These days, starting a travel blog is almost a knee-jerk symptom of travelling itself. Some people blog with hopes of subsidizing their travels, others have aspirations of turning it into a full-fledged career, and others yet simply want to chronicle their journey.
But travel blogging is not necessarily the walk in the park you might think it is; in fact it might hinder your travels rather than help them. Here are 17 reasons NOT to blog about your next trip.
I’m going on a round-the-world trip and although I like the idea of blogging about it, I don’t want to be on my computer all the time. I also don’t know if it’s worth trying to make money at it; that seems like even more work, but on the other hand it could pay for my trip. Do you have any advice for somebody who doesn’t know what they don’t know? – Samantha
Great question, Samantha. Firstly, if your trip starts in the next few months, you can forget about subsidizing your travels with a blog (more on that later). Beyond that, check out these 17 reasons you might want to scrap the blog idea altogether:
Blogging is Work – Even if it’s for Fun
Even if you’re just blogging for pleasure, you’ll soon find it’s a lot of work. Here’s why:
There’s a Learning Curve
When I started my blog (which initially was just to keep in touch with family and friends and record my travels), I spent an inordinate amount of time setting it up, making it pretty, and learning the ropes and language of blogging. Choosing a theme alone took days. On one hand this work was pretty fun; but if I had instead spent that time on planning my travels, my trip might have looked quite different.
Do yourself a favour; if you want to keep a journal of your travels, go out and buy a journal.
Blogging is About More than Writing Posts
Even after the initial hump of the setup learning curve, there’s more to blogging than simply writing posts, taking pictures, and formatting and uploading it all – which is time consuming enough. You also have to manage your site, and deal with glitches and updates (which, if you’re not versed in web-speak, is nerve-wracking).
Your blog will become a pet project, which can be fulfilling, but also a tax on your time. Ask yourself why you’re travelling; the end-game of your trip is probably not to have a blog.
Blogging is an Obligation
“I just blog for fun, and yet I feel this unreasonable commitment to it! I spend more time in my hotel room than I do travelling! My son, who I’m travelling with, is getting angry with me. How do you do it, Nora?” asked a reader one day. Even if you’re not making money with your blog, you’ll probably get caught up in the process, and will foster a sense of obligation to it.
Whether you feel you “need” to write x posts per week, or photoshop your pictures to perfection, or are taking an interest in other travel blogs to hone your craft, you’ll eventually find you’ve committed to your blog – likely at the expense of some aspect of your travels.
Blogging is Even More Work if You’re Doing it for Money/Career
If you have aspirations of making money with your blog or turning it into a new career, you’ve got even more work ahead of you. I started blogging for fun (because in 2006 “blog monetization” wasn’t particularly heard of), but eventually I turned it into a career along with freelance writing. (See also: 11 Ways to Earn Money While You Travel)
Although on one hand it’s very liberating to make money with little more than a laptop and internet connection, on the other hand it has crippled my travels, and relationships. Here’s how:
You Have to Be Online…A Lot
Monetizing your travel blog requires a whole host of tasks other than blogging itself. Some of these tasks (which you’ll read more about below) are relentless, requiring you to be online almost daily.
The Need for Internet Affects Destination Choices and Activities
I would love to spend time in the remote jungles of the Amazon, or the plains of Africa. But the mere thought of being away from internet for an extended time sends me into convulsions. Even with the ability to schedule posts in advance, the multi-tiered tasks of travel blogging require regular internet access.
Not only that, but what would I do with my beloved laptop while wading through jungle rivers? I’m not the only travel blogger who would throw myself in front of a bus to protect my laptop (save for the fact that without me, my laptop would be of little use).
You Need to Post Often, and Regularly
Google rewards regularity of posting, and the more frequently you post, the better you will perform in search rankings. This creates a precarious balance between writing about travel, and actually travelling (so you have something to write about).
It’s Not Just About Your Blog
To become a player in the travel blogging community, you need to interact with other bloggers by reading and commenting on their posts, participating in forums, writing guest posts, doing interviews, and ultimately marketing your content.
And Then, There’s Email
I get about 50 emails per day from readers, advertisers, and colleagues. Developing these relationships is important for monetization, but just a few days offline creates a mountain of work to catch up on. This perpetuates the (unhealthy?) umbilical connection I and most other travel bloggers have to the internet.
Travel Blogging is Competitive
With new travel blogs entering the blogosphere every minute (or less), you’ve got some stiff competition to create a travel blog worth reading. Do you have something specific to offer readers? Yet another vacation diary is not particularly lucrative.
Social Media is Relentless
A key aspect to marketing a travel blog lies in having a strong social media following – and working it daily. It can be a rewarding but relentless task.
Travel Blogs Don’t Make Money Immediately
“I’m going backpacking around the world with two friends for six months. I’d love to start a travel blog to pay for my travels! We leave in three weeks; how do I start?” This email came from a naive reader, to whom I had to impart some blunt advice.
Even the most internet-savvy of travel bloggers don’t make money with their blog for months (sometimes years). If your blog isn’t well-established before you start traveling, don’t expect it to pay for your travels right away.
Your Vision May be Compromised
If you start a travel blog for the love of chronicling your travels, but making money is your end-game, you might need to make some tough decisions. Some travel bloggers accept poorly-written guest posts from advertisers who want random link exposure. Other bloggers write boring hotel reviews so they can get a free night’s stay. Although these bloggers might be making (some) money, it’s still work to communicate with advertisers and hoteliers, upload shoddily written guest posts, and write yet another hotel review. And chances are, this is not why you were initially interested in blogging – or travelling – to begin with. Fancy selling your soul?
Blogging Alone Doesn’t Pay the Bills
Most travel bloggers don’t make a living with their travel blog alone. Whether it’s freelance writing, coaching, web development, marketing, leading tours, or another form of income, a travel blog is just a part of the picture.
When You’re Blogging, You’re Not Travelling
There’s an odd divide between the act of blogging, and actually travelling. Here are a few things to consider:
Are you Seeing the World, or Recording it?
Seeing the world through the lens of a camera is different from seeing the world. You can miss some spectacular experiences while trying to capture that perfect picture for your blog. The same goes for writing; sometimes I find myself more preoccupied with how I’m going to write about an experience, than actually experiencing it. This distracts you from living in the present moment – which is one of the greatest gifts of travelling the world.
Blogging Skews Your Priorities
A colleague once told me that he wouldn’t care if he lost everything on the road – his wallet, money, and even his passport. But if he lost his computer, he’d be devastated. I understand his point of view, but then again, I’m a travel blogger. Is that a normal way to think? (I think not).
Bloggers Spend Most of Their Time on Their Computers
Travel blogging on the road requires a serious time commitment, as I’ve already alluded to. Can you really say you’ve seen a destination if you’ve spent at least half your time there on your computer? Most career travel bloggers (myself included) regularly rant about the difficulty of work/life balance on the road.
Unless you and your partner are both dedicated travel bloggers or have online businesses, expect some friction on the road. What does your partner do while you’re spending all this time blogging? I had a partner who resented me for “playing on my computer all the time” while we were supposed to be out exploring. Even if you make money at it, blogging doesn’t “look” like work to a partner who doesn’t understand the business.
Travel Blogging Isn’t All Bad
If you’ve survived the last 1,500 or so words slamming travel blogs and you’re still enthusiastic to blog about your trip, then you are a survivor.
For you, there’s probably an additional pull; a desire to integrate your travels by writing about them. Maybe you want to show it to your kids one day. Maybe you have a special message or angle to your trip that you believe will inspire others like you to take the plunge. Or maybe you’re simply compelled to keep your family and friends in the loop with an informal travel blog.
My own travel blog was borne of a passion to journal my travels, and I enjoyed the work that came with it. Later, my blogging turned into a career that (in part) afforded me the ability to continue to travel full-time in a financially sustainable way.
Welcome to the club! You’re not alone, so come along with us hopeless romantics (I mean, travel bloggers), and let’s show the world at large what travelling can be all about…so they don’t have to blog about it themselves.
Note: If you want to get into travel blogging, or take your website to a new level, I highly recommend The Business of Travel Blogging course. Even after 10 years of blogging professionally, I learned a ton from it, and wished this course existed when I got started in the business – it would have saved me thousands of dollars (and hours) learning everything the hard way.