The Travel Bloggers Dilemma: On Holiday or In Business?

| April 13, 2014 | 9 Comments

The newspaper headline struck me – ‘Blog Pays For Permanent Holiday’ in reference to Australian travel bloggers Caz and Craig Makepeace, who run the highly regarded and rated YTravelBlog.com.  But are they really ‘on holiday’ on their current road trip around Australia?

I have been a follower of Caz and Craig for a couple of years now and have really enjoyed their material, but along the way they have made many comments about how hard they work to make a full time income from their travel blogging.  They also love travelling but it is certainly not a ‘free ride’.

Travel Blog Diagram

The Travel Blogger Dilemma

Most of us started our travel blogs as a simple online journal to share the story of our trips with our family and friends.  But as we learn more about travel blogging we are then be exposed to the idea of becoming ‘digital nomads’ or being able to travel full time.  And for many people these concepts are very attractive, as we all obviously love to travel. So being able to travel all the time must be a great thing surely?  It all depends on whether you are ‘on holiday’ when you travel or whether you are actually working, and whether the work is enough of a passion that it feels like you are ‘on holiday’.

For many people their travel blogs transform into a platform to develop further in an attempt to reach those aspirational goals.  Without realising that what you may really be doing is to try to grow an online business to earn an income from the travel industry.

What started as a relaxing and fun hobby can turn into a significantly more business like approach where you are focused on growing your traffic and social media and generating sponsorship for various activities.  And you may reach a point where you realise that you are not having fun with it any more.

And your actual travelling becomes less fun because you feel compelled to share it with your followers along the way, or it is a sponsored trip where businesses are providing you with ‘free’ experiences, but your obligation is to write positive feedback and articles on those experiences.  Again, you ARE travelling which is great but you are NOT ‘on holiday’.

Is My Travel Blog a Hobby or a Business?

Many people seem to get sucked into the travel blogger paradigm of becoming a ‘full time traveller’ without first stepping back and asking ‘do I want to run a small business?’  Have they followed the fundamentals of researching a business by writing a business plan which includes:

  • Researching the market and deciding on my specific niche,
  • Exploring the options to earn an income and likely income prospects,
  • Researching how much competition there is in the marketplace?
  • Consideration of the risks involved
  • Taking out risk mitigations or addressing how to treat these risks?
  • Consideration of alternative small business options.  Maybe there is an alternative small business where I have the skills and network to build a more profitable business in another domain?
  • Etc.

And like every small business there are some businesses which are successful and many businesses which reach sub-optimal outcomes or fail.  And the ones which are successful have usually done their homework prior to commencement.

Make a Conscious Decision About Whether You are Running a Hobby or a Business

If you are a travel blogger (and I assume you probably are if you have read this far!) I suggest you stop and have a good think about what you want to get out of your travel blogging journey.  Are you blogging as a hobby or do you want to run a business?  It is great to go through this thinking process as depending on the answer your approach to travel blogging will be quite different.

Travel Blogging as a Hobby

If you decide that your blog is a hobby it means that it is YOUR choice whether you publish an article that week or month.  Maybe you can earn some part time income from it and that is fine.  But the difference is that you set up the option for it and people come to you if they are interested.  If they decide not to proceed then YOU DON”T CARE!  And when you go ‘on holiday’ you can actually relax and enjoy yourself.  Sure you might take some extra photos and gather some information so you can blog about it afterwards, but while you are ‘on holiday’ you can focus on the moment at hand.

Travel Blogging as a Business

If you decide that your blog is a business YOU care about whether you publish articles to meet your publication schedule.  You are the one approaching the advertisers!  Or regularly contacting them to encourage them to commit to paying for a sponsored post/sponsored trip etc.  You are focused on spending your time to create additional income streams to generate and diversify your income streams. And you should fully understand that when you travel you are actually working, not ‘on holiday’.

Many people may start their blog as a hobby and over time may decide to turn it into a business – but do it knowingly and ensure you go through a proper business planning process.  And make sure you understand and plan when you are working and when you are truly ‘on holiday’.

Wrap Up

Hopefully I have helped you to better understand your travel blogging journey and some thinking and decision making you should consider.  Once you better understand within your self whether your travel blog is a hobby or a business you will then be more relaxed in decision making about your blog.

You may be interested to learn that when I first started the Pretraveller blog I actually intended to run it as a business.  And I DID write a business plan and did a lot of research prior to commencement.  After a period of disappointment where my articles were not getting the traffic I was expecting I realised that I had a lot to learn about blogging.  So I made a conscious choice to change my blog into a hobby and since then I have felt significantly more relaxed and I have seen my blog grow as I learnt the domain knowledge and skills required to become a travel blogger.

I now have the fundamentals in place that I COULD transition back to having a business based travel blog, however other activities in my life mean that I am not in a position to invest enough time into it to take the next step… yet…  But maybe over the next few years I will look at progressively transitioning back to a more business like model and we will see where things go from there!

 

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If you run a travel blog can you honestly say whether you are running a hobby or a business?  Please share in the comments below if this article has helped you to reassess where you are at in your travel blogging journey.

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Category: Travel Blogging

Anne Sutherland-Smith

About the Author ()

Anne Sutherland-Smith is the founder of the Pretraveller blog which focuses on travel planning. Anne is a keen travel planner who loves researching and preparing for her next trip. You can find her on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and Google+.

Comments (9)

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  1. Jo says:

    Great post Anne. While I’m under no illusions that my blog is anything other than a hobby it’s easy to sucked into “blogging as a competitive sport” – getting too fixated on the numbers, and worrying about what “everyone else” is doing or getting. It takes a lot of discipline to step back and just do it for enjoyment – which is why I started it in the first place!
    Jo recently posted…Real life one bag travel – winter weekend city breaksMy Profile

    • Jo, thanks for your comment. I was inspired to write this post by a combination of things, one being the recent discussion thread on our Facebook group and some other things I had been thinking about for a while. I personally find that deciding something is actually a hobby gives me a true sense of freedom, and as you have stated it helps you to step back and smell the roses.

    • It’s definitely easy to get sucked in to numbers because they’re so concrete.

      My blog started out as a straight up and down family travel blog and I went so far as to change the name and URL for all the reasons mentioned here – it is not really my idea of a dream job at all and I didn’t want to get sucked in to the competition even as a hobbyist. I think I’m gradually finding the right balance with it under the new name.

      I’ve also started pinning articles like this to reflect on when I need to remind myself of my priorities – so thanks for writing it!
      Bronwyn Joy recently posted…Petro “Sains”, Kuala Lumpur, MalaysiaMy Profile

      • Bronwyn, thanks for your comment. I agree that it is easy to get ‘sucked in’ to try to do things which are realistically outside the scope of a hobby blog. I am happy to hear that you have also thought about this issue and have made a conscious choice about it all.

  2. Such a great read, and timely for me. Its been recently that I have seen how competitive things can when you have a blog. I also do not think anyone really know how much work it takes until you’re up all hours trying to stick to a schedule. And its not until your blog goes down for the first time that you realise how much it means to you :)
    SJ @ Chasing the Donkey recently posted…Where to get the best steak in Zagreb #sundaytravelerMy Profile

    • SJ, thanks for your comment. I agree that it can get very competitive, and that is where it is really important to make a conscious choice about whether you are running a hobby or a business, as it can make such a difference to how you approach it.

  3. Alex.G says:

    Thanks Anne for your article.
    Actually it gave me a lot to think about it.
    I’ve just started a blog, about travel, yoga and some thinking cap.
    Of course I’d like it to have it spread and posting regularly, but it’s also true that now that I read your article I’m more clear about the fact that I’m not ready and mature for a business-blog. There are actually too many things I don’t know. And still wanna enjoy before making if a business.
    I think, as everything, part-time is often a good choice. You love your work. But you are quite independent from it, in the sense that you have time to think about and take care about something else, which is important to get back to the work with clear and fresh mind, new ideas and that zest, which is the most important thing in life!

    Regards
    Alex

    • Alex, thanks for your comment. It is great that my article has helped you to reflect upon what you are aiming for with your blog. It is so easy to get caught up with what other people are doing and not have that self awareness of what YOU want out of your blog. All the best!

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