Like many travel bloggers, I sometimes have a difficult time explaining to people why I write my blog, what I've learned, and why I consistently work so hard at it.
So, I've taken what is, to me, the easiest approach, and typed it all up in a blog post! Learn about why I became a travel blogger, why I continue to be one, and why I'd encourage everyone to join me among the travel blogger ranks as well!
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I can't believe it's been a year since I started my blog! My one-year blogging anniversary has caused me to undertake some serious self-reflection about my travel blog, and the travel blogging history as a whole.
Happy Birthday, Pints, Pounds, & Pate!
In the last year, I've met so many amazing people, learned so much about myself, and been impressed with my ability to learn about an industry with which I had been completely unfamiliar. I've learned about, and been very impressed by, social media marketing (of which, incidentally, I was previously a bit skeptical, having been a marketing lawyer for pharmaceutical companies), and I've re-learned how to write, after 4 years of being a lawyer. Yes, lawyers are typically thought of as good writers, but the reality is that most people become a lawyer because they are a good writer and then are taught to write in a very perfunctory, straight-to-the-point manner, and forget all the fun flourishes they used to enjoy.
But, after a year of learning and churning, I'm ready for more. Why am I blogging? What am I creating? Am I self-serving? Is this good for me? And how am I contributing? Is travel blogging just a bunch of people trying to get free trips?
Why I Write a Travel Blog: Traveling smart and informed
When I think about what travel bloggers contribute to the bigger picture, I'd argue that our contribution is largely information that allows people to travel smarter and more informed. Yes, of course there are travel bloggers who do not do this, who focus solely on posting attractive pictures of themselves and do not provide meaningful content. We all know that. But, by and large, I reject the assessment that we are all that way. No matter our reasons for blogging, whether it's more self-focused (something to do with my travel pictures) or more outward-focused (teaching people about a place), these two things are not mutually exclusive. I'm of the opinion that the vast majority of discussion is good discussion and leads to more open minds. Now somebody drag me off of my the-French-aren't-rude-and-Europe-isn't-dangerous-soapbox, before I get off topic!
Additionally, travel bloggers help people to think outside the box when planning trips. For example, I've greatly enjoyed the reactions to my Visiting the Chateau Fontainebleau from Paris post, which, from what I understand, has encouraged a number of people to visit this beautiful and historic chateau. Of course everyone wants to see Versailles, and I find that a lot of people don't even start thinking about visiting another place. All historic chateaux benefit from tourist revenue, regardless of their other sources of funding, as does the surrounding town. It brings me great joy to think that I've not only encouraged people to enhance their trips by exploring a place they might not otherwise have know about, but also that I've driven business to a quaint little town.
On the most practical note, one of the helpful pieces provided by travel blogging is information that people want to know before they visit a place. I read travel blogs constantly to learn the helpful tips that people provide - should I buy tickets in advance? Is there a bathroom? Is there an unexpected time to visit that's less crowded?
All of this is value added by travel bloggers and shared with the wider community. And I'm very happy to be a part of it.
Why I Write a Travel Blog: Learning and teaching about other cultures
There is no better way to expand your mind and learn about the world than by seeing it. People love to frown upon and judge various types of travel (cruise ship travel, "off the beaten path" travel, travel-that's-only-for-Instagram), but I don't. Get out there in whatever way makes you feel comfortable enough to do it, and see the world. Even if it's only a few cities over from you, or perhaps the closest foreign country to where you grew up. Get out there and see it for yourself. One of the most important things travel can give you is perspective on your own culture, how you live, and where you grew up.
Just one example. I'm American and I live "in the middle." I can't think of a better way to phrase it than that we are "weird" about alcohol. When you buy the buy-5-get-one-free deal at the grocery, the clerk always makes a joke - "Having a party this weekend?" No, I want to save $7.99. It is only within the past year that we can buy alcohol in shops on Sunday in my home state. Yes, you read that correctly. And, we can't sell cold beer in gas stations. Kids are not allowed to sit in, or even walk through, bars. Yes, you have to walk all the way around to get to the bathroom. So, on our first trip to Italy, I was intrigued by piazza culture - people of various ages, all relaxing in the piazza, sipping on cocktails and mocktails. Little elementary school kids have their tiny mocktails and are chilling with the adults. (Americans do have mocktails - mostly just Shirley Temples, but culturally, I think we've forgotten that they are mocktails - they've become normalized). Interestingly, Italians these days are actually drinking less wine than Americans, on average. I found the whole thing fascinating - even that simple experience led me to think about, and write an entire paragraph on, something I'd never really considered. And now, I'm talking about it with you all! xx
Why I Write a Travel Blog: Exploring the marketing world
One of the truly enjoyable (and valuable) parts of being a travel blogger is starting and running your own small business!
I often find that people can be a bit dismissive of travel blogging, thinking it's just posting pictures of myself, but it's so much more than that.
I've learned extremely marketable skills, such as building, running, and monetizing a website, keeping track of expenditures, managing social media accounts, building business relationships, marketing myself (always super hard, no matter what the context), and so much more.
Why I Write a Travel Blog: Meeting amazing people
When you talk about meeting amazing people through travel, most people would assume that you mean meeting people in the places you visit. And while that is of course true, for me, the people I've met through blogging have been one of the reasons I have stayed around this long!
It's ironic that basically the whole world has decided Twitter makes them stressed, when I - and my fellow members of the "Travel Tribe" find Twitter to be an incredibly friendly and welcoming space. The culture of this group is wonderful- it's supportive without being meaningless, and it's competitive without losing the substance of what we're competing over. Competition makes us better. It's also surprisingly intellectual - focusing on the reasons and motivations for travel, not merely on churning out fluff.
Why I Write a Travel Blog: Re-discovering my "why"
Oh wow, this got really deep, really fast. But, I'm seriously OK with it. If you just wanted to read about the surface portion of travel blogging, I won't begrudge you if you move on that this point.
Don't get me wrong, this post is not meant to be a diatribe about the legal profession. I have huge respect for lawyers (I mean...I am one), and for the role we serve in society. But, for me, personally, I spent 4 years losing myself in a demanding job. That's not the job's fault entirely. It's also mine. I failed to find purpose and I lacked time or energy to look for it. But, I allowed myself to become completely subsumed by company culture and desire to please and forgot to let myself shine through or focus on the things that mattered outside of work hours.
My first blog posts were almost bullet-point lists of where to go, written at night, while watching TV, because that was the only time I had while I was still working. We went to X city. We ate lunch in X restaurant. It was fun. We went home. You should go. That was how I had been re-programmed to write for years. But, now I'm back, churning out page after page, and loving every minute of it! Whether or not creative/descriptive writing is your forte, doing it in post after post will certainly hope you hone your skills!
Travel blogging tips: Is travel blogging expensive?
Enough about me - now we're moving on to a few questions about starting a travel blog that have been on my brain because of the anniversary, and which need to be answered if I'm going to try to convince people to start their own travel blog!!
Travel blogging doesn't have to be expensive. Any expense of blogging should not deter you from starting a travel blog, as the travel itself is the only expense and, presumably, you are doing or have done that already. I had the truly erroneous impression, before I started my blog, that "travel bloggers" were all people who had quit their jobs and traveled the world 24/7. I thought that if I couldn't do that (which I can't), I could never find a place for myself in the travel blogging field.
In fact, you can run a travel blog for free, and fairly easily. Social media accounts for your blog are free. Many sites will host your blog, free of charge (just Google "free blog site"), in hopes that you'll eventually upgrade to a paid site. I use Weebly and that's exactly how it went for me! Most of the software that I use to help me is either not strictly necessary for beginners, or offers starter packages which are completely free, or 30 -day tests, so you can explore before you pay. If you wish, you may later chose to invest in software, self-hosting (meaning that your website is .com not .weebly.com), and other aids to blogging as time goes on. I'm all about Tailwind, which makes scheduling my pins on Pinterest an absolute breeze. But, technically, you can start travel blogging for free, with a website that is not self-hosted and, of course, the travel, but presumably you would have done that anyway.
So why not get started? You can always make changes once you learn more about what you want your blog to look like (I do that every, single day), but at least you'll have something to work from!!!
Travel blogging tips: Can I make money from travel blogging?
Yes! Though the reality is it takes time and *a lot* of hard work!! The main, and most basic, ways that people monetize blogs are though affiliate marketing (selling items and getting a commission) and hosting ads (such as the Google-based ads you'll see on this page). I like Amazon and ShareaSale for affiliate programs, but it definitely takes time to build an audience and start marking sales.
Travel blogging is fun, and can be lucrative, but it's not a "get rich quick scheme"!!
Travel blogging tips: Is travel blogging time consuming?
One of the lovely thing about blogging is that it is what you make of it. If you want to blog on the side while having a full-time, demanding job - you can! I did for the majority of the time I've run this website. Pick a few things to do each week, figure out what is more important to your audience - aka what you can't skip on- and just keep the ship afloat! Do a lot of planning on weekends and evenings when you have time, and you'll do just fine!
If, you want to devote more time to it, you can increase what you do and dedicate more time to it, as I do now. I actually find that one of the more important and time consuming pieces about running a travel blog is learning about blogging itself. If you're looking for more travel blogging tips, check out my post on What I Wish I'd Known When I Started My Travel Blog.
Thanks so much for reading and I do hope you'll consider starting a travel blog. xx
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