In evolution, there’s no one specific moment in time where you can point to and say, this species split into two different paths. We of course do that in history books but the truth is there’s a big grey area where things overlap. The same is often true of online platforms and trends, travel blogging being a good example.
Travel blogging has been changing but now has changed so much, we can say it’s in a new era. So, travel blogging isn’t dead but not what it once was. Here’s what you need to know about travel blogging if you’re thinking of starting your own or not sure to do with the one you have on life support.
This Was The Plan
Since I began blogging seriously around 2008, I’ve had a weekly schedule. In those days, it was start planning out the site’s posting schedule for the week on Sundays. I’d write 5 posts a week and foXnoMad slowly grew an audience. Many left comments and suggestions as they followed my travels and tech reviews through RSS. A reader where you subscribed to sites to get updates. (It still exists as a weekly foXnoMad email update.) Growth was organic and at the time and I knew pretty much every other travel blogger.
Social media was in its infancy and timelines were chronological. Introverts rejoice, you could have an online presence without being the face of your own brand. You can still exist on the Internet as travel blogs once did in the early 2010s but what’s changed is your ability and perhaps, desire to monetize.
As Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube became algorithm based – machines preferring content know will get clicks (quality or usefulness be damned) and Google abandoning Reader, travel bloggers shifted. Some jumped completely to YouTube or Vine (rest in peace) while others tried to be on every platform. Without a way to like and subscribe to your favorite blog, blogger audiences became scattered and had to rely on Google searches to get views. Personality based based blogs mostly suffered and those that help you travel smarter, benefited. (Not all though, some have cultivated a very active user base on their blog.)
Gary Arndt has a very good write up on this history and why he’s done travel blogging. We also talked about it in a recent episode of the foXnoMad Podcast. But to me, it comes down to money. Travel blogging isn’t dead but the monetization model isn’t the same.
State Of Blogging Today
See, if you want to make money from travel blogging, that’s a whole other story. Is travel blogging dead? Not if you don’t care about money. Blogs and websites still remain possibly the most independent, free spaces on the Internet. You don’t have to make money from a travel blog and there are other benefits to having your own personal online space. It can be a hub for your merch, tours, or other services.
And, this is a big one, whether you jump to YouTube or start a podcast, writing is an invaluable skill. Videos often need scripts, podcasts a well-thought out plan, and an economy of words online is a skill that takes time to cultivate. How you say stuff – that “voice” everyone keeps talking about requires writing. Having written thousands of posts now and hundreds of YouTube scripts, a blog is a great way to articulate ideas, organize your thoughts, and have one place where everyone can find everywhere else you happen to be posting.
Since I began travel blogging I have said to myself and others, if I didn’t make a cent doing this, I would still be doing it. I love sharing knowledge and writing because they lead to ideas. In my experience, ideas often lead to adventures. Life isn’t the same without them.
Tech YouTuber Marques Brownlee has a good analogy that works for any creative endeavor. Don’t start travel blogging unless you love traveling and writing (or photography). You should be happy doing it even if you never make a dime off of it. Otherwise it sounds like you want to start a business. But turning your travel blog into a business, that has evolved into something else completely.
I must confess that, in the past 2 years have been travelling a lot, even though there is a pandemic underway. I always said that I’m gonna write about the places I’ve been, but didn’t. I hope this year I will, because I have money and I love to travel. Hope you’re ok.
Will be good to catch up with your travels! Writing is a habit that gets easier the more you do it, like exercise. Once you take a longer break though it can be hard to get back into the flow. Another nice incentive is a travel blog is a good way to catalogue your thoughts, experiences, photos, and videos from a trip.