13 Things You Need To Know About Travel Blogging

Travel blogging is not that easy.

I opened my blog, My Adventures Across the World, in September 2014. Actually, that’s when I finally bought my own domain. In fact, I first started travel blogging on a free platform in March 2013, after a very eventful trip to Cuba. Back then, I wasn’t focusing on turning my blog into a career. I just wanted to rant about Cuba and perhaps write about my other travels. I had no intentions of abandoning my academic career yet.

Read more about my academic career in my post “How I went from being an academic to a travel blogger.”

I eventually bought my own domain because I had heard from someone that it would be easier to run ads and to get a passive income. Who doesn’t want an effortless, passive income? I surely did! I thought it would be an easy way to earn a little extra money to increase my meager tour leader paycheck and to add to my future travel consultant income.

Well let me tell you – I have been doing it for 5 years. Travel blogging is not nearly as easy as you think it may be. Don’t get me wrong: I love it and wouldn’t do anything else for a living, but this isn’t nearly as easy-peasy as I thought it would be. And there is no such thing as a passive income.

Here are 13 things you should know about travel blogging.

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Do I look at things differently since I have started travel blogging?

13 Things You Should Know About Travel Blogging

Travel blogging is a real job

Just because you don’t walk into an office every day and you don’t have fixed hours, that doesn’t mean blogging is not a real job. Sure, you are free to work whenever and wherever you want, but for most bloggers (including myself) this translates into anywhere and at any time (and all the time).

I – for example – actually have a strict working routine, where I average 10 hours per day (with peaks of up to 12 hours), sometimes even during weekends. I work much more now than I did in my previous jobs. What’s different now is that I actually really enjoy what I am doing, for as hard as it is.

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Travel blogging? It ain’t all beach and games

Travel blogging is much more work than you think

Before starting to blog full time I was under the impression that managing a travel blog would be fairly easy. I thought it was just a matter of writing something, placing some nice photos here and there, and hit the publish button.

I wish it were that easy. I know that a post doesn’t necessarily have to be a masterpiece, but I still like the idea of writing to the best of my abilities. Putting together a post takes time, depending on the topic and on how inspired you are. Once you have an idea in mind, you have to build the post in an appealing way, one that makes people want to read it. The language you use, the phrasing, and even seemingly silly things as the length of a paragraph all make a difference.

Once the post is written, you have to find the right pictures to go with it, edit them at least a little bit (I am no photographer), caption them and place them along the relevant text.

This is why I find it very frustrating when I get contacted by people who ask all sort of questions the answers to which can be easily found on my blog. It is rather annoying when they tell me that they don’t have 10 minutes to read that post that took me a long time to write!

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There’s more to travel blogging than just exploring amazing places

In travel blogging, SEO is a must…

Search Engine Optimization (which bloggers refer to as SEO) is the most efficient way to make sure that traffic is driven to a post and to the blog. When I wrote my first post, I had not even heard of these words. I just thought that because I had written and published something, people would magically find it and read it. How naïve of me!

In travel blogging, you really need to learn the tricks of SEO so that you can optimize your posts and make them stand out in google searches. Using keywords, people may be able to find a post you have written and hopefully if they like it, they will come back for more.

This doesn’t mean that all your posts should be optimized. Indeed, you should still appreciate the act of writing in a more spontaneous way. Readers do too.

…as well as social media

Travel blogging and social media go pretty much hand in hand. Most travel bloggers have accounts across the best known social media. Using social media smartly means showing the world that you are out there, driving traffic to the blog and growing an audience, something which isn’t necessarily easy thanks to the constant changes in the way social media work – posts aren’t necessarily shown to all followers.

You will find it hard to keep on top of everything. You will have to use social media persistently but at times with no real strategy. You post regularly, you try to keep my audience engaged, you reply to comments and hope for the best.

Gone are the days in which you used Facebook to see what friends around the world were doing, and Instagram to post selfies and pictures of your cats.

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Travel blogging isn’t nearly as solitary as I thought

Even when travel blogging, you still have to deal with people…

… and they are not necessarily nice.

One of the reasons people give up a job is that they have to deal with other people, which isn’t always fun. In my previous working life I have had a number of backstabbing colleagues, who went as far as stealing my research. I’ve also had to work hard to please difficult customers – and often didn’t succeed.

Read more about the kind of people I dealt with as a tour leader on my post “11 persons I have met during a guided tour.”

Travel bloggers may not work in an office building, but that’s about the only difference with the rest of the job market: you still have colleagues (other bloggers) and anybody who requires your services – whether it is for a consultancy, for a writing job, or for a marketing campaign – is a customer.

The job environment isn’t different from any other: there’s gossip, there’s envy, there’s a good dose of competition, there’s some who aren’t nearly as professionals as they try to show and others who act as rockstars. And there is a lot of networking to do.

Some bloggers will become really good friends: they are those you respect, admire and a constant source of inspiration. The others are colleagues with whom you will prefer to keep a strictly professional relationship. And there are some you would rather not deal with.

Finding a travel blogging niche is harder than you can imagine

The process of finding a travel blogging niche and of establishing yourself as an authority in that is actually really hard and requires a lot of trial and effort. It certainly has to be something you enjoy and you are passionate about.

Find out why I think I am an unsuccessful backpacker on my post “How to be an unsuccessful backpacker.”

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Travel blogging press trips are actually tiring!

Travel blogging press trips are hard work…

One of the perks of travel blogging is traveling for free. Or so you may think until you are invited on your first press trip. Trust me, there is not such thing as traveling for free – where by free I mean that you don’t have to do anything in exchange.

Participating in a press trip indeed means being employed to visit places and promote them on my blog and social media.

A typical press trip involves visiting a huge amount of places in a very limited time, as tourism boards generally try to maximize their budget. It means days of up to 16 hours, when you have to be concentrated on what you see all the time and can’t just opt out if you don’t feel like doing something. It implies traveling at an imposed rhythm, where you don’t get to just do what you want and like – you don’t even get to pick where you want to eat, or what you want to eat for that matter.

During press trips, as blogger you have to take notes, take (and edit) pictures and you are expected to post on social media, which means being constantly online. Once back, you must produce a minimum amount of posts within a specific time period. There is a contract, instructions, deadlines.

It is better (and definitely sounds more glamorous) than most jobs, but it is still a job. And a very tiring one too.

…but a lot of fun too

I would lie if I said that travel blogging press trips are boring. They are tiring, they are hard work and whenever you get back home after one you are so exhausted that you swear you never want to do one again. But they are a lot of fun too. 

On a recent press trip to the North of Spain, not only did I get to visit some amazing places, but a spirit of camaraderie developed, jokes were thrown all the time, and I feel like I have learned a lot from the other bloggers who took part in the trip.

Read more about the North of Spain on my post “Amazing places to visit in Spain.”

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In travel blogging, I feel a duty to report about the not-so-great experiences too

In travel blogging, integrity is everything 

As a blogger, you will be constantly thorn between your duty towards your readers and the need to keep the brands and tourism boards you work with happy, and to establish a reputation as a good blogger to work with.

What should you do if you are invited to use some services or to visit a place and your experience isn’t as good as you had hoped for? Should you write about it and be honest to your audience, or should you just omit this information and avoid any confrontation with the sponsors?

In this case, constructive criticism is the way to go.

Read more about my experience on Mount Bromo on my post “Ring of Fire or Circle of Hell?”

Luckily enough, bad experiences are actually not so frequent and more often than not you will find myself writing glowing reviews.

Travel blogging changes the way you travel

Traveling was way more spontaneous and definitely more relaxing before I started blogging. It was about enjoying my time at a destination and telling my friends and family about my experiences.

The “telling friends and family” when travel blogging is done on a different scale, where you actually write posts for the world (ok, perhaps not the world, but you get my point) to read. It makes you look at places in a different way. You will ask more questions to the guides and you will often take notes, as perhaps a good blog post will come from it. You even put much more efforts in taking good pictures – sometimes you will actually feel like you are seeing a place from behind the lenses of a camera.

Before starting a blog and having multiple social media accounts connected to it, I didn’t care so much if I didn’t have internet when I traveled. In fact, it was refreshing to have a break from it. Now, I end up spending at least an hour every day posting on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. And although I am not meant to really work, I end up checking my email, just in case some good business opportunity comes through.

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No easy money in travel blogging

There’s no such thing as easy money with travel blogging…

Whoever said that it is easy to make money blogging said a blatant lie, and you’d better realize that quickly. Money takes a while to come – and it takes a lot of effort. 

It took me months of hard work to make my first $100 USD through my blog. It will be a rollercoaster – even financially. 

…and there is not just one, established way to make money with travel blogging

Different travel bloggers find different ways to make money. Some have established their own tour companies whereas other offer consultancies; some work with sponsors and others make money through a variety of writing jobs.

Most bloggers also place affiliate links on their blogs, something which requires a careful study of the audience’ interests. We call it passive income when in reality there is nothing passive about it.

A blog is generally just a platform, a way to showcase a number of services. It just takes a while to decide which is the most viable way to earn a living through a blog, and this is something completely personal: what works for me, may not work for you.

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I have haters since I have started travel blogging

When travel blogging, it’s good to have haters

I know some (usually female) very successful bloggers who are swamped with hateful comments which are full of disturbing messages, and that can be really hurtful. I was actually happy when I got my first hate comment. I figured hatred comes from envy, and if someone envies me it is because I am slowly becoming more successful. Something to celebrate!

Sure enough, I didn’t expect travel blogging to be such hard work. Yet, I love what I am doing and every day I wake up with a big smile on my face, looking forward to a long day at work.

What are your thoughts on travel blogging?

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Discover what you must know about travel blogging - via @clautavani

30 thoughts on “13 Things You Need To Know About Travel Blogging”

  1. Great to hear a realistic review of the life of a travel blogger. And the options open to you…Wish you the best of luck on your way to finding your niche! …Its hard right!

  2. Travel blogging is totally hard work! I figured, I studied journalism, I’m a good writer, I can bang out posts, no problem. Wrong! It takes so much time to create a thoughtful post with beautiful photos. We’re still working on monetizing our blog as well and it takes so much work, but like you, I spend many hours working, but am much more happier doing so because I love the work that I do, even though it’s not earning much money at the moment. Keep up the good work – I’m so happy you found me on IG!

  3. I hear you on all these points as it is truly difficult being a blogger, especially finding a niche and not writing the same thing as everyone else. It’s tough but I guess if you work at it long enough it will reward you in the end!
    Here is to finding our niche eventually lol 🙂

  4. Awh this is really well written and amazing to see another point of view of someone finding it hard! I’ve always considered changing my full-time role to travel blogging full time, but the worry of not having a full income frightens me! I also completely agree with the niche finding topic, it propels you down one lane and you then can’t express or write other topics which may be of interest! Can I ask how you go about getting press trips?

  5. Thank you so much girl! I appreciate you leaving your comment here and sharing your experience with me. It is an exhausting job, but I love it and I wouldn’t have met you (virtually) otherwise. Now, all we have to do is meet in person! Thanks to travel blogging!!

  6. Awwww thanks Jazzy! I think I am on my way, and it will work out fine. Here’s to being positive, always <3

  7. Hi Akid, thanks for your comment. Travel blogging is a hard job and you have to be 100% sure you want to do it and keep at it in order to make it happen. It takes time to get established and make money. I am still working on it, every single day!! Re. press trips: it is random. I sometimes apply. Sometimes I get them through other bloggers that pass the information. Sometimes I pitch the company. It takes a bit of establishing your blog before you get one!

  8. Appreciate this post and the honesty behind it. I think there are a lot of bloggers who’ve sold out in the process of being bloggers and I mean that not just in that they’re pushing stuff that they would never push if they actually paid for stuff, but in the way they portray travel and blogging as always “fantastic”, their lives as “incredible”, every experience as a “learning experience”. I’m sick of seeing these girl bloggers in their bikinis. When I want to see girls in bikinis there are lots on the internet, I’m not going to read your blog because you’re posing in a bikini.

    I really agree with your line about integrity and it’s what keeps me going back to a blog. The ups and downs of travel, the not-so-perfect destinations, the personal experiences.

    Anyway, sorry about the rant, your post kind of inspired it 🙂 Oh, and don’t worry about haters, they’re great! They add a bit of color to the page and the great thing is that as a blogger you always have the final word.

    Good read and I’ll make sure to come back to check out more of your posts 😉

    Frank (bbqboy)

  9. Hahahaha Frank, you made me laugh so much! Bless 🙂 I bet that if I started posting pictures of myself in my bikini, you’d keep coming back to my blog even more often. KIDDING!
    On a more serious note: you are totally right. I don’t appreciate blogs that portray only the good aspects of travel and travel blogging. And sometimes, when I travel, the only learning for me is that I am tired and can’t wait to sleep in my bed. The funny thing about me writing about the not-so-good experiences is that I was actually told off by a friend once (a long term friend, actually I have known her from high school) that she doesn’t like reading about the negatives of a place, or negative experiences. I was actually shocked to find out, perhaps because I started this blog to warn readers about places that were not nearly as good as they were made to appear. Sure enough I would not want to build up expectations on a place and send one of my readers there to then be disappointed.
    I just like saying things as they are. The good thing is that 99% of the time, they are actually great so I can be honest (and happy) anyways.
    And the haters are gonna hate anyways 😉

  10. I’ve had a few people tell me the same about negativity. I’ll tell them that if they want feel-good fluff there are a lot of other blogs. Or they can pick up one of those glossy magazines at the airport, Everything is always peaches and cream in those. I’ve had people really get nasty with me because of my thoughts on Brazil (worst travel experience I’ve had) and I tell them “well, that’s my experience”. What else is there to say? You can just be honest about your experiences and helpful in what you consider as good advice.

    I have a theory on that: I think people just want to dream. And in dreams all is perfect with the world. Whenever you write something negative it destroys part of the mental image they may have about a place.

  11. I totally agree with your theory. But I think we as bloggers have a duty not to build up expectations. And to talk about our experiences in a honest and balanced manner, so that readers can draw their conclusions. I think you are doing it right!!

  12. Well, I know that all in all they are just frustrated and pitiful, so why bother? 😉

  13. Well it looks like you have hit a -positively- sensitive subject ! To an ignorant like me, that means a great insight & analysis…as always indeed.

  14. Thank you Marco – I felt the need to let people know that travel blogging isn’t only fun and games. It is a GREAT job, but a job nevertheless.

  15. It’s my first time reading here but it probably won’t be the last… if I can find the time to read! I’m a nomad too, and it’s every bit as hard and exhausting and time-consuming as you say, especially when juggling an actual job with it.

    I’m a year into being homeless and travelling, and I’m only now really dialing up the “work smarter” aspect with blogging, but hopefully it’ll start paying off a little I also know it’s seldom from the actual blogging but rather the opportunities it opens you up for that one makes money, so I’m curious which opportunities will work out for me.

    Anyhow. Keep being awesome. I will reread this tomorrow when I’m not so bleary-eyed and see if there’s anything I accidentally skimmed over.

    Slick SEO post, though. ALL THE THINGS, MAN.

    PS: “website” is misspelled on your comment registration form. 😉

  16. Thank you so much for pointing that out, so kind of you! I am sure everything will pay off for you <3

  17. Apart from being much harder than what I initially thought, having a goal and knowing why you are blogging and what you want to do with, it defiintely helps you stepping forward. That being said, it’s hard and long work, period. No matter for how long you have been doing it. I found that work is just becoming more and more with time and that oustourcing is maybe necessary at some stage, otherwise you easily get the burnt out syndrome. For the first two years I was not sure what I wanted to do with it and choosing the niche was probably the most diffcult thing for myself too, however since the beginning I had my own idea, and still have a niche, I can tell you that it’s easier for you to build credibility and offer your readers a lot about one topic or a specifc type of travel instead of trying to be an expert in everything, you will not be noticed and be honest, wy go with this, it’s truly impossible! With the haters, while I could write a mini-book about it, meanwhile I have learnt not to react to haters’ comments and attacks any longer and just let it go! Not giving them any attention, that they surely don’t deserve, is in my opinion the best way to handle them. I like your post. It’s always good to read about fellow bloggers who have a honest and transparent approach to travel blogging. All the best, Claudia!

  18. I wonder when I will have to outsource too. It is manageable for now, but I find I have less and less time to actually write, and I am spending more time to make sure this is a viable business. The niche is slowly coming together, I think! Thank you for your kind comment Michela!!

  19. Hi Claudia, I came across your article and just wanted to say how amazing it is. I only started writing my blog a couple of months ago and still learning all the tricks – including SEO!
    Good luck with your blog and adventures and hope to “see” you as a visitor to my blog 🙂

  20. Hey Eva, thank you for your comment! Yup, I was looking through your blog. Keep up the good work, and be patient – it will all come together I promise!

  21. Too many travel bloggers these days is making it difficult to find a niche. I am intrigued by your SEO bit.Do you use any plugins? Which ones?

  22. Totally agree with you on every point! Blogging is really hard work and it isn’t easy to make income. Yet, blogging is my biggest love. 🙂

  23. I had missed your comment! Oh my, I get the same question every day – people asking me how to make money blogging. I wish I had the key to success!!

  24. Yes yes yes!! I love your positive attitude and thank you for putting the truth out there. I’m SO new to travel blogging (second month) and I’m learning so much. It can be overwhelming at times. I’m happy to know that we all go through it.

  25. Wait until the invitations start coming, and you realize you can’t be in all those wonderful places at the same time. You will start saying no too!! 🙂

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