There is one reason, and one reason alone, why most would-be professional travel blogs fail. I’m pretty confident that this reason can also be expanded out into other blogging fields as well, but as I am a travel writer I’m going to keep this one focused on that topic.
The reason is not because your content sucks and you need to improve your travel blog.
It is not because you can’t take good photos.
It is not because you do not have a likeable personality.
It is also not because your blog is no different than anyone else’s (okay, maybe a little of this one as your travel blogging niche is not unique).
To put it simply, the reason most travel blogs fail is because they are not prepared to go at it for the long haul.
You’ll Run Out of Money Before You Become Popular
It’s a pretty simple phenomenon, but it is one we’ve seen time and time again in our nearly decade of blogging (holy crap do we feel old). A would-be blogger starts a website for their long-term trip with the hopes of being the next big thing. They leave for their trip, gain a few thousand followers on social media and tens of thousands of monthly page views, eventually come home, and, with no new travel content becoming available, they disappear.
I’ve told that story a few times on here, but it is true and worth repeating again because it happens all the time- even to the best bloggers out there.
The problem here is not that the blogger didn’t plan things properly. You can do everything right, have launched a great niche website, have the most amazing stories, images, and marketing there is, but unless you hit some threshold of success that allows you to continue traveling forever (and therefore keep churning out new content), you’re going to hit a wall at some point.
Becoming a success and making a career out of blogging is an incredible goal, and it does happen for a few awesome bloggers every year, but what are you going to do if it doesn’t?
This is the question new bloggers rarely have an answer to.
We Knew Our Long Game at the Beginning
I’m going to be honest, this site is not to where I would like it to be. I consider it a success by my own metrics, but it does not sustain my lifestyle how I would like it to in order to be self-sufficient.
Maybe it would work if I lived in Chiang Mai or one of those cheap traveler black holes where those who are earning some money from blogging, but not enough, end up in perpetuity but it definitely doesn’t work in the USA (and is only just now getting close).
But you know what? I planned for this to happen.
The reason for this is because we had a vision for what we wanted this site to become well before the end of any major milestone that could cause us to disappear.
After my first long-term trip in 2010-2011, I was already planning a second for 2013-2014 with Angie. Just when the content was drying up from the first trip, we were out the door for more.
After our second long-term trip, we hired staff to bring on new stories and niches in the long-term travel market. We are now faced with the problem of having more content than we know what to do with. Would you be surprised if we said that we also planned this before leaving for our trip? You shouldn’t be, it was our plan all along if things didn’t work out otherwise.
This is the type of thinking we mean when we say to be prepared for the long game. It is all well and good that you want to be successful with your current plan, but the important question is what are you going to do if you’re not?
Is what you’re starting something you can see yourself having content for and writing about for the next two, five, or ten years?
Is it even possible to generate content for that long? If so, do you see yourself still enjoying it then?
If you can’t, what will you do?
If you don’t have good answers for these, you’re not prepared for the long game, and you may need to re-evaluate your goals if you want your blog to be prepared to be a success as you move into the future.
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