I am so used to listen to that question that I already prefer to answer yes. I´d rather see the joy on the people´s faces when I say that I am on a family vacation that the face of incomprehension when I try to explain that I am actually working. The blogger, and especially the travel blogger, is seen as a person who lives on vacation, going from one place to another, being invited by hotels to enjoy their spas, eating in the most delicious restaurants.
And it sounds logical because it is what the travel blogger shows: the trip. After all, a pastry chef shows you the finished chocolate cake; no customer who comes to buy cake is interested in hearing how the process was to transform some eggs and flour into a gastronomic work of art. Give me the cake that has a handmade SpongeBob, I want to eat it, do not explain how you made it so great. In fact, the chocolate cake was born from a tree for those customers. Yes, the same with a travel blogger. Do not tell me everything you do behind the scenes. Show me the place and tell me how cute (or ugly) it is.
Luckily the work of a blogger is being increasingly recognized by companies that are seeking to have these “social influencers” when it comes to offering their products and services. But there are also more people who start a travel blog because they believe that everything is pure fun and little work. To these people, I want to dedicate this post.
It is not dedicated to those who work in an office and do not understand that a job without hours or walls is also a job. No, it’s dedicated to those who say: “I’m going to start a travel blog because I want to live as a travel blogger.” So before you get yourself into this, HEADS UP! Read this article. I will not go into details of “How to set up a travel blog” because I already did that in this article: this article. Here I am going to tell you a little bit about the behind the scenes. My case is a little more particular because there are a two-year-old child and a dog. So if you are single or a couple without children, you have it a little “easier”, but still, nothing is easy in this new world that you want to enter.
THE TRAVEL BLOGGER IS A SME
A travel blog is something like an SME: a small and medium-sized enterprise. Imagine an advertising agency. They have their creative team that generates the ideas for the commercials, the producers who contact the clients to offer the advertising services or to receive the orders, a director of social networks that manages the team of social media that are in charge of everything that is the social spectrum of the company, the cameramen and camera directors who are in charge of filming the commercial, an editor who is responsible for making the final clip of the advertisements, and the cadets who are in charge of carrying stationery.
Well, I suppose all these are considered “real jobs” in the “real” world. Now imagine that each of them is clay and that we mix them all together and we make a great ball: that is the blogger. The one that is in charge of the creative part, the one that is a producer, the one that manages the social networks, the one that films and takes photos, that later publishes … in short, the blogger is the company itself. Do you now begin to see it as a work in the “real” world? Do you begin to understand that behind that beautiful chocolate cake decorated to the last detail there are eggs and flour and a whole process of preparation? Being a blogger is having your own SME.
HOW IS THE PROCESS OF TRAVEL BLOGGING
The reader, or the follower of social networks, sees the final photo, or video, or article. But he seldom wonders how that piece of information got there. (Authors note: here I am talking about bloggers who take this as a profession and not about people who are going on a trip, uploading a couple of photos to their Instagram, and think they are doing a travel blog. I am talking of those who take this with seriousness and commitment). The photos and videos require a previous job, a job “during”, and a later job.
The previous is the investigation of the location: where I want to take that photo or shoot that video, why I want to take it, what I want to shoot and how I want to tell the story. Then there is the work in situ, which is to take the photo per se or shoot the video. Sometimes it takes little time and is the most entertaining part, but sometimes this part also takes a lot and requires work and patience. To take this photo of Lake Titisee in Germany, for example, I was by the lake from 6 in the morning until 8.30 to find the best light and framing.
You could say that two and a half hours of work is nothing and even less if you are in contact with nature. Exactly, in nature, everything is much more enjoyed and two and a half hours are nothing, but that is just to take the photo, nothing else. And finally, there is the later work that includes editing and publishing. The editing of a photograph requires some knowledge of programs such as Lightroom (if one wants to do it professionally, of course, but it is not necessary) and time to be able to give the final creative touch.
Video editing is even more complex and sometimes takes hours and hours to select the clips, edit them, add effects, etc. And the publication is a simple click, but that requires having done a previous research on the best times to publish to reach more people. And believe me that it takes a lot of time and study. On the other hand, the blogger has to write the articles, because otherwise, he would not be a blogger. There is not much to clarify about this part: sitting down to think what to tell, how to tell it, why to tell it, how to make it interesting, and write. Of course, if Julio Cortázar even had the syndrome of the white paper, let´s just not imagine an unknown blogger like me. But hey, that’s all part of this business. Then there is the issue of social networks. But it’s so important that I’d rather leave it for another section.
ANOTHER SECTION: SOCIAL MEDIA AND SEO FOR TRAVEL BLOGGERS
What would a blog be without social media and a good SEO? It would be the same as a chocolate cake hidden in an oven that is in a locked kitchen with a padlock in the back of a restaurant without doors to the street. Was the parallelism understood? Today the two most important social networks are Facebook and Instagram, but you also have to be present on Twitter, Pinterest, preferably have a channel on YouTube, maybe investigate something about Google +. Anyway … be there, on the net, saying: “I’m running a travel blog, come and read it.”
And social media for a blogger is not the same as for an individual. The individual wants (or don´t care about) his friends and family to follow him, see his photos, chat … well, use it as a distraction and entertainment. For a blogger, social networks are not entertainment. The blogger is on the other side: the side of the entertainer. Therefore the networks for the blogger are part of his work: you have to generate constant content to keep them active and interesting, you have to attract followers, you have to interact constantly with other bloggers and potential followers, you have to go through the networks and give likes, write comments, be part of groups in which to post with assiduity. In short, use all the tools available to be present and make your work known.
But the blogger will not be able to attract followers if he/she does not take at least one or two hours a day to be there, interacting. And you have to know how to interact and how to post depending on the social network. The 140 characters of Twitter are not the same as the photograph or video on Instagram. It is not the same to post a Sunday morning or a Thursday night. Study, study and study.
And then comes SEO. Those three letters that confuse and that, many times, are left very erroneously aside. For our blog and our articles to be found, it is necessary to work weekly on SEO. Find the right keywords to add to our articles, think about the headlines and the content to be better indexed, put the alternative text to the images so that they are also indexed by the God of the Internet: the search engines.
A TRAVEL BLOGGER NEEDS TO TRAVEL
A travel blog without traveling would not be a travel blog. So for the end of this article, we leave the time required to do just that: to move, to travel, to know, to discover. The most magical part of our work and that makes us choose it (and at the same time the part that from one day to the other, since we chose this work, change the concept of travel for good: they are not simple vacation trips anymore, but also part of our work, where everything becomes a constant search for written and visual information). The reason why people say “what a nice vacation you are having”. Yes! Beautiful! Great holiday. We are traveling the world, eating chocolate cakes that magically come from the ground, and we are enjoying it. After all, it is much quicker and simpler to say that we are on vacation, which are only four words out of your mouth than to explain orally everything I have just written. So for those who want to be travel bloggers (seriously) I say: do it. But know that it requires a lot of work and that travel will never be the same. If you are willing, it is the best job in the world.
PS: I did not concentrate on the almost impossible mission of making a travel blog while being parents because it may not be the case for you. But nothing is more beautiful than the challenge of doing all the above described while giving your child the best possible childhood.