So You Want To Be a Travel Blogger: Expectations vs. Reality

So You Want To Be a Travel Blogger: Expectations vs. Reality

Good news people, I just got a sponsored trip to Dubai and I cannot wait to share all the highlights of my trip with you all. Don’t forget to add me on Snapchat and follow my journey. I cannot wait to show you around the beautiful city.

Perhaps, that’s the rosy part you see on your favorite travel blogger’s Instagram. You see the sponsored trips, the exotic destinations, the straw hat shot taken while she looks away from the camera and pretends it wasn’t a planned shot, the big follower numbers, the verified tick, all the perks. It’s all there for you to see and you are thinking maybe, just maybe, travel blogging is for you.

That, and maybe something else has got you thinking that travel blogging is for you. Maybe its because you want a community of like-minded people to share your ideas with, an online photo diary to look back on when you’re old and grey, a platform to let your creative juices flow, or perhaps you are looking to make a movement and/or impact a generation. Whatever the reason for wanting to start a travel blog is, the truth is, travel blogging isn’t as simple as it seems and there are some things to keep in mind before going down that path. I’ll call them expectation-busters.

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This is by no means an attempt to discourage you from travel blogging. Far from it. As a matter of fact, I’d love to see more travel blogs, especially from people of color because I think we are underrepresented but it is also important that expectations are set so you know exactly what you’re getting into. In case you were wondering, I’ve been blogging for about 16 months and I have loved it so far.

Here are some of the expectations you may have, versus the realities of them all …

1.) Expectation: Travel Blogging is Easy

Reality: It is a lot of work

Oh? Travel Blogging? Easy peasy! All you have to do is travel to a cool location, take a lot of selfies, write a few words into a blog post and voila, job done. Not really. Well, if travel blogging is something you take (semi) seriously, it is a lot more work than that. You’ll need to master photo editing, keyword research, social media, promotion and scheduling, and so much more. I have personally also learned a little about web development and CSS, all thanks to blogging. Creating content consistently is not always a walk in the park.

“There is no substitute for hard work.” – Thomas A. Edison

2.)  Expectation: I Will Get Free Trips

Reality: Wait, not so fast. 

Travel Blogging seems like a quick route to score sponsored trips and travel the world on someone else’s dime. It’s a great path but it sure doesn’t happen as fast as you may think. Renowned travel bloggers like Expert Vagabond and The Blonde Abroad have said that they had to consistently produce valuable content for a couple of years before they started to see any results. Not to say that people cannot have it quicker, but for the most part, those are only a small fraction of the travel blogging population.

“A free launch is only found in mousetraps.” – John Capozzi

3.)  Expectation: More Vacation, More Life

Reality: The way you travel will change

Sometimes, a travel blogger needs a vacation from their vacation because a large part of the vacation was done capturing moments to share with their readers. Simple as. Every travel opportunity can suddenly feel like an opportunity for more content for their platform. While that is good, it can sometimes take the fun out of the experience as well as create potential issues with travel partners. I previously discussed how to balance traveling and capturing the moment but whatever the case, travel blogging means the way you travel will change.

“We take photos as a return ticket to a moment otherwise gone.” – Unknown

4.)  Expectation: I Will Get Rich, Quick

Reality: You may lose money

People believe that travel blogging is a get-rich-quick scheme that they want to take advantage of. If anything, blogging requires a high level of investment before you see some results. You will spend money on a domain name, a blog design, a good camera, editing software, and so on. This investment is required because you need to produce high-quality content if you want to make any money at all. It can take years to years before you see a return on your investment.

“You must spend money to make money.” – Plautius

So, You STILL Want To Be a Travel Blogger?

If after this reality check, you are still looking to be a travel blogger, welcome, brave one! I can tell you this: The hard parts are nothing compared to the fulfilment from inspiring people, sharing your knowledge with others and being a part of an awesome community of travel bloggers.

Getting Started on Your Travel Blog

If you will like to get started on your travel blog, I and a couple of other travel bloggers have collaborated and shared our knowledge on “How To Become A Travel Blogger”. We share insights from what you need to know before you start your travel blog, web hosting, photography, brand partnership, and so much more. See the infographics below or download the pdf here.

I hope you like it and find it useful. If you have any more questions, do not hesitate to reach out to me and I will be happy to help.

Are you a travel blogger? Let me know in the comments some of the ways travel blogging differed from how you saw it on the outside. Share with me your experience so that to-be bloggers can find more information/reality checks.

* This post is in partnership with Travelstart Nigeria

Thank you for reading. I hope you now have a clearer picture of what travel blogging is all about, so, if you have any travel bloggers in your life, do not hesitate to toot their horns, share their content, retweet their work, anything to help them get to their goal. I am sure they will appreciate those seemingly small but important gestures.
If you’ll love to stay up to date with new posts on this blog, subscribe here. New posts are up every Fridays but you will be the first to know, alongside other great perks.

Until next week,

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  1. I love travel like yours so much asyours allow me live vicariously and strengthen my travel dreams!!
    I really would like to delve into travel blogging, or at least have a travel diary on my blog, so thank you so much for the heads up! Bookmarked for the
    I am still in awe of how you’re able to juggle it all.
    Thank you for being an inspiration!!

  2. These are on point. Everything you said was exactly right.
    I am sure going to follow you on snapchat for the Dubai trip. Omg. so excited for you !!

  3. Travel bloggers are the real MVPs. The struggle to get the perfect photos alone is enough to wear me out! Well done to you all.

  4. I know we already had a tete a tete (I feel fancy. lol) but I thought to put it here that I agree with everything.

    I often need a vacation from my vacations and even getting freebies is work as you have to make sure you’re giving value for what you got.

    Travel blogging is definitely not easy but when you manage to find balance you begin to enjoy it.

    I was discussing with someone the other day that when I started blogging I didn’t realise there were so many rules. Ah well.

    Great post.

    1. There are so many rules. Many of them are unwritten even. It’s best to just enjoy the journey and not worry too much. Hahah! Yes, we did. Thanks for stopping by, Lola!

  5. *Applause*. Concise and straight to the point. I especially loved the quotes ending each point.

  6. Ahhh, I love it. While I didn’t set out with any expectations and I’m not currently trying to make any money from my blog, it is more work and more time consuming than I anticipated. I told myself to just start this year and then next year we’ll work on growth. I’ve always been one that loved being behind the camera even as a kid and I’ve had camera equipment and all that for 7 years before I started blogging, there’s the added pressure of being a ‘blogger’ . I still don’t think I know much about the travel blogging world but I’m learning and working on at least becoming somewhat consistent. It’s easy for me to try to skip a week’s post because work’s hectic or I’m travelling (or both!!!)

    I second Lorikemi though in saying whatever you learned works as your images draw people in.

    1. I agree that there is that added pressure but you know what they say about pressure, it only gets activated when you give it the power to. Always best not to be under pressure. Consistency is always good but I think it is better to skip a post than to force it. Perhaps?
      Thanks so much! I think I might be off to read a couple of your posts, a catch-up is underway 🙂

  7. Thank you for this post, Ufuoma! The infographic is a very useful resource too!

    Although I’m still not sure I can call myself a travel blogger since I write about everything from expat life to career, wellness and lifestyle, I agree with you and a couple of people who commented before me that one starts traveling differently when there is an objective to share some of the travel experience. Like Amarachi, I have been so tired on trips that I focused more on enjoying the experience than blogging about it or taking pictures (that was the case in Guinea for instance where I barely left my hotel and it shows lol).

    Also like Amarachi I didn’t really have expectations about blogging but I’m realizing that it’s very time-consuming. People like a handful of us in the community who have (unrelated) full-time jobs should take that into account when they embark on this journey. My little bit of advice is to be prepared to be fully dedicated to the blog and social media pages – don’t let them be after-thoughts because that will be apparent to readers and followers.

    PS: What you learned about web development and CSS makes your blog one of the most visually appealing out there so cheers to you for making that investment in terms of time and effort – I really enjoy reading your posts!

    1. I couldn’t agree more. Especially when you have a full-time job that is totally unrelated like you said. A healthy balance will be needed.
      Haha at your guinea trip. I wish I could travel and just stay in all day. I can’t and its nothing to do with my blog but I am just restless when I am in a new city especially when it is one where I am unsure of the next time I’ll get to visit. But, rest is good, always.

      Thanks so much for the compliment. You’re kind <3

  8. Good dose of reality right here! As I’ve delved deeper into the world of travel blogging, a lot of these truths have sort of appeared to me. It’s a LOT more work and requires a lot more hours than anyone would ever expect!

    1. It is! I agree with you. The hours on end are so exhausting sometimes. Great to step back every now and again and come back with fresh eyes.

  9. Truer words haven’t been spoken on this topic. I started to get frustrated, I’d be in this breathtaking new place but instead be fighting with my camera, trying to create content. I’ve found a balance though. Take a vacation during a work trip. Spend at least 2 days roaming, interacting & soaking in the place with zero distractions. Those 2 days are when my best memories are made, the type that doesn’t fade.

    1. SO true. I love to take photos as well, even before I started blogging. I actually enjoy photos when I get to a new place. But on one particular trip last year, my camera was roaming about looking for things that I thought my readers will enjoy. It ended up being my least enjoyable trip. I went back to capturing the things that I love to see and that’s how I have been able to find balance. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this, Susan

  10. Bang on!! Rightly said, travel blogging is also like a full time job while everyone else just see the travel part and hardly the effort post that!!

  11. This is a great post — the first few months (years) are so exhausting and frustrating! You don’t realize just how much work goes into it and how you always have to be “on”. Thanks for the reminder to learn to balance it all. 🙂

    1. Absolutely Kristen! You certainly have to be “on” all the time. On social media, the blog, etc. I am learning to take breaks when I can because, at the end of the day, we are only human too! Thanks for the comment.

  12. This is so true! I had no idea what I was in for when I started blogging! There is so much commitment involved with not much inital payout!

    1. Absolutely agree, Brianna! Which is why we have to do it purely for the love of it without expecting too much, perhaps. And if “too much” does happen, awesome!

  13. I’m loving this. Thanks for sharing. Sometimes people don’t see how much goes in to “quality” travel blogging. I have to admit at the start I was one of them. But I love travel and I put myself out there to learn as much as possible about the travel industry. Look forward to more from you. Glad I’ve discovered your blog.

    1. Thank you so much. Quality travel blogging does take a lot of effort and I honestly do not think I am quite there yet. However, it is a work in progress and one foot in front every day is a step forward, literally. Thanks. I hope you stick around.

  14. This is a great complete, practical and very honest guide to travel blogging. Wish I’d read it before starting my own travel blog! The one I struggle with the most is telling people that my stays in fancy hotels aren’t exactly a break, but involve a lot of running around, worrying about details, taking the right pictures, etc. And yes, I do need a vacation from my vacations… My friends just don’t get it!

    1. They really do not! I am constantly trying to get everything right and sometimes end up looking crazy. Haha. I’ve had to let go of the idea of perfection and just attempt to do my best at every chance I get. Thanks for sharing your insights.

  15. Great post! It’s just my “hobby” at the moment, but I agree – it’s an expensive one 🙂 I have no expectations of sponsored trips for quite a while as I’m just beginning as a blogger and need to have more content on the blog. Thanks for sharing your dose of “reality” with us!

  16. Hi Jessica, omg! Congratulations baby! You are such an inspiration. We have been slacking on our blog and finding it so hard to balance real life and work and balance. I have to go back and read your post on that. Hmm I am now thinking of adding a little travel to it. Fingers crossed.
    You are amazing, I say this all the time but you really are.
    P.S can you share some insights on editing/camera/web development/CSS. Please?

    1. Thanks Titi. If you are congratulating me on the opening paragraph, thanks but that was a hypothetical scenario. But thanks all the same. I guess prioritizing your blog is a way to keep it on top of things otherwise, life will get in the way. That really is the only way to stay consistent.
      Thanks Titi. For CSS, web dev, editing and more, I will message you privately as this is a whole ‘nother ball game entirely.

  17. Spot on! Everything isn’t always as it seems and a lot of work does go into travel blogging behind the scenes. I agree that you start to travel differently. One time, I went on a trip and I was just so tired that I couldn’t take as much pictures or videos as I wanted. I felt bad at first cos it was like a missed opportunity for creating content for my blog. Eventually, I was able to shake off that feeling and just enjoy the trip…

    As for how it differed, I discovered the world of ‘travel blogging’ after I started blogging. So I had no expectations coming in. But seeing all that’s possible once I was in made me encouraged and then discouraged… and encouraged again, lol. I had to remind myself why I started blogging in the first place while constantly improving to get the results that I want.

    1. Pretty much said it all. So much goes behind the scenes and sometimes it does get exhausting. I often try to find a balance between creating content for my blog and just enjoying the moment. Now, I just photograph anything that genuinely interests me with the hopes that it also interests my readers.
      I really didn’t have expectations coming in either but it just dawns on you that it is such a big diverse community. Thanks Amarachi.

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