Luke Armstrong | Feb 15, 2021
Many avid travelers seem to be somewhat unsettled if they are not blogging. The angst comes out when I mention I am a travel writer. That familiar look settles in the traveler’s eyes. Some get the jitters. Some look like they want to shake me and yell, “Tell me the secret!” Often they want to sit down and talk about it. Some tell me about their smattering of travel journals just “sitting under the bed, collecting dust and not being shared with anyone!” They look like that Edvard Munch inspired emoticon.
From the ensuing conversations, it’s clear that some of these travelers could gain a lot if they stopped postponing and started their travel blog already!
Others have misconceptions about what can be gained by travel blogging. They don’t realize how much work it takes to accomplish what they hope to through it. For those, I give less encouragement than I offer a dose of reality.
So here are some points of consideration about having a travel blog. Then we will segway into a conversation with one of my favorite travel bloggers, Candice Walsh. Candice is a Canadian writer who has successfully positioned her travel blog into the commercial success that many would-be travel bloggers seem to be seeking. She’s done a better job at being a travel blogger than I have, so feel free to skim whatever I take say and go straight to her (no ... actually please don’t … that will hurt my feelings).
I would give the same advice here I give to folks who tell me they want to be writers. As if a writer is something you become — I believe it’s something you are — some people have an insatiable communicative and expressive spirit that needs a creative outlet so they don’t explode. We can’t have people walking down the street exploding, thus we have writers.
In the Nomad’s Nomad Writers’ Workshops I lead, I begin with the Charles Bukowski poem “So you Want to Be A Writer.”
He begins by advising the would-be writer not to write “If it doesn't come bursting out of you in spite of everything.”
And of course he means you should be very honest with yourself about your motivation. Some travelers simply want to find a way to make easy money on the road. Well it’s safe to say that if this is your overarching motivation, there are easier ways to make a living on the road than travel blogging — trust us!
Those I know who’ve “made it” had the soulful compulsiveness of an artist to begin with— they had to do it because, to paraphrase Mr. Bukowski, “The sun inside was burning to do it.” (Aka, they would explode if they weren’t travel blogging!)
Many travel bloggers spend years at it before achieving commercial success and many never do in the way they hoped. But if it’s personally fulfilling, that’s success enough.
Steemit is a new platform on the scene that combines social media, blogging, and crypto currencies — in some ways it’s everything bloggers wanted blogging to be but wasn’t — it’s possible to find yourself in your niche community in a way that rewards you financially for hard-working effort with a much quicker turnaround time than most ever see in the blogging scene.
Some of us start early, some of us start late. But the best time to start has always been right now.
Some would-be travel bloggers get lost in the galore of what they haven’t done. This prevents them from doing what they want to do — namely, starting a travel blog already!
This train of thought goes something like this:
But how can I start blogging now when I’ve already neglected to record all my epic trips of the past ten years!? I have ten years of travel journals, where do I begin to start to put these up on a blog?”
The easy answer is you don’t. You start from where you are today. Maybe after you’re up and running, you’ll find the space to include some of those neglected journals with your readers.
Don’t get lost in the galore. Do as Hemingway recommended writers do — start with one true sentence and go from there.
For the last decade, I’ve been a fan of Canadian writer and commercially successful travel blogger Candice Walsh. Her blog Free Candie has grown and evolved with her and she’s stuck with it. I’ve always admired the authenticity of her voice. I think part of her commercial success has been due to the sincerity she puts into her travel writing. So let’s hear from her. Here are four questions for Candice Walsh on travel blogging.
SC: What originally inspired you to start travel blogging?
Candice: I’ve always been a writer and diarist, and I have been keeping a blog in various forms since high school (LiveJournal and DeadJournal ... seriously). Connecting with a blog/journal community was always a big part of my life.
But it wasn't until I went to France on a work trip and wrote about my misadventures did the idea to start a specific travel blog occur to me. It came more out of a need to be a storyteller more than a source of income. Nowadays, I mostly use my website to publish narrative, but also guides to the places I visit — especially Newfoundland. It's led me to some great freelance gigs.
SC: You’ve been able to (at least sometimes) support yourself with your travel blog. What would you say to someone aspiring to do the same?
Candice: It's a LOT of work, and it takes a lot of patience. Competition is fierce, and you truly have to love doing it. This is by no means a quick "get rich" scheme! Be diligent and consistent in your articles, attend networking events, etc. Find your niche, and make yourself the authority figure on that topic. I've lived in Newfoundland and Labrador my whole life, and so I became a sort of go-to person for travel content within my province. It's a lot of fun!
SC: Having a commercially successful travel blog is a business. There’s a saying in the business world that you don’t own a business, a business owns you. Have you ever felt constrained and cornered by your own success?
Candice: I've toned down my blog a lot in the past few years, much to my dismay. When I first started blogging, I didn't care so much about what people thought about me. I wrote honestly and candidly. I've matured over the years, and now I withhold certain things, but I do feel I've stifled my voice a little in the process. It's a fine line to walk.
SC: If you could begin again, back at day 1 of travel blogging, would you do anything differently?
Candice: I would have treated my blog more like a business from the very start. I was very much directionless. I also just kind of fell out of love with the whole thing for a few years, as the travel blogging world seemed to focus more on self gratuitous content. I wish I hadn't let that bother me so much.
SC: Thanks Candice for taking the time with us.
Luke Maguire Armstrong is the author of "The Nomad's Nomad." He has spent the last decade traveling, writing and designing, and funding philanthropic programs around the world.