I’ve been blogging for newspapers and magazines for years now but I’ve always been reluctant to call myself a blogger. Occasionally, I tell people that I write a blog but writing a blog and being a blogger are two completely different things.
When you’re a travel blogger you see the world in a whole different light, you look at things closely, you document everything and you explore every inch of every destination. Holidays are no longer holidays and you’re constantly searching for inspiration for your next post. It wasn’t until recently that I’ve realised that over the past few months I have transformed from being a regular traveller with a serious case of the travel bug and into the mysterious creature that is a travel blogger.
Blogging is expanding faster than anyone can keep track and bloggers are respected within their niches as industry experts and self-publishers with so many skills, so why have I avoided telling people I’m a blogger?
I think there is something in the back of my mind that still thinks blogging is geeky. It’s something that spotty teenagers do in their bedrooms as a way to vent their frustrations on the world. Blogging can also be pretty personal; I’m not into sharing all my emotions and deepest, darkest secrets but writing about my opinions and thoughts can make me feel quite vulnerable at times.
A few of you may already know that I’ve started working for Travel Bloggers Unite as the Social Media Manager and I headed out to Umbria for the TBU conference. I can’t even begin to tell you how much I got out of it and how much inspiration and advice I picked up in just a few days.
Here are a few little things I learnt that I hope are going to make my blog bigger and better:
The first thing I learnt was how much I love travel blogging. Blogging for me has always been a hobby and something that was in the side lines of my life but TBU confirmed in my mind that I do want to be a successful travel blogger. I know I have a long way to go but I hope I’m starting to pick up the skills I need to get there.
The travel blogging community are awesome. Not only are they a great group of people that are fun to party with (Club 91 anyone?), socialise with and have geeky chats with, but they are also a massive support network that can offer help, advice, motivation and inspiration. I also found that making ‘online friends’ is great but it can never compare to meeting people in the flesh.
Being a professional travel blogger is a real possibility but to make any serious money you need to diversify. Write books, sell your specialities and have more than one site.
Branch out without your social media channels to reach a wider audience (massive thanks to @legalnomads for sharing this). Everyone loves travel but you don’t need to talk about it 24/7 to still be considered an expert in your field. One of the best things about blogging is that you’re free to show your personality and social media is the best place to do this. For me, I love yoga and fitness but I’ve shied away from talking about it on Twitter because I always thought it was irrelevant but it’s a part of who I am and shows that I’m a real person and have a life beyond travel.
Text links are a massive no, no. Everyone is tempted because it’s a quick and easy way to make a couple of hundred bucks but it isn’t worth it if you want to stay on Google’s good side.
We should be calling ourselves ‘publishers’ rather than ‘travel bloggers’ to industry professionals. PRs clients very often don’t understand what it is that bloggers do but they do understand the term ‘publisher’ so use the type of language they understand to gain their trust and respect and potentially gain partnerships with big brands.
Many PRs really want to work with travel bloggers, they just don’t know how, so make their lives easier and tell them what you can do for them and how you will mutually benefit.
If you want to be a successful travel blogger it also helps if you don’t need to sleep, like ever. An unbelievable amount of effort goes into a blog and you have to wear many hats that will keep you busier than a bee during a honey drought. Dave and Deb from The Planet D said they often work 20 hours a day and it shows; just look at their blog and you can see how much time they put in. Abi King from Inside the Travel Lab amazed me when she announced at 1am (after a 16 hour press trip around Umbria) that she was going to her room to do some work. That’s dedication.
In some ways I learnt as much from being around travel bloggers as I did from the sessions. Seeing how people work and talking about blogging has given me so many ideas to improve my blog and so much inspiration.
So I’d like to say a massive thank you to all the bloggers that made it such a brilliant experience.
Monica is the founder and editor of The Travel Hack. She began the blog in 2009 when she left the UK to travel around Asia and Australia for two years. She's now a full time blogger and has travelled around the world in search of affordable luxury travel experiences.Monica lives in Wales with her growing family and now also blogs about travelling with young children!