Tips and inspirations from successful travel bloggers

As promised, we bring you first-person insights from successful travel bloggers. This is the third post in the series on travel blogging.

What successful travel bloggers have in common

Let's give you the summary first. But be conscious of the fact that everybody's experiences are different from others'. Also remember that we are talking of a 'generation' of bloggers who did not have others to guide them or many pathfinders whom they could follow.

  • Most of them would die rather than quit travel.
  • Most are also avid photographers. May not be 'professional' photo journalist sort but they love clicking photos all the time.
  • A good number started travel blogging in a jerk.
  • Many of them have left their 'normal' jobs to turn full-time travelers and bloggers.
  • A few earn awesome amounts, many earn rather good sums and most of them (just to remind, we're talking of successful ones only) have learnt to live a spartan life. Perhaps the last type enjoy life to the hilt.
  • A few have grown into businessmen/ women. They still love travel, but now the focus is on earning.
    Travel blog by Matt

    Now, let's share some insights.

    Let's start with this guy, Matt, a big travel blogger. On his blog, Expert Vagabond, he says, If I had to guess, I’d say less than 100 people make decent money directly from their travel blogs, and then goes on to advise that we should build audience first and then think of money. The hard truth is you’ll only earn income with your blog once you have a decent audience. Readers first, money later.

    You can read this post on how Matt makes money from his travel blog.

    Derek of Wandering Earl goes a step further when it comes to 'reader first' dictum. He gives the credit for success of his blog to building a community around the blog, Of course, without the blog, there would be no community. But without the community – and this part is far more important in my eyes – there’s a good chance I would not still be traveling and as a result, there wouldn’t be any blog. 

    Derek has started a tour company. He feels, travel plus blogging is a viable avocation option: I want to use my own experiences to prove that long-term travel does not have to be a crazy fantasy. It can, and should be, a realistic lifestyle option instead. 

    The Blonde Abroad, by Kiersten, offers a number of services that include arranging press trips, content creation, social media consultation and blog mentoring.

    Kiersten turned blogging into a paying business after leaving her job as a corporate finance professional with high salary and living on a shoe-string budget for many years.

    Shivya Nath too left her professional job in favor of full-time travel blogging, but was more systematic in approach. 

    On making money through travel blogging, Shivya says, she started with freelance jobs but now focuses on long-term relationship with brands. At the same time, she advises to never compromise on the quality of content or your own integrity. When I run sponsored posts on my blog, I pen all content myself, and ensure I'm writing about a topic I would genuinely care to write about even if a paying brand wasn't involved.

    You can visit her blog The Shooting Star here, and her full interview with ITB here.

    If you wanted to meet one who is a travel blogger by her own right but blogging is not her full-time job, meet Sushmita of My Unfinished Life

    An infrastructure consultant by primary profession, Sushmita is in love with travel. With blog as her anchor, she does freelance work and sponsored posts on travel. Her advice to budding bloggers: 'Never run out of patience!'

    Mark Wiens has an unusual niche for his 'travel' blog. He has created huge resources, focusing just on food and made it almost into an art form: food in different parts of the world. He URL too is unusual: migrationology!

    He jumped to blogging from English teaching and has traveled half the world. 

    Flight related travel blog

    Meet Lucky, of One Mile at a Time. His blog originated from his fascination for airports and he still focuses mostly on the transportation aspect of travel.

    Most of his posts are tips on flights and how to maximize savings using right airline offers, loyalty miles and card points.

    Luxury travel blogging is a great niche with high earning potential, that's obvious. What is not that obvious is, for earning a place in this exclusive club you need to be very choosy. 

    Take Ana of Mrs O Around the World. She chooses her brands carefully and says, she writes based on her personal experiences only and discloses compensation she receives for that. She also does not accept offers for press trips: ... I believe that being a blogger is a very different thing from being a journalist and my blog is about my personal travel experiences, traveling the way that I always do (and that is not in groups). (ITB take on this: We had, in our first post in the series, advised thinking like a journalist. If you read that along with Ana's advice given above, it comes to this: Think like a journalist when it comes to being curious and inquisitive but don't act like a journalist who loves to be part of every press party. In fact, serious journalists don't like an organized  'press trip' except when it takes them to a place or event which they'd otherwise miss.)

    Kach and Jonathan, the owners of Two Monkeys Travel Group focus on adventure and luxury travel. Interestingly both are not too enamored of writing  and prefer to pay bloggers for writing their stuff. 

    Our initial motivation was just to get discounts on Hotels and tours but the more I learned about this field, the more I realized that it’s not just about getting Free Stuff. It’s actually a respectable career that requires hard work and determination, says Kach. Quite satisfied with their venture which now is a 'Travel Group', she shares, The real hard work is behind us and we can enjoy the fruits of our labour. We’re working normal hours now, instead of 16 hours per day. We have a team of amazing people who love what they’re doing and are growing with us.

    The Solo Traveler took birth when Janice's husband passed away. She was already a good traveler but the loneliness made her write about her experiences. When she met Tracey, a food and wine professional, in a food event, she invited her to write on her blog and thus the blog added a section on food and wine. Now the blog is full of solo travel advice and deals, besides of course her personal experiences. 

    Solo Traveler has been able to build a buzzing community on Facebook.

    Hema and Suma, two sisters who run Tales of Travelling Sisters, advise travel bloggers to invest in good camera and even take a short photography course. Promotion and Patience are the other two Ps they give high value to. 

    We would just say never give up hope! With so many travel bloggers already running successful websites, one might feel out of depth in the initial stages. Keep traveling and share your stories, we are sure you will find your success with time... Do not ignore the ongoing travel trends or what the readers want you to present them through your blog. 

    Craig and Linda run Indie Travel Podcast a blog in podcast format. 'Addicted' to travel, they initially had a tough time saving for travels. But after years of hard work, they say, we see no end in sight, and have been judged by the Lonely Planet as the best global travel podcast.

    By the way, not all posts on the blog are podcasts; there are many text-and-photo posts on the blog on their experiences and travel tips.

    For his blog Travel with Bender, Josh has chosen family travel as his theme. It comes naturally to him as he's made his wife and two kids sort of partners in his travel cum blogging pursuits.

    The Untourists guys, Param and Shikha, are a hugely creative couple, and the travel blog is just one of their places to express themselves. True to their blog's URL, they are always looking for that unknown untouristy place or look for untouristy things to do in a popular place... like to experience, observe, and explore life through our lens, though cultures unknown to us and through authentic foods that we can’t resist, once served, even for a picture! 

    They tell us, weekend getaways, romantic and honeymoon destinations and beautiful locations can be good niches to look at.

    Let's learn from the experiences and advice of these (and other) fantastic bloggers. More on travel blogging next time. Happy blogging!

    We'd carry some full interviews given by travel bloggers later in our 'blog showcase' section.

    You can visit other posts in this series here:
    1. Travel Blogging: How to succeed without pain, and have fun
    2. Travel Blogging: Don't ever ignore supporting activities

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