Travel blogging is far more complicated and is harder work than it looks oh and it’s not everyone.
This blog could be useful for two reasons, to show you what it takes to become a blogger or give you an insight into why you’re not a successful one…
Taking beautiful, enigmatic pictures is a side-kick of blogging. We are all helplessly drawn to vivid and moody pictures and so are our readers. At times you won’t get a camera out of my hand, I’ll be excited to set up a shot in beautiful light or when the milky way is gleaming above me but sometimes I want to be alone. Often I want to go hiking, diving or exploring without my camera, I don’t want to be looking for perfect angles, feel pressure to capture a shot to perfectly describe how I feel in that very moment. I want to be present in my surroundings and to do that I like to leave my camera behind. That means no selfies for social media status’s unless I feel like it and no set up visual elements for a blog, it’s either in the moment or nothing at all.
I like to write but I’m not too good at strapping myself to a seat and forcing an article to materialise. Sometimes I come up with a fantastic idea and sit to start composing it and… well, nothing comes out. I agonise over every sentence, tease it along and then end up closing my lap top, taking a walk outside and getting side tracked by a new adventure. It’s been over 3 weeks since I’ve written anything, I can guarantee that this blog will be the most painstaking thing I’ll have completed in three weeks. Often Becks will be sitting at her laptop and shout “give me an idea and a starting sentence” …. I throw out an idea and within 7 minutes she’s whipped some emotional tale together, a wonderful and yet utterly disgusting 600 word piece of perfectly formed words… Eughhh! I’m not saying that every blogger needs to be a ‘writer’ but it shouldn’t be like pulling teeth.
As a blogger just starting out, money from ads and affiliates is minimal or in our case non-existent. To begin, it’s important to grow your audience, work on your SEO (Search Engine optimisation) and get some strong links and when you’ve worked your butt off and you do acquire a hearty enough monthly following you can get noticed by companies and even score yourself a press or comped trip. WOOHOO a FREE trip paid for by a company in return for publicity. It’s the ‘living the dream’ reward for travel bloggers who aren’t Nomadic Matt earning $500,000 a year. Kayaking with icebergs in Alaska, road tripping Iceland and diving the Mexican cenote’s are a few of the free trips we’ve done but with these incredible opportunities, came incredible pressure. Photos have to be top notch, writing has to be done quickly, accurately and creatively, social media has to be buzzing. You have to earn your spot on that trip and rightfully so, they are paying for you. In the end my travels are my travels. Yes it’s been surreal to do cool stuff for free but would I rather pay for the experience, be anonymous and feel it’s authenticity rather than the stress of capturing, blogging and selling the trip? I’m not sure… and really that’s my point.
Behind the scenes of the travel bloggers, no matter how glamorous or adventurous they seem there is the mundane chore of social media. Unfortunately I cannot stand it.
Don’t get me wrong, some people i.e Becks finds Twitter a game like sudoku, me I just prefer to DO sudoku.
The problem is, as a travel blogger social media numbers count. Numbers bring in more numbers. Numbers also bring more opportunities, more coverage, more press trips, more free stuff and more weight, so those hours doing your social media homework is just as important as writing a great post and taking some awesome pictures. It’s often said that 30% of your effort is in the writing and 70% is in the promoting. Tough for someone that doesn’t like the promoting side right?
Here’s some typical social media homework:
Please please don’t misconstrue, I’ve met some wonderful people online through social media outlets but I cannot spent hours a week ‘kiss-arsing’ a bunch of people I don’t know just to get a ‘like’.
I tried it. I hated it. I fail to keep at it.
I follow quite a few high profile travel blogs and one of the things they all have in common is that they seem to care about EVERYTHING. They like history, religion, adventure, animals, science, food, wine, architecture. I don’t. I’m not that person that finds the beauty behind the grotty facade, understands a culture and all it’s annoying habits and loves a building swarmed by 1,000 people for it’s historical significance to another culture I barely know. I get bored easily, will hardly ever go to a museum unless it’s got a mummy exhibition or things from space and I don’t like crowds, oh and I’m honest about it!
I’m not that person who will take you on a journey through rose coloured glasses and show you the entire world, I will only show it through my own glasses… a pair of dorky frames that are smudged and scratched and which often leave out the most crucial details. What kind of blogger is that?!
Travel blogging requires amazing levels of organisation. Booking free trips in advance, planning collaboration posts, pitching to larger publications and matching deadlines are only the beginning. When you are actually on the road you need to be planning one step in advance at all times: Where to next, creating contacts for media discounts, pre promoting attractions, tours etc…Take pictures of everything, make the place look good, think of a new angle, write an interesting article, pray it gets noticed, comment back to the people who actually have actually read it, push it on twitter, then on Google + but don’t forget to Pin it or Instagram it. . Find wifi, WE NEED WIFI!!
And then you start again.. where to next? Find out what attractions are there… and on it goes.
I don’t like to know what I’m doing tomorrow, I don’t want to book things in advance. Travel to me is messy and unscheduled because to me that’s when the adventures really begin to get exciting.
Which brings me onto my next point
Wifi; The innocuous beacon; The bane of my existence but yet the most crucial need for any travel blogger. It’s obvious, to share your stories online you need wifi, without it a blogger is doomed.
But I enjoy getting myself off the beaten track, so far away from the world I have no connection for days. Sometimes I just prefer to be away from my computer, away from wifi and utterly submerged in a place… and that makes me a terrible blogger.
I’m not a solo female traveller, I’m not a lesbian travel blogger (well theoretically yes but I don’t blog about that), I’m not an overland traveller, nor a long-term traveller. I‘m not a vacationer, a quit my 9-5 to travel the world-er, a blogger who travels with her family or a blogger that writes about a particular country. I’m not a foodie, a fashionista or an extremist adventure junkie, a budget traveller or a luxury traveller. I am all of these and as such I don’t really fit anywhere and in the blogging world that is a disaster. In order to generate an audience you need to have one. For years Becks and I have mulled over this ideological question of “who are we?!” are have come up trumps. We blog about anything and everything, encompassing all and singling out no-one in particular because we don’t act in any specific way.
My travels mean the world to me. I only started blogging because I was better at travelling than anything else. For me, when I mix blogging with travel I feel I cannot give my all to either. My travels are often not as good and my blogging is rushed (I really just want to be playing in the mountains!) To be honest I don’t want to spend my travels looking for wifi, worrying about articles or playing on social media, I want to be enraptured by a destination, in the moment and carefree and that is probably the strongest point of why I will never be a successful travel blogger. I will not change my direction either, if there’s an opportunity for somewhere I don’t want to go, I’m just not going.
I began travel blogging because I loved adventure. I found myself in loads of strange places, in strange countries and I wanted to write about them… nothing has changed. I still love writing and I love the people who I connect with through my blog but taking the pressure off and realising that blogging fame just isn’t for me has been extremely freeing. It means I can concentrate on what I do best, giving my honest opinion, writing from the heart and travelling to the end of the world.
Will I be a successful travel blogger? Hell NO and I’m OK with that.