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The truth about travel blogging

From the outside world, travel blogging can look like a lot of jetsetting, free gifts and swanky hotels – for just few hours of work per day. Not true.

Emma Higgins

Myth 1: You travel all the time

False. Like travel writing, full-time travel blogging is a lot of stopping and starting – it's not like being on a long trip and moving from place to place. If it were, bloggers the world over would be constantly hitting burnout, as it's impossible to get everything done while you're on the road. One day of exploring might lead to a series of two or three posts, so if you're out and about researching every day, you don't have time to get those stories published on your site.

Some bloggers actually choose stay at home and take trips periodically throughout the year, while others will pick a different place as a base – which makes it feel like you're travelling but allows you a bit of breathing space.

Myth 2: It's a glamorous lifestyle

False. The pictures we bloggers post on our social media accounts might make it look like we spend all day drinking cocktails by the ocean, but what we don't share is that bleary-eyed, 4am look when we're battling with slow WiFi while cooped up in a hotel room, desperate to get that next post out before sunrise. Like everyone else, we also don't magically dodge that gross post-flight feeling, or sweating buckets on long distance train journeys, or the world's wealth of travel-related illnesses. Being a travel blogger is a lot of fun, but glamorous? Forget it.

Myth 3: Blogging is not a legitimate career choice

False. There is a lot of money to be made in having your own business – and blogging can be the start of that, or a valuable side-project. A website can turn into brand partnerships and affiliate deals, then ebooks, freelance writing gigs, speaking events, advertising, and the opportunity to turn your passion for travelling into cold hard cash. That's not to say it's easy or that everyone makes it so far, of course, but with a strong strategy and sense of entrepreneurship, it's perfectly possible.

Myth 4: Bloggers get lots of free stuff

False. Nothing comes for free – it's all about trading services. Just as the publishing world works, brands often turn to bloggers to help publicise their products – giving them free samples in exchange for coverage. Full disclosure is essential, however: you should always tell your readers if your trip/article/review has been supported by a brand. 

Some successful travel bloggers leverage blog posts and social media coverage for hotel stays or tours. That takes work in itself, but what's often overlooked is how much work it takes to find the right hotel or tour to suit your branding, plus pitching emails and negotiating back and forth. That's not to mention the dedication it takes to build your blog to a level of followers that allows you to make these deals in the first place.

Myth 5: You can make a living solely from your blog

True. A combination of advertising, affiliate marketing, brand partnerships, and other sources of revenue made directly through your blog will only give you so much money – it's unlikely that this will amount to a full salary.

Most successful travel bloggers use their original website as a platform from which they can launch other products and services – ebooks or courses, consultancy, freelance writing work, personalised tours – and that's where they make most of their money. Being financially successful in blogging is about wearing many hats, and creating a number of different streams of income.

Myth 6: Blogging is less work than a 'normal' job

False – in fact, it's more work. At least within the first year or two it is, when you're trying to grow your profile – the 9 to 5 turns into something more along the lines of 8 to midnight most days. You're constantly hunting down stories, chasing leads and partnerships, scheduling social media, improving your website's design, writing your posts... the list goes on.

Once you have more of an established presence you can usually ease off the hours a little, but generally speaking you'll find more insomniac bloggers than those who are well rested. Caffeine is one of our greatest allies.

Myth 7: Anyone can be a successful travel blogger

False. Anyone can be a travel blogger, but not everyone can be a outstanding travel blogger – especially now that the industry is extremely crowded. You have to stand out, which means producing quality travel content, so if you're just not great at writing you're going to struggle. With more people in this space, standards are raised – there are too many bloggers fighting for the first page of Google and a spot on that incredible press trip as it is, so there's not enough room for everyone to be successful. Only those with the best content and branding make it to the lofty heights of full-time blogging pro.

Furthermore, blogging is a matter of constant hustle. If you're not determined, self-disciplined, motivated and full of new ideas – the kind of person who can create and manage their own business – making a living from travel blogging is going to be an uphill battle.

But that's not to put you off trying. There is always room for more great travel content – in a way, we need it more than ever because the travel industry is being diluted with clickbait and lists designed for impatient internet users. Inspiring, quality stories are harder to come by, so if you think you have some to tell, blogging is a great way to get them out there. Just don't expect it to come with free champagne or nights at The Ritz right away...

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Main image: Working poolside on a laptop (Shutterstock)

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