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Our Experience of Starting a Travel Blog

Every now and then we provide tips for new Travel Bloggers. Today we focus on our own experience of Starting a Travel Blog, to see if it’s right for you.

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Eilean Donan Castle, Scotland

We don’t often write about our experience of starting a travel blog as we know that most of our readers are not travel bloggers. However, every now and then we feel the need to dive into the Art of Travel Blogging to discuss a few things we have learnt, and provide tips for new travel bloggers.

If you aren’t interested in reading more then never fear, our regular adventure related travel articles and photos will be back soon. In the meantime here is a pretty picture and you should check out our top 5 most popular travel articles:

Eilean Donan Castle, Scotland

Eilean Donan Castle, Scotland

Our Experience of Starting a Travel Blog

I wanted to take the time to write about our experience of starting a travel blog because we just answered a really interesting survey from a research graduate student exploring the lives of travel bloggers. Specifically she is looking at why we create and maintain travel blogs, and how this relates to our leisure and work lives.

If you are a travel blogger, then hopefully it provides a little insight into how you can avoid letting the travel blog take over your life, and more importantly, your travels. Because if you want to make travel blogging your full time job, you will be in for a big surprise.

It all started of with the generic questions such as, explaining what our travel blog is about and why we started it. It was at this point that I began to realise how far we have come. Not to mention how our expectations and desires had evolved as well.

It also raised a few questions of my own.

We started this travel blog to keep a record of our own travels around the world. As well as keeping family and friends updated on what we were doing.

Cole and Adela Photos

After about 4 months we realised that other people were actually reading about our adventures.

This led us to research how we could turn this travel blog into a better travel resource for the general public. We realised that we wanted to maintain our travel blog to show travellers, especially couples travelling together, that you could quite easily step outside your comfort zone, in comfort.

By using our on the ground knowledge we could provide trusted and expert travel tips to our travel community, which was growing exponentially. And it wasn’t long before we were getting emails and social media mentions asking for specific travel tips.

As the travel blog continued to evolve it took over our lives. I started working full time on it which gave me the freedom to work independently anywhere in the world. This also gave us more opportunities and freedom to follow our travel and adventure passions.

For the next 6 months we dived into the travel blogging world with everything we had.

The next question I answered in the research made me pause:

“Do you consider writing and maintaining your travel blog part of your leisure, your work, neither or both? Why?”

It has been amazing to watch our site evolve over the last 18 months from a hobby into my full time work. But had we gone too far?

Travel blogging had became a full time job.

Her next two questions really made me stop.

How much time and energy do you invest in writing and maintaining your travel blog?

How much time and energy do you invest in other activities (besides writing and maintaining the travel blog) that support your travel blogging?  What are these other activities?

Those were the real eye-opening questions.

I realised that more time was now spent dealing with advertisers, tourism boards, travel companies and DMO’s than actually writing or editing photos. Not to mention all the hours spent on our various social media channels engaging with our very active audience on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, YouTube, Pinterest and Instagram to name a few.

And the icing on the cake?

How important are your travel blogs as part of your leisure and/or work?

How important is it to you to maintain and continue writing your travel blog?  If you had to stop travel blogging how would this impact your life?

Before I realised it, I had already responded that our travel blog had basically become a part of every aspect of my life. Everywhere we go, everything we eat, everything we do, could be a potential story.

It was mind bottling.

Our travel blog had taken over our lives.

It was so obvious to us because I just went through a stage, very recently, where I nearly threw it all away. I absolutely loathed writing because it had become a chore. Our relationship was suffering and travel wasn’t even enjoyable.

It took a full month of not writing or working on the travel blog before I started to feel comfortable again. During that time I took stock of what I wanted in the future.

I realised that the reason I wanted to continue is because I want a couple of things:

  • I want to work remotely and have my own job independence;
  • An outlet to publish my photos and writing; and
  • To continue to inspire others to travel.

The last point was actually a surprise to me. But I realised it after I was asked:

What outcomes or results do you feel you receive from your travel blog (personal, social, professional and or financial)? How important are these outcomes to you? If you no longer received these results / outcomes would you continue travel blogging?

I have great pride in the work that I produce. I love seeing a photo or story that I have shared be “liked” or shared by others on social media. It is addicting. Every time you get a “viral” post it is like a high and you are always searching for the next interaction.

And every time we have an email come in from our travel community asking for specific advice, or thanking us, it is a real buzz knowing that we are making a difference to how someone travels.

While not every post or every picture makes a difference, I know that a lot of people have enjoyed reading our articles. Our most popular posts are visited on a daily basis by people searching for travel tips or information about certain places and experiences. People trust our advice. Even if we are just providing a person with 10 minutes of travel porn everyday to dream about, then I think we make a difference.

I realised that is what I want most from our travel blog. I want to continue to help those people that thank us.

Now I have managed to find a work/life/travel balance and I am back to loving writing. It was close and I was lucky to realise that I needed a break before I totally burnt myself out.

Clark Island, Whangamata Beach, Coromandel Peninsula, New Zealand

Whangamata in New Zealand is where I spent a month collecting my thoughts.

And that is the ultimate point I want to make. Too many people start a travel blog for the wrong reasons. They think that it is going to be easy and they will be rolling in the money on a beach somewhere.

While the travel industry is one of the richest industries in the world, it is probably the hardest one to make any money in. And if you find that you are chasing after that fame and fortune, then starting a travel blogging probably isn’t for you.

But what do I know. There is definitely no right or wrong way to starting a travel blog. We get proven wrong everyday in this industry.

The only thing that is consistent, is that there are no rules, and you have to do it your way. 

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76 Comments

76 Comments

  1. T.W. Anderson @ Marginal Boundaries

    January 28, 2013 at 9:43 AM

    Spot on 🙂

  2. The Time-Crunched Traveler (Ellen)

    January 28, 2013 at 11:18 AM

    Good thoughts, Cole. I’m sorry to hear of your recent burnout, but I’m glad to hear you’re feeling more encouraged now. It’s definitely exhausting and discouraging work at time, but ultimately, I think we have to do it for us and for the people we’re trying to help or inspire, rather than as a way to make tons of money. One thing I find most frustrating is that I don’t want to always be viewing my travels from the perspective of the blog; I want to just relax and enjoy them. I need to work on finding a better balance in that regard. Best of luck to you both!

    • Cole Burmester

      January 28, 2013 at 4:40 PM

      Thanks so much Ellen! We struggle with the separation of our lives and the blog too. But we have just accepted now that our travels are now also our job. Would be nice if it wasn’t but if we get to do the things we love then that is fine 🙂

  3. paul curtis

    January 28, 2013 at 2:34 PM

    Hi there

    great article, helps put my own blogging into perspective. I have just started travelgrapevine.com/blog as a precurser to my website being launched, and have received my first interaction which I agree is a great feeling.

    If you have the time, please have a look at the site and if you have any tips (as an experienced blogger) then I would love to here them

    thanks
    paul

    • Cole Burmester

      January 28, 2013 at 4:57 PM

      Thanks Paul! Good luck with the blog and TGV. Hope it goes well 🙂

  4. T.W. Anderson @ Marginal Boundaries

    January 28, 2013 at 4:51 PM

    I can second the whole “separation of life and blog” thing. I’ve noticed that in the last 6 months, especially now that we are doing the retreats, I’ve gone from a mere 3-4 hours a day of work to a full on 12-15 hours a day of emails, G+ Hangouts, Skype conversations, social media, blogging, editing, answering more emails, promotion and trying to maintain blogging in there as well.

    Thankfully Cris is quitting her job on the 3rd of February to help me full-time, since the blog has gone beyond what I can realistically manage on my own. And we will also be bringing on at least one intern here locally to help run the retreat in March, April and May…and I’m probably going to end up hiring one of my own graduates as a personal assistant in June just because it’s gotten to the point where if I want to maintain my precious free time, it’s time to start delegating!

    • Cole Burmester

      January 29, 2013 at 8:28 AM

      We would love to have 2 people working on the blog but until we move somewhere with cheaper living conditions we can’t realistically afford it. Should be in SE Asia by the end of the year though to pursue that dream for a little while 🙂

  5. Jessica

    January 28, 2013 at 5:30 PM

    Great post! I recently started a travel blog and sometimes get discouraged when I get no comments/not a lot of views because it truly is a lot of work! I am trying to find a balance between my full time job and blogging. It’s tough! Now I know I am not the only one for sure!

    • Cole Burmester

      January 29, 2013 at 8:48 AM

      Trust me, every single blogger that doesn’t work on their blog full time struggles! There are never enough hours in the day 🙂 The readers and comments will come as you continue to develop! We had months before anyone started on ours.

  6. Jessica

    January 28, 2013 at 5:31 PM

    Great post! (not sure if my comment went though)

  7. Elle Williams

    January 28, 2013 at 7:55 PM

    This is a great blog post, and it’s something I think a lot of travellers struggle with. Great to see your efforts though – especially over time like the traffic shows 🙂 Well done!

    • Cole Burmester

      January 29, 2013 at 8:32 AM

      Cheers Elle. Trying to fit in blogging around travel is really hard haha. As long as we always remember that travel comes first, then we should be alright!

  8. Lillie - @WorldLillie

    January 28, 2013 at 10:17 PM

    EXCELLENT post. I relate to it in a lot of ways, but in my case, what has kept my complete obsession with travel blogging from becoming sour is that I also have a full-time job teaching kids. I find that having a job offline makes it that much more delicious to come back to writing each night.

    Thanks again for being so open with sharing your journey!

    • Cole Burmester

      January 29, 2013 at 8:33 AM

      I got way to tired when I was trying to work 2 jobs! And we definitely wanted to take the blog to a new level so prefer working from home now 🙂

  9. Dana

    January 28, 2013 at 11:42 PM

    I enjoy writing about our travels, but I can see how it could kind of take over the travel! I hope you continue to find a wonderful balance!

    • Cole Burmester

      January 29, 2013 at 8:33 AM

      It will always be a struggle but we just need to remind ourselves once in a while why we started it in the first place 😀

  10. Laurence

    January 29, 2013 at 2:59 AM

    This is one of your best posts in my mind 🙂 I can very much identify with many of the themes. It’s very important to focus on the why when doing a project of passion like this – because if you look at it in purely monetary terms, it’s going to be a sad story, at least in the first years 😉

    It’s not just travel blogging of course. Many people who follow a passion do it for the love of it rather than the money. I met a girl running a hostel in New Zealand for example, who said that she sat down and worked it out once, and her actual income was around $2 NZD an hour. But for her it wasn’t about the money, it was about the freedom, and the people, and the lifestyle. Travel blogging is much like that in my mind – you have to love it. Money is kind of a bonus 😉

    • Cole Burmester

      January 29, 2013 at 8:35 AM

      Shouldn’t our best posts be about travel? 😀

      Money is a huge bonus to what we do because it allows us to travel further! But the thing that gets me excited, like I said in the post, is getting the comments and recognition from our readers. That is what counts to us!

  11. Alyson

    January 29, 2013 at 7:22 AM

    Thanks for sharing this Cole, I’m only 5 months into my travel blogging journey and yes, it is taking over my life. I can’t order a meal in a restaurant without photographing it! But it’s good, the blog is doing OK, I haven’t worked for 5 years, I’m busy with my children, so it’s a nice outlet for me. One day, if I make some money, I’ll be very happy indeed, if it makes enough to help keep us travelling, I’ll be ecstatic. I’m already planning some time off, once we leave on our family travel adventure I’m going to sit on a beach and do nothing for a month, de-stress and learn a new way of being, more in touch with my kids and my newly unemployed husband. Can’t wait!

    • Cole Burmester

      January 29, 2013 at 8:37 AM

      You are living the dream Alyson! You sound like you have your head screwed on right, and in this business it makes all the difference 😀 Find that balance then stick to it.
      Thanks for your comment 😀

  12. Jennifer

    January 29, 2013 at 11:21 AM

    You’re absolutely right, Cole. There’s no better feeling than to have your posts shared and liked. It’s a validation of your work. And it very addicting indeed.

    • Cole Burmester

      January 29, 2013 at 12:09 PM

      Definitely Jennifer! Need to stay off Facebook and Twitter and stick to more writing haha.

  13. Pointsandtravel

    January 29, 2013 at 11:34 AM

    Sometimes I wonder myself why I continue to pour into my blog, but, it just seems like a natural progression of my life. I, too, just want a place where I can share my experiences and photographs and put the moments of experiences together to look back on.

    • Cole Burmester

      January 29, 2013 at 12:09 PM

      Brilliant way to look at how to run a blog! We love being creative with photos and stories and the fact that people read the site is a bonus 😀

  14. Karen @ Trans-Americas Journey

    January 29, 2013 at 3:07 PM

    Thanks for the cautionary tale – we know EXACTLY what you’re talking about!

    • Cole Burmester

      January 29, 2013 at 9:03 PM

      Well you guys have been at it for much longer than most too!

  15. Laura @Travelocafe

    January 29, 2013 at 6:17 PM

    We hope to get this year to Scotland. Eilean Donan Castle looks amazing. I have to put it on our list.

    • Cole Burmester

      January 29, 2013 at 9:02 PM

      Lots of pretty castles like that about Scotland 😉

  16. Heidi Wagoner

    January 29, 2013 at 9:41 PM

    Thanks for being so open with all of us. I think that is what people love to read the most “the real you”. I know I enjoy that. We are only 5 months into our trip and blogging and haven’t been frustrated yet. Not loads of readers and no money or sponsors running our way, but it is us and it is real. We too hope to inspire and break the mindset that fear locks in…. we can have freedom and see the world if we make it a priority. Thanks again for sharing!

    • Cole Burmester

      January 30, 2013 at 11:12 AM

      Great comment Heidi! Hopefully you keep that same mindset while you continue to blog 😀 Good luck and keep enjoying it!

  17. Peter Lee

    January 30, 2013 at 12:40 PM

    Good idea Cole. Your post really helps new travel bloggers to improve their writing skills. You really come to know how to explore and write for the reader’s benifit.

  18. Salika Jay

    January 30, 2013 at 1:38 PM

    Interesting read, Cole. Enjoyed reading the article as well as the comments 🙂 Travel blog taking over life was an issue at the beginning for me too so guess I’m not alone in that. I think passion for blogging coupled with knowing others read your blog is the real encouragement to keep on going.

    • Cole Burmester

      January 30, 2013 at 3:59 PM

      The passion for blogging is definitely what gets you through the quiet patches in traffic which happen to everyone ;P

  19. D.J. - The World of Deej

    January 30, 2013 at 2:10 PM

    I can 100% relate to this. I found myself burnt out about a year ago, and had to find a balance. I went from posting 5 times a week to three, which helped big time, and I also cut down on the amount of time I just spent wandering the internet and other blogs. If I didn’t have an objective for the computer to be open, then it wasn’t open. Things are much better now and I’m happier pursuing this hobby/dream.

    Keep doing what you’re doing…the travel blogging world is better off with you in it…

    • Cole Burmester

      January 30, 2013 at 4:00 PM

      One of the biggest changes I have done is also cut back on writing. Now it is twice a week and I am way more comfortable with that! I also thing my writing has improved because I get to spend more time on each post. Great extra points and tips D.J!

  20. Peter Taylor

    January 30, 2013 at 3:08 PM

    Really interesting read. I have been going less than a year and am mostly on the Algarve, Portugal.

  21. Mary @ Green Global Travel

    January 30, 2013 at 8:16 PM

    Great job Cole! I think you’re 100% on point. For the first time in 6 months I took 2 days (some people call it a weekend) to step away from the computer. Now, if I can only get Bret to break away for a bit. I’ve never worked so much in my life, however I’ve never been happier. It’s tough because non-travel blogging friends complain about their jobs all the time, but if we complain we seem ungrateful. As far as relationships and blogging. I think it takes a very special mix to make it work (with a dash of crazy).

    • Cole Burmester

      January 31, 2013 at 9:37 AM

      I know exactly how you feel! I just went out for coffee with a friend and tried to explain what it is like for us when we are travelling. He just kept saying nah it isn’t like that! Look at the “free” trips you get! Couldn’t understand the the “free” trips comes from hours of long work to get to where we are now. And not like we can ever slack off. But you are right, we LOVE it 😀

  22. wanderingeducators

    January 30, 2013 at 10:10 PM

    As with anything worth doing, the hard work is worth it!

  23. Murissa @TheWanderfullTraveler

    January 30, 2013 at 10:21 PM

    I am fast approaching my 2 year blogging anniversary and there are moments that I am in a panic because I don’t have a story for whatever reason – usually because I am not traveling as I work a day job and am a travel/food blogger by night.

    The main reason I started a blog is because I am a newly graduated writer and I wanted to keep myself writing and being creative. I am not interested in permanent travel but traveling as often as I can.
    As soon as it becomes solely about money and exposure it isn’t fun anymore and drains the creativity. I just love to talk and write about culture, art, food and experiences abroad, the occasional blogging conference and other perks are just extra events that I enjoy.

    Great article.

    • Cole Burmester

      January 31, 2013 at 9:38 AM

      Hopefully you keep it that way Murissa! Do it for the love and passion, the rest will follow 😛

  24. Larissa

    January 31, 2013 at 4:19 PM

    Couldn’t have said it better myself. . . and now I don’t have to 😉

    The combination of full-time blogging and full-time travel can be exhausting! There have been some days we haven’t left our short-term flat, because we were busy blogging/writing/social networking, etc. (and this was in Paris or Buenos Aires!) Then we’d feel guilty that we weren’t out exploring those fantastic cities. We’ve found that we need to take “fire-breaks” in our travel, when we just go somewhere and disconnect.

    We also cut back to 2 posts a week, and found we could offer better quality content without resenting it. Now working on a book about our RTW, and we’ve cut back to 1 post/week while we get that done (only so many hours in a day!) We’re in a fixed location for 2 months (longest since we left 18 months ago), and we’ll be ready to hit the road for sure 🙂

    • Cole Burmester

      February 1, 2013 at 8:57 AM

      I think you might have said it better Larissa 😉 Great points and insight into your own travel blogging “journey”. Good luck with the book and totally agree that you need a “fire-break” from travelling. We are touring Eastern Europe this summer then plan to do nothing in Thailand for a few months. Should be a good time to catch up on posts… Just need to schedule some before then haha.

  25. Ali

    January 31, 2013 at 5:51 PM

    I definitely put a lot of time and effort into my sites, because I really enjoy it. I’ve had some burn out, but mostly it occurs when something else is stressing me out, like the German class I just finished. Blogging isn’t something I want to turn into a full time career, but it is really important to me. I love encouraging people to travel, showing them places they haven’t seen before, showing them it isn’t as scary as they thought. I love getting emails from readers who have questions about their upcoming trip. You’re right, you definitely have to be in this for the right reasons, and money isn’t one of them.

    • Cole Burmester

      February 1, 2013 at 8:59 AM

      If money is the reason people travel blog, then they are definitely doing it wrong. If I wanted to make money blogging then I would be a fashion blogger! Great point about showing people that travel isn’t scary Ali too 😀 Any time we help someone, then we feel we are doing something right!

  26. Lucy Dodsworth

    February 1, 2013 at 1:18 PM

    I recognise a lot of the emotions here – sometimes I’m full of ideas, the writing just flows and the comments keep coming in, then other times everything else takes over, I feel like I’m falling behind and struggling to keep it going. I wouldn’t be without it though – good and bad!

    • Cole Burmester

      February 1, 2013 at 4:41 PM

      Totally agree Lucy! Some days it all gets a bit much. But I have been finding that I can write one post a day easily at the moment which is nice 😀 And with me only publishing twice a week it means I can schedule posts. Hopefully I can keep this momentum going!

  27. Petite Adventures

    February 1, 2013 at 8:22 PM

    What a fabulous post! Travel blogging/writing has always been a dream of mine and this has provided me with so much valuable knowledge and insight in to the industry/community. I can’t thank you enough for sharing!

    Kate xo petite-adventures.blogspot.ca

    • Cole Burmester

      February 2, 2013 at 3:10 PM

      Great that we could help you a little bit Kate! Hope your travel blogging journey goes well 🙂

  28. Arti

    February 3, 2013 at 3:14 AM

    Fantastic post, one that every travel blogger should read! Its so much fun to blog and share about your travels.

  29. Cat of Sunshine and Siestas

    February 3, 2013 at 8:20 PM

    Insightful and inspiring. I started blogging years ago when I moved to Spain, but only recently started getting attention and readers. I decided to monetize and have been enjoying the ride, even with the frustrations, technical work and giving up some of my free time. Best advice? Just keep at it!

    • Cole Burmester

      February 4, 2013 at 9:34 AM

      Great advice Cat! Travel blogging is definitely one of those jobs that you need to keep at to see the successes from ;P Still it is good to take time out every now and then!

  30. John

    February 3, 2013 at 9:50 PM

    My blog is only a month old, and one of my main motivations for doing it is so I can become a better traveller. I want to learn more about the places I visit, as opposed to just walking around not knowing what i’m looking at. If I am going to write about it, it’s going to force me to delve deeper. Whatever happens, or doesnt happen with the blog after that, i’m fine with.

    • Cole Burmester

      February 4, 2013 at 9:35 AM

      Great reason to have a blog John! Hope you stick at it and it brings you more joy than suffering 😉

  31. Aleah | SolitaryWanderer.com

    February 4, 2013 at 5:39 AM

    I can relate a lot from this. My 3yo travel blog hasn’t taken hold of my life, because I’m always conscious that there are a number of other things I have to prioritize first. As a result, I haven’t made it the best that it can be. But I’m okay with that. 🙂

    • Cole Burmester

      February 4, 2013 at 9:36 AM

      Everyone is completely different with their blogs and that is what I like about this business! Everyone is doing completely different things and it allows us all to be successful, depending on how we measure success of course. Thanks for stopping by and commenting Aleah 😀

  32. Stu

    February 7, 2013 at 1:23 PM

    Well said, I can see how easily a travel blog could take over your life and if that happens then it no longer retains the original reason you started it. That said, since we started our blog we now do things we wouldn’t of originally looked for or considered because it is different and would make a good story. That’s not a bad thing because we are breaking away from the mold and trying to find unique experiences.

    I would hate the thought of not enjoying travel because of the blog though and it sounds like you did the right thing. As ever we always enjoy reading your posts so we are glad you never jacked it in 🙂

    • Cole Burmester

      February 7, 2013 at 4:34 PM

      Unique experiences are definitely good for not only your readers but yourself too! As we slowly find our niche I think it is good that we are are realising the things we love to do while travelling, and others that we don’t mind missing now.

      And glad you guys are still hanging in there with us 😉

  33. Chris

    February 10, 2013 at 3:24 AM

    Cole, thanks for sharing those tips for creating a successful travel blog. You really have a great outlook about travel blogging.

    • Cole Burmester

      February 10, 2013 at 9:25 AM

      No worries Chris 🙂 It has been a looooonnnnggggg road!

  34. Cat McMahon

    February 11, 2013 at 1:49 AM

    There is a point in every serious writer/blogger’s life where the life/work balance dilemma rears its ugly head, usually more than once. It’s a good sign our lives are out of balance somewhere. Stopping to regroup is a perfect way to regain perspective, become re-inspired, and re-energized. I have other challenges in my life that keep my work pace in check. My followers know I don’t post regularly, but when I can and am able. This pace seems to work for us all, leaving us free to continue enjoying the journey and adventures, what my website is all about–count your blessing and enjoy life where you’re at, in the moment.

    • Cole Burmester

      February 11, 2013 at 9:37 AM

      Great points Cat and couldn’t say it better myself 🙂 And as long as your followers know that every time you post new content that it will be good, they will be happy!

  35. Suitcase Stories - Nicole

    February 16, 2013 at 5:35 PM

    Thanks for this post guys. We are very new to this community so reading posts like this really helps us to put everything into perspective. Learning from experienced bloggers is great. Travel is our main passion so we must remember to keep it that way and to not lose sight of the big picture. I would hate to burn out now that I have finally found something I LOVE doing. I think I have finally found what I was put on this earth to do; Travel and writing/blogging!

    Thanks for being an inspiration to newbie bloggers like us 🙂

    • Cole Burmester

      February 17, 2013 at 5:41 PM

      Thanks Nicole for dropping by the blog 🙂 And glad that we could help put a little perspective into running your own blog! Keep enjoying the travels and the blogging will come easily.

  36. Emily

    April 1, 2013 at 8:58 PM

    My sweet hubby and I have been traveling full-time for 6 years and I have been blogging about our experiences and writing articles for print magazines and posting tips for would-be full-time travelers for five of those years.

    I haven’t approached burn-out. Instead, I have been thrilled by the opportunity to share our travels in my written stories and in our photography.

    We were novice photographers when we started and now sell our photos and have had 6 magazine covers with two more in the queue.

    Perhaps the secret to not getting burned out is that our writing and photography is predominantly for our readers and not for commercial purposes. Our blog isn’t hugely successful in a commercial sense. Unlike yours, which is phenomenally successful — and a huge congratulations on your enormous success — it blows me away! — I’m envious! — ours is ranked pretty low and we haven’t courted any commercial vendors.

    I suspect there is a trade-off in this world of travel blogging. If you blog because you love to write and love to tell stories and love to take photographs, then blogging will always be fun and you won’t burn out. If you blog to work with vendors, then it may quickly become a job with the vendors as your bosses. Jobs with bosses aren’t always fun.

    I really appreciate your honesty in this post, and I feel the most incredible awe for what you have achieved with your blog. What an astonishing accomplishment. Congratulations – and I hope you find a balance with your blogging so you don’t feel burned out any longer.

    • Cole Burmester

      April 2, 2013 at 9:28 AM

      Thanks so much for stopping by to comment Emily 🙂
      Firstly, I don’t no how you can’t claim your blog isn’t a commercial success when you have had 6(!) magazine covers and you are able to sell your photos. I would love to be able to do that! The only reason I consider my blog a commercial success is because I can currently live off the earnings. The problem is that those earnings could change at any time. It would be nice to have a more stable income from our travel blog.
      You are totally right though. Trying to find that balance between writing for the love of it and writing for commercial reasons is tough. I tend to go with the first one 😉
      Thanks again!
      Cheers,
      Cole

  37. Dimas Agil R.K.

    May 20, 2013 at 10:57 AM

    Nice blog post from you, Mr. Cole.. Yeah, I think we need a great passion to make great travel blog. We must have consistency.
    Now, I’m starting to make a blog from my experience travelling around Indonesia. Indonesia have a lot of beautiful place to visit. But my blog still in Indonesian. Hope a lot of people want to visiting my blog and visiting Indonesia too..

  38. Chris Raybould

    June 17, 2013 at 6:27 PM

    Hey,

    This is a truly great, thought-provoking post. My wife and I have been travelling now for 6 months and have kept a casual blog to keep friends and family informed. However, we’ve reached that stage of realising there may be potential to make this into a career rather than a career break, and we’ve spent many hours at the computer switching to WordPress, learning SEO, etc. and most of the time it feels like we’re getting nowhere!

    It’s great to see other people are doing well out of this, and sharing their experiences. It’s also refreshing to hear how even you have struggled with certain aspects recently.

    You will continue to be a massive inspiration to us and we will continue to follow you on your travels, whatever happens with our own blog.

    All the best,
    Chris

  39. Niel

    March 30, 2014 at 9:05 AM

    Inspiring…
    Ever since I had always thought of creating my own and yes i did made one entry but I haven’t updated it like for x no. years. Recently, I stumbled in your blog looking for some Travel tips in Amsterdam and it reminds me again of how great it is to keep a travel journal. Hopefully I would be able to pull it off soon. I had a sort of having difficult time reminiscing my trip in Barcelona last 2012 that i had to resort looking back the pictures.

    Anyways, thanks for the inspiration…
    Keep posting. Im surely following on your travels and adventures. 🙂

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Travel Blogging Tips

Travel Blogger to Travel Vlogger Project

We are extremely excited to announce that the first Travel Blogger to Travel Vlogger Project workshop is kicking off this weekend, Email us to be involved.

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Cole and Adela, Four Jandals Adventure Travel Blog

From beginners with smartphones, to professionals with multi-thousand dollar set ups, everyone is doing it these days.

Video Blogging that is.

We even dabble in it a little bit ourselves with adventure travel videos from Running with the Bulls, Diving in the Red Sea and biking in Spain. Check out our Youtube channel for more adventure videos too.

However, much like our own, most travel videos really do suck.

With the rise of online video, businesses have begun to sit up and take notice of Travel Vloggers. But travellers want to watch great videos.

This is why we have created a new partnership called the Travel Blogger to Travel Vlogger (TB2TV) program. We have joined forces with the incredibly talented Greg Brand and his team at Travizeo, the travel video agency, and the wonderful Kelley Ferro from Tripfilms, the worlds leading travel video community.

Greg approached me initially to help get more Travel Bloggers to start Vlogging, as he thought that most already have half of what it takes to become a great Vlogger.

They are passionate about travel AND they know how to research a good travel story.

What we have done is create a Travel Blogger to Travel Vlogger workshop and online course (in the making) for any Travel Bloggers who are interested in learning how to create successful and engaging travel video content. The first workshop is in Brighton this very weekend!

If you are interested then all you need to do is send us an email to hello@travizeo with the subject “Travel Blogger to Travel Vlogger”.

Include a little about yourself and your Travel Blog, why you would like to be a part of this project, and what equipment you already have to work with. Remember, even a smartphone can be used to create great travel videos. There are no barriers to entry and the best part is that we are very glad to say it costs nothing at all.

All you need to do is get yourself to the venue every time we have a workshop. At the moment the physical workshops will be held in Brighton in the UK, every few months. However, we welcome anyone from around the world to enrol in our online workshop so send us an email today.

Finally, we are looking for interested Tourism Boards, DMO’s and Travel Companies who might be interested in hosting a Travel Blogger to Travel Vlogger workshop. Basically, we can host a workshop wherever you are with the invited Travel Bloggers (soon to be Travel Vloggers) to visit and explore your destination over a 2/3 day travel video course.

At the end of the course the Tourism Board, DMO or Travel Company ends up with very unique and incredibly awesome travel videos that they can use to promote their area. If you are a PR company or are interested in finding out more then please email us at contact@fourjandals.com

Follow us on Twitter with the hashtag #TB2TV to be kept up to date. We look forward to hearing from you and getting started on this exciting project!

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Europe

Bloghouse in the fairytale village of Besalu

Having the opportunity to visit the stunning village of Besalu to attend the first ever Bloghouse was the chance of a lifetime. One I would jump at again.

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Besalu Town Costa Brava Spain

Besalu Town Costa Brava, Besalú

Besalu Village

In September this year I was invited to join a handful of the most influential bloggers in the travel blogging industry. For two intense days we knuckled down in the fairytale village of Besalu in Costa Brava.

From one of the most photographed bridges in Spain, to its narrow alleyways, Besalu is one of those cute towns that you could spend hours exploring.

It is a place where you can wander between the little cafes and everyone will greet you with a smile.

Besalu Village Alleyways

The reason I had been invited to Besalu and the Bloghouse, was to provide us with a chance to focus on identifying our blogs strengths, weaknesses and overall path for our adventure travel blog. It was an opportunity that new bloggers dream of.

And we had it all laid on for us. We were hosted by the wonderful team at Charming Villas who provided us with one of the nicest houses mansions I have ever stayed in. Scratch that, Casa Marcial was the nicest place I have ever stayed in!

A pool, about a gazillion rooms and foundations from the 17th Century. This photo was taken from the backyard…

Charming Villa Bloghouse backyard Besalu

We had as much booze as we could drink. Which to be fair was a ridiculous amount. A personal chef showing us how to cook Paella, and enough food the rest of the time to feed an army.

We spent our days learning the intricate details of fine tuning our content, creating better videos and the overall art of travel blogging.

While this may sound very mundane to most of you, it is all helping to transform Four Jandals.  If you take a look back at our journey from when we first started posting articles a year ago (please don’t look they are horrendously written), to where we are now, there is a HUGE difference.

It is these sorts of opportunities that experienced travel bloggers provide to us, that make me love the decision to throw away a very successful career and pursue our dreams and passions full time.

And ultimately provide better stories and adventures for you to read.

Besalú Bridge Costa Brava

But it wasn’t just the Bloghouse that was so amazing.

It was the wonderful village and people of Besalu who opened their doors for us that cemented it as a place I will return to.

From the scrumptious cakes across the stunning Besalu bridge at Ribera Bistro, to the extravagant dinner at Pont Vell restaurant, the locals welcomed us in with open arms.

It is these sorts of small towns and villages that make me fall in love with travelling over and over.

Besalú Town Costa Brava Spain

So if you ever have the chance to visit Spain, then make sure you schedule in a few days around Costa Brava. And ensure you head towards the French border to explore the incredible village of Besalu.

You won’t regret it.

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Travel Blogging Tips

Travel Blog Statistics: Happy One Year Blogging Birthday

One whole year of travel blogging has really flown by. Today we are checking out all our travel blog statistics to analyse how far we have come to date.

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Four Jandals Google Analytics

Travel blog statistics make us cry and many others quit. But they are a necessary evil which need to be analysed from time to time.

One year ago we took the plunge and switched our 2 month old adventure travel blog to our current self-hosted site here on FourJandals.com. Our first recorded traffic was on the 9th September 2011 so this is what we consider our blog’s birth.

We had written a handful of posts and had no idea what we were doing. But I knew this is what I wanted to do full time as a job. At the time we didn’t know what Google Analytics were, never been on Twitter and my Facebook account was gathering dust.

Travel Blog Statistics: One Year of Blogging

Today we wanted to step back and see how far we have come in the space of 12 months by studying a few of our travel blog statistics. We have included Google Analytics, Twitter, Facebook, our revenue and a few others.

If you are a travel blogger then hopefully this may help you out and we would love your comments below. Especially if you want this to be a regular monthly post.

If you are not interested then normal adventure travel stories will resume on Friday and you can check out our latest scooter adventure in Tuscany or see our cute Highland Cow picture!

Google Analytics

On September 9th 2011 we installed Google Analytics. We had been around for 2 months so Mum and Dad at least knew about our blog but our numbers were crap to say the least.

We had 10 visitors that day but within a month we got a HUGE spike of 300 (we average nearly double that every day now). We honestly thought we had been “discovered” and I was ready to quit my job then. Luckily we didn’t as we soon discovered that tends to happen a lot.

Travel Blog Statistics, Four Jandals Google Analytics

For any new blogger, you will quickly come to love and despise Google Analytics. I still wish I didn’t know what they were as they have caused us too many sleepless nights.

When your visitors are up, life is good. Writing comes easily and there is no stress. When those numbers are down. Well, let’s just say we are not a happy adventure travel couple.

Our statistics are like a damn YoYo.

One day they skyrocket. The next, plunging into a pit of despair. Although it seems that every time we have a spike, we steady off slightly higher than previously. So we have seen steady growth over one year. Ideally we need to turn everyone into regular readers. Then we would be laughing all the way to the beach with cocktails in hand.

And there is hope. If you break it down you can see that we have had over 100,000 visits to our travel blog in just 12 months! While some travel bloggers get those sorts of statistics on a monthly basis we are stoked.  Plus with over 87,000 unique visitors this means 23,000 readers came back for at least a second visit. So we are doing something right.

Digging deeper…

Travel Blog Statistics, Four Jandals Search Analytics

One place we have missed out on traffic is from search engines like Google. For the first 6 months we didn’t know what SEO was.

But we have managed to start consistently driving traffic from the search engines. Now 16% of our visitors find us through keywords. 

They just don’t seem to stick around for very long. They pop in, have a quick look at one or two pages and then poof, are gone like junkies as they search for their next internet fix. Either our writing sucks, or we are not targeting them to stick around on our site. It’s something we are looking at and sorting out over the next few months now that we have a good base for traffic.

Social Media

It seems that the more effort you put into Social Media the more success you have. We just hate that if your existing following is huge on Twitter or Facebook, then because we are all sheep, the faster your social media empire grows.

We are playing catch-up.

Plus we recently found out people are gaming the systems. Did you know that you can actually buy Twitter and Facebook fans? I know, disgusting right. But it happens a lot. Luckily PR and Travel companies are wising up to these sorts of tactics.

Twitter

Unfortunately we cannot check our stats from all the way back to when we started. But we have been using SocialBro for over 6 months and this records all our statistics.

Travel Blog Statistics, Four Jandals Twitter Stats

Back on the 11th March 2012 we had 1187 followers. Today we have 4758 twitter followers.

We have pushed Twitter over the last few months and our growth has been from regularly seeking out other travellers to interact with. We also participate regularly in travel events such as #TTOT and #FriFotos.

Our next few goals are to slowly personalise our twitter account because to date it has been all over the place. So if you are not following us yet, head over to Twitter to join our travel community.

Facebook

Facebook is another tricky one to follow but we can at least have a look at what we have currently. That way whenever we get around to having a look in the future we will know what we had to date.

Travel Blog Statistics, Four Jandals Facebook Stats

We recently installed a Facebook ‘Like’ pop up on Four Jandals. While some people hate it, most don’t seem to mind. And it has tripled our fans to 771 in the past three months.

We also ran a couple of Facebook Ad campaign which has hugely increased our total reach in the past week. Not that it seems to have increased our likes too much. But it was interesting to see how just a few dollars can affect your overall reach.

We plan on creating a niche travel community by posting a couple of times a day on our wall with photos and cool adventure activities we find from around the world. Especially tips from our readers. So why not give us a “LIKE” on Facebook if you haven’t already.

Other Stats

There are a bunch of other statistics to measure our success by and these are just the favourites.

Worldwide Alexa Ranking: 60,100.

Sites Linking in: 388.

Google Page Rank: 3

Domain Authority: 40/100

Page Authority: 50/100

mozRank: 4.74

Revenue

We started advertising and monetising our travel blog quite quickly. Our first advertising was actually in December 2011. But we are very careful about who we choose to advertise with.

Revenue to date: $4,750.00

It is interesting to note that since I started working full time on the blog we have actually found it harder to find advertisers. Apparently that is due to lots of advertisers running out of advertising budgets but hopefully it picks up soon.

We are also exploring a couple of longer-term sponsorship deals at the moment so it is all looking positive.

Summary

While we are reasonably pleased with our current stats we are never satisfied. In fact, I don’t think any travel blogger would consider that they had reached as far as they possibly could.

We have a loooonnnngggg way to go until we catch up to some of our favourite travel bloggers. But we will keep plugging away at what we are currently doing.

With a new travel community website just launched – Top 10 Things to Eat, See and Do Everywhere – we have a lot of work ahead of us with various projects. But we will continue to create awesome engaging content for you and building a strong travel community around our Four Jandals brand.

For now, thanks for all your support to date! 

If you want a breakdown every month then tell us in the comments now!

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Meet Cole and Adela

Cole and AdelaWe have been wearing out our jandals (Kiwi for flip-flops) on our travel adventures around the world since 2009. We think our blog is thought provoking and a little witty. But we have been proven wrong before. Find out more about us here...

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