Travel bloggers are a large, migrant community constantly criss-crossing the globe.
The one thing they all have in common is the dream of sharing their story with others. And, if you take a cross-section, most also want to earn an online living to sustain their travels.
NB: This is an analysis by Drew Meyers, co-founder of Horizon.
The community is constantly expanding and contracting, as travelers begin or end a new trip.
Once someone decides to travel for an extended period of time, often times one of the first things they do is setup a travel blog to share their story with friends and family back home.
When someone returns home, one of the first things they often do is stop blogging.
The challenges with travel blogging are numerous:
- Travel is an infrequent activity for most.
- Great writing takes incredible skill, and most travelers are not professional writers.
- Travel is time consuming. So is writing.
- Attracting readers is insanely time consuming, and takes months or, likely, years of regular posting before you attract enough readers to monetize.
- The industry lacks a mobile discovery mechanism.
Is travel blogging truly here to stay?
I've had a travel blog since 2010. I love writing, and am a massive content creator (I have five blogs). I've done social media marketing and community building for a living in the past at Zillow. I'm a huge travel addict and I'm building a travel startup.
All the signs say I should be a diehard travel blogger, right?
Well, I used to be a travel blogger, in 2010 and again on my travels in 2012. But something has changed over the past year, as I've visited Colombia, Fiji, Australia, and Chile - I discovered Trover (co-founded by Rich Barton, also the co-founder of Zillow, where I worked from 2005-2010).
It's Twitter for the travel industry.
Take a photo, add some commentary or a recommendation to it, and then anyone else can find your photo and tips based on their location.
And I can send my profile to friends following in my footsteps so they know each exact place I thought worthy of documenting -- that's a lot easier than curating a "best of list" on my blog for every single town or country I visit.
What do I like about the service?
- It's exponentially easier to upload a photo and write a sentence or two, compared to crafting an entire blog post - I can upload content in 30 or 60 seconds rather than spending an hour on a single blog post.
- I can build my profile in short stints - add one photo at a time and over time this grows into a full profile of the places I have visited.
- Trover's existing traveler community gives social validation (thanks and comments) - meaning I don't have to spend time marketing my content in order for someone to see it.
- The site enables discovery based on geolocation long after the fact - meaning when people are looking for tips about a precise location, they can actually find my post at the right time.
Prior to Twitter, blogging was really the only way to share your thoughts online. Then Twitter came along and offered a simpler solution for discussions within most online industries. The rest is history.
Sure, many people (like me) still blog for business reasons -- but it's a lot smaller percentage than prior to Twitter's existence.
My prediction is we'll see the same shift in travel over the next several years.
Granted, Trover is still early and fighting with many others for content creators. They are one of dozens of startups focused on this local discovery space (Instagram, Findery, Maptia, Journi ("travel blogging rediscovered"), etc, etc) aiming at centralizing the fragmented travel blogging landscape.
What if Trover (or another startup) implemented a tip system, whereby anyone could donate a quarter or even a couple dollars to those who share great tips that benefit them in real life?
They might just capitalize on the travel blogger monetization opportunity, and convert current traveler bloggers in herds. Bitcoin, or perhaps a service such as Flattr, could facilitate such an offering.
Further, what if restaurants paid a few dollars for individuals who frequented via an online tip someone left?
If Trover manages to enable individuals to monetize, and attracts a base of travelers... then it becomes a no brainer for the majority of travelers to bypass the hassle of even setting up a blog.
Is travel blogging as we know it on the way out?
I think so.
NB: This is an analysis by Drew Meyers, co-founder of Horizon. Find him on Twitter and on Trover.
NB2: Sunset beach image via Shutterstock.