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Travel Blogging, it’s not for everyone!

When I was a boy if you craved a glamorous and exciting life when you grew up, you wanted to be a Spaceman; and if you were a girl craving excitement, you’d aspire to becoming an Air Hostess. Is it okay to us the term Air Hostess these days? Or is it no longer politically correct?

HostessYes I know they’re called flight attendants, and even boys and fat people are allowed to do it nowadays, but I’m talking about days gone by when that was the term and it was legal to be sexist and exclude people from positions because of their size, so I’ll stick with Air Hostess.

To my point. It seems that such glamorous aspirations have been overtaken by the ambition to become travel bloggers, digital nomads (to me a nomad is, well, a nomadic tribal people rather than a backpacker with an iPhone – I hate the term), and RTW (’round the world’ for the less cool pre-text speakers like myself) travellers; many of whom aspire to make a living from their real-time memoirs. If you call yourself one of the above, and also have financial aspirations please face up to this:  There is every probability you will fail. It’s a fact of life that many businesses fail, and it’s an even harsher fact of life that MOST blogs (travel or otherwise) will fail.  Probably for one of the following reasons;

  • You simply aren’t good enough. Can you really write well? Can you really take half decent photographs? Do you actually have any clue whatsoever about marketing or running a business – I mean any business? …has anyone apart from your mum, friends or other sycophantic travel bloggers (by that I mean. anyone who knows what they are talking about) told you that you are great?
  • You may simply lose interest, or you’ll work out this constant travel thing isn’t all it’s cracked up to be and realise for the very little money you’ll make it’s actually hard work

…or maybe both.

There are few seriously excellent travel bloggers out there who have achieved the free travel round (around) the world thing AND make a living. Note the word few. I’d speculate that one in a thousand (and that’s a generous estimate) of the wannabe aspiring travel bloggers will ever even stand a chance (let alone, actually) of getting to play in the same arena as these guys. You have slightly less chance of becoming an A-list blogger than you do of becoming a sports or music star.

Some tips from me. For what they are worth. Perhaps not much – but they are free!

Don’t bother paying moderately successful (if they are even that, as opposed to legends in their own lunchtime) travel bloggers to coach you. If you’re good, you’ll succeed. If you are not, you will fail. All the hints and tips you need are out there for free if you’re reasonably competent at using Google.

Don’t bother lining someone else’s pockets attending ‘blogger conferences’. Wouldn’t that money be better spent on travelling in earnest and creating some decent original content?

Don’t get deceived into feigned mutual appreciation with other second rate travel bloggers, you need REAL people to be reading your work. What is the point of a mutual admiration society? (It’s an Internet phenomenon that applies to much wider topics than travel blogging – the talentless kissing the arses of the talentless and vice versa)

The only way you’ll find out if you are any good is by getting out there and doing your own thing. If you’re good… if you’re original (if there is such a thing as anything original under the sun)… if you’re persistent… an audience will find you. But, don’t ‘give up your day job’ until the snowball has started rolling down the hill!

Just for the record (bear in mind this post thus far is largely tongue in cheek), here are a couple of my pet travel blogging hates…

  • If I get another Twitter request from (yet another) @twentysomethingRTWcouple I’ll scream. 80% of the time I read the description and they’re actually ‘saving up’, therefore applying the 80/20 rule to that 80% the vast majority will never do it. Either because they’ve lost their bottle, one has been dumped (it turns out they weren’t the love of each others’ lives as it said in their 160 words or less), or they’ve sobered up.
  • Posting 17½ places I want to go someday. Go or don’t go. Nobody gives a toss about your dreams
  • Sticking with that theme – list posts of any kind
  • Drop the ‘look how pretty/handsome I am’ profile pictures. Nothing wrong with being good looking but seriously, getting your tits/six pack out a bit too often grates on anyone actually interested in reading about destinations/experiences. Although if building up a readership of 80% stalkers is your thing, do carry on. Not all of those who use this ‘tactic’ are all that good looking (the bikini isn’t covering your face sweetheart!), and it pisses off the really good looking people like myself no end 😉
  • Don’t attempt to write knowledgeably about places you haven’t been to. Wikipedia is great but is no substitute for personal experience. Also, if plagiarising, be careful. You may actually be cloning sub-standard material in the first place.
  • Content for content’s sake is just garbage and even worse if it’s written purely for SEO
  • Don’t pretend to be something you’re not. If you weren’t a capable food critic, art expert, theatre critic, fashion guru, anthropologist (etc) waiting in the departure lounge, you aren’t going to be miraculously gifted in these areas when you arrive at your destination
  • If you’re taking photographs please, please, please remember that the horizon (give or take a little) is HORIZONTAL
  • Do realise just how annoying asking for free tours, accommodation, surf lessons, food etc. etc can be.  Through what we do we know many in the tourist industry inundated by these requests. They’re running a ‘proper business’ and take my word for it, getting dozens of requests for them to give you something for nothing in return for exposure to your 100 page likes on Facebook and 300 Twitter followers (i.e. no exposure at all) really pisses them off!
  • Don’t do shit and inaccurate writing – back again to quality!

…I could do this all day!

What I’m saying is be realistic about your own abilities and expectations or you’re heading at best for disappointment.

Am I an A-list blogger? No. Does my opinion matter to the kind of people I’m talking to right now? Probably not! Do I care. No.

If you aren’t a travel blogger with monetary aspirations; if it’s a hobby; or if you get some other form of satisfaction from it; ignore everything I just said, as none of it applies to you. Keep doing what you’re doing! I’m only talking to people with aspirations/pretensions! 

This whole thing (some who know me may call it a rant) has been a subject of conversation in our house a couple of times recently. When I say conversation, in our house that usually means me ranting on for about half an hour after a couple of glasses of wine whilst my wife rolls her eyes.

What prompted me to write this today is wholly more serious. I don’t care what you think of me or what I’ve just written. It matters not one jot! But I think everyone who’s serious about travel blogging should take heed from this point.

A few days ago Anita Mac, a relatively well known Canadian blogger committed suicide. I didn’t know Anita though I have exchanged a small amount of friendly banter with her recently via Facebook. My wife has had conversations with her, and other friends and acquaintances knew her much better than that. Reading her last post should make sobering reading for the aspiring blogger. I won’t link directly here, instead read this superb article by Bret from Green Global Travel and if you feel it appropriate follow the links to Anita’s website from there. Whilst reading it bear in mind these are the words of a seriously successful travel blogger telling it how it is. With no sugar coating.

RIP Anita.

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