Ah sigh! Here we go another working Wednesdays today and instead of me telling a story or writing about my long list of jobs today it’s time for a reality check. Don’t Stop Living turned 6 yesterday and yes that is some achievement and I’m proud of it. But for people on the outside who read blogs, but don’t write them or own websites, a reality check is needed and now’s the time for it. In this post today I’ll give it to you straight – running a website is NOT EASY.
It takes time, effort and most of all patience. This last week has been a stressful one blog wise, as I’ve had my site slow down ridiculously, had 3 or 4 emails from Google either penalising the site, detecting spam, I’ve switched servers, had to verify my account and am in the process of getting a new logo made. It has been a stressful week and I love travelling and typing but I HATE the technical side of blogging and running websites. It’s a 24 hour job. Here are just 8 of the attributes you need to run a travel blog.
1. You need to be dedicated
You can’t just start a travel blog, write a few posts and then leave it for a few weeks. Hell, I don’t even leave it for a few hours! Dedication is needed. You constantly need new content. Either you’re in it for the long haul, or not at all. You need dedication and commitment. It’s a big ask. But if you have a love for it then you’re fine.
2. You have to change your lifestyle
Just because I go hiking in China, relax with a beer or stay in a decent hostel with my girlfriend doesn’t mean that being a traveller and backpacker is full of ups. It’s not. It has it’s downs. In fact when you’re a travel blogger, you’re not travelling for yourself and your girlfriend anymore, you’re travelling to help others as well. Through your blog posts and social networks you’ve become someone that other people will look to as an example. Your lifestyle is no longer – hike a mountain, take a few photos and head back down to celebrate. Your lifestyle changes to – research the hike, book it and write down all the info, climb the mountain, write about it, promote it.
3. You need to work hard
This is obvious. Nothing comes for free my friends. (Well not much anyway). To be successful at anything, it is my opinion that you need to work hard. Travel blogging is the same. After 6 years of doing this now, I know I’ve worked hard on it. I’ve researched stuff, I’ve included relevant other sites in my text, I’ve contacted others, I’ve promoted my posts, I’ve replied to emails. The list is endless. You don’t have a chance to relax. Believe it or not. As well as working full time in a load of jobs in the last six years, I’ve also been travelling and keeping my blog updated on the move.
4. You need to be on the ball
You have to keep in touch with what’s happening out there. People see you as an expert and will contact you for visa advice and tips all the time. Keep up with the news around the world and stay focused.
5. You need to be online
Internet access is now crucial. In 2010 you might have read that I was living in my tent up in the mountains at Poatina. I had no internet access for 5 weeks. I wrote all my posts offline however and the moment I had internet again, I got them all uploaded finally. But you need to be online these days. It’s all about posting regularly, replying to e-mails and using your social networks. I go crazy if I’m not online for 3-4 days. Ask my girlfriend. The amount of e-mails you have to go through is ridiculous. In Myanmar recently, I had to plant myself in a bar for 5 hours one night just to use their Wi Fi. I had about 300 e-mails to respond to and a load of blog posts to write.
6. You need to be ready for mishaps
Things don’t run smoothly at all. There are so many things that have gone wrong for me and other bloggers out there. I’be had my website go offline over 20 times and I go MAD. I explode. Especially when you’ve typed up a post and it hasn’t saved. I spent 2 days typing up one post in January 2011 because after typing it for 10 hours the entire post was deleted by WordPress and replaced by an empty post. Mishaps like this will happen all the time.
7. You need to be disciplined
Your mates are going to the pub and want you to come but you have a load of e-mails to reply to, not to mention the fact your plug ins seem to be conflicting. You have to tell them you can’t come out. Sadly, your website here is your priority. Once you’ve answered those important e-mails and fixed the plug ins, you can head out. Same goes for sightseeing in a city – forget it if you have advertisers knocking on your door. Money talks and you’ll need to have the discipline to get the work done before you go sightseeing. It’s ironic that as a travel blogger, travel mostly comes second even though it’s the reason why you’re a blogger in the first place! It should be called Blogging Traveller.
8. You need to give advice
You’ll get e-mails and comments from loads of people once your blog builds momentum and you will need to give advice to people. You might be asked ridiculous questions, most of which you may have already answered in blog posts, but you still need to reply and give advice. The worst thing you can do is ignore someone. If you genuinely don’t know the answer, reply and tell them. Personally I reply to every comment and every e-mail as long as they are not spam. I love giving advice and helping others. In fact, I see it as my duty. And you should too.
I’m sure there will be more on the problems and difficulties of travel blogging in this series in the future. I’m cutting the post short now to try and get things running smoothly on the blog. I’m changing servers and have also had a phishing scam and a Google penalty this week. Wish me luck. It ain’t easy being a travel blogger. I won’t give up my day job for this…