Last Updated on November 29, 2021 by Nellie Huang
Want to pursue a career in travel blogging? Here are my secret tips on how to grow your travel blog and turn it into a business.
In 2008, I started this travel blog. Then in 2010, I took the plunge and became a full-time travel blogger. It’s been six glorious years and I haven’t looked back since as my travel blogging career developed. It’s the longest — and happiest — I’ve ever been at a job.
Prior to that, I never had an actual career. Every job I had – whether it was teaching English in Spain, working as an administrator in London or banker in Singapore – had always been a means to save up for my next trip.
But today I make a decent living in something I absolutely love. Travel blogging is a dream job. I get paid to travel to amazing places like Alaska, Antarctica, Brazil, Nepal, Iran, Uzbekistan, Ghana and Zimbabwe and share stories here with you. Everyday is different and I’m incredibly grateful for it.
In all honesty, travel blogging comes with its challenges. Becoming a full-time travel blogger requires TREMENDOUS hard work and commitment. Besides putting in long hours, you need to keep at it for a long time (talking years, not weeks!) before you see any kind of return.
But is it worth it? Hell yeh.
Table of Contents
- How to Pursue a Career in Travel Blogging
- Get Your Basics Right
- Focus on Quality, Useful Content
- Dare to be Different
- Diversify Your Income Streams
- Network with Travel Brands at Conferences
- Join Travel Blogging/Writing Associations
- Tap into Bloggers Networks and Agencies
- Be Professional and Establish a Code of Ethics
- Outsource Some Work
How to Pursue a Career in Travel Blogging
Of the thousands of travel bloggers around, probably only a quarter of them are full-time travel bloggers. I’m one of the lucky few who are considered professional travel bloggers.
As a full-time travel blogger, I make all my income from this travel blog or from connections/assignments that have resulted from it. I earn anything from US$3,000 to 10,000 a month, which is more than enough to sustain my frugal lifestyle in southern Spain. I’ve heard of bloggers who make up to six figures a year — so there’s definitely a market in there for those who want to carve a career in travel blogging.
I’ve already covered the basic steps of how to become a travel blogger that covers more technical aspects. Here, I’ll take it up a notch and share my personal secrets on how to go from a hobby blogger to a full-time travel blogger.
Get Your Basics Right
My number one advice to anyone who wants to become a full-time travel blogger is to take a blogging course and learn some fundamental skills. There are so many courses available now, and I wish there were around when I first started. It took me years to pick them up on my own and I feel that I STILL have so much more to learn.
The best course in the industry is Nomadic Matt’s Superstar Blogging Academy, which covers everything you need to know about the business of blogging in details. From SEO to web developing, digital marketing to social media management, travel writing and pitching editors/brands. My favorite resource is probably their secret Facebook group where over 1,000 members swap and share interesting tips and experiences.
The online course can be taken at your own pace. You can work on it at your own flexibility and you can read the detailed tutorials as many times as you want. Besides the tutorials, you’ll also have access to audio interviews and webinars. There are also job opportunities on their job boards and forum.
Focus on Quality, Useful Content
I cannot emphasize this enough: writing quality content should be your top priority as a travel blogger. Not SEO, not how to monetise your blog, not pitching companies and getting freebies.
To achieve success as a travel blogger, you need to keep publishing quality content and making sure they’re the best they can be. Don’t try to put together something quickly in order to keep to your schedule of three posts a week. Over the years, I’ve learned that it’s ALWAYS better to post detailed, long and well-crafted articles less frequently rather than short, sloppy pieces regularly.
Remember that your posts stay permanently on the blog and they’ll continue to bring in readers in the long run if they’re well written, easily searched by readers and resonate with them. If you are sloppy with your writing, readers won’t return to your site. Make sure that everything you share — from blog posts to photos and videos — are your best.
Dare to be Different
You may have traveled to over 50 countries and have seen a lot; but do a quick search on the internet, and you’ll be surprised to find that there are lots of people who have traveled a lot – just like you – and have blogged about it.
Backpacking in South East Asia, touring Western Europe or driving all over North America — it’s all too common and have been covered again and again on blogs, magazines and every other publication in the world.
If you find your blog traffic going stagnant, why not do something different? Perhaps you can add humor to your writing? You can even cover popular places in a different angle — for instance, abandoned areas in Paris or Disneyland for adults.
There are thousands of travel blogs out there and it can be difficult to stand out these days, so try new techniques and let your character shine.
Diversify Your Income Streams
The key to your success as a travel blogger is to constantly diversify your income streams and come up with new ways to generate an income. Be a hustler and don’t be afraid to think out of the box and approach your contacts for help.
Most new bloggers start generating an income with sponsored posts and advertorials. This may appear as easy money at the beginning, but it can be very harmful to your blog in the long run. Many bloggers including myself have been penalised by Google (I lost my Page Rank for a few months), so I definitely advise bloggers to avoid offering sponsored posts from day one.
There are plenty of other ways to generate an income as a travel blogger — such as freelance writing, brand ambassadorship, affiliate marketing, selling merchandise or books, social media campaigns, leading tours and consulting work. Here’s an in-depth look at how I make money from blogging.
Many of my projects/assignments have come about through contacts I’ve made in the travel blogging community or on social media. I’ve been contacted by editors through Twitter and approached for copywriting projects by small companies on LinkedIn.
But you don’t have to wait around for projects to drop on your feet. You can send out pitches, make contact with editors or brands and propose ideas. If you have a background in business or marketing, full use of your expertise and make connections with relevant people to pitch your idea.
Network with Travel Brands at Conferences
Conferences are an extremely useful way to connect with potential clients and partners as well as attend workshops and training. While it’s easy to make contact with people online, nothing beats face-to-face communications. These conferences provide the opportunity for you to network with brands and companies, creating the first bridge to future partnerships.
I’ve personally attended several conferences and even spoken at a few (TBEX, WTM and Getaway Travel Blog Conference) and definitely recommend attending. Many bloggers make the mistake of just networking with other bloggers — while it’s good to learn from one another, it’s worthwhile to make full use of your time at these conferences to meet up with brands and potential sponsors.
Here are some of the biggest travel blogging conferences:
- Travel Bloggers Exchange (TBEX) – the largest and most popular travel blogging conference
- Social Travel Market at WTM – a small section of the massive World Travel Market dedicated to social travel
- Social Travel Summit (STS) – for a small, elite group of travel bloggers that are a part of iAmbassador
- Travel Bloggers Conference (TBC) – organized by the PTBA (Professional Travel Bloggers Association)
- Internationale Tourismus-Börse Berlin (ITB) — the biggest travel tradeshow in the world
Join Travel Blogging/Writing Associations
To gain credibility, it can be useful to join official associations for bloggers and writers. They not only give members accreditations but also offer opportunities for members to work with certain brands or tourism boards.
Most of them have minimum requirements for membership; for instance IFWTA requires bloggers to have at least two years of experience and writers to submit clips from both online and print publications. ITWA also provides a press card which can be useful to get access to certain places while traveling.
Here’s a list of associations that I recommend checking out:
- Professional Travel Bloggers Association
- International Travel Writers Alliance
- International Food, Wine & Travel Association
- Society of American Travel Writers
- British Guild of Travel Writers
Tap into Bloggers Networks and Agencies
In recent years, many bloggers agencies and networks have popped up. They act as the middle man, connecting bloggers with brands for partnership opportunities. Most of them are free to join as bloggers and there are no minimum requirements. The more of these you join, the higher your chance of finding paid opportunities. I recommend putting some effort to fill out your profile and including accurate statistics for your blog.
- Cooperative — This network connects bloggers with sponsored post opportunities. It’s free to sign up as a blogger; you can specify your niche and rates, and choose to decline offers that are not a good fit.
- TapInfluence – Tapinfluence works in the same way and it’s also free for blogger. It lets you connect all your social channels and share examples of past sponsored posts, and the site creates a mini-media kit for you. Once connected, sponsors can reach out to you for partnership opportunities.
- IZEA – Another platform that has a list of sponsored work that bloggers can apply for.
- The Mid Game – Created by a blogger, this is also free to join and easy to use, connecting bloggers with sponsors for paid advertorials.
- The Cirqle — Focusing not just on blogging but also social media, this platform matches influencers with high profile customers like KLM.
- Blogger Bridge – Originally a part of TBEX, this database of travel bloggers is little old fashion in design but works well to connect bloggers with industry members mainly for press trips.
Be Professional and Establish a Code of Ethics
One way of establishing long-term relationships with travel brands is to be professional and deliver your work in a timely fashion. Personally I always try to over-deliver for campaigns — if we agreed on two Facebook posts, I’ll share three; if we agreed on 1 blog post, I’ll try my best to write two or perhaps a piece for a publication I write for.
As a consultant, I’ve helped several companies organise outreach campaigns, and so I’ve worked with a handful of travel bloggers to promote their brands. Most bloggers have been very professional, delivering quality work on time, but there have been a few who have really disappointed me in terms of the quality of work. One got paid and didn’t even end up delivering!
I’ve also traveled with many bloggers on press trips and it can be quite shocking how some people behave on these trips. Keep in mind that you are not on holiday — it is work and you need to behave like a professional if you want to be treated like one.
Always add a disclaimer when a certain trip or experience was sponsored. This way you’re completely transparent with your audience and also protects your blog in the long run. It can be useful to have a code of ethics for your blog as well to let readers know what you abide to.
Outsource Some Work
As I said before, running a travel blog requires a HUGE amount of work. You’re not just a writer — you’re also the editor, photographer, web designer, videographer, marketer, and social media manager.
Many people in the outside world think that blogging isn’t a real job. But, in reality, bloggers usually take on multiple roles and it’s hard for one person to handle it all. That’s where outsourcing comes in.
Only after eight years of being a blogger did I learn the importance of outsourcing. Delegating work to someone you can trust will help you be more accomplish more. It also gives you the time to focus on expanding your business rather than running it.
At the moment, I have three persons working for me on different areas: an SEO expert to help me optimise my content and provide advice on an on-going basis, a web designer to handle the new site design, and a VA (virtual assistant).
What I usually get my VA to do is manage my email accounts, research for blog posts, and help with client campaigns. It can take a while to train your assistant and entrust them with some tasks, but it’s well worth it.
Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive a commission at NO COST TO YOU. As always, I only recommend products or services I use personally.