Confessions Binalong Bay
Confessions of a travel blogger

The highs and lows of three years as a travel blogger

I remember the moment I decided to change my life like it was yesterday. My friend Marieke and I were sitting in the garden and drinking wine. It was a hot summer night and Martijn was guiding in Iceland for a while. I was telling her that even though I had all I could possibly ask for (a nice boyfriend, a fun job, a large house and some money in the bank) and yet I wasn’t satisfied. I traveled a bit and I wrote about it but could not imagine living the same life twenty years from then on. As we were talking, Marieke pushed on and asked me what I really wanted. ‘To travel the world and write about it’ was my answer. And so that happened.
 
It’s three years later now and looking back at those three years, I can’t even grasp how things have changed. Yes, I still have the same boyfriend, the same job and live in the same house (only it’s raining right now). Martijn is still guiding, only now in Alaska, and I have more or less the same amount of money on my savings account. Yet I’m living such a more satisfactory life. I found something I truly love doing and can’t even imagine not doing anymore. I found something that is my creative outlet. I’m talking about travel blogging.
 
Three years later and it’s time for some reflection. About two years ago I started writing Confessions of a Travel Blogger. Although not everyone enjoys reading them, I very much enjoy writing them. They add a bit of personality to my blog, something I miss in other blogs from time to time. In addition, I think sometimes we should just speak up about things we either love or hate, because if we leave things unsaid, they will never change. I’m starting with a few things that I enjoy most about travel blogging:
 

1. Having a major goal

When I started blogging I never knew that it would become such a great part of my life. Now that blogging has become more than just a hobby for me, I feel like I have a certain goal to work towards to. Goals such as losing weight or making more money are not my kind of goals. I need creative goals and I find being a travel blogger highly satisfying. Blogging is exactly the creative outlet I need.
 

2. Having a creative outlet

I’ve always loved writing. There’s a box up on our attic filled with diaries. Then there are two more boxes with letters I received from my penpals from all over the world. Ever since I could hold a pen, I’ve been writing. Feelings, thoughts, emotions. Details, impressions and observations. However I don’t think I’d be a good writer because I’m way too impatient for that. So whenever I don’t feel like writing I can edit photos, do social media, socialize or make a video. Travel blogging is all about creativity and finding a way to express yourself.
 

3. The amazing new people I got to know

When I met travel bloggers at a blogging event for the first time I was pretty impressed by them. That same night We12travel was chosen from a big list of Dutch blogs to travel to Curacao and write about my experiences there. Although I’m not your average travel blogger and tend to follow my own trail rather than the path the majority chooses to follow, I’m thankful for meeting so many inspiring people. Sometimes we meet in daily life on blog events, sometimes we meet to grab a bite or some drinks. Sometimes we meet online and have a chat or encourage each other. Sometimes we meet while traveling. Most travel bloggers are inspiring people and great fun to hang out with!
 

4. Living on a high without using drugs

Being a travel blogger is not easy. I’m sometimes incredibly stressed because the work of a travel blogger is never done. I’m sometimes a zombie who spends way too much time behind her laptop. However, occasionally something happens that gives me an incredible high, without using alcohol or drugs. When a large company reaches out and wants to work with you. Or when a really big blogger leaves an encouraging comment on my blog. When a major destination asks you to come back because they liked the job you did or when I receive positive comments on a blog that I spent hours working on. Those are highs on a totally different level than any drug could ever give me. You should try it, really!
 

5. I get to travel more

Unlike what most of you people will think, I still pay for the majority of travels myself. Which is fine because I prefer to have freedom to write whatever I want. However I also travel for We12travel every now and then. Sometimes it’s for a day or two, sometimes it’s for a whole week. Travel blogging makes me do stuff I normally may not have done, such as bungy jumping from the pier in Scheveningen, doing the highest zipline in Europe or drink wine with the mayor of a German town on his private winery.
 
tokkelen van de euromast
 
 
Of course there are also things I don’t like about being a travel blogger. It wouldn’t be a real confessions without mentioning those and I know some of you enjoy reading those most. So here are five things I’d like to see differently. I know I can’t change the world by myself but sometimes it just feels good to express myself. If you feel like some of the below applies to you, then know it may be time to consider a change!
 

1. Follow/unfollow on Instagram

Seriously, I don’t get this. So many bloggers out there are following and when you don’t follow back, they will unfollow. Or worse, they will unfollow once you’ve followed. It’s super childish and pathetic but it still upsets me. Follow me if you genuinely like me. Not because you want me to follow you. Just stop it.
 

2. The poor writing

A while ago I launched my Everest Base Camp storytelling series where I am going back to the roots of blogging: storytelling. Storytelling is why I started this blog in the first place and is still what I enjoy doing most. However, by just doing this, visitors won’t find you. So I write the so-called ‘lists and top fives’ which do well on Google and Pinterest. The more blogs I read, the more crap I read. Some websites are solely about making money and although that’s totally ok if that is your goal, it sometimes saddens me that there is not more appreciation for blogs that tell personal stories or go beyond the top fives or top tens.
 

3. It’s extremely time consuming

In the first year I spent about ten hours a week on the blog. Then in the second year about twenty or thirty. In addition to my full time job that is. Travel blogging is not just about writing stories but there’s a lot more to it such as SEO (search engine optimization), social media promotion, administration for the government and much more. I should really consider to hire an assistant to help me with simple tasks.
 

4. I’m away from home a lot

Yes, I want to travel, as much as I can. Over the past years I traveled more than 100 days a year and combined that with a full time office job. However, sometimes a certain happening makes that you don’t want to leave home anymore. Or sometimes it happens that you are far away when someone in your circle of family or friends needs you to be there for them. I recently had to come home early from my Iceland trip because of personal reasons. Although I know nobody blames me for being far away (the person in question is always telling everyone how proud he is of me that I travel the world) but it can get to me I’m not always there when someone needs me.

5. I’m a perfectionist

I can be incredibly harsh for myself. Looking back at number two, I sometimes see blogs that have just five sentences and three pics in it. I can’t do that. I want my blogs to be long enough to tell all a reader may want to know. There need to be many good pictures. I can’t deliver crap. I want to be on social media each day and I want to improve my numbers each month. However I found out that’s impossible. I’ve decided that once Martijn is back home from Alaska, I’m going to take one day off from blogging each week. No computer, no social media, no updates. It’s a next step towards my goal of putting my phone away more and I’m not sure if it’s going to work, but I think I will be able to do it.
 
confessions ijsland
 
So that was my latest confessions. I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it. Let’s see if this blog is going to last another three years. I’m actually thinking of changing the name because We12travel doesn’t really cover what it’s all about anymore, but we’ll see about that…
 
Have a great Sunday!
 
Want to read more confessions? You may also enjoy these:
The blogger burn out is watching you
How Instagram ruined travel for me
6 Things I stopped doing after two years as a travel blogger
 
Thank you for sharing!

26 Comments

  • Jessica

    Interessant om jouw gedachtes en ervaringen met het bloggen zo na 3 jaar te lezen! Ik had ook nooit verwacht dat het zo’n grote rol in mijn leven zou gaan spelen, maar ik zou inmiddels niet anders meer willen! 🙂 Blijf vooral lekker doen waar je energie van krijgt en happy van wordt, dan blijft je blog dat ook uitstralen! 😉

  • LeAnna

    Time Consuming= AMEN!!! My MIL was just in town and she said, “I had NO idea how long it took you to perfect a post before publishing it” I don’t monetize my blog, so many people think I’m crazy for the amount of time that I put into it for no $ in return

    • anto

      Same here, I’m beginning to earn a bit of money but it doesn’t nearly come close to a reward for the amount of time I put in. However, the biggest reward is just the replies and enthusiasm from readers, which is much more satisfying than a shitload of money …

  • Marlene Marques

    I agree with most of your insights. I’m a recent travel blogger – started January, this year – and already can relate with some of the aspects you mention. Especially the time consuming part. Like you I have to conciliate it with a full time job. But when we’re doing what we love is gratifying. 🙂 Congratulation for keeping it real!

  • Rob

    We struggle with some of the same issues particularly spending too much time behind a computer, our 7 year old reminds us often that we need to get off the computers and spend quality time with him. We have just over 2 years of full time travel and it has gone by very fast but it is a ton of work.

  • Drew

    Definitely agree with so many of your points. I too get angry at the whole follow/unfollow thing. It does seem a little childish. And thanks for mentioning the time aspect. Everyone I know thinks that writing a post is easy and I spend my days just hanging out. But with SEO, editing/optimizing photos, formatting, and promoting on social media, I spend almost the same amount of time on those things as I do writing the actual post!

    • anto

      Ah yes some people think they know it all better and it’s just a one hour job with the editing, SEO and photos. At least we know better 🙂

  • Cristina

    I only have one year of travel blogging, but I can definitely relate to everything you said. I’m having a lot of fun at the moment exploring the world and sharing my experiences on the blog. I hope that I will never lose track of the reason why I started the blog in the first place.
    Thanks for sharing,
    Cristina

  • Carly

    I’m only about 15 months into my travel blogging adventure, and I’m still stunned by how much my life how changed. I’ve thought about writing a post about the reality of blogging as well. I’m definitely at full time work hours on my brand right now!

    Congrats on going strong after 3 years.

  • evan kristine

    Wow, three years! Congrats and hoping for more years to this blog. I couldn’t agree more, though, about your list. It looks like it is easy but to be truth, it is not. We just love it so much!

  • Esther

    It’s like you took the words out of my head and wrote it all up. The Instagram thing frustrates me, but the bad writing even more. The 3 pictures + 3 lines that make up a ‘blogpost’ while I spend hours and sometimes days on an online article, doing research, interviewing etc etc. UGH! And yes, it’s SO much more work than anyone (who isn’t a travel blogger) could know. But hey, wé know and that’s what matters!

    • anto

      Thanks Esther! Yeah, the bad writing seems to get worse and worse. It sometimes seems like the hard work of dedicated bloggers who write masterpieces (so to speak) isn’t of any value anymore, quantity above quality. Makes me rather sad…

  • martina

    I like your post very much! !I’m also a newbie to travel blogging and I feel so naive still! Like the Instagram thing! !I was so disappointed when I realise some people added me, waited for me to like back, comment on pic I truly felt were amazing etc. .just to unfollow me! !I stared at the phone like an idiot for minutes. ..couldn’t believe it! !but it seems to be the way for many. .like these hash tag #like4like or similar!
    But I think I prefer to stay naive and true to myself. .wait for the ones that are truly interested! thanks for saying it out loud! !;)

    • anto

      Ah yes that happened to me at first, too. I thought ‘wow, I’m so popular’ and then all these people unfollowed. At first I thought it was an error in the app and I was just so disappointed. I just guess that’s how it works, but I can’t help hoping those who do that will lose their followers one day since it’s such a fake job.

  • Ron Robbins

    Travel blogging certainly has it’s ups and downs, but overall, I wouldn’t ask for a different line of work. This job, this way of life is truly spectacular and I feel privileged to be able to live it!

    I do know how you feel about always writing the “Top 5” and “how to” guides. Although they rank well, my heart still resides in storytelling. Looking back on my blog, it’s something I need to get back to – storytelling – as it’s easy to get caught up with how much you make at the end of the day and trying to earn enough money by blogging to pay bills, travel expenses and put away money for saving/retirement.

    I’ve recently had some luck with keyword placement though – even if you do some proper keyword research and placement in your storytelling style articles, it can get some decent traffic. 🙂

    • anto

      Nah, same here. I love it and yet sometimes I hate it. I guess we all do in some way 🙂 I should look into keyword research more and focus on that …

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