Back in college, I had a roommate, Andy, who I shared a studio with. We were poor students and idealistic. Andy, in particular, was a driven individual. He had lofty dreams and aspirations. Andy wanted to become a Hollywood superstar. He would join the thousands flocking to Hollywood in the California movie industry gold rush.
OK, what’s dreaming about becoming a Hollywood star and gold rush got to do with travel blogs?
Bare with me.
I’m sure you’ve seen and read it all before. Some travel blogger showcasing his or her Instagram profile full of photos that seem like he or she is always having fun and adventures in paradise. You’ve probably read about how some of these travel bloggers are making six figures or perhaps millions of dollars a year on their travel blog alone. That even though the Travel Blog industry is over-saturated, there’s still room for more. You’ve probably thought to yourself, man, would it ever be cool to be on a perpetual vacation while having a website that makes money by itself to fund your travels?
An Over Saturated Market. No Seriously.
Just Google the term “Travel Blog” and you’ll get a whopping 289,000,000 hits and there are at least a couple results for “How to Start a Travel blog.” The cold hard fact is, there are more bloggers than there are galaxies in the entire universe. If there are nearly as many travel bloggers as there are audiences how do you get massive following and audience in this current market? The smart ones already knew this.
There’s actually more people looking to start a travel blog than there is reading an actual travel blog. The fact is most search engine traffic is going to go to blogs that have a “How to start a travel blog” post. Just google Travel blog and you’ll get over 300 million hits! How are you supposed to get to top 10 on that massive search results?
Sure a lot of these blogs give you a generic advice on finding your niche on an already extremely narrow niche field of Travel Blogging. They’ll tell you that you need to find your voice. Offer something unique and of value to your readers, keeping in mind that somehow out of 300 million hits on google isn’t covering what you’re going to write about.
How do you carve up a niche in an already niched field?
How about “Balkan Travels with Pedro, my pet goat.”
Or “Epic travel’s with a sixth toe.”“An x-men around the globe?”
They’re truly a niche for sure but how many people are actually going searching and reading about pet goat travels? Travel is already a niche industry with very few readers and probably even less than blogs about cosmetics. It’s not even a fraction of what the Porn Industry gets for traffic.Well here’s an another niche: “Dirk Diggler digs around the globe” or the “Wandering LaQueefa.”
On that note: “Dirk Diggler digs around the globe?” or the “Wandering LaQueefa?”
The Gold Has Dried Up but It’s a Lucrative Market for Starting Travel Blogs.
There’s a myriad of Blogging courses who bring promises of turning your travel blog into a full-time income source. Heck, I even paid a few hundred bucks and took a few courses. But in all honest, none of that shit ever came to fruition. At least not yet and probably not for the foreseeable future.
Since fancy myself I’m a history buff.
I liken this to the Gold Rush in 1849 California.
When somebody discovered gold in California in ’49, everyone and their mother’s cousin came rushing to the west coast to strike it rich. And guess what? Not everyone was striking’ it rich. So the enterprising types started setting up a business around the Gold Rush and more often than not, are the ones getting rich off the rush and not off the Gold. That’s the same thing with Travel Blogging these days. There’s more money to be made on the actually business of people starting travel blogs than there is of actually blogging.
Some malcontent went traveling around the world and writing about it. Found out he/she can make money just writing about what he or she did during so-called travels and the hence born the travel blog gold rush. Think about it. The lifeblood of any travel blog is an audience. And lots of it. You want somewhere 10K views a day to make decent enough income to continue travel.Think about it, if everyone is out starting a travel blog who’s going to read yours? You think travel bloggers spend days and hours reading other travel blogs? No, they’re working on theirs. And if they’re reading other travel blogs, it’s probably travel blogs about how to improve their travel blog. You see it’s a bigger business for people to start a travel blog than it is for travel blogging. Just like it’s a bigger business for the Gold Rush than it is to actually find gold in the gold mine. It’s a known fact that 99% of blogs don’t make any money let alone an income to support you.
But There Are Successful Travel Blogs Making Six Figures.
Now let’s talk about my friend and college roommate Andy for a minute. His dream was to become a Hollywood star. In fact, that the last time I saw him he moved to Los Angeles to pursue this dream. I never heard from or seen Andy again. Not once in any TV show or movie screen. Starting to make the connection?
While some people might succeed in making it big in Tinsel town there are thousands of other hopefuls who fail and become porn stars or waiters. The same thing with Travel blogging there’s only going to be a few who make it big and make money. These are the ones that got into the market early when it wasn’t so saturated.
Travel blogging is a business model that became very popular because it was promoted heavily by clever marketers who make money out of people starting Travel Blogs or teaching you how to make money travel blogging. The minute you click on that “How to Start a Travel Blog” link you’re fueling the fire. You’re a much need traffic source to keep these blogs going. The Travel Blogs that are making a decent money are the ones already well established within the niche and even those now depend on the business of people starting travel blogs.
Jodi Ettenberg of Legal Nomads, which is a firmly established travel blog, thinks it’s not a good idea to start a travel blog for the purpose of carving a career out it and to quote her: “At this point in time, I don’t think going into travel blogging for the purposes of building out a new career is necessarily sustainable.”
The reality is, it could take years before you’ll see any sort of passive income from travel blogging. You would have to be traveling full-time for at least 2 years or more and holed up in some hostel working 18 hours a day on your blog before you can see any results. The money I make from Travel blogging is barely enough to cover the expenses of running it.
It’s a negative income stream. It sucks up all your time and money. I even signed up for one of those Travel Blogging courses trying to find ways to turn Travel Blogging into an income source and it seems like there’s one popping up every month. I see a lot of travel blogs blogging about how to succeed in travel blogging. So far it has not turned this blog into a viable money-making machine.Here is an example and a sad fact, I turned on Google AdSense a couple of months ago and I’ve earned a whopping $12.57. My other source of income come in the form of sponsored posts. These can pay anywhere from $80 to $150 an article. So far I have 3. But the cost of running this blog is far more than the income it brings. Consider that a Front-end Developer can command $85 an hour on a 1099 contract (it’s much less after expenses and taxes).
The job can be done remotely. If you took an accelerated course in Front-end development you can have a job within 8 weeks. In contrast, it would take 2 years of unpaid travel and roughly 12 hours a day of working on a travel blog before you can even see any sort of dependable income.At this point, you’re probably screaming: Why the fuck did you start a travel blog moron? To answer that question let’s start from the beginning. I ran a photography site (The Dynamic Light) for about 7 years. From there I would post a few articles about my photography and adventures. Then one day I came upon a travel blog bragging about how successful they were just writing about their adventures and how it funds their travels indefinitely.
A lightbulb, that I wished should never have flipped, lead me to start this blog. Well, a year and a half later it’s this blog isn’t funding my travels, not even close! One thing this blog is good for is a platform for my photography and I started monetizing some it in Shutterstock. Doing this made more money in 2 weeks than this travel blog has in a year it’s been in circulation.
What You Should Do Instead?
I hear it often enough and it’s scary. People quitting their jobs to pursue a full-time career of travel blogging. This is a terrible approach. It’s like my buddy Andy brokering to be the next Brad Pitt. I’d say learn or focus on a craft that will allow you to work remotely and online instead. You can invest in an accelerated front-end developer course for a fraction of the time you spend on making your travel blog earn income.
Starting an online business selling stuff on eBay or Amazon using the drop shipping model is also viable. You might be able to take your current skillset and freelance online. You also work full-time for a year and take off for a year. Or maybe work 9 months and travel 3 months. You can then supplement this with a Workaway volunteer assignment. You can even travel the world for free. There’re various ways to make travel a big part of your life and it doesn’t have to be funded by a Travel Blog, which is one of the worse business models in the world. It just takes a lot of gumption to take the leap of faith and living within your means.Personally, I leveraged my career to land some freelance gig so I can work remotely. It also has its cons but at least it provides a steady source income. Something I’ve never seen on this travel blog after 18 months. Ideally, though, I would like to apply the Pareto Principle for travel. 80 percent of the time I will use to make and save as much money I can and the rest (20 percent) I will splurge. With a decent full-time gig (6-9 month contracts) I can apply the 80/20 rule again, work for 9 months and travel for 3 months.
This post is NOT about telling you to NOT start a travel blog. After all, Always Wanderlust is a travel blog. I’ve made a few bucks from this blog but there’s no way it can fund my travels. If you want to start a Travel Blog then great! Just google Travel Blog and pick the top 10 out of the millions telling you how to start one. Travel blogging can reward you in various other ways but don’t expect to make a good living off of it. There’s probably room for success if you’re tenacious and determined enough.
But be careful, it will suck you dry and leave you hanging. Don’t fall into the Travel Blogging pipe dream like the gold fever during the gold rush. Because just like the gold rush yore, it’s better to succeed starting a business around the people rushing to find gold than there is of actually finding that nugget.
DO YOU HAVE A TRAVEL BLOG?