This is Part 1 of a two-part series on my life as a travel blogger.
This lil' ol' blog of mine is more than four years old. FOUR YEARS! That's long enough to age a barrel of whiskey. To earn a college degree. To get pregnant and give birth to multiple children.
I have done none of those things in the past four years, of course. (Well, except the degree part — I did get a master's degree.)
What I've done instead is made the transition from hobby blogger to full-time freelance travel writer/professional blogger. This is what I DO now. I live and work on the Internet, where it's more or less all travel all the time.
When people learn this about me, they immediately go slack-jawed and exclaim something about how awesome it must be to travel the world for a living and tell me how jealous they are.
And yeah, it IS awesome. … Most of the time.
While they (and maybe you) are assuming that my life is all tropical beaches and five-star hotel rooms, though, I'm here to share the truth with you. And the truth is that this whole being-a-professional-travel-blogger thing is NOT always as awesome as people think.
A typical day in my life
Believe it or not, even though I'm a travel blogger, I DON'T travel all the time. In fact, I'm at home on my couch for the majority of the year.
Here's how a typical day goes:
- 9 a.m. — Wake up, shower, and have coffee.
- 9:30 a.m. — Get online and check: email, Facebook, Twitter, blog comments from overnight, the news, other travel sites, etc.
- 10 a.m. – 8 p.m. — Work. And that 8 p.m. “end time” is often stretched to 9 or 10 p.m., depending on how much I have to get done.
What do I work on for that many hours a day, you ask? Well, there's the usual blog-upkeep stuff: responding to comments, posting updates on social media, making tweaks to the site, and writing new posts.
I also currently moonlight as a behind-the-scenes website manager for another big travel blog, and an apprentice to a company that creates online training resources for small businesses who want to learn more about social media.
Oh, and then there's all the freelance writing I do. On any given day, I have at least 1 or 2 posts that need worked on. Whether it's researching facts, editing/sourcing/creating photos and images, or actually putting the words together on the screen, this takes up a lot more time than you might expect.
And when I'm actually traveling? Well let's just say that I still spend a good deal of time getting work done!
The downsides of being a travel blogger
I'm not going to lie to you — being a full-time travel blogger is HARD. It's an incredibly challenging gig that often means working long hours for barely any money or recognition. I work my butt off to be able to share my adventures with complete strangers on the Internet.
Yes, I get free things from time to time from the partners/sponsors I work with. But I am by no means swimming in piles of money like Scrooge McDuck.
As with most freelance work, I am never guaranteed a steady paycheck. I have to be careful which advertising deals I agree to. I usually have to spend time searching for new freelance jobs. And sometimes I have to chase down money that is rightfully mine.
It's STRESSFUL some months, to say the least.
There's also the elusive work-life balance that I probably will never have — I'm too invested and have to work too much to ever take a lot of time off. I have to wear roughly a billion hats every single day. Not only am I a writer, but I'm also a photographer, video editor, social media guru, and businesswoman. Not that I mind this most of the time (I LOVE what I do and enjoy that no two days are exactly the same), but it's worth pointing out that this job requires a ridiculous time commitment.
And then there's trying to keep this all up while actually traveling. You do not know true frustration until you have a deadline to meet but can't find strong enough wifi to even log into Gmail.
The awesomeness of being a travel blogger
But I'm making travel blogging out to sound like it's an awful time-suck that keeps me from having a life. This isn't true, of course. Not in the least.
Even though I spend well over 40 hours per week pouring my blood, sweat, and tears into my blog and freelance work, it doesn't usually FEEL like work. I don't feel like my brain is leaking out my ears as I sit in a cubicle completing monotonous tasks over and over. There's no boss to answer to or workplace drama to worry about.
Sure, I often have to force myself to put on real clothing and go out into the sunlight every few days, but being self-employed feels like freedom to me. Do I miss having “work friends”? Sure. But now my “work friends” are other travel bloggers spread out all across the globe who I get to meet up with in places like London and Hong Kong and Berlin.
The biggest upside to what I do, though, is that I have the freedom (and the means) to travel the world. In many instances, it IS the dream job my friends and family assume it to be.
In the past four years, I've gone swimming with sharks in Belize, hiked on a glacier in Alaska, went rafting in the Czech Republic, lived with elephants for a week in Thailand, saw the Northern Lights dance above northern Canada, cheered on Team USA at the Olympics in London, jumped off a bridge in New Zealand, floated down the Mekong River in Vietnam, and soared above Monument Valley in a hot air balloon.
It's been an incredible four years.
These adventures are the result of all the hard work I put into this site combined with the passion I have for traveling. I may not make a lot of money and may have to work harder (and longer) than a lot of people out there, but I wouldn't trade the memories I've made for anything.
So you want to be a travel blogger?
Being a professional travel blogger isn't easy. I would never suggest someone start a blog with the goal of “scoring” free travel — it doesn't fall into your lap as easily or as quickly as you may think. But, if somewhere along the line you decide to give blogging a serious go, here are some good resources for you to check out:
Travel Blog Success
Think you want to start down this path and start a travel blog of your own? Then invest in yourself and your time up-front and take a course like the one offered from Travel Blog Success. It covers all the basics about travel blogging and is a great place to start.
If you're looking to create a nice profile for your blog tand the influence you wield through it (and use this profile and influence to start monetizing your blog), check out The Midgame. I love the blogger profiles on this site (here's a look at mine), and the fact that you can use it to apply for some sponsored work.
The Professional Travel Bloggers Association is worth joining if you want to look a little more… well, professional! The organization is still in its early stages, but it is already planning blogging conferences and working with industry members to offer partnership opportunities to its members.
Stay tuned! Soon I'll be sharing exactly how and where I make money to fund my travels.
What else do you want to know about life as a travel blogger?
*Note: This post was written by me, but sponsored by a third party.