A Confused Travel Blogger

Lately, I’ve been spending a lot of time thinking about the future, and life in general.

I’ve come to a point in my life, where by societal norms, I should be starting a career and, I don’t know… buying furniture? Only, I’m not sure if that’s what I want to do. Not that there’s anything wrong with furniture.

Everything has become incredibly confusing, because I can’t seem to decide what path I should head down. Do I continue to be a happy traveler, or do I become another bored 9-5er?

It was always my plan to get my TEFL certificate right after graduation, and begin teaching in either the Middle East or Asia within the following months. But, I’ve been putting it off to see where this blogging thing goes.

I’m 24, I just graduated University, and I’m supposed to be setting off into the world of pay-cheques and schedules, right?

I started thinking about it more last night, after Social Media Week & Toronto Travel Massive’s “Getting Serious about Travel Blogging” event. They were basically discussing exactly what I had been questioning myself in the past weeks.

How do you become a full time travel blogger?

How do you afford rent when you don’t have a regular job?

How do you justify paying rent when you are hardly ever home?

Press trips and travel perks are way more than I ever expected to get out of travel blogging. I couldn’t be more thankful for the amazing trips that I have been on and the people that have helped me along the way (seriously–THANK-YOU!!).

But, Andrew Hickey put it perfectly, “amazing trips don’t pay the bills”.

I would love to have the best of both worlds. I would be perfectly content if I could have (part time or contract) job here in Toronto, along with my home base and little apartment, as well as being a full time travel blogger.

But, how do I do that? How do I find a job that allows excessive “vacation time”.

How do you present yourself to a potential employer?

“Hello, my name is Seattle and I’m addicted to travel (oops, wrong kind of meeting?). I write about travel and take photos. I spend my day on Twitter, Facebook and whatever other social media network has decided to take over my life. I like to spontaneously leave town and pop up half way across the world, or attend press trips in other countries. When can I start?”

Do any of you other travel bloggers have suggestions? Does anyone else have this same problem? Should I just shut up and stop complaining, because I get to travel all the time and that’s totally amazing?

I have come to the conclusion that I am going to keep travel blogging, no matter what. I will definitely never have a 9-5 job, but it just seems that it would make things a little more stable if I had something else to fall back on.

Ohhh… *sigh* I am one confused little travel blogger.

 

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33 Responses to “A Confused Travel Blogger”

  1. Amanda
    February 18, 2012 at 2:14 am #

    I know exactly how you feel! I went back to school after working for 2 years because I wasn’t happy with the desk job I had. There was nothing WRONG with it, per se, but I was bored. And I was much more interested in travel blogging and tweeting than anything else. Now that the blogging is actually starting to pay off, I’m entertaining serious ideas of trying to make this my full-time job once I graduate next spring. It definitely WON’T be easy… but I can’t think of anything else right now that would truly make me happy. And, while I realize I need to pay my bills, I don’t believe in living an unhappy life.

    Sounds like you just need to figure out what would make you happy, and then figure out how to go about getting it! You rock, so I’m sure you can do it.
    Amanda recently posted..Pack Your Boots – We’re Goin’ to Iceland!

    • Seattle
      February 18, 2012 at 2:25 am #

      I’m glad to hear that someone else is in relatively the same boat! Haha.
      I think mine is also starting to pay off now.. in fact this was my best month yet.. but I can only hope that it keeps up.

      Hehe, thanks 😀

  2. Caroline Eubanks
    February 18, 2012 at 12:24 pm #

    I’m in the same boat, girl! I just graduated in May 2010 and was working to save up for my Australian trip, where I was for a year. I just got back two months ago and now I’m back where I was almost two years ago! So confused. If you figure it out let me know! My general plan is keep blogging and freelance writing part time and working in hospitality the other half of the time.
    Caroline Eubanks recently posted..The Best and Worst of Australian Hostels

    • Seattle
      February 18, 2012 at 1:42 pm #

      @Caroline – The amazing trips are totally worth the hard work, it just sucks having to start all over again when you’re done.
      I think you have the right idea about freelance writing though.. I’m definitely going to look into that. Where do you work in hospitality??

  3. pam
    February 18, 2012 at 12:27 pm #

    I clicked through the Twitter because, hey, your link says “Seattle’s Travels” and I was all, have I met her? Because she’s in Seattle, has she not showed up for the Seattle Travelblogger Happy Hour yet?

    Okay, now, seriously.

    1. I really like Tim Leffel’s book, Travel Writing 2.0. Get it, read it. Okay? Okay.
    2. I think there’s s lot of specious fiction about being a full time travel blogger. Be HIGHLY suspicious of it. Look for back stories — did that success story quit a corporate career with a pile of saving? Did they bug out to a third world country? Do they have junk sites supporting their “full time travel blogger” persona? You gotta dig for the real story. Ask hard questions.
    3. I can’t speak for the whole world of bloggers, but I have a great day job as a technical writer. I really like it. It pays well and I’m freelance, and that means I get to travel. A lot. I do okay. But it’s the combination of things that make my life go.
    4. See the first item on this list.

    Good luck, chica, and join the Seattle Travel Bloggers group on Facebook, why doncha?

    • Seattle
      February 18, 2012 at 1:44 pm #

      @ Pam – Hehe, well, I’m not from Seattle–it’s my name!
      1. I’ll have to find this book, thanks for the suggestion 😀
      2. YES!! That is probably the biggest thing for me… not only do I NOT have savings.. I have students loans, ahhh!
      3. That sounds perfect… I need to find something just like that

      Thanks 😀

  4. Adam@SitDownDisco
    February 18, 2012 at 12:46 pm #

    I think for the sat majority of people, trying to make a living from travel blogging is a bad idea. I think it’s easier to make decent money doing almost anything else. And for that reason travel blogging for most people is just going to be a hobby. The real trick is finding a job that suits the lifestyle you want. Could try being a guidebook writer… Could teach English in Asia and travel when the mood strikes. Could start a travel relate business. I understand the desire to say away from the 9-5. I escaped already.
    Adam@SitDownDisco recently posted..East Java & Indonesia’s Problem with Tourism

    • Seattle
      February 18, 2012 at 1:47 pm #

      @Adam – Hmm.. you could be right, for the most part. If you don’t work hard, it’s not going to make your living. But, I think there are a small few that are dong it. Honestly, if I didn’t have a pile of student loans to pay off–I’d probably be doing alright.
      BUT.. there are loans.. so I must find a job somewhere! I definitely plan to teach English aboard… I guess I was just hoping to put it off for a few more years. Seems like it may be time to look into that…

  5. Jensje
    February 18, 2012 at 2:59 pm #

    Hi travel blogger,
    Looks like you got stuck in one thing: a ‘home’ in Toronto. Ever thought about the fact a blogger just needs a phone or computer, a camera and a internet connection to get around? As soon you’re consider being a world citizen, you can work whereever your bloggs take you and lead a travellers life. No 9-5 but just a 24/7 blogging traveller.

    Home is where your bed is…..

    Will that help?

    Keep smiling,keep blogging, keep following your hart!
    Jensje

    • Seattle
      February 18, 2012 at 4:22 pm #

      @Jensje – That’s good advice, however I’m not yet one of those travelers that can go without a home base. In fact–I may never be one of those people. I prefer to have a home, and travel often.
      BUT–even if I wanted to become a digital nomad.. I still have too many student loans to worry about to simply just take off. I can’t exactly start living freely until they are taken care of. Hence…. the job factor :p

  6. The Travel Dandy
    February 18, 2012 at 4:14 pm #

    What you are realising is the great golden egg of travel bloggers every where, how to make enough money doing this.. That’s the goal..
    I don’t think anyone is going to tell you how to do that.. You need to work out how to do it yourself..

    • Seattle
      February 18, 2012 at 4:20 pm #

      @Travel Dandy – I’m not looking for anyone to tell me how to make enough money on travel blogging alone… more so, how to make a little extra on the side without getting a full time job, I suppose.

  7. Alicia @Taggio
    February 18, 2012 at 4:37 pm #

    Hi Seattle,
    I totally went through the same thing when I graduated University.

    Although I was lucky enough to find a travel company here that wanted me to do exactly what I was already doing (social media, travel blogging, video etc) and pay me a full time salary to do it – I started by taking on contract jobs with travel companies like Intrepid to help them with Social Media projects, starting a blog, etc.

    At the time, I would say I was lucky, but now I notice that a lot of other travel companies are looking to hire people that are already creating content (and understand Social Media) to help them run their Social strategy (even if for a couple months at a time). The more projects you do, the more you build your portfolio which is appealing to other companies.

    I would start talking to the companies that are already offering you press trips etc and see if there is anything you can start doing for them on a contract basis. Most likely, they have a big project coming up or a contest they might need help managing.

    If they like your work, they’ll keep calling you back. Trust 😉
    Alicia @Taggio recently posted..The SMWTO Kickoff

    • Seattle
      February 18, 2012 at 5:05 pm #

      @ Alicia Wow, that was actually super helpful, and probably the best response yet.
      You’re right, and I will definitely look into this some more. It sounds like it would be the perfect way to solve my problem.
      I think I have a bit of research ahead of me.. but, it’ll be worth it. You’ve sent me in the right direction, thanks 😀

  8. Danielle
    February 18, 2012 at 5:00 pm #

    I’m a server/bartender and I feel like I make decent enough money to support myself if I needed too. I still live at home but serving/bartending has allowed for me to travel to London/ Paris for two weeks, and go to Floridia and the Bahamas in May. My work also doesn’t care about how many times you take vacation. May will be 4 weeks I’ve taken off. I’m also trying to get a travel blog started too and your post made me think about things I might have to deal with. I still have expenses too pay like a car payment and medical insurance, etc. I think it’s doable.

    Just a thought, I’m not sure if the restraint business is the same as it is in Calfornia but making tips = good money here 🙂 Good luck!!
    Danielle recently posted..A beautiful day in Laguna Beach!

    • Seattle
      February 18, 2012 at 5:08 pm #

      @Danielle I’m definitely not above turning down a restaurant job, if it comes down to it. If I found somewhere, like your job, that allows a lot of time of… then why not? I’ve worked countless bar tending and serving jobs, so it’s always something I can fall back on. Nice to know someone else is doing it, and keep that in mind as a backup plan 😀

  9. Josh
    February 18, 2012 at 5:02 pm #

    A agree about being skeptical–“full time travel blogger” is very rare. I think the only ones surviving off blogs alone have a product they are selling. The few others that will make it will do it through print books or other opportunities, but typically not with full-time income directly from their blogs.

    There is one other common monetization method, but it isn’t related to travel, and it isn’t sustainable.

    I managed to travel for a long time, but I call myself a “Web Publisher” who also has some travel blogs. In most cases, the blogs have been a tool, not the things that make the income.

    When considering travel vs. job, it doesn’t have to be one or the other. It’s possible to use blogging experience to get a job with a travel company. Many travel jobs involve travel. One possibility is to eventually manage a travel company’s social media accounts and blog remotely.

    Another idea is working in hostels. It’s possible to do that for 6 to 12 months at a time, and then go traveling for a while. I did that for a while.

    I’m in the process of settling down in Europe, working for a travel company, with good vacation time, a couple hours from many European cities. I’ll still run my websites on the side, but I don’t want to depend on them for income anymore. The monetization technique was too much work for the amount of income. 🙂

    I predict that, within the next couple of years, a large number of travel bloggers will be working for travel companies as writers and social media managers. I think it’s a good balance…
    Josh recently posted..How to Find Things to Do in the San Francisco Bay Area

    • Seattle
      February 18, 2012 at 5:12 pm #

      @Josh – Yeah, I’m definitely leaning toward the social media option. I’d love to combine that with freelancing, I suppose I just need to figure out where to start. I’m going to spend the next month doing a lot of research.
      You’ve made some really helpful points, thanks a lot for your input 😀
      And agreed, about your last statement!

  10. Michel Boudreau
    February 18, 2012 at 5:34 pm #

    Life is like a box of chocolate. Remember that quote? Having a place to go to . A place you can call home is important. You have to find that spot, Not easy in such a wonderful world . Dont wory . It will happen at the wrigt moment. Think about it,you already have a job that many would envy And by the way. The quality of your work is simply amazing at such a yong age . I live in Quebec city and i repost most of your work. You made me even more proud of the city i love And the way you presenteded it to your friends brings me joy . I am certain that you had the same effect in other places you have presented . You simply bring happines to many people. Of course i understand you feeling insecure. It takes courage to do what you do. Insecurity in not a pleasant feeling
    ps: Readers. Please be kind i am French Canadian and my english may be eratic But i hope you will pardon me

    • Seattle
      February 18, 2012 at 5:38 pm #

      This is the comment that made me smile the most!! Thank-you 😀

      I loved Quebec City, so it was easy to make it look good. Thanks for re-posting!
      Hopefully having a good quality of work will be what gets me a job, or some additional freelance work 😀

  11. Michel Boudreau
    February 18, 2012 at 5:42 pm #

    🙂

  12. Michel Boudreau
    February 18, 2012 at 5:46 pm #

    Please give us a chance to discover amazing places seen through your eyes Dont give up

  13. Sam
    February 18, 2012 at 10:53 pm #

    Talking of social media sites taking over your life… have you got a pinterest account. I’ve just created one and seeing more and more travel bloggers on it too now.
    Sam recently posted..Hiking in Rocky Mountain National Park

  14. Megan
    February 19, 2012 at 4:00 am #

    Hey Seattle,
    I was in a similar “what now” phase a few years ago when I finished university. I opted for the supposed “sensible route: stayed put and worked as a journalist for a few years”, bought a house etc before leaving with a few years experience under my belt to travel the world and pursuing some more left-of-field opportunities. I think having some solid experience on your resume can pay off in the long run but it may not make you happy in the short term. But I’ve seen other people take flight early on and that’s worked out for them too.
    I think Alicia’s advise is awesome. Another option might be (because you are an awesome photographer), pursue that. You could do weddings, events etc and be in the position to chose which jobs you take according to your schedule. The pay for such work is pretty decent as well.
    Megan recently posted..and the winner is….me!

    • Seattle
      February 20, 2012 at 6:54 pm #

      @Megan Thanks Megan! I wish I had your strength to stick it out for a few years. I go a little crazy when I don’t get to travel.
      Aaand, very good advice because that’s exactly what I already do–haha! I’m a wedding photographer, but I put it on hold a little bit to focus on the blog. I could definitely get back into it though 😀

  15. Zak
    February 19, 2012 at 8:43 pm #

    Hey Seattle—

    I’m glad you posted this discussion; I’ve been reading a lot of the responses, and I’m encouraged that so many of us are in the same boat. Now, I’ve only got a few years’ head start on you (I’m 27), but the “sense of home” and “student loan payments” are two constants that I also wrestle with.

    Danielle’s comments were spot on, and they parallel my own plans for the next few years: by working a job that doesn’t mind if/when/how long I take off, I can make a living from that while simultaneously producing work for my website/editor/book/what-have-you.

    I would just take into consideration that, if at all possible, let the job that sustains you *also* be something through which you can improve yourself. For example, I work as a tradesman (carpenter/metalsmith/landscape designer/etc.), which is work that I genuinely enjoy, and I know will also serve me later in life when the time comes for me to make things for my house and my family, like furniture or a super-sweet tree fort.

    I’ve also been discussing this topic with a friend of mine in México, and she made the observation that for many creatives (like us), there’s a “collecting” season and a “creating” season…maybe for our specific line of work, it goes in 6 month shifts. Travel for six months (“collect”) and then plop down for six months (“create”) and work another job additionally (again, one that you like, one that won’t mind if you pop off for a week or two, and one that hopefully enriches your life).

    If anything, you might also want to call your student loan company and see if you can defer payments. Some of them have clauses that allow you to do so if you’re starting a business, say, or joining the Peace Corps.

    Anyways, I realize this is a really long response. But I hope it helps, and I look forward to reading about what everyone else has to say!

    • Seattle
      February 20, 2012 at 6:49 pm #

      @Zak 1. YES to the tree fort.. hehe
      But really, thanks for your comment. I like the idea of 6/6months. It would be nice to find a job that would be okay with me leaving after 6. I know that I’ll be able to defer student loan payments for at least a couple of years–even without a sufficient excuse–I just know that I will have to pay them eventually. As soon as I’m back in the country–I plan to sit down for about a week just to figure this all out 😀

  16. Tijmen
    February 20, 2012 at 9:32 am #

    Maybe give this a try to give your blogging career a boost -> http://journals.worldnomads.com/scholarships/story/82158/Worldwide/Travel-Writing-Scholarship-2012-Southeast-Asia

  17. Lindsay
    February 24, 2012 at 1:17 pm #

    Hey Seattle,

    I think we’ve been at a few Travel Massives but not quite connected yet. Next time!

    Alicia’s advice is really good, so it’s hard to top that! However, I’ll just throw in my two cents. I’m pretty lucky in that I’ve got a “location independent” digital marketing gig with Urban Adventures (the day tour company co-owned by Intrepid). I’m based in Toronto, but since I can work from anywhere there’s wifi, I tend to run off and work while I travel. It’s not always the easiest thing to balance, but to be honest, it’s a lot of fun. I have the consistency of a full time job, the pay of a full time job (holla), but the flexibility to go where I want.

    This year I’ve already got three trips planned that I’ve not taken time off work for and two (soon to be three) that I have. I like my base in Toronto, but you could always get something location independent and spend a month or two slow travelling / living in different parts of the world. I have a friend doing that right now.

    Hope that helps somewhat!

    Good luck!
    Lindsay recently posted..Fulfilling Dreams

    • Seattle
      February 24, 2012 at 3:08 pm #

      It’s almost impossible to meet everyone at those things, especially because everyone keeps moving around, haha. Hopefully we can meet at the next one (although I guess I might not be there until April) 😀

      It sounds like you have the perfect job! Something like that would be ideal, if I can manage to find it. You’re very lucky.

      Where are you headed on all of your trips? I hope you have fun 😀

  18. Lindsay
    February 24, 2012 at 4:30 pm #

    Are you a member of Ecoclub? They’ve got pretty good job postings, and some are location independent. 🙂

    I’m heading to Atlanta in March for a road trip to southern Florida, then Panama for a week in April, Ontario & Quebec road trip in April, London in July/August, Alberta & BC road trip in September, and hopefully Jordan in October! I see you’re off to Australia soon – ENJOY!
    Lindsay recently posted..Fulfilling Dreams

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