Life as a travel blogger must be ideal, right? Live anywhere, enjoy the blue skies, work on your laptop, make some updates to your site, get paid, and then get back to surfing.
Sounds amazing in theory. However, blogging is no picnic (something I make clear in my book, How to Actually Make Money Blogging). I’ve run several blogs before, and a highly functional operation can be VERY profitable, but there are some big downsides, as well.
I highly suggest reading this post to its entirety if you want to learn what the lifestyle of a travel blogger is *really* like — and why I personally think blogging is not always the best option for obtaining a mobile, freedom oriented business.
Life As a Blogger – Harsh Realities
Blogging seems a glamorous business. High-level bloggers are celebrities, and they’re also millionaires. But just like in Hollywood, the path to the top is no easy feat.
Blogging takes a lot of work, as outlined in this awesome article by Matthew Woodward. “How I Built a Top 100 Blog in 12 Months“. If you are dedicated, you will succeed. It requires the commitment to make a battle plan, adapt when necessary, and maintain consistent work-flow.
However, great sacrifices must usually be made to make a blog explode in popularity. One such sacrifice is your time and lifestyle. To get your blog lifted off the ground, it’s common to clock in the equivalent of two full-time jobs, every week, for many months.
In addition, you must have a never-ending creative drive. As soon as you finish one post, it’s time to get working on the next one. Long, detailed tutorials are necessary to create a professional blog. It’s common for pro bloggers to write 3,000-5,000 words per day–and this is ON TOP OF what is usually an advanced marketing strategy.
For instance, networking on forums, contacting press, and / or mastering social media. A blogger is like all the facets of a corporation condensed into a single job title.
Now is this amount of work a bad thing? No. I know what extreme blogging work marathons are like, and I don’t regret any such venture. The full time work I’d spend on my blog projects of yesteryear never felt like the office drudgery that I’d experience working for someone else. I could easily clock in 15 hours in a single day, and the day would fly by because I am focused on my work and relatively unstressed.
However, I also believe that life is meant to be enjoyed, and even if online work can be done with relative ease, it’s not a great lifestyle when your ENTIRE life is dedicated to 6 AM – 10 PM stints on your laptop. This is not to say that such work, with the goal of obtaining your freedom from the corporate hegemony is bad or should not be performed, but you must be prepared to sacrifice a lot of a normal person’s lifestyle to accomplish this. Goodbye going out with friends at night, hello adding all of your posts to StumbleUpon on a Friday at 9 pm.
The Issue With Travel Blogging
Now that you have some idea of the amount of work involved with getting a real, monetized blog up — the problem with being a travel blogger becomes fairly evident.
If you are relocating somewhere you’ve dreamed of living, but you find yourself working 80 hours a week to keep your blog going, the realization may dawn on you:”What’s the point?”. You’d be better off living in your LEAST favorite city because the rent would be cheap and you’d never have to leave your apartment.
“But is being a travel blogger really so much work?” you may ask. And, the answer is unfortunately yes.
A travel blog has several key monetization areas: affiliate links, corporate endorsements, advertisements, and maybe a product or two (travel guides, etc).
To get affiliate sales you need traffic. A lot of traffic. A few thousand hits per day would be sufficient income. To keep traffic, you must constantly write new posts, create detailed how-to guides, and overall stay on top of the ballgame so that you stay relevant in the eyes of Google.
Corporate endorsements are impossible unless, once again, you are constantly working to keep your site fresh, relevant, and with high traffic. The same goes for advertising or getting product sales.
However, an often bigger problem with travel blogging is the fact that your time in your new location is dedicated almost entirely to your blog. If you’re not working on your laptop,you’ll wake up and wonder how quickly you can ride an elephant, eat a plate of pad thai, and observe a waterfall before the day’s over so that you can write about all of those experiences and have them up by Wednesday.
In other words, even when you’re not working…you’re still working.
One Way To Do It
If you are dead-set on being a travel blogger, here is what I’d recommend:
First, take a few months off BEFORE you begin traveling to get the grunt work done. This includes getting the site launched, endlessly tweaking your WordPress CSS code until it looks right, and having all of your graphics made. Then, focus a lot of time on getting it monetized and launched, with good traffic.
Once your site already exists and is active, begin your travels, but FORCE yourself to only work an allotted amount of time. If you rent an apartment in Thailand, then make your work hours 10 AM to 5 PM, and dedicate yourself to QUIT working when your timer goes off. That means put away the laptop, have some tea, go outside, say hello to some locals — whatever.
If you don’t set very clear boundaries, your work will eat up your entire day, every-day, and you won’t have a lifestyle anymore to speak of.
Teaching English, tutoring English, working on a holiday-work visa, performing a service based business, or otherwise running a company that does NOT involve endless hours on your laptop are all possible alternatives to creating a professional travel blog.
Currently, as of writing this on 9/1/14, I am living in Los Angeles. I am making fairly decent, mostly passive income as a result of my long-term career as a Kindle author. In addition, there is my service-based work in book editing and copywriting. At the beginning of next year I will resume my adventures, beginning with Switzerland, then Turkey, and likely the Czech Republic.
I have no interest, as of writing this, to turn CyrusKirkpatrick.com into a full-blown, monetized travel blog with all of the sponsorships that you might find on a site like NomadicMatt.com. I have no doubt that if I did spend 80 hours a week on such an endeavor, I’d have a monetized power-house after a few months, maybe pulling in six figures.
But what’s the use of six figures if I’m trapped in my room all day, every day?
Instead, to supplement my online income and lead a fairly nice lifestyle with money to spare, I’m strongly considering obtaining my CELTA certification in Turkey to teach English as a second language. This will also provide me a work visa in my country of choice.
Not to mention a social life outside of the lonely flickering of my computer screen.
For more information about service based jobs and other ways to make money online — and also how to relocate to places you’d never imagine possible, check out book seven in the Lifestyle Design series, recently released: How to Escape the Rat Race and Move to Beautiful Countries.
Click the cover for more information: