Isn’t it funny how our careers unfold over the course of our lifetime? For some professionals, they knew what profession they wanted to obtain and went to school accordingly. For example, nurses obtained a nursing degree, attorneys went on to law school, and real estate professionals studied for their state’s real estate license.
But have you ever wondered about professions that don’t have one specific degree or certification? This series explores those careers that are less obvious and open to a diverse set of backgrounds and credentials. Hopefully you can understand the foundation and skills needed to successfully land a rewarding career, too!
Exploring Careers Q&A Series: Travel Blogger
I’m excited for my first guest on this series, an award-winning solo, offbeat and adventure travel blogger at Jessie on a Journey. With a tagline like, “Taking you beyond the guidebook,” Jessie is the travel blogger documenting and sharing the unexpected adventures travelers can have in a place. She goes off the beaten path on her own to places like Bhutan and Slovenia, as well as non-solo travel destinations such as French Polynesia and Saint Lucia! For wanderlust inspiration, check out her Instagram @jessieonajourney.
Without further ado, I present my Q&A with Jessie, where she talks about how she got started, what it takes to be a successful travel blogger, and tips for starting your own travel blog!
Q: Hi Jessie! Talk to me about your educational background and why you selected that major.
A: I went to school for Communication, and received a BA/MA in Communication & Rhetoric from the State University of New York at Albany. I originally wanted to work in nonprofit public relations.
Q: What did you do before becoming a travel blogger?
A: Aside from a short stint as a travel agent, I’ve always had internships and worked. I waitressed and I spent a lot of my time in university planning trips and then jetting off during breaks. Once I graduated I didn’t want to give it up with an office job that only allowed for two weeks off per year.
Q: How did you come up with the idea of becoming a travel blogger and what made you realize this was the path for you?
A: I didn’t want to give up travel; however, I had a Master’s Degree and wanted to use it somehow. So, I started researching jobs in travel. I tried the travel agent thing but didn’t love it as it felt too salesy for me. Eventually I came across an online course for travel blogging. I started looking up travel bloggers and saw that normal people just like me were actually making money documenting their travels. It was inspiring!
I took the course and pursued blogging with an extreme passion. Within a year I was making money. I spent a lot of 15 hour days building up my site, so was happy to see my hard work paying off. Funny enough, I now teach online blogging courses with writers.com.
Q: Travel blogging is harder than it seems, can you give a breakdown of your main ‘duties’?
A: That’s for sure! You’re not simply writing and publishing: you’re editing posts for spelling, grammar and Search Engine Optimization; editing photos; you need to come up with a social media strategy and be very active on your channels; you need to network; you need to build products and services; you need to create graphics; you need to do outreach. You’re essentially an entire magazine staff in one person, though eventually you’ll need to outsource some work. Luckily there are also helpful tools to streamline the work, like Hootsuite and Edgar (for social media scheduling), BuzzBundle (for social listening) and BuzzStream (for outreach).
A lot of tasks pop up that are atypical, as well. For instance, I spent the last week updating my Ditch The Daily Grind professional blogging webinar. I also gave away one of my NYC photo tours for free on Instagram. This meant I had to work longer days to keep up with my normal workflow.
In short: travel blogging is not just laying on a beach! 🙂
Q: That’s true – there is a ton of behind the scenes work! I know incomes vary for bloggers; do you have an estimated ballpark of what bloggers could make? What skills do you attribute to the success of bloggers making over 6-figure incomes?
A: Honestly, it varies so much I’m not sure there is a ballpark. I know bloggers who make $2,000 a year and those making six figures. The great thing is you’re not married to a salary; work more, sell more, land more campaigns and partnerships and you’ll make more money. To me, success comes with having a clearly defined brand and mission, and a business strategy. Write out a business plan — I actually have a business plan worksheet I give to subscribers here — and lay out the groundwork for your business. Because that’s what it is; a business vs a journal.
To me, success comes with having a clearly defined brand and mission, and a business strategy.
Q: Ah, sounds very entrepreneurial! What do you love about your current career path?
A: Having control over my time. Blogging is a lot of work, but I get to choose when I do the work. I can work an 80-hour week and then travel the next, which is typically what I do before a trip.
Q: Not every job is rainbows and sunshines – can you shed light on things you wish you didn’t have to do or what you would want to change?
A: The amount of computer time involved. Yes, I get to travel as a travel blogger, but I spend way more time editing posts and photos, being active on social media and trying to procure partnerships.
Q: At least you get to work from anywhere! If someone wanted to become a travel blogger, what type of advice would you give to them?
A: Don’t expect to start making money right away, or even in the first year. It takes time to build your blog, and before you even start you should craft a road map (aka a business plan) with monthly goals for growth and how you’ll achieve them. I recommend having some type of income aside from your blog until it really takes off.
Q: Can you recommend any resources or tips for those who want to make a transition and start their own travel blog?
A: On my own blog I have a section with free blogging tips as well as blogging resources for setting yourself up for success. I’d recommend taking a class in the beginning stages. There are many online blogging courses on the market. I actually teach two with writers.com. There are also a number of industry blogs I recommend subscribing to including CoSchedule, Quick Sprout and Canva’s Design School.
Thank you so much for sharing your travel blogging experiences, Jessica ! I can’t wait to read more of your adventures.