Travel writing and travel blogging have many similarities, especially with the growth of journals and magazines that are only published online. However, each has its own perks and pain points. This blog is meant to show you the difference between travel writing and travel blogging, so you can decide which to pursue. And maybe, like me, you will find both fulfilling in their own ways. (In this comparison of travel writing vs. travel blogging, I have excluded travel copywriting, although I do work as a travel content creator in that regard.) So, let’s dive in!
Travel Blogging Perks
Starting a travel blog is relatively easy. You buy your domain, set it up on a content management system (WordPress, SquareSpace, Wix, etc.) and snag all of your travel blog brand name social media account handles.* You are immediately ready to write anything and everything about your journeys – whether you want to treat your new travel blog like a scrapbook to show your friends or you are looking to build up your travel blog as a side hustle, monetizing with affiliates, banners, bespoke campaigns and more. You simply write your articles, add a few pictures and press the ‘publish’ button. Your stories instantly go live. In this regard, travel blogging is much easier than travel writing.
* Travel blogging tip 1: Format your social media handle consistently across Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, Pinterest, Google+, etc. It will make your pages easier to find. For example, mine are all upandatemtravel. There are no variations like upandatem_travel.
In addition to publishing only what interests you, whenever suits your schedule, you can also customize your site. You determine the aesthetic of your brand – from your travel brand logo, colors, fonts, blog layout and homepage layout. You will always represent yourself, your stories and your site exactly as you wish. In this way, travel blogging can be much more personal than most editorial travel writing.
Travel Blogging Pains
Monetizing is the tricky part about travel blogging. Once you birth your travel blog baby, many of you will soon realize how much time is required to maintain it. So, for all that effort, why not make some cash on the side, right? Well, to earn money, companies want to know that your travel blog brand has a loyal audience that matches their target audience – and they will only want to partner you (ahem, pay you) if your blog earns a certain number of unique page visits per month and/or have tremendous followings on social media.* Your writing will need to be a decent standard, too.
* Travel blogging tip 2: Most travel companies are interested in your Instagram account – or YouTube if you are a vlogger. Facebook is only important if you have a massive amount of followers. And Twitter isn’t really important on its own, but it boosts your total number social media followers and acts as a nice bonus.
PS. You will not believe how much time you can waste on Instagram per week – especially if you don’t cheat with fake followers, etc. And you shouldn’t!
Cracking social media and staying up-to-date with all the algorithm changes is exhausting. You can easily spend hours researching best practice for social media and SEO search engine ranking strategies. While you may only want to write, you will need to manage your website. You may also find yourself sharing less of your personal stories and writing those ‘Top 10 Restaurants in Paris” articles (that you hated before you began travel blogging) to fight for keywords and traffic.
However, if you do grow a loyal following, you can create your own travel blog content campaigns. (Just don’t sell out and start reviewing unrelated products like candles and energy drinks.) Even if you cannot attract paid campaigns to start, you may be able to exchange coverage on your travel blog for complimentary hotel stays and other excursions.
Travel Writing Perks
I wanted to start off with a travel writing perk, but I can’t. Travel writing is about a trillion times harder to break into than travel blogging. At first, it is extraordinarily difficult to find a publication to accept your work. But luckily, you may be able to use your travel blog as a portfolio to earn your first writing assignment for a travel publication – whether your pitch an article to a newspaper, magazine or website. If you send an editor a strong, well-written idea for an article, along with a sample of quality blog posts, they will be more convinced that you can deliver an editorial travel article than if you had zero experience writing about travel on your blog.
I worked very hard to publish these culture and travel writing features; and I continue to do so in order to broaden my portfolio.
For me, the best part about travel writing is seeing your name and story in print! With everything being pushed to digital nowadays, your printed words on a page demonstrate that they are valuable. An editor believed that you could deliver a relevant story that would resonate with their publications’ readers, and you have written something worth sharing, worth preserving. If that’s not special, I don’t know what is.
Check out my print story about Outdoor Adventure Holidays for Families in Colorado!
Another bonus of travel writing is that you do not have to worry about promoting your own writing, though it doesn’t exclude you from excitedly sharing on your own social media channels for fun. You do not get paid per clicks on your article or how long people spend reading it. Once your story idea is accepted, you write and research and turn it in. You can focus on crafting a really well written piece; and it can be artistic. You don’t need to incorporate SEO keywords if you gain a travel writing assignment, and you can write long, lovely, exquisite sentences. (Forget the Fleisch Reading Ease test!) You will be compensated for your writing – not being able to sell a product by pushing readers through your sales funnel on your travel website, phew.
Travel Writing Pains
The negative part about travel writing is that pretty much no one will be interested in your narratives. “We did this – and it was ah-may-zing. Then we ate that – which was to die for!” Nope, no one wants to read that. Although you had a great time and you want to share everything you did from the time you stepped off the plane, it’s boring for others to read.* You will have to put your ego aside, step out of the spotlight (and the limelight) and write about the place that you visit. Or what other travelers can do when they visit. Your travel articles can include incredible description, and you can still show your opinion without using ‘I’ in every sentence. You just won’t get to tell personal travel stories unless you’re at the absolute top of the travel writing game. You’d basically need to be the Adele or Beyonce of travel writing.
But trust me, you will be excited to get any travel feature assigned to you, because that’s a tricky enough feat as is.
* Travel blogging tip 3: No one wants to read these type of “I did this, and X was awesome” type posts on your blog, either. But your blog is still your own outlet and you can publish them if you want.
A less appetizing aspect of travel writing includes possible edits and writes from the editor. If your article isn’t quite up to scratch, or they feel that the story should be reported from a slightly different angle, you may have to rewrite significant portions of your article. And although you get paid for your writing, you may have to wait a long time – up until a month after your article is published. You may pitch a story in December, have the story accepted in January, turn the story in by February… And wait until it is published in June. You could wait 7 months to see your story idea in print and 8 months to get paid. The travel writing publication process, well the print publication process, can be long.
* Travel writing tip 1: Make sure to send timely ideas out with a few months’ lead time.
Travel Writing vs. Travel Blogging Conclusion
In some ways, travel blogging is really easy, while some aspects are ridiculously frustrating. You can start quickly, but building success takes a lot of time and effort. Travel writing can fill you with pride and you can focus solely on writing, but a large majority of your story ideas to editors will go unanswered. The process from pitching to publication is also long, and getting paid takes even longer.
Are you thinking of starting a travel blog? Which aspects of travel writing and travel blogging appeal to you? Let me know in the comments below!
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