A travel blogger is someone who travels around the world collecting material for writing about their travel experiences, deriving income from a variety of on-line and off-line sources.
A travel blogger is a freelance writer who maintains their own blog site and attempts to derive income from the value in their written articles and features. The travel blogger must travel to a destination country (or more typically, a series of countries) in order to obtain exciting, informative experiences which he or she will then host on their blog site. They will also usually be required to upload good quality photography to illustrate the pieces.
Although the actual process of travelling and blogging does not result in any form of salary, revenues can be obtained from a variety of methods. The first is from advertising; a popular blog site with many thousands of followers represents a valuable marketing channel, both for product suppliers and for hospitality destinations. Often, a hotel may contact a blogger and offer them a free stay in exchange for a positive feature about their property. Other companies may offer the blogger free travel equipment, or simply purchase banner advertising on the site. Additionally, completed features hosted on the blog can be offered to print media who will publish travel stories in exchange for cash.
There is no salary as such for travel blogging; it all depends on how visible the blog is in Google rankings, how many followers the site has, and the kind of reputation it enjoys. At the outset, the blog’s value is zero because it is unknown and has no reputation. As the site accumulates followers and improves its search engine position, it begins to become more attractive to potential sponsors. Likewise, it is difficult to advise bloggers starting out on what would be an appropriate level of income to sponsor their travelling activities, as the cost of near continual travel depends on the location. For example, a travel blogger in Europe would need significantly higher revenues to continue to travel to expensive countries, whereas someone travelling in Asia could get by on a shoestring budget, taking advantage of free stays and cheap rentals.
- Organising a travel plan to countries where the blogger intends to travel
- Making travel arrangements
- Organising visas where necessary
- Contacting potential advertisers to attempt to secure ad hoc and ongoing advertising
- Contacting product suppliers to arrange product reviews and sponsorship
- Pitching travel features to print media
There are no academic requirements for travel blogging. In fact many people choose this option because they lack sufficient qualifications, often travelling during university breaks, or to gather experience working in different territories, thereby adding to the experience on their CV.
- Be happy to stay in a variety of accommodation types, from 5-star resorts down to backpacker shacks
- Have a love of travel and a desire to see far-off places
- Possess a decent level of English language writing skill
- Understand how to use good quality photographic equipment, such as a digital SLR camera
- Understand how to use web-hosted blogging services such as Wordpress and Twitter
- Be able to integrate customer’s paid advertising banners into own blog pages
- Be able to pitch successfully to travel and non-travel print magazines around the world
The actual 'conditions of work' form the whole experience of a travel adventure. Most bloggers will experience a variety of different accommodation levels, so one trip may be to a luxury resort by the Andaman Sea, returning to a small apartment in Bangkok for a few days, before heading out for a three day jungle adventure, with nothing but a backpack and mosquito repellent. People tend to enjoy travelling or not enjoy it; those that love it tend to find it hard to settle down, always feeling the need to explore new places and tell others about their experience.
ExperienceFrom the first trip, the travel blogger will be accumulating experience on a number of levels. Firstly, the need to create professional written content, upload it to a blog, manage the pages and promote the travel blog are specific skills which are usually self-taught through experience. Secondly, continuing travel trips give the blogger a thick skin, making them more able to deal with difficult situations as they arise whilst in the field; the first Asian trekking adventure, for example, is a daunting experience for many, as the blogger will need to deal with mosquito bites, crushing humidity, language and navigational difficulties and a variety of potentially dangerous eventualities. After the writer has completed three such trips, they will probably be able to offer strong experiential advice to other travellers. This is how meaningful and valuable content translates to advertising revenues through a successful blog.
Although not relevant per se, experienced travel writers and bloggers will develop a burgeoning portfolio of contacts, making it more likely that future travel features they complete will be published in print (or well funded by sponsors). Well capitalised bloggers will be able to explore exotic and remote locations beyond the reach of inexperienced bloggers with limited resources.
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Sebastian Canaves-Börner describes himself as a business student, entrepreneur, traveller and citizen of the world. At the age of 23, he has already lived in six countries around the globe and is still looking for a permanent home. He travels for a living off the back of his hugely successful www.off-the-path.com blog.
What made you decide or choose to get into this sort of career?
Boredom. In December 2006 I didn’t have much to do and was surfing the internet idly. I landed on a blog hosted on blogger.com and spontaneously registered. For about 3 years I had a very personal blog where I wrote about my daily life. In 2007, I moved to Australia and created a second one which was already more travel-related, but more focused on informing my family and friends at home about what was going on in my life in Australia. I was surprised by the success it had among people who didn’t know me. In 2011 I finally decided to create Off The Path, which was less personal and contained more information for readers.
Do you have a standard day or a standard type of 'exercise'?
The first thing I do before I make coffee is check how many e-mails I have received and quickly scan to see if there is anything important. A blog is online 24/7 and this means that you work with people across all time zones. My first activity is checking and replying to all the e-mails which have come in at night; then I check my analytics. I look at how many people visited the blog the day before, where they came from, how they accessed the website and what was the most popular post. Then I get ready to go out and explore my surroundings for stories I can write. I regularly update my Facebook page status and tweet over my phone. At around 7-8 PM, when I get back to base, I start being productive and start writing, and researching for my future posts. I like to have about two weeks of posts scheduled so I can easily go on a spontaneous trip without having to worry about the content.
What is the most common type of problem/call-out/enquiry to which you must attend?
Lately, many companies have been contacting me to ask me to try out their services since they can see when I’m in the region through my website and my social media profiles. It takes time to manage all this.
What do you like most about the job?
The flexibility; I can do whatever I want, and whenever I want. I can work from home, from a café or in a plane on the way to a press trip. The only thing I need is a laptop and a reasonably fast internet connection.
What do you like least about the job?
Advertisers that think that bloggers are paying for their trips with monopoly money! Blogging is a full time job and takes a lot of time. Many advertisers contact me and offer me a “donation” of $10 if I write a little post for them. I delete these e-mails immediately.
What are the key responsibilities?
To provide accurate and reliable information! It is important that all the information I provide is up to date and reliable by the time I press the publish button. Otherwise my readers would quickly unsubscribe from my blog.
What about academic requirements? Any formal demands, eg A Levels?
Nothing! Anybody can start a blog - all you need is a lot of time. Beginners can also start for free on platforms like Blogger and Wordpress. Anyone who wants to take it seriously though should invest in a good host and buy their own domain. If you have no idea about design and basic html and php coding, I would recommend contracting a programmer who creates a website according to your preferences. After that you are ready to go!
What is the starting salary, and how does this increase over time with promotion?
You start with nothing. It took me years until I earned my first dollar with my blog. You have to be very patient and write qualitative, strong articles. It is also important that you focus on Search Engine Optimization (SEO). The higher your Google Page Rank (PR) the more visitors you will get from search engines and the faster advertisers and destination companies will take notice of you.
What advice do you have for someone who is looking to get into this as a career?
Be patient and don’t start blogging as a full time job. Most people start this as a hobby and it becomes a job later. If you are patient you will succeed in the long term.
What are the most important qualities an applicant must and should possess?
You should have basic knowledge of HTML and web sites. Over time, you will find little bugs that need to be fixed and you will probably not be able to afford a programmer to look after your website every time there is a little problem.
Any closing questions, comments or additional advice?
Most bloggers have two or more websites: one main page and some other little pages where they make their income from; the main page is the brand which is being invited on press trips and to carry out tests for products, so on these pages you often won’t find advertising. The most money is made with other little pages which are fully funded and focus on a little niche, like Worth a Journey.