Canada,  North America

The Business of Travel Blogging: Reflections from TBEX in Toronto

CN Tower - Business

“How do travel bloggers make money?” “Is this really a thing that you can do, like a real profession?” These are just some of the questions, accompanied by looks of wondrous confusion, that come up when I tell people what I “do” with my days. I happen to be on the beginning-end of the spectrum. Fairly new to the travel blogging world (comparatively), I’m still learning a lot myself on the business and blogging strategies and best practices. Let me just say that I had no idea how complex and intricate this world of travel blogging was until last week. I’ve been home for three days, and I’m still decompressing, sorting through my memory’s file cabinets, which are overflowing with new information and insights.

Firstly, bloggers blog for many reasons. Some do it for fun or hobby. Some do it professionally, and for some, their blogs generate their primary source of income. Most of the folks I encountered in Toronto were in the latter camp. Travel blogging is also different from other types of blogging (fashion, mommy, tech). I heard one reference that the travel industry is playing catch-up to the other types of blog categories in terms of revenue streams, partnerships, and business in general. DMOs (Destination Marketing Organizations) and travel/tour companies and brands are slowly learning the real value in partnering with influential travel bloggers.

Jodi Ettenberg and Annemarie Dooling talk about the importance community building at TBEX

Jodi Ettenberg and Annemarie Dooling talk about the importance community building at TBEX

I had a meeting at TBEX with a representative from my home town in Baton Rouge. I was ecstatic that they were not only in attendance, but one of the primary sponsors of the entire event! I think it’s pretty natural that I want to promote my BR, which I love so deeply! In our conversation, she explained how she was new to this type of media and wanted to know why working with bloggers was different or better than using traditional marketing and media techniques. Cue my BlogHouse training (more on this later)!

Bloggers are quickly becoming the most trusted source for reliable travel and destination information. I liken it to the review-based sites that people look to before using a product or company, like Yelp, Tripadvisor and even CNET. Bloggers add an additional layer of confidence. A loyal audience follows a blog because they are invested in the blogger as a person, like them, and therefor, trust what they say. I had quite a few similar conversations with other industry representatives last weekend, which reinforces what I’ve been hearing about the travel industry slowly catching up to jump on the blogger bandwagon.

Expedia Red Carpet Party - Business

Expedia Red Carpet Party

I will be reflecting more on my experiences in Toronto, contrary to all the advice I received from my seasoned compatriots. (“Whatever you do, do not blog about blogging!” Whoopsies!) I think the general consensus is to try to write to an audience that reaches beyond other travel bloggers, and I get that. I think that some minimal reflection is nice, though, for travel bloggers (to reflect or add to the conversation) and non-travel bloggers (who just seem curious) alike.

One thing is for sure, travel blogging is a serious business, chalk-full of amazingly talented professionals, who are all around just such wonderful people! Like jumping in to any new field for the first time, there are great, exciting challenges ahead, and I fully intend to meet them head-on with my tool box full of new skills from attending BlogHouse and TBEX!

What are your questions or thoughts on travel blogging?

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