“How do I Become a Professional Travel Blogger?” That’s a question we get a lot.
People that run their own business in the real world work 18 hours a day to achieve success, and so do people who run successful travel blogs. We put in long hours every day. Luckily, we love what we do. Our long hours at the computer and all the time spent traveling for several months of the year, doing research on the destination, and taking countless photographs…well, that’s fun for us.
Want to be a Professional Travel Blogger?
Being a Professional Travel Blogger is Hard Work.
Many travel bloggers decide to start a blog because they want to leave the rat race and that is fine. I understand wanting to give up your career or take a break to travel the world. Many people are quite happy to take a year off, write about their experience, and then go back to their jobs. But if you decide to become a professional travel blogger because you think it will be easy to make money, and that you will get away from the long hours and stress of business, you better think again.
But The Hard Work is Worth It!
We travel blogging because we love everything about it. Besides the travel and being together, we love writing, taking photographs, and making videos. Dave and I were willing to put everything we had into turning our dreams into a reality. When we had setbacks or failures, we were willing to re-evaluate our situation, make the changes that needed to be made, and start again.
So, before you begin to think of being a professional travel blogger, ask yourself a few questions.
Are you only in it for the money?
Making money as a travel blogger is secondary. Creating good content, giving our readers information, entertaining our followers, and being authentic are all first and foremost. When you focus on the right things, the money will come. We have made a mid six figure income for several years as travel bloggers and financial freedom is within reach. Had we focused on that at the beginning of our professional travel blogger careers, I don’t think we would be where we are today.
1. Are you willing to make a solid plan and stick to it?
Dave and I went into this business with a plan. We didn’t have the fantasy that it was going to be a permanent vacation, and we didn’t think that we’d suddenly be working a 4-hour work week. To us, being a travel blogger was a career change, not a career break. We work hard, we have a plan, we are passionate about what we do, and we are willing to adapt when things don’t work out.
If you want to be a travel blogger, you’ll definitely want to read How to Start a Travel Blog in 11 Easy Steps
It takes years for any business to succeed and being a travel blogger is no different. You most likely won’t be an overnight success as a travel blogger and you will have to work hard to meet your goals, perhaps for a couple of years, before you even start to see a payoff. But, if travel and blogging are things that you are passionate about, you will have the time of your life getting there.
As professional travel bloggers we often hear these comments: “Wow, you have a great life!” “What do you mean work, you never work!” “You travel around the world having adventures and fun.” “It must be awesome to just travel all the time!” “You’re living the dream!” And that is true! We are living the dream, but we worked hard to get here and we love every minute of it. If we can do it, you can too!
2. Are You Willing to Think of Your Travel Blog as a Business?
That is the first question that you want to ask yourself. Do you want to be travel blogger for fun, or do you want to be in this business? If you just want to write about your experiences on the road for friends and family, no worries. But, if you want to make money with your travel blog in the future, you need to start thinking of Travel Blogging as a business. Have a plan of where you want to be in a few years and be prepared to re-evaluate when necessary.
3. Are you willing to photograph and share everything?
Even the most mundane things like taking a photo of yourself working at the airport can help to tell the story. You need to take photographs of everything that you do in your travels. Sometimes you won’t feel like it and would prefer to just sit and listen on a tour, but if you want to share the experience on your blog, you will have to make sure to take photographs of anything that could be relevant.
4. Are you willing to have your life on display?
Since we started out as travel bloggers, the business has changed a lot. At first we only had to focus on creating content for ThePlanetD blog. Now we have to share our daily experiences on SnapChat, Instagram Stories, Facebook Live, and constantly show people what we are doing in the moment. It’s a lot more work now. We still make the bulk of our money off of Travel Blogging and will never give up being travel bloggers. It’s the only content we truly own and control, but being a travel social media influencer is just as important. We now have two jobs and every detail of our life is online. You need to decide if you want people peeking into your life on a daily basis.
5. Are you willing to take notes on everything while being completely immersed in the history and culture?
Writing about your experience is not enough as a professional travel blogger. You need to learn about the history and significance of the place that you are visiting. You need to find out about the important details, like how much it costs, how to get there, and what you will see. Heck, you need to tell your readers how to get there and what to do once they reach the destination. You can’t just float through a tour or a destination as an observer. You need to be an active participant. You need to know about the destination and its people. You want to give your readers the best experience possible and being informed is a big part of that.
6. Are you willing to put in the hours after a long day of adventures to upload photos, write a post, and edit videos?
I know, you’d rather be out drinking at the bar or turning in early after a busy day trekking, surfing, or paddling. But as a travel blogger, you need to spend your evenings sorting through your footage, writing drafts for a blog post, and organizing and tagging your photos. There is a lot of work to be done each day and all those notes that you took while sightseeing now need to be edited and put into an enticing and interesting article for your readers to read.
7. Are you willing to go to see a sight or take part in an activity even if you don’t feel like it?
You’ve been travelling for a long time and you are burnt out. You really just want to sit on a beach, watch tv and stay as far away from your computer as possible. When you are starting a business, you can’t just up and leave it because you are tired. The same can be said when you are starting out as a travel blogger. You need to keep working, especially in the early stages when you are building your audience. People want to read new content and you need to network and publicize yourself. So even if you are relaxing at the beach for a week or so, you need to be prepared to keep working.
Dave and I are 8 years into our travel blogging careers and it has only been this past year that we’ve actually stopped to smell the roses. We are now in a place where we can say, “No, I don’t feel like getting up at 4:00 am for that sunrise.” But during the building years, we never missed a sunrise, sunset, or moment. We worked every waking moment. It was working hard that allowed us to save money for our retirement. You can do it too! But, only if you work hard.
8. Are you willing to change your lifestyle?
You have just quit your high paying job to live the dream of being a travel blogger. Travel is expensive and it will take at least a year before you start to make a name for yourself and start to make money. Money goes fast between flights and sightseeing, and you are going to spend more than you make for the first couple of years. Before the money starts to roll in, you will be on a tight budget. Are you willing to give up your designer clothes and expensive dinners? This is a very real question that you need to ask yourself. How much are you willing to give up to achieve your dreams?
Are you willing to stay in budget accommodation? During our first year as travel bloggers, Dave and I stayed in $6 guest houses in India that were disgusting. To see Holi in Mathura, we had a shared bathroom, (that was quite dirty and gross) the bed was questionable, and we spent as much time outside as we could because we couldn’t handle being in a dump. But, that dump allowed us to see and document India’s most exciting festival. It allowed us to travel through the continent for 5 months while we built our readership and social media following. By saving money and staying, putting aside our pride and need to stay in luxury, we built theplanetd to one of the largest travel blogs on the Internet.
9. Are you willing to answer emails from fans and followers who have questions about travel?
There is a lot more to being a travel blogger than just putting up a post. You will have to respond to comments, answer emails, talk to sponsors and advertisers, and answer questions from your fans and fellow travel bloggers. The behind the scenes work of a travel blog takes up more time than writing a blog post, especially as you grow bigger. Comments accumulate and emails come in from readers, advertisers, tourism boards, and brands. PR companies contact you about going on press trips and attending media lunches and you can find yourself answering dozens of emails each day. You can’t ignore these emails. You need to be polite and answer every one of them. Even if you don’t plan on working with certain companies, you still need to send a reply thanking them for contacting you. And most importantly, make sure you don’t ignore your social media interactions.
It is important to remain professional and stay on top of things.
10. Are you willing to make an editorial schedule and stick to it?
At first it was fun writing a blog post every couple of days, but now it is cutting into your travel time. It suddenly doesn’t seem so easy when you have to write a post while you’d rather be sleeping on a lounge chair. However, you need to be consistent and decide if you really want to write on a regular basis. Your readers will start to look forward to your posts and count on reading them when they expect them. If you suddenly don’t post for a few days or weeks, you will lose many readers. Even if you decide to only write once a week when you first start out, that is fine. Just be sure to stick to that schedule whatever you decide.
11. Are you willing to adapt?
Many people don’t want to compromise or change if things aren’t working out. If nobody is coming to your blog, stop complaining and start rethinking your business plan. Instead of whining about what everyone else is doing, start looking into trying new things. Many people argue that they have integrity and write from the soul. They refuse to change because that is who they are. There is absolutely nothing wrong with writing from the soul and keeping your voice, but if nobody is coming to your blog you need to think about what you are doing wrong and why people aren’t connecting with you. You can adapt while still keeping your core values and writing style. You may need to experiment with ways to connect with your audience. If you are not willing to shift your plan, you will have a difficult time in succeeding.
Before deciding on a career as travel bloggers, Dave and I wanted to have a TV Show. We thought it would be an amazing way to pursue our dreams of traveling full time. When we didn’t succeed in our original goal, we looked into ways to raise our profile so that maybe one day someone would approach us to be on television. We worked hard at creating the blog and we changed and adapted over the years. We didn’t change who we are and we stayed true to our core values, but we tried different things and made little changes to try to connect more with our readers and develop relationships with our peers. Because we were willing to adapt, we were eventually approached by a TV station to do a weekly segment.
If we hadn’t changed and adapted our plan in the beginning, we wouldn’t be where we are today.
12. Are you willing to promote yourself?
My mom gave me the best advice when I was worried that we shared too much of our good news. She said “If you don’t promote yourself, who will?” Travel Companies, PR Agencies and Tourist Boards need to know about all the great stuff that you are doing. The more you are doing, the more you should let them know. So, make announcements about where else you can be found on the web or who else you are writing for. Tell people when you are being interviewed or when you have won an award . These are all things that are attractive to companies, and they will want to hire you or sponsor you. Actors have a publicist doing this job for them, but you most likely don’t have enough money to hire a publicist so you need to be your own media machine. Being humble is nice, but it won’t get you a pay check.
Serious about becoming a travel blogger?
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How have you had success?
So, that’s our thoughts on turning a travel journal into a travel blog. We have our views on what we think that we should do to be a success, but everyone does things differently. Have you had success travel blogging? What have you done to make your blogging career a success? We’d love to hear.