Let me tell y'all: there are hundreds of articles on the web about this topic. Groundbreaking titles like "How to become a travel blogger in 24 hours", "How to make 3 million with a travel blog" and "How I bought 7 villas in Bali with my travel blog".
Blogging, especially travel blogging, is a crowded digital space. Everyone wants to get paid to travel the world, right?
It’s your dream job, correct?
Well, the truth is that running a blog is very hard work. Most of the time, if you reach a certain level, you don't get paid to travel but you get to travel for free. Which is amazing. At the beginning. But after dozens of press trips and sponsored journeys, you'll feel emptied of the joy of travelling for the sake of travelling. It will just become work. On a press trip, the PR person will drag you out of bed at 5am, then pull you from one place to the other on a tight schedule, check how many Instagram stories you've posted and why the blog post has only 799 words rather than 800. It's easy to fall into the "travel for free" trap, but once you get back to real life, you still have to pay for your rent and food, right? Unless your plumber accepts exposure as a form of payment - mine doesn't. Last time it cost me £180 for half hour of his time (I should have been a plumber, not a writer).
So, going back to starting a travel blog while away on Erasmus. Why not? What have you got to lose? Maybe it won't be your full-time job and possibly it will be a very fun thing to do while you are away and maybe that love for putting one word after the other will finally take shape in the form of a blog.
I am going to give you some realistic expectations, and tips to start a travel blog while you are - guess what? Travelling!
Let's start with what you'll need:
- a laptop, an iPad or a smartphone. Even a typewriter, a pen and paper would work;
- an Internet connection;
- a camera/phone or a pen and pencils if you like to illustrate;
- a place to write about
If you are an Erasmus student, you most likely have all the tools above, hurrah! So let's get started.
Find your niche
A little hint: Erasmus students.
Focusing on one single area/audience allows you to become an expert. You should aim to become the source of information to whom readers turn when they have a question or a curiosity. A suggestion: writing accurate articles about your Erasmus experience in London, will likely make you a reference point for all current and future (and even past) students who did an Erasmus experience in London.
Find your angle
You now need an angle. A point of view. A topic. Something that (hopefully) will make your blog stand out from the millions of blogs on the net and turn you into a real blogger. What's an angle? Well, it's your writing style, in a way. You can decide to have a foodie blog, a funny style, a music approach or a very formal and informative blog. You choose. Once you've chosen, stick to it. Consistency always pays back.
Check your sources
When you are writing a blog, unless you are writing your biography in digital chapters, you are going to do some research. Do it properly. If you are writing about the documents needed to apply for an Erasmus semester at King's College in London, make sure you double-check all the info on the official website and maybe reach out to the person in charge to make sure everything you are about to publish is correct and up to date. There is nothing worse than losing readers (and credibility) publishing wrong or outdated information.
You don't have to only write about your Erasmus experience. You can write lots of content about it, but an Erasmus experience is, partly, a travelling experience. If you are from the US and doing a semester abroad in Madrid, for example, you will have plenty of opportunities to explore many other places within Spain as well as the rest of Europe, like Lisbon, Barcelona and Berlin. Create a travel category on your blog about your European exploration.
Keep it up
Rome wasn't built in a day, nor was [Chiara Ferragni]'s (https://www.instagram.com/chiaraferragni/) fashion empire. It takes a lot of time to write an article, especially at the beginning. I remember when I started my first blog (now thankfully deceased) over 15 years ago, it would take me about a week to write a 200-word post. Nowadays that half of my day is spent writing (not just about travel), it takes me around 45 minutes to write a 1500-word piece. Practice doesn't make perfect, but it definitely makes you faster. And you will need to keep writing. And writing. And writing. Before seeing any real results. Unless you get to hit some viral string that will make your readers come in flocks, it will take time to get from 0 views per month, to 3 (mum, dad and sister), to 10 (family and friends), to 50 (family, friends and friends of friends) to 1,000 (all of the before + some people actually interested in your writing and not reading your blog out of despair).
Sell something. But don't sell anything.
Once you've become a reference point within your niche. Once you've become a reference point within your niche. Nope, that's not a typo, it's intentional. Timing here is crucial. Only when you have grown a reasonable amount of readers and you've built an organic community around your blog, you can then start thinking about monetizing your blog. You've invested a lot of time to get where you are, so now it's time for your efforts to be paid back. Hold on, this is not a mandatory step, but it's a nice thing when the community you've built is willing to support you in a way or the other. Remember that first you need to build an audience and THEN, only then, can you start "asking for money". If you do it before, the few readers you've gathered on your social platform will quickly disappear realising you're just another guy trying to sell something.
But once you've collected trust and respect from people and you realise you really have something important to offer, that's the moment when you should start thinking about turning your blog into a (little) source of income. If you have spent six months in Brussels, for example, you could write and sell an ebook with all the juicy information you've gathered in that time. If you get asked lots of questions, you could think about selling your knowledge through one-to-one Q&As to other students thinking about going to Brussels for their Erasmus semester but also professionals looking to move there for their first expat experience. If you reach a certain amount of views, you'll probably get contacted by some PR and marketing agencies asking you to promote a product or place a link or an article on your blog. Think carefully. What you've built in 6 months/a year can be destroyed with the wrong partnership. And don't accept paid posts too often, you'll turn into an advertising channel (like hundreds out there) and people will turn you off as they do with televisions.
Blogging takes continuity and consistency
I already said that it takes time, but it also takes continuity and consistency. For example, you should post every Thursday or Friday so that your readers know when to expect your next article. You could also start a newsletter to announce the content of your next blog post and create momentum for it. Social media also helps grow an audience, so if you are starting a blog, consider also opening the relative Facebook, Instagram and YouTube channels.
That's all for now, folks! Let me know in the comments below if you wish to know more about blogging, social media and travelling!
Read more about travelling and living abroad here: