I don’t know how many times I’ve gone to write this blog post. Too many, for sure.
I wish I would have posted it sooner to help people understand the travel blogging industry, what’s involved, and how it works… but the truth is it is always changing, and I’ll be the first to admit that I, along with other travel bloggers, am always learning as the business of blogging continues to grow + evolve.
I use the term “business” because right now, I am finally at a point where I feel comfortable using it. “Business” is a dirty word in blogging. Some bloggers are running uber successful businesses, some are not. But that is because some people take blogging serious enough to call it their full time career, whilst others choose to pursue blogging as a hobby. Both are fine. I repeat: both are fine.
So, How do you become a travel blogger?
The first step is an obvious one: start a blog. The second step might be even more straight forward: travel.
The truth is that no one who has started a travel blog or who has ‘become’ a travel blogger was handed some silver spoon that contained the likes of a glittering reputation, large audience, and impressive client list. No, each of these are worked for. They come with time and effort… usually in the form of sleepless nights, a limited social life, and an obsessive passion for what it is you are doing.
But to simplify it in a nutshell (hopefully to encourage you that yes, there is room for you in the industry!), here’s how it happened for me:
1. Think of Your Name
This should always come before you begin any further steps towards blogging. Yes, it comes even before you ‘start the blog’ (for obvious reasons, because…. y’know, you need a killer name). But don’t ever skimp on time to come up with THE name. It might come to you overnight in a dream, it might be a word you spot in the street, or it might be a product of two weeks straight brainstorming. However when you think of it, you’ll know it’s the one. It just sticks.
Before you go any further, check that it is actually available.
2. Buy Your Domain
Notice how I jump straight to “Buy your domain”, not “create a wordpress” or “join Blogspot”. In the industry you’re competing with nowadays, you really can’t go without a .com address. Sure, it’s a small investment, but it will totally pay off. It will also make you feel more professional straight up and encourage you to hit the gears with full force. I bought my domain from Dream Host because it was cheap and well, I had no money..
3. It’s not the idea, it’s how you sell it
Steve Jobs famously invented this form of marketing – the notion that people don’t love what you do, they love why you do it. To understand this in further depth, here’s a fantastic video on the topic.
Branding is an important part of your business, whether you plan to make money from it or not. The truth is that no matter how great your idea is, it is not the idea that matters most, but how you communicate it. Do this well and people will be interested in your every move (literally).
4. On that note, do it for the right reasons…
Before we go any further, I simply cannot not state the obvious – and say what many bloggers have before me – that you should begin a blog for the right reasons. AKA: you should be passionate about what you’re writing about and why you do it, certainly not for reasons of financial gain or fame. Sometimes the later occurs as a byproduct of passion, but never the other way around.
5. Read Other Blogs & Create your P.O.D
Point of difference – the essential ingredient in a successful blog in 2015. There’s just no other way to say it: originality will always win out in the end. It doesn’t matter if it’s a subtle different or a big one, but having a point of difference is key. This could mean that you photograph your photos in a particular way, edit them in a certain way (example: Tash Oakley with VSCO filters), or having your own unique voice/style of writing. Whatever it is, make it known.
While being original is the best way forward, avoid feeling scared of reading other blogs for inspiration, motivation, and ideas. An incredibly easy read on this topic is the “Steal Like An Artist” book by Austin Kleon, where he explains how all the incredible thinkers of the world have been successful because they have surrounded themselves with others in their line of work. It’s a great read that will transform the way you think about sourcing inspiration and putting your own spin on your work.
6. WRITE, WRITE, WRITE!
The only way to get better is to keep doing it. I know I for one certainly didn’t win any marathons by waking up one morning and saying “today is it!” (and no, I never won any marathons anyway)… but the fact of the matter is that you have to practice to perfect an art.
7. Get to Know your Audience
This has been a fundamental key in the success of my blog. When I first started writing and sharing my photos/stories, I had little idea as to who was reading them. After a while I figured out how to configure my comments (yup, it took me a while!) so that readers could give me feedback, we could discuss destinations, and all of a sudden a community of travel-lovers was born. Before this, none of anything I did really mattered – I just enjoyed sharing. Nowadays I am very aware of who my readers are (‘cos I tweet ’em all the time), and I share the articles they want to read, as well as the ones I want to write. Nowadays I meet my readers in person through meetups, where I can really get to know them through our mutual love for ice cream and ability to recite Harry Potter spells off by heart.
8. Never Knock on a Door Once, and Don’t be Afraid to Bang it Down!
Don’t be afraid to tell people about your work. Of course, you’re gonna wanna be proud of it first, so before you reach this point you would have already spent weeks and months (maybe even years) creating a body of work you are proud of sharing.
Then, when you know you’ve poured your blood sweat and tears into your blog, tell everyone about it. Tell the check out chick, tell the air hostess, tell the neighbours and if you’re as keen as I was back when I started (I’m still keen now but, had you have seen me on the hustle… you’d understand), then tell your dog.
Get business cards made to give your pitch a professional edge – if someone knows someone who knows someone, GREAT! Give them a card and get them to pass it along.
The truth is, all you need is one big break. From there, it becomes so much easier. When I first began blogging I couldn’t get a ‘yes’ from anyone. Now those people who said ‘no’ are coming to me in anticipation of a ‘yes’. Trust me, it happens. This big break came for me when I offered up myself free of charge to appear on a commercial for a tour company in LA. From there, I used this example to approach other businesses who saw the level of professionalism in my work and how serious I was about making it happen!
9. Never Give Up
10. No one Does it For you, You do it for yourself
As you have hopefully learned by this point in the dotpoint instructions on how to become a travel blogger, you don’t just get handed the title or win the lottery, you create the job for yourself. There are many perks (and a few cons) to being self-employed, but the biggest contributing factor to your success or otherwise is: the buck stops with you. You decide how hard you work at it, and you reap the rewards. If you want it bad enough, start doing it. If you do it well enough, someone will eventually pay you to keep doing it. That goes for anything you chase in life.