“I read the news today oh boy” – The Beatles
Working Wednesdays returned with a flourish last week and I’m getting my head round more wacky job related experiences and opinions these days. When I first studied Journalism back in 1997 in Belfast City, travel blogs may have existed, but they certainly were not widespread, nor were they profitable for the owner back then. Times have changed though, thankfully. When I started this travel blog in 2007 on a nonchalant backpacking trip to Canada and the USA, I never imagined that 8 years down the line it would become a business and the main reason that led to me supporting myself on the road, through the doors that DSL opened and the projects that materialised from it. But then again – newspapers and magazines have been surviving through advertising for centuries so why shouldn’t online travel blogs get in on the act? We both write about travel.
And let’s be blunt about this – travel blogs are more ice cool and more beneficial to advertisers than a travel supplement in a newspaper, an airline magazine or any form of printed media. Longevity rules and the internet is no flash in the pan, it’s big time business. If you don’t believe me, then here are 10 blueberry doughnut reasons why travel blogs outshine travel supplements in papers, airline magazines, travel magazines and other travel industry printed media. It’s a one horse race, go looking for Shergar.
“You’ll never walk alone” – supporters of Liverpool FC
1. Travel Blogs Are Long Term
Once I publish a travel blog post, it’s on the internet, long term, for as long as the domain exists. It’s a permanent post on the internet for everyone to read. The same cannot be said about a piece in a travel supplement of a Sunday newspaper. People buy it the day it comes out, read it a few times, ponder on it, but ultimately it ends up in the rubbish bin. You can’t even retweet it! You might as well just Google it and come to a travel blog. My article about having sex on your travels still gets hundreds of page views a week and I do nothing with it. An article about the Canary Islands in the News of the World in 2004 is confined to the same dustbin of history that Leon Trotsky spoke of.
“Like a bat of out hell, I’ll be gone in the morning sun” – Meatloaf
2. Travel Blogs Are Global
Don’t Stop Living has been accessed by viewers all around the world – places like North Korea, Eritrea, Australia and El Salvador. This website is global and so is Katie Aune.com, so is Wandering Earl. Anyone in the world who has internet access without restrictions can view travel blogs. That’s a huge number of people.
Your wee supplement piece in the Daily Mail however? A few hundred thousand read it, mostly people in the UK and a few abroad. But your adverts and articles won’t be seen by those in Swaziland, Myanmar and Algeria. Target audience for travel? Anyone in the world that likes it. People that saw the Daily Mail supplement and actually re-read it? A man walking his dog in Colchester, 3 Grannies in Stoke on Trent, an East Belfast civil rights activist and a Plymouth Argyle fan.
“You held the world in your arms tonight” – Idlewild
3. Travel Blogs Are Free
Please remember that I don’t charge you to view this website and all my visa tips. It’s free – as long as you have an internet connection. The Lonely Planet magazine however? You had to part with your cash for it just to read it (or you nicked it from your local barbers only to find it was 6 months out of date). Save your money for that hostel dorm in Yerevan or that football stadium in Montevideo you might just need it. A happy hour beer in Kaunas awaits.
“It may have worked but at what price?” – Manic Street Preachers
4. Travel Bloggers Are Approachable
If you want to meet me for a beer or a coffee on the road, you can! Head to my contacts page and you can easily connect! I always say that I love meeting my readers and followers. I’m a people person. 95% of travel bloggers are approachable, Nomadic Matt, Wandering Earl, Allan Wilson, Carlo Cretaro…My time working in PR and media taught me that some journalists and media types would be “too busy” or “too stuck up their own arses” to meet you (it’s true – you just didn’t have the ballbags or bosoms to say it). Come on print media journalists- respond to your emails and meet your readers for a cup of the Earl Grey. You might just enjoy it. We don’t live in a bubble and if you did, we all know it won’t be long bursting.
“Do you need anybody? I need somebody to love.” – Beatles again (they were decent)
5. Travel Bloggers Really Travel
I’m out backpacking the globe at the moment. Wow – shock horror I really travel. I was in Brazil for the World Cup, I backpacked through Central America, had a jaunt in the Baltics and the UK then flew to Hong Kong via Kuwait. Not forgetting the fact that I was in Africa for my 100th country a few months back and then slid through the Basque Country! I’m really travelling and so are most other travel bloggers – we don’t just do 4 weeks of holiday a year and think we know it all – we try and travel 12 months a year. Something about passion.
“It’s a passion. Woah, you can feel it in the air” – Snap
Newspaper travel supplements have physical offices and even desks and permanent fixtures. Some of these writers even drink a cup of tea from the same cup every day. The worst shock recently was that some of them have never even been to Bali, yet they’ve written a 3 page feature on it. Perhaps I was wrong singling out those fake travel bloggers?
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6. Travel Blogs Contain a Lower Level of Excrement
If this was a toilet there would be less poo poos here. It’s all genuine real life travel experience passionately shining out. The thing is, print journalists are being paid either a set wage or an agreed figure for their work. They have a wage, they are not like travel bloggers who to all intents and purposes “work for free”, hustling and bustling for cash as well as weeding cabbage paddocks, serving tea and coffee or cleaning toilets on boats. They will write what they want as it doesn’t change their wage. They are less bothered whether or not their article could be mistaken for a backpackers excretion in Yuanyang. They’ve written it and they love it.
“Get your shit together girl” – Noel Gallagher
Travel bloggers don’t have that option as they earn zero unless they promote themselves, write for other publications, sell sponsored content, sign up for thousands of affiliates who each pay you back 0.05 cents for every 60 books you sell etc. This means a travel blog article about backpacking through Xiaoqi, Jenolan Caves, getting the metro in Pyongyang, staying safe in Erbil or touring Santa Ana is likely to be a personal first hand account of what went on. It’s not contrived and it wouldn’t be found on a farm in Ballymena. Most of us grew out of hi-jacking Northern Irish tractors before the Good Friday Disagreement came out (1998).
7. Printed Travel Media is Out of Date
Check your cherry tomatoes in the fridge, they could be out of date, but you just forgot to eat them in time. As soon as a travel article in a newspaper or magazine is printed and sold, it becomes out of date. The prices change, the bus timetables change, hotels change name, restaurants close etc. With travel blogs, we can constantly go in and edit details to change them to be present and accurate. We get emails from readers and companies which also alert us and keep us up to date. The information can be used for years and years. A travel supplement in a Sunday newspaper is dead on arrival. I’ve seen kids make hats of out them in doctor’s surgeries. (edit: the kids are now teenagers and they’re writing travel blogs).
“No-one’s gonna drag you up to get into the life where you belong” – Ace of Base
8. Travel Blogs Don’t Have Word Limits
I’ve worked as a Copywriter and I’ve worked in media and PR. I had managers say to me “Can you write 250 words on this?”. Well really, I could write 2,000 words on that, but you’ve set a limit. So yes I can be concise in my 250 words, but there’s not enough scope for detail and more information. Who cares about how skillful it is to get a word count of 250 words for a snazzy hotel review? I want the full details, multiple photos, lots of words.
Check out one of my long articles like A Backpacker’s Guide to Iraqi Kurdistan. That couldn’t fit in a travel magazine the way it is – it would need editing to the point where it partly becomes useless to travellers who just get their laptops out and get the info online. It would be like Messi scoring a hat trick in the first half and then deciding not to play well in the second half. Yes, the audience have missed out. It’s exactly the same. Or Messi scored a hat trick but the newspaper only has room to write about the first goal. Football blogger links to the hat-trick on YouTube and tells the full story. 2,000 people share it on Facebook while they’re in a queue for a bus. Bang – you’re viral.
“She’s got it. Yeah baby she’s got it” – Shocking Blue
9. Travel Blogs Have External Links
The great advantage that travel blogs have over printed media is that they have links to other sites and ideas. An article on London might link to the bars it mentions, it might link to YouTube videos, Facebook pages to follow etc. All you get in printed media is the email address or website written down. 99 times out of 100 nobody bothers to type that into their web browser. 1 time out of 100 they’ve got the link wrong.
“I got his attention. Get their attention.” – David Brent
10. Travel Blogs Are Instant
We live in a high speed instant spur of the moment age. No sooner has Steven Gerrard announced his retirement from Liverpool than it has been retweeted on Twitter, friends have posted photos of him slipping over at Anfield, British websites are trying magically to get his statistics details and player profile report updated for a new article ASAP. The good news is – while some print media journalists are too busy to print your article right away (“don’t worry love, I’ll put you in the July edition” – By the July edition, it’s too late), travel bloggers can get you online in a flash. I’ve pulled my pants up slower. If anyone wants an article up thick and fast, just email a travel blogger, pay them some cash or give them a free pint of Guinness and your article has been retweeted before the Lonely Planet worked out why it makes no sense to have a single book on Ireland when there are clearly two countries on the island.
“Round round baby the world’s spinning out on me” – Sugababes
Don’t get me wrong though. I love reading airlines magazines and printed media (you don’t even have to call me a hypocrite – I’ll do that myself) and they are great. Yes I’m a hypocrite and I’ve written a load of times for print publications! (Hell I used to be editor of a football fanzine!). Seriously but times have changed and printed media make way too much money and take the share away from the more authentic long term travellers out there. These ten reasons highlight why travel blogs are superior. In my opinion, doesn’t have to be yours. If you’re keen to advertise on DSL, I have an advertising page. I’m also ready to meet you all for a coffee (or a Guinness when I finish my detox period). If it’s a coffee, can we do Knotts in Newtownards please?
So if you are a travel blogger it’s time to shine. You can make money and you should make money. Nomadic Matt kick started it all many years ago and still his resource How to Make Money With Your Travel Blog does exactly what it says on the tin. Write what you want, for as long as you want, edit as much as you want and don’t listen to the doubters. You can live the impossible dream!
“Yann Kermorgant, making all the noise, he’s Premier League!” – AFC Bournemouth fans
Right I’m off to hike up a mountain and visit a temple, who wants to meet me for a gooseberry milkshake and a hobnob?
“Don’t look back when leaving town.” – The Doves