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My Response to: Why I might stop travel blogging

This post is in response to my early discussion about why I might stop travel blogging. The response via the comments was overwhelming and I want to summarize the main points I have taken away from everyone’s input. An update on what I have decided to do is also in order considering the interest the article sparked.

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1. Most bloggers know they can’t live off a blogging income

It seems that the majority of us know that blogging alone isn’t going to yield much money. That doesn’t mean we all don’t hope our blog takes off and we make some dollars, it just means we are sensible about what to expect in terms of income. The fact that we celebrate 1,000 visitors a day and $1,000 a month, speaks to itself.

2. Half of you believe you will succeed by doing what you love or are passionate about

We aren’t in sync on this issue, and honestly, there is no need to be. To state my opinion, I don’t believe that just by doing something you are passionate about you will find success. Running a business is more complicating than that. I also believe that the world is much more difficult than that.

3. We understand that blogging alone isn’t enough

If you want to make money, you need to do more than blogging. There has been enough bloggers sharing their steps to success for us to understand that there is always something more than just blogging. Some write freelance, operate a side business, do web development, have a completely different full-time job or speak publicly. Others sell ebooks, SEO services, hard books, photographs, subscriptions or magazines. Take the knowledge that the more experienced bloggers are offering and learn from it. Your blog is your audience; decide what product or service you are going to sell to them.

4. When a hobby becomes a job, things change

A hobby is something we enjoy, something we do purely for pleasure. There isn’t a requirement, a threshold nor a measure of success. When a hobby becomes a job, it changes. It’s a business now, and you must focus on the activity in order to achieve success. Success is no longer just about pleasure, it’s about income. If we enjoy something tremendously, be cautious when considering turning it into a job. You might lose the pleasure you original received from that activity forever.

5. The travel blogging community exists

The comments in the article, which was written for travel bloggers, displays an incredible interest of bloggers to share thoughts on a subject many of us can relate too. Many of you are thinking, “Of course we exist.” What I am trying to convey is that in this chaotic online world, which often seems fragmented, clicky, and self satisfying, we can come together for discussion that is relevant to our business. We won’t all comment on each article about a destination we write, and we shouldn’t. Those articles are written for non-travel bloggers. We do comment on articles that we can all relate to, that are a reflection of our industry and that we can learn from. It’s important to have that community, a sense of belonging, a support system, people we can gather honest feedback from. We all blog for different reasons and are on different levels of the business cycle, but we know each other well, if only by a twitter profile pic.

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What have I been up to?

I haven’t stopped blogging, but I also haven’t found a job yet. It’s only been 3 weeks and the number of job opportunities in Miami for my skill-set is at a minimum, according to Monster.com. I have stopped my use of StumbleUpon, Digg and being on Twitter all day. That has freed up a tremendous amount of time. It’s amazing, and it feels great. I do feel a bit disconnected on Twitter, but I think I am doing the right thing. I check in occasionally and retweet an article or find an interesting discussion that is going on.

I redesigned this trave blog after 2.5 years of the same theme. It felt great to make that transition. My other sites aren’t getting as much attention, but I have that, “who cares feeling” when it comes to steady content on each site. I write when I have something to say, or I am getting paid to do it. I started a new YouTube account where I am uploading all my past travel videos and other videos I create from other blogs and our cat. I have very little followers, so please connect with me and I will reciprocate.

I focused on the website redesign because I want to get all the technical stuff fixed before I get a job. When I am working full-time I don’t want to have to worry about technical issues on my blogs. I want the SEO set up correctly, a minimum number of plugins and highly supported theme across all my blogs so I can focus on content only moving forward. I still have a lot of fixes to do, specifically with my video pages, but I am working on them aggressively. The new YouTube account is actually my old personal account. I have so many videos covering so many different topics that I wanted to get away from the name of 2 backpackers. I also have revenue sharing on my personal account. A big plus if anyone ever decides to watch our adventure travel videos. They are more likely to watch our cat videos, which is how we got the revenue sharing deal.

How has this impacted my traffic?

That’s the question you guys want answered. I am happy to say, traffic has… increased since I have stepped away from StumbleUpon, my old Facebook page of 3,000 fans and the hours I used to spend on Twitter. What does that mean? I have no idea, but it feels good. Of course, my traffic has shifted away from Twitter, but my StumbleUpon traffic has increased. Strange right? It’s about writing the right articles and getting those articles in front of the right people. My Google Search traffic has also increased, which is preferable to me. It tells me that I am improving my SEO and I still have 80% of my site to improve. When I have enough data to start showing a month over month comparison, I will share it with you. Expect to see some Google Analytic charts in the next update.

I mentioned we left our Facebook page of 3,000 fans. I did that because I wanted a Fan Page that encompassed both our travel blogs, CoupleTravelTips.com and 2Backpackers.com. The new page is called “Jason and Aracely Travel“. At 300 fans, it’s going to take a long time to build back up, but again, now is the time, since I am completely open to change and not thinking about short term gains or income. It’s our long-term plan to brand ourselves, our names, us as a traveling couple that matters most at this time.

What’s next?

I will continue job searching and improving the backend of our site. It will take me another week to redo all the old video posts and get them uploaded to the new YouTube account. I will continue updating old posts to improve keyword focus and correct the design and headings. When I find myself in a full-time job I am not sure how much time I will dedicate to the blogs, but I hope to post the occasional video. That’s my goal, to return blogging to a hobby. Focus on the aspects of blogging I enjoy most, while making enough money from whatever my full-time job will be.

Oh, by the way, I have already net $2,000USD this month. Go figure.

Karla Mae says:

Thanks Jason for your honest and thoughtful article.

I started a travel blog in October 2011, so I’ve only been at it a few months. I post 3 times a week right now (tues/thurs/sat). It is very time consuming, although I do find it satisfying to create a visually beautiful and colorful site and write interesting articles to post. I feel as though am still finding my voice.

Of course, I cannot help but hope that people enjoy my blog and that it leads to opportunities for me in the future. Right now, however, it seems wise (based on fellow bloggers’ comments here) that my blog remain a hobby, perhaps a building block in the life I am working to create for myself.

Thanks again for starting this candid discussion.

Thanks for adding to the comments Karia. Yes, I agree with the others, keep it a hobby for as long as you can. There are many of us in the blogging world that have reached a big audience but still can’t earn enough money off it. The key is to get creative and offer a product or service. In the end, advertising traffic isn’t enough earnings.

Alf Welch says:

Everything you say is true Jason, The Seo work needed alone to keep up with the ever changing goalposts at Google is a full time job. The time spent social networking never seems to be justified when you consider the ammount of alternative operations you can be doing instead to improve the status of your blog.

Rahul says:

Hi Jason… Thanks for posting such elucidating article about travel blogging…its perhaps a bitter truth… i am going to book mark it to revisit again time to time…

Congratulations Jason. Firstly, for not finally packing your travel blogging passion and efforts up and secondly, for getting that USD 2,000.00 income from travel blogging in a month.

Thanks Edilito. I did make a lot of money in November, but December is $0. That’s the thing with blogging, it’s inconsistent too. I am still blogging and will probably keep at it, but at a much slower place when I finally get a job. I will be here full-time on the blog until then. After I get job, it will be hard to manage, but I hope to do it successfully.

Chris says:

I know Flip at Flipnomad.com has decided to stop in the near future too. Very few travel bloggers can make a living off it, so articles like this really keep it in perspective in terms of balancing a hobby you’re passionate about with turning it into a business. Successful bloggers have skills that can make them a lot more money when that time is applied elsewhere. Definitely a good article and conversation for all of us in the community.

Thanks Chris, you are right about taking those skills and making more money. I think it’s probably best to find a medium where you can apply those skills and get paid, and then come home and work on the blogging hobby on the side. That would be my perfect situation. I struggle with the fact that most of my career experience is as a data analyst, which doesn’t align too well with my last 2 years of blogging. I try to explain to potential employers that analytics exists on the web too, probably even more so in the future. I am still looking, so we will have to see what happens in the future.

Jeremy says:

Good to hear you’re still going! i was talking to someone about you the other day and wondered if you were still at it… That previous article had a lot of good comments in it and made me think about where i was going and what i wanted from my travel website too.

I’m still very new to this and still carving my niche but i can honestly say your previous thread was the most useful blog post i’ve ever read. So thank you and good luck with your future…!

Thanks Jeremy, I found the comments extremely useful for me too. They were very honest, but motivating too. I am still at it, starting to focus on my old video stock, but I also still haven’t found a full-time job yet. That will be when the challenge rises. I will be struggling to manage several blogs and maintain a full time job. Until then, I will keep the content flowing.

Your point about finding a niche is important. I think its very difficult to cover the broad topic of backpacking, budget travel or luxury travel today. There is just too much competition. Good luck with your website and your videos. I’ll be watching.

Juergen says:

Love the honesty in your answers. We try to see it realistic and as for now our travels are just a very expensive hobby. Will we ever make real living of it? Not sure but we will have fun trying.

Pano says:

2000 usd is good money for blogging pal

Yes, it’s very good. My second best month overall. I ended up bringing in $2,500 this month, but I assure you, it’s not consistent. I will net $10,000 this year, which is poverty. It’s not enough to live on in the United States and not enough to support a family. I know the revenue will fall as I spend more time searching for a career in data analysis again, but I hope to maintain the blogs enough to keep them alive over the next few years.

Laura says:

It’s good to see an update from you on this. I seem to go through a lot of “peaks and valleys” with blogging and you’ve articulated that well. Not that I know your entire situation, but it seems to make sense to decide to get a job rather than keep trying to struggle though solely blogging. I can’t think of many that can support themselves with US expenses just blogging. If you’re not enjoying it anyway you might as well earn a decent income! Kinda neat how stepping away seemed to have a positive effect on the sties. Best of luck on your job search!

Thanks Laura. You are correct, there are lots of peaks and valleys. I so see some travel bloggers really changing the way we do business for the better. Bigtime sponsorships and more beneficially equal partnerships are being established. It’s exciting, but still in it’s infancy stage. I just can’t hold on any longer. The blogs will stay around, but with fewer updates as they become a hobby. Job searching has been slow, but looks like I have some interviews finally lined up this week.

Eric Richards says:

Well, it was surely a pleasure to work with you back in the day! I hope you have enjoyed your experiences and are excited to going to something new! Life is just one big adventure 🙂

Hey Eric, you never know, I still might might be searching to outsource work someday. If I had the money, I would hand over all my 50 or so hours of footage and have someone produce videos for me. I just get so overwhelmed when editing 2 hours of footage into an exciting 7 minute video. It’s never become easy or quick for me. Add the voiceovers and music and I am usually 50 hours into it, before it’s done. I enjoy doing the adventures and filming them, but I don’t enjoy the editing.

Life is one big adventure and we have to live it that way. We only get one chance at it, so make it everything you dream possible. Thanks for coming back and chatting and keep up with your music talent.

-Eric produced our intro sequence and music. You can find him on YouTube

Jeremy says:

I can see your having a bit of withdrawal from social media, but I too want to distance myself a bit from it as I am beginning to start to feel like I’m plugged into the Matrix!

I’m based in Miami as well (Sobe), and besides the other professions you said most bloggers enjoy (web development, seo, etc), I have found a way to make good money (and not committed!) It’s within the world of promotional marketing working at events, trade shows, guerrilla marketing campaigns etc, Send me an email and I’ll send you an e-book I wrote on the industry so you can better understand it. I like it especially because I’m in front of people, and not the screen…

Jeremy, nice job on finding ways to sustain the income. It’s all about being creative and continuing the search. You have obviously done a good job at that.

Alouise says:

I really enjoyed reading your previous post, and this response. One of the reasons why I went to school for writing was because I didn’t want to have to make blogging my career. I like it as a hobby. And who knows, maybe you’ll take a break and what to get back into the job part of blogging, and maybe you’ll just want to keep it as a hobby. Either way I hope whatever way you go it’s something that you love doing. I don’t believe that doing what you love will guarantee success, but I do know it’s more fulfilling than doing something you hate, and that’s a success that everyone should have.

Yes Alouise, it’s definitely more fulfilling to do something you love. I have an interview this week on a job that takes me back to being a data analyst, where my experience lies, but it also incorporates online marketing, which is a new interest of mine from blogging. It will be interesting to see if I stay up late at night keeping up the blogs or if it just fades away. It will be difficult to manage and I would hate to give it all up, but I am all too familiar with the time requirements of jobs these days. So, blogging is officially starting to become a hobby now. Thanks for commenting and hanging out on our site.

Gerard says:

Social media sometimes feels like it takes up more time than focusing on producing content for your actual blog! I think once I start traveling I’ll feel OK to not be stuck to twitter or FB so much. Then I can just focus on recording the interesting moments that happen while traveling.

That’s a good strategy Gerard. When traveling, you have to shift your time and make priority #1 the enjoyment of your tip. Priority #2 can be the blog and social media is a part of that. But, most importantly, enjoy that trip!

Laura says:

Social media can be great, but it can also be a huge time suck. I took a month off from all of it back in September and it really helped me rethink my strategy and gain some focus. Sounds like you have a good plan in place. Best of luck! 🙂

I agree Laura. A break from something that has become all too time consuming is sometimes the best approach.

Jason, I can’t say I was inspired by your post but a number of different things have got me thinking about travel writing and blogging. For me personally, I feel I have taken the wrong approach. And I feel like what you stated in your last section is the key.

The one thing about travel blogging is how clicky it is. That’s not a bad thing. It’s an awesome community!!! However, so much of what we do is wrapped around social media (at least for me) that I think it makes something fun a bit of a drag. It’s not to say I don’t like the social media aspect. I do. However, the pressure and burden to read, tweet, comment, stumble, and share is a never-ending circle that I seem to engage in just to maintain the traffic I have.

What if I just wrote and didn’t focus on social media as much? Can I succeed? Shouldn’t I focus on what is important – my passion? And who cares if I write for a few people or a lot of people. Isn’t the point to connect with those who like what I do?

It’s interesting that you follow up on this. I posted something today – Has social media hurt travel bloggers? http://www.budgettraveladventures.com/blog/has-social-media-hurt-travel-bloggers/

For me, I’ve lost the plot and need to get back on track. I LOVE reading and commenting on other blogs. I just don’t want it to be the burden it has and to distract me from what my purpose should really be – traveling and writing.

I know commenting on other bloggers posts is a strategy for gaining exposure and SEO, but I never really got into it. I never found the time, especially when traveling and blogging myself. If I come across and article that interests me, I comment. If it doesn’t interest me, I am not going to comment for the exposure. I have heard some say that the top bloggers don’t ever comment on other blogs. I think that’s because they are busy with their own. If your blog is a business, you have to dedicate a lot of time to it, and sometimes that mean’s you can’t spend your day tweeting other people’s stuff and commenting on their posts. It’s not personal at all, it’s just the enormous amount of time blogging requires.

It’s good that you are getting back to what fuels your passion. Usually the best will come of that. Good luck.

Kevin says:

Wow, I think you pretty much nailed it here. I particularly felt vindicated to hear someone talk about cutting down on the amount of time on social media. While I’d never drop it completely, I do look back on the week and consider how many more posts, freelance articles, or just walks in the beautiful outdoors I have sacrificed for Tweets. Not surprisingly, increasing material and guiding it toward what seems to interest people means greater success. Who knew? Well, you, for starters. Cheers!

Jason says:

I would never drop it completely either. I understand the importance of social media and will always be there when new networks arise. But, you can become overwhelmed and its good to manage that time so you focus on what still important, and that is content.

Juno says:

I understand this — “When a hobby becomes a job, things change”. So people say, do something you like the second best, not the first. When a hobby becomes a job, it’s job.
It hasn’t been that long for me to jump in travel blogging as a job not long ago, but I don’t think I’ll stop anytime soon.
I’m still squeeze my brain to think about something new, diverse way to make this worthwhile.
Thanks for the honest piece Jason.

Jason says:

Keep using that brain to think of new ideas. As long as you still feel inspired and excited to blog, I would keep it up.

Brian says:

Thanks for the update and sharing all of your thoughts.

I particularly relate to item #4 “When a hobby becomes a job everything changes.” I’ve never had anyone ever pay me for something that was easy. If you want to get paid, it’s going to require a lot of work – even if the end product looks easy and fun to everyone not toiling away in your specific salt mine.

Thanks again,
Brian

Monica says:

It’s really refreshing to hear a successful travel blogger saying ‘actually, it’s very unlikely you’ll ever make a living from your travel blog.’ All the other bloggers out there are selling the idea that we can but actually, most people can’t. Thanks for the honesty and best of luck with the job hunt.

Jason says:

Most people won’t make enough, but some people do. And sometimes its those few people that succeed that drive all of us to make an effort to be like them. It’s a healthy process, but it’s also healthy to know your odds. Our odds are slim and disappointment can be heart breaking. I like the idea that many bloggers blog as a side job, for extra income or as a hobby. This way, you aren’t depending on it’s success for a living. And if it does succeed, it will be a great reward and then you can quit your other jobs.

Liv says:

Good luck Jason! Stepping back from blogging will probably mean you enjoy it more again. It is funny but definitely true that difference between a hobby and it becoming your job!

Jillian says:

Blogging is a bit like life, we go through cycles where our attitude and opinion change completely. People come in and out of our “blog life” and give us new ideas and new goals.

It’s good to hear that you’re letting go a little bit, not that I don’t think you’re work is GREAT, but it sounds like you’re in a better place emotionally. Thanks for your honesty, as you said it’s a Travel Blogger community, and without posts like this we don’t grow as a community.

Jason says:

Thanks Jillian. It is good to change things up a bit every now and then, just like in life. I do feel better now, but I still do need that full-time other job. Keeping hopes up.

Andrea says:

Wow – really interesting to hear your traffic has increased since you have stepped away from StumbleUpon, your Facebook page and Twitter. I guess what you’re saying is that you’ve had more time to write better-quality, more targetted articles in that case? I will definitely continue to follow your journey and see how you progress. Good luck!

Jason says:

Our Twitter traffic and Facebook traffic has definitely dropped significantly, but it has been offset by Google Search traffic and some StumbleUpon success. We will have to see how it plays out after a few months. I will keep you updated.

Julia says:

Well, we wish you the best of luck in all the changes you’re making to your life. You’re definitely right about the difference between bogging as a hobby and as a business. We’re happy with the medium ground because the last thing either of us want is for the blog to become pressured or we get stressed about it. Actually, we’re making a lot of changes to the blog ourselves at the moment and that’s stressful enough! 🙂

Interesting what you said about traffic. The same happened yo us when we were offline for a few days recently. We were worried about it needn’t have been – nothing changed and Stumble was better for us than it’s ever been.

Hope you find the right job for you very soon.

Jason says:

Thank Julia. I am hoping I find a job soon too.

I think it’s good to take a break from different blogging tasks occasionally to better understand their impact or significance.

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