Making blogging into a career is still such a new concept, and many people are surprised when I tell them that blogging is my full time job and that yes- I make money from blogging!
I love talking about my job. I could talk about it ALL day, and whenever I have conversations with people about my job I realise there are a lot of misconceptions about travel bloggers out there.
I’m pretty proud that I taught myself how to build a website from scratch, stuck with blogging despite making only pennies in my first year and worked really hard so that I could quit my job to become a full time blogger in 2019.
It wasn’t easy, but here I am making a career out of travel writing which I told was impossible when I studied journalism at university.
So I want to clear a few of the main misconceptions about travel blogging- read on to discover the reality of blogging!
5 Misconceptions about Travel Bloggers
Travel blogging isn’t a real job, it’s a hobby
When people ask me what I do for a job, I get a lot of blank stares when I say I’m a travel blogger.
”You get paid to travel? That’s a thing?”
It certainly is.
Travel blogging is a legitimate career. Travel bloggers are basically digital marketing gurus that come complete with a base of readers.
Side-step: I feel a bit weird everytime I say that I work in ‘marketing’- but then I remind myself what I am promoting is amazing experiences, not ‘things’.
Travel bloggers are content writers, photographers, videographers, website designers, social media managers and so on. We have a vast range of skills, and we are travellers ourselves- we understand what other travellers look for when they go on holiday. We’re the travel expert and the customer.
So in my opinion, bloggers are quite similar to traditional marketing companies, but we come with an audience.
I’ll even say working with a travel blogger to promote your tourism business is more effective than working with a traditional marketing company, because we come with our own audience.
We get paid to travel everywhere
I pay for around 80% of my travel.
Flights, accommodation, tickets, tours, fuel- you might be surprised to learn I pay for most of these things myself.
I get offered a lot of freebies and a lot of the time I say no. Often it’s not really ‘free’ anyway- a brand wants you to take photos and promote the freebie in exchange for the freebie.
Which to me, is work.
I only accept a freebie under these circumstances:
- If accepting the free thing [for example, a tour] is going to help me help my readers. I do itinerary planning, so it is helpful to experience different tours and attractions so I know what to recommend. I don’t promise the brand any social media coverage- but if I really loved the experience I might mention it in a social media or blog post, and use it for planning itineraries for my readers.
- The monetary value of the free things exceeds what I would charge to promote. For example, I got offered a free trip to Europe for myself and the Haggis in exchange for a blog post. The value of the trip was worth the work for me.
Most of the time I would rather just pay for my travel, put it down as a business expense and write about my experience in my own time without feeling any obligations.
I do get paid to travel around Scotland sometimes- usually when I’m working on a campaign to promote a business or researching an itinerary for someone.
I try to work on one campaign a month- and even though I love working on campaigns, they are a lot of work.
I’m usually busy running around taking photos and shooting video- so as you can imagine, this is a very different experience to if I were on holiday!
Read more: The camera and kit I use for blogging
Writing a blog post doesn’t take much time
A lot of people don’t know how much time and energy I put into writing posts for my blog. On average, a blog post takes me around one week to write.
Some blog posts have taken me over a month to write, like this one that is over 7,000 words long and required me to travel most of Scotland capturing content.
This is my blog writing process:
- Research the destination [this includes doing keyword research for SEO] – 2-4 hours
- Spend at least at least one to a few days exploring the area, taking photos, filming, trying out activities and visiting attractions [often paid by me] – anywhere from 1 to several days
- Write the first draft [I aim for 2000 words per blog post] – 2 to 3 days
- Edit photos, resize them for my blog, Facebook and Instagram, and upload them – 1-2 hours
- Link to other helpful blog posts within my website and other articles I think my readers will find useful – 30 minutes
- Proof read my blog post – 30 minutes
- Hit publish
- Promote the blog post on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, and my newsletter [all of which I have to write content for as each social media platform is different] – 4-6 hours
- Update a couple of times a year so that the information in the blog post is still correct – 1 hour every time I update it
That is a very quick explanation of what goes into creating a blog post. There is a lot more that goes into writing a blog post- but you get the idea of how much work goes into each of my posts.
This is why I love it when someone leaves a comment on my blog posts saying that the information has helped them. I’m glad all my hard work is paying off!
Read more: 9 ways to make money as a blogger and freelancer
Bloggers don’t work that much
I’m just going to say it: I’m a tad obsessed with my blog. I am checking it, tweaking it, updating it, and writing new content every single day.
I’ve tried taking weekends off, but my hand ends up creeping to my phone, and I’m checking my stats, researching SEO and social media marketing strategies, and answering readers travel questions.
My blog is my full time business, and I’m the only employee. I take on a number of roles- admin, website design and management, content creation, photography and videography, marketing, graphic design…so yeah- I juggle a lot of roles and work pretty dang hard!
Even when I’m on holiday I’m still in work mode, because travel for me = work.
Let me tell you- I could not do this job if I didn’t love it.
The photos you see of Instagram influencers relaxing on the beach are, for the most part, a myth. Unless you can afford to hire a photographer to follow you around and photograph you- I’m holding out hope [and slowly training the Haggis] that this will be me one day!
You know how you only ever get to see one side of Monica and Rachel’s apartment in Friends and it always looks clean and pretty?
It’s because all the camera crew, equipment and so on is on the other side.
Blogging is similar- there is so much that goes on behind the scenes that no one sees.
Let’s take this pic for example…
View this post on Instagram
I actually carried my camera, lens and tripod when I hiked the length of Scotland in 2018.
Every time I wanted to take a photo of myself I had to shrug off my 17 kilogram pack, attach my camera to my tripod, fiddle with the settings, put it on a 10 second timer, and then walk up and down this road about 50 times until I was happy with the photo.
This took, all in all, around 45 minutes. For one photo.
Blogging is a lot of work, and when I’m not blogging I’m usually passed out on the couch or weeping in a corner.
Just kidding. I love my job- but bloggers do work very hard and burnout is a common thing for us.
Please be kind to us online. We also appreciate coffee 😉
Read more: The Pinterest strategy I use to get 7000+ hits to my website each month
Bloggers post in real time
You may notice that I post on social media almost every day- especially on my Facebook page and in my Scotland travel Facebook group.
I actually schedule a lot of my posts. I set aside a day where I write all my social media posts, edit photos to go with them, and then I stagger them out over the week with Facebook’s handy scheduling tool.
Because I already work so much from my laptop and phone, I do need my technology breaks- especially on weekends. It’s so much easier to dedicate one day a week to creating my content so I don’t have to worry about making time to post every day!
Sometimes readers message me and say ”You should go to X while you’re in Inverness/Glasgow/wherever” and I have to awkwardly reply…I was actually there over a week ago!
I also schedule my posts for safety reasons. While I feel incredibly safe in Scotland, I am careful about posting my whereabouts- just in case.
Most of my audience is awake around 7pm UK time, so I schedule my content for then. I always check my phone that night and reply to any comments. Whenever I reply to a comment that is in real time however!
I hope you feel like you’ve learned something about my life as a travel blogger! What were you most surprised to learn? Drop it in the comments below!
Thinking about starting a travel blog? Read my step-by-step guide.