What I Learned From 4 Months of Travel Blogging

Padang beach, Sumatra, Indonesia

Though I’m new to travel blogging, I’m not new to blogging. In fact, before the whole blogging concept was born, I was doing my own personal website since year 2000. I have many personal websites and blogs that come and go. But the one blog that exists the longest and is the most successful is my book blog – which I’m still maintaining, 5 years and counting. The website that started as a personal book journal has grown and brought me so much, from friends to free books to publisher events to invitations for tv show audience and commercial plays. It is also listed a couple of times by Cision as one of the top 10 UK Literature Blogs (I admit they might be slightly drunk on selection day).

One shinny day I thought, maybe I could start another blog (because one cannot have too many blogs), and this time it’s for another passion of mine – that has, quite honestly, taken precedence over my reading lately. Namely a travel blog (that’s where you are right now, in case you forgot). I love traveling, I love writing, and I love photography. It just seems like the perfect combination!

And who knows, I might get something out of it too, like I do with my book blog.

Little did I know, I was about to enter a whole new level of blogging!

When I first started book blogging, I was surprised to find out, that for some bloggers, reading is all they do! By that I mean they either don’t have other hobbies apart from reading, or that they really do read for work (like librarian, book seller, editor, teacher, and the likes) or read for study (English student, librarian student).

Now I found out that for some bloggers, travel is all they do! Many people are professional travel bloggers! By that I mean they make money out of their blog to the point that allows them to always travel!

Wow that is NEW!

While getting free books is fun and all that, the monetary value of it is actually very small. Books in average cost around £7-£10, and considering the amount of time you need to spend on one book to read and review, well that’s almost nothing! Book blogging rides on passion and nothing else. Even bragging rights is rather exclusive to fellow book bloggers, since the rest of the world doesn’t really care for free books (yea a bit sad – about the not caring for books, not the bragging).

Traveling on the other hand, is a completely different matter! Most people I know like traveling (or pretend they do). It’s a more universal interest and the direct result of it in photograph form is easily enjoyed (or envied) by people from any walks of life.

In other words, while book blogging is a niche thing on the Internet, with a sweet and nice community, travel blogging seems like a very competitive field! Is it full of cut-throat people elbowing each other to be the most popular travel bloggers? It might very well be. After all, the stakes are higher! The perks have much more value. Some people’s livelihood even depend on their blogs. The most popular bloggers get all the free travels and sponsorships, and of course the money! (cue Show me the Moneeey!)

Very scary. I’m trembling in my little corner.

What did I get myself into? How am I going to survive being a travel blogger with full time job and very limited number of days for traveling? How indeed one wonders. I feel very small.

Then I heard even more. Find your niche! – people shout. You can’t stand out being a generic travel blogger! Too many people do it, and everybody wants a piece of the pie! I tell you, it’s all very intimidating.

It does make me think back about my book blog. English isn’t my first language. I don’t read nearly as many books as the other book bloggers. Heck, I didn’t even start to read English novels until my last year in University. But I’m not doing too bad as a book blogger. I get abundant requests for book reviews. A few times I was one of the selected book bloggers for various events in London. So I guess I must’ve done something right. I write as me, and I don’t try hard to be something I’m not. Maybe for some reason my voice gets through to people.

I’m kinda hoping my voice gets through to people too here in Wandering Mee. I believe I have so much appreciation of life and of meaningful traveling. I have the sensitivity of someone who does not come from a privileged country. Unlike the myriad of Americans who just save for a few months and travel to Asia screaming cheap cheap and partying hard, I actually needed to get a “proper job” to be able to travel outside of Asia. It takes me my entire adult life to work hard to be able to travel. Maybe a different point of view of life and traveling can be my niche.

What do you think? What do you look for in a travel blog? When I follow a blog, I don’t think I really follow the blog. I follow the personality. How important is the personality behind the blog for you?