Frequently Asked Questions
There are some questions that keep cropping up and what better way to address them than an FAQ page! Over the last couple of years of travel and blogging there have been some questions that are consistently asked and I love to answer them. But sometimes I totally blank and forget to reply so having them here and accessible seems like a good idea.
If there's a question that you have which is not answered here, you can leave it as a comment on one of my related blog posts (I always try to reply ASAP), send me a message via the Facebook Page, or use the contact form below.
This one always comes up and is difficult to answer. Balancing medicine, traveling and blogging is definitely tough work.
Medicine is the number one priority and takes up the most time. It's long weeks, many classes and a lot of study on the side. Not to mention that it is insanely competitive. Trying to keep up definitely takes some perseverance! However in university you do get the luxury of time off (around 3 months a year) so this leaves time to travel.
Travel happens during these breaks. I love to go away for extended periods (longer than a month) to make it less stressful. This gives you more time to relax and actually enjoy the holiday. If you plan trips slowly over a long time then they aren't so stressful to organise.
Blogging occurs when there is any spare time. Blogging is so much more than just uploading a post. There's the social media, the research, the photography and emailing people to try and start collaborations. A lot more happens behind-the-scenes than ever reaches the Travel Textbook home page. But the trick with blogging is to treat it as relaxation and then it becomes easier to manage. If you try and take the stress out of it then it can be seen as leisure time and less of a balancing act.
Whether it's a travel blog, food blog, or something else, the basics are the same. The first step is deciding to commit to it - and once you've done this then you're well on the way!
WordPress.org is what most bloggers use but it can be tricky to wrap your head around. The templates on WordPress are customisable and it is well-suited to blogs. It does take a bit of work to get WordPress templates looking how you would like them to but it pays off. Other great sites (with much smoother-looking, design-heavy templates that are already made) are Wix and Squarespace. I haven't personally used them but know others who have. Check out blogs that you aspire to be like and see what they've done -- this is the best way to get inspiration on design and how to layout a site.
Picking a good name is hugely important! Keep it short and sharp, and most importantly make sure that nobody else has it.
Then it's time to get to work. Let your friends and family know, post a few initial posts, start up your social media channels and get to promoting. Promotion is where the slog is hard and there is no easy way out. It takes a lot of time to build an organic Instagram, Facebook and blog following. Just post consistently, comment on other people's stuff and genuinely engage with people. You can buy followers and ads etc. etc. which will make you look good on the surface, but at the end of the day they will never get you real views and engagement. Not worth it, just do the hard work and you'll be fine.
Constantly be on the look out for new ways of doing things and keep your finger on the pulse. Keep writing articles that people seem to engage with, post photos similar to those that get the most likes, etc. and you will keep seeing growth.
I find this question uncomfortable to answer (who likes to talk about money, amiright?) but it does help to provide perspective.
Money is a two way equation. You have money coming in, and you have money coming out. Both sides are just as important as each other.
The "in" part of the equation: for me, I worked basically every summer holidays full time during school for 5 years, and then on-and-off during university. This meant I had quite a lot of savings stored away. On top of this there is money associated with blogging and freelance travel writing.
The "out" part of the equation: budget, budget, budget. Seriously. If you keep a budget you will be so aware of where you are spending money and can make vital cuts. It's no surprise that I travel cheaply and I often spend less money away from home than I would staying at home (sounds dumb, but it's true). Traveling very cheaply, but also living cheaply at home (forgo that extra coffee or that round of shots, you'll thank yourself later) means that the "out" part is less significant. Getting free or discounted stays through blogging also cuts costs.
I was born in Sydney but moved to Hobart, Tasmania when I was young so this is where I consider "home". In February 2015 I moved to Melbourne, Victoria to study medicine at Monash University. Although I'm studying in Melbourne I still consider Hobart home. So I'm a bit all over the place!
A lot of my photos are iPhone photos (a mix of 5, 6 and 7 depending on which trip it was). But usually I travel with an additional camera as well. For my euro gap year in 2014 it was a Canon Rebel t3i, for my India and SE Asia trip it was a Canon Powershot G1 X, and from July 2016 (Hawaii trip and European winter trip) I used a SONY a7 mirrorless camera.
I absolutely love my SONY a7 a recommend it to people who want good photography from a lightweight camera. But despite this glowing praise, iPhones do an amazing job with photography so if you aren't too serious about pictures, just stick to your phone.
This question is basically impossible to answer! If you are in any country long enough I think you can't help but love it. Every place has its own quirks, culture and atmosphere, and there are different reasons to fall for each place. I honestly cannot narrow it down to one, so I'll do it in some categories (still hard to do!!).
Total culture shock: India
Natural wonder: Nepal
All-round awe: Switzerland, Myanmar, Montenegro, Sri Lanka
Totally depends on the trip and it honestly changes all the time. Often with family, partners, friends, or alone.
I have been blogging since July 2015 but it was initially under a different name. In September 2016 I totally rebranded, got a new blog name and URL, and basically started from scratch. So there are kind of two start dates. It was easier the second time around because I had the hang of things.
Earning from blogging takes a really long time to do because you have to build a following and gain momentum. Once you have this following then it is possible to make money from blogging. Well it can be money, but it is more likely to be complimentary accommodation, tours, gear, etc. which basically is money. It's not so much dollars in the bank but much cheaper ability to travel and getting to stay in places you may not otherwise be able to afford. Freelance blogging for other travel sites as well as affiliate marketing is where I earn actual cash.
If you're a brand looking to collaborate with Travel Textbook, head to the Work With Me page to kick start something. I would love to hear from you!