How did you get into travel blogging? Did you take any courses?
I started travel blogging in 2010, when it was considered a hobby at best. I was in my early thirties and ended a relationship, sold off all my possessions, quit my job and bought a one-way ticket to Mexico. I spent two years traveling south from Mexico to Argentina and documented the journey. From there I continued to travel throughout the world writing about things I loved like food in Finland.
In 2010 there were no courses as it was still very underdeveloped. People saw blogging as a hobby and getting a trip somewhere would be considered unbelievable. There were no courses because it wasn’t established so you really relied on a community of fellow bloggers to share with you what they were learning.
I loved the sense of community and learning new skills. I met so many people online that today I still consider great friends.
How has travel and blogging shaped your life to where you are now?
People would scoff at bloggers and now it seems blogging is old school. Video and other forms of content creation are the new thing and successful bloggers are just trying to evolve as communication changes.
I’ve been blogging professionally for five years and I’ve seen the opportunity to make money increase. But blogging has also become more demanding. You need to be an expert in SEO, video, photography, social media….and then there’s the writing.
I still love the challenge, it’s a new world that’s constantly changing and never boring.
Were you able to make any income or receive free travel from blogging?
I started receiving offers for free travel in 2012. After a few years made some money as years passed. But once I focused on a niche (culinary travel) I was really able to set myself apart from the crowd. You have a smaller audience and it feels like a risk to focus on one thing but it really helped me.
What would you tell someone who wants to start blogging?
If someone wants to make a living it can be done but it takes 80 hours/week in the beginning and you need to work for a year before you see any real progress. You don’t want to learn SEO or hate Pinterest? Too bad, it’s a job now. I often envy hobby bloggers as it’s a creative outlet.
In some ways I think the community (including myself) should stop perpetuating the myth that it’s an hour a week from a laptop on the beach. Most bloggers struggle with building a business and enjoying the travel they document. Many quit blogging after a year or realize it’s not really what they want to do.
That said, I can’t imagine doing anything else. Who else can say part of their job is researching the In-N-Out Burger secret menu? I love how fast blogging moves and that you’re constantly pushed to become a better content creator. The community has changed but I’m always inspired by what people are doing and how they are innovating.
Do you still blog? Why or why not?
Yes, it’s still my full-time living. I love it, but I think blogging has changed. So long ago you could just write but now we do so much more. It’s why I prefer to call myself a publisher or a content creator, it better reflects what we do.
Do you still travel? Why or why not?
Yes but not as much as I used to. After four years I really started to burn out. I’m still location independent and use Toronto as a base. But I have some big plans in 2018 and I’m really excited about extended travel in countries I previously visited and want to visit again and shoot more video.
What would you tell someone who wants to travel the world or live abroad?
Go now! Don’t worry about money, you’ll find a way to make it happen.
Travel changes you in a way that you could never imagine and it’s addictive.
I wouldn’t be who I am without the time I’ve spent traveling. I wrote the post The Year I Walked Away from Love to explain to people that I wasn’t extraordinarily brave or courageous when I did it. I was terrified, but I did it anyway and it changed who I am for the better.