Off-late I’ve started getting a lot of message requests from my readers showing their interest in travelling and becoming a full-time travel blogger — people working as investment bankers and engineers earning a seven-figure income, yet unsatisfied with their lifestyle, wanting to break into (how it appears to an unschooled) the ever glorious field of travel blogging.
In the previous month itself — and particularly after my recent blog trip with The Golden Chariot, as I posted some flashy pictures from a luxury train ride in India — I’ve received a few dozen such queries, all starting with a brief praise for making blogging a successful carrier for myself followed by the inevitable: “I want to do the same but just don’t know where to start from, and how!”
So if you too are struggling with a similar unsettling bug of making travel blogging a carrier choice, here’s my advice to you…
Start With Becoming A Part-Time Blogger
Blogging is a slow process and takes time to eventually grow into a full-time revenue-generating business. Even if you’re exceptionally good in writing content and have a fair knowledge of how SEO and digital marketing works, expect no monetary benefits (or even a sponsored trip) during your first year of blogging stint. Those not qualifying as a pro in any one of the above-mentioned traits may take even more time. So the best thing to do is go slow, start today, and give blogging some organic time to grow on its own.
Start with a Facebook page or an Instagram handle and build your community. If you know that you’re eventually going to take blogging full-time, buy a cheap hosting plan, build a website and keep blogging part-time until you see a potential return.
Though I know that I was one of those bloggers who quit their job to travel and started blogging full-time soon after without knowing if it would eventually pay or not (yes, I still call myself lucky for it worked all well) I still advise people not to follow the same path. I managed to start making money from travel blogging because I had a fair knowledge of how online publication businesses work, thanks to my previous couple of corporate jobs, but you may just belong from a different field and that may make all the difference. So start with part-time travel blogging and let your blog grow to an assuring point before you make it your only revenue source.
Save Enough Before Discontinuing Your Previous Lifestyle
One thing I always advise people showing their interest in discontinuing their previous lifestyle and becoming a full-time travel blogger is having some financial assurance before they do so. Have enough in your bank account so that you can sustain for at least a couple of years, even if you made no money from blogging.
When I quit my job I’d enough to be able to keep travelling for 3 or 4 years without making any money. Having some financial assurance allows you to keep going and as with every business, with blogging too, if you survived your initial one or two years consider your business a success.
Now, another thing to keep in mind here is your identity. For an Indian, for example, working and travelling visas are not possible unlike for people with stronger passports in hand. For an instance, people from Western Europe can easily move to Australia (and dozens of other countries) the next day they decided, and work and travel at the same time, which means they can continue travelling, keep working and making money on the go, as well as blog about their journeys. For Indians, or for someone having a similar useless passport as the weak Indian passport travelling anywhere out of their country only means travelling — and in other terms, bleeding money! So before you decided to go for blogging full time, make sure you’ve enough money saved in your bank account depending on your travel choices and personal lifestyle.
Be Money Smart & Start As A Budget Traveller
When I initially started travel-blogging, I had no idea about when will I actually monetize from my blog. So I started as a budget traveller trying to make my money last longer. I would camp in the Himalayas and save money on accommodation, or hitchhike and save on transportation. The two self-sponsored international trips I ever did were moreover focused on minimum spending.
However with time, and as I started making money from travel blogging, and sponsored trips became more frequent, I changed course from budget backpacking to premium flashpacking. Now, had I not cared about how much money I was spending during the initial days, I might have run out of money before blogging even picked up for me. So be thoughtful of your resources and create a long-term plan.
Gain Traction By Positioning Yourself As Someone Different
The key to successful travel blogging, or any kind of blogging for that matter, is standing out from the crowd. Rather than trying to cover every topic and being everything to everyone, focus on one or two areas of expertise. Understand what are you passionate about and what drives you.
For example, my branding is based on travel resources which included city guides, how to’s, budget travel tips, travel blogging tips and pretty much everything else you can think of, but all while keeping Indian community in mind. If I am talking about how much money you need to travel in Thailand, I’d write it while keeping Indians in mind and convert all prices in Indian Rupees. Branding is what has differentiated me from other travel blogs out there.
And last but not least, professional travel blogging is tough, and if you think that this job is just an extended vacation, you are very, very wrong. Travel blogging is like having a 365-day job with no vacations and no annual leaves. Though it’s a different thing that once you get into the business and get comfortable, you start enjoying it.
Having said that, and to conclude it on a positive note… Travel Blogging is the best thing ever happened to me!