My guest this week is Tammilee Tillison from the blog, Tammilee Tips. Tammi is a travel and lifestyle blogger.
She’s been doing this for over ten years, and has a lot of interesting things to say about what it’s really like being a travel blogger today. We talk about the ups and downs of traveling blogging, whether you really get to travel the world for free, and if you need to stay in your niche to be successful.
Monetizing a Travel Blog
Tammilee and her husband John live in Washington state but they travel on average 160+ days a year. Her husband also has a blog called Park Ranger John.
They have several revenue streams.
They have ad revenue, sponsored posts, sponsorships on social media, and affiliates.
Tammilee is currently figuring out SEO since it was not even relevant when she began blogging.
Work-Life Balance as a Blogger
Tammilee doesn’t have much downtime. She works even when she is on vacation, knowing that every experience is going to be put into her content.
But burnout happens to everyone.
Tammilee tries to avoid burnout by spending time doing something she enjoys, like reading, and pushing away the hurried thoughts about everything she could be doing.
The Instagram and blog posts make it seem like travel bloggers live carefree, happy, unburdened lives.
But behind that, they are constantly thinking about how they’re going to use their experiences, and so they aren’t always just enjoying the moment.
Creating Curated Content
Tammilee wants to have content and pictures that make people want to go to the places she’s been.
To do that, she sometimes has to create a story using only one picture. Spending a lot of time making an image perfect is how Tammilee can show the quality of the entire trip or vacation.
Outside of the lovely images, they never forget that they are running businesses. They are trying to make money to support themselves.
Tammilee tries to show every side of the destination so that her audience is not misled by thinking that every area is as beautiful as one photo.
Traveling For Free as a Food Blogger
People who go into travel blogging so that they can travel for free, not only give the business itself a bad rep, but are misleading.
No one is going to travel completely free.
There will be expenses, even if you’re getting hotels free, tickets free, etc.
Tammilee’s business expenses are invested in camera equipment, travel expenses, and the time itself that this job takes.
Traveling for free is possible, but there are pros and cons to every situation.
Make sure to ask someone who has been in the business longer than a year, so you can understand both sides of the story.
The Logistics of Being a Travel Blogger
Although it depends on the level that you’re at as a travel writer, Tammilee can reach out to a hotel and say that she would like to come and write about the hotel.
They do get many offers, but whether they accept it depends on whether it looks good, whether it fits into their calendar, etc.
You may get a $150 hotel night offer, and then there are many asks in return for that.
They want your photos, tours of the best rooms, etc.
It’s not just about what you’re getting. It’s also what you’re bringing to the brand.
Social Media Platforms
Instagram is the big player right now.
It’s likely that at some point, the bubble is going to burst and something else will take its place.
Someone who is on multiple social media platforms will be able to reach a different type of audience on each one and be able to monetize with more readers.
Tammilee does have a YouTube channel, but she doesn’t use it very often because she doesn’t enjoy making videos as much as she does taking pictures.
Tammilee does a lot of Instagram stories and Facebook live videos.
With Facebook live, she can pop in and then just show everyone around her the environment, in a true, non-curated way.
Some brands do want blog posts and some don’t care anymore.
Brands that have been in the business longer know that the social platforms are constantly evolving, so it’s a good idea to have a finger in every pie.
Niching Down as a Blogger
Tammilee has a built-in audience that has been with her on a journey over ten years, and so she can expand from traveling blogging to lifestyle blogging.
She can write about travel, food, and lifestyle depending on the audience she wants to reach and her mood.
Tammilee’s audience is one big group of people and contained in one email list. She sends everything to everyone and lets them decide which links they want to click on.
Tammilee’s Most Used Tool
Tammilee loves Tailwind (affil) because even when she’s tired or too busy there is something steady going out to her audience.
Tammilee also loves Coschedule and has it set up for a year in advance.
Tammilee says to invest in a really good phone with a killer camera. She has a Samsung Galaxy 10.
Even though they have expensive cameras, sometimes there is a need to take pictures quicker, and having a phone to snap a picture makes all the difference.
I just did my last sponsored post with my iPhone alone. The camera quality is so high, the photos look better than ones taken on my camera when I first started out.
Top Three Travel Destinations
Tammilee encourages people to travel somewhere that would make them slightly nervous, and see how different it is from their preconceived notions.
If you have a place that you’ve always wanted to go to, every time you see it you wish you were there, you need to visit that place.
Visit a place where you have memories. A place you went as a kid, or a place that your family talks about, so you will have those memories again.
Travel Blogging Advice
Tammilee would say that finding your tribe of people who will help you push through the hard days is the most important thing.
Her tribe consists of her husband and women who are doing similar things as Tammilee.
In this industry, there is a lot of competition and distrust, but if we come together, work together, and build each other up, we can all benefit.
Tammilee’s Blogging Why
Tammilee wants to inspire people to live their best life.
That can look like so many different things, but she wants to inspire people to do what makes them happy, what makes them feel fulfilled.
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- 4:08 Monetizing Travel Blogging
- 6:40 Work-Life Balance
- 8:17 Creating Curated Content
- 10:02 Traveling For Free
- 12:30 The Logistics
- 16:00 Social Media Platforms
- 19:18 Niching Down
- 23:16 Tammilee’s Most Used Tool
- 24:04 Travel Tools
- 26:45 Top Three Destinations
- 28:08 Travel Blogging Advice
- 30:35 Tammilee’s Why
TOP 4 TAKEAWAYS FROM THIS EPISODE
- When all of your experiences make up your content, you have to take special care to avoid burnout
- Don’t fall for the illusion that travel bloggers always enjoy 100% free travel
- Learn how to use social media to your advantage in order to secure more sponsored content
- Niche down now and you can expand once you have a loyal audience