Although this blog has been around much longer than two years, I always see the summer of 2013 as my real starting point: the moment when I decided that my life was too boring and that I was carrying a shitload of creativity on my back that I couldn’t get rid of. Martijn was guiding in Iceland and I was home, trying to survive the heat and getting drunk on tequila sunrises every evening. My life – an office job, a house with a mortgage, friends coming and going, a trip every now and then … the same thing year after year. I got tired of it. Really tired. So one of my friends asked me what I really wanted to do. “Travel the world and write about it” was my answer. So that’s what I did.
The following weeks I spent evenings behind my laptop, reading about travel blogging and realizing there are actually people making money with this and being paid to travel. To me, this sounded like the ultimate way of living (which, by now I’ve found out, is not for me, read here why) and I figured that if they could do it, I could, too. Some of the blogs I carefully studied back then are Just One Way Ticket, Amanda’s A Dangerous Business and Y Travel Blog, which is until today the only blog I still follow these days. Those people did what I thought would be my destiny: travel the world and being paid to do so. It took me about a year to realize that the life of a professional travel blogger would not be my thing after all and that combining blogging with a fulltime office job is not as bad as some people (mostly fellow travelers) think it is…
Last year I traveled for 113 days and this year, well I’m sure I’ll end up around the same number by the end of 2015. It’s not about the number of days and/or trips though. It’s about making the best out of it and doing what you like. Over the past years I’ve not only learned what I like doing most, but I’ve also learned what I don’t like and more important, how I don’t want to run this blog. I’ve tried some things and some didn’t work out. I’ve tried things that did work out and raised our visitor number. I’ve learned not to look at what others doing and just follow your own trail instead. What may be succesful for one person, will not be a guaranteed success for someone else.
Looking back at what I said two years ago, about just wanting to travel and write about it, I think I’ve pretty much achieved that in the best possible way for me. Some of my friends tell me I should try to make travel writing my profession but I don’t want to. When speaking to full time bloggers who didn’t travel during a vacation for years because they didn’t have the money or they were too burned out to travel, it hit me that I don’t want to miss that. The excitement of going somewhere, the freedom of not going online for days, maybe even weeks. I’m looking forward to our trip to Nepal more than ever because it means I don’t have to think about the blog for a while.
Two years ago I could never have imagined I’d ever make money with travel blogging, but I am, even if it’s just a little bit. I could never have imagined I’d travel 113 days each year and still live my “normal” life, too. Normal as in going out with friends, hang out on the couch with Martijn and do “Homeland” marathons, just to name a few things. People ask me how I do it, but I don’t really have an answer, it’s become a part of my life and when I’m home too long (2 weeks as we speak) I get restless. Balancing life between being home and being away isn’t always easy but it’s not impossible. I reduce time for packing to a minimum because I’ve got all my “travel-toiletries” in a bag ready to go at any time and basically I always bring the same. I gave up caring about outfits and such and prefer to travel lighter than ever nowadays. I pack what I need and that’s it, so generally I finish packing within 30 minutes, regardless of what kind of trip I’m doing. Taking a lot of time to pack is totally overrated!
Being a travel blogger has opened up a lot of doors for me. Not only do I get to travel for free (more about that later) but travel bloggers are generally some of the friendliest people on this planet to hang out with. They make a great conversation and most of them have similar interests. They are inspiring and adventurous – the best kind of people there are!
So – about that travel for free thing – well, let me help you out of the dream. It’s not a vacation. Vacations are for relaxing (in whatever way you wish) and not having to do anything. Trips I do as a blogger, are work. I’m sure it’s pretty hard to understand when I post pictures of me watching the sunset somewhere in Scandinavia or having a picnic in the park, but it’s very true as well. As a blogger, you have to be online (pretty much) all the time during a press trip, sometimes resulting in huge phone bills. You can’t just get drunk because you feel like it (or the alcohol’s for free) and sleep in because you are tired. Press trips are hard work and even though I’m grateful for every one of them that I did, they will always remain work. I’ve had to turn down some of the most amazing press trip opportunities because I couldn’t get off from work (the other job) or because I already had something else planned. Believe me, having to say no to a very outdoor-ish trip somewhere far away from Holland is something I do with a lot of pain in my heart.
By the time you are reading this, I’m in London with my friends (or more precisely, most likely on a plane home again so I won’t miss my mother’s birthday this year). It’s just a short weekend away and it will mark the end of the summer for me. A summer in which I slowed down with blogging because it got out of hand … but I’m back – I’ve survived the blogger blues that hits many bloggers after two years and my head is full of stories to keep you inspired to live a more active and adventurous life.
Coming to an end, I’d like to share the most important things I’ve learned in my two years as a blogger:
– Press trips are not vacations (see above!)
– Bloggers are not nerds who like to sit behind their laptops 24/7 neither are they attached to their phones – they are actually a lot of fun to hang out with, at least in most cases.
– Bloggers are among the hardest working people I know. Most of them have a job on the side and it takes a lot of persistence and dedication to run as succesful blog next to another (fulltime) job.
– I can live without my iPhone (read again, it says CAN, not can’t). I will live without my iPhone in Nepal – most of the time. I don’t like going offline for a long period of time but not having to post something on social media every day does totally sound like heaven right now. Please November – come soon!
– It’s OK not to post for a while. By the time you’ve set up a succesful blog, you should get most of your traffic from Google and in our case, from Pinterest, which is a very “lazy” way of getting new visitors.
– Blogging is not just writing down a story and posting a picture of it. It’s also SEO, movie making, photo editing, negotiating and being creative, just to name a few.
-Don’t follow what everybody else does. There are so many blogs out there, I’m a true believer that only those with a gigantic load of talent or those that have a unique niche, will (eventually) make it to a succesful blog.
– Be nice to other bloggers – give them support in any way you can. By following them, sharing them and commenting on their blog. It’s nice to be nice (karma and all …).
If you stopped by because you just started a blog – good luck! Blogging is awesome! If you stopped as a fellow blogger – thank you, I’m curious if you agree. And finally, if you stopped by as someone else – I hope you enjoyed reading about the insights of a life as a (part time) travel blogger – it really is one of the most amazing jobs in the world!
Want to read more of my “Confessions of a Travel Blogger? You may enjoy these:
– 11 Reasons why I am the worst travel blogger
– Why I am totally not cool and/or adventurous
– How social media made me lose my appetite for blogging
Thanks for sharing!