I thought I’d answer one of the most common questions I get specifically about travel blogging: is there too much competition these days?
After all, this is a very popular niche, for the simple fact that it’s an exciting topic and almost everyone loves to travel. Just like food blogging has exploded in the past 5 to 10 years, travel blogs seem be to constantly popping up left and right.
So… has this ship sailed? Is it just pointless starting a travel blog today?
Having been in the travel blogging game for a long time, here’s my 2 cents.
They told me I was too late… in 2012!
In some ways, not much has changed.
When I started travel blogging waaaay back in 2012, there were so many other amazing blogs already, just like there are today. Some people even said I was ‘too late’… ha!
I mean, maybe I was? There certainly were a lot of older blogs that seemed to have a huge early mover advantage. The thought of even trying to compete with them felt so intimidating. It did cross my mind that maybe I got into the game too late.
The general advice I got — again, remember, this was back in 2012! — was that travel as a topic was too general and that I should look for another topic. I even completed this blogging course (Fizzle, since acquired ZenBusiness) where the hosts were basically saying not to bother with travel blogs because they were “too hard to monetize”.
I started travel blogging anyway. I kept pushing and I’m so happy I did. About two years after launching the blog I could quit my job and do travel blogging full-time.
Was I lucky to be there still pretty early? For sure, in some ways, it was easier to launch a travel blog at the time that I did — especially one without a clear focus. But the naysaying I hear today sounds very similar to what I heard at the time.
Read more: Don’t miss my guide to starting your travel blog the right way, which will avoid technical issues or any limitations on your monetization.
How travel blogging has changed
That said, a couple of things have changed quite a lot.
1. There are a lot more blogs now
For sure, there are many more travel blogs out there today than 5 or 10 years ago. The general travel blog topic has honestly become fairly saturated.
While a lot of travel blogs that were just about ‘any kind of travel anywhere’ may have found success in the early days, given the increased competition, this is just too unfocused to get very far these days — unless you are unusually persistent or lucky.
‘Anything anywhere’ type of travel blogs also suffer from disadvantages in terms of SEO, as you’re not building authority for specific sets of keywords.
If you start a travel blog today, it’ll definitely be easier if you focus on a topic, like a country or a region, or a specific style of travel.
Not all travel blogs start with a super specific niche right away, but it’s definitely wise to develop one over time.
2. The audience is also bigger
While the number of travel blogs has increased, so has the total audience — which is something that doesn’t get talked about so much!
The total audience for travel blogs is growing every year — a lot of it thanks to mobile.
Here’s an interesting example: when I started out, only 15% of my blog’s visitors came from mobile devices; now it’s 60%. People are browsing travel blogs more and more — and increasingly on their phones while they’re already in the destination.
Travellers don’t just buy a copy of Lonely Planet anymore. My hunch is that many travellers don’t even pre-research trips as much as they used to. They’re often literally guiding their trip using blogs in the destination. That’s something that wasn’t a trend at all when I started and that newer blogs have been capitalizing on hugely with specific content tailored to answering questions while people are travelling.
3. Travel itself constantly changes
The world is constantly changing, which makes travel content not exactly an evergreen type of content. That has its disadvantages (after a few years you probably need to update your travel guides), but for an upstart blog, it is definitely a huge advantage.
There is always room for new voices and perspectives. Destinations change, trends change, and when you’re starting fresh you can write about what travelers most want to know about today.
For every new travel blog created, there is an old out-of-touch blog from a decade ago getting downranked because it hasn’t kept up.
4. The average quality level has increased
On the other hand, to properly compete you do have to bring more to the table than when I started. To be a travel blogger today you must be a many-tentacled talent: able to write great posts, shoot and edit great photos, and understand digital marketing.
The field has professionalized quite a lot, so investing in training or coaching can help you better succeed in (commercial) travel blogging.
The opportunities are still there
Overall, in my opinion, it’s definitely not too late to start a travel blog. People have been saying that forever and it’s just not true. While the blogging landscape has evolved, I think established bloggers saying ‘you’re too late’ is just a way to ward off competition.
However, if you’re starting out today, it definitely helps to have a bit of a strategy and area of focus.
Just blogging about any travel-related topic willy-nilly is not likely to stick. What you need is some idea of what you’re going to specialize in, so that you can offer something that’s more in-depth, more up-to-date, better quality, or just has a bit of a different angle to what’s already out there.