Why Travel Blogs Fail. Insights to a Sordid, Demonic, Community.

Failed travel bloggers.
Failed travel bloggers, Poland, 2012.
M

ostly, travel bloggers are not actually travelling. Mostly, they’re at home, working day jobs, dreaming of travel, trying to figure out how to get free holidays. The reality is, most blog readers won’t follow a photography blog by someone who wasn’t a photographer, or a career tips blog from an unemployed person. I wouldn’t. Not for long anyway. But, that’s just me.

So, most of the traffic that travel blogs receive, and most of the comments that are left, are from other travel bloggers – all peering into the kaleidoscopic pyramid scheme that is the non-travelling travel-blogger eco-sphere. It’s a strange world. I’ve taken a good long look into the eyes of the demonic travel blogging world for myself. In summary, it’s much more of a circle jerk than an orgy.

I’ll give you an insight. Fake twitter followers, bought Facebook friends, dubious website statistics – travel blogging is a strange and dirty world. All motivated by a dangling carrot that many travel bloggers find simply irresistible. Not restricted only to travel bloggers, the carrot is a perpetually just-out-of-reach empty promise of fame and fortune.

Think of someone you know who isn’t a travel blogger, but is a reasonably regular traveller. Then, ask that person which travel blogs they follow. I’ve done this, and the answer is almost always “well, none really”. Why is that?

Frankly, most travel blogs make for pretty average entertainment for readers who aren’t travel bloggers. Poor writing, poor photography, stolen photography, top ten link-bait lists featuring already heavily covered destinations, and sponsored posts. There’s a huge number of blogs out there written purely to capture the attention specifically of other travel bloggers.

Despite the growing heap of abandoned, failed, and dead-on-arrival travel blogs, each day more and more disillusioned souls dream of what could be, and start the journey by doing the same thing that every failed blogger has already done before them. This inevitably leads to obvious failure.

If you’re going to blog, why not make it matter. Make it count. Find your voice. Write content for yourself, and your audience, not for your corporate sponsors. Don’t chase fools gold, just because other fools are chasing it. The chase is sordid, you’ll lose your dignity, and the small returns just aren’t worth it. In my humble opinion, the world doesn’t need more thoughtless blogging.

Of course, there are some travel blog gems out there. Incredible story arcs, genuine insight, expert knowledge, and personality driven writing. It’s a real treat to follow along with the epic long haul journeys of people like Earl and Dave. There’s plenty more bloggers in the same ilk, and I’m always on the look out for more. Travelers, blogging.

With regards to Yomadic, well, as with everything in life – good things take time. I know it will take quite a while before I build a genuine audience. I’m more than aware that what I write about here is not necessarily mainstream entertainment. And yet, Yomadic had 30,000 visitors in December.

However, I would prefer a small group of like-minded people, than a large number of random Google stumblers. What I’m looking for, is people who I can help and inspire to see the world, who in return help and inspire me. It’s a two-way street around here, and I like it that way.

I’ve been on the road for over 170 days straight, and I’ve only just begun to get into the swing of things – both with travelling, and with writing. I’m trying to walk the walk, which incidentally, is much harder than just talking the talk.

It would be the height of hypocrisy to leave this post open to comments, but hey, nobody is perfect.

BTW, you can always find me on twitter, Facebook, or via email.

This will be the last time that travel bloggers are the focus of an article, ever, on Yomadic. I love you all, but I’ll leave it to you guys to write about blogging.

I’ll stick to writing about what I see, as I’m traveling.

Nate

PS, without doubt, my preferred way for you to read these articles is via email. Pop your address in here to receive the next article in your inbox. Next on my itinerary – Italy, Slovenia, Croatia and Serbia…

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106 thoughts on “Why Travel Blogs Fail. Insights to a Sordid, Demonic, Community.

  1. I see the ladies in your photo are making the international “Hello, how are you? Please help us find our pants” gesture…

  2. As a relatively new travel blogger, although blogging for 4 years, I’m finding it hard to break in and actually get help from other travel bloggers. It’s a tight community. But I’ll go blissfully on my way traveling and writing to share experiences and information. Thanks for your honesty.

    1. Hey Gaelyn…what help do you need from other bloggers? I’ve found them a pretty open and friendly bunch. In any case, keep on doing what keeps you happy. That’s what it’s all about.

  3. Hi Nate,
    I just LOVE that photo. It just reeks of, oh I don’t know, International Kamaraderie ? And I love Cyrus’ assessment ! Interesting article! Anybody that truly follows a Blog, is usually interested by the subject of course but also, whilst following said blog, is likely not “fully engaging” in said activity. ie, your followers are probably not full time travelers, as you stated, but wish they could be and therefore travel vicariously through you. There’s nothing wrong with that. To me, the important thing when I follow a Blog is that the posts be well written, that the subjects be interesting, that ( and this one is not necessary but it does add ) the posts attract interesting comments from other followers and of course, that the articles be accompanied by good photos ( no photos is a blog killer I should think ).
    Just keep doing what you’re doing. Your articles are honest, interesting and to the core, never mind the great photos ( which is what caught my attention initially ). Good for you for wanting to build slowly and on quality. It should pay off in the long run and that way, you don’t compromise your integrity.

  4. I am just still setting up my blog and guide (slow traveler :) ) and training to actually hike from Amsterdam to Santiago, when the time is right. When blogging was something sordid, demonic nerds did ;) , I went to US as a free spirit. When I came back, seven years of experience later, I learned that getting to know your own country is quite unique. I did have the pleasure to go to travel blogging meetings, great to meet travelers who blog, but I think you got a point that it easy to become a bad apple in the luscious tree of travel blogging. Little bit Hollywood (Tr-ollywood?) except that being a foodie is ok haha Am keeping an eye on your blog!

  5. Great article, it’s too true. I’m shocked by the number of people that are “travel bloggers” but don’t actually travel. We’ve been on the road (never spending more than 10 days in a city) for over two years now, sharing long-term travel logistics and costs for those that actually want to explore the world. It’s been hard to watch faux-travelers enjoy free trips as we pay straight-up for everything we do. In the end though I’m glad for every hour I spent in a wifi-less bus station going somewhere amazing than building up my twitter following.

    1. There’s something special about wifi-less bus stations. Without any mobile phone reception as well, it’s a beautiful and increasingly uncommon thing. Good luck with your ongoing journey.

  6. Nate, thanks for an insightful article.

    I am a relative newcomer to the travel blogging scene, and am also one of those people who only get to do a big trip from time to time. As a result my travel blog focuses on helping other people to plan to travel, and i also share travel philosophy and also some information about my local travels between my big trips.

    I think the reason I am blogging is that I have always had a passion for travel, and I have done enough over the years that I have experience to share as both a backpacker, solo, couple and family travel. So far other people are increasingly interested in reading what I have been writing.

    I see the travel blogging community as a starting point – my first readers and followers were primarily other travel bloggers, and as a result I have remained motivated and learnt enough to now start increasing my google rankings and I am now starting to see a good amount of google traffic.

    Best of luck with your endeavours.

    1. Thanks Anne. I’m a relative newcomer as well. You seem like a nice person, and I have to tell you I genuinely got a chuckle out of your “I’m Anne Sutherland-Smith, travel blogger and spreadsheet queen.” bio line. Nice.

  7. There are definitely many popular blogs with a huge travel blogger following. We are not one of them. I agree that you need to be a nomad and traveling constantly in order to attract other bloggers or you need to spend a great deal of time commenting on and sharing other bloggers’ content. We decided a few years back that attracting a travel blogging audience wasn’t our goal.

    I do think there are a lot of “regular” people who search out travel tips and suggestions online. A few of my friends who are not bloggers actually follow travel blogs which they found through researching for a particular trip.

    I have to disagree that most travel bloggers are not actually traveling. I feel like most of the “popular” blogs are the ones who are permanent nomads. I’ve always felt like the minority because we don’t want to be permanent nomads, even though we travel a lot. Our readers (mostly people with jobs and a place to call home) have expressed frustration at how many travel bloggers preach about how you should quit your job and travel. Not everybody wants that, so they may not connect to a travel blogger who travels full-time.

    I do agree that it’s sad how many disillusioned people quit their jobs to travel around the world and start a travel blog thinking they will make tons of money and get free trips. Working with sponsors takes time and it’s frustrating to see extremely new bloggers just looking for a comped trip. I don’t see this changing anytime soon though.

    Interesting post. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this!

    1. Hi Christy, thanks for stopping by. I agree that most of the popular personality-driven travel bloggers, are actually travelling (funny that), but I would still say the overwhelming majority of travel bloggers aren’t permanent nomads, and aren’t travelling long term. And I agree, not everyone wants that lifestyle, nor should anyone suggest that it’s for everyone. With regards to extremely new bloggers as being frustrating – well, if someone wants a comped trip, I say go for it. But it makes me laugh that there are plenty of companies out there who see value in extremely new bloggers with no real audience. It’s a crazy world we live in.

      1. That was my point exactly. The companies have no idea who to trust or who has an actual audience and the newbies don’t seem to care as much about building an audience first. I think it’s funny that you say “actually traveling” as if not traveling full-time is not actually traveling. I guess that’s where we differ.

        1. No as-if’s about it – actually travelling just means exactly what it says – actually travelling. You’re either travelling, or your’re not. I think we would both agree on that. If you are travelling, then it may be short term, or long term.

          I’ve followed a small handful of a really great blogs, with incredible photography and interesting writing, where the author wasn’t travelling, and yet I would still call them “travel blogs”. But these blogs are the rare gems.

          Travel blogs where the majority of articles are guest posts, lists of tips, and sponsored trips that appear on a whole bunch of other blogs at the same time – they just don’t hold much appeal to me.

          Personally, I follow a blog for a story-arc.

          If the story is “I’m not travelling, but here’s some great tips about places I’ve been to in the past”, then I’m more likely to reach that blog via a google search, to get some specific information, and not return.

          That’s just me.

          And it’s not to say those sort of blogs are any less valid, not at all.

          I really appreciate your comments on this Christy.

  8. Amen.

    I myself am on a crusade to rid the world of bullshitters, charlatans, and thieves – except of the satire variety of course – and I too am in awe at times of this world. I do stay out of it and run my own course which I guess is why I am only in a tiny lonely pocket of the this internet space.

    I have never really understood it to be honest. It was the question I always asked to people about why do you want to read travel blogs? I sure dont unless they are fun and exceptionally vulgar, but I guess I am weird like that. But then again, I do not consider myself a travel blogger.

    You are not alone.

    Turner

    1. Turner, you seem like a nice guy. However, you posted an article titled “How to get Sponsored Trips like a Networking Champ”, in which step one was “Have a blog”. Funny, but that’s the exact opposite of what this blog is.

  9. I LOVED this post and I am featuring it tomorrow as the MVP Post of the Day. I am a new blogger reviewing other travel blogs with an emphasis on frequent flyer miles/points. I identify with so much what you state here and it is good to find someone who feels similarly. Iike to call other bloggers’ BS so they can raise their game. Anyways, it is a great journey so far. I added you to my alreadytoolong Google Reader list of blogs to keep an eye on.
    Thank you.

  10. This is a great article, Nate. It’s good to see things from a different perspective.

    Whilst I agree with most of what you’re saying, I feel I should defend travel bloggers who aren’t travelling full time. I may not be travelling all of the time but I do travel and I think that’s what differentiates this industry from the others you mentioned.

    Many people who read travel blogs or who come to them from advice are not travelling full time, nor do they plan to. So, while it might be exciting to read about the travels of someone who is constantly on the road, they are mainly looking for advice on a specific destination which I think anyone can write about if they have been there and can offer and insight and a bit of information.

    The vast majority of people (not travel bloggers) have full time jobs and travel around their allocated yearly holiday, so they might be more inclined to read a blog where the writer is in the same position as them – i.e. has a full-time job but also travels. This might be more inspiring for them as opposed to the travel bloggers who constantly preach about giving up jobs and travelling the world. This is obviously the dream for some people but, for the most part, I don’t think it is.

    Of course, there’s a difference between those who set up travel blogs to provide useful information to others and those who set them up purely to get free travel but, then again, there are always going to be people who try to get something for nothing.

    Great read and I’m glad you brought up the discussion!

    1. Cheers Lizzie. Just to be clear, I absolutely don’t think that travel bloggers who aren’t travelling, are any less valid in what they are doing. However, personally, I know I’m going to get more of what I need from somebody who is travelling. The internet is big enough for all of us, there’s plenty of space to go around.

    2. You have a point here. I believe Nate’s point is a strike against those bloggers who pretend to be full-time travelers and CLAIM that they are financing it all through various travel and ebusiness related income streams, other than the actual main income stream: their salary at a day-job. I am extremely pissed at those who take false credit, and I mistrust reading typical about pages where they state that this couple or this individual was living their dream and on the road for so and so years. It’s all over! I get furious about this misleading information. Most of the domain names are long, they suck, and they are blatantly created merely out of greed, marketing, and promotion purposes.

      1. I agree Matt. The reality is, very, very few travel bloggers travel are making a full time living income from their blog/audience. There’s a lot of deception going on out there, and its just a bit tasteless and tacky for my liking. It goes back to what I said in the article – too many people chasing the fools gold of fame and fortune.

        It’s just not worth it, in my opinion.

      2. I don’t think I’ve ever come across a travel blogger who claims to be a full-time traveller even though they have a full-time job. The vast, vast majority of blogs I have come across have been pretty open and honest about their travelling lifestyle which, as many other people have stated in the comments, differs considerably from person to person. It would be pretty boring if every blog focused on the same kind of travel philosophy.

        However, saying that, I think there’s a difference between someone claiming they are a full-time traveller and someone who claims they are a full-time travel blogger. Being a full-time travel blogger doesn’t necessarily mean that you are travelling all the time, it simply means that your main focus is on blogging about travel. Even if they are supplementing their income via other revenues, their main focus or ‘job’ is blogging about travel, making them – you got it – a travel blogger. I do lots of stuff in my spare time, some of which makes money, some of which doesn’t. That doesn’t mean I have to list these things as my profession, I simply state what I do for my day job which seems to suffice. I don’t see why it can’t be the same for travel bloggers.

        As for the ‘about’ pages that you mention – despite not being on the road any more, it validates that these people DO have expertise in the subjects they are writing about because they have been there and have, in the past, been travelling for a number of months/years despite not doing so anymore.

  11. I was on a self-indulged travel blogger high when I woke up this morning after discovering one of my articles got tweeted by Lonely Planet. Thanks for bringing me back down to reality with the subtlety of a sledge hammer through this post!
    Despite being another travel blogger, I genuinely follow this site as a fan because of its…well… genuine-i-t-y (?)…
    I really wish you would stop stealing my pictures though *awkward joke/sarcasm*

    Strategy for increasing a blogs success? Well I think its best to not get too wrapped around the axels of what other people are doing, or else your circle jerk just turns in to a lonely wank session.
    When it comes to ‘strategy’ I think its best to remain objective with ‘each to their own’ on that one…

    Cheers again for the insight Nate.

  12. Absolutely love this post Nate! Its filled with truisims! I figured most ‘travel bloggers’ are just trying to wing a free stay or free trip and need the audience numbers to justify it. Thanks for calling it what it is!

    On the other hand, your posts are always something a bit different and interesting.

    Adrian

    1. Cheers Adrian. I check in with your blog to see your great travel photos. More than once I’ve looked at your work and thought “I want to be there”. It’s a sign of a good blog, in my opinion. And, you’ve got great taste in camera’s ;)

      1. Haha, thanks Nate! I take it you shoot with an X-Pro1 as well?

        I get so lazy sometimes writing posts, any tips on how to be a bit more disciplined?

        1. Yep, X Pro 1 on every photo for the last 6 months or so. More disciplined? As usual, it’s about time-management and commitment. Difficult to do when you’re travelling, right?

          1. Travelling? Yeah, I’ve been on the road for the past 4 months, but that’s the excuse I give myself, when I get internet access, I’m wasting time on Facebook! I respect your time management skills (and discipline!)

  13. Hi Nate,

    I’ve been following your blog for quite some time via google reader and I thought I should drop a word of encouragement.

    Always fascinated where you’re traveling to so keep up the good work!

  14. My gravatar is the pilgrim statue in front of the ocean at Finisterre or Fisterra, the final stop after Santiago. The whole trip is about 2500 km and will take about six months. I think learning about travel blogging is great, and going to a travel conference can be an experience. I don’t think a free trip here or there is going to pay for everything, maybe a fun change of a daily routine, but you have to be able to follow the crowd all day and come up with a ‘fresh’ perspective. When travel becomes your business, its not a career break but career change :> meanwhile in amsterdam….i share my city, and try to find a couple of hills to train my flat country legs :)

  15. Good article and well put – sadly as a travel blogger I couldn’t agree more – just never wanted to take the time to write it mainly because I don’t like to think of travel bloggers as my audience – so why bother writing about them. There are a handful of us who have been living nomadically and traveling for passion for a while. When my passion disappears, then I’ll stop…in the meantime I just keep moving and writing. Oh – and for Esther – you will love the Camino! I did it (albeit much shorter than your challenge) last year from Pamplona to Santiago – good luck – you will love it!

  16. so very true! I’ve been blogging not for a long time and started mostly because my friends have been nagging me to do so for years now. Since I was reading and commenting on travel blogs even before I created my own one, lately I started including the link to my blog and that’s how the traffic came. and I must say I like the idea of random people visiting and commenting and connecting with other travelers all over ther world. however I still feel weird when calling myself a travel blogger. i’ve never hidden the fact that I work full time, quite the opposite – I’m proud that I still manage to travel so much :) but well, my only intention when I started the blog was to keep friends updated and now I also want to connect with fellow travelers (not necessarily bloggers). ah, this comment is pretty chaotic, I know what I want to say, just can’t find the right words ;)

  17. I don’t understand why so many people want to read through Lonely Planet clones and blogs that regurgitate the same material, focus on the same “new hot destinations” and advise on the same “hidden bars”. Where’s the fun in that?

  18. Well I’m probably being a bit naive here, but I assumed most travel bloggers were first and foremost interested in documenting their adventures!! That’s the main reason I’d ever think about doing it anyway….

    Oddly enough I found your blog about 4 months ago after picking up my OMD and searching around for street photography tips and information. I think it was the Hong Kong or Singapore series. It probably took me a while to realize that you were actively on the road, and closer to the beginning of your trip than the end. I love travelling, and although I don’t go away for long periods of a time (we go overseas at least once a year for 2-5 weeks), it’s always been a dream to head off with no plans, and just make it all up as I go along. As such I find what you’re doing quite fascinating.

    I also love your photo’s. You are obviously a very talented photographer, but I love the fact that they look real, and haven’t been PS’ed to within an inch of their lives. The fact that you write so well, and that I usually learn something new from each article helps as well.

    The other major reason I come back here and post comments, is that it feels pretty personal, particularly because of the way you pretty much respond to each comment, and from reading your responses, it’s obvious you remember commenters from one post to the next.

    Keep up the great work!!

    Peter

  19. I think there are a lot of travel bloggers, ourselves included, who travel sporadically. I did 11 trips last year– nearly 90 days of travel– and to be honest that was more than enough for our lifestyle.

    I think nomadic RTW bloggers tend to be more favored by the blogging community in general because, well, those are the folks aspiring perpetual nomads can learn from.

    Our ecotourism-oriented site is a little off-the-beaten-path in terms of content, although we do love a good, well-researched Top 10 list. But we see our primary audience as “normal” people (whatever that means) who have families, jobs, bills and responsibilities, but still love to hit the road and see the world as often as humanly possible.

  20. Hi Nate. I enjoyed the post.

    I’ve traveled more than most people I’ve met. And I’ve actually lived – home, work school, friends, community- in most countries I ‘visited’.
    Not so much a nomad, as a yesmad! I live the deeper perspective of living in a new place.

    I also blog. Bottom line is there’s really room for lots of variety of travel info in the web.

    Everyone has their own journey.

    Liz

    1. Thanks Liz. Good luck with everything, sounds like we share a lot in common. I like the deeper perspective as well, I need to get a little more of that in the years to come.

  21. If everyone was a nomad, travel would be quite a different experience. That would be a real lonely and chaotic planet. We should honour those who keep the world structured. Even one trip a year to a friend or family member is a luxery for many around the globe. Travel has many faces, and blogs.

    1. Once, probably everyone was at least semi-nomadic. Fortunately, the internet didn’t exist back then ;) I honour every person who is living life true. And, I never forget how fortunate I am to be in this position. I’m glad that travel has many faces, and many blogs, I do however, think most are just boring copies of one-another.

      1. Thanks for the replies Nate :) this post is food for thought. Like to read the comments as well. I agree with you that some blogs are borings copies. Personally i dont like it when posts dont have photos that are taken by the writer. I mean, no matter if it is a great picture or not, it has to show what caught your eye only. Anyway, i dont read that many blogs since i dont need any advice what to do before you or i are thirty, fourty or hunderd, or another trip on the bucket list. To prefab. Living with the spirit of a nomad eventhough not always packing (without list:D ) and on the road. Hope you enjoying Apeldoorn, and the dutch people :> anyway thanks for answering the comments, one of the reasons to visit your blog! Safe travels.

  22. I had to turn down some “sponsored post” offers because of the same reason that you mentioned here. My visitors number is merely a fraction of yours but at least I’m happy because I can write whatever I want in my blog. It’s my canvas. I’m glad you brought this up, Nate! It’s a reminder for me to stay true to my values.

  23. NATE! You are my hero sir! Huzzah and many applauds for this. I have a post written just like this and I’ve been waiting to post it, you pointed out so many things that frustrate me to hell! Especially the “Top 10” fad, and the forced link garbage, and all the other nonsense. Makes me want to punch every blogger like this in the face! I’ll be posting it soon and linking your awesome article to it. Keep being a REAL travel badass, and a blogger who upholds the true traveler spirit.

  24. I have thought about this concept quite a bit since I started my website. I wouldn’t classify myself as a travel blogger, though I love traveling, travel often, and often write about travel. My site is more of a New York City-based lifestyle site which happens to have a travel section. I am writing for New Yorkers mainly, but find that most of the comments on my site are from other travel bloggers. After running my site for months now, I’ve realized most travel bloggers write for other bloggers. It’s a big circular world in which the same people are feeding the traffic and comments at most other sites. Not that this is a good or bad thing – it depends on people’s goals. I’m actually not sure exactly the point I’m trying to make, except to comment on your point as something I’ve thought a great deal about and is worth thinking about. That being said, I follow a lot of travel blogs and enjoy reading them. And I ALWAYS appreciate when other travel bloggers stop by. There is a nice sense of community among travel bloggers that I enjoy being a part of. I think most travel bloggers would say the same – blogging is a great way to meet a lot of people with similar interests.
    p.s. If you ever visit New York, please do visit my site! (Shameless self-promotion!)

  25. I wholeheartedly agree with your point about writing for yourself and your readers, NOT other travel bloggers. You can see a post written by and for other travel bloggers a mile off – normally they have that kind of smug undertone as if suggesting that “normal” non-travel-blogger readers wouldn’t “get” what they were talking about.

    I write what I want to write and that’s it. Some of the posts on my site are ridiculously personal but I like that I have a personality instead of having a blog covered in “top ten things to do in….” lists.

  26. I traveled in 2011 for 6 months on my own and started my blog as a daily diary. I’m now one of those working and trying to figure out how to do it all again, but don’t want to sell my soul to the devil for it if you know what I mean! I won’t read blogs anymore with oodles of sponsored posts. I want to read inspired writing and see beautiful images. I want to want to go somewhere after I read a post which is why I like your blog! thanks and keep it up!

    1. Thanks Andrea. I agree – inspired writing and beautiful images is where it’s at. There is nothing better than reading a blog and then thinking “I want to go there”. Thanks for the compliment, I will certainly try to do my best on here.

  27. Nate, you couldn’t have picked a better photo for this post. Classic :) I’ve always been attracted to your blog since I first stumbled upon it awhile back. I have a small, intimate list on my Google Readers of my favorite bloggers in traveling, fashion, webdesign, nursing, New Yorkers, etc…, and yes, you are definitely one of them! (I enjoyed your Iranian posts and photos the most.) I do applaud those bloggers who’ve put in so much work and effort into their blog and social media and I do believe they deserve all the great, free things in life. However, there are times when I can’t help but roll my eyes reading over sponsored posts after sponsored post after sponsored post. No shit I’d write nothing but excellent things over a $300/night free hotel stay. I’ve noticed that some of the top bloggers out there have somewhat lost their authenticity, their flare, their originality, their creativity, or whatever else that once made them so interesting. I guess, to each its own. I love intimate conversations and that’s probably why I prefer real insightful and straight-from-the-heart posts.

    1. I know exactly what you mean Antoinette… almost all of the “top: blogs, in my opinion, are the most boring sites out there. I won’t name names, but many of them aren’t travelling, and when they are it’s short sponsored trips – which in my opinion isn’t going to make for an interesting blog. The “old guard” have lost the plot.

      Again, each to their own – if that’s what these people want, then I have nothing but respect and congratulations for them. I also think they deserve what they get. But, I won’t be a regular reader…

      Thanks for your comment Antoinette, I really appreciate it!

  28. This is so true. So many blogs start out great, and then once they get enough readers, they start up with the bullshit sponsored posts about the latest phone helping them SO much on their travels/reviews of package tours/descriptions of stays in big chain hotels. It takes a special blogger indeed to get those perks and write about them in a way that’s still interesting to read.

    I just discovered your blog by the way – you have one more fan! :)

    1. Thanks Callie… there are still some great reads out there. I just think back to a handful of years ago, when blogs were full of personality, they were unique, and entertaining. Now it’s just the same old stuff over and over, usually because a sponsor is involved. Even worse is when a whole bunch of bloggers does the same trip at the same time – yawn.

      I gotta say, you absolutely hit the nail on the head with the “bullshit sponsored posts about the latest phone helping them SO much on their travels/reviews of package tours/descriptions of stays in big chain hotels” description ;)

      And, it does indeed take a special blogger to get perks AND write about them in an interesting way.

  29. Hi Nate, in the process starting a blog myself, just for the fun of it really! I’ve been living in Asia for the past five years and been lucky enough to go on many adventures in my time (and many more to come hopefully) thought I may as well document some of it! Enjoy your travels, I shall be reading you updates from now on! Cheers for the links to Earl & Dave too.

  30. This also seems very true of “digital nomads”, people who live the dream, taking their office & business along with them in their backpack; working from a tropical beach somewhere.

    For 99% of them, their business is blogging about how great it is to be a digital nomad, and trying to sell you material on how you can become a digital nomad.

    I gather the few who really do run sucessful businesses or consult from extremely remote are busy either enjoying themselves, or working?

  31. Nate,

    Thank you. Having recently decided to join the plethora of nomads blogging their way around the world I am so blessed that I came across your article by chance last night. I’ve spent the last month building my own addition to the wealth of online travel bumf and have poured my soul into WordPress in a bid to resolve my itch to get back to engaging in creative thought.

    I’ve been a full time nomad for almost two years now, visiting seven countries since I left home I travel at a much slower pace than some but feel I get a little more stuck into the places I choose to visit. I now feel I am in a position to share my adventures with the world!

    Your post has made me question my motives and resolve to think carefully about what I share and the content I produce. I have been inspired by the bloggers I follow and in turn I want to help and inspire others to explore.

    I’ll be keeping up to date with your journey, continue to spread the Wanderlust.

    Charli of Wanderlusters – Wisdom for Wanderers

  32. Hi Nate!

    Thanks for the post and for spurring on a really robust discussion! For me, I take away a few questions. What am I doing (traveling, writing, reading blogs) and why am I doing it? Good to revisit these every so often, I think.

    And I also think that some (or maybe, many?) blogs have a limited shelf life, and there’s nothing wrong with that. Even though it’s almost too easy now to start a blog, I have to give props to people who do – even if their posts become fewer and farther between. Because that person started a thing, an idea, set down to something creative and was committed for a time, but then, for whatever reason, needed to move on. In my book, that’s ok. We need more of that kind of optimism in these times.

  33. Your blog is I think the complete opposite of mine in certain aspects but I absolutely love it. Whilst you’re giving tips on how to get a meal from a Michelin-star restaurant for $10, I’m giving a step-by-step guide on how to make a reservation for a $450 dinner and probably pay a bit more for the tip. My (very new) blog is definitely never going to feature dealings with prostitues or militia but my hope is that like you, I will find an audience who’s looking for tips on hotels with 700-count bedspreads or recommendations on where to eat very small portions of really good but highly overpriced food every now and then. Maybe one day you can inspire me to throw caution in the wind and hitch-hike (gasp!) to a destination off the beaten track. For now, I will read your posts and enjoy a style of traveling I will not be able to do in this lifetime, but would definitely like to try in another. :)

  34. Ooh you are really stirring the pot here. So many things to comment on but I should preface that you know I love your site so please take the tone in a friendly manner.

    I don’t think people with travel blogs need to be perpetual travelers especially if their audience are people who work full time and travel on holidays. In some ways I find the nomadic community very off-putting in this way. I did it for 18 months and when I finally decided I didn’t want a nomadic lifestyle a lot of people turned on me or felt that I wasn’t strong enough to hack it.

    That was a year ago and I was really worried my readers would leave thinking I failed but now I realized no one really thinks of me as a travel blog, a better category would be “what the fuck am I doing with my life” blog. I would agree 99% of my commenters are other bloggers but it’s because people who publish content want to show support, people who don’t create content never think they should comment although they will email me. But I know who my readers are and they are real people who sit at a desk and three times a week they spend 5 minutes of distraction through my stories.

    But honestly the internet is big and there is room for everyone and all the different goals. There are some great blogs with a sole purpose of making money, there are some great blogs that will never make a dime, and others where scoring free trips is the only purpose. In the end who cares what other people are doing?

    1. Ayngelina, if you would allow me to keep this reply short and sweet – I agree.

      Personally, I think you’re one of the bloggers who has found her niche, found her voice, doesn’t care what others are doing, and knows who her audience is. I want to be like that. Just a male version. ;)

      1. Thank you, I really do appreciate the kind words and you know I love your site as well.

        But may I offer one piece of perspective:

        By choosing a non-traditional route we have the power to create a life that is filled with all the things that inspire us to evolve and grow. If that is true why bother wasting time criticizing others and putting out harsh, negative energy and commentary that serves no more than to judge others. Instead why not just ignore it all and focus on the good that is available.

        I see a lot of people who spend an obscene amount of time judging what other people do and it makes me laugh but it also makes me sad. Because happy people don’t feel the need to put others down.

        1. You’re welcome Ayngelina, I accept your opinion.

          As you can see from around 100 posts I have done so far on this site, this was the only one that could be construed as negative. And, it will probably be the last.

          There’s a much bigger purpose for this site that I am working towards, stick around and you will see how it evolves.

          1. Indeed, I just happened to catch a few tweets over the last couple of weeks and was concerned as you seem increasingly frustrated. That said, you are probably hovering around day 200 now and I am at nearly 1000 and I have had many dark days in the last couple years where I felt much of the same.

            If I could save you from it all I would say is worrying about what other people do will only be destructive for you. If anything it’s best not to read *anything* in the community so you can keep a unique perspective. Although I don’t follow my own advice in that regard :)

            But I do keep it at 10% now and only blogs that positively challenge how I think about things. So yes I’ll still be around as a reader.

            1. Thanks again. Your experience is invaluable to me, you must understand how much I appreciate you giving me your perspective – it’s just what I needed. Cheers, I owe you one.

  35. Great post and so true! My family and I have been blogging about doing a RTW trip for 2 years. During a lot of that time we had to come up with filler posts when we weren’t actually traveling just to keep content fresh. It was much harder to do than it would seem. Now that we are actually 2 months into our 2-year long RTW trip we are overwhelmed with content to write about and photos to post and never enough time to write about it, nor the bandwidth to post it. Such is the reality of blogging on the road….

  36. Good points Nate. Not all travel bloggers can constantly travel. At the same time, many of them pursue fruitless paths along the way. I think that blogging is about finding your balance. Each persons will be different. I agree with what you say about preferring a small group of like-minded people people who like to discuss topics and themes. It is nice to be able to have this ‘two-way street’ in blogging. Thanks for sharing!

  37. Man what a great article, it resonated with me and gave me a lot of stuff to think about. I’m a new blogger, started my blog a couple months ago to get the feel of it before I start my long term travels.

    I’m the same where I don’t want to write for other bloggers, though I love it when they come by my site. My real goal and passion is to try and inspire people to chase and live their dreams. After two years of hard work that is what I’m getting ready to do and I want to show people it possible.

    As someone new to the community I’ve recently been learning everything you wrote about, and it inspired me to work harder and smarter.

  38. As a newbie travel blogger I totally agree with what you’re saying. I don’t really know what I want from my blog just yet. All I know is that I want to write, and share my stories from travelling (and, hopefully, be entertaining) not sure if that will draw much traffic, but so be it, I’d rather do it this way than set out to be something superficial and ultimately boring. Thanks for the advice :)

  39. Clearly you’re on a pretty steep learning curve after just 170 days on the road. Looking forward to hearing more and we welcome another voice for commitment, integrity, creativity and inspiration. The form doesn’t matter, the function does.

    1. Totally agree Karen – it’s all about the function. And yes, I seem to have thrown myself in at the deep end, I have a lot to learn. Thanks for the kind words, I will do my best.

  40. I’ve been a “serious” blogger for about a year—after a 25 year career in the crash and burn lane of more than full time lawyering. I refer to my blog as covering “Baby Boomer Travels for the Body and Mind”. I’m not a full time traveler, but I’ve been traveling for many years and have had some ex-pat stints — all of them before the age of 21. I indulge my wanderlust as my/our circumstances permit. Long before there were travel bloggers, some of my favorite reads were travel narratives, including “Incidents of Travel in Yucatan” written in 1843. The travel blogs I most enjoy and follow are modern day travel narratives in essay (post) form. The web has democratized writing. The gate keepers are no longer publishing houses and magazines. Some writing is better than other writing and it is fun to sort through the noise to find it.

    So, there is the blog as literature aspect to travel blogging, but I also turn to blogs for travel planning and equipment information. As I build content on my blog, I am hoping I can appeal to both needs. I also don’t narrowly define “travel” on my travel blog. Our life’s journey is also a trip. I just did a first movie review on my blog about the film “Lincoln”, cinema being a genre that allows us to time travel.

    I don’t look down my nose at monetized blogs”. If something is too spammy, I don’t enjoy reading it and relief is a mouse click away—i.e. it’s really easy to exorcise what you consider “demonic”. Yes, travel bloggers tend to be each other’s biggest fans. This is hardly surprising since they share common interests. I’ve met some people with compelling stories through the blogosphere. Some I consider cyber friends who have been happy to share their experiences and to mentor me. I try to return the favor and I look forward to meeting them in person.

  41. How dare your criticise our circle jerk. It has been going so smoothly!

    All great and valid points, but this is why the best blogs do slowly filter to the top. There will always be an abundance or terrible RTW blog that last until the traveller stops travelling and realises they need to get a “real” job again. There are no barriers to entry and therein lies the problem. There are very few of us able to actually make a decent living off our travel blogs but as with all things, perseverance, a true passion and desire will help you succeed.

    1. Thanks Cole.

      I should point out, in no way do I equate “making a decent living from a blog” with “succeeding”. Actually, I would propose that the more money some-one makes from a blog, the more likely that blog is terrible. I’d also suggest that it’s the worst blogs filter to the top. Almost all of the most “popular” travel blogs are, in my opinion, terrible (without naming names).

      I do agree that true passion and desire is essential to a good blog. From there, it depends on the primary motivations – telling a good story, changing the world, bringing attention to a deserved issue, or…

      …monetising an audience.

  42. My husband found your site and showed it to me last night with a big grin “You are gonna love this!” and he was right, I have been indulging myself in your posts since last night. I have been trying to improve my street photography and loved reading your posts and finding some insights in your photos.
    This post however strikes a chord with every blogger whether travel or not. I think it is a common topic in the “industry” as they say. I have a blog on Turkish cuisine and culture and have heard many things that “I should be doing if I want to have X many visits per day or rankings on Google”. I have seen many food bloggers also do sponsored reviews for a free bottle of something or free pan/pot. And somehow everyone likes everything! Everyone has their vision about their blog and let them be whatever they are, I just keep following what I want to do…no sponsored posts, no advertisement on the blog, keep it simple and clean.
    I am like you, I do follow a story line whether it is with photography or wording. Once you pull me in with that, I will come back time after time.
    Great blog and I love what you are doing. All the best in your travels.

    1. Heu Ilke, such kind words – thank you – and thank your husband for me! Stick around, and together we can improve out street photography. All the best, Nate.

  43. You’ll never believe what I googled to get to this post.

    I am a new writer (new online, I’ve published a couple of pieces in major newspapers), and although I currently write in post format, I am not sure I would call myself a “blogger” as the purpose of my site is to ultimately form a searchable database of very specific information.

    I’ve tried to read travel blogs but find them mostly boring– basically, other people’s epiphanies are not very interesting. And yes, they are very schill heavy. I haven’t read through your blog (yet) beyond this post, which I really did enjoy. But the other blogs I’ve come across (I googled the “top” blogs and scanned through them) seem to really be written for 20 somethings who enjoy hostels– or “luxury” travelers with little regard for actual value. Or travelers who do “crazy” things on their journeys I would never do, so why do I care about reading about it? Where are the blogs geared toward a time crunched professional (with real money to spend) who wants short, opinionated and fact driven pieces that will help with actual planning, instead of unstructured “musings”? I’m not sure a blogger who has no other job can quite understand this mentality.
    I think more bloggers should try and structure their materials in a more guidebook friendly format and remove the ramblings. I hear guidebooks are on the slide but I really hope not– I personally love them and consider them a valuable resource.

    1. Ha! Given where your other comment was, I can take a guess at what you were googling ;)

      Thanks again for a thoughtful comment – I tend to agree with everything you have said. Hope you stick around Jenn.

  44. Hi Nate,

    I came across your article after googling ‘travel blog communities’, thank you for sharing this and I’m glad to have read it as a relatively new travel blogger. I have been writing about my journeys for just under a year now and I have to say it is really tough to get a following and to be part of the travel blog community. I love the actual experience of being in foreign surroundings, for me it’s not just about getting as many destinations on the blog as possible but for my readers to feel like they are walking down the same streets as I do. I tend to travel for historical and art historical purposes and so my blog is very visual. I might not go backpacking on month long trips to Asia though the simple pleasures of sights, smells and sounds when I’m away from home push me to get away as often as I can. I write more about how I feel when I’m away as opposed to ‘things to do’ ‘places to stay’ ‘top 10…’ maybe it means I’m not really a travel blogger… When I do read blogs with ‘How to survive…’ or ‘The best…’ I wonder if maybe that is the right way to go instead?

    I also follow a lot of travel/lifestyle/fashion blogs such as The Cherry Blossom Girl and Le Blog Betty and I wonder how on earth these girls gained such a strong following writing very simple posts when I put so much time and effort into what I write, I have to really feel a place to be able to write about it. I am quite shocked by your mention of fake Twitter profiles and bought Facebook friends, it angers me to think that I work so hard on writing good content only to be surpassed by such things.

    Could you offer some more advice in my case?

    1. Hi Nastassja. I think the main thing is, it takes time. Writing good content, being true to yourself, knowing your audience, and doing it for the love (not money) is what will help you with the longevity. But everyone is different – some people need to make money from their blogs, in which case yes – go for the “The best… ” articles, as they seem to attract larger audiences (but not necessarily loyal audiences), and larger audience should mean more opportunities for monetisation.

      However, it’s a tough game. There are a LOT of travel bloggers out there, all fighting for the same slice of pie, and there will always be someone who will do more for free than you would.

      My advice should be taken in combination with other advice you get – but personally, I do this for the love of it. I do it for my own record of my own adventures, and I enjoy using the blog as a way of meeting like minded people. This isn’t a business model, but it has helped me grow to a reasonably large audience (as far as “travel blogs” go).

      I see that your blog is about nine months old. This is young. Just keep going, keep searching out advice. Reach out to successful bloggers and talk to them.

      And don’t worry about the fake followers, it means nothing to anyone with the slightest bit of intelligence!

      All the best, Nate.

  45. Nice read.

    I feel people blogging for different reasons, same for travel blogging. It fills some need. I know many who usually don’t blog actually have desire to blog, just not in current way.

    Blogger is NOT journalist, at least I think that way. So sometimes, just don’t be serious about it. Blog the way you like when you want, that is the best blog in my view.

  46. Nate, I agree with some of what you say. And some of it is true – fake followers, people who hardly travel or people who blog only to get freebies etc. But I think the majority of travel bloggers are genuine & doing their thing. If it works for them, why not? Conversely, I’ve also met travelers who want to unplug – so they hitch-hike, couchsurf/camp, dumpster drive. They don’t write, they don’t take photos.

    How you travel is your choice. It’s your experience. I used to blog while I was traveling but it was a big sacrifice. There’s nothing wrong to write about it later. The quality of writing will actually be better imo.

    Finally, I know it sounds counter-intuitive but if you have a travel blog – you will indeed be curious about other people’s blogs too. Why wouldn’t writers like reading? And for people who are at home or who have never traveled or need travel inspiration – blogs are of course perfect.

  47. Good post! I think there is definitely an “deal scenario” that every traveler is after. Whether they portray that dream, or the truth, is another matter. Some blogs are catered towards other travel bloggers, some are catered to those that want to travel, and others tend to sell out.

    At the end of the day, everyone has the same goal. Travel more. Have more money in the bank. It’s not always so easy…

  48. Hello Nate! After reading your article and a big part of the comment’s I feel as you are forcing your opinion on others. Yes I do agree, that in many cases the travel blog followers are the other travel bloggers, but it’s not a bad thing, thats how things go around, ones are in the end of the journey as others are starting it and not all are supposed to walk it till the end.

    Plus, it’s not possible to jump into this full time travelling lifestyle right away, certain preparations must be made, others do their blogs solely on business purpose as a sort of travel agency and whats wrong with that as well?

  49. This article is really inspiring and gives hope in authenticity seekness.

    I’m actually thinking about starting my own travel blog, and I just felt into all these kinds of blog you’re talking about and I can’t see the point in it.

    the fact is I never even wanted to comment a travel blog article before as I never found them written from an individual.

    I’m happy I discovered your blog, and from now, I’ll follow you.

  50. I like your insights, Nate. While there are some original voices in the game, a lot more are trying to emulate tried and true methods. As youtuber Casey Neistat put it: “If you’re doing the same thing as everyone else, you’re doing it wrong.”

    I took some flack for a post I wrote lately that asked “Why Do Travel Blogs All Sound The Same?” Well, readers liked it. But when I shared it with a fellow travel blogging community they tore it up.

    I suppose at some level we need to ask ourselves, am I writing for other bloggers or for other TRAVELLERS?

    Link if there’s interest: http://www.danvineberg.com/travel-blogs-all-sound-the-same/

    Dan

    1. Hey Dan, to answer your question: most travel bloggers write for other travel bloggers. Nothing has changed since I wrote this article over two years ago – if anything it’s gotten much worse (and, BTW, this was the only post I ever wrote that was directed at travel bloggers). The incentive for most travel bloggers is free-trips, free-product, and if they’re lucky, about as much cash as a minimum-wage McDonalds employee would receive.

      Sure, I’ve met some travel bloggers who I now count as my friends. However, they all have several things in common – they have interests outside of just being a “travel blogger”. Some of them are very successful in the blogging “community”, they really are amongst the most popular bloggers in the world. But, they NEVER direct articles at other travel bloggers. And generally, they are travellers.

      The thing is, my blog now has a degree of popularity – multiple times I’ve had 10k+ social media shares on articles, and often the views go into the hundreds of thousands. I’ve started doing “Untours” as an extension of this blog. I’ve been live-interviewed by organisations like the HuffingtonPost and Lonely Planet – and ALL of that is because I don’t direct my blog at other travel bloggers, which is a very limited, and ultimately self-serving, audience.

      My blog is for travellers, or potential travellers, or people who daydream about travel.

      I’m glad you left this comment here, to remind me of what I wrote, and I’m glad I can stand by my original thoughts.

      Good luck with your travels, and any travel blogger that quotes Tolstoy is OK in my opinion ;)

  51. I know this is an old article, but I just wanted to throw my appreciation for it in the ring.

    I finally started a travel (and toy) blog because I thought our life was mildly interesting and wanted to encourage more people to think outside of the box when it comes to educational toys and travel opportunities for kids.

    I didn’t realize that the “travel blog” was a thing, though… Full of exotic locales to which I’ll never hold a candle… And a whole bunch of crappy, bossy advice in a giant pile of head-spinning where-the-heck-am-I-supposed to click nonsense.

    But, hey, at least my mom knows what we’re up to every day.

    And there’s always that thing about posterity for the kids as they get older…

    I have the ultimate goal of retro-blogging every move they’ve ever made.

    After all, it’s cheaper than scrapbooking.

    Ha ha….

  52. Ha! I found this post to be delightful. Another travel blogger here, guilty as charged. I think, for me, I’ve learned that it’s a tough world out there and trying to gain followers is like screaming in a crowd of others who are also screaming. You have to love it. You have to have a passion for writing, telling stories, writing, tips, etc. You have to be dedicated and you have to work hard at it. I spend just as much time researching, looking for opportunities to get featured, and engaging with the travel community on social media as I do actually writing. It’s hard work with very little payoff, but for me it’s something I love to do. If you don’t love it, you won’t make it. Thanks for the good read!

  53. Nail. Head. All of what you say is so true. I’ve been blogging on and off for a few years now and as much as I love it, I’ve never wanted to enter into the brown-nosing game to become more popular in the “circle jerk” ha. I blog because I enjoy writing. And since I mainly enjoy writing about travel, that’s how my blog evolved. I don’t travel all the time – in fact not even half the time – but I don’t purport to this illusion. In fact my “brand” is all about part-time travel; not the nomadic “just-quit-your-job-and-travel-forever” lifestyle. Frankly I’d hate that.

    I have to say I stumbled on this post as I was researching other male travel bloggers to write about in an upcoming post on my own blog. But having read this piece the idea suddenly seems moot. I’ve written most of it so I will publish anyway, but would including you (which I’d like to do because you’re a kickass writer) directly contradict the point of this article?

    Just give me a yay or nay. Either way, excellent post man.

  54. This is an interesting article, as someone who has spent a long time learning to write at university and working for a travel company as a content writer, I often struggle with clickbait articles and staying true to who I want to be in the travel blogging world. It seems there’s no easy answers, even though everyone wants to tell you there are!
    Can’t wait to see what else you write.

  55. There’s also the problem of market saturation -i.e. that absolutely everyone is now blogging, regardless of whether their travel is interesting, or whether they have something unique and different to say. The motivation seems to be more about money and internet fame than a genuine desire to engage with an audience, so you end up with endless clickbait articles like “10 great hacks to speed up your packing” or “48 hours in [insert popular destination here]”. With 99% of these blogs there’s no obvious point of difference, and no particular writing skill.

    Added to that the fact that bloggers are such a homogenous group (90% appear to be young, white and middle class, from developed countries), and you have a recipe for this phenomenon to eventually fade into cyber oblivion.

    1. Hey Sue – I pretty much agree with what you have written.

      I would point out, there are a LOT of blogs from people not in “developed” countries. We don’t see these blogs, because they’re written in languages other than English. I have personally met bloggers from Romania, Bulgaria, Ukraine, and Serbia for example – my gut feeling says there are just as many blogs in every country (fortunately or unfortunately, depending on how you look at it) (and by no means am I calling those countries undeveloped – but they certainly are definitely less “middle class” than the English speaking world). ;)

      Cheers for your comment.

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