I’ve blogged about blogging and finding the balance between work and family life a lot here on The Travel Hack. But I still have lots of blogging related questions so after a quick Q&A session on Instagram I’ve pulled them all together into my travel blogger Q&A!
If you have any more questions, please do add them to the comments or DM me and I’ll add them to the post!
Taken in Iceland during the most incredible 36 hour trip to Iceland
How do you stay interesting as a travel blogger who doesn’t travel all the time?
First of all, thank you! I hope I am interesting even when I’m not travelling!
I’ve seen other travel bloggers say that the only way to be successful is to travel a lot, but I don’t agree. I think a person is more relatable if they’re not constantly travelling. Most people have a house and a job, pets and a family so I think I’m much more ‘normal’ to most people if I’m not a ‘digital nomad’. I know digital nomads can be really inspiring but it’s not relatable for most people and I’m often told my best asset as a blogger is that I’m relatable.
I usually travel once or twice a month and I think I’m quite good at getting a lot of content out of one trip. If I’m away for 3-4 days, that’s potentially 6-7 blog posts and could easily be 10 Instagram posts.
When I’m at home I still tend to do a lot. I visit a lot of places in my local area and share similar content to the content I create when I’m travelling – lots of outdoorsy photos and scenic views.
I think one thing that’s important is to not share content just for the sake of it. I don’t post a lot on Instagram stories for example when I’m spending 3-4 days in my office. These posts would be SO BORING. I literally sit in front of my laptop for a few hours every day and I don’t move. No one wants to see that so I don’t worry about being quiet for a few days.
I also come from a journalism and writing background. I started out in copywriting where the more articles I wrote, the more I got paid. This experience definitely helped me to create a lot of content and I’m never short of ideas for blog posts or social media. In fact, I have the complete opposite, I have more ideas than time and I’m not sure I’ll ever get to the end of my to-do list!
A gorgeous family holiday to Turkey last summer
How do I get you to advertise my holiday business?
I had a lot of questions like this!
I blog about weekend breaks for a UK audience, affordable luxury and family travel so if you think your business fits within those categories then please do get in touch.
What is your strategy for putting yourself in a creative and productive mindset for writing good content?
I’m old fashioned and I like to write with a notepad and pen! If I’m struggling or don’t feel very inspired, I’ll go and sit in my bedroom where it’s peaceful and calm and I’ll just sit down and write for an hour and I usually find it comes quite easily.
Staying at Watergate Bay Hotel in Cornwall
Do you use KeySearch for your keyword research and how long do you spend on it?
I probably don’t use it as much as I should! For anyone who might not know, KeySearch is a tool that allows you to see what people are searching for via Google and helps you create content people actually want to read.
I always begin by writing whatever I want to write and I’ll write a post without any SEO strategies in mind. I think it’s really important to write for your readers and write from the heart rather than writing for Google. For me, writing SEO driven posts is boring and takes a lot of the fun out of blogging.
But at the same time, I do realise the importance of SEO so I will often do a Keysearch check after I’ve written my post and tweak it accordingly.
I wrote a post recently about how to spend a weekend in Rotterdam but after checking KeySearch I realised no one was searching for ‘weekend in Rotterdam’ but lots of people were searching for ‘things to do in Rotterdam’ so I tweaked the article slightly. The post was essentially the same but with Google-friendly angle.
What’s your top advice for a new travel blogger?
Don’t give up too soon!
So many bloggers start off with all guns blazing and they put all their time and energy into it for a year. Then after a year they start to fizzle out and lose interest. Like an hobby, it’s hard to stay passionate but the fun really begins with blogging after about 3-4 years. The first few years are hard but stick with it because the eventual benefits are amazing!
Taken during an incredible press trip to the Norwegian Fjords
How do you develop a regular following outside of social media ie. bloggers, commenters, subscribers etc
To be honest, I don’t really try and encourage anyone to comment on my blog because people don’t really do that anymore. Social media is such an easy place to follow bloggers and influencers that I just try and focus on gaining a following there. I want to be on the platforms people are already using as it makes their life easier.
I do have a healthy number of newsletter subscribers but, again, that’s not something I massively encourage. I’ve done it in the past where I’ve encouraged people to subscribe to my newsletter with incentives like freebies and competitions. I got thousands of new subscribers but they weren’t really interested in me or my blog. Now, I just have sign-up forms on my blog and the people who are really interested sign up. I might not get as many new subscribers but my open rate is really high! I’d rather have 5,000 subscribers who actually read my newsletters than 20,000 subscribers and only 25% actually open anything! (It’s also pricey to have a lot of newsletter subscribers because you have to pay to send that many people emails!)
What’s your best source of affiliate income?
Get Your Guide affiliates. This is a company I love for booking tours. I use them myself regularly so I’m happy to recommend their products.
Taken in my blogger home office
What does your typical work day look like?
I work three mornings per week because this is when my youngest son goes to nursery.
I drop my eldest off at school at 8.30am and work from 9am-12.30pm on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. During this time I’ll reply to emails, write posts, schedule posts, write posts for my clients and create reports from past campaigns. This means I get about 10 hours per week at my laptop which isn’t really enough and I often feel a bit rushed and stressed about things!
So this is when I do my laptop work but there is other work to be done too. I’ll take photos during a family Sunday on the beach and I’ll draft blog posts in my notepad while the boys are playing in the park. I’ll be replying to Instagram comments in the evening and mentally drafting blog posts while I’m walking my dog. It’s one of those jobs where I feel like I’m never working but always working!
A wrote about my week in the life of a travel blogging mum here.
How do you make money as a travel blogger?
I have 4 main sources of income
- The adverts you see on this blog
- Affiliate sales where I earn a small commission on the products or services I recommend
- Brand collaborations where I work with a brand to promote their products or services
- Paid press trips where I’m paid to create a certain type of content
If you’re interested in earning money as a blogger or turning a hobby blog into a business then you might be interested in an e-course I run called The Blogger Course.
The Blogger Course is an e-course I’ve been running for 4 years
Where do you want to travel to next?
I’d really like to go to Malta. Rebecca Sharp from Almost Ginger has written a series of guest posts about Malta and now I really want to go there!
What do you think was the thing that really helped launch your career as a travel blogger?
It was moving to London in 2011. While I lived there I went to networking events almost every week where I met so many amazing people. I got to know PRs and brands but, most importantly, I made friends with a lot of travel bloggers and they’re still some of my closest friends today. Surrounding myself with like-minded people who were equally as ambitious and passionate about travel blogging made a huge difference to keep me motivated and keep striving to improve.
I’m not saying everyone needs to up and move to the capital but making friends with bloggers really helped me.
What do you think you’ll be doing in 10 years time?
Oh my gosh, good question! I have NO IDEA!
If someone told me 10 years ago that I’d be a travel blogger I wouldn’t have believed it so I’m hoping I’ll be doing something equally as mind-blowing in another 10 years time.
I’d like to think I’ll still be travel blogging in one way or another but I think the industry will be very different and I’m sure the way we consume content will have evolved. I think this industry moves to quickly to plan that far ahead but I do want to be constantly improving my skills so I can adapt as the industry evolves.
What’s your favourite place in the world?
I’m asked this a lot and I always struggle to answer because it’s usually about the people I’m with. I’ve been to some incredible places on press trips with journalists and had a nice time but it wasn’t the best holiday of my life because I wasn’t really on the same wavelength as the people I was with. And I’m been to some average places with my best friends and had the best holidays of my life.
Picking a favourite place depends on so many things like your mood and the people you’re with and everything that’s going on in your life at the time and, for me, these are all more important than the actual destination.
Sorry, that’s a rubbish answer! If I had to pick, I’d say Thailand. But Thailand of 2009, I’m not sure if it’s still the same today.
I do like hot places and I like to be near the sea. I like turquoise waters and I like eating outdoors. I like fresh bread and pastries for breakfast and seafood for lunch and crisp white wine as the sun sets. I like to be outdoors and I like to explore a place through it’s people and food (rather than through museums – I don’t like museums). So anywhere with those things is usually a winner!
I spent about 6 weeks in Thailand and loved every second!
How do you balance having kids and travelling?
I’ve written about this before so check out this post.
Sometimes I travel with the kids, sometimes they stay at home. When they’re at home they go to daycare and Sam picks them up after work.
^ Our family holiday to Dubai
What camera and equipment do you use?
After years of trial and error I have finally simplified my blogging kit. I use
- Lumix G80 (which I love but probably will replace soon because the screen is broken and it makes a loud whirring sound so I can’t record voices with it)
- 25mm lens for my Lumix G80 (love this lens)
- Canon 70d (a great camera but too heavy for everyday use so I just use it at home for things when I speak to the camera)
- iPhone XS Max
- MacBook Pro
- iMac (for use at home)
- iMove for video editing
- Photos on my mac for editing pictures (should probably use something fancier than this!)
- Rode mic
- Amazon basics tripod
^ Joseph’s first holiday to Aberdaron in Wales
How do you stay fit while you travel?
This isn’t really a massive issue for me at the moment because I’m at home more than I’m travelling so I don’t tend to worry.
When I was travelling more than I was at home I did feel the difference because I wasn’t eating healthily, was drinking too much and wasn’t working out. I always make an effort to walk as much as possible and regularly clock up over 20,000 steps a day while I’m away so that helps!
But at the moment I have two young children and a third on the way so fitness isn’t a massive priority right now. It will be again I’m sure! I love exercising and I know it’s so good for me mentally and physically but, when you have a young family, something has to give and for me it was the gym!
Would you ever travel long-term and be a digital nomad again?
I don’t see it happening now until the kids have left home…so we’ve got a long wait!
I do think that once the boys get a little bit older we’ll probably spend the entire summer holidays (6 weeks) travelling. I’d love to spend 6 weeks in France and then 6 weeks in Spain and then 6 weeks in Portugal.
I wrote about why I’m not a digital nomad here.
^ During a week-long foodie adventure to discover the best food in the UK with Huawei
Would you ever be a YouTuber?
I’m constantly changing my mind on this. I love YouTube and I love the feeling of intimacy you get when following your favourite YouTuber. It’s a whole other level and I’d love to do it.
But making videos is a whole different set of skills to the skills needed for blogging so I do find it really difficult. I’d be starting from scratch on YouTube whereas I already have a very well established blog.
Sometimes I think I just need to do it but other times I think, ‘I’m doing alright at blogging so, if it ‘aint broke, why fix it?’
^ Taken in Montana while staying at a dude ranch
If you were starting a blog today, how long do you think it would take to make money?
Knowing everything I know now, I’m pretty sure I could have a profitable blog within a year and be making a full time income within 2 years. If you’re totally new to blogging then I’d give it at least 18 months before you’re making a small profit.
It obviously depends on your skills and your background. If you already work in a career that involves anything like writing, photography, videography, SEO or online marketing then you’ve already got a head start.
Why do you think most blogs fail?
Oooh tough question. I know the answer but it won’t be very popular so I’m a bit nervous about saying this. Some blogs fail because the person behind it has other things to do such as a full time job, hobbies, friends, families, children etc. But a lot fail because the person behind it doesn’t have the skills. At the very least, you need to be able to write and take photos. Next you need to do something interesting or have a knack for describing the day-to-day in an engaging way.
^ Taken during a trip to the Florida Keys
What is your routine or tick-list when you write each blog post?
- Write blog post
- Check KeySearch for a suitable keyphrase
- Tweak post if needed
- Take photos/find photos on my hard drive
- Resize and rename photos
- Upload blog and photos into WordPress
- Add descriptive ALT tags to photos
- Add H2 titles and make sure all formatting is right
- Link to any relevant posts
- Create Pinterest image
- Fill in Yoast plugin and make any ammends
- Publish or schedule
- Schedule on Twitter and Facebook
- Upload to Pinterest and use Tailwind to share to tribes
- Share on Instagram stories (sometimes I’ll make pretty images, sometimes I’ll just share a screenshot or the Pinterest image)
- Obsessively watch Google Analytics to see if anyone is reading it!
If you have any other questions, please do add them to the comments below!