Travel

Here’s How To Turn Traveling The World Into Your Job

Pro tips from top bloggers around the world.

2. It’s not surprising at all if, at some point in your life, you’ve dreamed of becoming a travel blogger.

 

After all, according to a January 2016 Google survey, “how to become a travel blogger” is actually the seventh most searched travel phrase on the entire web. So, how do you go about doing it, exactly?

I asked some of the world’s top travel bloggers for their best tips on creating and running a successful blog. And considering that there are literally hundreds upon hundreds of them out there, their advice on how to make yours stand out is key. Take all of their wisdom into account, and you could be well on your way to creating something awesome of your own.

4. 1. Before you even start, understand that if you want to eventually blog for a living, you will be running a full-time, 24/7 business.

Kristin Addis / Via instagram.com

“This isn’t just about pretty pictures and likes. You have to understand the value you bring to companies, and that value needs to be measurable and marketable. So if you aren’t comfortable dealing with business issues, working with corporations and big organizations, understanding ROI, selling and pitching yourself, asking for money, and digging through data and stats understanding how the internet works, then don’t get into blogging,” at least not if you want to make a business out of it.

—Sherry Ott, Ott’s World

“Every entrepreneurial endeavor takes time and investment, and that goes double for blogging. At first you’ll put in a lot of time, energy, and self-funded traveling before you make a dime back. It’s how startups work, and you have to view your business as a business from day one.

—Kristin Addis, Be My Travel Muse

5. 2. So read. A lot.

Matthew Kepnes / Via instagram.com

“It always amazes me how little this industry reads. There are hundreds of extremely valuable business, marketing, and development books out there. Don’t reinvent the wheel. Learn how other people succeeded and copy them.”

—Matthew Kepnes, Nomadic Matt, author of How to Travel the World on $50 a Day and creator of the blogging school Superstar Blogging

6. 3. And make sure you’re getting into it for the right reasons.

Kristin Addis / Via instagram.com

“If you just want to travel for free, this isn’t the business for you. Start a blog because you want to write and share your stories and tips — not because of the freebies. It takes a lot of work to get to that stage in a blogging career.”

—Diana Edelman, D Travels ‘Round

“If from day one it’s just about free trips, that’s all you’ll ever get. If it’s about building something lasting that you take pride in, then you’ll be willing to turn down the little stuff for the big deals down the line.

—Kristin Addis, Be My Travel Muse

7. 4. Decide how you will make money from day one.

Matt Gibson

“A lot of bloggers have a ‘blog first, monetize later’ approach. Although you may not want to monetize from day one, your strategy for monetization should always be in mind. It should shape the overall direction and focus of the blog you intend to build. By knowing your end goal, you will create content that serves the needs of your target customer, rather than your target reader.”

—Meagen Collins and Tom Williams, Five Dollar Traveller

“Start at the money and work backward. A lot of people start blogs thinking that they will get a bunch of readers and that will somehow turn into money down the road. That can happen, but it’s much less effective than starting your blog with a specific income source in mind and then working toward it. The latter method enables you to stay focused on high-value tasks, gauge your performance, and ultimately make a better income faster.”

—Matt Gibson, XPat Matt, and CEO of the travel agency XPat Media

8. 5. And have a decent savings set aside, because you will be funding your own travels when you first start.

Lauren Bassart / Via instagram.com

“Your first few months will have to be self-funded while you build your blog and your audience.”

—Lauren Bassart, The Constant Rambler

9. 6. Don’t be afraid to invest in other helpful expenses, too, if you can swing it.

Matt Gibson / Via instagram.com

“A lot of bloggers are attracted to the low startup cost of blogging, and are averse to investing money. That can be a major hindrance. Paying for help, courses, and travel to conferences all offer irreplaceable benefits that help a person succeed both as a blogger and a business person.”

—Matt Gibson, XPat Matt, and CEO of the travel agency XPat Media

“We pay for advertising through social media. You have to spend money to make money, and you need to reinvest funds into your business to continue to grow.”

—Lauren Bassart, The Constant Rambler

10. 7. Find a niche, and make sure you love it. Really love it.

Kristin Addis / Via instagram.com

“Pick a niche you eat, sleep, and breathe, and would write about even if nobody read it, which will likely be the case at first anyway. For example, I focus a lot on outdoors, adventure, and solo female travel. Not everyone who likes travel blogs is an adventurous female who travels solo, but those who are really connect with my work — and it’s a big enough pool of readers for me to do well. By going deep into a niche and sticking with it, you’ll find your tribe.”

—Kristin Addis, Be My Travel Muse

“After the initial excitement wears off and writing becomes a grind and a chore, it will be your passion that sustains you through the periods of no comments, no cash, and you wondering if it is all worth it. Yes, it is worth it — if you love what you are doing.”

—Charles McCool, McCool Travel

11. 8. Spend some time researching other blogs in the niche you’d like to pursue — and join Facebook and LinkedIn groups in that niche, too.

Jessie Festa / Via instagram.com

“Choose a minimum of 10 blogs, and create a pro/con list for each one so you get an idea of what you would and wouldn’t like to do on your own website. Similarly, research groups you can join in your niche, because having a community where you can ask questions and collaborate will be a big advantage. For example, on Facebook you can join the Travel Bloggers Network and Global Bloggers Network.”

—Jessie Festa, Jessie on a Journey

12. 9. Buy your domain name right away — and make sure it represents your vibe.

Ashley Fleckenstein / Via instagram.com

“A domain name is more than just a URL; it’s your brand. So do your research before picking one. Make sure your domain name is able to grow with you, too: ‘Anna in Barcelona’ might be difficult once you stop living in Barcelona.”

—Ashley Fleckenstein, Ashley Abroad

“Be sure to check that your brand is available on all social accounts as well, and keep the usernames consistent across all platforms.”

—Kiersten Rich, The Blonde Abroad

13. 10. And then set up your website.

Rishabh Shah and Nirali Shah / Via instagram.com

“We recommend hiring a designer. It’s very easy to get a good freelancer through the blogger community, or through portals like Fiverr, Elance, and Upwork. We’ve wasted so much time doing up our website design, and though it gives a unique satisfaction, in hindsight it would’ve been so much easier and better to have someone do it for us.”

—Rishabh Shah and Nirali Shah, Gypsy Couple

“Having your website designed professionally can cost anything from $200 to more than $2,000, so you need to balance what you want style-wise with what you can afford.”

—Kathryn MacLeod, Stories My Suitcase Could Tell

14. 11. Just start!

Tausha Cowan / Via instagram.com

“It sounds so simple, but so often we have ideas in our head that never come to fruition. The first step is to get started. Once you publish that first post and make it public, you’re on your way.”

—Tausha Cowan, The Globe Getter

16. 12. Focus on the story only you can tell.

Jodi Ettenberg

“You can outsource many things when you work as a travel blogger: design, SEO, some social media, and more. But you can’t outsource the story that you are uniquely positioned to tell. THAT is your most valuable tool as you build a travel blog. Ask yourself: ‘How has my life given me a perspective that is different from others?’ Think about this question as you write, always. Your story will set you apart from other bloggers, because no one can take that story away from you. Weave that narrative — be it your past skill set, your passions, or your quirky obsessions — into your posts and your online branding. It will be what sets you apart in a very saturated market. And it is what your readers will latch onto as your site grows.”

—Jodi Ettenberg, Legal Nomads

17. 13. In other words, brand yourself.

Jeremy Scott Foster / Via instagram.com

“I know it can feel narcissistic to write about yourself all the time, but it’s your personality and your opinion that sets you apart from travel guides like Lonely Planet or Fodor’s. Your personal perspective is what makes you unique and provides value to your readers. Plus, people like connecting to people, so adding the human element to your brand is beneficial from a marketing standpoint as well.”

—Jeremy Scott Foster, travelFREAK

And make sure to elaborate on who you are, your interests, and your travel philosophy on your ‘About Me’ page, arguably the most important page on your blog.”

—Keith Jenkins, Velvet Escape

18. 14. There is no set rule on how often you should post — just pick a schedule…

Christine Amorose

“Figure out what you can commit to, whether you’re posting three times a day or once a week. Not only will it help you stay motivated, it also keeps readers engaged when they know when to look forward to a new post. I have a few different types of posts that I write and each is tied to a different day of the week in order to keep me organized — and readers now know what (and when) to expect.”

—Christine Amorose, C’est Christine

19. 15. And then stick to it, and be consistent.

Kelley Ferro / Via instagram.com

“Don’t go to a five-star resort for one post and a hostel for the next. Determine your style of travel, and keep it consistent. You can’t be everything, and your audience will only come back to you if they know what they are getting. Don’t confuse them. Pick a style and go with it.”

Kelley Ferro

20. 16. Do really interesting stuff.

Megan Snedden / Via instagram.com

“At face value, this seems pretty basic. But when I say do interesting stuff, I mean do REALLY interesting stuff — sensational, fascinating, challenging stuff, like kayaking in Greenland, walking across India, or camping in Antarctica. When the topics are unique, they’re more likely to be shared with a larger audience.”

—Matthew Karsten, Expert Vagabond

“Separate yourself from the crowd of those who just give travel tips, but aren’t really traveling, and do something epic that also happens to get people’s attention. I once packed up my life to go live on a Gaucho ranch in middle-of-nowhere Argentina, which people thought was totally weird, but fascinating. I didn’t do it for the hits or for the subsequent publications that came out of it. I did it because it was something I really wanted to experience.”

Megan Snedden

21. 17. But at the same time, remember that you don’t need to be nomadic or constantly flying to new countries to be a travel blogger.

Christine Amorose / Via instagram.com

It’s most important to have the attitude of a traveler: curious, interested, constantly seeking new experiences, and paying attention to the little details. No matter where you live, there are beautiful places to discover in your own backyard and in your region; you just have to be open to finding them.”

—Christine Amorose, C’est Christine

“Writing about where you live is a natural starting point. You might even find opportunities to collaborate with local firms (restaurants, lodging, activities, tourism offices) who could really use modern promotion.”

—Charles McCool, McCool Travel

22. 18. Invest in the best camera you can, and learn how to use it.

Jeremy Scott Foster / Via instagram.com

“Visuals are a very important part of running a travel blog, and if you have beautiful photos, it will be much easier to engage with your audience.”

—Jeremy Scott Foster, travelFREAK

23. 19. Or, if you’re not the best photographer, let technology help you out.

Jessie Festa / Via instagram.com

If you’re not great at photography, look into sites like Unsplash or Flickr’s Creative Commons library — you can use their photos and credit the photographer. I also love Canva for creating free graphics overlaid with the title of the blog post to use as hero images for posts. These also do well for social media sharing to get you more clickthroughs from sites like Pinterest and Twitter.”

—Jessie Festa, Jessie on a Journey

24. 20. You can even obsess over other peoples’ photos to get better at taking your own.

Jodi Ettenberg

“I am not a technical photographer. I shoot in auto, and I don’t edit my photos. But the photoessays on my site have won awards because I have tried to keep improving my photography skills by obsessing over other people’s photos, and what it is that makes them so great to me. I don’t mean ‘I love the pretty pictures.’ I mean, ‘How is the angle different from other photos? What lighting makes this photo stand out?’ Start by pouring over photoessays curated at The Atlantic Photo, which are very varied. Which ones appeal to you most? Start dissecting why, and go from there.”

—Jodi Ettenberg, Legal Nomads

25. 21. Create travel videos for your blog.

“Not many travel bloggers make quality videos on a consistent basis, so this content will help you stand out. Posting videos on platforms like YouTube also lets you reach different audiences and monetize views. I’ve found that tourism partners and sponsors have wanted to work with my team specifically because we offer travel videos, in addition to blogging and social media.”

La Carmina

“Although I started a blog because I love to write, I’ve since discovered a love of (mostly mobile) photography and have recently started making videos using Cameo App of each trip that I take. Trying out new mediums finesses my storytelling skills, and it keeps things fresh for my readers. It also gives the brands and tourism boards that I work with plenty of different content to repurpose.”

—Christine Amorose, C’est Christine

26. 22. Keep your eye on upcoming technologies, and be one of the first adopters.

La Carmina / Via instagram.com

“For example, my film partners Radius VR and I are now diving into Virtual Reality. If you learn specialized skills early on, such as how to shoot 360 travel videos, you’ll have a leg up on the competition once the technology becomes widespread.”

La Carmina

28. 23. Always respond to your readers.

Jarryd Salem and Alesha Bradford / Via instagram.com

“When you first start a travel blog, it will just be your friends and family reading it. But as you grow and become more successful, you will start to have total strangers following everything you do. These are the people who can help you turn travel blogging into a full-fledged career, so never forget them. If someone comments on your photo, reply to them! If you get an email wishing you well, say thanks! Don’t ever forget that without your readers and followers, your brand will just be another blip in the vast, oversaturated virtual world of mediocre travel blogs.”

—Jarryd Salem and Alesha Bradford, Nomadasaurus

This communication makes you real and reliable, and helps you become a trustworthy travel source readers will remember and return to again and again.”

—Alice Nettleingham, Teacake Travels

29. 24. Engage with other travel bloggers.

Megan Snedden / Via instagram.com

“Instead of just emailing someone whose work you enjoy and prying them for advice that will only serve yourself, make it about real connection and invite them to either a drink or coffee. After all, the best way to get advice is directly from the source. Set the intention of making friends and learning by osmosis, instead of using someone to get ahead.”

Megan Snedden

“Take time to read what other bloggers are writing, and comment on their posts.” That helps get your name out there.

—Diana Edelman, D Travels ‘Round

30. 25. Go to conferences and network with other bloggers and companies.

Beth Santos / Via instagram.com

Wanderful runs the annual Women in Travel Summit (WITS) for female travel bloggers, influencers, and brands. I’ve also attended and enjoyed TBEX, which is a co-ed travel blogging conference that does events in the USA, Europe, and now Asia.”

Beth Santos, founder and CEO of the travel community Wanderful

“Although we exist in a digital world, the business contacts I make in person at conferences and events are worth more than any conversation I have on Twitter.”

—Matt Long, LandLopers

31. 26. Learn how to use Facebook ads effectively.

Matt Gibson

“They are an incredibly cheap way to drive readers to your blog. I‘ve had ads that sent me readers for as low as four cents each. This is valuable for all levels of bloggers, but especially so for new bloggers who are trying to build an audience.”

—Matt Gibson, XPat Matt, and CEO of the travel agency XPat Media

33. 27. Understand that most of the ways to make money aren’t actually about pure blogging.

Sherri Ott / Via instagram.com

“In order to make a living, you’ll end up doing many different things to make money. I seldom make money actually blogging, but instead my blog provides the audience, exposure, and influence I need to get my foot in the door to do other paid projects around photography, brand sponsorships, freelance writing, and social media influencer projects. Build a strong blog, audience, and brand — and then be willing to take on other projects for revenue.”

—Sherry Ott, Ott’s World

34. 28. Never endorse a product that you don’t actually believe in.

Kim-Marie Evans

“After your site is launched, you may be approached by brands or other online sites to post a glowing review. And it can seem tempting, especially when they are paying you. Make sure to only endorse a product or site that you really believe in. Readers are smart and will be able to see right through a dishonest post. Posting something about a company you don’t know much about or don’t believe in will put you on the fast track to losing loyal readers. And without them, you are back to square one.”

—Carri Wilbanks, Catch Carri

“Too many travel bloggers are the mouthpieces of the brands they have been hosted by. Good travel bloggers work like journalists, not advertising copy writers — so write the facts and give your readers the honest scoop. The hotel is under construction and it made your stay miserable? I’ll bet you would have liked to know that before you booked it. So would your readers. Tell them. The hotels, resorts, and PR people don’t like it? They are not your audience.”

—Kim-Marie Evans, Luxury Travel Mom

35. 29. When you’re pitching brands, make it more about THEM than YOU.

Amanda Williams / Via instagram.com

“Don’t just tell them how awesome you are. Tell them why THEY are awesome and why YOU are the best person for them to work with. When pitching sponsorships/partnerships, remember that it has to be more about THEM than YOU.”

—Amanda Williams, A Dangerous Business

36. 30. Have products!

Matt Kepnes / Via instagram.com

Matt Kepnes / Via instagram.com

 

“Books, courses, booking services, tours…whatever! You can scale those and they can earn you revenue while you drink beers on a beach! Going on all those ‘free trips’ is ultimately too much work. Businesses sell something — something other people can buy while you sleep.”

—Matthew Kepnes, Nomadic Matt, author of How to Travel the World on $50 a Day and creator of the blogging school Superstar Blogging

37. 31. Never stop learning.

Jeremy Scott Foster / Via instagram.com

“To be a travel blogger is to be a Jack or Jane of all trades. It’s more than just writing—it’s photography, social media, marketing, branding, design, business savvy, and more. Listen to podcasts and read every book you can find. Nobody learns all that stuff in school, so you have to learn it yourself.”

—Jeremy Scott Foster, travelFREAK

“The internet moves quickly, and a learner’s mindset is essential for bloggers to keep up with the best ways to share their story. Find ways to continually improve your skills and knowledge. Take writing and storytelling classes, watch video tutorials on how to use Lightroom to edit your photos, study marketing, and learn social media. Fill your mind with information on how you can deliver your best quality work.”

—Shannon O’Donnell, A Little Adrift

38. So, got all that? Now get out there and start!

Annie Daly

IT BEGINS.

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