Last week, I published a blog post about creating travel content and how it can lead to passive income blogging (aka the best way to make a living ever!)
The response from everyone was great and we had lots of follow-up questions. The main question is, ‘How can I turn my passion for travel into a career as a travel content creator, copywriter, blog writer?’
I thought it was time to let the cat out of the bag and share a bunch of truths. Because it wasn’t my passion for traveling that led me to create content, it was my love for creating content that led me to travel.
Let me tell you a little about my professional background…
- English was always my favorite subject at school
- I studied English, English Literature, Media Studies and Business Studies at A Level
- Then I studied English and literature and university
- I then traveled for several years and worked as an online copywriter while traveling (among other jobs)
- Then I took the Journalism NCTJ course
- While studying at NCTJ, I also took up a paid internship as an editorial assistant at a travel startup
- Around this time, I became heavily involved in the London travel blogging world
- I then worked as a social media manager at Flight Center UK
- I started my business as a travel writer, copywriter, and social media consultant for travel brands while working full time. Although it was my side hustle at this point, I knew this little startup would soon become my full-time job.
- I then quit my full-time blogging job and took up some freelance social media consulting work to supplement my income (which I found boring, but paid well)
- Then I gave birth to my first son and completely focused on blogging (and family!)
- After a few years, I started doing more regular writing work, creating content for blogs and websites for brands, as well as my own website.
1. I am a content creator before I’m a traveller
What does this mean?
I love traveling. I love traveling. But I actually love writing about travel as much, if not more, than travel itself. I know that probably makes me a little weird, but that’s the truth.
When I look back on my childhood, I see that I have always been a content creator. As a child, I made my own magazines and always kept a diary. And I had a few pen pals who would receive weekly updates about my life. I also liked drawing and taking photos. We didn’t have a family video camera, but if we had, we would have been in trouble!
I loved every element of the creation. I also love stationery and was always spending my allowance on stinky gel pens and fancy notebooks.
I really enjoy creating blog posts about everything. I wrote about my morning workout last week!
2. I wanted to travel to have adventures to write about
When I was little, I remember writing late-night stories in bed by the light of a flashlight. I got to the point where I couldn’t think of anything to write about, and I thought it was not because I was inexperienced or exhausted because it was long past my bedtime, but because my life was boring. I was bored, bored, and bored in a way that only a 10-year-old can feel!
My life should be exciting and adventurous. Then you’ll have lots of exciting things to write about!
And that’s where my life-changing travel obsession began, folks!
3. Finding confidence to be ‘a writer’
When I was backpacking, I wanted to go on an adventure all day long, but the next day I was just as happy sitting at my beach house writing about that adventure on my laptop.
I remember when I shared this photo years ago, I got a nasty message from someone telling me I was a loser for sitting on my laptop while in Thailand. I was supposed to be enjoying the countryside, but I was glued to the screen. It really knocked my confidence down for a while and made me question what I was doing. Was writing stopping me from fully enjoying my experience?! Should I wait to write about a place until I get home and immerse myself in the destination while I’m there?
Thankfully, I now have more confidence in myself and am happy and proud to be the kind of person who enjoys sitting down like this and writing about my experiences!
But you have to really get into it!
I remember turning down invitations to go to parties and have drinks on the beach and just sit by myself and write my blog. This wasn’t a sacrifice for me, but it will be for many.
4. I wasn’t paid a penny for years
It’s worth noting that even though I dreamed of a career as some sort of travel content creator, I wasn’t paid a penny for at least four years. I guest posted on blogs and his website, and wrote my own blog posts every day (90% of his stuff was so bad it ended up in the trash!)
Then I interned at as many websites as I could. These aren’t just travel websites, but I also interned at fashion, fitness, and women’s lifestyle websites.
5. Internships, internships, internships
I know that internships are frowned upon these days. Because many of them exploit young people and force them to work for free. There’s also the problem that only wealthy people can complete internships, as they are often 40 hours a week and have no financial compensation.
Thankfully, the good thing about writing for online publications is that many internships are also done online and can be flexible.
I had about four or five unpaid internships before landing a paid internship at a travel website in London.
I learned a lot during my internship, even things that seemed pointless at the time. I write for SEO and online audiences, submit copy, pitch ideas, research topics, interview people, quickly spin copy, edit, find photos to accompany articles, and write in a professional writing environment. I learned about common tasks. I also learned a lot just by sitting next to other writers and seeing how quickly others worked.
One of the things that’s so important about making a living writing is being able to do it quickly. For example, if he was paid £250 to write an article (whether for a client’s girlfriend’s website or his own) and it took him half a day, he would earn a decent income. But if it takes a week, it can be quite a pain!
These internships gave me the much-needed confidence and reassurance that this was the career for me. It also gave me the opportunity to attend networking events and start meeting people in the industry. Because knowing the right people can be half the battle!
Never be without your camera!
6. Writing for small sums of money
After my internship, I started pitching on websites and getting paid a small amount for blog posts. When I say small, I mean small!
To be honest, I don’t think this is a bad thing. You can’t pitch your article to a major travel magazine and expect to get her £5,000 double-page spread right away. You need to learn how to pitch, hone your writing skills, and learn how to produce content that magazines and websites actually want.
Of course, not everyone agrees with this, and many experienced writers will have a hard time finding work, as there will always be newcomers on the scene looking to write for lower rates.
While this is true, you also have to start somewhere, and this method has worked for me.
7. Eventually getting noticed
After many years, I finally started getting noticed and getting paid a decent wage for my writing. Wow.
This is closely related to my blog really taking off and my opportunities as a blogger increasing.
Opportunities come in all shapes and sizes, whether it’s a luxury cruise or the chance to learn about wild camping and bikepacking in Wales!
8. How to ‘get noticed’
Honestly, there is no “trick” to get to this stage. In reality, all I did was plod along for years, writing hundreds of blog posts for both The Travel Hack and a series of online sites.
OK, “dlaid” sounds like a lot of work. It was definitely hassle free, I loved it. I still do!
It wasn’t just the amount of posts I was writing, but also the fact that I learned something from each post I wrote. It all seems so obvious now, but it’s little things like finding out that articles with numbers in the title perform best. It took years of trial and error to figure all this out. Sometimes he has to write 100 blog posts before everything is clear!
And if you see someone jump into the scene and become an “overnight success,” remember that it’s probably not their first attempt.
9. Having a blog is the best way to promote yourself
Now I’m an established blogger and 99% of my work comes from blogging. I rarely pitch my work because clients find me thanks to The Travel Hack.
When marketing your work, you can use your blog as a portfolio to showcase your work to clients. This makes the pitching process much easier, and since you have a huge portfolio of written work, it means you can almost always present something similar to what they are looking for.
Having an online presence often comes with a higher price tag, since you’re not just creating content, you’re also bringing in an audience.
If you can prove that your online followers read and watch the travel content you create, you can often charge extra for the travel content you’re creating!
Let’s say a travel startup asks you to write an article for their website. They currently have no followers and no online presence at all. And you can guarantee that 5,000 of your followers will want to read what you write. That’s very valuable to them. This will bring his 5,000 new eyes to the website and potentially new customers for his product.
Therefore, in this day and age, it is very important to build a following online and establish yourself as a voice of authority.
I love a job that fits around my life as a mother
10. It’ll be easier if you pick a niche within the travel industry
We know that many content creators don’t like to limit themselves to one niche. Because it feels restrictive. But in reality, it will lead to more opportunities and more jobs.
Choose a niche and you’ll quickly become an expert in your specific field of travel. Yes, your chances may be less in that one niche, but your chances of getting selected are higher.
Many people overcomplicate their area of expertise, but it’s actually very simple. What are you an expert in? If he spent a year backpacking through Asia, that’s your niche. If you travel without any luggage, that’s your niche. If you live in Yorkshire and write about local places, that’s your niche.
Don’t try to come up with a fancy niche that requires new skills or a lot of research, stick to what you know now and keep writing about it!
11. Small travel brands need content too
When you think of pitching articles to publications, you probably think of travel magazines, newspapers, and large online sites. But don’t forget that travel brands need content too.
When I worked at Flight Center, I was responsible for social media and blog content, and regularly used Travel Blogger to write articles for various blogs. If there’s a sale on flights to Thailand, you’ll probably hire a team of travel bloggers to write about Thailand. This will result in a natural influx of natural traffic from people researching the country for holiday ideas. These people were our target audience, so it was an easy way to promote the Thai Airways sale and drive customers to the sale page.
We worked with Mark Warner to shoot some promotional images at one of our amazing resorts!
12. Tips if you want to find ways to make money from your love for travelling
The main point I want to make here is that if you are looking for a way to make money from your love of travel, becoming a content creator is not the only way.
If your skills and passion lie in writing, photography, and video production, then yes, content creation is ideal for you.
But if your skills are in other areas, I would 100% look into those areas first. You may be a great traveler, but if you’re not a great writer, this will be a difficult road for you and will always feel like an uphill battle.
Barefoot Nomad has some suggestions for travel-related jobs, but remember that any job you can do remotely (and there are a surprising number of them thanks to COVID-19!) can also be done while you’re traveling.
Read more: 10 easy hacks to help you work while traveling
Being a content creator as a career
One of the best things about becoming a content creator is that once you learn the skills, you can specialize in any type of content creation.
If you find a new hobby or change your lifestyle, you can adjust your career accordingly.
This blog is a perfect example of that. She used to travel back to back, but now she starts sharing more about her family and life as a mother. I write for clients about a variety of things, including caravanning, paddle boarding, and even my new hobby, gardening.
This can be a very flexible career, both in terms of the hours you work and what you work on. There are so many different routes to choose from and it’s very exciting!
Having kids as a content creator
I wouldn’t say having kids helped my career, but they definitely changed the way I work and really opened my eyes to the industry.
The main thing I learned is that you can charge for virtually everything.
When my first son was born, I had less free time, so I naturally started prioritizing paid work.
I would email back to brands who asked me to collaborate with them, saying, “I’m currently working part-time and prioritizing my paid work, so I can’t work on this right now.’
To my surprise, the brands that always told me they didn’t have the budget were quick to say, “Okay, we’ll pay for it…’
And that was probably the biggest game changer for me as a content creator!