check their most successful posts and you’ll get an idea what people wants to read.

    Good luck to all newbie travel bloggers (I consider myself still a newbie!)

    Cheers from Istanbul, Sab

    Reply
  18. Anne @ Pretraveller on

    Thanks for sharing your travel blogging experience.

    I always find it interesting to read how different travel bloggers make money from their endeavours. I am still int he early hobby phase, but in future I would like to set things up so that I could at least earn a reasonable part time income from my blog.

    Reply
  19. Chris on

    It’s a labour of love hey? I’m stoked I stuck with it and it now affords me a pretty fun lifestyle – but you’re right in saying you need to keep other income streams open…surf coaching and photography are my fall backs – not bad jobs either 😉

    Reply
  20. Adam Finan on

    Cool post guys.. It does take up a lot of time in the beginning but I think you can outsource and set up systems and processes to make things run more efficient. It frees up a lot more time to focus on creating on great content!

    Reply
  21. Marta on

    I truly enjoyed your post, but I do believe that everyone has to find their own recipe for becoming a full time traveler and/or blogger. I follow different blogs and a lot of people running them have different experiences. At some point I had an impression that you are overworked and hate it. I do believe it is a lot of work, but like with everything it is also important to find a balance. Maybe stay in a hotel or go to a restaurant where there is no wifi and remind yourself what was all the point of becoming full time traveler 🙂

    Reply
  22. Crischo on

    Sounds more then stress work than fun to me. Maybe it’s a question of frequency of blog posting. Do you feel in hurry? I never wrote a blog post while traveling and never had the feeling that I have to jet from one place to the other to get as much as possible accomplished. It took me nearly 6 month to visit all the places that I described in my blog and another 6 month to write the posts later.
    Stay a couple of days or sometimes weeks at the same place. Drink some beer, talk to locals and other travelers and you might get even more and maybe unique information, about what you could write. For me that’s an improvement of quality for my blog that I wouldn’t get while running from location to location.
    But ok, it’s not my main income as in your case and I am not a full time traveler. It might take a couple of years more, until my blogs produce a revenue, that allows me to live from it.

    Reply
  23. francaangloitalian on

    Thanks for sharing this Seb! A lot of times I hear people not taking blogging like a proper job, sometimes they don’t know and understand what is behind the life of a blogger, perhaps they’ll change their minds after reading this.

    Reply
  24. Where in the World is Nina? on

    Thanks Sebastian!! I kinda knew everything you mentioned, but sometimes you need to be reminded. I have to tell myself that things will come eventually, I just need to keep on working at. Keep up your good work and congrats on your success! 🙂

    Reply
  25. Tam @ Travelling Book Junkie on

    The life of a blogger is definitely not as relaxing as some believe. Only yesterday someone asked me when I was going to actually get a job again. I did try to explain to them that I probably work more hours now that I have decided to take my blogging seriously and pursue it on a professional level but I suppose people see what they choose to see rather than all the hours we put into SM, writing articles etc. I think they just see me making plans for yet another trip and question whether and when I will settle down again. Anyone who is thinking about blogging really should read this and take note of the words of advice given.

    Reply
  26. misstanyabrooks on

    Thank you so much for all this great information Sebastian! I am definitely ready to take my blog to the next level 🙂 I would absolutely love to do what you’re doing. When I click the link to the Blog Camp it’s all in German. How do I change it to English??

    Reply
  27. Karthik Reddy on

    I have been travel blogging for a while about 2 years and should say the curve is too many highs and lows. But at the end of the day what matters for is, I am where I want to be.

    Reply