Bio: A Canadian who quit her job, sold everything she owned and left behind a great life all to move to Berlin for 18 months. Now based at home again in Toronto, Cheryl continues her career as a freelance writer specializing in European travel and expat life. She’s now on a mission to slowly re-discover her home and native land through a series of weekend trips.
1. How did you first get into travel blogging?
I started to write about travel while planning a 2 week trip to Brazil and Argentina. I’m not sure what exactly compelled me to write about it but I started sharing my experiences purchasing a back-pack and getting a touristvisa.
While on that trip to South America, I published (almost) daily blog updates which I’m sure that no one other than my mom and maybe my cat read.
A few months later I lost my job due to corporate downsizing and decided to take a sabbatical. During that time, I began to travel more frequently and write about my experiences.
To be honest, I didn’t know there was such a thing as “travel blogging.”
While out for dinner with friends one night, a fellow blogger friend told me about a travel writing class at a local college so I signed up right away.
Meanwhile, I started following established travel bloggers and gradually become more involved in the online and offline communities, taking part in Twitter talks like Travel Talk on Twitter and attending Travel Massive events in Toronto.
When I moved to Berlin, I continued to stay involved in the community by attending more events, going to conferences and meeting other blogger. Before I knew it, my blog suddenly was “serious” and I was getting invited on press trips and landing new assignments outside of my blog.
2. What’s the secret to creating a successful travel blog?
I’m not sure if there’s any *one* secret, but here are a few tips:
– Write with your own voice and personal style. Be original and produce unique content. I hate reading a post that is a regurgitation of Lonely Planet or Wikipedia as it’s boring. Write well and be sure to edit before you publish for spelling, grammar etc.).
– Build a following slowly and honestly. Let it happen organically. If you’re content is good, it will be read and shared. Interact with your followers through various social media platforms by being personable, fun, helpful and engaging. Naturally make people interested in what you have to say and want to follow you. Do NOT buy followers/fans etc. to boost your numbers for advertisers. People will notice, you won’t appear as authentic and you’ll lose credibility.
– Get involved with the travel blogging community. Learn from other travel bloggers. Attend conferences, go to other events, engage them in social media, read their blogs, join and participate in some of the Facebook groups.
3. What advice would you give to fledgling travel bloggers?
Be a passionate traveler who loves nothing more than to share their experience with others. Simply be inspiring! Make me want to go where you go and stay tuned into what you do.
4. How do you make money out of travel blogging?
You can make money out of travel blogging? Please tell me how!
I personally don’t make any money from my blog as no longer accept advertising.
The reality is that there isn’t a lot of money to be made from travel blogging and only top bloggers have been successful at turning their blogs into something that generates income. Nomadic Matt is a great example.
Most travel (or other) bloggers make money by diversifying somehow – they sell e-books, partner with affiliates and write for print or other online publications. Some people like me have full-time gigs doing something else altogether in order to support our round-world adventures.
I’m actually an IT project manager working for a non-profit organization!
5. How do you fit in blogging while on the road?
This has never been an issue for me. If I feel like writing, I just do it! I love nothing more than passing an afternoon or evening away inside a beautiful café wherever I am.
6. What are your top gadgets that you always take travelling?
My top gadget by far is my iPhone. I use it for everything! Google Maps for directions, Four Square to find cool places to eat or drink, Instagram/Twitter/Facebook to publish live updates on press trips, Skype/WhatsApp to chat with loved ones.
And of course I could not do without my digital SLR and laptop.
7. What is your favorite destination so far?
My favorite city in the world is Budapest. I’ll visit this city over and over again for the rest of my life. Every time I stand on the Chain Bridge and take in that now familiar landscape, I tear up a bit as it’s that joyful!
I think it’s beautiful and romantic yet gritty and even a bit dark. I love the food, wine and local culture in general – there’s an appealing bohemian vibe that makes me feel at home.
8. Your best epic travel story?
I’m not the kind of person who writes an article “That time I almost got shot in Columbia …” but some of my most epic moments include:
– Despite being terribly out of shape, bursting into tears several times and spraining my knee during the journey – hiking the entire Inca Trail in Peru (solo)!
– Meeting people randomly at a restaurant in Montreal and spending the rest of the night hanging out together at a local jazz bar.
– Walking along the Charles Bridge in Prague on a cold, snow filled night and deciding that I’d move to Berlin.