13 things I have learned about travel blogging in the last 16 months


travel blogging

Has travel blogging changed the way I travel?

I opened my blog, My Adventures Across the World, less than two years ago – in September 2014. Actually, that’s when I finally bought my own domain. In fact, I first started travel blogging on a free platform in March 2013, after a very eventful trip to Cuba. Back then, I wasn’t focusing on turning my blog into a career. I just wanted to rant about Cuba and perhaps write about my other travels. I had no intentions of abandoning my academic career yet.

Read more about my academic career in my post “How I went from being an academic to a travel blogger.”

I eventually bought my own domain because I had heard from someone that it would be easier to install Google Ads to get a passive income. Who doesn’t want an effortless, passive income? I surely did! I thought it would be an easy way to earn a little extra money to increase my meager tour leader paycheck and to add to my future travel consultant income.

Less than two years after buying my domain and less than 18 months after deciding to ditch my tour leading career (or any other career, for that matter) and start blogging full time, I haven’t installed Google Ads or any other affiliates yet, and I have come to the conclusion that travel blogging is not nearly as easy as I thought it would be. Don’t get me wrong: I love it and wouldn’t do anything else for a living, but this isn’t nearly as easy-peasy as I thought it would be.

Here are 13 things I have learned in my first 15 months of full time travel blogging.

travel blogging

Do I look at things differently since I have started travel blogging?

13 things I have learned about travel blogging in the last 15 months

Travel blogging is a real job

Just because I don’t walk into an office every day and I don’t have fixed hours, that doesn’t mean blogging is not a real job. Sure, I am free to work whenever and wherever I want, but for most bloggers (including myself) this translates into anywhere and at any time (and all the time).

I actually have a strict working routine, where I average 10 hours per day (with peaks of up to 12 hours), sometimes even during weekends. I work much more now than I did in my previous jobs. What’s different now is that I actually really enjoy what I am doing, for as hard as it is.

travel blogging

Travel blogging? It ain’t all beach and games

Travel blogging is much more work than I thought

Before starting to blog full time I was under the impression that managing a travel blog would be fairly easy. I thought it was just a matter of writing something, placing some nice photos here and there, and hit the publish button.

I wish it were that easy. I know that a post doesn’t necessarily have to be a masterpiece, but I still like the idea of writing to the best of my abilities. Putting together a post takes me anything between a day and even a couple of weeks, depending on the topic and on how inspired I am. Once I have an idea in mind, I have to build the post in an appealing way, one that makes people want to read it. The language I use, the phrasing, and even seemingly silly things as the length of a paragraph all make a difference.

Once the post is written, I have to find the right pictures to go with it, edit them at least a little bit (I am no photographer), caption them and place them along the relevant text.

This is why I find it very frustrating when I get contacted by people who ask all sort of questions the answers to which can be easily found on my blog. It is rather annoying when they tell me that they don’t have time 10 minutes to read that post that took me well over two weeks to write!

travel blogging

There’s more to travel blogging than just exploring amazing places

In travel blogging, SEO is a must…

Search Engine Optimization (which bloggers refer to as SEO) is the most efficient way to make sure that traffic is driven to a post and to the blog. When I wrote my first post, I had not even heard of these words. I just thought that because I had written and published something, people would magically find it and read it. How naïve of me!

Eventually, a travel blogger who took pity on me explained the basic tricks of SEO so that I could optimize my posts and make them stand out in google searches. Using keywords, people may be able to find a post I have written and hopefully if they like it, they will come back for more.

This doesn’t mean that all my posts are optimized. Indeed, I still appreciate the act of writing in a more spontaneous way. And I think that readers do too.

…as well as social media

Travel blogging and social media go pretty much hand in hand. Most travel bloggers have accounts across the best known social media. Using social media smartly means showing the world that I am out there, driving traffic to the blog and growing an audience, something which isn’t necessarily easy thanks to the constant changes in the way social media work – posts aren’t necessarily shown to all followers.

I admit that I can hardly keep on top of things. I use social media persistently but I have no real strategy. I post regularly, I try to keep my audience engaged, I reply to comments and hope for the best.

Gone are the days in which I used Facebook to see what my friends around the world were doing, and Instagram to post selfies and pictures of my cats (ok, I still post the occasional picture of my cats, but I have never really posted any selfie!).

travel blogging

Travel blogging isn’t nearly as solitary as I thought

Although I am travel blogging, I still have to deal with people…

… and they are not necessarily nice.

One of the reasons I didn’t enjoy my previous jobs was that I had to deal with other people, which wasn’t always fun. In my previous working life I have had a number of backstabbing colleagues, who went as far as stealing my research. I’ve also had to work hard to please difficult customers – and often didn’t succeed.

Read more about the kind of people I dealt with as a tour leader on my post “11 persons I have met during a guided tour.”

Travel bloggers may not work in an office building, but that’s about the only difference with the rest of the job market: I still have colleagues (other bloggers) and anybody who requires my services – whether it is for a consultancy, for a writing job, or for a marketing campaign – is a customer.

The job environment isn’t different from any other: there’s gossip, there’s envy, there’s a good dose of competition, there’s some who aren’t nearly as professionals as they try to show and others who act as rockstars. And there is a lot of networking to do.

A few bloggers have become really good friends: I respect them, I admire them and they are a constant source of inspiration. The others are colleagues with whom I prefer to keep a strictly professional relationship. And there are some that I would rather not deal with.

Finding a travel blogging niche is harder than I thought

I blog about travel. But that is too wide a topic and I have been told many times by very successful bloggers that I need to find my own niche, become my own brand (whatever that means) and concentrate my efforts on that. They also said it wouldn’t be easy. How right they were!

The process of finding a travel blogging niche and of establishing myself as an authority in that is actually really hard and requires a lot of trial and effort. At the beginning, I thought I’d want to concentrate on budget backpacking. But I regularly blow my budget any time I travel, to the point that I concluded I am an unsuccessful backpacker. I need my niche to be something I am actually good at.

Find out why I think I am an unsuccessful backpacker on my post “How to be an unsuccessful backpacker.”

Truth be told, I am still looking for my niche and I am still thinking of the best ways to brand myself. I have a few ideas in mind. Only time will tell if these ideas work, hopefully sooner rather than later.

travel blogging

Travel blogging press trips are actually tiring!

Travel blogging press trips are hard work…

One of the perks of travel blogging is traveling for free. Or so I thought until I was invited on my first press trip to Indonesia. I concluded that there is not such thing as traveling for free – where by free I mean that I don’t have to do anything in exchange.

Participating in a press trip indeed means being employed to visit places and promote them on my blog and social media.

A typical press trip involves visiting a huge amount of places in a very limited time, as tourism boards generally try to maximize their budget. It means days of up to 16 hours, when I have to be concentrated on what I see all the time and can’t just opt out if I don’t feel like doing something. It implies traveling at an imposed rhythm, where I don’t get to just do what I want and like – I don’t even get to pick where I want to eat, or what I want to eat for that matter.

During press trips, as blogger I have to take notes, take (and edit) pictures and I am expected to post on social media, which means being constantly online. Once back, I must produce a minimum amount of posts within a specific time period. There is a contract, instructions, deadlines.

It is better (and definitely sounds more glamorous) than most jobs, but it is still a job. And a very tiring one too.

…but a lot of fun too

I would lie if I said that travel blogging press trips are boring. They are tiring, they are hard work and whenever I get back home after one I am so exhausted that I have to rest and do nothing for at least a day. But they are a lot of fun too. After all, I have always said that organized group tours don’t necessarily have to be bad, and press trips are a bit like group tours of like minded individuals.

Read what I think about group tours on my post “10 reasons to take a guided tour.”

On a recent press trip to the North of Spain, not only did I get to visit some amazing places, but a spirit of camaraderie developed, jokes were thrown all the time, and I feel like I have learned a lot from the other bloggers who took part in the trip.

Read more about the North of Spain on my post “Amazing places to visit in Spain.”

travel blogging

In travel blogging, I feel a duty to report about the not-so-great experiences too

In travel blogging, integrity is everything – at least to me.

As a blogger, I am constantly thorn between my duty towards my readers and the need to keep the brands and tourism boards I work with happy, and to establish a reputation as a good blogger to work with.

What should I do if I am invited to use some services or to visit a place and my experience isn’t as good as I had hoped for? Should I write about it and be honest to my audience, or should I just omit this information and avoid any confrontation with the sponsors?

I thought really hard whether to write about a really bad experience I had on Mount Bromo, in Indonesia. I decided I should, because I felt I should warn other people who may be visiting and I did’t want to give a sugar coated version of my experience. I thought it would be a good way to give some constructive criticism too.

Read more about my experience on Mount Bromo on my post “Ring of Fire or Circle of Hell?”

Luckily enough, bad experiences are actually not so frequent and more often than not I find myself writing glowing reviews.

Travel blogging changed the way I travel

Traveling was way more spontaneous and definitely more relaxing before I started blogging. It was about enjoying my time at a destination and telling my friends and family about my experiences.

The “telling my friends and family” is now done on a different scale, where I actually write posts for the world (ok, perhaps not the world, but you get my point) to read. It makes me look at places in a different way. I ask more questions to the guides and I often take notes, as perhaps a good blog post will come from it. I even put much more efforts in taking good pictures – sometimes I actually feel like I am seeing a place from behind the lenses of a camera.

Before starting a blog and having multiple social media accounts connected to it, I didn’t care so much if I didn’t have internet when I traveled. In fact, it was refreshing to have a break from it. Now, I end up spending at least an hour every day posting on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. And although I am not meant to really work, I end up checking my email, just in case some good business opportunity comes through.

travel blogging

No easy money in travel blogging

There’s no such thing as easy money with travel blogging…

Whoever said that it is easy to make money blogging said a blatant lie, and I realized that fairly quickly. Friends who have been blogging for various years warned me that money would take a while to come and predicted that I wouldn’t be making a dime for at least a year or a year and a half.

It took me months of hard work to make my first $100 USD through my blog. 15 months after having started taking this seriously, I still struggle but little by little it is getting better. Some months I get little or no interesting offers; others I am overwhelmed with requests and I accept them all, knowing that the following months business may be slow.

…and there is not just one, established way to make money with travel blogging

Different travel bloggers find different ways to make money. Some have established their own tour companies whereas other offer their consultancies; some work with sponsors and others make money through a variety of writing jobs.

Most bloggers also place affiliate links on their blogs, something which requires a careful study of the audience’ interests. Funny enough, placing affiliate links was the main reason I had for buying my own domain and I haven’t had time to consider doing that yet.

What I have learnt in these 15 months of full time blogging is that a blog is generally just a platform, a way to showcase a number of services. It just takes a while to decide which is the most viable way to earn a living through a blog, and this is something completely personal: what works for one, may not work for the other.

In case anybody is wondering, I am still exploring the various ways I have to earn money though my blog.

travel blogging

I have haters since I have started travel blogging

When travel blogging, it’s good to have haters

I know some (usually female) very successful bloggers who are swamped with hateful comments which are full of disturbing messages, and that can be really hurtful. I was actually happy when I got my first hate comment. I figured hatred comes from envy, and if someone envies me it is because I am slowly becoming more successful. Something to celebrate!

Sure enough, I didn’t expect travel blogging to be such hard work. Yet, I love what I am doing and every day I wake up with a big smile on my face, looking forward to a long day at work.

What are your thoughts on travel blogging?





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  • Rohini
    23 August 2016 at 14:17

    Enjoyed your article .
    Especially the view point about haters . 🙂
    Good one !

  • Jordan Adkins
    23 August 2016 at 17:34

    Great to hear a realistic review of the life of a travel blogger. And the options open to you…Wish you the best of luck on your way to finding your niche! …Its hard right!

  • Jen
    24 August 2016 at 2:17

    Travel blogging is totally hard work! I figured, I studied journalism, I’m a good writer, I can bang out posts, no problem. Wrong! It takes so much time to create a thoughtful post with beautiful photos. We’re still working on monetizing our blog as well and it takes so much work, but like you, I spend many hours working, but am much more happier doing so because I love the work that I do, even though it’s not earning much money at the moment. Keep up the good work – I’m so happy you found me on IG!

    • Claudia Tavani
      Claudia Tavani
      24 August 2016 at 11:47

      Thank you so much girl! I appreciate you leaving your comment here and sharing your experience with me. It is an exhausting job, but I love it and I wouldn’t have met you (virtually) otherwise. Now, all we have to do is meet in person! Thanks to travel blogging!!

  • Jazzy
    24 August 2016 at 10:56

    I hear you on all these points as it is truly difficult being a blogger, especially finding a niche and not writing the same thing as everyone else. It’s tough but I guess if you work at it long enough it will reward you in the end!
    Here is to finding our niche eventually lol 🙂

    • Claudia Tavani
      Claudia Tavani
      24 August 2016 at 12:00

      Awwww thanks Jazzy! I think I am on my way, and it will work out fine. Here’s to being positive, always <3

  • Akid Zolkifli
    24 August 2016 at 11:00

    Awh this is really well written and amazing to see another point of view of someone finding it hard! I’ve always considered changing my full-time role to travel blogging full time, but the worry of not having a full income frightens me! I also completely agree with the niche finding topic, it propels you down one lane and you then can’t express or write other topics which may be of interest! Can I ask how you go about getting press trips?

    • Claudia Tavani
      Claudia Tavani
      24 August 2016 at 12:08

      Hi Akid, thanks for your comment. Travel blogging is a hard job and you have to be 100% sure you want to do it and keep at it in order to make it happen. It takes time to get established and make money. I am still working on it, every single day!! Re. press trips: it is random. I sometimes apply. Sometimes I get them through other bloggers that pass the information. Sometimes I pitch the company. It takes a bit of establishing your blog before you get one!

  • Frank
    24 August 2016 at 13:14

    Appreciate this post and the honesty behind it. I think there are a lot of bloggers who’ve sold out in the process of being bloggers and I mean that not just in that they’re pushing stuff that they would never push if they actually paid for stuff, but in the way they portray travel and blogging as always “fantastic”, their lives as “incredible”, every experience as a “learning experience”. I’m sick of seeing these girl bloggers in their bikinis. When I want to see girls in bikinis there are lots on the internet, I’m not going to read your blog because you’re posing in a bikini.

    I really agree with your line about integrity and it’s what keeps me going back to a blog. The ups and downs of travel, the not-so-perfect destinations, the personal experiences.

    Anyway, sorry about the rant, your post kind of inspired it 🙂 Oh, and don’t worry about haters, they’re great! They add a bit of color to the page and the great thing is that as a blogger you always have the final word.

    Good read and I’ll make sure to come back to check out more of your posts 😉

    Frank (bbqboy)

    • Claudia Tavani
      Claudia Tavani
      24 August 2016 at 13:52

      Hahahaha Frank, you made me laugh so much! Bless 🙂 I bet that if I started posting pictures of myself in my bikini, you’d keep coming back to my blog even more often. KIDDING!
      On a more serious note: you are totally right. I don’t appreciate blogs that portray only the good aspects of travel and travel blogging. And sometimes, when I travel, the only learning for me is that I am tired and can’t wait to sleep in my bed. The funny thing about me writing about the not-so-good experiences is that I was actually told off by a friend once (a long term friend, actually I have known her from high school) that she doesn’t like reading about the negatives of a place, or negative experiences. I was actually shocked to find out, perhaps because I started this blog to warn readers about places that were not nearly as good as they were made to appear. Sure enough I would not want to build up expectations on a place and send one of my readers there to then be disappointed.
      I just like saying things as they are. The good thing is that 99% of the time, they are actually great so I can be honest (and happy) anyways.
      And the haters are gonna hate anyways 😉

      • Frank
        24 August 2016 at 17:21

        I’ve had a few people tell me the same about negativity. I’ll tell them that if they want feel-good fluff there are a lot of other blogs. Or they can pick up one of those glossy magazines at the airport, Everything is always peaches and cream in those. I’ve had people really get nasty with me because of my thoughts on Brazil (worst travel experience I’ve had) and I tell them “well, that’s my experience”. What else is there to say? You can just be honest about your experiences and helpful in what you consider as good advice.

        I have a theory on that: I think people just want to dream. And in dreams all is perfect with the world. Whenever you write something negative it destroys part of the mental image they may have about a place.

        • Claudia Tavani
          Claudia Tavani
          24 August 2016 at 20:26

          I totally agree with your theory. But I think we as bloggers have a duty not to build up expectations. And to talk about our experiences in a honest and balanced manner, so that readers can draw their conclusions. I think you are doing it right!!

  • Anne
    25 August 2016 at 5:50

    That is a good way to look at the haters!

    • Claudia Tavani
      Claudia Tavani
      25 August 2016 at 8:55

      Well, I know that all in all they are just frustrated and pitiful, so why bother? 😉

    26 August 2016 at 8:21

    Well it looks like you have hit a -positively- sensitive subject ! To an ignorant like me, that means a great insight & analysis…as always indeed.

    • Claudia Tavani
      Claudia Tavani
      26 August 2016 at 8:48

      Thank you Marco – I felt the need to let people know that travel blogging isn’t only fun and games. It is a GREAT job, but a job nevertheless.

  • Steffani Cameron
    9 September 2016 at 3:11

    It’s my first time reading here but it probably won’t be the last… if I can find the time to read! I’m a nomad too, and it’s every bit as hard and exhausting and time-consuming as you say, especially when juggling an actual job with it.

    I’m a year into being homeless and travelling, and I’m only now really dialing up the “work smarter” aspect with blogging, but hopefully it’ll start paying off a little I also know it’s seldom from the actual blogging but rather the opportunities it opens you up for that one makes money, so I’m curious which opportunities will work out for me.

    Anyhow. Keep being awesome. I will reread this tomorrow when I’m not so bleary-eyed and see if there’s anything I accidentally skimmed over.

    Slick SEO post, though. ALL THE THINGS, MAN.

    PS: “website” is misspelled on your comment registration form. 😉

    • Claudia Tavani
      Claudia Tavani
      9 September 2016 at 19:31

      Thank you so much for pointing that out, so kind of you! I am sure everything will pay off for you <3

  • Michela of Rocky Travel Blog
    2 October 2016 at 14:27

    Apart from being much harder than what I initially thought, having a goal and knowing why you are blogging and what you want to do with, it defiintely helps you stepping forward. That being said, it’s hard and long work, period. No matter for how long you have been doing it. I found that work is just becoming more and more with time and that oustourcing is maybe necessary at some stage, otherwise you easily get the burnt out syndrome. For the first two years I was not sure what I wanted to do with it and choosing the niche was probably the most diffcult thing for myself too, however since the beginning I had my own idea, and still have a niche, I can tell you that it’s easier for you to build credibility and offer your readers a lot about one topic or a specifc type of travel instead of trying to be an expert in everything, you will not be noticed and be honest, wy go with this, it’s truly impossible! With the haters, while I could write a mini-book about it, meanwhile I have learnt not to react to haters’ comments and attacks any longer and just let it go! Not giving them any attention, that they surely don’t deserve, is in my opinion the best way to handle them. I like your post. It’s always good to read about fellow bloggers who have a honest and transparent approach to travel blogging. All the best, Claudia!

    • Claudia Tavani
      Claudia Tavani
      2 October 2016 at 19:22

      I wonder when I will have to outsource too. It is manageable for now, but I find I have less and less time to actually write, and I am spending more time to make sure this is a viable business. The niche is slowly coming together, I think! Thank you for your kind comment Michela!!


Who is Claudia?

Hello, nice to meet you!

Hello, nice to meet you!

Hi, my name is Claudia. One day I packed my life and started travelling... except I packed too much. Follow me as I fill my life with dreams, drop the weight and inspire you to live your dreams. Learn more about me here...


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