Home About Blogs do not come for free – everything you need to know about part-time vs. fulltime blogging

Blogs do not come for free – everything you need to know about part-time vs. fulltime blogging

by Flitter Fever
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In a few months’ time, I will be celebrating the 5th anniversary of the Flitter Fever travel blog. Regularly people ask me if I wouldn’t like to blog fulltime. In all honesty, I do not think I ever want to be a fulltime travel blogger. Fulltime writer yes, fulltime travel blogger no, fulltime traveler no. Really? Yes. I have a lot of respect for the ones I know who do this fulltime, since I have an idea how hard it is, moreover in COVID times. Not that I am afraid of a challenge. Now that I have been around in the blogger world for a few years, having weighed the pros and cons, I do not find the idea of becoming a fulltime travel blogger attractive any more. How come?

Blogging (photo credits Thought Catalog)
Blogging is comprehensive (photo credits Thought Catalog)

Glamorous?

Freedom is very important to me and I feel it is the #1 pro of being a fulltime blogger. Set your own goals and planning, no 9-to-5 anymore, no manager who determines whether you can take a day off or not… See a lot of this world in the meantime. Sounds pretty cool, right?!

But people who took the step will agree that when you become a fulltime travel blogger, you will get obligations too, towards your clients and followers, need a social media and content planning, schedule trips in between events and other commitments. But you do it for yourself, not a boss. And I know that most who switch to being their own boss, will do anything to keep it that way and never want to work for a boss anymore.

Traveling for free, wow, who doesn’t want that? Well, the world of travel blogging may look very glamorous, in most cases it is not. Keep up the appearances? At least perfectionism all the way. I am a perfectionist myself, and I can totally imagine that when your income depends on it, when you are working for a client, you want to do things right. Just don’t bother others with it. It’s so fucking annoying when someone demands 200 photos to be taken at that hotspot, while letting others wait for their turn for 10 minutes. That’s selfish and stupid. I wonder whether they will still really enjoy their trip like that. The shallowness repulses me.

Sitting on top of the world at Asbyrgi Canyon Iceland
Sitting on top of the world at Asbyrgi Canyon (with no-one around)

Looks

Yeah, I like wearing fancy dresses too, but not at a 4 hour hike. And I am not doing to drag around a bag full of other outfits so I can change clothes three times on that cliff. No way. My boyfriend sometimes already gets annoyed after having to take a few shots of me LOL I drive him crazy sometimes with my photos, that poor sweetheart. The life of a partner of a travel blogger ain’t so glamorous either haha Let’s just say he makes sure I keep my feet on the ground.

I am not a size zero and never will be. Don’t want to be. So unless I get to sing like Adele, millions of followers will never be the case anyway. And that’s OK. Maybe even a blessing. Do you know how tiring that is, having so many followers? Spending 4-5 hours a day on Instagram to post, like and reply? No thanks. Social media should stay fun, not an addiction or an obligation. Spending too much time on things like social media may make you drift away from reality.

Rather too chubby in the coffin than missed a party!

Sure, in a way I am guilty as charged too. I like pretty pictures, pretty dresses, pretty places. If a blogger says “it all about the inside and what I write about” – it may sound harsh but – then please stop posting ugly selfies, it is deterrent. Nothing wrong with a few kilos too much, proud to be a burgundy type myself, enjoying life to the fullest. But nothing wrong with wanting to look a bit appealing on pictures either. Make an effort. For example, I avoid pictures with a double chin. I truly believe that would make nobody happy, including myself.

Assignments

I have never done any press trips, never made the effort to get on one. Because what I do know from others, is that they cram those press trips so full, that I seriously doubt whether I would enjoy any of it at all. I am not a big fan of group travel any way, although occasionally it can be fun. But if someone else determines my complete schedule and expects me to write all positive about it, hmm… No thanks, not my cup of tea. Last-minute trips like these would be difficult to squeeze in my busy work schedule anyway.

Behind the scenes, many bloggers work hard to get collaborations, deals with companies that hire you to do stuff. I do make some money with affiliate marketing, but that’s only to stuff that I really like, have done myself and does not cost the reader a cent extra. Before COVID I made a few hundred bucks a month with that. Not bad for a part-time blogger, right?

Occasionally companies ask me to write a positive review about something without having been there myself, which type of requests I always decline. But I bet that if paying your rent depends on it, most will do it. I feel privileged I do not have to lose my soul and sell my principles in order to pay my bills. I am not saying all fulltime travel bloggers do that, but there definitely are.

Make hummus not walls
Make hummus not walls

Recognition

Working together with other travel bloggers and clients can be fun and interesting, you can learn a lot from each other and achieve more when teaming up. It is great when you get to know other bloggers and you really connect with each other. Even become new friends who have a shared passion, like Elizabeth and I. You recognize yourself in the other, you can share tips and realize you are not the only freak who is constantly busy with travel haha But finding like-minded people does not require being a fulltime travel blogger.

Swimming against the constant stream is tiring. Will it ever be enough?

Obviously, it is very nice when an article is read really well, shared by people on social media, attracting a high number of visitors to your website, when you receive appreciative comments. Life is all about recognition and rejection. Being recognized as a blogger is great. However, seeking and getting recognition can be very addictive too. The lives of many ambitious travel bloggers seem to revolve around collaborations, numbers of visitors and the many social media channels. It will not surprise that fulltime travel bloggers end up with a burn out too. Tricky.

Capri near Naples
Strike a pose @ Capri

Authenticity

What puts me off big time about being a fulltime blogger, is that it will be much more difficult to stay authentic and objective. How objective can you be, when a hotel paid your travels to their country and your stay at their hotel for a couple of nights? If, in all honesty, you did not like the hotel, what do you do? I think many bloggers will still write a nice story, just because their stay was paid for. Of course, even when traveling somewhere on your own expense, giving an opinion will always be subjective. But at least you can stay true to your own opinion, your income does not depend on it. Although a negative hotel review may send you to prison in Thailand

I am commercial minded, I have been an international sales trainer for God’s sake, but I have this thing. I can only sell what I truly believe in. It needs to feel good, fit with who I am and what I believe in. Sure, I get discounts on accommodation here and there, definitely a benefit of being a blogger. However, in most cases I find it ‘not done’ asking to stay somewhere for free. Nope, I do not have hundreds of thousands of followers myself. But the stories hotel owners told me about the arrogant requests they get from bloggers who shamelessly ask to stay for free… Toe curling. Some of those bloggers are just so full of themselves, it makes me sick. Almost as bad as begpackers. I do not want to be associated with that.

Koh Wai sea view island near Koh Chang
Koh Wai sea view island near Koh Chang

Entrepreneurship

Reality check: only a handful of bloggers can really live from blogging alone. As a blogger, you will need to be a Jack-of all trades. Nothing wrong with that, that’s entrepreneurship too. Perhaps you are multi-talented and like doing different things. However, if the writing is the part that you love the most, you may have have a hard time with having to do all the other stuff in order to survive in the blogger world and make enough money to pay the bills.

As a fulltime blogger you are an entrepreneur, make your own living. Now in a way, that attracts me and friends tell me I should stop working for a boss and set up my own company. I have registered Flitter Fever with the Chamber of Commerce. But for me, travel blogging is a hobby that got a bit out of hand haha To become an entrepreneur is a big step, which involves serious risks.

You need to evaluate for yourself whether you are willing to do that, to make those sacrifices. Giving up the security of employment; getting a secure paycheck every month, not having to worry not getting paid anything when you get sick or take a day off. I know in The United States for example these securities under employment are already a lot less than in Europe for example, which may make this step smaller.

Once you are already at the stage in your life with mortgage commitments, perhaps a family to take care of, this may become a different story. On the other hand, becoming a digital nomad may also seem like an attractive escape, to get rid of all the daily obligations, rat race pressure and stress.

Sweet girls taking selfies in Seoul
Sweet Korean girls taking selfies in Seoul

Playtime is over

While being a part-time blogger may still feel like play time, as a fulltime travel blogger you can no longer afford not to belong. You need to network, collaborate with other travel bloggers. Other travel bloggers may not want to work with you if your Domain Authority (DA) for example is too low, or demand 2-for-1 links. (Your webste’s DA will help to rank higher on Google, get new clients and collaborations.)

OMG, this stupid exchange game may feel like elementary school all over again. So many times I see travel bloggers agreeing to link to each other, starting a link swap collaboration, without even checking the quality of the content of the other blogger. That’s just not me. I link to great content, no compromise. I don’t care if your DA is 45 or whatever. Quality is key.

Arashiyama bamboo forest Kyoto Japan
Arashiyama bamboo forest Kyoto Japan

COVID-19 reality check

To be honest, during COVID-19 I was so happy I am not a fulltime blogger. And not just because of the (in)security of income. Working on your own, behind your desk, all day, every day, is not so much fun as it may seem. It can be quite lonely actually. I am the type that needs to be surrounded with silence when I write. I would not be able to sit in a coffee bar and work concentrated from there. Working fulltime in a solo job such as a travel blogger, I would definitely miss working with colleagues, having a sparring partner.

When you become a fulltime blogger or digital nomad (which are not necessarily the same!) this is something you will have to seek in other bloggers or friends I guess. For me, colleagues are an important reason to stay employed. Sometimes a reason to move on too, if you have an annoying colleague, that I also know from personal experience. It only emphasizes the impact colleagues can have on one’s job and life happiness.

Meeting Kuwaiti colleagues
Meeting Kuwaiti colleagues

The struggle is real

When you decide to be a part-time blogger like me, trust me, you will always be short on time. Never a dull moment! No matter what I do, as a one woman show I will never be on top of the battle of the ever changing Google algorithm. The number of competitor blogger increases every day, although not many celebrate their blog’s 3rd birthday. Psychologically you have to deal with the fact that there will always be someone better, faster, smarter or slimmer than you. Grow sour from looking at and comparing with others all the time, or become better by mainly looking at yourself. Up to you.

Believe me, the boyfriend is not always happy with this all absorbing hobby. Every article costs me a couple of days’ time to complete. For someone who does not share that same passion, something that costs so much time yet makes relatively speaking little money, may seem like a waste of time. But it’s a hobby that gives me a lot of joy. Follow your heart and try to keep things in balance. Evaluate for yourself whether having a long to do list permanently is something you can deal with.

As a part-time travel blogger I will never have enough time to get the most out of my blog. Make more deals with interesting companies for example. But I think fulltime bloggers struggle with that as well. There will never be enough time to do everything right as a blogger. You can only spend your free time once; sports, friends or blogging, what do you choose? An everlasting dilemma. I just have to accept that my blog will never grow really big.

Birds street art Reykjavik
Hanging out with the flitter fellas in Reykjavik Iceland

Happy employee

Next to being a part-time travel logger, I have a busy fulltime job as marketing manager in animal health. I enjoy that job. After three years I still learn a lot, including interesting courses about online marketing. For work I also write articles and newsletters, which I love doing. Being active as a travel blogger in my spare time is actually one of the reasons why they hired me, having experience, expertise and interest to do online marketing activities, which is trending and interesting for employers.

As mentioned earlier, my great colleagues contribute highly to my job happiness. Via work I get to know many new people, who sometimes become followers too. I never make a secret about being a travel blogger in my spare time. My job is like top sports, it requires my complete dedication. The fact that we do this to improve the health of animals motivates me a lot. But I do work to live, I do not live to work. Until COVID arrived, I spent every holiday abroad. Luckily my employer offers excellent job conditions and even compensates some overtime, which enabled me to travel almost every month.

I also have quite some freedom in my job. And – before COVID times – the freedom to pick a destination where I want to travel. Not because my client wants me to go there. Or what will ‘score’ on social media. Work also brought me to places I never imagined to visit, such as Saudi Arabia. Through business travel I have met so many wonderful locals and colleagues. People who have told me things about their country that I would otherwise never know, and showed me things I would never have seen otherwise.

Chinese gondelier works hard to make the boat move
Chinese gondelier works hard to make the boat move

Holidays

Of course, as an employee, the stable monthly income is great, moreover now with Corona. On top of that I get 8% holiday money too, a pension fund, etc. Fortunately I make enough money to be able to afford a certain level of luxury in my daily life and during traveling. Good for you, if you are a happy camper or like low budget backpacking, but I won’t deny that I like a bit of comfort during my travels, no need to have a very strict budget. To be able to go wherever I want, including pricier destinations, such as Iceland, New Zealand, Switzerland, Norway and Japan. And still have my dream house back home.

As an employee, I can never go away for too long, usually max 3.5 weeks in a row, but that’s fine with me. I do not feel the need to travel for months. A colleague of mine cycled from Canada to Mexico in about four months, which was approved by my employer too, so who knows one day? As long as I can travel about every month, you won’t hear me complaining. When I was a sales trainer I traveled internationally almost every week, which was a great experience, but a bit too much at some point.

Wine tasting with a view at Rizman Estate in Klek, Komarna area
Wine tasting with a view at Rizman Estate in Klek Komarna area, Croatia

Honestly

And yeah, since my income does not depend on it, I have all freedom to be honest to write what I want to write. When I did not like it somewhere I can just share that with my audience. My focus is quality and authenticity, I do not have to write something positive purely for sales. I guess by now it is clear that I am not blogging for the big money. I just love traveling, writing and making pictures, that’s all. Some may call me stupid, but this feels good to me. To each his own.

In all honesty, I like the idea of becoming a fulltime writer one day. There is a reason why I wanted to be a journalist as a child and young teenager. But I had doubts about my writing talents and job opportunities for journalists were already not so great in the 90s, so I choose a different path, but the passion is still there. I would also like to work from abroad for a while, just be in a different environment. Although I have a fantastic house, I get bored quickly. The past half-year proves that working remotely for months in a row is also possible with my current job.

Which travel blogger has a private driver
Which travel blogger has a private driver?!

Work location

Time will tell how working life will look-like in a year from now. I prefer working from home instead of the office, moreover an office garden. I do see the added value of meeting face to face once and a while though. The past 6 months just showed to be able to do my work properly, I would not necessarily have to work in The Netherlands all time. As long as I have my laptop, good Wi-Fi and silence around me, I’ll be perfectly fine. I currently lack time to do write freelance for clients, but I think I’m going to look into that a bit more next year. I would also like to grow more on Pinterest. Do you already follow me there?

I hope that you liked this article and find it useful to consider the pros and cons of being a part-time or fulltime (travel) blogger. Are you a blogger yourself or aspiring to become one? Do you recognize things mentioned in this article? Please feel free to share a comment below.

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Last Updated on 10/01/2020 by Flitter Fever

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4 comments

Leslie 10/01/2020 - 13:20

I am aligned with you here! I would love to write full-time, but the life of a full-time travel blogger doesn’t appeal to me. I do love including travel stories on my blog–and love travel in general!–but I wouldn’t even want it to be the only topic I cover–my brain ranges too far on a daily basis for that.

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Flitter Fever 10/01/2020 - 21:08

Dear Leslie, thanks for sharing your thoughts on this article, very interesting! Giving it another thought, I think blogging for me lacks some honest team work, preferably with peers from professional journalism. Best regards, Elisa

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Raïssa Bruijn 10/15/2020 - 13:10

Super interessant om te lezen. Ik ben je gaan volgen op Pinterest 😉

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Flitter Fever 10/17/2020 - 16:26

Ah dat is super lief van je, dank! Groet, Elisa

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