What would you do if a major daily newspaper travel editor called you out of the blue one day to offer you a job as a travel writer?
Well, that’s what can happen when you build a successful travel blog. Four travel columnists for The Denver Post know exactly how it feels to get that call. All four were bloggers who had regular day jobs but had been feeding their passions for travel through their words online, sharing their trip stories, insider tips, and photos with the ever-growing travel community.
In 2012, when I was still travel editor of The Denver Post, I was looking for writers who could deliver compelling, information-packed columns for the weekly Travel section – and I turned to blogs to find them.
I knew that I wanted local writers who could handle the regularity of a column, so I basically just Googled “Colorado travel bloggers,” and hundreds came up. I read through a lot of blogs before I chose the four who became established writers for the section, which continues to this day.
Chryss Cada said, “Yes!” immediately. “I was so shocked to have this opportunity come up, one that I didn’t even know was an opportunity,” Cada says. “I had been blogging for years, and while I had built up a following and I knew people were reading it, I hadn’t though about the fact that it could lead me to a regular gig.”
Cada admits that she was resistant to blogging at first because she didn’t understand what it could lead to or how to monetize it. “I didn’t think it made any sense to write for free,” she adds, “and I also had the idea that you only have so much good writing in you, that if you used it up on a blog you wouldn’t be able to use it elsewhere.”
Now Cada says she realizes that the opposite of both is true: Not only can money be made from blogging, but also “the more you write, then the more you write, and the more there is to write about.”
Cada explains that what she loves about blogging is “you can just ramble, without the pressure of writing in a specific format or for a certain audience.” She also loves getting feedback from her readers. Not to mention all of the free trips she’s been invited on because of her blog. “Folks just reach out to me and ask if I want to go fly-fishing in Aspen or bring my kids along on a long weekend of skiing,” she says.
Another blogger-turned-columnist, Joshua Berman, uses his blog as just one component of his travel-writing oeuvre. The author and guidebook writer – he has written or edited the Moon guides to Guatemala, Belize and Nicaragua, and recently published a memoir titled “Crocodile Love: Travel Tales from an Extended Honeymoon” – hosts his blog on a website that promotes all of his writing, including his nearly four years of travel writing for The Denver Post.
Meanwhile, Kara Williams, who blogs at thevacationgals.com and wanted to help other moms and families travel better and cheaper, has parlayed her blogging into hundreds of travel and parenting stories – including an extended cruise around Europe for a whole summer – not only for the Denver Post, but also top publications such as Sunset, Every Day with Rachel Ray and Working Mother. The Vacation Gals – a finalist for Best Travel Blog in the Best Weblog Awards – also helped her score free trips and travel gear sent to her for review.
The fourth columnist, Dan Leeth, is both a full-time photographer and blogger who now posts the hundreds of story/photo packages he has done for major daily newspapers and magazines on his site.
So not only can blogging be lucrative – the top bloggers pull in $8,000-$10,000 a month – but it also can lead to more opportunities.
So what are you waiting for? As Chryss Cada puts it, you’re in control of taking that first step. “I just kind of one day said, ‘This is what’s important to me,’” she says. “And then I went for it. And I’m so glad I did, because it changed my life.”