There aren’t many jobs for life these days. But I think after eight years of nurturing Tin Box Traveller I may have found one. Ironically, it’s the line on my CV that I draws the most quizzical looks from the people I meet. After all, what do travel bloggers do? Never-the-less it’s the job that motivates me most.
Today is Tin Box Traveller’s eighth anniversary and the start of a series of posts answering questions I’ve been sent to mark the occasion. I did a shout out on social media to ‘ask me anything’ and I had quite a mix of questions come back.
It amounted to more than I could fit into one post, so there will be a few over the next week or so. I’m starting with a trip behind the scenes as requested by Ashley who writes Daley Family Travels.
I first wrote this post in 2018. No two years in travel blogging are the same, so I’ve updated my ‘day in the life’ in 2020 – a particularly interesting year to be a travel blogger.
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Travel blogging and me
When I hit ‘publish’ on my first blog post in 2012 little did I know then what it would become.
The past three years have been particularly significant in my travel blogging life:
- In 2018 decided to leave a part-time job in PR to focus on my freelance career and make more time for my kids;
- Six months later, Vuelio named Tin Box Traveller as the UK’s top family travel blog
- And, two months after that I won the Britmums Travel Blog Award
- By the beginning of 2020 the income from my blog and my freelance copywriting and content creation work was double what I’d earned in my part-time job.
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In April I took a leap of faith. I decided to give freelance life and my blog a chance. It took me more than five years to get to that point and I’ve had plenty of wobbles since about whether it was the right thing to do. After all, is it really possible to travel, write, be a half decent mum and earn a living? 🙌 And then something happens that suppresses those pesky wobbles. Today I won an award. 🙌 I’ve been a finalist in the BritMums Brilliance in Blogging Awards for the past two years and seen some excellent bloggers receive the top prize in the family travel category: @mummytravels and @mytravelmonkey. I don’t mind admitting it now (because I have confessed to them both since) that I was a nervous fan girl when I first met them at networking events. Now I’m so happy to call them friends, along with the other finalists in the category. So winning amongst such talented and hard working company is mind blowing. 🙌 Thank you to everyone who has supported me, followed me, read my rambles, championed my blog and chatted all things travel with me on and off line. You’re helping me stomp on those wobbles everyday! 🙌 #Britmums #SnapHappyBritmums #familytravel #familytravelblog #ukftb #Devonblogger
The award and recognition made my decision to go freelance much easier to justify. And the fact I could earn a living was incredibly useful too!
Apart from that, I’ve found a job that is easy to fit in around my family and the blog has brought us some pretty awesome opportunities.
In the past few years I’ve had the chance to travel to Italy with friends, take the girls on a family cruise, be part of a fantastic press trip to Barcelona, holiday in Lake Garda, Crete and Tuscany and share UK mini-breaks with both sets of grandparents.
2020 has been a bit slower for press trips for obvious reasons. I will share a bit more about what it’s been like to be a travel blogger in 2020 in another post.
Overall, blogging isn’t a bad gig and I feel very lucky to have made it part of my job.
So, what do travel bloggers do?
I think the perception of what travel bloggers do and the reality is very different. Even I’m guilty of thinking every other travel blogger is slicker or somehow more adept than I am.
I imagine them tapping out blog posts, cocktail in hand beside the pool or effortlessly snapping magazine worthy pictures in minutes.
While I have sat by pools (momentarily in the case of the picture above), my reality is very different.
When we’re on travel blogging trips I’m often up into the small hours writing notes (after putting overtired kids to bed) and spend hours with my camera by my side agonising over whether I have enough pictures.
And rather than being by the pool, the majority of my work life is spent in my home office.
If you want to find out more about the reality of press trips then you can read my post about why they are not free holidays.
Travel blogging: the reality
I work five days a week but in 2020 work, particularly on the blog, has spilled over into the weekends. We’ve been away less due to the pandemic and those jobs that I might have done in the evenings in the past have become weekend tasks.
During the school holidays my working day is always crammed into spare moments and the evenings. Glam stuff! This has become easier in 2020 as the kids are much better than entertaining themselves at home now they are seven and five.
So, here’s an average day in my life as a travel blogger, not by the pool but at home in Devon:
Morning blogging routine
6.40am – my alarm goes off and I sneak a peek at social media to see what’s happening in the world. In 2020, Mr Tin Box has been working at home with me so the morning routine is a bit easier than a few years ago when he was working on a ship (he’s in the Royal Navy).
7.30am – If our morning routine goes to plan I check my iPhone for emails, Twitter and Facebook messages, and save some pins on Pinterest in between checking school bags.
8.45am – Once the kids are at school my first task is to catch up on any emails I’ve not cracked from the day before. I get about 50 emails a day from various sources:
- companies who want reviews, advertising or coverage for press releases
- people posing as bloggers offering me guest posts who actually work for companies who want free advertising (yep – people do this)
- and people contacting me about freelance copywriting and content creation projects.
I try to clear everything by 10am. Anything left behind takes its chances at the bottom of my inbox.
10am – I’ve always found it easier to get the words to flow in the morning, so this is the time I use to do paid work. My income flows from a mix of places:
- advertorial on the blog
- freelance copywriting and content creation
- and social media management.
My background is in PR and journalism. I’m lucky to still have contacts in the business who provide me with freelance work. I’ve also picked up some interesting copywriting work from publishing companies who found me through the blog.
I set aside at least a few hours to cover jobs for these clients so I know I’m earning every day. If it wasn’t for this additional income I couldn’t justify freelancing as the blog doesn’t generate enough income on its own.
Some days and weeks I have to dedicate all of my work time to non-blog related jobs, so Tin Box Traveller takes a back seat.
Afternoon blogging routine
1pm – After a quick lunch and dog walk I’ll turn my attention to the blog. This starts with checking my social media again over lunch. I’ve then got about two hours to start researching keywords, editing images and writing blog posts.
It’s extremely rare that I’ll spend any less than four hours putting together the various elements of a post, so they can take a few days to finish. Once I’ve hit publish I’ll spend another 30 minutes to an hour promoting it by sharing and scheduling it on social media.
Here are some of the blogging tools I use to do all of this.
I can’t fit this all in before I pick the kids up from school at 3pm, so some days this continues once they are in bed. This has been rarer in 2020 because I haven’t had the energy.
And with less demand for advertorial on Tin Box Traveller its been less necessary too.
Evening blogging routine
6pm – During the pre-bedtime hour, when I settle the kids down with a biscuit and milk, I catch up on social media and post to Instagram. This time of day is when I usually get good interaction on posts.
7.30pm – If I am continuing work past putting the kids to bed this is when I do the less creative, admin tasks. This includes tinkering with old blog posts, creating new Pinterest pins and scheduling social media.
Having said that evenings also seem to be my best time to put together video clips to add to my YouTube channel.
10pm – Bed time! This is something I’ve improved on in the past two years. When Mr Tin Box was working away I was terrible at burning the candle at both ends. I’d regularly carry on working until 11pm and beyond, which wasn’t healthy.
So, that’s my average working day…and not a pool in sight!
Travel blogging 101?
I’m not saying this is the definitive way to be a travel blogger. In fact, I know there are ways I could tidy up and streamline my routine, but I’m a creature of habit!
If you’ve got a project you’d like my help with then take a look at my work with me page.
Here’s some more posts that might help too:
- How do bloggers make money
- My top travel blogging tools
- Blogging essentials I never leave home without
- Why press trips aren’t free holidays
And if you fancy saving this post about what travel bloggers do then there’s a handy pin below.