How to Become a Travel Blogger in 2019

How to Become a Travel Blogger in 2019

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Image via Flickr [Tim Vrtiska]
keywords: travel blog, how to start a travel blog, best travel blogs, top travel blogs, female travel blogs, travel blogger jobs, how to be a travel blogger, how to make money as a travel blogger, black travel bloggers

Better three hours too soon than a minute too late.
—William Shakespeare

 

World Class Adventurer celebrated its three year anniversary this month. During this time, I transitioned from ESL teacher in China to KTV girl to ESL teacher in Japan to a full-time writer. I’ve been creating web content on and off since 2009 and a decade later, not only has the entire global economy shifted but internet trends are coming and going faster than ever. If you want to make money as a travel blogger, you’ll need to stay up to date on the latest movers and shakers in your niche.

Step 1: What’s in a Name?

When I started writing web content, I was taught to create evergreen niche articles in an area I had a lot of knowledge and experience in. Unfortunately, what no one told me was that the nitty-gritty of content creation is a lot more…well, complicated. The same applies to your blog name.

While having a niche, in this case—travel—is the first step to knowing what you want to write about, if your blog name’s too detailed, you’ll limit your options. Even if you’ve only traveled to a few cities on one continent, naming your travel blog something like danasadventuresinnorthamerica.com isn’t gonna help you when it’s time to go abroad.

For example, I haven’t yet been to Europe or Australia but I’ve been all around North America, Asia, and Central America. Even though the majority of my focus lies in Asia, I may branch out to other locations in the future. Also, World Class Adventurer is a name that holds deep sentimental meaning to me.

My advice: Take an afternoon to jot down ideas and bounce them off of a few trusted friends before purchasing a domain name.

Step 2: Hosting, Hosting, Hosting

With so many hosting options out there, it can be hard to choose. Back in the day, I used GoDaddy. These days, I’m all about HostGator. I like that their website is simple and easy to navigate.

1&2- Select Your Plan

Also, the customer service rocks and I don’t say that about many Internet companies! Signing up is a piece of cake. Just follow this quick set-up guide.

3-Choose a Domain

You can register a new domain or transfer one you already own.

4-Confirm Your Hosting Plan

Choose a hosting plan that’s right for you. They offer tons of discounts so you’ll never get stuck spending too much on web hosting.

5- Account Information

I also like that they have a PayPal option for those of us who aren’t comfortable putting credit card info online or who live in China where payment systems remain insular.

6- Processing Your Order

That’s it! You should see this page when you’re all done.

Step 3: WordPress

Now, this is where it gets a little tricky for new-comers but don’t worry! The actual WordPress platform is incredibly user-friendly. Here’s mine:

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As you can see, the navigation bar on your left is pretty straightforward. The tabs on the homepage tell you about traffic data, insights, and ads. These ads are provided by Google Adsense. I wouldn’t recommend using them since Adsense revenue ain’t what it used to be.

Also, I’d advise staying away from ads until you get at least one piece of content that’s consistently getting decent traffic from search engines. If you’re interested in monetization, this article provides excellent tips for blogs that aren’t generating a ton of traffic.

Step 4: Themes, Plug-ins, and Coding! Oh my!

Again, don’t freak out! There’s a lot to learn about WordPress. While the front end’s user-friendliness appeals to us writer-ly types, there’s a lot going on behind the scenes. First, choosing a theme can be a daunting task because there are so many options out there.

  • Should I choose a free or paid theme?
  • Should I hire a web designer or use a WYSIWYG editor?
  • What even are plug-ins and how can my blog benefit from them?

These are all questions you’ll need to ask yourself during the design process. In my opinion, the best travel blog themes are minimalist because travel blogs usually have a lot of visual content within posts. Too much going on in the header and sidebars gets distracting for your readers.

The bottom line is you don’t need to be a programmer to run a successful WordPress blog but a little bit of surface knowledge about HTML and CSS can go a long way. If you’re interested in the development side of WordPress to increase your blog’s success and job prospects, check out this article on IndigoThemes.

Step 5: Content is King

Yes, I know it’s cliché but it’s true. Your blog’s content needs to be consistent, on-topic, evergreen and fresh at the same time in order to run a successful blog. Some people don’t have time to post every day, once a week, or even twice a month. That’s perfectly understandable and I’ve been there!

While I can’t tell you how often to post new content, as a general rule of thumb, bloggers who post twice a week seem to see the most success. If you’re like me, wearing a million different hats and running around like a chicken with your head cut off, so burnt out by the middle of the week that you can’t even answer your Facebook messages let alone write a blog post, don’t worry. You’ve got options.

First, you could create your content ahead of time and post on a schedule. This is an especially important tactic for travel bloggers since traveling costs money and we don’t always have it. Or, like in my case, sometimes you’ve gotta spend six months back in your own country taking care of unforeseen circumstances.

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When you create a new post, there should be a drop-down menu on the right side of your screen. Click Post Settings –> Status then choose a date and time. WordPress will automatically post it on your schedule. How cool is that?

The easier option, if you’ve got the cash, is to outsource your content. Sites like UpWork and Freelancer make it easy to find freelance writers to collaborate with. The only downside is that quality content is expensive and you don’t have total control over elements such as grammar, word choice, and style.

Step 6: Fly, Social Butterfly, Fly!

Yep, this one’s all about social media. While the biggies like FB and Twitter are still important, Instagram, YouTube, and SnapChat are the most relevant social media sites for the younger generation in 2019. Video streaming sites such as Twitch and YouNow also have vast numbers of hungry eyeballs waiting to devour content.

“Oh no!” you exclaim. “But I’m an introvert. That’s why I became a writer. Please don’t make me go in front of the camera!”

To which I respond: Silly goose. It’s all about hybrid media these days. Let me explain. Yes, visual content is on the rise and people don’t read as much as they used to, sadly. But that doesn’t mean the written word is dead. Far from it, in fact. From book vloggers on YouTube to teen Instagram models to Twitch eSports players, there’s always one common denominator: the ability to influence. Don’t be afraid to reach out to those influencers and ask them for a little mention in exchange for promoting them. Bartering FTW.

Step 7: Follow (and copy) the Pros!

Look, we all wanna be one step ahead of the hottest trends in our industry but the fact of the matter is, most of us won’t be. I’m here to give you practical advice about how to start out and make it as a small to mid-level blogger. If you see something blowing up on Instagram, hop on that bandwagon. You gotta follow until you can lead.

Check out Natasha’s and Matt’s excellent travel blogs for ideas on how to get started.

This post contains affiliate links and has been included as an entry into a giveaway/sweepstakes.

China is for Lovers

China is for Lovers

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Image via Flickr [Iselin]
Three months back in the U.S., the place my mother birthed me. The country I’d called home for twenty-three years. I think about China every day. Amid these ponderings, I realized what life in the states is missing: 人情味 (rén qíng wèi). Though I know what it means on a visceral level, Pleco’s definition, “human touch; human interest; empathy” doesn’t capture the true meaning of the word. There’s no decent English translation because this concept doesn’t exist in Anglo societies.

人情味 is your neighbor asking if you’d eaten around lunch time. It’s your friends sending you reminders to dress for the weather as the seasons change. It’s a shop owner you met once on a business trip asking about your children. It’s the three-hour buffets followed by a night of drunken karaoke with your coworkers. It’s the police officer you feel comfortable approaching to ask for directions because you know he won’t get aggressive for no reason. It’s the ability to easily forgive others for the sake of communal harmony. The list goes on.

Recently, I made a Facebook post that triggered a ton of backlash. I’d said I don’t like people from other countries who take on the negative traits of Americans. Don’t get me wrong, there’s plenty of things I like about my country: the fresh air, beautiful scenery, down-to-Earth people, and organization, just to name a few. However, I also dislike the view of humans as a commodity, being measured by our productivity, and my generation’s lack of commitment. People aren’t held–and don’t want to be held–to higher standards and that can make for a pretty sucky society to live in at times.

I dislike that life in America is mainly about convenience. Fast food, most people looking for hookups instead of relationships, having to hold down more than one job because the wages aren’t enough to live off of unless you’re a doctor, lawyer, celebrity, or engineer. With increasingly limited options, it’s easy to see why millennials and Gen Z have become despondent. It’s difficult to care about anything in a society that kicks you when you’re down until you can’t get back up.

I like to carry the warmth of China in my heart. My friends continue to wait patiently for my return. What a joy to have experienced 人情味 in this lifetime.

The World Keeps Turning

The World Keeps Turning

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Image by Flickr [Andra Brinzaniuc]
I’ve had this blog for almost three years. And while it’s brought me a lot of personal fulfillment, it hasn’t actually earned me a cent. In fact, I lose out on the web hosting fee every year. I’ll admit this is my fault. With my SEO and content writing skills, I could have monetized this blog a long time ago if I had the motivation. Well, I’ve got it now.

I came back to the states and for the most part, everything and everyone stayed the same for better or for worse. Unlike in China, things move very slowly. People I’d drifted apart from grew closer and people who I’d been close with might as well exist in another galaxy.

I’m trying to look at this period of time as a chance at self-improvement. I had a lot of distractions back then that I won’t have for the next six months. This is a healing journey, not just for myself but for the relationship between me and my family as well as some of the people I grew up with. This is a chance to finally leave a place without having burnt every single bridge on the way out.

No one knows what’ll happen tomorrow. Everyone’s busy making plans for the future. Potential mates and employers might inquire about where you see yourself in five years. I’m tired of thinking that far ahead. If I can get through the day, it’s nothing short of an accomplishment that deserves to be celebrated with the most robust bottle of rum in my cabinet.

Cheers!

Reverse Culture Shock Is a Thing

Reverse Culture Shock Is a Thing

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Image via Flickr [Kacper Gunia]
Temporary circumstances have forced me to return to the U.S. I’m unable to leave the country again until at least October. I’ve been back for a little over two months and I still keep waking up wondering why I’m not in China.

I left my hometown for good at the age of 19. Most of my friends are in New York, where I went to college, and China, where I lived since I graduated. I’ve got no one except my parents by my side in this swamp.

Being back here is a blessing and a curse. Seeing my family again after three long years has helped me a lot. The downside is that there’s no way for me to earn a living in this town. It’s impossible to find work and I dislike the environment to the point where I’ve become seriously depressed.

I keep telling myself that it’s temporary. I’ll get out of here. I have friends around the world. Asia will still welcome me back in 2020. I know that when I go back to China and eventually to Southeast Asia, I can’t go back to the KTVs. Other business ideas have floated around in my head. Every time I get a good one, I write it down and I reach out to a friend who might be able to help.

In the meantime, I’m getting a lot of thinking and writing done. I should be finished with the manuscript of my second novel before I leave. It’ll be over soon. It’ll all be over soon.

My Previous Episodes of Reverse Culture Shock (2015-2016)

No Place Like Home: Los Angeles 

No Place Like Home: New York

 

Happy Valentine’s Day

Happy Valentine’s Day

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Happy Valentine’s Day by Muhammad Faizon

It’s that day again. I’m single but I’m happy. I’m blessed because no matter where I’ve gone in the world, I’ve managed to find my people: the friends who understand and support me no matter what. I’m grateful to be able to spend valuable time with the wonderful woman who raised me before it’s too late. Finally, I’m thankful for each and every one of you, dear readers.

This Valentine’s Day, I’m offering you a piece of my heart. The first person to comment gets a free, personalized, signed copy of my novel: Grasping Feathers. Feel the love. ❤

Meet Our Guest Blogger – Gina :-)

Meet Our Guest Blogger – Gina :-)

Hi Everyone!

I’m Gina, a friend of Elizabeth and I’ll be writing a few blogs on here to keep you entertained while she takes a little break. 🙂 Just to properly introduce myself, I’m an African American woman living in South Korea (in and out) for the past 7 years as a student and an English instructor. I’ve visited about 30 countries now and my life gets pretty wild but within reason haha Recently, I went back to my hometown Chicago to start a non-profit organization for underprivileged women to travel for educational and research purposes. I believe there should be more women out here having fun travel stories to tell and experiences to share 🙂

Speaking of fun stories, here’s a taste of what my life is like: skydiving, intellectual disagreements and of course…there’s a guy involved. Check out the blog below!

#71 – The Sugar Daddy In New Zealand 

The Art of Not Giving a Sh*t

The Art of Not Giving a Sh*t

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‘Balloons’ by Andrew Hedges

The people who care too much are the most miserable. I can tell you a lot about misery. I’ve been in that state of mind since the day I was born. In fact, my Dad used to tell me that I was an unhappy child. I almost never laughed as a baby. Sometimes, Dad would spend a half hour making animal noises and contorted faces just to get me to crack a smile.

I spent my entire childhood in pretty much complete isolation but that didn’t stop me from taking up social causes as I was always a justice-minded individual. I used to accompany my grandmother to the seabird sanctuary in St. Petersburg, Florida. We’d marvel at the wide variety of feathered critters from flamingos standing on one leg in the sand to owls perched on a crooked tree branch. We went to cat and bird shows together and discussed the differences between various species. Eventually, we came to the conclusion that these shows were no place for animal lovers because they put an emphasis on whatever breeds were fashionable at the time. This encouraged breeders to cater to the market; often in unscrupulous ways.

Later in life, I took up human rights causes as well. I developed an interest in renewable energy and the accessibility of clean water in developing nations. I emailed my politicians about anti-hate crime legislation to protect the LGBTQ community. I criticized my parents’ church for sending missionaries offering only “Bible-based” aid to developing nations instead of proper education and no-God-attached resources. The list went on.

In college, I stopped giving a shit in other ways. My human and animal rights work got overshadowed by my new-found love of anarchist philosophy and I questioned my professors about our curriculum’s lack of real leftist literature such as ‘No Gods No Masters’. I also got more and more interested in transgender rights and body positivity. My off-campus sorority, Zen Haus, started as an anarchist collective and eventually grew into a legitimate 501c3 non-profit organization: specializing in creating space and support for up-and-coming artists of all mediums.

I graduated and moved to China. I think it was China that finally made me stop giving a shit. The first guy I liked here turned me down to get married to a Polish girl. Come to think of it, I’m glad they ran off into the sunset together. I couldn’t imagine being stuck in a shitty, podunk town living a life of poverty thousands of miles away from home. I like the big city.

Recently, there’ve been some Facebook posts discussing race relations in Asia. When I first came here, I admit, I cared way too much about what these local men thought. I wanted them to like me because I liked them. I liked that they paid a lot of attention to their girlfriends by holding their bags, asking if they’ve eaten, taking them clothes shopping, never complaining about picking up the tab at the restaurant and/or movie theater.

However, I realize now that all around the world, people are just people. They aren’t inherently good or bad. They simply have their own tastes and preferences and I’m tired of letting them get me down. I look in the mirror now and I love myself. I love my brown skin, brown eyes, and dark brown hair. I love my slightly curvy physique and the little belly I’m working on turning into abs with my 3x a week workouts. It took a long, long, long time to get to this point: the point of no longer giving a shit what anyone else thinks; if they like me; if they think I’m pretty. It took 28 years to build enough confidence in myself to say: I love me and I love my body. If you don’t like it, too bad.

I’ve refocused on my passions. I won’t throw my writing career to the wayside again. I’m in competition with no one else but myself. That’s the art of not giving a shit.

Feeling Like a Human Again

Feeling Like a Human Again

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Mura Mezura

When I was a kid, and my grandmother was still alive, she sat me down on the couch and showed me a photo album full of pictures from her trips around the world. From Africa posing in the middle of the Serengeti with zebras in the background to a zoo in Australia where she cuddled a baby koala, grams knew how to live her best life while contributing her final years to valuable conservation efforts worldwide.

“Make sure you travel when you’re young,” she said, “when you get to be my age, everything hurts, and you need to stop for rest often.”

I took her words to heart. It was easy to do as a 12-year-old stuck in a small seaside city in Florida where the most exciting things were happening in internet chatrooms or the video games I played to pass the time between childhood and adulthood. If someone gave me a time machine today, I wouldn’t go back to those days. Life is happier and more exciting in Shanghai.

It took several years to get to this point. I moved out and got my GED at 16. I bounced around the U.S. until I ended up in upstate New York at the age of 19 where I stayed for four amazing years. The friends I made in college are for life, and I’ll always love them.

After I came to China, I finished my novel, and I had a lot of time to reflect on what I wanted to do with my life. I wasn’t cut out for teaching kids. I liked club work, but it’s not something I can do after 30. Also, due to the increasing amount of restrictions in China, they aren’t letting foreigners work in the KTVs/clubs as freely as before.

During my prime KTV days, I hopped around from city to city with my Chinese friend. Technically, we were homeless. If you followed my blog, you’d know that I was living like this for years on and off. Homelessness does weird crap to your brain, especially when you’re in a foreign country. You tend to hold on tight to what little you possess. Since the end of 2014, everything I owned could fit into two suitcases. I didn’t dare to buy anything else, for fear that I’d have to pick up and move again soon.

After I got my residence card in Shanghai, I felt safer. I got an apartment and started filling it with things. Just last week, after almost three months of living there, I felt safe enough to buy a bath mat and a little plant for my desk. Maybe next month, I’ll buy posters. Next time I take a trip, at least I’ll know I have somewhere to come back to and I don’t have to carry all my possessions. I’m starting to feel like a human again.

 

The Top 5 Online Resources for Learning Chinese

The Top 5 Online Resources for Learning Chinese

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Learning Chinese is a challenging and exciting experience. Whether you’re planning to move to China or simply want to learn the language for fun, the following resources have everything you need to get started or brush up on your Mandarin.

The Chairman’s Bao

This is an excellent website for reading practice. They publish Chinese news articles and categorize them based on HSK level. If there’s a character you can’t read, you can simply highlight it and a dictionary will pop up in the sidebar. You can practice with one free article per day per HSK level.

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YOYO Chinese

Yoyo Chinese has a huge video library for Chinese learners of all levels. All of the videos use real-life examples and are simple and easy to understand. The Facebook page often posts free videos but paid courses are also available for a nominal fee.

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Chinese Skill

Chinese Skill is an incredibly useful app available for Android and iOS. The app’s basic features include Chinese listening, reading, and writing exercises. It even offers a story-based feature for intermediate and advanced learners. Best of all, it’s 100% free.

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Dig Mandarin

Dig Mandarin offers a variety of courses from several Chinese teachers. Some courses are free, others are paid. They also offer HSK prep courses at a discount.

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Gurulu

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Gurulu is a helpful resource for people preparing to take the official HSK test. Don’t be fooled by the rustic layout of the site. Multiple choice questions, listening activities, and sample tests based on the official format are all available here.

‘Grasping Feathers’ Progress Report

‘Grasping Feathers’ Progress Report

Well, as promised I published the eBook on Amazon today. However, I didn’t anticipate a plethora of formatting issues that took several hours to sort out. I also didn’t realize there’s a 72-hour waiting period for the book to go live in the marketplace.

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So guys, thank you for your patience. I’ll make another update when I get the official email from Amazon. The paperback publishing process is significantly more complicated so I may delay it until I have time to spend a couple of days reading through all the formatting guides.

I’m off to go fetch my glasses: forgot them at the gym yesterday.

UPDATE (October 9, 2018): The formatting issues have been fixed and the eBook is now live and available for purchase. As for the paperback, I’m waiting for the proof copy. When it’s available, I’ll post an update here. Unfortunately, due to KDP’s policies, I don’t have much control over the price of the paperback. I wanted to make it available in more countries and keep the price below $10 USD, but it wasn’t possible. If you don’t have a kindle and find the price of the paperback too steep, please email me and I’ll work with you. I believe stories should be accessible to everyone. If you can, please support me on Patreon so that I can continue creating for you guys. If you can’t donate but you like what I do, please share. Thank you so much for your support. ❤

UPDATE (October 10, 2018): The paperback version is now available on Amazon.