In the world of social media, travel blogging looks so glamorous and lucrative. I bet you’ve seen your favourite Instagram travel influencers & bloggers taking a vacation to one of the most luxurious getaways that look no less than a paradise. You’d have seen plenty of ‘breakfast on a bed’ or ‘breakfast with a view’ shots on Instagram and cursed your regular corporate job.
Not only this, you might have even seen a few of the influencers/bloggers wearing the most exclusive resort wears from the renowned brands and flaunting new outfits almost in every picture.
I totally get you that no one can resist from the glamour of social media that showcase larger than life of travel influencers/bloggers. However, everything that glitters isn’t gold. Maybe you’re not aware of behind-the-scenes action in creating that perfect Instagram-worthy shot.
If you’re thinking of quitting your job, exploring the world and living your dream life, I’m sure this post will give you a better picture of the reality of travel blogging and whether you should go for it as your full-time career or not:
1) You need investment
The first thing you need to buy is a domain name for your blog’s website. You can host your website for free on WordPress. However, if you’re thinking of full-time professional blogging as a career, you need to invest money in self-hosting and website theme as your primary investment.
The minimum amount you need for your website, hosting, theme and premium plugins would be around 200 USD. Moving on, now you need money to buy a good camera, lenses, Adobe Photoshop or Lightroom subscription, Adobe Premiere for video editing and social media tools/presets to manage consistent aesthetics on Instagram.
You can also hire photographers at the destinations wherever you’re travelling if you don’t want to learn photography or buy a high-end camera. Last but not least, you need money to travel. Let’s be real, you can’t get a sponsored vacation on your first trip.
If you want to get a sponsored business class ticket from one of your favourite airlines, you need to travel in a business class a couple of times. Then you have to write a review and generate traffic to your content. However, there’s no guarantee that even then you’ll get sponsored business class tickets for your trip.
Just be positive and keep yourself reminding that you love what you do. It took me almost 6 months of hard work to get my first sponsored vacation. Trust me, I was working more than 13 hours a day. I had no time for my family and friends.
2) There’s a no fixed time when you’ll get ROI
Making money from travel blogging is one of the most beautiful dreams ever. In reality, it takes a very long time when you actually start making money or make close to your substantial livable income. If you want to start making money from your blog sooner, be ready to put countless hours, efforts and treat your blog like a business.
You need to create unique and engaging content to attract traffic on your website. For instance, you’ll find gazillions of blogs about the best things to do in Los Angeles but in order to create unique content, you’ve to look at a different angle.
So, if you’ll create content around The Los Angeles Guide for Instagrammers or How to plan Los Angeles Trip for first-timers, there’re more chances of getting some new traffic or grabbing the interest of new readers to your blog.
Now let’s discuss how can you make money from travel blogging?
There’re many ways to earn money from blogging and I can’t say which one works for you as the scenario depends from blogger to blogger.
a) Freelance writing: You’ve to pitch yourself writing for publications, newspaper, trade journals, etc. I started contributing to the Huff Post during my initial days of blogging in order to gain exposure to my blog. I wasn’t making money but it helped me to showcase my work while pitching to brands.
b) Sponsored Post: The brands sponsor bloggers to write a guest post review about their product/service, promoting their destination, adding text links within articles or side-bars. However, the downside of sponsorship is if you don’t do right under Google regulations, be ready to get penalized by Google.
c) Affiliate Marketing: Affiliate links are coded hyperlinks that get you a small commission when anyone clicks on the links that you add on your blog post. The amount is not much unless you’re the expert on your topic.
d) Display Ads & banners: There’re many ways you can monetize your website by showing ads and banners. Google Adsense, Amazon Associate Program, PopAds, etc but these ads might make your website looks cluttered. Even displaying too many ads can impact the bounce rate of your website.
e) Photography: If your photography is amazing, you can sell your images or do property/product photo shoot for brands or fashion/lifestyle photo shoot for bloggers and content creators.
f) Web design/SEO/Proof-reading/Social Media Consulting: If you’re are an expert in website designing, SEO or social media growth strategies and services, you can provide your services to other bloggers, brands and content creators.
g) Influencer Marketing Networks: Influencer Marketing is one of the most popular platforms in the world of social media these days that connect influencers with brands. The majority of the influencer networks look for influencers based out in the United States and the United Kingdom.
However, the downside is travel niche influencer networks are less as compared to Fashion, Beauty, Lifestyle and wellness influencer networks. So, in case you think of diversifying your content to another niche on your social media, it shouldn’t be a bad idea.
3) Your mind will always be at work
You’ll love the virtual world more than the physical world. Whether you’ll be on a beach watching the surreal sunset or hiking for 4 hours and soaking the breathtaking view, thousands of thoughts will be running through your mind how to take that perfect shot or make Insta stories to share real-time with your followers on the social media.
You hardly get time to enjoy that moment in peace because, at the end of the day, travel blogging is your bread and butter. You need to pay your bills unless you’re doing it as a part of a hobby or loaded with money.
4) It always feels like work, work & more work
As a blogger, you have to play multiple job roles such as content creator, writer, photographer, photo/video editor, social media manager, coder, SEO optimizer, etc. Be ready to sacrifice your weekends, spending time with your family and friends. Though if you’ve got a budget, you can always outsource a few of the mentioned responsibilities.
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Blogging gives you the freedom to work from anywhere at your own ease and terms but trust me, WiFi will be your only friend. There was a time when I had literally panic attacks when I couldn’t get a decent speed on WiFi. Initially, you’ll feel lonely working alone but if you’re passionate about blogging, you’ll start enjoying your own company.
5) You need to allocate time for Networking
You can’t succeed in the blogging world unless you connect with other people in your niche. In my 3.5 years of blogging experience, I’ve learned many lessons and one of the most important lessons is never think that your friends or family will read your posts or engage to your social media because they might not be interested in your content. You need to reach out to your target audience.
From spending time reading others blog to engaging on their social media to building a virtual relationship and healthy community around your niche, be ready to spend countless hours on networking. The biggest satisfaction is when you’ll see that your readers actually care and get inspired by your content. Not only this, you’ve to attend travel shows and conferences to reach out to tourism and hospitality brands you admire to work with and stay updated with the industry.
The two most popular travel events are New York Times Travel show and TBEX conference where you get a chance to meet the travel industry professionals and learn from them. The downside is you need money to buy conference tickets or other local networking events.
6) New adventures & changed perspective
Travel blogging expands your horizon. You start admiring and adapting to a new culture. It teaches you to move out of your comfort zone and go for your wildest dreams. Travel blogging has helped me change my perspective toward life.
From skydiving to kayaking to scuba diving, travel blogging has given me an opportunity to document those priceless experiences in my life, re-live those moments through my blog and inspire others.
Travel blogging gives you an opportunity to interact with locals and learn from them. I’m so fortunate to meet with some amazing people on a few of my trips whom all have become friends for a lifetime. Not only this, travel blogging introduces you to a virtual world where you get a chance to meet some incredible like-minded souls and learn from them.
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7) The results are rewarding
There’re plenty of perks that come with travel blogging such as press media trips, free hotels stay, complimentary spa, dining experience or free products which itself is an overwhelming experience but it won’t pay your bills. In return, you’ve to spend umpteen hours to create amazing content for the brands who have provided you with their free services in exchange for your blog post or social media content.
They say it takes a village to raise a child. Your blog is your child and so you’ll need the support of your family, friends, photographers, collaborators and sponsors. As your blog grows, you’ll have your own entourage to support you. In the end, you’ll not remember the hard work, endless hours and efforts you put in to raise your baby. The feeling will be priceless and nothing can beat that experience in this world.
So, what are you waiting for? If you’re passionate about travel blogging, just go for it. Whether you succeed or not, no one can take away those priceless moments from you!
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This article has been written by Ana, a star full-time travel blogger. An Indian girl from The Sunshine State, Florida bitten by a travel bug. Ana is a founder of travel & style blog Ana’s World that inspire millennials to travel the world while keeping their style quotient high. She is also a Project Management Professional, Engineer, Toastmaster and has been featured in some of the renowned publications such as Huffington Post, Yahoo, Tripoto to name a few.