How to Stay Afloat as a Travel Blogger When No One is Travelling
Financially speaking, right now is a scary time to be a travel blogger. Your traffic is tanking, all your press trips have been cancelled and your affiliate marketing partners are suspending their programmes until further notice.
Even if you’ve done a great job diversifying your income streams, if those streams are all related to travel then they’re probably all drying up.
Getting paid to travel once seemed like the dream job, but now travel blogging seems like the worst career you could have chosen. But don't throw in the towel just yet. You’re actually in a better position than you might think.
Running your own travel blog has taught you valuable skills that will help you get through this rough patch and come out stronger on the other side. If you’re a full-time blogger or freelancer, then you’re already used to not being able to rely on a steady paycheck every month. While you may not have been through anything quite as drastic as the current situation, you've certainly experienced plenty of ups and downs. You know how to be resilient and how to adapt to your ever-changing surroundings and different situations.
Okay, so your surroundings haven't changed much in the past few weeks, but your situation certainly has. So, how can you adapt?
The fact is that most people just aren’t reading travel blogs right now. They will be in a few months, though, if you can wait that long. In the short term, you can write the kind of content that people are searching for and reading right now.
Or, if you have enough in your savings account to ride this thing out, you can take this time to make your blog better. I’m sure you have a long list of improvements you’d like to make to your site but never seem to have time for. Making those improvements now will put you in a great position when travel does finally bounce back - which it will, with a vengeance.
Let’s dig a little deeper into the short-term vs. long-term strategies you could adapt right now.
WRITE ABOUT HOT TO TRAVEL AT HOME
Your readers are probably going stir crazy right now, so offer them ways of travelling while in lockdown. This could be an article about the best novels set in your favorite destination, top travel vloggers to follow on YouTube or the best virtual tours being offered by museums around the world.
Get creative and find an angle that fits with your brand and your interests. For example, one blogger friend of mine recently wrote a post about yoga poses that remind her of particular travel destinations.
PIVOT TO A MORE PROFITABLE NICHE
If your blog covers other topics besides travel or if you think you could add a few new topics that would fit in well on your site, consider switching gears for a few months.
Survey your email list and social media followers to find out what kind of content they want and need right now. Here are a few examples of niches that are doing well in the current situation:
- Minimalist living
- Home workouts
If you are interested in and knowledgeable about one or more of those topics, try writing a few articles and see how well they do. Personally, I would only do this if I could fit those articles naturally into my current blog.
Some travel bloggers are starting second sites around these niches, and if you have the energy and determination to see that through, then go for it. Just remember what a big undertaking it is to create and maintain a whole separate website and the associated social media accounts, email list, etc.
SEEK OUT FREELANCE WORK
Depending on your financial situation, you may not have the luxury to experiment with new things in the hopes that they will work. If you need to make some quick cash right now, then keep reading.
Many of the skills that you’ve learned through blogging are skills that other people will pay you for. Depending on your areas of expertise, this could include writing, editing, SEO consulting, social media management and/or website design.
Create a profile on sites like Upwork and Fiverr to seek out freelance clients for these types of gigs. You may also have other skills and expertise not related to blogging that you could monetise, such as teaching English online.
Medium-Term Strategy: Focus on Domestic Tourism
No one knows exactly when we’ll be able to travel again, but one thing is certain: people will start travelling locally before they start travelling internationally. It will probably be several months before national borders reopen, and even longer before people feel confident enough to travel abroad.
So start writing about nearby attractions in and around the city or town you live in (or wherever you’re riding out the pandemic). In countries that have managed to control the spread of the virus, domestic travel may be possible within the next month. Here in Portugal where I live, authorities are already talking about lifting the state of emergency next week.
Of course, this local approach will work best for bloggers based in a country where the language they write in is widely spoken, or is at least spoken by a large expat population. If you write in English but live in Mozambique, you won’t have a very large local audience for your content. On the other hand, if you’re in an English-speaking country like the UK, or even a place where English is widely spoken as a second language like India or the Philippines, domestic travellers could be a good source of readership for you.
If you live in a place that normally suffers from overtourism, the lack of international crowds will be a strong selling point. You’ll also be able to get some killer photographs before the international visitors arrive.
TAKE THIS TIME TO IMPROVE YOUR TRAVEL BLOG
If you’re not interested in writing about any of the current “hot topics” and if the domestic tourism market is not part of your readership, then your best bet is to play the long game.
Take this opportunity to work on all those tasks you never have time for, like sorting through old photos and updating old blog posts. You can also enrol in an online course to hone a skill or learn a new one from scratch. This could be a course about search engine optimization (SEO), photography or graphic design for Pinterest.
You’re probably reluctant to shell out hundreds of pounds for an online course right now, and the good news is you don’t have to. You can find some high-quality courses that are reasonably priced or even free on sites like Udemy and Coursera.
If you have a backlog of blog posts you’ve been meaning to write, go ahead and post them. The age of a page is a significant ranking factor for Google, so if you post your content now, it will have time to gradually move up the rankings in the coming months. Then you’ll be in a strong position once people start searching for travel content again.
Do think carefully about how (or if) you’ll promote that travel content on social media during the pandemic, though. While it could be seen as much-needed inspiration that gives people something to look forward to, it could also come across as tone-deaf. If you do promote your travel content, make it clear that you aren’t encouraging people to travel right now.
What’s your plan for your blog during the pandemic? Will you be taking a short-term, medium-term or long-term approach?