What it's really like to be a travel blogger

Updated on 17 July 2017 | 0 Comments

Atlas & Boots share a candid look at their seemingly perfect job

1. We get to go to the ends of the Earth

We run an outdoor blog so have seen some of the world’s most outstanding natural beauty. We have caught the northern lights in the Arctic Circle, dived with sharks in the Galápagos, snorkelled in the Maldives, cycled across Easter Island and hiked in Ushuaia, otherwise known as "the end of the world". The fact that we travel for a living is both wonderful and absurd, and we’re grateful for it every day.

Atlas & Boots

2. But it’s not all bliss and joy

In Samoa, we had cockroaches the size of a palm in the bathroom. The ones in Sri Lanka could fly. Kia’s bag was snatched in Colombia and our car fell apart in Chile. We spent an entire month freezing in Bolivia – and that’s before we even got blogging.

For Atlas & Boots, we have a strict editorial calendar which can be tricky on sketchy wi-fi. On top of writing posts, we have to take and edit photos, put together video, maintain our Instagram, Twitter and Facebook accounts, and reply to comments and emails. We’re thankful there are two of us or the workload would be unmanageable.

Atlas & Boots

3. We have to explain what we do… a lot

Travel blogging has entered maturity but the vast majority of people we meet don’t know what’s involved. We spend a lot of time explaining what we do, how we got started, what our plans are and how we make a living. People are always curious to know how much money we make which can be intrusive. Travel blogging doesn’t feel like a ‘real’ profession to some so normal etiquette seems not to apply.

Atlas & Boots

4. Money is nearly always a concern

While we’re on the subject, we might as well be honest: travel bloggers barely make any money – at least for the first three years. Top travel bloggers claim six figures a year but there’s a bunch of us in the middle and a huge swathe of beginners who are casting about for a solid monetisation strategy.

We’re sometimes told that ‘if you write it, people will come’ but that’s not true for the majority of travel bloggers. Most of us need to think about a path to revenue and to invest in marketing and publicity. Some will get lucky but most won’t without a plan.

Atlas & Boots

5. Statistics become an obsession

The first time we hit 20,000 users on our site in a month, we were ecstatic – for about a week. As soon as the next month started, we wanted to surpass the number. We now receive six times that number but we’re still not satisfied.

It’s not just website traffic either. We monitor our social media profiles and, yes, get pangs of envy at others’ sky-high stats. It’s not all a hollow pursuit though, there are many sweet and satisfying moments too. Last year, we had our first ever website visitor from Benin and that was a nice surprise.

Atlas & Boots

6. There's a dark side

Established travel bloggers can make a cheap buck by filling their site with paid-for links or partnering with brands that don’t suit their audience. Some of these proposals are easy to refuse (online casino, anyone?) but others are hard because they kind of relate to what you do but not really… but maybe you can twist it just a bit to make it fit. This temptation can be a real struggle for new bloggers. We relented twice in the early days but soon realised that our brand is the most important thing we have and should protect it at the cost of cold, hard cash.

Atlas & Boots

7. Travel can feel like a chore

Before we started blogging, we barely took pictures of our travels as there was no obligation to record and share every salient moment. Now, instead of enjoying a hike purely for the views, we’re busy noting down the pitfalls and tangents so that our audience can avoid them. It’s a small price to pay for escaping the nine-to-five but we do miss travelling for pure pleasure.

Atlas & Boots

8. We miss having a base

After a year-long trip around the world, we realised that it was important to stop every few months. Living out of a bag might conjure visions of freedom and whimsy but the day-to-day logistics can be wearing. Digging around for tampons in your bag or washing clothes in the sink can get tedious if done for months on end.

Several top travel bloggers have written about burning out or breaking down. We want to avoid doing the same so have made it a priority to pause in the middle of any big trip.

Atlas & Boots

9. We have an inferiority complex

We at Atlas & Boots come from a print background where blogging was long seen as the purview of angry young nerds. Over the years, blogging has built credibility and garnered respect, but we still can’t shake the inferiority complex.

Travel blogging has such a low barrier to entry and there are no sub-editors or editors, so the quality of writing is lower than in print. As such, we feel we have to work harder to prove our professionalism.

Atlas & Boots

10. But of course there’s nothing else we’d rather do

For those who love to travel, really, what better job could there be? We at Atlas & Boots have a long while to go until we’re comfortably self sustaining, but we’re well on our way. We’ve made a start and are doing things the way we want to. There is no director of something-or-other waiting for us at a 9am meeting, there is no working lunch or looming deadline. We set our own goals and priorities, we deconstruct our own failures, we vow to do better for ourselves and for our readers. And we get to do it all from a place like Tahiti. What more could we possibly want?

Atlas & Boots


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