Since I was a teenager, I knew I would be the most unemployable employee ever. I was/am stubborn, impulsive, and a ball of risks waiting to explode. You see, it’s not the concept of a 9-5 that scares me. Heck, I’ll work a 9-9 if it meant I could live my life on my own terms.
It’s the idea that someone else could dictate when I should start work, have lunch, how I should dress, behave, and ultimately be valued monetarily.
As a woman especially, stating my value used to terrify me. But the minute I started using my worth as a sword to lead with, I realize sitting in a cubicle staring at a screen saver of the place I SHOULD BE, wasn’t cutting it.
I had a salary job at a prestigious office in Beverly Hills. A little over two years of faking sick to use my sick days, combining personal and vacation days, I knew it was time. I said goodbye to my stable salary, my reliable bi-weekly direct deposit, my full health and dental benefits, and the 30-something-year-olds “I’ve made it” signature item….my 401k with a 6% match. I know, I’m nuts.
I sat there typing a letter to my boss. I really loved the company and my co-workers. This was nothing against them. Trying to explain that you feel trapped behind a desk while telling someone you love your job, but you love travel more, is a hard thing to do.
To many of my co-workers and friends, experiencing culture meant going to that authentic Indian restaurant on a Friday night and ordering something they couldn’t pronounce. That wouldn’t work for me. I wanted to take in the sights and sounds of Mumbai as I was whisked along the dirt roads in a Tuk-Tuk, have dinner in someone’s home and dance the night away at a chichi bar.
My boss was a 60 year old man with values, who worked hard for everything he had and truly valued his employees. I felt bad. I felt guilty. He offered me more pay, more time off (from 7 paid vacation days to 9)….I needed 900 days.
I had to say no. I couldn’t live with regrets. I would always be wondering how Paris would feel in October instead of printing reports in the stagnant air of the copy room. I wanted to breathe the air in Thailand while taking in the view of Phi Phi Island instead of the back of my coworker’s monitor.
I said goodbye that day (well my two weeks notice) and never looked back.
I had to find a way to make a living on the road, and our travel blog (my boyfriend at the time, now husband) had already gotten pretty popular, so we decided to make that our work as we traveled.
Now, it’s not all fun and games. Travel blogging is endless hard work, disappointments, struggles, and obstacles that we’ve gone through and still are going through.
Our parents still read the newspaper, don’t trust “the internet” and think travel is still reserved for the 1%. Try explaining travel blogging!
Even though we spend well over 40 hours per week pouring our blood, sweat, and tears into this blog and our freelance work, it doesn’t usually FEEL like work. We don’t feel like our brains are leaking out of our ears as we sit in a cubicle completing monotonous tasks over and over. There’s no boss to answer to, or workplace drama to worry about. We are the boss, and it feels AMAZING. Sometimes we miss that bi-weekly direct deposit that comes with having a boss, which bring us to the next topic.
Just to clarify, we don’t actually get paid money to travel places (most of the time anyhow). Although as a travel blogger that’s obviously the ultimate goal, it’s one that is extremely difficult to achieve, and takes a really long time and hard work to attain. We have however, achieved the goal of getting to stay places in exchange for exposure. We don’t like saying, “getting to travel for free”, because we still have to do A LOT ton of writing, photography and social media posting in exchange, and typically always still have to pay for our flights, transportation, and sometimes our meals. We pay for those things with the money we make writing for other publications, and sponsored content on our site and social media, but it still adds up.
In order to be an actual travel blogger, you have spend money at first. How else are you going write about traveling, if you aren’t actually traveling? We’ve spent more money on traveling than we’ve made from it.
As with most freelance work, we are never guaranteed a paycheck. Some brands and advertisers pay the day after you work, sometimes you have to chase them down. Some offer direct deposit or PayPal, other times you have to wait for a check in the mail. Often we write articles in hopes they will get published, and then they don’t get published at all.
Every month is different. Sometimes we land a great gig and are storing money away to go on our dream trip, other months we wonder if its all really worth it. We have to have a large savings account and make sure we have as many streams of income as possible.
The truth is, we don’t make that much money. But we are happy. We could have easily stayed at our steady-monotonous-cubicle-401k jobs, but getting 7 days off for vacation a year seems like torture. We make less, we travel more, and we make our own schedules.
How much we make in any given month depends on luck, and how motivated we are.
We get paid in a variety of different ways. From advertising on the blog itself, to freelancing, social media consulting and managing, sponsored social media campaigns and sponsored blog posts, ongoing campaigns as brand ambassadors and strategic paid partnerships, and the occasional paid press trip, those are just some of the ways we get paid.
It’s wonderful not to have a boss anymore and to be able to work for yourself— but can you trust yourself to do the work when someone isn’t asking you or paying you to do so?
We love our laptops, iPads, phones, especially since it’s what allows us to do work from anywhere in the world. We spend the majority of our time staring at a screen, so don’t take it the wrong way we when forget to look up sometimes.
These days some people can just look like models on Instagram standing in a beautiful place and call themselves a travel blogger. We are actually still very much into the writing portion. Tiana wrote for her college newspaper, and has always dreamt of being an author. It takes us about 5 hours or more to just DRAFT one blog post, let alone edit it, review and rewrite parts of it. Then figure out what photos to use, edit those, add links, research keywords, and publish several a month for our own blog, on top of that writing for other sites that will pay per article.
Professional travel blogging is hard and a big commitment. We worked on our blog for 6 months before anyone even shared an article. 3 months before we got ONE comment. Imagine walking through your office and people don’t acknowledged your work there OR pay you. You just keep going to work for months hoping to be noticed and paid eventually. It takes dedication.
I think most people fail because they don’t realize the commitment involved in it. Depending on how much time and effort you dedicate to it, it could take YEARS. Think you have what it takes? Start a travel blog with our step-by-step guide.
There are a lot of seasoned travel bloggers are doing amazing things, but there are plenty of bloggers out there who are ruining our reputation as a whole. We work together to show brands that bloggers are valuable and are worth investing in. Whenever we work with someone, we make a point to exceed expectations. Brands may work with one bad egg, and it shuts the doors for everyone.
Travel woes don’t phase us anymore. The marketing manager is off on the weekend and forgot to put us in the system? Arrested on a train? Luggage lost? No problem. We constantly have bad luck when we travel, but it doesn’t stop us. You learn to go with the flow, have a back-up plan and in the end it makes us better, and smarter travelers.
We have been home in LA for exactly two weeks. We have had back-to-back trips that we are seriously behind on posting about. We are not complaining, because we just returned from New York, Portland, Abu Dhabi and South Africa. Our living room is literally a minefield of suitcases and travel cubes.
Sometimes we miss birthdays and weddings, don’t see an important status update, don’t know your kid was sick and you got a new job. We care. We really do. We just have 6 jobs rolled into one and they are ALL on our devices. We make money on the internet. The same place you go to vent and play games is our office. Don’t be offended.
To Our Friends & Family
As bloggers, sharing our posts and photos means the world to us. It’s the virtual pat on the back we all crave. It’s hard to explain this to friends and family. They scroll past our posts with an occasion like and that is it. We have usually anywhere between 30 to 100 comments on any given blog post. NONE of those are from friends or family. We have strangers leave paragraphs of questions and compliments. It the virtual thumbs up and “good job” we love, we just wish it came from people we knew sometimes. We see you sharing that dancing cat video, can you share our posts? Yes, we are unashamedly begging for attention. In our case, it pays our bills.
Since we started travel blogging we have made some amazing friends. We are closer to some of these virtual friends than we are our real life friends. We can message our blogging friends at 2am and ask how to fix a glitch on our site, or meet for lunch and discuss blog design. We help each other work with brands and plan on going to conferences together. We compete for spots on press trips, sponsorships, partnerships, and speaking gigs. We compete for funding to be spent on us. We love each other and support each others blogs and endeavors, even if we have a tinge of jealousy when we land amazing press trips the other doesn’t.
Social Media Runs Our Lives
When Facebook first came out, and we had to sign-up using college email addresses, we would have never imagined that our careers would revolve around spending hours creating and executing the perfect social media posts on it. Back then, social media was still just for fun and keep up with old friends. Now its the most powerful marketing tool in the world. We barely have time to keep up with our personal Instagram accounts, because we are so focused on the business account.
Instagram is a job to us,so we spend hours planning, editing the photos, writing the caption, researching hashtags and ideal posting times. It’s more than just picking a filter for us. Our likes and comments are our livelihood. No one wants to work with a blogger with 12 likes and no comments. We have been invited on press trips JUST for having 11,000+ Instagram followers.
We have to remember that a sunset on the beach looks beautiful and you want a horizontal photo for the blog but you NEED a vertical shot for Instagram and Pinterest.
It’s hard to remember to tweet, Instagram, Pinterest, Snapchat and Periscope where you are and still try and enjoy the moment. Sometimes we need to unplug.
It Is Amazing Being a Travel Blogger
If we are making travel blogging out to sound like it’s a soul draining endeavor, it’s not entirely true. We often have to sacrifice days at the beach in Hawaii for writing a blog post, or editing photos instead of going out on a Friday night.
We miss the reliable paychecks, and the stable feeling of a 9 to 5 sometimes, but hey, our meetings are no longer in a conference room, but instead, for example, on a Skype call in Cape Town.
In the past 18 months, we’ve gone swimming with great white sharks in South Africa, hiked through a gorge in Portland, took a cable car up Table Mountain, went diving at Molokini Crater in Hawaii, spent the winter teaching English in Germany, drank craft beer in Denver, ate at amazing food trucks in Austin, spent a week in Mexico, ate a Cajun Thanksgiving in New Orleans, had a luxury getaway in Santa Barbara, ate brunch at 13 places in Los Angeles, and spent a weekend unplugged in upstate New York, just to name a few.
These adventures are the result of all the hard work we put into travel blogging. We’ve found a way to get paid for our favorite hobby, and do so while following our dreams of traveling the world.
P.S. – Hello from Cape Town, South Africa.