Optimizing Your Travel Blog

Yes, it’s cliché, I know, but if you had to ask me what my dream job would be, there’s no doubt it would include something involving interacting with people, adventuring, and telling stories. When it comes down to it, the idea of being a travel blogger sounds pretty appealing: after all, who wouldn’t want to get paid to travel? But based on even my initial preparations of a very preliminary travel blog before my 7-week trip this summer, it’s clear the reality of travel blogging is far more of a “job” than one might imagine.

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Speaking of clichés… (Photo Credit: FunTravel Kenya)

Luckily, I’ve read up enough on the industry to know some of the reality behind what seems to be most people’s “dream job.” Just recently, the New York Times published a piece revealing the truth behind the position: rather than spending day after day lounging around and enjoying vacations, travel bloggers actually are swamped with work, especially given the push to be on all social media platforms all the time.

Take solo female travel blogger Liz Carlson, also known as the Young Adventuress: in addition to keeping up an incredibly stimulating website, she must constantly update her Twitter, Instagram, Instagram Live, Snapchat and Facebook accounts. It’s truly unbelievable. On top of the commitment of physically traveling to city after city, she also must allot time to take dozens of breathtaking photos, to create blog-worthy content, to manage both Snapchat and Instagram Live stories in the moment, and so much more.

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Could you tell I was inspired by the Young Adventuress’ travel blog??? Check out that logo…wow! (Photo Credit: Liz Carlson)

It’s gotten to the point where it’s not so realistic taking on all these responsibilities by yourself. Many bloggers are forced to hire teams of videographers, photographers, website managers and more just to keep up. And with that comes it’s own additional source of stress: if as a travel blogger you are employing others’ help, you now must also take on the responsibility of overseeing their payroll and dealing with schedules, correspondence and delegation. No longer sounds like a job you’ll do while lounging on the beach, does it?

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Hate to break it to you, but there’s not exactly WiFi at the top of Machu Picchu. (Photo Credit: Nomadic Samuel)

So here’s the deal: no “dream” job is ever going to align perfectly with your expectations. If even with this reality check, travel blogging still seems like the path for you, though, here are some tips to help you become successful online:

  • You’re going to need a lot of revenue streamsIt can be dangerous putting all your eggs into one basket and only having one revenue stream. Though at times that one stream may be really lucrative, there’s no saying if one small algorithm change can suddenly take crush your income. Beyond just making income from blog advertisements alone, many travel bloggers find success in promoting products via their social networks, compiling branded content for tourist hotspots, selling books and manuals, and even holding seminars for other prospective travel bloggers.
  • Travel-centric social platforms are all about targeting. Nearly every niche out there has been successfully co-opted by someone in the travel industry. There are blogs for budget-travelers, solo-female travelers, feminist travelers, teacher travelers and more. Though your maximum reach may have a cap, it may be best to find a really, really specific community that’s still in need of a travel blogger. No, it may not work to be *the premiere* travel-blogger for blue-eyed, purple-haired mechanics from Rhode Island, but striking a balance between what’s out there already and what’s not is key. Think about bloggers like the AV Queen Benét Wilson, who has found plenty of success blogging about the aviation industry, a somewhat-specific community.
  • If you grow successfully, you can hire people to help out your business remotely. Again, travel blogging isn’t all sightseeing and Instagramming. Many bloggers commit well-over eight hours a day to maximize their personal brand online. When it gets to the point that managing your presence online is getting in the way of actually traveling, it may be time to hire a personal assistant who can take on some of your tasks from a remote location. Utilize sites like UpWork, which can help you locate personal virtual assistants to manage your many tech issues, social platforms and blogs.
  • Optimize everything about your site. Remember, the Internet’s been around for awhile, so it’s likely that super clever blog name you have in mind has already been taken. You’re going to need a unique but meaningful name, your site will need TONS of content, and it’s going to have to be visually stunning. Check out this Facebook Live video of me and my travel companion, Natalie, discussing our aspirations in terms of optimizing our own travel blog.

Yes, it’s scary and time consuming and you may fail spectacularly, but challenging yourself to become a travel blogger could just be the right move for you. At the end of the day, it will inevitably be it’s own adventure in and of itself.

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