Before I started running my travel blog full-time I had this idea in my head that, once I did, my life would be a never ending fairytale of glamorous travel and poolside cocktails. I had very clear visions of my perfectly toned, bronzed body floating around pools while I laughed joyously. (Note: In all my life-fantasies I seem to shape-shift into Jennifer Lopez’ body.) Ahhhhhhh nope. That’s not what happened at all. My body is still normal and very, very white and I work harder now than I have in any other job I’ve ever held. Truth.
The amount of work involved in running your own small business is surprising. Little Grey Box may appear to be just a blog, but it’s a proper legal entity and that means there’s real adult stuff that needs to be done. Dammmnnnnn. This realisation overwhelmed me. Having responsibility for my own business, trying to help it grow, being responsible for so much and adjusting to the huge change of working for myself in my dream job was really crazy. I felt like I had to do everything at once and get a LOT done each day to justify leaving my office job. Then I started travelling more regularly and I began working myself into the ground.
I would work all day every day, because I was constantly trying to make up for days lost to travel. If I took a trip for a few days during the week, I’d have to work on the weekends to make sure I got everything done so I could go on the trip and not have my business suffer. While I was on the trip, I was working even harder than if I were at home, working on the blog. Days on famil (familiarisation trips) are very long and jam-packed, there’s no lazing about and relaxing on a holiday. You’re there to work and you have to work damn hard, it’s all go, go, go.
All of this got on top of me and I felt exhausted and overwhelmed very quickly. But it’s my dream job and not only am I grateful to have it, I love the crap out of it and I’ll never give it up. When you feel that way about something, you find ways to adjust and make it work for you. It’s a huge learning experience.
Having gone through all of that, I wanted to share with you how I now balance running my blog full-time, while I’m travelling. Hopefully it helps some of those who are new to travel blogging or going through a similar adjustment phase. If you’ve gone through this and have any tips of your own, I’d love to hear them. Please share in the comments below.
I write draft blog posts and schedule social media posts
If I know I’ve got a trip coming up, I work smarter in the lead up to it. Instead of writing one blog post per day, I write two and keep the second post as a draft. I like to have an entire week’s worth of draft blog posts up my sleeve before I travel because it takes a lot of pressure off me. It gives me a week’s breathing space, so I don’t feel stressed about being on the road and trying to work at the same time. Travel can be exhausting and I like to have a week to settle into being away from my home and usual routine.
I also schedule social media posts for my Facebook page. Usually this means one post in the morning, just for the first week I’m away. Again, it takes that pressure off me and ticks one thing off my usual ‘to do’ list.
I make time to write when I’m on the road
You’ve got to find a routine that works for you, when you’re on the road. I tend to find I get really inspired when I’m travelling and it’s easier for me to write interesting, useful content quite quickly. Once my week’s worth of draft blog posts runs out, I need to start creating more. So, I schedule down time in my travel itinerary so I can work, usually in the afternoons, then I sit down and write a blog post or two and get them completely ready to post. If I have two blog posts done, that’s two more days I don’t have to worry about. It’s really just about finding a routine you can stick to and being consistent in your approach.
I usually just make myself a cup of tea, put on my favourite music and work away for a couple of hours to get some content ready. Sometimes I find myself up late, writing three or four blog posts in a row at 11pm. When inspiration strikes, I prioritise it, because it’s making my life easier. I always make sure my writing time is enjoyable, not rushed or frustrating. I have a slight advantage there, I will admit, because I love, love, love to write and never find it a chore. It’s sacred ‘me’ time. If you need some tips on how to improve your blog writing, read this.
I get into a routine and focus on one thing at a time
Doing both of these things gives me more time to do the other parts of my job. I check my emails every morning and afternoon, before I leave the hotel and when I get back. I update my social media when I can. When I’m out, I’m focused on what I’m doing at the time. I’m photographing and filming, not worrying about any of the other things I’ve got going on. I just focus on one thing at a time.
I usually edit photographs in the evening, when I get into bed, uploading them to my phone, ready to be shared the next day. I only do my essential accounting and business keeping tasks while I’m away. I don’t even touch video until I get back home. I’m also really open and honest with potential clients, if someone approaches me and wants to negotiate working together or need time to chat on the phone, I tell them I’m away and let them know we can talk when I get back.
I make time to enjoy myself
For a while there I lost the enjoyment I used to get from travel. I was so worried about capturing every moment and fulfilling the needs of those I was working with, that I forgot to have fun. But, I learned, the more fun I have when I’m travelling, the better the content and photographs I capture are. I learned that I don’t have to do everything, capture everything or share everything. There’s only so much you can do.
The most important thing in life is that you’re happy. So, now I make sure I slow down and enjoy the moment. I make sure I go out to a few meals or activities without my camera so I get to be a normal traveller and enjoy the meal or activity like a normal person, not an Instagram-obsessed travel blogger. It helps me stay present and not lose sight of why I do this; for the love of travel.
Remember, if you don’t go out and travel, you aren’t going to have anything to write about. So it’s really important you do both sides of your job; the travel AND the blogging.
I give myself time off
Similar to the above, I now give myself permission to have days off. Regular people get weekends off, they get their down-time, which means I deserve to have it too. It took me a while to not feel guilty about taking a few days off, because I love my job so much I sort of felt like I had to work extra-hard to make up for being happy. That’s so stupid.
Now, I have days where I don’t work if I don’t feel like it. If I don’t feel like sharing my every move on Snapchat, I don’t. If I don’t feel like posting on Instagram or Facebook, I don’t. I’m not a huge business, I’m just one little person running a travel blog they love and it’s okay to feel exhausted or uninspired sometimes and want to have a day off. That way, in a couple days time, I’m really inspired again, energised and ready to share!
Do what works for you
The best piece of advice I can give you is to find a routine that works for you. Prioritise your mental health and happiness first. It’s important your business fits around this or you’re going to burn out. Work out what the best time of day is for you to work, find ways to make your life easier while you’re on the road and minimise stress. Make sure you enjoy the travel you get to do and are present in each moment. You have to be kind to yourself! It’s okay to take time off and the world won’t stop turning if you don’t post on Instagram for a few days.
Honestly, once you nail down a routine that works for you and settle into it, your travel blogging life because so, so much easier. It reduces stress and pressure and helps you feel happier, because you’re getting to do what you love; grow your blog AND travel.
Phoebe Lee is a travel writer and award-winning blogger who believes life should be full of fun and adventure. Phoebe shares practical inspiration to help others enrich their lives through travel. Her fun Vlogs, useful travel guides and beautiful photographs are all aimed at inspiring others to live a life they love and never settle for less.