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There’s a question that I’ve been asked more and more often lately:
“There are so many travel blogs out there today. If I start, I’m going to be so far behind. Do I have any chance of making it a career? Is it even possible?”
A lot of people would say no — but I disagree.
I think now is actually a good time to start a travel blog. There’s more money to be had in the industry. Blogs and personalities become popular much faster. New social networks becoming progressively more prominent. In short, you’re open to a lot of opportunities that I didn’t have.
How to Start a Travel Blog The Right Way
Here are a few tips from 2016 that did not apply to the space until fairly recently.
Know you don’t have to be the biggest travel blogger of all.
Just a few years ago, only the top tier of bloggers were making a full-time living from their blog, and only a few were making enough money to live anywhere more expensive than Southeast Asia.
That has changed. More people are making decent livings. You still see plenty of bloggers living in Southeast Asia, but an increasing number are living in pricey cities in North America and Europe.
A lot of new bloggers start with the goal of being one of the biggest travel bloggers of all. (Quite frankly, that was my motivation in the early days.) If you do that, you’re going to be chasing it forever. But if you don’t let fame motivate you — if you instead want to have a quality working career — you can absolutely make it happen.
Think of it this way: every TV actor dreams of having Viola Davis or Kerry Washington’s career, headlining a popular Thursday night drama. But you could also be a working actor appearing in small guest roles on everything from Law & Order to Brooklyn Nine-Nine to random commercials and the latest Judd Apatow flick, the kind of person where people say, “I know that face! What’s she been in?”
Those actors still make money from their craft. Many of them have a pretty good work/life balance as well. That’s something to keep in mind.
That said — most of the big names have slowed down their travels.
There was a time when the people behind the biggest travel blogs were on the road at least 80% of the time. That’s not the case anymore. We’re very tired.
I’m not going to name names because some people are keeping it quieter than others, but a great many popular travel bloggers have chosen to get year-round apartments with leases and travel far less often. (Most of you know that I am one of these bloggers, having moved to New York seven weeks ago.)
That means that if you have the opportunity to travel long-term, you’re going to be doing so in a way that not a lot of others are doing at the moment. That’s especially good for real-time platforms like Snapchat. More on Snapchat below.
Niche is good; personality plus specialty is better.
Niche is always a big discussion — people always talk about how important it is to HAVE A NICHE. You need to open that proverbial fly-fishing blog!
But in this day and age, I see it differently. I think the most important thing is to have a well-developed voice and personality along with a few specialties on which you can become an expert.
Alex in Wanderland, for example, has a specialty in diving.
A Dangerous Business has a specialty in New Zealand travel.
Flora the Explorer has a specialty in sustainable volunteering.
These specialties are not the only subjects that these bloggers write about, so I wouldn’t go so far as to call them their niches. But they are areas that differentiate them and give them expertise and credibility. If I needed help with any of those subjects, I would go to their sites in a heartbeat.
This is especially important for all the women trying to differentiate themselves as a solo female travel blogger. There are a million of you now, ladies. Work on diversifying.
The most difficult part is developing your voice and personality, and that can only be done by writing, writing, writing.
Social media is more important than ever.
We’ve entered a time where social media can often eclipse the value of your blog. That was never the case early in my blogging years, but I’m seeing it more and more today, especially with Instagram.
At this point in time, Instagram is by far the most important social network. It’s widely consumed by “real people,” it’s prioritized by brands (translation: this is where the money is), and it allows you to show your strengths. A company may be more interested in advertising on Instagram than anywhere on your blog.
But this means you’re going to throw a lot of time and effort into creating a beautiful, engaging Instagram profile.
Snapchat is another big network on which I recommend getting started. It’s huge among “real people” and it’s still early enough that you can be an early adopter, like me.
Another place that can become a game-changer is Pinterest. Pinterest now regularly drives traffic to lots of my pages that don’t necessarily do well in search.
Other social networks are important. Some people swear by Facebook (and I do quite a bit with it); others live and die by Twitter. And by all means, yes, work on growing your Facebook audience in particular. But if I were you, I’d throw your time and resources into focusing on Instagram, Snapchat, and Pinterest.
The time to get into video is now. Or yesterday.
Video is projected to grow more and more — a year and a half ago, Mark Zuckerberg said that he expected video to be the dominant content on Facebook within five years. I’ve said before that not doing enough on YouTube keeps me up at night. I just feel like I haven’t had to learn all the skills.
There is plenty of room to grow on YouTube — I’d argue that you can grow faster and far more effectively as a travel YouTuber than as a travel blogger. The time is definitely now.
I actually bought the course last year but I need to make creating better videos a priority for this summer.
I still mean it — get out of Southeast Asia.
This is one of the most controversial pieces of advice I’ve given, and I stand by it. Southeast Asia is tremendously oversaturated in the travel blogosphere at this point in time.
Is it possible to focus on Southeast Asia and still become a prominent travel blogger? Of course it is. You can stand out if you consistently create genuinely original content.
But most people who spend time in Southeast Asia don’t do that. They write “this is what it’s like to cruise Halong Bay” and “here are photos from my day at Angkor Wat” and “the best things to do in Ubud are these” and “this is how awesome Koh Lanta is.”
It’s good stuff, sure, and it will be useful to your readers who aren’t familiar with those destinations, but posts like those will not allow you to gain traction as a travel blogger. Major influencers will not be sharing these posts because they’ve been seen a thousand times before.
If you want to spend extended time in a cheap region, consider parts of Mexico and Central America (inland Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, inland Nicaragua), parts of South America (Peru, Ecuador, Bolivia), parts of Central and Eastern Europe (Balkans excluding Croatia and Slovenia, Poland, Romania and Bulgaria, former USSR), and/or parts of South Asia (India, Nepal, Sri Lanka).
Because while plenty of people have written about those destinations, they are nowhere near the saturation level of Southeast Asia.
Because yes: It’s still possible to make it if you start today.
I know some people will disagree with me, but I think that in many ways, it’s a lot easier to get started now than it was when I did in 2010. The market may be crowded, but there is always — always — room for excellent content.
And whether you’re watching a brilliant sunset on a beach in Nicaragua or sitting on your purple couch in your Harlem apartment (which I may be as I write this), the life of a travel blogger is incredibly rewarding. Each day, I feel so grateful that this is what I do for a living.
Ready to start blogging?
Here’s how to Start a Travel Blog The Right Way!
118 thoughts on “Is It Too Late to Make It as a Travel Blogger Now?”
Thanks so much, Kate! You’ve just answered the question we’ve never really dared to ask even from ourselves. We passionately love travelling and just started blogging about it half year ago. The reason we started it is because it’s fun and we get addicted to blogging quickly, but we haven’t really thought much about monetizing our blog, we both have our full-time jobs besides all that (just don’t ask when we sleep :D).
And whenever we play with the thought of turning our blog into a career, the first thing coming to our mind is that we are probably too late with that, there’s so many great bloggers out there in the world, there’s just simply no need for even more. But we are so happy that you disagree! We would love to build an engaging community around our blog and make it a place which is not just ‘an average blog out of a million’, but it’s a long way. Fortunately, we enjoy the journey. 🙂
good article, every beginning is hard but i definately love to blog so try to keeping it up even though i won’t become a big blogger, still figuring out what i like to write about the most
I love that you’re so encouraging to your readers Kate! ?
Agreed with the previous commenters. Thanks so much for sharing all of these details. I’m with you in that Snapchat, YouTube and videos in general are not my thing…. but there’s a sense of guilt for not just getting on it now…! Maybe this is the kick in the butt I need ;).
Great article. I am currently training to be an attorney so travelling all the time isn’t in the cards for me. Instead I give advice on places I have been and any tips I have learned along the way. I’m a big believer in there is something for everyone!
Awesome post, Kate and just what I needed to hear. I’m only 2 months in on my blog and I ask myself this question a lot. I’m still finding my voice but hopefully some of my unique adventures will help me stand out!
Also Kate is being humble but she’s also currently the TBS member of the month!
I loved reading your opinion on this! After years of contributing for a very large travel blog, I’ve just recently launched by own blog, which will focus on travel in Scotland. I guess for me starting out as contributor was a great way to develop my writing style, and now, that I found my own niche, I feel more confident to have my own blog! I’m not expecting to ever reach the same numbers, but I hope to stand out among the Scotland-bloggers out there 🙂
This is exactly what I needed to hear as a travel blogger still trying to get off the ground. I love writing and working on my blog and like many want it to become a more sustainable income (or at least part of it) because it’s what I’m most passionate about. Great writing as always, and loving your snapchats!
I love this so much, Kate! I quit my very stable job as an international editor at a major publisher LAST MONTH to dedicate my career to becoming a full-time travel blogger. You are such a huge inspiration, as you remain authentic to you, your voice and create content with personality that people connect with. You are real. I’m so excited to be inspired by you more. Thank you for this post, you are absolutely great.
Wow! Congrats on taking that big step and best of luck to you!
This post of yours came at exactly the right time for me! I’ve just spent months and months and months pouring my heart into creating a travel & outdoor lifestyle blog, and it’s about to go live within the week! I can’t help but to doubt if it’s too late or if my content is too much like everyone else’s or if it’ll even be a success or not and this thought has made me really nervous about starting. Thank you for your tips and advice in this post! And practically every other post too for that matter haha!
This is exactly what my niggling mind has been needing 🙂 I’ve started travel blogging recently, hoping to fill a seeming void (Central Asia/Middle East travel), but I’m constantly wondering if I’ll ever get over being eclipsed by others covering more “hot” areas, namely Southeast Asia and South America. Photos of post-Soviet cities just don’t grab the masses the same way those selfies of bikini-clad girls on Thai beaches do, alas.
But, this gives me hope! Cheers!
Thanks so much for the encouragement. I launched my blog 4 months ago, and am putting lots of work into learning the ropes, producing content, and honing my niche/voice (blissful travel experiences). Your comments are a big help!
Thanks so much for your advice and encouragement Kate!
It’s true that seeing how many travel blogs are out there is overwhelming, but you made really good points. I specially liked the idea of developing your personality and specialty, and focusing on social networks other than Facebook.
Thanks again for your tips and inspiration, it feels great to believe that there’s hope for us 🙂
Good stuff! I agree re: focusing on Instagram, Snapchat, and Pinterest. Though my Snapchat game is lagging lately.
This makes me excited too that Nathan and I are heading to Eastern Europe this fall! Hopefully will spend a lot of time in Romania! 😀
Good article with some interesting points for those of us just starting out. South East Asia will always attract travelers and nomads, and it’s just natural a few will want to blog about their trips. I guess this point was more aimed at those looking to get into blogging as a way of earning a living as opposed to purely documenting their travels?
I get this question too and my main piece of advice is always: Don’t go to Thailand! It’s exactly like you say – I love Thailand, but being the 1000th person to write a guide to Thailand’s hostels isn’t going to further your long-term travel writing goals. Be unique, whether because of your niche or your personality, write well and go for it.
Thanks so much for the inspiration. I began my travel blog last May, and feel confident that I can transform it into a career, even if it takes time to build! I love Travel Blog Success, too. The facebook group alone is worth the price.
Thanks for the post Kate! It is refreshing to hear a veteran blogger state that their is still room in the market for new travel bloggers. I’ve been going back and forth about signing up for TBS, with the sale going on this week I think it is perfect time to do it.
Awesome! Welcome to TBS! See you in the Facebook group.
Awesome post as always Kate. Love your honest voice. I started my blog you.theworld.wandering two years back. It’s beginning to grow nicely but the last few weeks I have been feeling the pressures on things like Instagram and competing with my favourite travel bloggers. great top on neiching down and finding a point of difference, couldn’t agree more. just the little pick me up article I needed. Thank you beautiful xx
Agree with what you’re saying, Kate – definitely start a blog if you want to! But I’ve got to say that it’s hard to get your content seen among all the thousands of blogs that have started in the last few years. Unless something goes somewhat viral, it’s pretty much impossible. I have been going for 2.5 years now and it’s still a struggle! But in saying that, I still love blogging (and especially the photography/Instagram side) and encourage travellers to share their experiences with the world 🙂
I actually disagree with that, Petra. I think it’s far from impossible. If you’re having trouble catching on, take a critical look at your blog and see what you can do better. Take a look at popular posts by other bloggers and see what they’re doing differently. One thing that new bloggers don’t realize is that they need to write from a point of view of “this is FOR YOU” rather than “this is what I did.”
Thank you for this post, Kate. We started writing as soon as we left everything behind for full-time traveling, almost two months ago, and we thought it’d be impossible to try and live from our blog. But seeing you saying the opposite is a BIG relief and will motivate us to write even more.
Does anybody have any tips on how to get started with snapchat for travel bloggers? Like how do you get people to follow you on Snapchat?
Feel free to give us your opinion on our posts on http://takoyacki.com
It’s good to promote on your other social networks like Instagram and Facebook. I add a little Snapchat reminder in every Instagram photo but only do that occasionally on Facebook.
Thanks for the article! It’s very encouraging. My little blog appreciates it!
Question – what if I didn’t care about making my career out of travel blogging, but still wanted to have a good quality blog that people actually read and wasn’t just a free WordPress site? Would you still recommend following all the advice in the article? Instagram specifically I guess, because I don’t really take many pictures and certainly not very good ones. Is Instagram best for targeting brands or do you get a decent amount of followers from it? If you think it’s pretty important for bringing in new readers would it be worth it to open an account and try and take more pictures?
If you don’t want to make it a career, there’s definitely less pressure on you. But if growing and reaching a larger audience is a priority, these tips will definitely help you out, especially when it comes to social media. Instagram is more about keeping yourself in readers’ minds on a regular basis. Don’t think of it as a traffic driver.
Thanks so much for sharing Kate – this has definitely encouraged us more! We’ve been blogging for about 9 months now and loving it and getting really good feedback but unfortunately we only have a tiny audience at the moment. We just bought the Travel Blog Success course (before I read this, otherwise I would have bought through you!) and I’m hoping this is what helps take things to a new level.
Love your Snapchat by the way!
Welcome to TBS! I’ll see you in the Facebook group! 🙂
I definitely think there is room! I’m not a travel blogger, but I do talk about it a little bit on my blog now that we travel full-time. Blogging is still growing, and there is still plenty of room. I truly believe in that, especially due to how significantly my income is growing. If there wasn’t enough room, I probably wouldn’t be making as much as I am from my blog, haha! I’m on track to make $70,000 from my blog this month, and I expect it to grow even further as each month passes.
$70,000 in a single month! Good God, girl! Congratulations and well done.
Industry is a big factor. There will never be as much money in travel as there is in fashion, beauty, or finance, like you. That doesn’t mean there’s not money — it’s just a lot harder to harness in an industry where you often don’t see an ROI for a decade. Even after Oprah’s visit to Australia, people estimated they wouldn’t receive the full financial impact for a decade because traveling is something that takes years of preparation.
Thanks a lot Kate! I often visiting your blog since you wrote about boat trip from Lombok to Komodo. Since that, I started blogging with all my flaws and a limited skills let alone thinking about social media etc. but here your knowledge watering and fertilizing to keep blogging growing well without word of “late” honesty sharing on nice blog content and original destination to do.
Again, thanks a lot. Lovely post and warm regards.
I purchased the course yesterday and I am just about to start it. I am so excited!
Welcome! Looking forward to seeing you in the Facebook group!
Can’t agree more
1 I started last month and my stats are booming!
I totally agree with you on most points. I’m a niche blogger and within my country, even with just about 15.000 monthly visitors, am the biggest niche blogger in that specific category (outdoor adventure). Two years ago nobody wanted to work with me but now I have to turn down the best offers because I’m getting a lot and I have no time to do all trips offered to me. Many destinations and brands are beginning to see the benefits of working with someone who has a specific niche rather than a blogger who writes just about anything.
By choice, I’ve decided not to make a living out of this but instead make some extra money on top of my office job salary, so I can travel more often to more unique places. I also agree about getting away from South East Asia, there are so many blogs about it already and they keep on coming. Blogging about other destinations (I write a lot about Alaska, New Zealand, Patagonia etc) will eventually make you stand out of the crowd.
Thanks for this. Definitely a question we all ask as is evident from prior comments. My heart aches at your comment re INstagram, Snapchat and Pinterest. I hate INSTAGRAM! Users seem so fickle and I never seem to progress whereas I can see steady progress on Pinterest. As for Snapchat, OMG I have not even gone there yet, but if it is good enough for you and the Points Guy, then I need to. Video is on my list of skills to learn but so many and so little time around work and studying! Thanks for the advice
I’ve been following you on snap only, really like what you do. I am that rare 80 % that HAS to be on the road. I’m also trying to put the twist on working in promotional marketing and using it to travel, great way to get paid to play. Glad you touched on both of those topics.
Also, I used to be such a gear head with cameras, mics, tripods. Now I just want to use my phone.
What’s your thoughts on just shooting a snap story then posting it straight to the video/social platforms. I’ve been using slinger to try to get in early on that. I also think YouTube will change their player to adapt to vertical video.
Still trying to debate on shooting everything on snap horizontal but I’m not really feeling that idea.
I’m a 100% video guy and ex radio personality. As you can see, writing isn’t my strong point. Need to work on that.
Thanks for the awesome post.
all social: @ryanchowansky
I’m a big believer to restrict content to its own social network. So no snap videos on YouTube yet, unless they’re exceptional/hilarious. But I do agree with you, that vertical video will become an option on YouTube in the next few years.
Hello from a beautiful beach in Nicaragua! Funnily enough, this time last year I was likely sitting on a (sadly not purple) couch in NYC! I ask that question ‘is it too late?’ of myself every day, but I think the fact that so many have come before just pushes us to create more original content! Not that I succeed a lot of the time, being that I still haven’t figured out a niche besides ‘solo female travel,’ though you’re right that’s not a niche nowadays. The thing is, before traveling I was living in NYC working as an actress. So the comparison to becoming a working actor is very apt for me! However, even achieving the status of ‘working actor’ is ridiculously rare. Actually, now that I think of it, blogging and acting are not all that dissimilar! Hahah..Glad I chose the two least secure professions of all time! Thanks for the inspiration to keep going against the odds, Kate! 🙂
Ha, you’re right! I mean…being an accountant or nurse makes so much sense for job security…but they’re just not acting or blogging!
Thank you so much for this post, seriously. I’ve been quietly devouring everything that you and some of the other big travel personalities have written, especially about travel blogging, in preparation for starting my own blog.
It’s easy to get caught up in self-doubt, but then I remember that even if it goes nowhere professionally, it will be an epic creative venture in and of itself. I’ll work on figuring out the whole niche thing on the road this year. 😉
Thanks for the post Kate. I have had my blog for almost 5 years now! I started it in 2011 before quitting my job to go on a RTW trip. Whilst I was posting continuously whilst I was travelling, as soon as I stopped and got a full time job I stopped posting so much, then I stopped altogether – probably just as my blog was gaining momentum.
Having a successful blog is hard work – you have to post good content continuously, learn SEO, learn wordpress, comment on other blogs, edit your photos, interact on social media.
I now have more time to write, so I am starting posting on my blog again (because I love writing!), however I guess I just wanted to highlight that whilst anyone can have a blog (and enjoy it as a hobby), it is a complete other thing turning it into a full time job / career.
Another great post Kate! I’ve toyed around with blogging for the last 3+ years, but only just now am thinking I can turn it into a career. My plans extend far beyond travel blogging, but this is where I plan to start. Your advice is so valuable and appreciated. Thank you so much!
Jenn @ http://jetsetterjenn.com/
Love this and agree :)!!!
I am a very new travel blogger from Romania (which is my home base), focused mostly on budget European city breaks. My blog is about books (my first real passion) and trips!
I don’t live with the hopes of “making it” as a travel blogger, the Books & Trips is mostly an outlet where I can post my experiences and memories.
Sure, it would be nice to make a living out of it one day or enjoy some of the travel perks that come with it, but I’d rather just take it slow and not chase it!
Anyway, I learned so much from you, Kate, and I always read your posts with great pleasure!
Hugs from Romania!
One of your best posts for sure! I love that you added having a personality as a key component to making it!
I couldn’t agree more and I credit 90% of my growth to the fact that I will openly talk about poop (LOL), perks of being black in Europe, traveling broke, etc etc.
Real life stories make the best content because you can’t fake or duplicate it! Keep it up with the gold!
I always value your posts about blogging, thanks for sharing your insights about the new landscape. I agree, video seems to be hugely important going forward. I keep telling myself to learn Final Cut Pro and get some stuff on YouTube for once and for all!!
I think creating genuine and high quality valuable content will eventually get noticed in whatever industry you blog about. But social media is definitely so important now.
I’m loving this post Kate!
I’ve only been blogging for two years but I was amazed as to how quickly my blog took off. In fact just 6 months after I started!
And did I have big numbers? No!
Did I blog every day? Nope!
Had I quit my job and was living on a lovely island? Not at all!
So what was it then? It was exactly what you said – A great personality (even if I say so myself Ho! Ho!), a niche of sort – Berlin lifestyle / European travel. (For some reason, even though I live in Germany, I seem to be the expert on Poland lol!)
Continuity: From the day that I started blogging – one blog a week non-stop, and really interesting content that 2 years later, people still find interesting to read.
And most importantly, help, advice and interest from blogging friends (like yourself) and the blogging community in particular.
So you’re right, you really don’t have to be the biggest travel blogger of all but you do need to be polite, professional in everything that you do, and write really well.
Thanks Kate. xx
Thank you very much for your enthusiasm! I have followed your blog for a while now and I must admit it truly inspired me to try and take my blog into professional levels. Still very at the beginning but we all start from scratch right?
Thank you Kate
It would useful to many readers, if you do a expose on your experiences with various Airlines in both U.S based and foreign.
Dear Kate and those who responded. Many thank you for your comments as I learned a lot. I have just started a blog and trying to determine in which niche I fit: http://www.annamkarola.com. I spent 20 years overseas living in the Middle East and Africa and during this time I had many experiences including visiting Iraq; experiencing invasions and working with people in unique situations. I have decided to write about these things and hoping to build a following. I would appreciate anyone who might care to wander through my writings and provide some insight into where all of it fits. Thank you and I look forward to hearing from you and to reading more on this blog.
Such an awesome post, Kate! I know that I’ll never be one of the “biggest” blogs out there, but I’ve always done it because I loved it, and slowly but surely the work and opportunities have come in. I’ll be celebrating six years of blogging (well, technically 13 if you count Livejournal… yikes) next month and I’d still encourage everyone to give it a go.
It’s nice to read encouragement.
I’m on a trip that will be lasting the next few years, as crew on a sailboat. I’m hoping to get a little something going while we do this trip, hoping that afterwards my family and I can keep going on our own.
Nice blog post!
I actually already blogged since 2011, but well, as I still worked full time, so I blogged on and off. Recently I decided to blog full time, and we’ll see … Hopefully all goes well 😉
Not sure on using Snapchat, but many people are already using it! So I guess, I need to get myself familiar with it soon haha!
Very good article. We specialize in Greece with agreekadventure.com and we think specialization is a key element for future travel bloggers.
Great read here Kate. I started most of my initial travels in Africa as I lived and worked in South Africa for a few years. I saw most of the continent while I was there and would routinely write about them.
I’ve since returned home from my expat life and write occasionally about my trips but nothing full time. I will say that my biggest regrets were:
1. Not writing more, content is key. I felt like I didn’t want to annoy my friends on FB with constant posts about South Africa living but looking back on it, that was a mistake.
2. Not engaging more on social media. I didn’t really use Instagram much, which was a huge mistak ebecause I traveled to plenty of places that most people haven’t made it to yet and got amazing pictures. I never even made a facebook fan page until after I came home which was an even bigger mistake. I just wasn’t thinking large scale enough.
3. Not blogging more. hah
Anyway, keep up the great work on your blog! I enjoy your reads a lot.
Thank you for this post! I wrote a blog post about some struggles I was dealing with a little over a week ago, and your post addressed several of those issues. Love it!
Thank you for sharing your thoughts about the travel blog scene; good to know you think there’s still room for more travel writers on the web and that regular, quality content remains a significant key to success.