This is the start of a new series on how to create a travel blog from absolutely zero. It’s aimed at complete novices, so you will not need any prior knowledge or skills to go through this content. I’ve made a lot of mistakes with all my sites and blogs. This information is what I wish I knew in starting out and what I would do different now.
Why You Shouldn’t Start a Travel Blog
I wrote about Why Travel Blogging is a Lousy Way to Make Money Online. I think most travel bloggers would agree that if your primary goal is to earn quick, easy money, then travel blogging is a terrible choice. Blogging takes a lot of time, effort and skills. Even then you will need to do it for years to build a substantial audience.
If you are only going to travel for a year or so, it probably would make more sense to work an extra part-time job or overtime hours to save money before you depart. You don’t want to spend your precious time abroad in internet cafes, behind a computer screen for some vague hope of generating an income from your travel blog. You could be immersing yourself in foreign cultures, meeting locals or volunteering instead.
If you do need to work while traveling, freelancing your services will provide a more stable and immediate income source. You could blog with the hopes of someday earning a liveable salary, or you could get paid for your work now. Selling your skills is almost always much more lucrative than blogging. Virtually all the people I’ve interviewed on this site, sell some service or product for a majority of their income.
The other issue is about what happens when you stop traveling? Does your blog end? Do you start writing filler content without doing much traveling? It’s hard to be a good travel blogger if you don’t travel a lot. If you are not spending a good portion of your life traveling or are not living abroad somewhere, then blogging about travel is probably not the most profitable use of your time.
Why Start a Travel Blog
There are good reasons to blog about your travels though. I find blogging about any topic you’re interested in to be hugely personally rewarding. Here are some of the reasons that you should create a travel blog:
- Keep an online diary of your travels. It’s great to keep a record of your experiences. A travel blog is a great way to organize photos, video and text for future reference.
- Share your experiences with family and friends. Regular updates online make it easy for your family to follow your journey.
- Improve your writing, photography and video skills. The more content you create for your site, the better you will get at creating that content. Good content creation skills will always be in demand and you can also do that work remotely as you travel.
- Meet new people. Maintaining a travel blog and related social media accounts make it much easier to connect with other travelers. This site has been instrumental in helping me connect with other bloggers, locals and travelers all over the world. By far, this is the greatest single benefit of my site.
- Earn Money Online. It’s not easy and the money won’t come quickly, but there are opportunities to earn income from your travel blog. I will cover this in much more detail in later posts.
- Get Promotional Opportunities. If you have a popular site, companies will provide complimentary products, hotel stays, tours, etc. in exchange for being written about on your site. Sometimes, you don’t even need much traffic if you are proactive in reaching out to companies in the tourism industry.
- Build a platform. A large blog readership will open up opportunities to market premium products like ebooks and membership programs or you might even be able to get a book deal or speaking engagements.
- Sell other products or services. Blogging is a fantastic way to generate targeted leads for products or services you sell. There is no better way to build awareness and trust for your business, then free, quality content.
An Easy Start to Travel Blogging
If you are new to travel and blogging, and you are only traveling for a limited time, like on a gap-year trip, I would recommend against a blog. A easier and more effective place to start would be just to post your updates on Facebook.
Your family and friends will likely already be following you on Facebook, it’s easy to post short, regular updates, photos and video, you don’t need to pay for a domain name or website hosting account, and there is nothing difficult to learn.
Facebook can still provide a record of your travels while offering access for family and friends. This will minimize the amount of time spent maintaining a website and creating content. If you change your mind later on and do start to blog, an active Facebook following will only help your blog’s success and you can start by expanding some of your best or most popular Facebook content.
Scott Stratten of Unmarketing.com built a huge following on Twitter before he started blogging. That audience he built on Twitter was instrumental in the early success of his blog. Start by building a following on sites like Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus and Pinterest. A large and active social media following will aid any business direction you choose in the future.
Don’t Start a Travel Blog… Unless You Really Want To.
Creating a travel blog is not the best choice for everyone. You don’t want to invest hundreds of hours into something that is not going to generate the results you are hoping for. It is estimated that 95% of all blogs get abandoned. It’s very easy to lose interest. I’ve considering giving up on this site many times because the massive time commitment and minimal financial rewards. Blogging is hard work and you won’t see results for a long, long time, so it’s a good idea to start small with a single social media platform. If that is going well, then you can start to expand out.
I can almost guarantee that you won’t make much money in your first year of travel blogging, if at all. You can invest a few hundred hours into blogging with little return, or you can do some freelancing work and make a few thousand dollars to fund your travels. Even if you have an existing business, it often makes more sense to focus on your paying customers, rather than spending hours every day on social media or creating content for your blog. There are good reasons to blog, just make sure that your reasons serve your goals.
Now that I’ve done my best to scare you away from blogging, next time I’ll talk about getting started with creating content for your site, choosing the write topics and get into keyword research.