How To Run A Travel Blog As A Student
The number one question I get asked about my blog is how on earth I run a travel blog when I’m studying full-time in Exeter for most of the year. Because you have to travel full time to be a travel blogger, right?! Nuh-uh, sista! Whether you manage a travel blog when you work full time or study full time, it is possible. I am a first-hand example of someone who runs a travel blog who doesn’t travel much and is hopefully doing a half decent job at it…
Disclaimer: This post isn’t going to tell you how I afford to travel. If you want to learn how to travel the world as a student or easy ways to save money for travel you can head over to those posts. This post is specifically about how to run a travel blog whilst studying full-time, albeit with little money. LET’S GO!
1. BLOG ABOUT YOUR LOCAL AREA
You’re probably living away from home by yourself for the first time ever, and that’s exciting, right?! Blogging about your new life in a new city will force you to get to know more of your university town than just the best nightclubs and kebab shops. If your budget allows it you could review local restaurants (no more Domino’s for you, honey), or discuss the best parks to visit for a run or a picnic. You can also talk about the university itself, from your course to accommodation. That’s what many great student blogs do! And before you question me, that definitely ties into travel. For people who plan on studying abroad at your university, from say the States or even just from across the country, they will thank you later. The possibilities really are endless!
The good thing about studying at university is that you essentially have two homes: not only do you have your university town, but you also have your hometown. You can write about your hometown in the same way (believe me, anywhere can be justified as a tourist destination), looking at the best local cafes or “Top 10 Things to Do in ____”, for example. Perhaps you’ve moved a few of times during your life (for example I spent my childhood in South London, moved to Herefordshire when I was nine years old, and now I live in Devon). That’s even more places to talk about on your blog!
2. CREATE A BACKLOG OF POSTS
If your budget permits this, you’re probably going to be travelling the most during the summer holidays. I advise you create a backlog of posts and schedule posts for later dates when you’re caught up in the hell of deadline season; although I will admit this point is totally hypocritical cause I never do this, but I should! Even if you don’t post as often as other bloggers, just make the posts you do publish extra good. Plus this also gives you more time to totally kick ass on social media and grow your following!
For example, the above photo is of Annecy, a beautiful little gem in the South of France. I have been planning on writing about this destination, which I visited two whole freakin’ years ago since I first started blogging. But it’s still in my backlog because I don’t need to publish it now. Articles like these are evergreen and will never go out of fashion! Cherish them. Similar examples to this could involve blogging about childhood travels, or even a day trip you went on a year ago that you never got round to writing about.
3. YOU DON’T ACTUALLY HAVE TO TRAVEL
Wait, you’re telling me you don’t actually have to travel to be a travel blogger? You’d be surprised by the number of travel bloggers who write about places they’ve never been to. People write blog posts about the “Coolest AirBnb Apartments” and “50 Inspiring Travel Quotes” all the freakin’ time, and these don’t actually require travelling!
On several occasions, I have written about destinations I’ve never visited. Obviously don’t do this for all your posts, as your readers will question your credibility as a writer, but an occasional one here and there is totally justifiable. Here are some examples of mine (all of which were admittedly entered into travel competitions): Win a Luxury Spanish Holiday, My 2016 Dream Holiday May Surprise You and 7 Continents 7 Dream Destinations (which actually won me a £1150 holiday – I’M GOING TO FREAKIN’ THAILAND NEXT WEEK, GUYS – and a £500 camera). Obviously winning a holiday is extremely rare, and I’m extremely grateful for it, but this is one way in which travel bloggers can reap the benefits of their hard work and hence travel more 🙂 Though obviously do not expect anything and do not blog for this reason, because I’m telling you now you won’t enjoy it.
Here’s a lil’ task for you: Head to your favourite travel blogger’s website, be it World of Wanderlust or Hey Nadine or whoever the heck else, and look at how many of their posts are actually not about travels they’ve been on. Obviously, the majority will be based on places they’ve visited, but a surprising number aren’t!
Similarly, you could start a vlogging channel where you offer advice on travelling. Take Raya Was Here, for example; some of her recent videos haven’t been travel vlogs or travel montages, but advice on “Backpacking: How to Plan Your First Trip” and even non-travel related videos like “Don’t Know What To Do With Your Life?” and “Draw My Life“, and even a classic Q&A video. Your blog is just as much about your individual personality and life, as it is about travel, so don’t feel guilty about talking about yourself! You can even try making your Snapchat public and daily vlogging there if you don’t have the time to record, edit and upload YouTube videos alongside your studies.
4. EXPAND YOUR NICHE
Take Sabina from Girl vs Globe, for example, who covers everything from food to fashion to blogging, all whilst starting out as a travel blogger! Most of these topics will tend to tie into travel anyway, because hey, we all need to eat and wear clothes whilst travelling, right? #relatable
Whilst I myself have certainly niched down, when I first entered the blogging world I covered music, festivals, fashion, lifestyle, travel and anything in between. I do still occasionally throw a curveball and write something different, but to be honest I don’t really want to now, because travel’s ma thaaaang.
5. RAISE AND GIVE
Remember in February when I hitchhiked all the way to Berlin for charity, raising over £700? Yep, that happened. This type of travel isn’t completely free as wherever you end up you then have to pay for transport back, but in terms of food, accommodation, etc, you’ll barely spend a penny if you pack everything in advance. There are plenty of travel opportunities available when it comes to studying at university. Whilst I can’t speak for every university in the country, or the world, Exeter offers several charity hitchhiking events including Jailbreak, Hitchhike to Amsterdam, and Lost. Disclaimer: I’m not advocating hitchhiking, as obviously it is extremely risky, but for the brave – or downright stupid – of you out there (like moi), it was one of the best things I have ever done, plus totally affordable.
All universities will also tend to offer the typical charity treks where you have to raise a large amount of money, and climb Mount Kilimanjaro or Machu Picchu, or help out in a village in Kenya. Whilst I’m not the biggest fan of voluntourism, and similarly, I wouldn’t advocate it, it is certainly a cheaper way of getting to see the world.
6. SUMMER VOLUNTEERING
Similar to the previous point, you’re never too old for your #gapyah. Outside of university, there are plenty of routes you can go down to live or travel abroad during the summer. Our summer holidays will never be this long once we graduate (this summer I have a whopping four months off university), so it’s good to make the most of it while we can. I’ve never personally does this before, so cannot give tons of advice, but some typical summer volunteering placements include Camp America, working as an au pair, working abroad in a hostel, teaching English abroad, Workaway/Homestay, cruise ship worker, bartender/waitress/waiter abroad, or WWOOFing.
However, if living costs and flight costs make your knees tremble with fear, there are plenty of awesome volunteering opportunities in the U.K. too. Although perhaps not quite as exotic, it’ll give you something besides your hometown to blog about, and you’ll meet loads of friends/have a blast in the process.
7. STUDY ABROAD
8. INTERN ELSEWHERE
Internships are a great way to kill two birds with one stone; you can travel to a new city (or even internationally) and get work experience. If you are worried about building your resume but want to travel the world at the same time, internships are a happy medium. Plus with such long summers, how else are you going to fill your time? Travelling for internships will give you the ability to explore a new city more intimately than if you were just visiting on a short holiday, and you should get the weekends off to explore further afield. Large cities in the U.K., like London *cries at the expense*, offer tons of internships for students.
You will typically have to pay for your flights and accommodation upfront, but often these are provided by your university. Again I can’t speak for all universities, but Exeter offers regular internships/short study abroad programmes where they pay for your flights, accommodation and all the rest. This doesn’t even seem real, right?! One of my housemates is going to Chicago for four nights for free this summer on a Global Leadership Programme that she applied to after receiving an email from her college telling her about the opportunity. Mental!
9. MAKE INTERNATIONAL FRIENDS OR VISIT OLD FRIENDS AT OTHER UNIS
University is a place where people from all walks of life are placed in a tiny little area, ready to mingle. Meeting friends from different counties or countries may enable you to visit them in holiday time. A free bed and a free tour of a city? Yes, please. I’m not telling you to force yourself to make friends with multicultural people at university, with hopes of visiting them, but if the opportunity arises it will certainly cut down on your travel expenses.
You can also visit your hometown friends at their unis, whether they study just an hour down the road or across the globe. Similarly, they’ll probably cook for you and you’ll have a free bed/sofa/floor to crash on. Just don’t spend all your time in their city partying… unless you want to become a nightclub reviewer.
10. GUEST POST
Guest posting is a great idea when you’re struggling to come up with ideas yourself; you can get university friends or other bloggers or companies to write for you. Bonus: They’ll probably share their blog post on social media, which results in more people finding you and potential new readers. Win, win!
Of course, if you really care about your blog’s brand you’re going to want the guest poster to write about very similar topics and in a very similar fashion to you. But if you establish that from the get-go and know the person will do a decent job, it shouldn’t really be a problem! Admittedly I’ll be the first to say that I’ve never opened up guest posting on Faraway Lucy, but I have plans to start doing it sometime this year.
Orrrr, like me, you just don’t post that often and are a terrible blogger because of it. OOPS!
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