Every Single Thing I Know About Travel Blogging

by Brenna Holeman


With Alicia, Vicky, and Chérie in Spain, three of my favourite bloggers

Ah, travel blogging. A few years ago, I didn’t even really know that such a term existed, and that there was such a huge – and I mean, huge – community of travel bloggers. I was so naive, I really was. I had been blogging since 2003 and blogging exclusively about travelling since about 2008, but I just did it because I liked it. I had no idea that it was a business, and that it could be an extremely lucrative one at that.

While so many of my friends are travel bloggers, and I love to read other travel blogs, I hope that my readership encompasses a much larger part of society. That being said, this post is most definitely about travel blogging. I’ve gotten a few emails from people wanting to start blogs or people who write with questions about blogging, so I thought I’d throw everything I know into this post. If you’re not a travel blogger, and you don’t know much about the industry or the community, I hope you’re still interested in reading this. I am not going to pretend that I am an authority on blogging, not at all – there are so many other bloggers who have created much more “successful” (more on that word in a minute) sites, and I encourage new bloggers to research what they have to say. I’ve included some of my favourite links at the bottom of this post. While I have indeed been blogging for twelve years and my job is focused almost entirely on blogging, what I have to say here is only going to encompass what I’ve learned about blogging on This Battered Suitcase.

Breakfast in Thailand

Blogging in Bangkok

Two years ago I attended my first travel blogging conference: TBEX Toronto. I didn’t really know what I was doing there, but I wanted to finally hang out with other travel bloggers (though I had spontaneously – like, we actually just met as travellers, not travel bloggers – met Emma in Argentina and Turner in Cuba, and had also hung out with Oneika in Toronto and Naomi in Seoul). In the end, the conference helped me in many ways; if anything, it made me understand what kind of travel blogger I want to be. Although I do accept the occasional press trip (I’ve accepted three over two years), I do not make any money from this blog whatsoever, and have no plans to. That means no advertising or sponsored links. I also still don’t care about the numbers very much. I’m not going to lie and say that I don’t check stats or social media numbers, and that having a particularly good month in that regard can sometimes put an extra swing in my step. But overall, when it comes to this blog… as long as I’m enjoying it and I think the people reading are enjoying it, too, that’s all that matters. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – if nobody read this blog I would still write it. I love it. I’m around for the long haul. This is my 702nd post on this blog, in fact.

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Two of my favourite bloggers (and dear friends) Becki and Helen

This isn’t going to be a practical guide – use a self-hosted WordPress site, guys, and make sure your blog is mobile-friendly… I’ve heard white space is good, and never use comic sans… and for the love of all that is good in this world, use spellcheck – but more of a “here are my random musings on all things travel blogging related” for those who are looking to start a blog. It’s also probably not the best guide for those who want to monetise their sites or get press trips or freelance work, but there are other bloggers who do a much better job of explaining how to do that (see the links at the bottom). If I were you, I’d get a cup of tea (or perhaps something stronger). So hey, here’s what I do know, or at least what I think.*

1. Just do whatever the hell you want. This is the number one thing. I could end the list here because everything else on it will be kind of a moot point, but it’s true – at the end of the day, you’re going to be the one writing and editing and posting and promoting and responding and if you’re not happy with it, or trying to mimic or conform to what you believe you should be doing, you’re not going to want to do any of it. Don’t get caught up in what you think you should be doing. There are so many amazing blogs out there that I admire and appreciate but I try not to compare myself or get jealous, because everyone should do their own thing. Just be you, because the reason I’m reading your blog is because you are writing it. If you’re you, you’ll be unique, memorable, and relatable, three things I personally love seeing in other blogs.

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With the wonderful Tom in Toronto

2. Have fun. This is pretty much the same as the point above. If you’re not having fun blogging, your readers aren’t going to be having fun either. When I went to TBEX Toronto, the first thing one of the speakers said was, “Let’s be honest, we all got into blogging to make money.” I’m sure some people would agree, and some are not only fantastic bloggers but fantastic businesspeople. I think the best of these blogs, however, still have fun with their jobs and truly enjoy what they’re doing. I personally do not want to worry about making money off of this site; all I truly want is to have fun with it, and for you to have fun, too. I think that sometimes people get caught up in trying to make their blogs as professional as possible but, really, unless you’re just a website that specialises in well-ranking (and most likely generic) destination guides, the main reason people read a blog is because they like the blogger behind it. Your blog is your voice, and if people are reading it, it’s because they want to hear you.

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A group of wonderful bloggers including Michael, Becki, Ed, Vicky, and Paul

3. Success is what you make it. Right away, when I became aware of travel blogging as an industry, I defined success for myself. To me, it means to love what I’m doing, to feel like I’m part of a community, and to continue to put out content that I feel proud of. Success does not necessarily mean getting press trips, high statistics, or making a lot of money. That’s just me personally, though. Define what success is to you and stick with it, no matter how tempting it is to compare yourself to others. If your definition of success is having a million unique readers a month, awesome. If your definition of success is posting once a week and sending the link to your mum, also awesome.


With some of my blogging besties Naomi and Candace

4. Do not endlessly compare your blog to other blogs. I mean, obviously it is useful to read other blogs – and hopefully an enjoyable part of your day – but it is soul-crushing and pointless to obsess over other bloggers and think, “Oh my God, she has so many more followers than me, I don’t understand it.” I would never compare myself to a major blogger because, as mentioned previously, every blog is different, and every blog – and every blogger – works differently. When I see someone getting a lot of accolades for their blogging or a lot of freelance work I think, “That’s great, she’s helping the industry in general,” and “She probably worked really, really hard for that.”

In the beginning, it’s especially smart to take a look at the sorts of blogs out there (and not just travel blogs), but then it’s important to carve your own path. If you are indeed trying to build up your blog as a business then I totally understand wanting to take a look at the competition, and, if anything, I’d take a look at blogs and think, “Ok, he’s doing (whatever it is he’s doing). How can I be different?” I just don’t think it’s healthy to focus too strongly on what someone else is doing. Don’t waste energy being jealous or petty; put that energy into your own work instead, and compete with yourself first and foremost by setting achievable goals. Focus on what your readers want and what you want, not what you see other bloggers doing (and for the love of all that is holy, do not copy someone’s writing style, photography, design, or anything at all. If you are inspired by someone and do something similar, at least own up to it and give them the decency of a link). And oh yeah, don’t read someone’s blog and think, “Ha ha, he doesn’t get nearly as many comments as I do.” That’s just bad karma, man.

Also, on the flip side of this, what’s with bloggers bragging that they don’t read other blogs? That’s like a writer saying they don’t read other books, or an actor saying they don’t watch other films, or… you get the point. It just seems like a very conceited thing to say. If you tell me you don’t read any other travel blogs I’m going to give you some major side-eye. C’mon. You must read one other blog.

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Hanging out with bloggers: Monica, Hayley, Vicky, Kirsten, and Beverley

5. Content will always win. Whether it’s through writing, photos, video, or social media, what readers want is creative, engaging, unique, relatable content. As that’s what readers want, that’s what people who will be looking to work with you will want, too. Having a flashy blog and tons of followers is great, but I think the best blogs are the ones that engage with their readers, that focus on producing content that people will really want to see. I love when I see a blog post with lots of comments; that means people were motivated to pipe up and share their experiences, too.

6. If you read a post on someone else’s blog and enjoy it or have something to say, comment! I am still very bad at this. This is also supposed to help your own blog get hits and help get your name out there, but I do not think that that should be your main motivation for doing it (and I’m not even sure that that works very well – better to connect with someone on social media and hopefully share each other’s work). Let’s face it, commenting is just a nice thing to do. After twelve years of receiving comments on various blogs and social media platforms I still get a little rush out of each one. It makes me feel closer to people reading it. Wait, does that sound creepy? I mean, I feel close to you when you comment. Yikes. I should stop now.

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With Turner in Dublin

7. Always respond back to comments. And emails. And messages, and tweets, and comments on photos, and… hey, nobody said that being a travel blogger wasn’t time-consuming. I will definitely own up to letting things slide sometimes, especially when I get emails like, “Hey, can you give me some advice on how to be a travel blogger?” Ahem. The way I look at it is, if someone has taken the time to read what I’ve written and then write something to me about it, the least I can do is respond. I know a few bloggers who don’t respond, with some claiming they don’t have the time (and I understand that many don’t… I imagine I receive a tenth of what they do, or even less), but I personally try to do my best in that regard. What I love about blogging is that it is a two-way conversation, and that it opens up the floor for interesting opinions, shared experiences, and even for creating friendships.

The only comments I would highly recommend NOT responding to are those that make you uncomfortable. I personally screen all of my comments because I’ve had some bad experiences in the past, mostly in a homophobic, racist, or disturbingly sexual manner (you don’t want to know what kind of comments I get on this post). I have even had my life threatened on social media (again, don’t ask) and been spammed to all hell. I just block or ban these people and move on – I don’t engage at all. Once in a while I will get a comment that reads, “I know you’re not going to publish this, but…” and it is followed by why I’m pretentious or a sell-out or just a horrible person in general, but I always post those with a response like, “Thank you for your opinion.” Again, blogging is a two-way conversation, and not everyone will agree with what you have to say. *starts sweating nervously when thinking about responses to this post*

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With ex-housemates, including Jai from Savoir There and Richard from Inspiring Adventures

8. Make travel blogger friends. Regardless of whether you’re “serious” (whatever that means) about blogging, it’s awesome to have other blogger friends. Not only can they help with any issues you might have and recommend you for potential trips and partnerships, it’s so fun to meet other people who share similar interests with you. Just because you both love travelling and blogging doesn’t mean you’ll automatically be BFFs, but it’s a good start. Travel blogging conferences and meet-ups are a great way to meet people, and I have made some of the best friends of my life through them. If you can’t attend, or don’t want to attend, just reach out to other bloggers through comments, emails, or social media. Many do indeed reply, and are just as excited to meet another like-minded individual.

If you do reach out to a blogger either online or in person, make sure you’re doing it with genuine intentions. Don’t write, “Hey I love your blog can you share a link to mine on your Facebook page?” if you’ve never had any other interaction with that person. Create authentic friendships and relationships that are built out of mutual respect (and at least take the time to learn the blogger’s first name). I get quite a few emails every week with people asking for my help, whether it’s about starting a blog, planning a trip around a particular country, gaining the confidence to travel solo, or what have you. Of all of those that I answer back, I only get a thank you response from about 5-10%.

Oh yeah, and if you ask another blogger to meet up for advice about blogging, to ask for help planning an itinerary, etc., at least buy their coffee. And definitely write a thank you email when you get home. In other words, just be a considerate human being and you should have no problem making friends in the travel blogging world.


Blogstock line-up this year, where I’ll be speaking on how to turn a blog into a book. 

9. If you do go to a travel blogging conference, get ready to hear the word “niche”. Apparently, everyone must have one. Everyone!!! Ok, I’m being facetious. I completely understand the need to have a niche if you want to stand out from the crowd; a lot of the “round the world nomad” blogs have been around for ages, but that’s a harder nut to crack these days. I do think that it’s important to remember that a niche doesn’t have to be as specific as you may think (“I’m a fashion designer, DJ, and beekeeper who only writes about street art in East London”. Oh, wait a minute, I bet that’s actually a popular thing). I mean, I’m a solo female travel blogger… oh no, not many of those around, nope, not many at all. When people ask what makes my blog different from others I say that I focus mostly on long-form narratives, i.e. I really do hope you made a cup of tea before starting to read this post. My “elevator pitch”? “This Battered Suitcase is not just about the where and the how of travel, it’s about the who and the why.” It might be a little vague for some, but goddamn it, I like it, and that’s all that counts!! Right?! Right! See point number one! Yeah! The point is, whatever you want the focus of your blog to be, you have to be passionate about it. This goes right back to having fun – if you’re not passionate about what you’re blogging about, how do you expect readers to be?

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At Traverse Mingle in London, 2013. I’m also a bit passionate about wine, apparently. 

10. Just like you need a niche, you need an elevator pitch. And business cards. And a media kit. Again, if you are planning to make your blog a business and/or your full-time job, I completely agree. Spend some time designing your cards and media kit as, often just as they do with your homepage, some people will come to a snap judgment about your blog as soon as they look at the card or the kit (unfortunately). It took me a really long time to come up with my niche and my tagline/elevator pitch, and I created some pretty nice cards from Moo.com. I still don’t have a media kit, though, but again, that’s because I am not a professional travel blogger and am not looking for the same partnerships as some of my peers (and I’m just hella lazy/incapable of creating one on my own). Even if you don’t want to get involved in the business side of things, it’s still really fun to have cards; more often I give them out to people who have nothing to do with the industry at all, and who are just interested in my blog.


A recent “office” in Lloret de Mar, Spain

11. Social media should be… wait for it… social. Although on the side of my blog I have buttons for a whole whack of social media channels, I really only use Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram (damn you Pinterest, I’ll tackle you one day). On each I try to create a dialogue, and share other things I enjoyed or questioned or felt inspired by. Ok, I still totally just throw up a random photo of a hot dog and call it a day sometimes, but I attempt to frequently ask questions and get involved. What’s the point, otherwise? Aren’t the channels there to interact with people? Also – scheduling platforms like Hootsuite are wonderful inventions, but I still think it’s important to engage and interact on social media in real time. If I ever got around to actually using a scheduling site I’m sure I would have even more to say about about the subject (if you’re starting to question why you are considering taking any of my advice right about now, I totally get it).

In terms of traffic, most bloggers I know see the highest traffic from Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. If you’re on YouTube, definitely put links in both the video and in the description of the video for your blog and the topic you’re speaking about (if there’s a relevant written link). While platforms like Instagram and Snapchat don’t necessarily drive traffic to your blog, I think it still creates a bond between you and the reader/follower. It’s all about creating a presence. The more someone sees your work, the more they’ll trust you and grow to like you (one would hope…). I try to post different material on different channels, but occasionally they cross-pollinate (is that the right term? I think I need a coffee).

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Blogger pals (and like, two non-bloggers) to celebrate my 30th birthday in London

12. Speaking of, the way to get more followers on social media is to… wait a second, I actually don’t know. I’ve heard a thousand and one different techniques (hashtags! selfies! no selfies! promos! follow everyone and then mercilessly unfollow them all! twitter chats! be funny! be controversial! tweet no more than twenty times a day but no less than ten! boobs!) but I honestly have no concrete answer. Once again, I would just say be yourself, and share interesting, useful, and entertaining content. Asking a question is always good, as it gets people involved and can create a nice conversation. My social media numbers have been slowly climbing since I joined each channel (all around 2012), but with a few exceptions I have seen very few giant spikes in followers. Buying followers is also not my bag, and it’s often so obvious when people do this (if you have almost no interaction of any kind in relative terms to the amount of followers you have, I’m going to call bullshit). The tortoise wins the race, right guys?! Oh wait, I don’t think it works that way when it comes to social media. I also don’t know what race I’m talking about. Are you still reading this? You’re amazing. Did you have to get another cup of tea? I’m sorry, I owe you one.

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With lots of lovely bloggers at Expedia HQ in London – and yes I was attempting to grow out my fringe (not a good look)

13. Play. Experiment. Figure out what you love to do and then learn how to do it really well. Practice indeed makes perfect, and the more you do something, the better you will become. I believe that this works both if you are business-minded and/or you’re not. If you want to gain readers and views, pay attention to what works on your blog and what doesn’t. The series I do called The Last Time I Saw You, for example, seems to be quite well-recieved by readers (can I just say “you guys” instead of “readers”?) but is absolutely abysmal when it comes to SEO, or search engine optimisation (meaning those posts don’t show up in Google). A few of the articles I’ve written that are more SEO-based haven’t done very well with readers, and I don’t enjoy writing them as much as the more personal stuff, so that’s why those kinds of articles are few and far between (although once in a while I just like to try my hand at writing a good old fashioned guide or how-to list). And if you’d like me to explain everything I know about SEO, here you go: ____________. Oh wait, I know this one… provide an answer to a question. Is that right? *tumbleweed blows by*


Recently I’ve noticed a lot of people recommend getting into vlogging (no, not flogging, autocorrect, although you’re not too far off) and making travel videos. Sometimes I watch a particularly great travel video and think, “Fuck yes! I am totally going to do this!” I actually used to take videos all the time when I travelled, and I have hundreds of videos I never put online from all over Europe, Asia, and South America. But often when I’m travelling I forget about video all together and sometimes I get really proud if I remember to take a photo of my meal before taking a bite of it. While writing this post I’m coming to the conclusion that, if you went by a standard definition, I’m actually a terrible travel blogger – surprise! – as I’m more than happy to spend days offline, write really ridiculously long-winded overly wordy posts, and feel pretty uncomfortable with both selfies and shooting video. I don’t even know if I’m any good at video or not, but at the moment I’m focusing on other aspects. I’m not going to jump on the bandwagon just because someone says I should. You guys would see right through that. This Battered Suitcase has always been about writing first, so I’m going to stick with that; it’s what I like doing the best, and where I think my strengths lie. Don’t believe me? Somewhere out there (it’s really not that difficult to find) is a twelve-minute video WITH NO SOUND AND ONLY iMOVIE MUSIC that I made of Southeast Asia. Surprisingly few views, I wonder why.

(And after writing the first draft of this post I went back and watched a ton of those old videos, and decided that I might start posting more of them online. Or that I might try my hand at making some again. I get a lot of lofty goals after midnight, apparently.)

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With lovely ladies Emma, Alana, Naomi, and Kelly in Athens

14. If you do decide to accept a press trip or any other partnership, make sure it is very clear what expectations are on both sides, and please be honest with your readers that it was indeed a sponsored trip, post, review, etc. I have heard of horror stories of bloggers getting completely screwed over; it will inevitably happen to some poor soul, unfortunately, but if you put in writing exactly what you will provide and exactly what you expect, you are at the very least being prepared. I have taken on a couple of press trips with this blog, but only with tourism boards that completely understood how my blog works and that didn’t expect me to be something I’m not.

Regardless of whether you consider yourself a professional travel blogger or not, think long and hard before you do something for free for someone. It’s a very slippery slope. Nobody asks a lawyer for a free consultation, unless they’re like, cousins or something. I get about five to ten emails a day from people asking to work with me in some regard and most seem shifty as hell (I can’t even imagine what some of the most popular travel bloggers’ email inboxes must look like). Most people still don’t get that travel blogging is a legitimate and lucrative business, so if you decide to get involved in the industry, make sure to stand up for yourself as an entrepreneur. Know your worth – before you accept something, think about what you’ll actually be doing for it (for example, I rarely accept compensated activities, as I’d rather just pay for it myself. With the risk of sounding like an absolute snob, a compensated tour that is normally £20 is not worth the hours of work the tour company may expect out of it). And always, always come through on your end of the deal. Don’t ruin it for the rest of us by not delivering what you promised. Oh, and if anyone offers you “social media exposure” in return for your work, run like the dickens.

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On a press trip last year with Beverley and Neil

As for sponsored posts, I’ve always felt about icky about them on my own blog, but do what you gotta do. A blogger has to eat, after all. For those who don’t know what a sponsored post is, it’s when a company pays you to put a link into one of your blog posts. It used to be really common and people could make a lot of money off of it, but Mama Google (is that a thing? I don’t think so) doesn’t like it, and she now punishes a lot of blogs (and companies) who do it. Nearly four years ago now, a big company that I used to use fairly frequently wrote to me and asked me if I’d like to share some of their links. Three blog posts in total (with three links), and they were really easy phrases to work into posts I was already planning to write. I was so naive that I didn’t even know what this really was, or what any of it meant – I had never even heard the term “sponsored post”. All I knew was I liked the company, I liked the guy I was emailing (he was a real, funny, genuine human, remember those?!), and they were going to pay me $1000 which, looking back, is a ridiculously great price for the kind of traffic I was getting back then. I did it, and then I felt so terrible about it. I didn’t even know why I felt terrible, I just did. As soon as the contract expired I deleted the links, and I never took on another sponsored post. The point is, it’s your choice whether or not to monetise your site, but either way, you have to feel good about it. I made the decision then to never take on another sponsored (also sometimes masked as “guest” posts) and to never advertise on my site, but I completely understand and respect why other people do. I also do not post infographics or write about or compete in competitions, but again, that’s just me.

If you do decide to work with a company or tourism board, it’s really important to think about your readers’ reactions. If you pride yourself on being ad-free, and then suddenly post a ton of advertisements on your sidebar (that thing over there –> ), people might not appreciate it. I am not in any way saying this to brag or show off, but I have turned down a lot more press trips and opportunities than I’ve taken. They just didn’t suit my brand. I distinctly remember when I first heard that word in relation to travel blogging – “brand” – and I remember saying, “I’m not a brand! I’ll never be a brand!!” while I listened to Bikini Kill and drew a skull and crossbones on my Doc Martins, or something. In reality every blog does have a brand in some way or another; mine involves solo female travel and mainly budget travel. Obviously some of those aspects might, and do, change sometimes. But I just could not in good faith accept a trip that I wouldn’t take unless it was offered to me. Rather – I couldn’t accept a trip that is vastly different from how I usually travel, just because it was free. I was offered a trip earlier this year that sounded amazing… it was a luxury retreat in the Caribbean for a week. I don’t really know why they offered it to me (I write about poo and heartbreak, thankfully not often in the same post) but they did, and I was extremely flattered. I had to turn it down though, because it’s not what I write about, and not the kind of travel I think my readers want to read about. There are lots of excellent luxury blogs, but this isn’t one of them. It just wouldn’t make sense. But OH MY GOD, it looked so beautiful and my friends thought I was crazy and sometimes when I’m lying in bed on a gloomy London night I dream of the white sand beaches that could have been. Anyway……..

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With a very dear friend (and coworker) Kasha

One more thing: if you do indeed go on a press trip, please, for the sake of all the hard-working PRs and tourism boards and everyone else who has probably bent over backwards to make sure you’re comfortable and having fun, please just suck it up and smile. Unless they’re forcing you to do something you are actually uncomfortable with (going a few hours with wifi doesn’t count) or believe to be unethical, don’t forget your manners. Show up on time, say thank you, and be a good sport. I’m shocked that this would even have to be mentioned, but it’s true. If you really do have an issue with something, speak privately to the person in charge before either a) whinging endlessly about it or b) blogging negatively about it. It may be a simple misunderstanding. If you have a bad experience on a press trip, it’s totally your prerogative to write about it, but I don’t think it’s fair to secretly have a major issue with something, not speak up about it, and then knock the destination or the host on your blog. But hey, just my two cents.

Oh, and how do you get press trips? I have no idea about that, either. Sorry. This guide is a bit shit, isn’t it? Is anyone even still reading? Hi! Anyway, every opportunity I’ve ever had with this blog has happened because of connections, i.e. another travel blogger or PR recommended me – like it or not, the travel blogging world can be a bit incestuous at times. I’ve also never deliberately cold-pitched myself or my blog (but I have definitely networked at events, and I believe that’s the best way to find work), so I’m afraid I can’t help you with that either. This is all going downhill, isn’t it? I promise it’s almost over.

The very last thing I will say about this is that you don’t have to accept anything – press trips, sponsored posts, advertising, you name it – in order to turn your blog into a successful business. Some bloggers have focused solely on freelancing and creating partnerships with companies, or have started up a shop on their blog selling e-books or other products. Some just use their blog as their portfolio to get other work on other websites. I was extremely fortunate to meet my boss a couple of years ago at TBEX Dublin; the stars aligned and I ended up taking on a role that allows me to write and work online, so at the moment I don’t need to (or have time to) look for freelance gigs or partnerships… so again, I’m sorry, I can’t help in that regard.

The best example of someone who has created a wonderful business without accepting any kind of advertising is Jodi from Legal Nomads, and if you’re not already reading her blog I highly suggest you do. She’s one of my favourites and a great role model in the blogging community, if you ask me.

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Name that blogger (Newcastle 2014)

15. Blogging can be difficult and stressful and overwhelming but it can also be the best damn thing to happen to you. That’s how I feel about it, anyway. I’ve shed tears over this blog before – when it’s crashed, or when I just can’t figure out how to do something technical, mainly – and it has taken up days and weeks and months of my life. But if you’re passionate and determined and persistent, blogging can be such an incredibly wonderful thing. It has brought me my friends, my job, my master’s degree, my book, some of my travels, hell, basically my entire life. There is an incredible community in blogging, and some of the best nights of my life have been with other travel bloggers. More than that, as mentioned in this post and so many other places on this blog, I love it. I think about it all the time, even though I feel my time is much thinner these days, and I can’t spend as many hours on this blog as I’d like to. If you are thinking of starting a travel blog (or any blog), I say go for it, absolutely. It’s fun and rewarding and such an incredible learning experience. It’s also easier than ever to get a blog and all of your social media set up in no time, so there’s no excuse. It can also lead to some pretty amazing things. If you already have a blog, then keep blogging. No really. Keep blogging for ever and ever. I still go back and look at my old Livejournal posts from 2003 and it makes me so happy to have this diary of my life. I mean, I could also go back and read my actual paper diaries, but those are just filled with ideas for my dream house and pro/con lists of dating certain boys. It’s just not the same.

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Bloggers jumping for joy in Aarhus, Denmark 

There are so many travel bloggers who know so much more about all of this than I do, and they say so much of this much better than I do. Some of my favourites:

Amazing, amazing advice here, especially from Mark Manson. Definitely read this: what tips and suggestions would experienced bloggers give to young bloggers?

Vicky of VickyFlipFlopTravels has an entire section all about how to be a travel blogger. Whether you want advice on choosing a domain name, the various ways of making money through blogging, or just stories about what it’s like to actually be a full-time, professional travel blogger, she’s your girl. Her star is quickly rising and she is the one to watch. Click here for some of the best advice out there.

I love what Monica of The Travel Hack has written about travel blogging, and I agree with her on every point. Here are her ten tips for new travel bloggers (umm… and me, apparently, despite the aforementioned twelve years of blogging).

Kate of Adventurous Kate wrote about the realities of being a professional travel blogger, and I would definitely take her advice to heart. She’s one of the most popular travel bloggers, and for very good reason. I have read Kate’s blog for many, many years, and I trust what she has to say. Edit: Kate just posted 15 Lessons From Turning My Travel Blog Into a Career, and it’s a really insightful and honest read. I definitely agree with her advice! 

Mike from Fevered Mutterings is a fantastic writer and really, really knows his stuff, especially when it comes to storytelling and pitching. If you’re a freelance writer you definitely need to read his blog, and sign up for his storytelling course, too (it’s free, and his emails are terrific). Check out his advice on how to become a travel writer.

Edit: Jodi of Legal Nomads just pointed me in the direction of Kerry’s blog Planes, Trains, and Plantagenets; Kerry wrote a really interesting post about travel blogging and capitalism that I totally agree with in many ways. 

Kristin from Be My Travel Muse has quite a few posts on her blog about her journey as a travel blogger, and they’re really informative. I love her enthusiasm for blogging (and travelling, of course!).

Dave and Deb of The Planet D are not just amazing bloggers, they’re amazing people. I really respect what they have to say about the travel blogging industry. Take a look at some of their tips.

Matt of Expert Vagabond wrote a few excellent articles about starting a travel blog and becoming a professional travel blogger. Here’s one of them.

Laurence of Finding the Universe also wrote an awesome overview of becoming a travel blogger. I definitely recommend reading it if you would like to get into (or get more into) the industry.

Love on the Road 1

Me, directly after finishing this post

If you made it through that entire post you deserve a round of applause. What do you think about what I’ve had to say? Are you a travel blogger? If yes, do you have anything to add? If not, would you ever consider starting a blog?

*Everything here is completely subjective, and obviously only my (occasionally tongue-in-cheek) opinion.

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VickyFlipFlop July 27, 2015 - 6:17 pm

All great advice Brenna. I love your blog for your stories… and your outfits. Thanks for including me in the round up. “Sometimes I get really proud if I remember to take a photo of my meal before taking a bite of it” – I have to agree with this sentence, it doesn’t happen often to me either.

I blog because I love writing about my adventures, and I love the people I’ve met along the way – that’s all the reasons I need!

Brenna Holeman July 27, 2015 - 6:58 pm

Thanks so much, Vicky, I totally agree with your last line! You know I love your blog and I love how passionate about it you are. Hope to see you soon xxx

Portia July 27, 2015 - 6:22 pm

Thanks so much for sharing and writing this post Brenna! I actually love how frank and realistic you are about travel blogging 🙂 As a newbie myself, I don’t exactly know where my blog is going or what I really want to get out of it. All I know is that I love writing, photography and travelling and wish I could do more of all three. I also just want to say how inspiring it is that you’re doing a master’s degree in writing! I did my undergrad in creative writing and have always wanted to do a master’s too someday–just need to figure out what it is I’d want to do 🙂

Brenna Holeman July 27, 2015 - 6:59 pm

Thank you so much for your comment and kind words, Portia! It sounds like you are definitely on the right track, but no worries if you don’t know the final outcome of what you want from blogging. I can’t even say that I do yet. 🙂

Paul and Carole July 27, 2015 - 6:48 pm

We are new to blogging and were getting a little bogged down with numbers/views etc but you’ve hit it right on the head. It doesn’t matter, we love doing what we are doing and that should be the driver nothing else! Thanks so much for a great post!

Brenna Holeman July 27, 2015 - 6:56 pm

I honestly believe that, no matter what your definition of success, you need to love blogging in order to be successful. Good luck with the blog and thank you so much for the comment!

Lois July 27, 2015 - 7:57 pm

What a super helpful and comprehensive post on travel blogging! I’m still learning myself after years of travel blogging. I totally agree with #15 as I have had some burnouts recently after nearly 5 years of doing this. But I agree that it’s totally worth it. Thanks for writing this Brenna!

Brenna Holeman July 27, 2015 - 10:51 pm

Thank you so much, Lois, this means so much to me as I have followed your blog for so long! I hope that we get to meet one day.

Jodie Young July 27, 2015 - 8:20 pm

I loved reading this. It really reminded me of why I started blogging on the Xanga platform back in 2006 and have kept it up over several platforms since. I have and always will do it for the community it creates, especially here in London with the travel blogging events. Also, I often get bogged down thinking I should be making money from my blog sometimes so thank you for reminding me it is okay not to be.

Brenna Holeman July 27, 2015 - 10:53 pm

Thank you so much, Jodie! Yesssss to Xanga. 🙂 I will always blog for the same reason, and I love the family of travel bloggers in London. I have to remind myself that it’s okay not to be making money off of this blog, too!

Reshma July 27, 2015 - 8:23 pm

Hats of to you Brenna for your honest post.All the things are blunt and without any sugar coating, you’ve beautifully giving us an insight of the world of travel bloggers. Having started out a few months back, I’ve no idea where my blog is going and sometimes I wake up being panicking.I’ve been spending sleepless nights building my blog and on few days I end up being tired.Nevertheless, I wanna blog because I want to share my stories out there,as long as I travel.

So, your post has given me hope and a sense of direction!

Thanks a lot for a wonderful post.

Brenna Holeman July 27, 2015 - 10:59 pm

Thank you so much for your comment and kind words, Reshma! I’m really glad that you enjoyed the post. Don’t panic, it will all work out in the end. It will take time to find your sense of direction but I promise it will come! Good luck and keep having fun with it.

Reshma July 27, 2015 - 8:25 pm

Oops! there are few typos there in my comment! sorry!

Alisa July 27, 2015 - 9:26 pm

I think my favorite part about your advice is: blogging because you love it/for fun. Sometimes I get a little down on the low rate of readers and comments on my own blog, but I have to try to remember that advice. I’m doing it for me first and foremost….plus my parents like reading it.
Thank you for the reminder 🙂
Also, after all the mentions of tea, now I need to go make a cup.

Brenna Holeman July 27, 2015 - 10:52 pm

Ha ha – I think that tea was well-deserved if you made it through the post!

Thank you very much for your comment, I have to remind myself of that too sometimes. It’s easy to get caught up in statistics and comments and numbers, but at the end of the day, it’s about loving what you’re doing and feeling good about what you’re doing.

Miles of Happiness - Marie July 28, 2015 - 2:28 am

Whooooo! That is a looong post indeed! And super interesting. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

Brenna Holeman July 28, 2015 - 11:26 am

Thank you, Marie!

Lena July 28, 2015 - 7:45 am

Hello beautiful lady! Yeah.. thanks for the applause by the way.. I just LOVE your humor… it’s something I don’t come across as much!

small note – “if you’re not reading HER blog” .. just a tiny typo. And yes, I am, she’s incredible, so is Kate )

I love all of you! )

speaking of number 7 – ummm .. I have been really bad with that (( in 3 something years I got about 10.200 comments from which only about 1.100 are mine .. bad girl, I know..

social media and me are divorced, stating irreconcilable differences, pretty much same as me in Hollyweird .. i might have a one night stand, but a full blown out relationship is not in our stars..

“Are you a travel blogger? If yes, do you have anything to add? If not, would you ever consider starting a blog?” –

Umm no, not really.. I’m a professional f..ck up (nice to meet you all) with sort of some kind of weird site that I obsess about when wordpress does some weird stuff that throws my site out of wack. A site, where I swear like a sailor, post naked photos, write gut wrenching and erotic poetry, insane, only can happen to me stories from the road (still don’t know how I made it to 31), share my health battles, swear some more, show middle finger to organized religion and and governments while showcasing a video of me riding on a horse bareback like Jeanne d’Arc of the 21st century, dance topless with an Amazon tribe and having a BLAST doing all the above! )
And I really think, that’s the glue of it all.. any profession – “Love what you do or don’t do it” ..

Don’t follow money, follow passion.. then, money will come..

Let There Always Be A Road

Brenna Holeman July 28, 2015 - 3:49 pm

Thank you for the correction! In over 6,000 words, there were bound to be a few mistakes. Whoops! And thank you very much for your kind words.

I think it’s really awesome that you are carving your own path. It sounds like you really are doing what you love to do, and I bet you have such a dedicated and engaged following. I think it’s so refreshing to read a blog that does something different!

Thanks so much for your comment Lena, you made me smile. 🙂

Dannielle Noonan July 28, 2015 - 11:05 am

Totally gonna become a regular reader of TBS after reading this! It’s not often you stumble upon a travel blogger whose end goal isn’t making money, and this was refreshing.

I have just started to make money from my blog, with a flurry of sponsored posts last week, and I’ve learned that I can’t just publish four sponsored posts in a row, and that I have to keep my own voice. I actually think I did a really good job on the sponsored posts, they still have the same tone and I’ve had plenty of comments about the story I told, so I don’t think my readers mind. Nevertheless, it was useful to read this!

I would also write even if nobody was watching – you have to have a passion for sharing stories to maintain a travel blog. I actually hardly ever used to read other blogs (I know – so stupid), but since moving to self-hosted earlier this year I’ve discovered the value of actually engaging with the blogging community.

I really hate it when ‘big’ bloggers don’t engage with their audience by responding to comments or whatever, and even write in posts or on twitter that they don’t. So rude!

Brenna Holeman July 28, 2015 - 3:47 pm

Thank you so much, Dannielle! I think it’s really important to play around and experiment with what works best for your blog and your readers. I think that there is a way to do sponsored posts well and, if you feel that you can accomplish that, that’s awesome.

And yes, the community is really amazing, I love being a part of it! Thanks again for your comment.

Jesse Horne July 28, 2015 - 3:12 pm

This was really a great post (and I read it all!). I have read a lot of blogs about how to get started in travel blogging and writing, but most of them focus on the monetizing of your work – my hope when I started my blog was that it would encourage me to write and draw more – Whatever else comes with that is great! I do wish there was a bit more of a community where I live, but I’m going to help start it, I think!

Brenna Holeman July 28, 2015 - 3:45 pm

Thank you so much, Jesse! I totally agree with you about finding a creative outlet. And I think that’s a GREAT idea – creating a community. You’d be surprised at how many of us bloggers are lurking about. 😉

veena July 28, 2015 - 3:58 pm

great post, and even greater advice. i especially agree with the part about engagement — the bloggers i have continued to read after years and years are the ones who respond to comments and appear genuine. even if it takes weeks or even months, just the simple act of acknowledging that someone took time out of their day to respond to what you’ve written means a lot. i don’t get much traffic on my site – it’s more of a personal blog so my mother can stay updated on my life – but if someone comments on a post, i respond to it. it’s just good manners.

and a huge yes to spellcheck! and grammar, too. i sometimes wonder how much money i could make just by freelancing as a copy editor for travel bloggers. i follow some that have tens of thousands of followers, and i still find at least 25 errors in a post. it might very well be my next business idea. [although you don’t need it, your posts are clearly re-read and edited before posting :)]

i don’t really have anything profound to say other than i really enjoyed this post – and yes, i read to the end! – and appreciate you taking the time to share these thoughts.

Brenna Holeman July 29, 2015 - 1:45 am

I totally understand that some bloggers are completely overwhelmed by comments on their blogs and on social media, but I see many who even just write “Thanks!” and I think that’s a nice touch.

And ha ha – phew – I am always worried about my grammar and spellcheck, only because I sometimes go back and read old posts and find horribly glaring mistakes! I always read posts multiple times before publishing them, but it just goes to show that we always miss a few…

Thank you so much for your comment, and for reading! 🙂

Emily-Ann (grownupgapyear) July 28, 2015 - 4:38 pm

This is a great post Brenna, thanks for sharing. I started blogging in 2011 and mainly use my blog as an outlet from my day job and to have a place to share my passion for travelling. The number one best thing that has come out of it is the community of travel bloggers I have met. Now I no longer need to bore my friends with my travel stories as I’ve actually met other people who also live to travel!

PS. Thanks for the cup of tea warning at the beginning!

Brenna Holeman July 29, 2015 - 1:45 am

Thank you so much! I agree, the community is really amazing. I’m so happy to be a part of it.

Nikita July 28, 2015 - 4:57 pm

Nice to read one of these posts that doesn’ sound oo business-y! (not that there’s anything wrong with that.. jus not my language). I love your blog because of the writing, and unfortunately I think that often gets lost when people try to focus too much on SEO or writing “marketable” content. Keep doing what you do, and I’m sure the readers will keep flocking over!

Brenna Holeman July 29, 2015 - 1:46 am

Thank you so much, Nikita! I have so much respect for bloggers who have created businesses, but that’s just not my goal at the moment.

Katie July 28, 2015 - 7:14 pm

This is a great guide Brenna and totally worth the 15 minutes to read it all! I see blogging the same way as you. I don’t want to put sponsored posts on my site nor advertising and I would only want to accept comps/discounts for activities, accommodation etc that are in line with the way I travel. I ALWAYS hear about how you have to have a niche and although I focus on hiking and island travel (two of my obsessions), I write about all my travel experiences. You have to be happy with what you are writing about or how long are you really going to stick with it? Probably not long.

Brenna Holeman July 29, 2015 - 1:47 am

Thank you so much, Katie, I really appreciate it! I completely agree with your last idea… if you try to conform to what you think you should be writing, you’ll inevitably give up.

Ashley July 28, 2015 - 8:15 pm

This was a great read, Brenna! It was so interesting to hear your take on blogging, and I love how honest you were about everything. Kudos to you for turning down that luxury Caribbean trip because it doesn’t align with your blog – even though I can only imagine how difficult it would be! PS, I love the techniques you listed that will possibly help increase your followers on social media, haha!

Brenna Holeman July 29, 2015 - 1:48 am

Thank you very much, Ashley! And hah, I’m glad that someone got my weird attempt at a joke (though it wasn’t really a joke, sadly).

Adventurous Kate July 28, 2015 - 10:18 pm

Brenna, I know we spoke privately today, but I just want to thank you publicly as well for such kind words.

I think you do some of the best work in travel blogging, and it’s very clear that this is a true labor of love for you, not just a way to make cash. (Side note: who the hell got into this for the money?! Nobody who started before 2012, that’s for sure!)

Keep up your adventures — you’re an inspiration to many, myself included!

Brenna Holeman July 29, 2015 - 1:51 am

Wow, thank you very much, Kate – that means so much coming from you, one of my biggest role models in the community. I love what you do and it has been so amazing to watch your blog turn into the massive success it is today. Now get yourself to East London and come have a few pints. 🙂

p.s. already loving TBS, thank you again for that final push to join!

Beth July 29, 2015 - 1:52 pm

Brenna, this post made me smile! You’re such a gifted writer and storyteller and I love reading along. I’m very grateful for the travel blogging world, if for nothing else, than to have brought such amazing people into my life like yourself! All of these points are so true and this honest and well written post gives me a reminder to be a little more confident and have more fun. Thank you! 🙂

Brenna Holeman July 29, 2015 - 3:09 pm

Aw, that’s great Beth, thank you so much for letting me know! I’m so grateful for it, too. Looking forward to seeing you next week. x

Stacy July 29, 2015 - 2:56 pm

Loving this. Thanks for the honesty, lady!

Brenna Holeman July 29, 2015 - 3:09 pm

And thanks for the comment! 🙂

Laura July 29, 2015 - 3:21 pm

Hi Brenna! I just stumbled upon your blog and read this post. I love your voice! You’re funny and engaging and I seriously just felt like I had two cups of coffee/tea with you. I’m definitely excited I found your blog.

(And yep, I’ve recently started a travel blog too and though it’s hard, I love it already.)

Brenna Holeman July 29, 2015 - 3:22 pm

That’s so nice of you to say, thank you! I’m drinking coffee right now so I’ll lift my cup to you (not sure if people “cheers” coffee, but oh well). I hope you’ll keep reading. 🙂

And lots of luck with the travel blog – stick with it!

Si July 30, 2015 - 7:23 am

Fantastic post, Brenna! Some less conventional information in there – and that’s the best stuff if you ask me. A real breath of fresh air – and I’d expect nothing less from you 🙂

Must catch up very soon – I think I still owe you a 30th birthday drink! Si Xx

Brenna Holeman July 30, 2015 - 11:55 am

Aw, thank you so much, Si! That really means a lot to me, especially coming from you.

I miss you! When are you back in London for a visit?? x

Si Willmore August 4, 2015 - 5:54 am

I miss you too! It’s been far too long. I’ll be back end of August / first week of Sept – I’ll be organising a catch-up event so stay tuned 🙂 Xx

Brenna Holeman August 4, 2015 - 7:45 pm

Oh that sounds great! Keep me posted x

Richard Brownsdon July 30, 2015 - 6:41 pm

Epic post Brenna! Love the pics, and our happy memories! 😀

Brenna Holeman July 30, 2015 - 9:49 pm

Thanks Richard! See you soon 🙂

Jeanne Horak-Druiff July 31, 2015 - 5:16 pm

Wow – such an excellent post! And a lot of it applies equally to almost any blogging niche. Particularly love your point about press trips – unless they are actually making you club baby seals, suck it up and remember that a lot of people spent a lot of time and money to get you from your home to [insert exotic destination here] for free, feed you, water you and entertain you. People are far to quick to start complaining loudly in the middle of a trip because… it makes them look well-travelled and worldly? No, it makes them look like dicks!

Do I get a prize for reading to the end (and hey – you know Kasha! 🙂

Brenna Holeman August 4, 2015 - 7:52 pm

Thank you very much, Jeanne! I agree with what you have to say about press trips… I generally hate when people complain during travelling, period, so it especially irks me when I hear about it on a paid-for trip.

And yes, I’ve known Kasha for almost two years… she’s lovely! 🙂

Elina August 1, 2015 - 6:37 pm

Two cups of tea weren’t enough but I had to go get dinner halfway through 😀 seriously though, a great read and reminded me again why you are probably my favourite travel blogger. I love this blog because it isn’t about making money – all respect to those bloggers who have made their blog a career, but I usually get a bit uncomfortable reading blogs like that. Often it almost feels like reading a guide book, when travel blogging should in my opinion be about the stories. I also agree about the interacting part – if I post a comment on a blog post, I feel proper silly if it gets ignored. (I also try not to comment on everything I read although most of the time I’d like to, but then I’m like ummm I already commented on their last post and liked their picture on Instagram, they must think I’m a total creeper. Is it normal to get self-conscious about commenting on blogs? I don’t think it is. Maybe I should worry.)

Can I ask you though, when and how did you start gaining followers? I know it’s a cardinal sin to worry about numbers and I don’t, and I have been blogging for about four years without pretty much anyone else but my mum reading what I write, but you know, sometimes it is nice to know you’re not only talking to yourself but actually creating conversation, like you do.

Sorry for a lenghty comment, and also for being a total creeper. Oops. No regrets.

Brenna Holeman August 4, 2015 - 7:57 pm

Thank you so much, Elina! I really appreciate all of your kind words and thank you for being a loyal reader.

As for your question, I have to say that I can’t really pinpoint it to any one thing. My blog’s style has remained relatively the same over the past five years so I think sticking to being honest and open has worked for me. As for social media, I just try to post things that interest me and entertain me… as I said in the post, content will always win. If you put out good stuff, people will (hopefully) start to sit up and notice. And I’d rather post nothing than post something that I think is not very good!

Helen August 3, 2015 - 12:13 am

Great post Brenna, lots of amazing advice! Sometimes I’m like ‘what am I doing???’ and then I read something like this, and feel motivated again!

Hopefully see you soon! We need to plan our trip somewhere!

Helen x

ps. You are, of course, one of my favourites too! 🙂

Brenna Holeman August 4, 2015 - 7:52 pm

Aw, thank you Helen! I miss you and YES we need to travel together immediately xx

Rachel August 3, 2015 - 12:54 pm

This post is amazing! Although I’m regretting not taking the tip at the beginning and putting the kettle on, I had a bag of Quavers and they only lasted the first half of this epic post, I’m parched!

I’ve been blogging – fairly low key– for a few years now, and it wasn’t till I went to Traverse this spring that I realised my rather niche-y niche is my strength rather than the thing that I thought was holding me back. Going to an event like this really made me see what I was actually doing and where I wanted to go/be. It was very rewarding, and meeting the other awesome bloggers *for real* was so fantastic!

Brenna Holeman August 4, 2015 - 7:53 pm

Ha ha – I told you tea was necessary! 😉

It sounds like you had a great time at Traverse, that’s amazing! Good luck with your blog, it sounds like you have it all under control.

Beanie August 4, 2015 - 8:47 pm

This is such a fantastic post. I’ve debated where I want the line to be with my blog so many times and I’m still not sure, but I’ve not read a blog before this is so well established and not monetised.

Ps. Found you through a Twitter link and with definitely have a snoop around!

Pps. I need to get to one of these meet ups. They look amazing!

Brenna Holeman August 4, 2015 - 10:51 pm

Thank you very much! That’s really kind of you to say. I definitely recommend blogger meet-ups; regardless of the business side of things/networking, it’s just really fun to meet so many people with similar interests!

Beanie August 4, 2015 - 10:55 pm

Sorry, I didn’t realise just how riddled with typos that post was! Any tips for finding them? I always seem to hear about them on twitter like the day before or literally on the day, which isn’t all that helpful. haha

Brenna Holeman August 5, 2015 - 12:01 am

Sign up with Travel Massive… there’s usually a meet-up every month at a bar in London (and many others throughout the year in other cities around the UK and the rest of the world). There’s also Blogstock in a month, and WTM in early November, when there will be lots of parties in London. Hope that helps!

Beanie August 7, 2015 - 10:07 pm

Thank you so so much for the tips – I really appreciate it! Hopefully bump in to you soon then! Noticed you’re talking at Blogstock and also noticed my friend Mollie Bylett is too… but. I’m in Scotland. I hope it goes well and thanks again!

Brenna Holeman August 8, 2015 - 1:16 pm

Thanks very much!

Kristin Addis August 5, 2015 - 3:17 pm

Aw thanks for the love, Brenna. You make good points and the more I read about “how to blog” from fellow travel bloggers the more I realize we are all doing this completely differently and that’s OK. It’s also why your point #4 is so important. Comparison is the thief of joy and when I pay attention just to myself and what I’m doing, I do better.

I’d also suggest not reading about how to blog from other travel bloggers, but rather BIG names. Tim Ferris’ podcast is pretty helpful in that regard, in addition to problogger

Robin August 5, 2015 - 5:30 pm

Ok, I’m totally fangirling all up on this page, but I love your blog too! Big inspiration for me 🙂

Brenna Holeman August 7, 2015 - 2:16 am

Thanks so much, Kristin! I totally agree with you – I still have to stop myself and think, wait, just because she’s doing this or he’s doing that doesn’t mean I have to. We all have different goals and outlooks and I think that’s what makes this such a cool industry. And I agree with what you said about paying attention to yourself first and foremost. x

Robin August 5, 2015 - 5:28 pm

I love your blog! I think you do a fantastic job, and your writing is the main reason I keep reading. I’ve been reading since 2013, and you (along with many other fine internet folks) have inspired my boyfriend and i to take the leap and travel full-time, starting next year.
We are just starting a blog, so it’s very intimidating in the beginning! I constantly read about travel, and sometimes I feel like “what do we really have to say that hasn’t already been said?” But I try and remember that it’s not about discovering unknown destinations outside of us, but discovering the unknown inside of us, and sharing that unique perspective. Cheers to you, Brenna! I sincerely hope we all cross paths one day 🙂

Brenna Holeman August 7, 2015 - 2:17 am

Thank you so much, Robin, and thank you for being such a loyal reader! How amazing that you are going to be travelling so much, I’m sure you’re going to have a fantastic time. No matter what happens, i.e. if you decide to get into the business side of blogging or not, I think that your outlook will take you very far. It’s all about the unique perspective. 🙂

Jess August 6, 2015 - 5:56 am

I read this entire blog post! I follow “Be My Travel Muse” on Twitter and I saw it come up, happy I did!! A lot of what you said is how I feel. I just finished writing a blog post about how I’m chasing my passion and not the money. I’m gonna just do me, and do what I want! I am so new to blogging it’s quite scary. For a while now I focused so much time on my design (spent hours troubleshooting all that annoying BS you mentioned!) that I “forgot”, well in reality I kinda put off writing the content. Now I’m going to play catch up and write about it all, about 3+ years of travel and music festivals I’ve attended. Anyways, I just wanted to say thank you for writing this. It gave me some reenforcement that I am doing the right thing. Plus, back in the day I use to love writing for hours on LiveJournal as well, now I’ll just be writing my story even better (IMO). I left my website so you can check it out if you’d like. I also am now following all your accounts! Thanks!!! 🙂

Jess AKA Poots

Brenna Holeman August 7, 2015 - 2:20 am

That’s awesome, thank you so much for your comment, Jess! I feel like I’m chasing my passion, too, and it’s a great feeling. I think that years ago, it was a lot easier to start a blog, just because we didn’t know enough about the industry to be scared, and there weren’t that many blogs around. Now I understand why it can be intimidating to start a blog, but I’m sure you’ll be very successful (in whatever way you want to be) if you continue to write about your passions. I started on Livejournal, too, I used to love it! Checking out your blog now. 🙂

I'm Speaking at Blogstock! - This Battered Suitcase August 7, 2015 - 12:11 am

[…] sorry to write another post about blogging so soon (seriously, I think I got carpal tunnel writing that post) but this is just to introduce you to the Blogstock festival that is happening this September […]

Zalie August 13, 2015 - 9:25 pm

This is a great and very detailed post! Even though I am not a blogger, I am sure there are lots of people who will more than appreciate all of these tips! Good work sister 🙂

Brenna Holeman August 13, 2015 - 9:57 pm

Thank you so much, Zalie! Can’t wait to see you tomorrow xoxox

maria August 14, 2015 - 1:02 am

Great points. I stumbled on your blog when I bloghopped some year back and I always admire the colorful photos that go with your narratives.

Brenna Holeman August 14, 2015 - 1:20 am

Thank you very much, Maria!

Anca | Globaloud August 25, 2015 - 2:25 pm

Right now I’m in the phase where I read daily so many advice on successful travel blogging and blogging ideas and by now I found your first two advises the most useful ones. I was questioning myself for a long time should I make a blog or not and then I eventually started writing some content and in the meantime I realized it really makes me happy and I’m enjoying it. Hopefully I won’t find it boring in the future, but if I do, I think I’ll just stop doing it cause if I don’t enjoy then it’s just not worth it.

Greetings from Croatia,

Brenna Holeman August 25, 2015 - 8:34 pm

Thank you very much for your comment, Anca! Good luck with your blog, to be happy is the most important thing. 🙂

JP August 31, 2015 - 11:20 pm

Ah this is a great post – it’s refreshing to see a ‘guide to’ that’s honest enough to say ‘if you don’t enjoy iy, you won’t do it’. All too easy to try and be someone else’s blog sometimes. Thanks for sharing your tips,

Brenna Holeman September 1, 2015 - 12:06 am

Thanks very much! I’m glad you enjoyed the post. 🙂

Kelsey September 10, 2015 - 6:49 pm

Thank you for this! Especially #1! I recently got into blogging (well, more like reading about blogging) and it seems like everyone and their mother has their own blogging commandments like “The 10 Mistakes You’re Making on your Blog” and “3 Things You Have to Do in EVERY Blog Post” which make me want to do the exact opposite. So for now I’m going to do whatever the hell I want, which is actually post content since I think all the other aspects have been distracting me from actually blogging. Thank you for this revelation!

Brenna Holeman September 11, 2015 - 12:03 pm

Thank you so much, Kelsey! It’s really important to do what you want – otherwise you’ll quickly lose steam. Good luck with your blog!

Nathalie October 10, 2015 - 8:51 am

Absolutely loved this post and your blog! I really liked how you are really supportive of both travel blogging as a career and travel blogging for fun!

Brenna Holeman October 10, 2015 - 2:09 pm

Thank you very much, Nathalie!

Audrey October 25, 2015 - 8:04 pm

Thank you for this post. I know it wasn’t exactly the goal, but it made me laugh out loud more than once. “This guide is kind of shit, huh?” An enjoyable read.

Brenna Holeman October 25, 2015 - 10:51 pm

Ha ha thank you very much! I’m glad it made you laugh.

Manuela Durstin March 14, 2016 - 1:50 am

Hi Brenna,

thumbs up for this awesome blog post that for me – as a total newbie to blogging and travel blogging – provided a great introduction to what blogging should be about and what are the most important things to consider when starting out. Great job!

Brenna Holeman March 14, 2016 - 1:52 am

That’s great, thank you for letting me know! I’m glad you enjoyed the post.

Ally April 25, 2016 - 1:19 am

This is an awesome post! I started blogging about 18 months ago mostly for my own pleasure and to have a record of my thoughts and feelings and happenings on the road. But upon stumbling upon your blog and others like it (adventurouskate, hippieinheels, oneikathetraveller) I have been wondering if I could do more with it as I love the interaction that I get from like-minded people, and would love to see if I can grow it into something more than a hobby. Can I ask, what server (is that the right word?) do you use/find the most user friendly? I am using wordpress at the moment but am open to suggestions.
Love your work!
Ally from Aus 🙂

Brenna Holeman April 25, 2016 - 9:52 am

I use self-hosted Wordpress, as do (I believe) most travel bloggers! Good luck with your blog and all of the good things that come with it. 🙂

Haddie January 9, 2017 - 11:48 pm

Holy crap, Brenna.

I just stumbled across your blog in a desperate search to find someone who is thinking what I am thinking. I’m not sure I’m a travel blogger and I’m not sure I’m a lifestyle blogger but I enjoy both of those niches a lot. I really is okay to not fit into a “niche-box”, isn’t it? Not sure that’s a word, but you know what I mean?

It’s freaking hard enough to start a blog and feel good about with tens of thousands of people swirling around you telling you to do this, that, and then more. Blogging for me, and it sounds like for you, started as something fun and entertaining and enlightening. That should always be the goal.

I’m bookmarking this post because I have never felt so good about not knowing a damn thing about anything. Thank you for making it okay for me to be completely clueless and still be doing something right.

Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Brenna Holeman January 10, 2017 - 11:51 am

Hi Haddie, I’m so glad that you liked this article and can relate! It’s so awesome to know that other people feel the same way – thank you for all of your kind words. I’m just about to publish a similar article on social media, so I hope you’ll check that out, too 🙂

Jas January 15, 2017 - 7:16 pm

Really enjoyed reading this post, Brenna!

Having just started a blog, there’s so so many posts out there on how to make money from it, get press trips, be super successful, etc! But I’m yet to read another one that just says do it because you love it, but with a little advice too!

Also love the narrative style as opposed to just reviews about places!

Keep up the good work 🙂

Brenna Holeman January 15, 2017 - 7:18 pm

Thank you very much, Jas, I’m glad that you liked the post! Best of luck with your blog 😀

Yannie March 2, 2017 - 2:35 pm

I’ve been blogging for myself as well, I hit pause on it though (because Life). I’ve been on your page for a few hours now reading about your adventures and I loved the personal touch you put in every post. It is not the run of the mill travel blog indeed, it’s more human! Good thing I stumbled upon your blog (I can’t remember how I got here but I am glad I am). 😀

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[…] Brenna Holeman from “This Battered Suitcase” wrote a great article on how to make Travel Blogging work. […]

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[…] incredibly easy to get disgruntled in the blogging business. Between the legions of Instagram accounts using all sorts of inauthentic methods (how is it that […]

Sara @ Travel Continuum August 10, 2017 - 3:14 pm

So…I’ve come to be known as a classic ‘late developer’ in so many aspects of my life – and this also seems to apply to leaving comments on blog posts.What?! A couple of years late? Pah!

Yours is one of the few blogs I keep coming back to as I swing along my own blogging journey.

There are many blogs with great advice (some of them featured in this post), but I admit to a particular fondness for your style, Brenna – I actually feel as if I’ve had a conversation with you, because as I read your words I find myself nodding and reacting as if listening to them in person.

Thank you – that’s all!

pouya September 10, 2017 - 1:53 pm

It’s freaking hard enough to start a blog and feel good about with tens of thousands of people swirling around you telling you to do this, that, and then more. Blogging for me, and it sounds like for you, started as something fun and entertaining and enlightening. That should always be the goal.

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[…] about my blogging experience here because I write so extensively about it in other posts, namely Every Single Thing I Know About Travel Blogging and also – heh – When Did Travel Blogging Get So Boring? Not only that, blogging has […]

Taylor November 7, 2017 - 6:10 am

This is a great and very detailed post!

Hev February 1, 2018 - 7:02 pm

Thanks. I enjoyed reading this as it is clear and honest, and has given me more ideas to think about as I start up in blogging.

Brenna Holeman February 1, 2018 - 8:38 pm

That’s great, thank you for letting me know!

Sandeep Sharma October 5, 2018 - 7:27 am

I used to be a travel blogger for 2 years, but due to some reason I have stop it. Now after reading your blog post I will again start blogging, so thanks for sharing your experience.

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[…] of mine because it’s the right kind of opinionated and always from the heart. This “how to become a travel blogger” post starts by ignoring the usual stuff about hosting packages and branding and whatnot, and […]

Emily Rose December 25, 2018 - 11:38 pm

I just came across your blog from Nomadic Matt’s site and I am so glad I did!

I really enjoy your thoughtful, quirky and fun writing style. Thanks for the inspiration!

Paul September 17, 2019 - 5:32 am

I enjoy your writing style. But what am I going to do with all your suggested links? So much to read, so little time 🙂 Thanks for a pleasant evening of reading. It made up for losing at scrabble (yet again).

Adam Williams May 25, 2020 - 2:30 am

Good article! I agree that do not endlessly compare your blog to other blogs. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

Brenna Holeman May 28, 2020 - 12:33 am

Thanks a lot for the comment!

Amal Owasi June 2, 2020 - 2:06 am

Travel blogging has changed a bit in the past 5 years and more and more people are making vlogs to give the audience the live experience of visiting a place. Also, they are continuously trying to hook more with the local people to get a better sense of their culture. Fancy things have replaced the local living lifestyle. Great blog, and as you mentioned content always wins.

Kirby August 31, 2020 - 8:26 pm

I know this is an oldie but I found it really helpful – thank you!

loren December 4, 2021 - 6:00 pm

Thanks for sharing such a great blog with us. I would also like to share my experience with you. I am an author on the travel blog and i travel a lot around the world.

loren December 4, 2021 - 6:01 pm

Thanks for sharing useful information with us. That’s a great blog.

Traveling Chesters May 30, 2022 - 1:41 pm

Thank you for this post. I think you do a fantastic job, and your writing is the main reason I keep reading. It’s so important to understand these fundamentals.

John June 17, 2022 - 9:11 am

Starting a travel blog is something that I have been thinking about for a very long time. It all started when I read an article that talked about how blogging can be a great way to promote your travel destinations. After reading the article, I started thinking about all the places I wanted to visit and all the things that I wanted to write about while visiting them. I thought it would be great to compile all my thoughts and experiences into a blog.

For a while, I researched different ways to start my blog. I looked into different hosting options, reviewed different blog platforms, and read article about starting a blog. I eventually settled on WordPress because it met all my needs. I hosted my blog on a server that I owned and I didn’t have to worry about any updates or maintenance. Additionally, WordPress is a very versatile platform and it is easy to customize.

The process of starting my blog was very simple. I created a WordPress account, installed the WordPress application, and created a blog. I then followed the instructions provided on the WordPress website. After I was done, my blog was online and ready to be used.


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