New travel blogger? You’ve got a lot to learn my friend… and a fun, frustrating and fascinating journey to learn it on.
Today, 1st February 2017, is my 5-year anniversary of setting up vickyflipfloptravels.com. FIVE years since I sat in that office at work (oops, yeah, sure it was lunch time or something) and signed myself up to a life of bloggery.
Of course I didn’t know it would lead to the crazy jetset life I have now – didn’t even have an inkling.
Nowadays, that’s kind of the whole point for new travel bloggers, right?
As someone who feels like they’ve made it as a travel blogger, here are my top 8 tips I think every new travel blogger needs to know.
1. You need to invest
– Me and my friend Jen at Summer in the City vloggers’ conference
Time and money. I’ve spent a fortune on becoming a travel blogger; investing in trips, going to conferences to network and learn, and paying for the upkeep of my site. But the biggest expense has been time. For 2 and a half years I worked full time as well as running the blog – I spent evenings and weekends working on on my skills before I could consider going pro.
Nowadays I still invest a huge amount of time, when I could be on the beach or the slopes, not really knowing if it will pay off. It’s a crazy and precarious industry this travel blogging, who knows what will happen in the future? But I do know you have to invest to stay involved.
2. Work out your purpose and what you want
– This moment in time was everything to me. I was in Chicago to see Beyonce live, I’d just come from the Johnny Cash Museum in Nashville, and those socks (used as a camera cover) were from Elvis’ Graceland in Memphis. Dream week.
For me it’s to be free to do what I want most days. For others it’s a big social media following, for some it’s money and others it’s just to share your travels with family. If you have your main focus, or top 3 focuses if you’re still unsure, in mind at all times, then it helps with making other decisions to do with life and work too. If you know your travel blog’s purpose for you, it will help you work out what matters.
Knowing your goals can also help with any comparative jealousy. Sometimes I look at other travel bloggers, how well they’re doing and jealousy feeds my veins, then I remember I don’t want it how they’re doing it anyway and I’m doing just fine.
As a new travel blogger comparing yourself to others is inevitable, but if you have your goal in sight it’ll be a lot easier.
3. Travel blogging is as easy or hard as you want it to be
– I like to write first drafts of blog posts on my phone while drinking cocktails from jam jars
This depends on your answer to number two. If you’re genuinely just setting up your blog to keep people up to date don’t stress the small stuff, but if you’re planning on world domination, you’ve got a difficult road ahead.
For me, travel blogging has got hard. I want to take great photos, I’m getting into video and I want to help people travel more and better. This means always fact checking, keeping an eye on expenses, tracking everything I do and really working hard to present the information as creatively as possible. I’ve become more of a perfectionist I ever thought I was capable of and it’s seriously slowing me down. I can’t keep up with what I want to do. In short, I’m making travel blogging difficult for myself.
I see travel bloggers moan about being lonely… well find other bloggers to travel with! I see them say travel blogging is hard… well what are you striving for? Narrow your focus. I read about them burning out from too much travel… well stop in one place for longer than a week!
You’re the only person in charge of your blog, make it work for you rather than the other way round.
4. Work to your skillset
– I was the guest travel editor for Blogosphere Magazine for a few months, here’s the IntheFrow party
I like writing, and I’m starting to really like making videos – they’re my current strengths and interests. I can also be very productive.
This all goes out the window when it comes to social media. I find it time consuming and difficult. I’ve been down many a social media rabbit hole when deadlines come around. My nemesis.
So I focus on the latter, rather than the former.
You might be a good networker, a great marketer, good at chatting on social media, have a good business mind, be super natural on camera – the scope of what it means to be a travel blogger is getting wider by the day, you can focus on any one of these to make it. Now you don’t have to be good at writing to be a successful ‘travel blogger’.
As a new travel blogger try to focus and excel at something, rather than be mediocre at everything. Work out your talents and interests and focus on that to start.
5. Passion and dedication are everything
Travel blogging is hard, have I already told you that? It looks easy, I know. Unfortunately it’s very difficult to make an impact right away and like anything in life you’re going to have to work at it to go pro. To start all you’re going to have is passion and dedication, and it’s impossible to say when that will turn into anything more. You need to stick at it.
You’re not gonna have the huge figures to start, or the money, or the press trips, but concentrate on the smaller picture. If you’ve helped just one person to travel better, and have an awesome trip, isn’t that cool? Like, really cool? They followed your advice and went to a place and enjoyed it because you said it was good.
If you’re a new travel blogger, and if you’re reading this as an old hand, congratulate yourself on the small wins and bigger ones will follow.
6. Make some blogger friends
– Adventurous Kate, Free Candie, Travel Yourself and me, VickyFlipFlop, in Spain
If you’re travelling solo a lot, life can get a little lonely. Make the effort to pick up some new travel blogger friends along the way and you can buddy up to travel the world. I’ve picked most of my travel blogger friends up from meet ups in London, various press trips and going to conferences. And then, keep an eye on their social media feeds and if you happen to be in the same place, meet up.
It can be difficult to navigate the world of travel blogging and having a few mates who started at the same time as you is really useful. Ask questions, recommend each other for work and just generally give each other loads of support. Life’s more fun with friends!
7. You don’t have to write or photograph everything
I’m totally overwhelmed by the 100s of pictures I took on my recent bike ride in Vietnam. It’s been four days since it finished and I haven’t even looked through them yet.
My top tip for any new travel bloggers is to only photography the most amazing of things, learn to have an eye for it. I was once on a press trip and we were invited to watch the chef at work in the kitchen. Honestly, the bloggers I was with must’ve taken 100s of photos between them of a guy frying a fish. It was crazy. All those photos then need to be looked at, taken off the camera, chosen between and then possibly edited and definitely resized to upload to the blog. They made life very difficult for themselves.
Same for oversharing. I’m probably totally guilty of this and I know I write too much, as I am now, but I just get excited to share. You don’t have to say everything there is to say about everything.
8. Take your time and enjoy the ride
I worked on my blog for two years and five months before I took it freelance, I probably could’ve done it a few months earlier, but y’know, life. New travel bloggers need to be patient – enjoy taking the time to build a following and for your articles to register in Google search. There are a few bloggers who’ve done incredibly well in a short space of time, but there’s no doubt that will have come at personal sacrifice. I have no doubts in you doing it, but just don’t be jaded if it doesn’t happen without a huge amount of work.
Rome wasn’t built in a day, just lay a brick at a time.
I hope these tips help.
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