Kirsten Alana on Google +
When I first became a travel blogger in 2009, I was transitioning from being a full time wedding photographer to pursuing my dream of traveling around the world and being paid to write about it. At the time, I wanted that transition to be fast and permanent, a way to leave my old life behind without looking back. I wasn’t realistic about the problems that would come from my desire to make my dream a reality. I dove right in, unprepared and with no real plan.
Don’t make my mistake — make a plan
One that includes careful financial consideration. Julie Schwietert Collazo offers some great tips on doing this and also existing in a state of mind that very much sets you up for success, not fast failure and prolonged difficulty.
I quickly learned that one of the more important aspects of being a full time travel blogger is the reality that building an audience and a fan base, inherently important to success with brands and destinations, takes time.
I began with twitter.
My initial choice was to follow, and interact, with people who loved travel as much as I do. Only later did I realize how important it was to also branch out a little and diversify both those I actually followed and everyone I interacted with. Beginning a career as a travel blogger is helped by twitter because it allows you to form the relationships which can later be a base to all areas of your career; from those you write about, to those you travel with, to those who will follow and support your career as fans and readers — all of these relationships *can* be begun and nurtured on twitter.
However, don’t negate the opportunity to meet people face-to-face at mixers, meetups and industry events.
Do this as often as your schedule and priorities will allow and always either come prepared with business cards or follow my friend Andy’s advice for never using another business card again. Just because I began with Twitter, doesn’t mean it has to be the social network for you. Some use LinkedIn to very great advantage. Whichever platform you choose, devote the energy it takes to grow it with the realistic expectation that success will not come overnight and do diversify; once you’ve owned one platform, experiment with, and be active, on others as well.
It’s overly obvious to make the case that you need a blog in order to become a full time travel blogger but it can’t be left unstated. Even if you have not yet physically traveled to very many places – do your research and begin with posts that speak to the experience you already have which is travel related. For instance, many who are preparing for Round the World travel begin their blogs at the point where they can document preparation to leave. Some populate their blogs with beautiful travel photos that have quotes overwritten on the top. Whatever you do, try to make it compelling, unusual, personal and above all: travel related. To build your audience, be reliable. Post regularly, post quality content that readers will be unable to wait to return to view and don’t sacrifice quality for quantity. Ever.
Choose a niche.
The most successful travel bloggers have one or more very definable niches. This allows them to target brands and destinations that can become clients and will lead to income generation. Not to mention, good stories to write about and populate a blog with! Check out ThePlanetD for a great example of a well-defined niche.
Transitioning from one job to another is never easy. Transitioning into full time travel blogging, is in another “it ain’t easy” category all together and one of the most potent hardships is the lower earnings level that is a reality for most travel bloggers. You will need savings during the time you are building your audience and client base up to a point where you are generating enough income to sustain all the expenses of life — whether a nomadic one or one based in a specific town or city.
Having a support network during your transition is also of utmost importance.
While it’s likely you can do anything you really set your mind to, having friends and family who can let you sleep in their spare bedroom, give you a place to do free laundry once in a while or just be there for you with moral support – is a detail that will make your life profoundly less difficult when times get rough or travel plans fall through; because that will happen once in a while.
Learn from my biggest mistake and: Be Realistic.
The perks of being a full time travel blogger are lovely however, neither success nor financial freedom come overnight. And there are difficulties to the life of a travel blogger that aren’t going to be readily apparent in pretty travel photos. If you can balance expectations with reality and always be grateful for every little blessing that does come with your new job title, “Travel Blogger”, you will probably be a lot more successful, a fair amount sooner than I have been!
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