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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?”
This is great! Love the tips. I started a blog just to keep all of my adventures organized so I could easily look back at what I did when people asked me. Then I found myself sending the link to people after a big trip so I wouldn’t have to tell the same stories so many times! It’s not how I make a living, but I love doing it, and I love when people read it!
Thanks for including my site here, Kate 🙂 I definitely agree that focusing on a specific niche interest is bound to attract like-minded readers, like I do with volunteering – but just like any well rounded topic, the exciting part is being able to also jump off and explore all the other elements of travel too!
This is so inspiring! I’ve been on the fence about Travel Blog Success but think I’m going to go ahead and sign up. I also need to get going with Snapchat!
Awesome! You will love the community!
Thanks Kate, like many you have helped answer a question that was nagging in my head. Charlie and I only took up travel blogging recently after many years of happy travelling and really wanted to share our experiences and more importantly our tips and advice. I wish we had got into it earlier in our lives but just because it provides so much enjoyment, we get to write and be creative, travel which we love but the blog pushes us that bit harder to make the most of each trip, and for me a real techy gap is filled that I didn’t know I had lost (I write the code for our site) from moving up the IT management chain. We do dream of making it full time but would be happy to meet our current mid level standard of living but give us more time as a family. Who knows but unless you try you will never know.
I think today we see 2 kinds of people who want to blog. I think we have those who are looking to use it as a platform for fun, family and nothing real serious. Then we have those who want or hope to generate the kind of wealth some of the early bloggers experienced quite quickly when they started blogging.
The first we really don’t need to worry about it, because they aren’t asking themselves this question on this post.
The second group, however, needs to realize that people like Pat Flynn or Tim Ferriss are all part of perfect timing and some luck, along with their own talents. It is much harder to do what they did today.
However, that doesn’t mean you can not start a blog today and not earn an income doing it, I actually think Travel Blogs are probably one of the less saturated markets for blogging. Keeping in mind I believe there are probably only about 100-150 actual blog topics that you can make any meaningful income from, travel being one of those.
It is just a lot harder, takes more time and a ton of dedication and probably a backup plan to pull off in today’s market of blogging. If you are looking to start your own blog I have a very in depth easy to follow tutorial, but it’s pretty meant for those who already made up their mind to start a blog already.
Good luck to everyone and this post was full of great advice!
Thank you for this post, Kate. I’m just starting to take blogging more seriously and it’s been quite overwhelming to see just how many blogs are out there and how successful some of them have become. Good to know that there is still opportunity out there for newbies like me! This was a nice reminder to focus on the quality of my writing, photography, and videography before stressing about making it big.
Thanks Kate! I just started seriously blogging again and was overwhelmed by the seemingly endless number of travel bloggers out there. This gives me a bit of hope 🙂
Whew, what a timely post! Thank you for the thoughts and encouragement. I think that everyone is going to have a slightly different take and focus, no matter where they go. Here’s to an adventure!
Being a new travel blogger (more than year), this post has given me inspiration to work harder.
We really appreciate that this advice is coming from a top travel blogger like you Kate. No wonder youa re so blessed. You are giving inspiration and value wholeheartedly for your readers, and for people who also waht to follow their passion for writing and travel.
Great post and great ideas!
I neither believe its too late but I think a nisch is more important than ever.
Thanks for a great blog!
Thank you for your amazing blog! You really have inspired me, after following you for the last two years. I am currently selling up everything in South Africa, to work and travel abroad, it’s my 30th birthday present to myself :). I am going to be starting my own travel blog… Soon I hope 🙂
Reading your blog and seeing the adventures that you go on, have aided me in making this decision, and this article was such great motivation to pursue the travel blogging side. I’m not going to lie, the thought is quite daunting, but after this article, I think I can do this, and do it well 🙂
So glad to hear it, Carrey! Good luck!
There are some good tips there, that is the biggest problem for me , to make my blog stand out of the crowd! But I am still working on it! Xx
Thanks, I just started a travel blog and your advice was very helpful!
Thanks so much for the great article Kate! Just what I needed to read! I started my travel blog in December and some days I have my doubts but I absolutely love doing it! Thank you for being an inspiration!
I have been following your travels for years and really enjoyed living vicariously through you until recently, when my friend and I decided to leave our jobs and homes for 2 months and head to South America. We also started a blog to showcase our pics, travel tips and adventures. Please check it out, it was inspired by you and other travel bloggers we follow! 🙂
Good luck, ladies!
Great post! It is very encouraging to hear your thoughts as it is quite intimidating to join the world of travel blogging. There are already so many successful blogs out there and I fear being just another voice in the crowd. I started a blog recently when my family moved to Mexico City for my husband’s short-term work assignment and would like to expand it since we will be relocating to Australia this summer for his work.
Any tips on how to make the switch from writing about our experiences for our friends and family to writing posts meant for a larger audience?
Just imagine that you’re writing to someone who is interested in traveling to where you’re going. Having that person in mind will help you target your writing better. Think, “Does this help him/her?” as you read through it.
Wow that is really interesting. life is all about taking risks! 🙂
I hope you’re right Kate. I have been traveling for seven years and have traveled all seven continents extensively and I’m kicking myself that I only decided to really try my hand at blogging in the last year. I often feel like I missed my chance but this post gives me a bit of hope that I may still be able to be seen among the millions of blogs out there.
Thank so much for your encouraging words Kate! I always have appreciated your honesty and the way that you put the “real you” into your blog posts. Your personality shines. From all the comments, your advice will not go unheeded! Lots of us travelers who blog because we love to travel and enjoy sharing our experiences will step up our games because of this post. The result will be even more useful and helpful information for all the travelers who are just starting on their adventures.
Thank YOU, Neil!
Just catching up on your blog over lunch and was pleasantly surprised to see my name included in this post — thanks for that 🙂
Of course as someone who chooses to live part time in Thailand I feel a bit defensive when I hear someone say you can’t create exciting content here (not that you said it that harshly). You are right, the examples you gave are overdone. But as someone who has been calling Thailand home on and off for years I’m always inspired to keep pushing the envelope and creating new adventures to write about. I have posts coming up about exploring Thailand’s wine region, doing a DIY camping trip in Khao Yai National Park, and doing advanced diving specialty courses like sidemount training in Koh Tao. I love the challenge of finding a unique way to present Thailand travel!
No, you’re definitely a great example of going further in Thailand and creating content that nobody else has!
I just feel like most bloggers say, “Oh yeah, of course I’m going to get off the beaten path,” and it ends up being much easier said than done.
Absolutely great piece! Was exactly what I needed to read right now. I have recently started travel blogging, documenting my experiences as an Au Pair and travelling around Spain. Developing somewhat of a ‘niche’ makes complete sense. Something for me to think about 🙂
Thanks Kate, i ma Just starting my blog. I have been reading your blog and you give me inspiration every day! Thank you!
Hey thanks for the advice, I’ve just launched my adventure travel blog using some of your tips!
Glad to hear it, Chris! Good luck!
Thanks for the inspiration, Kate! I just started blogging recently, and there is so much involved in blogging, so many things to learn, that sometimes it’s overwhelming! But I love creating and seeing the result. And it sounds like the perfect career for me, but as every career it requires time and effort.
Hi Kate! Thanks for the words of encouragement! I started my blog 5 months ago and (had wondered why i should bother!) but although it’s been hard going in terms of reaching people, I absolutely love it, and my audience is growing slowly but surely and despite creating list type posts to gain attention (which is successful) I find I get more engagement from my take on different destinations – and i’m really trying not to post about SE Asia!
If people love your different takes on common destinations, that’s absolutely what you should focus on!
Awesome article! I’ve started my own blog quite recently (a few months ago) after years of working some freelancing jobs in the travel niche… Now, how I see things… As long you’re doing what you love, and you’re not too much influenced with the trends – it’s always the right time to start with writing travel blogs… Be true to yourself, and create something you’ll be proud of – is kind of my recipe…
I’m just starting but it feels really really difficult to make it as a travel blogger. While as you say, some “known” people has stopped blogging so much as they are not travelling anymore, there’s still a huge amount of blogs you have to overcome.
Thanks for being such an inspiration. Hopefully I’ll make it little by little.
Best of luck with your new apartment!
Good luck with your blog!
Thank you Kate! Encouraging to know that an old pro thinks it is possible 🙂
Thanks for this post Kate! I am very very new to blogging, only this month over at http://www.thewanderbite.com and you are one of the many that has inspired me! I needed to read this! Love your snaps!
Thanks for reading and watching!
Thank you so much for this post Kate, I have just discovered your blog and aren’t I glad I did!! First, your Thailand posts have made me so excited for my trip!! But this post in particular was a slight worry of mine and its rewarding to know you think it is still possible. My blog is still quite new so this was a great read for me!
Glad to hear it, Lauren!
That’s interesting advice about not covering South East Asia in too much depth. It’s true that I’ve seen a lot of blog post for that area though as you say, there’s always scope for more if done in an innovative way. I don’t travel full time but manage lots of weekend breaks and a few long haul trips each year
Thank you for the encouragement. I have wonted to give up travel blogging recently but instead I have learnt to adapt it to make it more relevant. Thus my Average Traveler was born.
I just recently started a personal blog, when I posted about a trip I took to a town here in Mexico, it went kinda viral! so I decided to start a travel blog about my country, I’ve been around and I plan to keep doing it. Hope it works. Nice blog congrats!
this is my viral post: https://melmnrz.com/2016/05/02/conoces-muzquiz-coahuila/
Thanks Kate! My daughter and I are fairly new to travel blogging (& life style blogging) and it’s very encouraging to hear this from you. I also love the suggestion about snap chat. That will be perfect for our upcoming trip to Italy.
Nice post! Especially I liked about SE Asia, because I mainly focusing about Indonesia and other Asian countries. I became an expat in Indonesia and share as well about daily life things here, not only travel tips. And even for me discoveries in daily life sounds more interesting, like some people don’t have time to see them because of short stay – but somehow those posts not so popular. Yes, maybe I write in wrong way, maybe it’s not interesting..but I still do it, because it’s something that not everyone experienced or know:) Hope one day my blog will grow a bit more than it is now 🙂
This is inspiring and I appreciate the truth you speak. I totally agree that voice and personality are the most important, and I also agree that there are too many “solo female traveler” blogs. I started my blog about a year and a half ago to allow my friends and family to follow my travels on a four month solo backpacking trip through South America last year. I was shocked at how well-received it was, with virtually no promotion at all on my part, and now I’m beginning to question if I can turn it into something that pays for my travels. I don’t need to be rich, but if I can figure out a way to at least pay for my passion, than I can’t really ask for more. This post is exactly what I needed to hear, so thank you. Not sure I can go down the video route yet, though…
Glad to hear it, Casey. And you don’t HAVE to go the video route. Just be as strong as possible in the areas where you already shine.
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Yes. Enough posts about Southeast Asia already! Thanks for this encouraging post.
Thanks for the pick me up.
Me and my boyfriend started travelling a couple of years ago and always thought about starting a blog but never felt too confident. Anyway, we decided to give it a whirl, and while many articles I’ve read have said it’s over saturated and too late this was a refreshing change. So thanks for that! Hopefully we can try and make this blog work, going to sign up to TBS too, it seems so many bloggers out there can’t recommend them enough
Let’s be realistic. IS it a good time to become a travel blogger- sure, why not, if you enjoy it? But if you are planning on making it your career and a sole source of income, my friends, you are way too far behind. Too many blogs, too many people creating generic content about the very same places, too many people just starting their blogs- I have two friends who are doing the same. But guess what- the market is already too saturated. You will have to pop out something truly unique to be noticed enough to make money off of it.
That however doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy blogging about your travels.
I disagree, Anastasia. I still think it’s possible to make it if you start today. All of us spent years working on our blogs before it was a sole source of income. That hasn’t changed at all. And we both agree that it’s very hard to succeed when you are generic. But that doesn’t mean it’s impossible.
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I think the main problem is actually market saturation -there are just too many travel blogs around -many of them by mediocre writers whose travel isn’t particularly unique or interesting, and who are motivated more by internet fame and money than by desire to engage with their audience. For 90% of the blogs out there there’s no point of difference from any other blog.
Partly this is for the reasons I’ve mentioned, but it’s also partly the homogenous demographics of bloggers -the vast majority are young, white, middle class people from developed countries (so there’s a kind of uniformity of values and perspective that adds to the perception of ‘sameness’ amongst the majority of blogs I’ve read).
I don’t want to discourage people, but as a reader of blogs (rather than a blogger myself), I now only want to read blogs by people outside the usual demographic, who have something unique and interesting to say, or who are doing something outside the mold. Oh and…they should be able to write something other than “10 great travel hacks” or “48 hours in [x destination]”.
Thank you for the encouragement, Kate! It can be easy to get discouraged at the beginning of the process when you’re learning along the way, as I am now. Especially knowing that there are so many people travel blogging successfully. But you’re right, the travel blog community has appeared to become just that, a community, where everyone supports each other! Luckily I have figured out my niche, so I am hoping that will help me in the long run.
Good luck, Lindsey!