Long ago, I made a vow to never blog about blogging. It’s not that I’m not obsessed with the topic — serious apologies are owed to any innocent bystanders when I get together with one of my blogging buddies and we start shooting off — it’s just that it’s not what Alex in Wanderland is all about. I love my job, but this isn’t a blog about blogging.
Regardless, I am frequently asked blogging-related questions and my Ask Me Anything offer was no exception. Last week, I answered all kinds of queries about life, travel, and making money. This round, we’re onto the blogging responses!
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How did you make Alex in Wanderland a success? I want to learn how to gain more traction for my blog during my travels and diving experiences. — KY
I’m always flattered (and still a little surprised!) when I’m asked for blogging advice, because I still see myself as a small fish in a big pond — or, let’s be real here, a plankton in an endless ocean. My advice probably goes against everything “the experts” say, so heed with caution:
Have a passion. There are so many of what I call “white noise” travel blogs out there — apathetic, mediocre content farms built with no higher purpose than to someday score a free press trip or make a living off link sales. Everyone has their own path to happiness… and I suppose for some people it could be that. But mine involves creating something I’m proud of and pouring love into it every single day. Don’t write about what you think the search engines will like, or what you think Lonely Planet will re-Tweet, or what you hope will bring in the adsense big bucks. Just write from the heart. People are drawn to passion. The readers will come, and then maybe the other stuff will too.
If you’re all, “enough with the inspirational crap already gimme action!” then I have an answer for that too. Sign up for Travel Blog Success. This online course answered questions I didn’t even know I had about blogging, and helped me develop Alex in Wanderland into a business without losing my integrity. It is the best money I ever spent, and today I’m a proud affiliate of the program. (Update: Travel Blog Success was merged with Superstar Blogging by Nomadic Matt. It’s an equally impressive course that I plan to take and review eventually — click here to take it yourself!)
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What made you start blogging? — Lauren
I think most humans have an instinct to create and share with like-minded souls (hello, Facebook!) and when I first started this blog my universe didn’t have a lot of travel-obsessed people in it. So I set out to expand my universe. And, you know, other high-minded ideals, as I recounted in my Year One Roundup….
My final semester in college I took a travel writing class at NYU. At one point our professor asked us to do an in-class exercise and write freely about why we wanted to be writers, or get out of a writing career. After 15 minutes this is what I had on my page: “I want to be funny and I want people to like me.”
Profound stuff, amirite? But seriously. I started blogging with the hope of creating a creative outlet and a thriving community, and so I’m thrilled with where I am today! Had I started it with the intention of becoming passively wealthy, I’d be sorely disappointed right now. I get emails on the regular from blogging-hopefuls planning to strike it rich live-blogging their backpacking trips. When I read these emails, I must conclude that either (A) travel bloggers are promoting a very misleading impression of this industry or (B) I am really doing this whole blogging thing wrong.
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I would love to know how long it took you to reach the different stages, i.e. 10k views, 50k views and 100k views. — Tammy
Technically I started blogging in 2009 but it was only in June of 2011 that I moved to a self-hosted blog and started tracking my analytics, so I’m basing off that start date. It took me seven months to hit 10,000 page views per month, ten months to hit 20,000 per month, twenty-two months per month to hit 50,000 per month, and thirty-two months to hit 100,000 per month! Basically, it’s been a slow burn. I am horrible at self-promotion and social media and so I think my blog has grown much more gradually than others.
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I wonder if you get recognized when you travel and if you have a funny story that goes with it? — Lena
Actually, my ex-boyfriend and one of my best friends in Thailand were both recognized from my blog before I was! Outside of conferences and travel events, I’ve only been recognized once, and it was on New Year’s Eve in Thailand. Hearing first-hand how I had inspired someone to travel to Southeast Asia was the perfect way to end the year, and the most rewarding feedback I could have ever hoped for.
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How did you go about getting the freebies? Specifically, how do you go about getting your accommodation or your activities covered? — Megan
Well, first of all, I don’t think of them as freebies. There is a lot of work involved in partnering with a hotel, tour company, etc! It’s more of an exchange of goods and services. But to answer your question, it’s a mixed bag. Sometimes I email companies I want to work with and occasionally they reach out to me! Other times, it is part of a larger collaboration like my partnerships with Viator and Hostelworld. But speaking of which…
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I just started a blog and my mom is totally reading it every day. Soooo when do I start rolling in the free trips and swag bags?! No harm in asking, am I right or am I right? — Fakey McFakerson
Okay, you’re onto me — I made this question up. I didn’t want to put anyone on the spot, but I am asked variations of it on a regular basis and see it pop up with alarming frequency in a blogging networking group I’m in.
Guys — there is a harm in asking. Partnerships are a two way street. Blogging is not (or at least should not be, in order for the industry to survive and thrive) be a gimme-gimme free-for-all.
Travel blogging is still a new industry, so it’s not inconceivable that someone with very little influence could snag a complimentary hotel stay or a comped activity or even a press trip. But guess what is going to happen when that hotel review falls flat because the new blogger doesn’t really have the kind of readership that’s going to translate into brand recognition and bookings? That hotel is going to say, “Wow, working with bloggers is really a waste of time. I knew I should have trusted the sales guy at the phone book company! The internet is a fad!” And that hotel is never going to work with bloggers again.
By actively trying to partner with brands that you cannot proudly provide a strong return on investment to, you are harming the very industry you hope to be an active, productive member of! So please, I beg of you — focus on content you feel passionate about first, having fun second, building a readerships third, and getting free stuff, like, seventy-ninth.
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I would love blogging tips like advertising tips & what you say in email pitches to hotels and tourism boards! — Rachel
In my email pitches I introduce myself and my blog and share a list of my freelancing outlets as well as a brief outline of my statistics. I explain why I’m interested in working with that company specifically, and I include examples of posts and articles I’ve written for similar business. For example if I’m writing to a company that does biking tours in London I will show them Men’s Fitness stories I’ve written about active travel as well as blog posts I’ve written about bike tours in Bangkok and Reykjavik!
As for advertising, it is my least favorite part of blogging and whenever I speak to other bloggers that I consider my peers I am reminded how spectacularly I am failing at it. From a “financial success” standpoint I mismanage my time on a daily basis. I let advertiser emails decay in my inbox while I spend all day editing photos and rewriting posts. Whoops.
I am trying to adapt, though. In the past I’ve just waited for advertisers to contact me and then started the exhausting negotiations process, and often felt quite icky in the process. Right now I’m trying make a change to being more proactive and approaching brands that I love and proposing true partnerships rather than just drive-by link sales.
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When you are given accommodation/experiences in exchange for your reviews, do you usually contact companies letting them know what your plans are, or do companies contact you and you fit that into your schedule if it’s something that interests you? — Micaela
It’s a mix. Occasionally I reach out to tour operators/hotels/whatever that I am excited about, or that I’m interested in for a freelance story I’m writing elsewhere, and that I know I can provide great value to. Other times, someone will reach out to me and then I have to decide (A) if I’m interested and (B) if I can make it work with my schedule. Believe it or not, coordinating with sponsors takes a lot of time and effort and often I prefer to plan and pay for everything myself than have to deal with it!
For example, I both sought out and accepted a ton of offers for partnerships in Peru. While I adored the companies that I worked with and was proud to promote them, by the time we arrived in Ecuador, I was over it. I didn’t do a single comped activity or accommodation stay. I love the travel industry, so I really enjoy working with travel businesses and brainstorming with them and being inspired by them — but sometimes I need a break to just be on the traveler side of the equation.
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What are your thoughts on press trips? Some of my favorite bloggers seem to do nothing but these days. — Amanda
Alex in Wanderland is in no danger of turning into a press trip factory! At the moment, I’m in the process of accepting what is only my second ever press trip. The first one was amazing and the upcoming is definitely out to rival it. I’ve been offered others, and mostly I’ve had to turn them down without even considering them because my schedule is already packed with my personal travels, or I’m across the planet.
I have joked that I could probably live at home with my mom and travel exclusively on these press trip offers (they are almost always based out of the US) and have a lot more money in my bank account than I do now. But, you know what? I’m kind of a control freak and never getting to take the reigns of my own travels would drive me batty! I think press trips can be awesome — it is great being shown around a destination by an insider, and getting to collaborate with other people passionate about travel. But I will likely always limit them to one or two per year.
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I’d be interested to hear more about how you get in with your sponsors and partnerships (ex. the stuff you did for Viator in South America) – did you pitch to them or did they approach you? — Rika
The true partnerships I’ve had here on Alex in Wanderland — with Viator, Hostelworld, and Eagle Creek — for example, were built through old-fashioned networking. They have happened really organically. My work with Viator stemmed from a connection at TBEX, while my collaborations with Hostelworld came about after making friends with one of their ex-employees. And my relationship with Eagle Creek was the product of my freelance writing gig for their site.
So far, pitching hasn’t been super successful for me in either direction. There are a few brands I love that I’m dying to work with, but my emails go unanswered. On the other hand, I receive lots of unsolicited pitches that I reject because I’m not excited about promoting the brand or service.[Sidenote: Question-asker Rika is an awesome example of how you don’t need a million readers to create mutually beneficial partnerships. Her blog brings in around 5,000 page views per month, and her super-niche Roatan Reviews are a rockin’ example of how someone with a small readership can create big value for their collaborators!]
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How did you find your writing style and how do you manage to convey such great personality through your writing? It’s something I struggle with – I feel like I have to put ! at the end of everything to make it have personality. — Jes
Well, my mom is a writer so I like to think it’s in my blood! Really though, I think the key to keeping sane while writing as much content as I do is to mix it up. Sometimes I really try to flex my brain cells and push myself to craft beautiful posts, and sometimes I just let it rip like I would if I was recounting a story to my girlfriends.
A consistent compliment I get about this blog is how much personality it has, which is very flattering, but kind of ironic because offline I can be a bit shy and a lot awkward — and not in the cool Jennifer Lawrence way. Maybe my introverted ways are why I have so much energy left over for my blog?
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What is your biggest pet peeve about your community? Lol…. had to ask. — Shaun
Is this a trick question? I’m going to take the bait! I truly do love this community, and I feel I’ve developed real friendships with several of my readers over the years thanks to interactions in the comments and on social media. Sometimes when a regular commenter drops off I wonder about them and hope everything is okay! But anyone who says there is nothing that irritates them about their job is lying, and I would be to.
My pet peeve is people who email me questions that are clearly answered on my blog. I don’t expect someone to go digging through every single post in my archives (I’ve written almost 900 posts after all!) but I admit I’m sometimes annoyed when someone emails me to ask something that is very clearly answered on my site — like what camera I use, when that is answered in my sidebar and in a dedicated page! Mostly, though, I really cherish the reader emails I receive, and I think the annoyance I feel is mostly at myself — because I’m reminded I need to organize and promote my content more clearly.
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What do you love most about blogging? — Alex
Thank you for that question, self! But wow, it’s a tough one. The things I love would be impossible to rank — having independence in my schedule and location, interacting with like-minded (and sometimes not like-minded!) people from around the world, building a creative space I’m proud of, having a platform to promote issues I care about, and of course having the opportunity to explore this beautiful planet we are all so lucky to live on.
This post is illustrated with photos of some of the best parts of blogging — and not just because I don’t usually allow cameras when I’m sobbing in the fetal position because an advertiser hasn’t payed up and I have two-hundred emails flagged as needing urgent response. It’s because I do love this job. Yeah, it took me years to get to where I am today and it took years before that to save up enough of a security net that I’d be able to take the leap, and I’m on the verge of nervous breakdown more often than I’d like to admit. But I’m still figuring it out as I go. I know a lot of what I wrote here might seem negative or discouraging, but it was only intended as honesty.
I’m not out to peddle blogging as an easy income source and a carefree lifestyle, because that has not been my experience. I never want to promote a false image of how much work, time, and luck it takes to succeed. I respect you enough to want to give you a realistic picture of how I got here, and I have nothing to gain from sugarcoating it. Chasing dreams can be messy — but it’s the best kind of chaos.
Happy blogging! I’ll see ya’ll in the comments…
Great post! I really like your honesty.
I can only try to imagine the amount of work you’re putting into your blog every day. I found doing my blog during my two recent trips to be a lot more time consuming than I had ever expected – and I didn’t post nearly as often and probably only had around 10 readers to keep happy. But I appreciate that it really showed me just how hard you must be working to be able to spend most of the year in the sun 🙂
Yeah, it’s a lot more work than most people think! I’m the first to admit it isn’t brain surgery or anything, but it is time consuming to maintain and promote a blog. I feel ya!
Ahh so much love for this post, I don’t even know what to comment about! I know it was technically about blogging, but it gave such a lovely insight into you personally as well. <3 that you notice commenters disappearing, that you call yourself shy and awkward (not sure I believe it) and that chasing dreams is the best kind of chaos. xx
Ha, sometimes I think about emailing them…. and sometimes I actually do! But then I feel like I’m being creepy. As for the shyness that is really around new people. Once I know and love someone they can’t shut me up if they tried. I’m not great at “strangers” and “acquaintances” but I’m great at “best friends!”
Thanks for writing this and being honest. Your words have reminded me why I write and although I am attempting to step into travel blogging at a later stage in life, I do feel very passionate about it. I have recently got caught up in the societal way of thinking in the UK about business – selling and marketing and reading your post has been a timely reminder about the reason I write about what I do and it is because I love to travel, go to new places and share the experience with others. Thank you for breaking your vow. You have helped me so much 🙂
That’s lovely to hear, Janice! And thank you 🙂 I am good at the content and community building side of blogging (I like to think) and not so great at the business end. But I’m learning all the time, and I’ll get there eventually.
I love this blog so much and this was such a great behind-the-scenes peek at what you do and why. And to be honest, the answers were what I expected; you seem to just really enjoy what you do and it comes across! And not in a fairy-tale way, but in a realistic way that involves hard work but is rewarding. I love that and it’s very admirable!
Thanks Erika! That is really nice to hear. I do love what I do and it can be a fine line to both be appreciative and loving of the work you do while also acknowledging that it is, in fact, work. I guess that’s why writing this post intimidated me so much!
Just have to say again that I love, love, love your blog. I honestly think its the best one out there, and I read a LOT, travel and otherwise! Your photos, your LONG & thorough posts, your writing style, your sense of humour and openness- I love it all & we your readers appreciate all that time you put into your posts while those advertising emails are waiting 😉 It definitely keeps us coming back every day 🙂
This comment made me smile so much, Jess! Thank you! Always nice to hear someone say you’re doing something right when you’re strongly suspecting the opposite 🙂 Thank you for coming and hanging out with me every day!
I. Love. This. Post. It’s so much info I need to re-read and then comment again lol.
Haha… looking forward to the follow up 🙂
This is great! I will be re-reading it as well. 🙂
Thanks Stephanie! I hope all the rereads mean it’s good, not overwhelming 🙂
Just wanted to say I really enjoyed this post and love that you get stuff done. You said this post would be coming and BAM, here it is. No nonsense, no waiting around. Keep up the awesome work 😉
Ha, well, I’m sure astute readers could point out many times that I’ve launched a series or promised a post that never happened (my monthly NGO-highlighting series, anyone?!) but I do always have them in the back of my mind 🙂
Love the post.
Thanks Pilar! Lovely to know you’re checking in <3
Yes, yes, YES to your answer to the fake question. And THAT is my pet peeve about the travel blogging community as a whole. Even when it’s a new blogger who has had his/her site for six months, they suddenly think they’re entitled to freebies left and right and THAT IS NOT WHAT IT IS ALL ABOUT.
Which is why you and I are pals =)
I was literally chuckling maniacally to myself while I wrote that question. I’m pretty sure that’s a sign of blog-induced insanity, no? Thanks god we have each other for decompression sessions 🙂
Yay, thanks so much for answering my question, and all of the other questions of course. This gives me hope. 🙂
Happy to hear that Tammy, as I was worried this post was too negative 🙂 Nice to hear!
Great tips Alex! Thanks for sharing this…
You’re welcome Sebastian! Not sure how many actual tips were in there, but hopefully something useful 🙂
Despite no burning desire to become a travel blogger I’m kinda surprised to say I really enjoyed this post…quite a testament to your writing!
Oh and you’re not alone with your reader pet peeve…many times I have noticed someone ask about cameras and such in the comments and I just think “grrrr, bloody hell mate look in the ‘gear and products’ tab!”
Hahaha I appreciate your annoyance on my behalf 🙂 Hopefully adding an FAQ page to my navigation bar will help a bit…
You are spot on, as usual, my friend! Thank you for your honesty. I think there are too many folks out there who think travel writing/blogging is a free pass for travel. Sure, there ARE perks, like you said. But there’s a ton of work that goes into earning them!
PS – Fakey McFakerson is my new favorite.
Fakey McFakerson wants to have a drink with you and torment your brother with blogging gossip again!
I really love these “Ask me Anything” posts, Alex! They answer a lot of my questions, allow me to better understand you, and make me appreciate your blog even more. I’m a beginner traveler blogger and don’t really know where I’m going with my blog other then that I enjoy connecting with like-minded people and am going to continue blogging. I don’t know if I’ll ever have a glamorous press-trip or anything, but knowing there are people like me out there has made me feel so much better about myself and that there are wonderful, passionate, caring people out there.
Sounds like your heart and your blog are in the right place Mike 🙂 I hope blogging brings you as much happiness and friendship as it has brought me!
SUCH a great post Alex, and I love your usual honesty and no-nonsense yet funny approach. I didn’t feel like it was negative in the least! And thanks for the shout-out 🙂
I think sometimes anything other than “I’m a famous blogger and YOU CAN BE TOO! RAH RAH RAH!” is considered negativity for some reason, and maybe I’m falling into that trap. Glad to hear you didn’t feel it was a downer 🙂
Great honesty and tips for the aspiring bloggers. I’ve been following along for a few years now and I have loved reading about your travels. It’s nice to read about the other side of things – the business of blogging. Also, I love the last line of this post!
Thanks Kelly! I really appreciate you coming here to spend part of your day with me so often 🙂
This is one of the most honest and well-described posts about blogging I’ve seen! I think everyone who dreams of becoming a travel blogger NEEDS to read this post. There is clearly so much effort that needs to be put into to it to succeed and gain a loyal following; many don’t understand this before jumping in. You do an amazing job at being all around thorough and detailed!
Thanks Kristen! I know how alluring the idea of travel blogging can be and those down in the trenches often promote a false view of how they got there, or how hard it is to stay there! I think it’s important to provide a balanced view…
This is awesome Alex, thank you so much!
Your honesty is so refreshing and you really have answered the questions thoroughly, where others often skirt around awkwardly.
I think a lot of the reason people ask the annoying questions like ‘how can I make money NOW?’ is because other bloggers aren’t as honest about the work, so people just see those amazing benefits. When a job seems so perfect- travel the world and make money doing it- it’s easy to forget that it is still a job with stress and deadlines to boot. You do a great job of making that obvious.
Also, I totally find it hard to not over-use exclamation marks too!
Yeah, it’s a strange thing because so many travel bloggers promote the idea of “chasing your big dreams!” And that is awesome. But I think sometimes they oversell how amazing their own journey is to the point that they convince readers that THEIR dream is also to be a travel blogger. I mean, there must be some other travel related dreams out there, right? 🙂
Thanks for the tips and answering all of those questions Alex. Even if I am only half as successful as you in a years time I will be more than happy because I am doing what I love most!
Kudos for that, Jen! Best of luck in blogging and travel 🙂
I loved this post Alex! There is so much amazing info in there and really interesting to get an insight into your thoughts on blogging. I haven’t been reading your blog for that long but it is definitely one of my favourites. Even though I first went travelling years ago now, I do seriously find travel inspiration everyday from your blog. Thanks! 🙂
Thank you so much for saying that, Joella! Means a lot to me 🙂 Happy travels to you x
Interesting insight indeed Alex! There’s quite a lot of potential in this series and I could imagine this could work very well as podcast as well.
Really impressive to see how much time and thoughts you dedicate each question and it’s for a sure a great opportunity for people who intend to pursue a similar path. Nice one! 🙂
Oh, podcasts…. first I’d have to get over the revulsion at hearing my own recorded voice 🙂
alex, i admire you immensely for creating a life of your choosing at such a young age. at several years older, i still have a ways to go before mine looks the way i want it to. thank you for the continued inspiration!
Well, if it’s any consolation, I don’t feel I’m quite there yet either 🙂 But more importantly, does anyone ever?!
love, love, LOVE your honesty!
I adore writing my blog but find it time consuming and hard work so it’s refreshing to see another blogger acknowledge the same. Many people make out that it’s easy and shouldn’t take time, but i guess those who write know the reality.
Got lots of reading up to do on your past posts (thank goodness for bloglovin! Amirite!) but love that you’ve taken the time to answer these questions so truthfully, especially ones that many other bloggers tend to avoid (page views, ‘freebies’ etc). I just have one question, and i apologise if you’ve already answered this elsewhere, but where is your favourite dive site? xo
Hey Amy, that is a tough one! I think the best diving I’ve done is outside Donsol in the Philippines. But for a dive site near and dear to my heart, probably Shark Island in Koh Tao. It’s my happy place 🙂
It’s a labour of love, that’s for sure! I never thought I’d work so hard for so little financial reward, but the other rewards are absolutely worth it – having a creative outlet and developing connections with so many people. I’m with you, it’s gotta be a passion, otherwise what is the point?
Also: I don’t think you need as much money when you’re being satisfied by other things! It’s kind of fascinating when you realize how much you were spending to fill other holes…
Okay, I’ve done some re-reading now and I have a follow up question to my original question: If you get a freelancing gig say paying per article, but you have to get out there and DO things to write about- I have a feeling I’m going to spend more money than I’d even make doing freelance? (Like your most recent post on the Panamanian dancing for Viator, do you not just break even?) Not that anyone’s begging me to write for them just yet.. they obvi haven’t realized what a hot commodity I am 😉
Actually when I do tour reviews, they are provided complimentary and I am also compensated for my time 🙂 Otherwise, no, they would not be lucrative! Good question!
Thanks for some really great advice. I am also happy to see my friend Rika here! I love her blog!
Me too 🙂 Love seeing my other lady divers online!
Awesome post Alex! Just starting out in the travel blogging world so this helps a lot!
Interesting questions and answers regarding sponsors/advertising. I love the unfiltered answers in insight. Can’t wait to read more of your blog!
Glad this gave ya some insight, Phil! And welcome to Wanderland 🙂
‘Chasing dreams can be messy — but it’s the best kind of chaos.’ – love it!
Thanks Alana. Here’s the best bit — wrote that a few seconds before I pressed publish. When all the best lines come 🙂
Sounds about right
Wow! Those 1st, 6th, and last responses (oddly enough, two of which were from you, or perhaps not so odd after all) were wonderful! Thank you! I like your honesty and sincerity. That’s one reason why it’s so much fun to read your blog. Don’t ever lose it! (I don’t actually think you will, don’t worry 🙂 )
I don’t think I will either, but I still appreciate the encouragement Andi 🙂 Thank you!
A fascinating and honest post Alex. I totally agree that any type of blogging should first and foremost stem from real passion and a desire to write and share stories. I prefer to just blog for fun and not focus on stats and money as I know there are very few bloggers like you who make real money from it. My boyfriend and I have decided to teach in Asia for a year to rebuild our travel fund and continue exploring – that seems like a much more realistic option for us.
I’m glad you’ve found a way to chase your bliss, Amy! I think that sounds like a great compromise — live and work as an expat, and then get to just purely travel when you’re traveling.
Thank you for answering my question, Alex! And good night;)
No problem Lena, glad I could help!
Great to see people ask questions I hadn’t thought of and then to see the answers. Also, thanks for breaking your code of not blogging about blogging then doing it in the Alex way by inserting your personality through staged (but important!) questions. This post was both entertaining and informative – thanks for sharing your view from the inside!
Aw, thanks Cat 🙂 I’m glad you enjoyed it. Blogging is such an interesting journey!
Hi Alex, I am a huge fan of your blog. Who do you use for hosting? I’m just getting started planning my own blog and need some tips. Where do you recommend for purchasing WordPress designs?
Hey Kristin! Check out the “Blogging Products” section of my Obsessions page. All my blogging recommendations are there 🙂 Hope that helps!
Thanks, Alex! I’m going to dive in and muddle my way through the set up process this weekend. :/
I need to set up social media for my blog. Do I have to create completely new accounts with new login info, or is their a way to create joined accounts (FB, Instagram, Pinterest and Twitter)? Thanks!
Hey Kristin! It’s been a million years since I set up those accounts but I think you need to make separate logins for each one. You can often connect them though, for example when I post to Instagram I also have that share to Twitter 🙂 Hope that helps!
Such and insightful post, of how blogging works and the hard work, dedication and passion you need. Im an very new and green when it comes to all of it, i have a lot to learn.
SO happy I found you blog, or you found me?
Hey Korin! Thank you for the kind words and I’m happy I struck a nerve. Best of luck in your blogging journey and I hope you keep following along!
Fantastic post, Alex. Have just finished your TBS interview also – really great information that you’re sharing with the travel blogging community.
Thanks Victoria! I’m so glad to hear you think so. I was so nervous when we were taping. I need to work on my public speaking comfort levels!
Hey Alex, LOVE this post! I’m heading on my first real trip out of the states next week and am rushing to get my blog up and running. I’ve been reading others’ blogs and I find myself returning to yours all. the. time. Seriously!
Of course I’m reading TONS of “How to start your own blog” posts, and I have to say, yours is the first one that gave me what I truly needed – a deep breath!
So many other posts like this include complaints of how difficult blogging is, how it takes over and you can’t be a traveler, all about making money and advertising, etc. So here I am, completely new to this (and Wordpress…yeeks) and I’m freaking out about all that AND a 10-week solo trip… and then this post happened.
Thank you for reminding me why I decided I REALLY wanted to take a stab at this travel-blogging thing. For love of travel and the sharing of stories, ideas, and advice. I realize there is more to it than that, but you’re the only person I’ve heard say that THAT has been the key to success.
Keep up the AWESOME work!
Aw, I’m so happy to hear that Amber! I mean, I can definitely complain with the best of ’em 🙂 But it’s nice to remind myself sometimes how I got into this whole thing. My advice is not to let the blog take over… remember to slow down and enjoy the travel part first. After all that’s why we all got started! And that makes for the best blogging.
Hey Alex! Great post!
And I am truly inspired in what you wrote.
I just started my blog, and first I just wanted to share my experiences and knowledge. Now, I want to make it more professional aside my main purpose are. Btw, I love your blog design!!
I will subscribe at your site! 😉
Thanks, Marina! Happy to have you along for the ride 🙂
First off, I love your blog!
I came across it while doing research for an around the world trip my husband and I are taking this summer. I’m super scared excited!
Starting a blog is something I’ve wanted to do for years, and I really want to start now with this trip. I saw that you recommend BlueHost to start out…Did you also use WordPress at first and then migrate later? Do you have any other recommendations for resources on technical things like security or did you not have to worry about that until later?
Thank you! I look forward to future posts!
I started with Wordpress and always just did site security through my host 🙂 Hope that helps! Good luck!
My wife and I just last month started a blog, and are trying to learn from others and see what works and what doesn’t. Our goal is to travel and spend time re-living the travel experience… while still living our every day “real-life” (because we have to).
I am trying to find my more inner voice to share these things in a more entertaining way, because as a computer nerd by trade, I tend to write more logically, rather then emotionally… and no one wants to read that crap. 🙂
Thanks for sharing your experiences in this post. We enjoyed reading it. Hopefully it will make our blog a better experience for everyone. Even as a noob it has been fun to share with others, and it can only get better.
Finding your voice is a big part of the blogging journey! The more you write, the sooner you’ll get there. Best of luck, Michael!
Dear Alex, you are a beautiful writer & the words you write flow with ease. Thank you for sharing your story of blogging with such honesty. I’m trying to decide if I should make the leap to become a professional blogger or not. I’m inspired by all solo-female travel bloggers and feel that their stories could be my stories. How do you deal with the lows, though? Running your own business is scary & I don’t know if I will be able to handle the nervous breakdowns. I’ve heard other bloggers also say that sometimes “advertisers” do not pay in time and can be late. Is this common? Have you ever been screwed over by somebody who never fully paid you for your services? Please enlighten me when you have the chance. I know you are a busy girl!
It’s tough 🙂 Advertisers don’t always pay on time and I’ve occasionally found myself owed up to $10,000 at a time, with little cash in the bank. And I have occasionally run into people who just flat out never paid. Running your own business is tough and nervous breakdowns come with the territory, I think. I wish I could be more optimistic but I think realism is more important in this case. Financially self-sufficient bloggers are a rare breed!
I came across your page and fell in love! This is an amazing blog. I recently started diving (got certified in October) and started a blog to document my diving adventure. It’s become a real passion for me and I plan to make a career out of diving, I have this blog that I would love for people to see and follow buuuuut….I am NOT a great writer and I have no idea what I’m doing. Yayyy. Not sure if I’d make it as a real blogger but I hope to have a blog as beautiful as yours. How do you make your website so pretty? If you have answered this I get it don’t even bother to respond I’ll go dig for the answer (sorry for being one those people) Anyway I just wanted to say your blog is amazing & your pictures just grab me. Happy Travelings!
Hey Ashley! Check out my obsessions page for links to my web designer, as well as themes I’ve used in the past 🙂 Thank you so much for all your kind words, and best of luck in your blogging journey!
please visit the philippines again, try to go to el nido, puerto prinsesa and coron in palawan. you can email me or search for any information regarding the place 🙂
Hey Paul, I definitely plan to return to the Philippines again someday! I look forward to it already!
Glad I came across this post sooner than later. I’m just starting my own blog and all of these thoughts are super important (especially the ones about having passion and being genuine). Thanks for reinforcing the message!
Thanks Louis! I’ll be writing more about blogging soon — stay tuned!
I stumbled across your blog on Pinterest yesterday and I can’t stop reading through it. Thank you for this amazing post, you’re an excellent writer! I have a couple of questions though. When you first started out, did you save enough money to start constantly travelling? Or did you start with travels here and there? And what did you write about in between travels? I guess that now you have a lot of backup posts or drafts to keep posting, but what about when you first started?
Hey Andrea! Glad you found me and welcome to Wanderland! When I first started out, I had saved tons by working multiple jobs and selling most of my stuff back in New York, plus I worked part time jobs in Thailand to subsidize my lifestyle. When I wasn’t traveling, I just didn’t write, since I didn’t take this blog too seriously in the beginning! 🙂
Hi! I’m Natalie, the creator of the travel blog, The Educational
Tourist. I found your blog while researching to find a travel blogs
that use commentluv as a help to other bloggers. I think this list
will encourage fellow bloggers to connect with each other on your
website and get valuable back links to their own site in the
I’d love to add a photograph and a paragraph about your blog in
addition to the link. If you are interested, please send me a photo
and a few sentences your travel blog. I’ll let you know when the post
Hey Natalie! Feel free to grab any photo from my blog to use, and nab a few lines from my about page. I’d love to be included! Happy travels and blogging.
I have 10 visitors to US from another country. I asked them to bring only two carry-on (to airplane) luggages.
So, there are 11 of us total, and I wanted to rent 12 passenger full van with extra luggage space in the back, but I could not find a rental company that offers such.
I ended up reserving either Chevy Express 3500 or Ford Transit Wagon 350 – both 15 passenger seats.
My question is whether this van would fit 20 carry-on luggages to 15 passenger seat full van.
Hey Joe! Unfortunately I’m not familiar with that vehicle but I’d assume ten people in a fifteen person van would be fine! Maybe bring some bungee cords in case you need to strap some suitcases to the roof 🙂
I’m not sure if you have answered this before but how do you manange your time blogging when you’re on a long term trip?
Oh man, tough question Owen! Honestly, after five years I still haven’t fully figured it out. In general, the biggest factor is simply to move slow. I pretty much try to take the amount of time that a tourist would need somewhere (two or three days to sightsee in Penang, Malaysia, for example) and double it if possible. That leaves me plenty of time to both do all the tourist stuff I want to do — which I’m quite efficient at these days! — and also have some time to work.
It’s been few a years since you posted this, is travel blog success still something I should buy?
I still love it — in fact just moments ago I posted in the Facebook group and this week I listened to a webinar where I learned a TON. So my answer is yes, still love it Katie!
I haven’t bought a domain yet. So, if I were to sign up adsense. The views before buying a domain are counted or not. Or the views after buying the domain are counted. Please reply to this question.
Hey Mashi, not sure I understand. Are you talking about buying an already existing domain, rather than registering a new one?
Would you be willing to share what format you used to create your “destinations page” map? I’m juts in the process of building my site and i love your layout for being able to hover over the states and clicking on each one will bring you to relevant blog posts! Would you be willing to share how to out that together! I would be EXTREMELY grateful! Thank you!
Hi Roni! I had a web designer do all of that so I’m sad to say I don’t know any of the ins and outs! I apologize! I’m pretty clueless about the behind the scenes 🙁