As someone who makes a living from travel blogging I guess I can call myself a professional travel blogger! While many people think I have the best job in the world, I dread telling the truth when people ask me what I do for a living!
Why? Well, most people think that that being a travel writer and blogger is some kind of easy and glamorous dream lifestyle and my attempts to explain what it’s actually like being a professional travel blogger are normally just met with stares of disbelief.
The Reality of Being a Professional Travel Blogger
I don’t blame you for thinking this way, the internet is awash with blog posts about ‘how to get paid to travel the world by becoming a travel blogger‘ that sell it as the ultimate dream, jetset lifestyle where anyone can get paid to travel the world with little more effort than occasionally taking some selfies and dashing off a quick blog post while sitting by the pool of a luxury hotel.
All you have to do is take a look at Instagram for those drool worthy, wanderlust inducing photos of tanned bloggers tapping away on a laptop on a tropical beach, fresh coconut or cocktail in hand and you’d be forgiven for thinking that being a travel blogger really is the perfect lifestyle.
But remember this is exactly what travel bloggers are paid to do – sell the dream, and even I’m guilty of it too!
The real life of a travel blogger is often very far from what you see on Instagram. Being a successful travel blogger is a job that takes a lot of time, hard work and effort to make a success from it.
You may even find that once your travel blog starts to really take off that being a professional travel blogger will change the way you travel and could even ruin your travel experience.
How Being a Professional Travel Blogger Changes the Way you Travel
Maybe you’ve seen those glossy Instagram posts and dream of becoming a blogger yourself?
Before you quit your day job try to get an idea of what the life of a travel blogger is really like and consider both the advantages and disadvantages to this lifestyle.
Here’s some thoughts from my experience of being a travel blogger:
Travel blogging is much harder work that it looks
Travel blogging is very competitive and to become a successful travel blogger you need to learn and master a plethora of skills; including writing, website development, SEO, photography, videography, editing, graphic design, social media management, marketing, business development, networking, pitching and negotiating with companies.
In most companies all these different skills and jobs would be covered by teams of people, but as a travel blogger you’ll have to do it all yourself. A good way to quickly learn all these skills is to invest in a travel blogging course to make sure you’re on the right track and don’t make mistakes – not every blogger makes money from their blog – if fact most don’t!
As a travel blogger your work is never done, you need to constantly be producing great content, promoting it and answering an endless stream of emails and comments. When you’re taking notes, getting that perfect photo and video, editing it and sharing on multiple social media platforms, responding to comments and emails and thinking about keywords you can’t really relax and enjoy the moment. It can be fun but it’s not a vacation!
And, the ironic thing is, that the more successful a travel blogger you become, the less time you’ll have for actually traveling! You’ll find yourself having to turn down invitations to nights out and skipping seeing the very sights that you travelled so far to see because you have deadlines and work to do.
It’s actually very difficult to travel full time and blog or work online full time – the most successful travel bloggers have a home base and do not spend their lives constantly traveling – they’d never had enough time to get work done if they did!
It’s also an expensive career to get started in and most bloggers don’t make any money for at least a year – laptops, top of the range cameras and flight tickets aren’t cheap and yet I still get several emails every day asking me to write or promote a company for free!
To be honest, there are much better, easier and more profitable ways to make money to fund your travels. Of course, there are perks to being a travel blogger, sponsored travel and press trips are one of the most appealing to wannabe bloggers.
But, honestly, if you’re thinking of starting a travel blog just to get a free trip you’d be far better off working in McDonald’s and saving up for a few months instead! You’ll most likely get there sooner and have a better time being able to relax and fully enjoy the trip.
There’s no such thing as a free holiday
Oh yeah, about that ‘free trip’ …
Sponsored press trips can be amazing experiences but they are no holiday. Sponsors expect a return on their investment and press trips can be demanding and exhausting – early morning starts to catch locations at sunrise, a packed full day’s itinerary and then just as you want to crawl into bed after midnight and pass out you still have a ton of emails and writing to catch up on.
You probably think that you could never get tired of traveling, but let me assure you that travel (and blogger) burnout is real! When you are constantly on the move and trying to juggling work deadlines, clients expectations while struggling to find decent wifi you may end up reminiscing about those carefree days when traveling was a simply a holiday and you had the comfort of knowing that your regular job would pay the bills.
But it is worth it
That said, I wouldn’t change it for the world. Especially on a cold January morning I wouldn’t swap my freedom and my ‘office’ on a beach in sunny Goa for a rainy commute into London.
Travel blogging has given me amazing opportunities like meeting the headhunter tribes in Nagaland that wouldn’t have been possible if not for my blog and I’m really grateful that I have managed to create a career that allows me to combine my passions and work for myself anywhere in the world.
More than that my travel blog has allowed me to share my experiences and to connect with and inspire others to see more of our amazing planet, to open their minds and by doing so maybe even change their lives. For me, that’s what really makes it worthwhile.
Being a professional travel blogger certainly has its perks but just be prepared that ‘living the dream’ isn’t always as easy as it seems and it will certainly change how you travel in many ways – both good and bad.