Visiting amazing locations, taking great photos and writing about it—it sounds like a dream job, and it can be, but running a successful travel blog is a job.
It may not be like many other jobs, but it does take a lot of skill and hard work. If a four-hour work week is what you’re after, it may not be the venture for you. On the other hand, if you’re passionate about travel, you want to share that with others and you’re willing to put in the time, you might find success in this competitive but exciting field.
Choose Your Niche
It’s not enough to decide you simply want to write about travel. You should think about the audience you want to reach. Maybe it’s women traveling solo after 50, or perhaps it’s van life. You could focus on a specific region or country, such as Japan, or you could concentrate on an activity, like cycling or scuba diving. If you’d like to be more general interest, think about what will set you apart from others like you.
Some travel bloggers pride themselves on their exceptional attention to detail and commitment to reviewing and updating older material. Others are exacting in showing just how much they spend on everything while some may write more personal, confessional posts. What’s important is that the thing you choose is something you want to write about and is not what everyone else is doing.
You can get a site up and running for free, and some successful bloggers do start out as hobbyists. However, whether you stumble into blogging as a business or you begin with that intention, don’t make the mistake of thinking that because your business is virtual you won’t have to spend any money.
You don’t have to do it all at once and you can increase your budget and perhaps even hire employees as you grow, but to start with, you will at least need your own domain and hosting. You may want to pay someone to design your logo.
Over time, you might spend money on software, copy editors, SEO auditors, video editors and conferences in your field. You may also have some of the normal needs of any other business, such as an accountant.
You should hold off on the bigger expenditures until you’re making more money, but to get started, you might need to look at ways to save some money for some up-front expenses. If your budget is feeling tight, you may be surprised at where you can save.
For example, you could refinance your student loan with a private lender. Your credit won’t be impacted by checking your options, and the savings could be enough to cover your hosting fees and other small expenses.
You may also eventually want to expand into offering merchandise. This is a niche not many travel bloggers are into, so it can set you apart. If you are successful, it can also give you the opportunity for some passive income.
Start Learning and Keep Learning
You’ll do yourself a favor if you learn about SEO before you start because it can be time-consuming to go back over old posts and optimize them. There is plenty of information online that can teach you more. or you could take a short course in SEO.
Beyond that, you should teach yourself about business, networking and travel writing. Don’t just read things online, especially when it comes to travel. Read guidebooks and both contemporary and classic travel narratives.
You’ll get inspiration, learn about places far from the beaten path and improve your style. Keep learning about the tools that can help you as well, including video and audio recording tools and software.
Scheduling and Content
You should figure out what type of schedule you’ll post on and stick to it. You need to post regularly, a few days a week at least. If you want to be successful, you shouldn’t rely on just sitting down at your computer and brainstorming ideas for a post. Your regular readers will come to rely on you for meaty, interesting and useful content. Like a professional magazine, you should also have an editorial calendar, with your content planned out months in advance.
One thing you will need to consider eventually is whether or not you will take sponsored trips. Freebies can be great, but they can also hamstring you a little bit in what you can write about them. Some people eagerly accept these opportunities while others pride themselves on never taking them, so you will need to decide which you will choose.
A compromise might be accepting sponsored products at times. For example, if you are into outdoor adventures, a company might offer you some of their gear for free as long as you write about it.
Keep Building Your Brand
Patience is critical. Becoming a success in this area can easily take a year or longer. You will need to be consistent as well. Ironically, while many people travel to get away from it all, when this becomes your full-time job, you’ll be doing the opposite, and you’ll need to figure out ways to stay connected to the internet wherever you are.
You should also think about how you will promote yourself on social media, and you may want to work with a social media consultant to optimize your brand on these platforms.
Another thing to think about is whether you want to do any journalism as a side gig to help promote your brand and reach a wider readership. You might expand into the world of podcasting as well. Just be sure that you don’t stretch yourself too thin.
For passive income, you could put together e-guidebooks on specific places or tips for different approaches to seeing the world. Some people also offer courses or even move into working as guides or consultants. The choices are many, and you are only limited by your interest, aptitude and the number of hours that you have in the day.