Whenever we tell people we’re travel bloggers, they either decide we spend our days sipping rainbow cocktails at the beach and getting paid for that or have rich parents paying for our adventures. Either way, most people can’t imagine there are days and nights of hard work involved to get to the point where you’re getting paid for sipping rainbow cocktails at the beach. And to be honest, I don’t blame them for these assumptions as it’s mostly us, travel bloggers, who make our job look all rainbows (sorry) and unicorns.
Don’t get me wrong, this is not an article to complain or to make it look like being a travel blogger is more difficult than any other job. We’re beyond grateful to be able to do what we do and we enjoy every second spent on travelling and working on our content. But I thought it would be interesting to reveal a bit of what never goes on Stories, YouTube videos or blog posts – those downsides of travelling the world as blogger no one knows or talks about.
It’s a job, not a vacation
I recently had a conversation with a friend where she mentioned a photo of me and Alex swimming in a pool. The context was ‘how lucky you two are to relax in a pool, while I was chained to my desk at the office’. The thing is… not everything you see us doing on Instagram is what we do in real life 🙂 This is what we want YOU to do when you come to unwind at a place we recommend. But in order to make this recommendation truly awesome and appealing, we can spend a good hour trying to get that epic drone shot of us in a pool from a perfect angle and then we’ll move on directly to editing the pic at our room. You see, we don’t always have time to actually swim in the pool.
Often, when we get back from another trip, Alex complains that he remembers nothing of what we’d seen and done. He is always behind his cameras, filming and taking photos, and that really distracts you from being in the moment and soaking in the views.
In the course of time, we’ve learned the importance of putting our gear aside, switching off our phones and just being present and enjoying the moment and each other. We now try to always take time to slow down and appreciate all the opportunities we have. Yet, the biggest part of the day is still devoted to filming or sitting in front of our laptops to create and post everything we’ve filmed.
Travel blogging gives you an opportunity to escape 9 to 5 but in fact, you start working longer hours because your job is never done – you can always post one more Story, contact one more brand, reply to one more comment… As some travel bloggers say, ‘It might be a dream job but it’s the worst vacation’.
Sometimes it hurts
While we’re all smiles and positivity online, the reality of capturing this or that place can sometimes be very ugly. Or even dangerous. Alex and I are committed to never do anything reckless for the shot – like standing too close to the edge of the cliff, for example. Yet sometimes we still get bruised or cut while hiking. Not being overly dramatic about getting attacked by roses during the photoshoot for my recent post about Lissom serum – I can totally survive that. But despite always being very careful, we’ve also experienced much worse situations.
Once in Hawke’s Bay, we went to take photos of a waterfall we’ve been to a million times before. It was raining in the morning, so the surface was a bit slippery. On our way back, Alex tripped and fell into a waterfall from at least two metres height. We still have no idea how he managed not to break any bones but, of course, he received some really bad cuts and bruises. Not to mention that he was holding a camera in his hand and though the camera somehow survived, we’ve lost one of our lenses.
Again, it doesn’t make our job any less awesome. But these are the things you most likely never go through unless you know for sure there is one particular best angle to capture a waterfall and you go there despite the weather conditions because your readers deserve nothing short of perfection.
It’s far not all about travelling
While the job title might say it’s all about exploring new destinations, in reality, you spend most of your time at home and in front of your laptop. Editing pictures, writing posts, discussing new collaborations and partnerships, strategising, accounting, replying to emails, promoting your content on different social media and other platforms, networking, developing your website, learning new skills like SEO or how to take better photos because no one else will do it for you – this is what travel bloggers actually do on a daily basis.
On average, it takes me about five hours to write and upload one post and it takes Alex a few hours to edit photos for this post or a good day to edit a video. Posts like ’50 places to see in New Zealand’ can take several days to complete.
And writing is actually the easiest part, it’s
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I often hear ‘Oh, you travel a lot’ from people who mostly follow my life online. The thing is, we might travel for two days but we’ll then be posting the content from this trip for another two weeks. Because – see paragraph one – we were filming and taking pictures all the time and there are now like 9,653 of them and they are all too cool not to share.
You juggle several full-time jobs
In order to be successful, bloggers have to juggle multiple hats – we’re writers, we’re photographers, we do marketing and sales, we develop websites and work on social media. And in most cases, we have no previous experience in any of that. Alex and I are lucky to have a
Burnouts are real
Working all the time is one thing and while we’re lucky to call ‘job’ what really is our biggest passion, we totally don’t mind it.
But the pressure of growing your social media and always, even against your own will, comparing yourself to others is what can cause the worst burnout. You might’ve noticed that sometimes we simply disappear from our social media. I’ve posted something like six photos on Instagram in June. I just couldn’t cope with the feeling that my content is not good enough, that my following is not growing fast enough, that other bloggers seem to score way more collaborations and live far more interesting life than I do.
And let’s quickly talk about lovely little ‘trolls’ who are always hanging around, waiting for you to just get one tiny fact of 10,000 words article wrong or maybe to demonstrate that you’re not being ashamed of that few extra grams of fat you grew on your cheeks while travelling (I mean, how dare I, right?!). They might never comment on anything they loved about your travel tips or photos but trust me, they never miss a chance to leave mean comments and mentally destroy you. Just so, you know, you don’t feel too happy and successful when they don’t.
Days like that leave you crying in bed, demolishing all the sweets you have at home and swearing to never ever get back to travel blogging again.
The good thing is if you really love what you do, after a short (heartbreaking) break like that, you always get up, roll your sleeves and get back to work with the doubled energy and determination.
You don’t always get paid to travel
It might be a goal for all of us but trust me, getting actual payments for travelling is what only a few in the industry manage to achieve. We consider ourselves lucky when all the travel expenses are covered by the company that had invited us but more often they cover only accommodation but not the food, airplane tickets but not the car rent, etc. You still have to invest in your travels.
Writing articles for magazines, earning passive income from YouTube, promoting brands on Instagram is where money really come from. Money that you then invest in traveling.
And while we’re at it, let’s agree once and for all: we don’t travel FOR FREE. Even when we don’t have to pay for accommodation / activity / airplane tickets, we still have to produce tons of content that we then share with the inviting company, we promote this company on our social media, we write articles and sell our photos to magazines. We don’t get that for free, we get that for hours and hours of our work that might’ve otherwise cost these companies even more, for all the coverage and exposure they get in return. I hope we’re clear.
And it costs A LOT
Travel expenses aside – after all, how can you be a travel blogger if you don’t travel! So, I guess, that’s unavoidable. But there are a lot more costs involved in travel blogging.
First of all, you need to buy gear. Yes, these days you can travel with just your phone and create decent photo and video content. But if you want to really stand out, if you want to inspire people and to show them the beauty of the world the way it deserves to be shown, you’ll have to invest in expensive gear. Main camera with various lenses for different situations, drone for aerial footage, GoPro for underwater footage, good laptop to edit your videos unless you’re prepared to die waiting for hours for it to render your video…
And that’s only the tip of the iceberg. In order to blog, you’ll have to pay for the website hosting (from 7 NZD per month),
You’ll have to pay for Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom to edit your photos (around 15 NZD per month) and Final Cut to edit your videos (one-off payment of 500 NZD). Speaking of videos, Epidemic Sound music library for your future videos is 25 NZD per month.
You’ll then have to add different apps that will make your work more efficient and comfortable: Dropbox to store all your content (137 USD per year), Later to schedule your Instagram posts (30 NZD per month), Tailwind to schedule Pinterest (from 120 USD per year)… This list is almost endless, as there are also special apps to edit photos and videos on your phone, apps with beautiful templates for Stories, paid promotions on Instagram and Facebook to boost your content and so much more!
It can be really embarrassing
No matter how long I’m in it already, I still feel super shy to pose, let alone talking to camera for YouTube or my phone for Stories in public. I immediately imagine all those people judging me. Let’s be honest, there is a lot of negativity towards bloggers and Instagrammers these days and very little respect. Many people think we only pose for photos and will promote anything for money. And I don’t disagree entirely, there are, of course, some people like that. But not all of us.
We’ve always treated our blog and our Instagram accounts as a place that should be interesting for YOU
What I’m trying to say is, it can be quite humiliating to do what we do with other people watching but every time we have to overcome this fear because if we don’t share what we liked or didn’t like at this restaurant, it’s you who’ll miss out on important information. So, we bite the bullet and do it again and again