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Let’s just say it’s not a great time to be a travel blogger. 

While I share a lot of the behind the scenes of my work and lifestyle on my YouTube channel, there’s also a lot I don’t share. Not because I don’t want you to see it, but because it’s insignificant, uninteresting or – quite frankly – something I don’t even think about. 

But there’s one I’ve talked about and have been thinking about a lot recently. And that thing is Facebook. 

More specifically, I’m talking about Facebook Groups. Us travel bloggers use Facebook groups like most people use the office canteen or coffee machine. We discuss. We rant. And we gossip. It’s pretty awesome.

 

 

 

There are several travel blogger groups that I dip in and out of, joining conversations when I have something to say or starting my own thread when I need some advice. 

They allow us to connect, collaborate and, ultimately, create a community – one of my favourite things about the industry. My online acquaintances have become my real life friends, and we (mostly!) support each other in everything we do. They are my colleagues, my co-creators and my friends. 

You guys don’t see all of this, of course. A bit like your customers or clients never see your staff rooms discussions or internal messenger chats. 

But these groups – these communities – have been invaluable to me when I’ve needed help with fixing a tech issue on my site, planning a trip or figuring out a new accounting tool. And they’ve also made a somewhat lonely job a much happier and enjoyable one. 


Things have changed dramatically in travel blogging

Only recently they haven’t been so happy or enjoyable. 

The murmurs started last week. Travel blogging traffic has taken a significant hit since the last week of February. And, when our traffic drops, so does our income. 

Travel blogging income generally comes from four main sources. If you’re curious about the ins and outs, I covered them in this video: 

Generally speaking, most travel bloggers’ income comes from: 

  • on-site advertising – like the Mediavine ads you see on this page
  • affiliate marketing – commission based on purchases made through partner sites
  • brand partnerships – where we’re paid to provide coverage of a trip or review
  • their own products – such as my online courses and blogging retreat in South Africa

ALL of these have been affected massively by the ongoing situation. 

Advertising is down because travel brands – the ones that fit our blogs – aren’t advertising right now. They’re just trying to not go bankrupt with all the cancellations they’re dealing with. 

Affiliate marketing is down because nobody is making new bookings for flights, hotels or activities on trips they already have planned (and might have to cancel). 

Brands are cancelling partnerships amid all the uncertainty and travel bans. I’m fortunate in that I didn’t have any lined up for the next couple of months, but I know people who have lost weeks of work.

People have held off paying their deposits on the retreat because they’re scared to make travel plans and bloggers aren’t investing in affiliate marketing training because their income is down right now. 

As you can see, everything is having a knock-on effect on everything else. And that’s not even thinking about all the businesses outside of travel blogging that are affected.

 

 

Cancelled flights during Coronavirus COVID-19


From friendly workplace talk to fear

Over the last week or so, the Facebook communities I’m in have changed from being friendly spaces to share tips, advice and recommendations, to collective grief and fear for our livelihoods. 

Everybody in the travel blogging industry is suffering right now, and nobody could have seen it coming. 

We deal with setbacks all the time. From Google updates (the usual suspect) to social media outages, it’s not uncommon for us to all share our worries and hurdles. 

But this time it’s different. Nobody knows how far this is going to spread or how long it will affect us for. Nobody knows how long it will last. But, if the latest statistics and updates are anything to go by, it’s only getting worse every day. 

We’ve never experienced such a long setback before and, while it’s brought us all together, the panic and fear is evident. It’s all-consuming, in fact, and many of us are finding it hard to focus right now. 

 

 

 

It’s hard to promote a destination and create content when nobody can travel there. That becomes even harder when you don’t know how long it will be before that content will be read.

Right now, nobody knows how this will affect the travel blogging industry. We’re all taking a massive hit right now, and it feels like we’re just falling deeper every day. 

The one light at the end of the tunnel is thinking how our content can help rebuild the industry and repair the damage once we move on from this. 

Tourism boards will need our support more than ever, and that means our services and our work will be in high demand. 

But that’s if we make it until then – and I’m worried that we won’t all get there. 


Working in Perth Royal Hospital
After experiencing quarantine in a foreign hospital in Australia last year, I don’t wish that on anyone.

So, what does this mean for travel bloggers?

Honestly, we’re struggling to know what to make of it. If we talk about it, we do so without authority. If we don’t talk about it, we get accused of sugarcoating things and ignoring it. It feels like there’s no right answer.

When I saw other bloggers jumping on the “should you travel right now?” wagon, I swore I wouldn’t publish anything.

Everyone can make their own decisions and I respect those decisions, but I don’t feel I have any authority to comment on a disease I know nothing about. I can’t tell someone whether to travel or not, and I feel like it would be wrong for me to try.

 

 

 

So I refrained from sharing anything. I reminded my readers about the importance of travel insurance, but left it at that.

And then it got to a point where I realised things are moving to another level.

I’ve had to cancel all of my upcoming trips – trips I was really looking forward to and excited to create content for. I’m no longer going to Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Costa Rica or Peru, and it’s a little heartbreaking to think how my cancellations alone are affecting others.

(Perhaps Peru is just unlucky for me?)

I’d even planned out my content ideas for most of them, which will now have been a waste of my time. That’s around two work days that I won’t get paid for in any way. It doesn’t sound like much, but two days of unpaid work is a big deal when you’re self-employed.

It’s been a hard decision to make, but I simply couldn’t put myself and others at risk. More countries are implementing quarantines or complete travel bans, removing the element of choice for many travellers and stranding others. The quicker we contain it, the better.


Current events are affecting the entire travel industry

It’s going to have monumental effects on the travel industry as a whole. Tour companies, airlines, hotels, hostels, restaurants, transport providers and anyone else who depends on tourism is going to feel the effects of what is going on in the world right now. 

Of course, I realise that travel bloggers are are far from being the worst off in the whole pandemic. But travel blogging is the only context in which I feel I have authority to talk about what is happening right now.

 

 

 

So, while I wish I could offer something more valuable – advice or updates, perhaps – this is all I can share and all that I am comfortable sharing. But, I hope it’s been interesting and perhaps even valuable in some way.

But mostly, thank you. 

Thank you for continuing to read Alajode during this time. Even if you’re not travelling, I appreciate any time you spend fuelling your wanderlust by reading through my content – and perhaps gathering some ideas for somewhere to visit (when you can) that you hadn’t even considered before!

And thank you for making this career possible so far. Even though we don’t know what the future holds, I’m optimistic that the worst will pass soon and the travel industry won’t suffer as much as we fear. It won’t be easy until then, but worse things could happen, and I’m grateful to still have a job I absolutely adore – something that simply wouldn’t be possible without you.