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If you think that this post is going to tell you to quit your job, travel the world and instantly start making a living from it, I’ve got some bad news for you. Although I used to be a starry eyed traveller with my head in the clouds, buying e-books from influencers that told me that it was completely possible to start earning a living from travel blogging on the first day. Experience has made me realise that’s far from the truth.
Of course, it is possible to earn a living from travel blogging with some influencers raking it in by the thousands. But, I would say that beyond trying to earn a living you need to have a real passion for this business that you want to go into. Beyond the glamour of getting ‘free stuff’ and ‘free hotels or holidays’ (I put these in inverted commas purposely), you need to be prepared to work long hours for little or no money. You need to find a purpose for why you’re going to do it and stick to that beyond all else. There’s a popular saying; “Dreams don’t work unless you do” and it will be hard work. But, nothing that’s worth having comes easy.
Taken on my latest press trip in Malta
Of course, being a travel blogger requires the obvious thing of actually travelling. But, it’s completely possible to have a full time job and run a travel blog on the side lines. After all, every day that you’re working for someone else you’re making their dreams come true and not your own.
I’ve just recently quit my job to take my dream of travel blogging full time. But, having attempted this before and winding up broke, I knew I needed enough savings behind me to enable me to do it. While working my 9-5, I’ve managed scored two press trips, a social media following of over 30k, been published in a magazine and have a blog readership of over 15k per month. All, while I was working to save.
So, whether you’ve just returned from a life changing backpacking trip, a beautiful honeymoon or a holiday with friends and you’ve got the bug and the desire to be a travel blogger; this will be the post for you.
I’m not going to tell you to quit your job, but I’m going to show you some hacks to work smarter (not necessarily harder) at travel blogging while you’re saving for your next adventure and, possibly, make a living from it too.
So, here’s some of my best advice on how to be a kick ass travel blogger while working a 9-5!
During the time I was working over 9 months, I actually only took 3 short trips but managed to keep posting on Instagram nearly every day. The trips I booked were places that I wanted to go and explore on a break, but I always travelled with the intention of creating content for my blog and Instagram. Call it an investment in my brand.
I would be up early and try and gain as much photos as I could. If you think about it, when you have 30 photos, you then have almost a months worth of content until you’re onto the next adventure.
Of course in a 9-5 you’re limited by how many breaks you can take but my strongest advice would be get smart with it. Book a break with a bank holiday in between or buy extra holiday days if you’re company allow it.
You don’t have to be traveling around the clock to be a travel blogger. Just create enough content to tide you over.
2. Latergram the sh*t out of your travel archives
I think I am a queen of the #latergram parade! If you don’t know what that is, it’s essentially posting a shot to Instagram later than it was actually taken. In my case that could be anywhere from 2016 up until present. I was an expat working in India and then travelled around for 6 months. I had so much content it was enough to keep me going while I was saving up.
This doesn’t just apply to Instagram though. You can write about past trips, past experiences, top tips and the lessons you’ve learned on your blog.
Look through your archives and see if there are any photos that want to share on your platforms. If you have any videos, post a story of where the photo was from to entice people to see.
If you already posted it, maybe give it a new edit and share it again while you grow your following. Some of your new followers may have never seen it before! Just because it’s old content doesn’t make it any less inspiring.
3. Practice time blocking
This is something I’m still trying to master but time blocking can be a really effective way of managing your task list. My typical day would be to get up at 6am, commute on the motorway, work 8-4pm, commute, get back home at 6pm then work on my blog and social channels until the early hours.
This was tiring but I feel you can definitely manage your time to fit everything in. I live for making lists so I wrote down the things I needed to do then allocated a time slot for it.
For example, you could allow an hour to post and engage on Instagram, 2 hours on the blog, an hour for photo editing, 30 mins for Pinterest/Twitter, 30 mins replying to emails etc. Then you not only be more productive on the task at hand but it allows you to get more done in an evening.
We all have the same 24 hours in a day, it’s what you do with it that counts.
4. Use automation and scheduling tools to plan ahead
Instagram has made automation tools seem like a dirty word since the third party regulation was announced but that doesn’t count for platforms like Twitter and Pinterest. Let me be clear, I’m not talking about bots so don’t panic !
If you spend most of your day working (or even if you’re not) it can be hard to find time to post to all your social channels in one day and at peak times. That’s where these tools could help you;
Tailwind – my favourite tool for pinning while I’m away. It costs around £10 a month but I couldn’t recommend it enough. Tailwind is an app that posts pins to your Pinterest board for you at peak times.
I absolutely love it as I can plan my pins while I’m travelling and it brings in traffic to my blog without lifting a finger. There’s no limit to how far ahead you can post. So I always have mine set up for a month ahead, I add pins to the bottom if I have new ones, then I shuffle my queue.
Hootsuite – I don’t personally use this tool but I know bloggers that do. It allows you to schedule tweets and it will post them for you while you’re on the go! This costs money but if you have a big Twitter following this helps to keep in touch.
Retweet old posts – I love this tool. It’s a FREE plugin on WordPress that posts your archive blog posts on twitter giving them new life to your new followers. You can pick and choose how many posts you want to share a day! It’s something that brings in a lot of traffic for me while I work.
Did you know you can schedule Facebook posts on advance? That way you can allow it to post for you while you work or travel so you don’t miss peak times.
This isn’t a tool necessarily but you don’t have to post stories as and when they happen. Usually, I create my stories in advance through apps like Unfold or through Instagram’s own story creator then save them down and post when I have WiFi.
There are platforms like ‘Later’ that allow you to post in advance but I’m always wary of these tools. I’ve always posted to Instagram myself and I feel It’s important to do so and engage with your followers at the time of posting. Engaging with people who have taken the time to comment on your photo is the right thing to do! Support those that are supporting you and cheering you on.
5. Become a tourist in your own country/town
So, you’re not travelling but you have your weekends and days off right ?! Make good use of those and create content in your own country. Go on a weekend away or take some photos in your local towns hot spots.
I come from Swindon which literally has no gram worthy locations so I used to head to London or take a day at the lavender fields, Stonehenge etc. There’s so much inspiration you can take from places closer to you.
Never forget that you may know your own town and be bored of it, but there will always be people that don’t and want to go there!
A trip to Cornwall in UK
6. Pitch to work with local/lifestyle brands
Monetising on your blog will take time but it’s definitely possible. Influencer marketing is a fast growing, relatively new business that more and more brands are trialling. Even Walmart are now using influencers to build more authentic campaigns to boost sales.
My personal tip for this would be to create an incredible media kit with the likes of Canva and pitch to brands directly. Now there’s definitely an art to this;
Firstly, think about why you want to work with them. Does this brand/hotel fit in with your niche or values? Would your followers buy or use the product? Secondly, think about why they would want to work with you. Can you take good photos, can you write a good article, do you have a lot of followers to advertise them and provide a good ROI (rate of investment)? Ultimately its business and ‘because I want a free nights stay’ doesn’t cut it
Make sure you nail all of this down before pitching.
Or how about switching to lifestyle for a while? Apps like Tribe and Indahash are great for UK influencers and can put you in touch with brands like Herbal Essences, Boots, Topshop and so much more. Instead of pitching you submit content for approval. It is based on follower count so don’t expect to make a fortune if you’re just starting out, but it’s a good start to build a portfolio.
My latest collaboration for Herbal Essences and Boots UK.
7. Join blogging/instagram communities
They say you’re the average of the 5 people you hang around with the most. Sometimes, if you’re the only one blogging in your friend group, it can be hard to stay motivated. Having an online support community is vital to ensure that you keep inspired and have people to bounce ideas and queries off.
You can learn so much from it! I would recommend free online communities like ‘Female travel bloggers’ via their Facebook group.
The IG boot camp by Christina Galbato is also an incredible online course on how to grow and monetise your Instagram. I learned so much from this course but also found a community in her online Facebook group (exclusive for IG boot camp members)
Having these groups really helped as people root you on and provided honest advice and answers if you’re stuck.
8. Create a vision board to keep motivated and write your goals down
At the start of the year when I went back to work, I knew I was going to need all the motivation I could get. So, I created a vision board. If you’re not familiar with this, it’s a little pin board or collage of all the things you envision for your business.
I would stick on it motivational quotes, countries I wanted to visit, goals and targets I wanted to achieve and photos that inspired me. I mean it doesn’t have to be a real pin board. You could make a Pinterest board or a collage online.
Sticking it up in my room and reminding myself why I was doing it and really helped to keep me going!
I always feel that writing your goals down on paper with a real pen or pencil makes it just that little more set in stone. It could be your overall goals, weekly or monthly goals or the plan you have for your blog but; write that stuff down.
Whether that’s getting a certain number of social media followers, scoring a feature on a large Instagram account, being sponsored by a hotel or simply just starting your blog.
9. Use the spare time to skill up
While I’m travelling, time becomes even scarcer to keep up with bad WiFi signal, content creation all day and having little or no time to blog. That’s why it’s extra important to use the time you have while you’re not travelling to level up.
Whether that’s learning about photo composition, editing photos on Lightroom, how to utilise SEO or researching the best video editing software. Take some time to invest in your skills for when you get on the road.
I truly think that if you believe in yourself and your brand and you meet the universe half way you can achieve anything you set your mind to. You may need a few extra coffees and to organise your time around your work but you can definitely do it.
I remember when I only had 3 readers on my blog (2 of them were my parents), when my instagram was stagnant for months and growing my social media platforms was painfully slow. But, looking back, I’m glad I didn’t stop and kept pushing through.
10. And finally, the best piece of advice; never, ever give up!
I think that life is simply too short not to pursue something that you really love doing. If you’re unhappy in your job or circumstances, take matters into your own hands and change it! Of course, you need to be realistic but that’s why you have your job; to save money for your travels and your blog.
Don’t ever give up or stop working towards it. Even if it’s doing one thing for your blog a day, that’s still working to achieve your goals. Keep hustling and hard work will pay off!