We all know the dream: you start a travel blog, are diligent about updating it, start working with brands and then before you know it, you’re earning a living as a full time travel blogger. The dream is possible but unfortunately doesn’t always pan out for everyone.
The fact of the matter is that the world of blogging is competitive and bursting with talented photographers, writers and social media mavens. It can be difficult to carve a name for yourself under such circumstances. Even some of the top bloggers out there report having had to wait years before becoming a full time blogger. So, what do you do when your blogging isn’t panning out as planned? Where do you go once – horror of all horrors – you realize you can’t turn blogging into a sustainable career. Let’s discuss.
1. Start by being honest with yourself.
The hardest step will be this one: being honest with yourself. The Pin the Map Project is a personal blog that I have painstakingly tended to for five years now. My blog started out as a side hobby but soon enough blossomed into (what I hoped would be) a full time career.
While The Pin the Map Project did generate money, it was hardly enough to live off of in New York City. About two years ago, I took the plunge and quit my advertising career in an “all-in” effort to try and pour every waking minute into the development of my website and travel writing career. Every day, I would plan, write, and promote my website; yet despite my best efforts I wasn’t earning anywhere near what I needed to comfortably live off my blog. Regardless of multiple press trips, paying brand partnerships and an undeniable increase in following, the fact is that my website wasn’t earning enough.
I reached a point where my blogging became an annoyance rather than a joy. Why couldn’t I make this work? Why couldn’t I earn enough? I grew frustrated until finally I had to confront the inevitable choice: I could either go back to work or work menial side jobs while I continued to push my blog forward.
I went back to the workforce in September 2016 – this time landing a job I actually love as a Travel Editor – and my blog? Well, The Pin the Map Project exists today as my passion project, a side hobby that I adore but no longer stress about monetizing.
2. Asking yourself what do you want from your blog?
Part of being honest with yourself is asking yourself what do you want to do with your blog? Is your goal to become a travel blogger extraordinaire and live off your site? Is your hope to treat your blog as a showcase of your writing to lead to a freelance writing career? Are you trying to break into editorial and want your blog to serve as an online portfolio of your work? Is your blog a passion project you enjoy on the side?
Since I graduated journalism school, my dream was always to break into editorial, yet as things go, I ended up in advertising and struggled with breaking into my dream job. I began freelance writing on the side, but – as anyone who pitches editors knows – landing a published story wasn’t always easy and so I started blogging so I could always flex my writing muscles and show editor’s my work. Knowing what your goal is for your blog can help you determine what to do if it’s not working. For example, if you’re blog is meant to highlight your social media prowess, then perhaps you should look towards a social media marketing career. If your blog is meant to highlight your photography, then perhaps you should pursue freelance photography.
3. What do you love most about your blog?
The fact is that there are many many MANY blogs out there and the climb to the top of the pile can be arduous. If you’re blog is not panning out as planned, this does not mean you need toss in the towel on your passion! What did you enjoy most about your blog? Is it the photography and photo editing? Is it the writing? Is it the social media aspects of it? Is it something else completely? Consider freelance work for your passion. While you may not build a career as a travel blogger, you could build one as a travel writer extraordinaire by freelancing for other publications!
Check out our guide to pitching travel editors!
4. Consider getting creative with monetization.
This is by no means a novel idea – most bloggers will suggest online stores, books, etc. to help them in their venture to make a living off their blog. In fact, few bloggers I know of live solely off their blogging anymore. Most bloggers have side ventures – be it a design shop, website design, an e-store or e-books they sell. If your blogging career isn’t panning out, then don’t be discouraged to throw in the towel! Perhaps – with a little creativity – you can earn more money by expanding your site beyond blogging to offer a service or product to your readers.
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