You'd be surprised, but we actually receive this question quite frequently.
There are a lot of considerations to keep in mind when deciding whether or not to blog on the road. We could write a dozen posts on this topic, but what it all comes down to is whether you want to run a professional blog to be seen by others and be a business or a personal blog only for your friends and family.
Depending on what you're interested in, making the decision to blog on your long-term trip could be easy, or may end up being one that requires far more work than you may want to have while on the road. To help, we came up with our three top reasons for why you should blog your long-term trip. In the process, however, we also came up with five more reasons why you should not.
To start out positive, let's look at the three reasons why you should blog your long-term trip.
#1 – Blogging is a Good Way to Stay on Track
When I founded Living the Dream in 2008, the site was designed to be a semi-private tool to keep my long-term travel plans moving forward. By blogging about every step that I went through, I kept myself on track and committed to doing the crazy adventure I was planning.
Unfortunately for me (or luckily), I received a random comment from a complete stranger just a few days after launching my site. That was all it took to pique my interest in just how far I could take it.
Whether or not you want to do it professionally, blogging is a great way to organize all of your thoughts and plans as you get ready to travel the world. Regardless if anyone reads you, having all of your plans outlined in one place makes for a great reference you can go back to time and time again before you leave. If you decide to continue blogging while on the road, you are also equipped to share stories and experiences with loved ones back home.
#2 – The Community is Full of Invaluable Advice
Okay, you don't need to be a blogger to be a part of the travel community. You can just as easily contact your favorite blogger on his or her site, social media, or by email and with enough effort get tons of advice.
By being a part of the travel blogging community, you learn a lot about the world incredibly fast. From the Facebook groups where stories and tips are shared, following others on social media, and participating in other parts of the community, you will really pick up an incredible amount of advice you may not otherwise find when planning on your own.
#3 – There Are Ways to Earn Money
Now is a great time to be a blogger because the number of outlets for earning money for your writing are at an all-time high. Companies are looking for active travel writers to submit paid articles for their blogs, and bloggers who are expanding their online presence are also doing the same (us included- our job listing is available here).
Our current freelance assignments range in value from $50 to $150 per article for companies, and we pay our staff writers $25 per article plus numerous perks that traditional freelancing jobs do not offer. These assignments will likely not pay your way, but if you are looking to make money on the road, opportunities do exist for those who have established themselves online.
5 Reasons Why You Shouldn't
If you are looking to blog your trip for fun and as a means to stay on track with your planning and keep family up to date with what you're doing, you can stop reading right here. There are very few downsides to keeping up a personal blog on your long-term trip, and to be quite honest, we have no negatives to share with you.
If you want to blog professionally on your long-term trip, however, there are some special considerations to keep in mind.
#1 – If You Want Traffic, You Have to Work For It
Opening a site with the hope that you'll receive a lot of blog traffic and become the next big thing is impractical.
Many bloggers will admit that it took them several years to see a notable gain in traffic, and only a select few are capable of making that happen in a relatively quick period of time (and even here, we're talking on the order of years). Odds are if you are not working on your blog with an intense focus to bring in this traffic, and don't have a focused niche website, you may not reach any sort of milestone during your long-term trip. Without this following, most of the goals you would want as a professional writer will not be available to you.
#2 – The Web is Full of Travel Bloggers
As a compliment to the last point, all would-be travel bloggers should know that the internet is full of travel blogs. Facebook groups that we're a part of for those in this field have approached nearly 4,000 members, and popular conferences regularly receive over 1,000 attendees. (And very few of them are making $100,000 a year blogging, we can guarantee that.)
While it is true that this number is quite low when you think about it, it is worth pointing out that many of these bloggers write on the exact same topic.
This is especially true for long-term travel bloggers looking to operate in a professional capacity as the theme of “I'm going off on a one-year trip and want to travel as much as possible without spending a lot of money” has saturated the market. Succeeding in travel blogging often means being focused, writing about a topic that other travelers may be interested in, and providing insight into an angle that hasn't already been covered.
As with most of these negatives, if you are not looking to blog professionally, they do not apply. If you are, without a focus you can write about for years after your trip is over, your blog may end up going by the wayside within months after you return home. It has happened hundreds of times already, and will continue to do so well into the future.
Why do you think we're hiring staff writers?
#3 – You Wont Travel For Free
If you are looking to open a travel blog to travel for free on your long-term trip, stop right there. Most travel bloggers do not travel the world for free, and this is especially true for those on a long-term itinerary.
There is a big misconception that when you work with a sponsor you are traveling the world for free. What is not talked about is all of the effort that goes on behind the scenes in order to receive that perceived “discount”- including social media campaigns, writing of dedicated articles, media generation, and more.
While it is possible that you can collaborate with companies through a successful blog, it is never going to be without work. In fact, we can easily say that we put in more time on these campaigns than we would have at home to make the money at a job and pay for it ourselves. It is nice and the kind of work we're looking at moving in to, but at the end of the day 9 times out of 10 we could have just saved a bit more and paid for the item ourselves with less of a time commitment in return.
This is especially important for those heading out on a long-term trip because there is always a balance between taking the trip you intended versus altering your plans in order to work with a partner. I would have loved to stay in Sucre, Bolivia, for a month, but we had a partnership scheduled at Machu Picchu just a few weeks away. In the time between those two decisions our backpack was stolen and we lost nearly $3,000 worth of equipment because we were in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Sometimes things don't end up as you would like.
#4 – Blogging is More of a Time Commitment Than You Think
If there is one thing most soon-to-be bloggers do not understand, it is that maintaining a professional travel blog is a lot of work. There is writing posts at a few hours per week, there is making social media updates at a few more hours per week, and then there are the unthinkable crashes and site changes that could eat up days out of your travel schedule.
We would know on that last one, as we had no fewer than three major site issues that caused me to stay inside for a few days and work. Want to know what hiking Mount Musala was like in Bulgaria? You'll have to ask Angie because I didn't make that one. In fact, at least 75% of our days apart on our RTW Tally were because I had to stay inside and work, not by choice, but because I had to fix an emergency issue to keep our site running.
#5 – Even if You're Amazing, Networking is Key
To end this post, I unfortunately have to make a startling revelation. While big-name blogs do get a lot of work as a result of their popularity, the key to getting amazing partnerships when writing a travel blog is not what you do, but who you know.
Our best partnerships have always come about from us traveling to blogger conferences, meeting representatives from companies or tourist boards, and forming partnerships based on our meetings. We've received one-off partnerships in exchange for a post based on email pitches from either side, but at the end of the day our most fruitful relationships with companies for both sponsorships and freelance writing positions have happened because we made the initiative to show up at events and pitch them in person.
Unfortunately for you, this means spending even more money and investing in your business.
Out of the six years that we have been blogging I can easily say that my number one regret out of all of the stumbles we had was not attending conferences sooner (even TBEX). As a broke graduate student you may understand my hesitation on investing in it, but looking back I often wonder what could have been when comparing our site to our peers. Now that I'm pursuing blogging full-time, you can be certain my conference schedule for 2015 will be jam-packed.
It Is Worth It
I do not want the five points mentioned above to come off as me telling you that you shouldn't try to blog professionally. It is worth it and I am thankful every day that I can get up and work on this blog. The point I am trying to convey is that blogging professionally requires a lot of work, and most new bloggers tend to underestimate the level that is necessary to succeed. If you have a great idea, are willing to work to make it happen, and know what you want to do with the blog after your trip is over, you'll do just fine.
To all those traveling on a long-term trip in the future, have you considered opening a blog for your journey? Why or why not? For all the bloggers in the audience, what is your biggest piece of advice for a new travel blogger?
Are you looking for more advice on how to run your travel blog for your long-term trip? If so, you're in luck! This entry marks the first in our new Blog Your Trip series where we give away all of our secrets.
Looking for more information on how to promote your blog? Click the previous link to learn all of our secrets!