Lessons From a Failed Travel Blogger

Tales of fear, embarrassment and straight-up laziness

A few of my articles on a now-scammy affiliate travel site.

Don’t pay attention to what anyone else is doing

There are places that are made exclusively for travel bloggers. I’ve been in Bali for months and everywhere I go people are setting up the perfect shot. It’s a travel blogger’s heaven. Cafe’s are designed to be photographable and everywhere you look are perfectly painted murals, walls, and unnecessarily decorated plates. I regularly see bloggers setting up their shots and have petty thoughts like “that’s so basic, I can do that.”

Photo by Mesut Kaya on Unsplash

Don’t forget to experience life while finding opportunities for content

The two don’t have to be mutually exclusive but I had a really hard time staying present and grounded when everything I did became an opportunity to create content for my blog. I would get increasingly frustrated when on trips because I wasn’t getting the right shot, or my friends weren’t taking good enough photos of me. I thought less in terms of things I wanted to do and more in terms of what would make for the most viral photo or article.

You need confidence, or the ability to fake it

Statistics boost my self-esteem. When no one was liking my photos or reading my posts, my ego took a serious hit. Beyond that, I wasn’t a good enough actor to fake the confidence I needed to actually appeal to an audience.

Prepare to be vulnerable AF if you want to build an audience

I bought into the idea that all it took was having a marketing skill and a good phone or camera to build an audience. I hid my real self. I curated what I wanted people to see and so what people saw was fake and I’m certain people saw right through my attempts. I wanted to maintain my anonymity but have the same level of fame as people who whole-heartedly put themselves out there on a daily basis.

‘Oversaturation’ isn’t a real thing

If you don’t get followers or readers, it’s not because the market is too saturated. It’s because you’re not bringing a unique angle, and you’re probably not being real with people. I bought into the dream that all you had to do was to go to beautiful places, take photos and slap a filter on them. Then just create a basic listicle of all of the places you went and the followers would roll in.

Documenting fun experiences is emotionally draining

I wasn’t ready for the emotional labor that went into documenting every moment of a trip in order to create content that was actually valuable for people. I never treated it like a full-time job. I treated blogging as a hobby and then expected it to make me rich while I put in minimal effort. I lacked the discipline to put in the work and show up every day, even on days when I didn’t want to.

Occasional writer, and serial project-starter/abandoner. I have a lot of feelings. I also have a newsletter: sarahaboulhosn.com/newsletter

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store