From avid backpacker to inspired travel blogger

Life has been a bit crazy lately for travel blogger Clint Johnston, who has just returned home after being on the road for six weeks.

First he was traveling through Nepal, trekking to Everest Base Camp, then hopped over to Bhutan. He spent two weeks island-hopping in the Caribbean, stopping in St. Martin, St. Barths, and Anguilla. Then he planned some extended layovers in Doha and Istanbul, popular destinations on his award-winning website Triphackr.

With more than 80 countries under his belt, the WeWork SoHo West member also writes for major outlets like The Huffington Post, the Travel Channel, and Hipmunk. He shared some of his blogging secrets with us.

How did you get into travel writing? Were you a writer who traveled, or the other way around?

I have always loved traveling and had kept a journal in my early years on the road. When I started reading travel blogs it was when I realized I should be documenting my trips. I had the wrong impression of blogs early on, and I didn’t realize that they could be a useful tool in planning trips and inspire others to do the same. That’s when I decided to start Triphackr to help others achieve their travel goals.

When I launched Triphackr I had no idea how much the site would grow in a few years. Once my worked was published in various travel sites and magazines, I knew I was on to something.

What do you do in your down time when you’re on the road?

On my recent trek to Everest Base Camp in April, there was a lot of down time due to the lack of electricity and Wi-Fi. I started writing in a journal again to pass the time in the evenings. I also read my Kindle a lot more than I usually do and the battery lasted surprisingly long.

My favorite way to pass the time was playing “dumbal”. The Nepali porters and guides taught me this card game and we would play it for hours. I brought it back to the States and still love playing it back home.

What advice would you give people hoping to break into travel writing?

Create a travel blog to share your personal travel content and experiences. Write often and create content that is sharable and interesting for fellow travelers. Your audience might be your mom and your friends in the beginning, but it will grow if useful content is there.

It is tough to get noticed in the beginning, which is why engaging with other travel bloggers is important as well. Interact with travel writers you enjoy, share their content, and even email them with follow-up points about their articles to get a dialogue going. Engaging with other writers and creating new content to share on your travel blog will help you get noticed.

With all the different online outlets out there, is breaking into the business easier or harder?

It is easier to get published today, but only because there are many online outlets. However, with so many voices out there you are less likely to be heard, and the quality of content seems to be going down with articles on lists.

The key is to get picked up by one of the larger outlets. A good way to do this is using sites like Medium or Thought Catalog to share your writing. Anyone can submit posts, which means if you write something interesting it has a better chance of being seen and directing traffic back to your site. Once I had a pitch accepted at Huff Post Travel, it opened a lot of doors with other travel outlets. Targeting mid-level online publications is a good approach as well. Most travel sites will at least accept your pitch and reply to you. It is harder to break into the business, but it’s also easier than ever to get your voice out there.

Can someone make a living at travel writing? 

If you are getting into the travel writing for the money, you might want to look elsewhere. Sure, some online outlets pay great, but many travel writers generate income in other ways. Even the top travel bloggers don’t rely on only travel writing to pay the bills. It is a challenge to reach a point in travel writing to make it your full-time job but it can be done with a little luck and some very hard work. Travel writing is a dream job, but it doesn’t come without challenges just like any other profession.

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