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Why You Should NOT Start a Travel Blog

Posted By Guest Blogger 4th of February 2015 General 104

travelThis is a guest contribution from travel blogger Chris Appleford.

From the moment we made the decision to sell everything we own and travel the world indefinitely, we wanted to have our own travel blog. Went spent hours looking for the best templates, making lists of what blogs needed to be written when we ‘go live’, signing up to affiliate programs, reading other blogs to get travel and blog advice, coming up with the all important name, blah, blah, blah. We had high hopes that within no time we’d be seeing big numbers visiting our site every month and we’d have made our first dollar.

Well guess what? It turns out it’s not that easy. And guess what else? I’m questioning whether we should have started a blog at all. Everyone who starts a travel blog will tell you they’re “doing it to keep their friends and family back home up to speed with what adventures they’ve been getting up to”. But we all know that’s a load of garbage, right? Deep down they did it because they want to be ‘internet famous’ like Nomadic Matt, and fund their travels with sponsored posts, banner advertising, affiliate sales, eBooks, the list goes on. They want to be ‘location independent’, the great buzz phrase of blogging superstars!

But the reality is, just because you’ve decided to travel, doesn’t necessarily mean you should start a travel blog. And if I’m going to be honest, most of you shouldn’t. Here’s why…

Market saturation

Do you know how many travel blogs there are? No? Neither did I, but when I typed ‘travel blog’ into Google, there were 1.2 million hits. Are you as old as I am and remember watching the World Wrestling Federation when it was allowed to be called the WWF, with Hulk Hogan, The Iron Sheik, Andre The Giant and the ‘Macho Man’ Randy Savage? There’d be 25 wrestlers in the ring at the same time and it was a Battle Royale until there was only one man left standing. That’s what travel blogging is going to like for you, except there are 1.2 million in the ring instead, and it’s not fake! If the aim of your blog is to make money and help fund your travels (be honest), then you’ve got some major competition. There are only 10 spots on the first page of any Google search, and if you think you’re going to be sitting anywhere near the top of the pile of a search query any time soon, you’re dreaming. Unless of course your blog is soooooo niche that you’re basically the only one in it! If you want to be duking it out with Nomadic Samuel, The Planet D, The Professional Hobo, or any of the other big hitters, then you’d better be prepared because it’s going to take a long time.


How long are you travelling for? Six months? A year? If you’re going to be gone for anything less than two years, and you want to make decent money from your blog (and when I say decent, I mean enough to pay for food and accommodation), then don’t bother. I know, I know, there are a few success stories where people have started making decent money within 12 months of starting their blog, like Chris Guillebeau and his originally titled site But they are few and far between. Have you read articles online that made you think, “yeah, I could do that?” Be honest, I did too, like ‘How I make $40,000 a month from my blog’ and ‘$72,000 in eBooks in a week – 8 lessons I learned’. Here’s the harsh reality: unless you’re willing to spend years building your audience, this is never going to happen for you.


To build an audience quickly, one of the thousands of tasks you need to do on almost a daily basis is write good articles. If you’re a good writer, you might be able to pump out a well-written, articulate piece of prose in about an hour or so. If you’re an average writer, it’s going to take longer. And if you suck, it’s probably not going to take you that long at all, which is why your article is going to suck and no one apart from your mum and dad are going to read it! Your article has to optimised up the wazoo…SEO, key words, outbound links, internal links, attention grabbing headlines, the right URL, meta data…I think my head is going to explode! And that’s before you even start promoting your posts. Triberr seems to be the ‘in’ thing, but does anyone actually click on those automatically scheduled tweets? You need to build your audience on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, YouTube (if you make videos), Vimeo (if you make really good videos), Google+, Pinterest, StumbleUpon…have I missed any? Probably, and of course you don’t need to be on all of them (I’m honestly not so sure Facebook is worth it any more), but whatever platforms you are on, developing those takes time.

Then there’s commenting on everyone else’s blog posts to generate inbound links, the holy grail of SEO! Not that these kind of backlinks are worth much, but they’re better than nothing. And of course, guest blogging, like I’m doing here on ProBlogger (thank you Mister Rowse for all eternity). The better the site you guest blog on, a) the better quality the backlink is, and b) the better chances of enjoying a little surge in popularity with the faint hope that some of them will stick (until they realise your blog sucks and go back to what they were doing before).

And I’ve just scratched the surface of what you need to do. I haven’t even mentioned things like research to keep up with the ever-changing world of blogging, networking, creating products to sell, pitching for paid media junkets, etc., etc.


Do you know what SEO stands for, or any one of the thousands of other digital TLA’s there are (that’s Three Letter Acronym for those who don’t know)? I bet you’ve read about big bloggers who said they didn’t have a clue about blogging when they started but “with hard work and dedication I taught myself and made it to the top, and you can too”! Guess what, that was in 2006 when they said that, and hardly anyone knew about blogging back then. Now EVERYONE knows what SEO is, everyone is working their butt of to make sure every article they write, and every post and page they create, is optimised like crazy.

But as I’ve already mentioned, there are only 10 places on the first page of any Google search, and if you’re not on it, chances are you’re not going to be found by very many people. So I suggest you bite the bullet and pay for some education, do an online course and see what you think of blogging once you’re done. I did a course called Travel Blogging Success and really enjoyed it. My blogging improved out of sight. Doing a course may give you a buzz, or it may make you see the light and you explore other ways to make an income. Either way it will be money well spent.


It costs money to blog. There are small startup costs like purchasing your domain name and buying a decent premium template. There are ongoing costs like hosting and cloud storage. There are educational costs if you want to get better, faster. I paid a few hundred dollars to do the Travel Blog Success course, and it accelerated my learning about 1000%. I may still have learnt how to blog had I not joined by just doing my own research, but this helped me improve my blog immediately. Then there’s the cost of time. You see, when you’re spending hours and hours, days and days, weeks and weeks, working on your blog, that is time you’re not spending on making actual money by doing something else. I have to make money while I travel, otherwise the bank will take my house back in Australia, so I get work on Odesk. But if I’m going to set aside time to work on my blog, then that is time I’m not working for a client and getting paid real money. It’s an important consideration that we sometimes forget.

What you miss when you blog

When you’re blogging, you’re not doing something else. Sounds obvious right, after all, we’re not Neo from The Matrix who seems to everywhere at the same time. So when I’m at my laptop bashing out another article that next to no one is going to read, and my two-year-old son is tugging at my arm begging me to chase him around the room, I’m missing out on that play time. Or I’m not wandering down the Champs Elysees at night in one of the most beautiful cities in the world. Or I’m not watching the latest Quentin Tarantino movie I’ve been dying to see, or Skyping friends and family back home. The truth is when you’re working on your blog, you’re not doing something else you would probably rather be doing. You need to ask yourself, “Is it worth it?”

Some people just can’t write!

Ok, this is going to cause some people a little pain, maybe even dent the pride of a few people, but some of us were not born to put pen to paper (sorry, but I couldn’t think of a digital analogy about laptop keys and Microsoft Word)!

If you can’t spell, and don’t know how to use the built-in spell checker, your blog site is going to suck. If you can’t string a few words together in a coherent, engaging way, then guess what? Everybody together now…”your blog is going to suck”. Why would a company inject funds into you and your blog if you can’t write something that somebody else is going to want to read? They’re not, because any brand that a company sponsors is a reflection on them.

Be honest with yourself, if you want to make money from your blog but you can’t write to save yourself, then do yourself a favour and find other ways to make money while travelling. You don’t have to be Ernest Hemingway, but you can’t be Lloyd Christmas either (Google him).

Is there any hope?


Just kidding, of course there’s hope! Where there’s an Internet connection, WordPress, and a will there’s a way. There are many, many success stories out there of people who make a living from their blog and the associated income streams they generate from it like guest speaking, digital products, and membership programs. But be honest and ask yourself the right questions before you plough time and money into your travel blog. How long am I going to be travelling for? What’s more important to me, keeping a travel blog or spending that time doing something else? Is there an easier way for me to make money while travelling? Do I suck at writing?

If you’re still keen to start that travel blog then I commend you. You’ve obviously thought long and hard about it, and are willing to put the time and effort into making it a success. From my research, it seems like any blog that is making serious money started around 2007, give or take a year or two. That gives you some idea of how long it’s probably going to take to start raking in those six and seven figure salaries.

In hindsight, we were on a hiding to nothing starting a blog about nomadic family travel, after all there are plenty of those like yTravel blog and Travel With Bender who are already firmly established in that niche. We would have been better off trying to get even more specific and targeting a smaller, but far more receptive and loyal audience. If there’s one thing that I’ll always be grateful for having started our travel blog, is that I now know what I must do to make my NEXT blog a success. Unless of course the brilliant readers of ProBlogger become loyal followers of Travelling Apples and send my monthly unique visitors numbers into the stratosphere!

You can follow our journey on our website, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube. Happy travels!


About Guest Blogger
This post was written by a guest contributor. Please see their details in the post above. If you'd like to guest post for ProBlogger check out our Write for ProBlogger page for details about how YOU can share your tips with our community.
  1. Brooke says: 02/06/2015 at 4:45 am

    Great points. Editing is critical too, which will take a great deal of time. In the section entitled “Some people just can’t write!”, you say “you’re blog site is going to suck.” Please fix the glaring grammatical error here, unless you did that to make a point?

    • Hi Brooke, I wish I could say it was a deliberate mistake to prove a point, but the truth is there are a couple of ‘you’re’ errors where it should be ‘your’. What a shocker…

      I’m going to blame the Word spell checker for changing it incorrectly!!!

  2. The travel niche is SUPER competitive as you’ve already stated, but it’s a huge passion for many people and if you stick it through strategically and work your damn ass off, you can make it work.

    If you think about it, any nice out there that’s worth talking about, and where money flows around… is gonna be competitive. It’s just the nature of blogging.

  3. I love this post for causing a bit of a stir :-) These are all fantastic reasons to NOT start ANY blog – not just a travel blog. However, if they aren’t valid enough to put you off doing what you want to do then you certainly qualify as someone who SHOULD start a blog. If you want your blog to be anything more than just a place for you to share your thoughts and opinions then it is important to understand just how much work, time and effort goes into it. Great article for anyone who thinks blogging is a get rich quick scheme. :-)

  4. Yeah…definetely hate all that seo stuff, but love writting. I’m a journalist so making money is not part of my reality lol
    So I figure I’ll write/blog for pleasure and whatever comes out of it, is a bonus already!

  5. Excellent post! When I started my blog a couple of years ago, I had no idea what to expect and no intention to do it full time. It quickly became a way of life for me, but I can’t say I would recommend it unless you know what you’re doing.

  6. Love this post! Ditto on how much of the advice would be applicable to blogs of any kind. In some ways the internet has become a great equalizer where people of mediocre talent can still find an audience without looking the right way or knowing the right people.

    I’m not trying to be a rock star legend, just trying to find my own stage.

  7. A very honest post about blogging. My hubby and I have been writing an English travel blog for about 8 months and it seems we don’t even have a social life anymore. All we doo is thinking what to write, write, promote, taking photos, videos, working on it, doing reasearches, trying to educate ourselves to be better… Never ending story… so far we are still here and motivated and I hope we will not loose the courage, especially as English is not our first language…and that makes everything even harder.

  8. Any other ideas on how to make money on the road in a foreign country working for yourself? If so, please do share. I think that’s what people really want to do and know. Most people think by starting a blog they can some how some day fund themselves. I am trying to figure out other options, because a blog is kind of like a crapshoot.

    • Hi Sara,

      Let me introduce myself – I’m Lash. I’ve been traveling the world solo since 1998. I’ve earned a living many different ways during these 17 years, most recently by travel blogging.

      I wrote a whole series of articles on How to Afford Long-Term World Travel, including how I have earned a living, how other non-blogging travelers I know earn money and a list of all the jobs I know of around the world. So, feel free to have a read. I’m sure you’ll find some ideas in there that you can apply to yourself. :))

      And you’re exactly right – blogging is only one way out of thousands of options for earning a living out in the world while traveling. Excellent point.

      cheers, Lash

  9. My particular niche is a reflection on what blogging and travel blogging were, as you refer to it here, nearly 10 years ago. Right now there aren’t that many blind travel bloggers, but who knows. That could change one day. I haven’t got it all figured out yet, but I know I can write and the world is endlessly beautiful and worth exploring. Whatever will happen will happen. All I know at this early stage is that some internal force is pushing me to give it a shot. Some interesting insight here.

  10. Fantastic post with good caution about what to expect before plunging into serious blogging.
    We’d like to link this post when we write on travel blogging on IndianTopBlogs.

  11. I also think it’s essential to point out that travel blogging will change the way you travel. Nothing will ever have that same magic – when you see something wonderful your first thought will be to photograph it and write a witty and insightful caption, not to just enjoy it.

    It’s not a bad thing per se, I guess, but blogging really does suck the magic out of traveling. Everything becomes a viral opportunity.

  12. Nope many people do just blog for the pleasure of it. I have no affiliate links, I don’t do any back linking and after a year I still have no clue about SEO and all that other technical stuff that helps to increase your chances of being picked up by Google.

    I usually do one post a month and it really is because I like blogging. I know no one reads my shit lol. Nor was I under any grandiose delusions about being a hit and being able to live off my blog. Yeah it would be AWESOME but I never thought that.

    Also even if you can’t travel where you live is a travel destination for anyone who doesn’t live there so there could still be plenty of things to post about. I really just wanted to try and get better at writing. Trying out styles, trying to find my voice. Practice while (yes I’m going to say it) keeping friends and family up to date with what I’m doing in a creative way.

  13. Actually this posts applies to other niches as well! Take fashion for example (I’ve got a bit of experience there). Most successful bloggers started off early (like 2007 which apparently was a key year) and build a community around them.
    For me that’s the hardest part: community, either be it travel, fashion or anything really.
    I follow a couple of travel blogs, and no offence, but they’re all pretty much the same and I don’t know what kind of differentiation would be of any use.
    On a last note, I’m going to take your advice on education…photography and writing (especially the latter as I’m no natural writer)!

  14. I agree with all points of this article -especially the time factor, it’s not really impossible to realize how long an article takes to publish before you do it yourself.
    However I would say they mainly apply if you are hoping to make money with your blog.

    It took some of my time off to blog during a not so long travel -8 months- but to be fair, I did it mainly for myself: writing help me remember better my emotions about a place and to “digest” them, which can be difficult sometimes when you are doing so many cool things in a short amount of time. And now that I am back to a more “normal” life, writing about my past experiences is a way to fight the “post travel depression” :-)

  15. For many people travel blogging is a passion , as for myself. I dont plan on making money out of my travel stories, i just blog about my trips because I love to both travel and write. So to go ahead and discourage the idea of having a travel blog and to imply its pointless because there are thousand out there travel blogging will not stop anyone who is truly passionate about it and love what they do. Each travel experience is different, hence this is what can make any travel blog stand out. It can make up your own words, own story, own opinion, own thoughts, which will never compare to anyone elses’. This is what i believe can make any blog unique. Those typical mundance travel posts on “top 10 things to see and do in X” will never make it, because its been done before. Its important to just be yourself and share your story, making it profit-driven will only make it lose that authenticity and sincerity.

  16. These are great points. Everyone wants to make a travel blog, but with so many blogs out there, you are right in saying that if you’re not on the first page of Google, chances are, people won’t get know you. It takes a lot of effort to make a travel blog, but if traveling and writing is your passion, then go for it! Not everyone can write, as you have said, and only a good mix of passion, perseverance, and good eye for detail can make a travel blog work.

  17. “If you can’t spell, and don’t know how to use the built-in spell checker, you’re blog site is going to suck.” Sorry I just found this funny (re-read it).
    Not trying to be mean, interesting blog I must say! You have a real tone and personality to your writing.

  18. Yup, pretty much! Blogging is an animal, so much more work than most people think it is. So many skills to keep up with, new social networks, etc. There’s always something else on the horizon! Pursue it if it’s a passion, yes, but blogging is definitely not for the faint of heart. Or a get-rich-quick answer.

  19. “we’re not Neo from The Matrix who seems to everywhere at the same time.” it’s missing be*. There’s several of those missing words in there. Not to be rude or anything but you mention spell checking as essential. Now I think you’re wrong. Your article is in a really interesting subject, and it raises good points.. so it got published regardless of your writing mistakes.

    Valuable content btw. I’ve been thinking about this lately actually. I had this 2015 resolution.. and I’ve been checking off things on my to do list and blogging is one area where I just fail to even try. I realised I don’t really want to blog, well.. not about traveling at least. I enjoy debating race, culture and world politics. The only article that gets constant random traffic on my ‘travel’ blog is about racism in Saudi Arabia.

    One thing I hate about most traffic building guides I stumbled upon previously is they direct you to make ‘how to’ sort of blogs.. educational type. I’m not looking to teach. If I write online I just want to rant.. and really, the real reason I got into blogging was I thought it would somehow help me get an audience as a songwriter. But yeah, it’s like.. should you work on your art or on SEO’ing your way into a blog bubble.

  20. Nice points indeed. I recently started a travel blog for indian tourist spots and was hoping to earn through blogging about the places i visit. I thought this should be easy as there is less competetion in this field. After reading this post i got to know that this isn’t going to be as easy as i thought. Well thanks for the post and a lot of learnings.
    I Hope to survive the challenges coming in my way.

  21. Good article! I think that those who work hard can succeed. You just have to set your expectations realistically and not hope for instant success.

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