Wow – I can’t believe it’s already been two years since I launched this travel website. What started as a coincidence (more on that later) slowly became a crucial part of my life. In those two years, my hobby became my online business and my passion for traveling became my job and routine. Time to look back on how it all started!! In this article, I’m trying to be as transparent as possible in sharing my journey from the last two years. I’ll tell the story of how I started this website, how I jumped from university straight into full-time blogging and how I finally managed to monetize my blog. Further, I will also tell you what my life is like at this moment and what my plans and goals for the future will be.
If you ever wondered, what I’ve actually been doing in the last two years and how my life as a travel blogger is like – this article is for you!
Here’s the story on how it all started
I realized that I actually never shared why and how I started this website. Time to change that! Well, it’s obvious (especially to everyone who knows me personally) that I love traveling. Therefore, I used every opportunity during my years at university to go on extensive backpacking trips. It must have been around fall 2016 when I decided to share my pictures online on Instagram and tried to gain a bit of a following. However, at this point I had absolutely no idea about travel blogging and the business behind it – I just enjoyed sharing some pictures, especially since I was on lots of solo trips at this time.
Well, everything changed in July 2017. I was traveling South America at this point and received a message on my Instagram account from a PR company in New Zealand. They were looking for a German participant for a backpacking campaign by the New Zealand tourism board. At first I thought it was spam or a scam, but I still felt curious and, after talking with a good friend, I decided to give it a try and send in the requested application video. At this point, I was in the Atacama Desert in Chile after touring the Salar de Uyuni and I remember vividly the struggles I had to upload the video until the day of the deadline with the shitty hostel wifi – several times I almost gave up on it. After a few tries and lots of hours waiting, the video was online, sent in and I quickly forgot about it.
Fast forward 2 weeks: I remember exactly the moment when I was laying in my hostel bed at Foz do Iguacu (Brazil) late at night, watching the newest Game of Thrones episode. Suddenly I received an email. I was selected and had to be in New Zealand the following week. WHAT?! I honestly couldn’t believe it, but everything had to go extremely fast. I had to sign contracts, send in passport copies, confirm flight details. Until I received my flight confirmation (2 day before departure!) I still thought all of this would be a big scam. But then I left Latin America after 8 months and was on my flight from Rio to Auckland – what followed was probably the most exciting week of my life.
At some point I will probably write more details about the media campaign in New Zealand, but let’s keep it short this time. It’s been an absolute dream – all travels covered, well paid on top and I had the time of my life. We travelled around the country and were followed by our entourage (25 people – camera crew, make-up artists, directors, security!) with the goal to show all the fun you can have in New Zealand – for the results of the campaign, have a look here.
We were a group of six participants on this trip and two of them were professional travel bloggers – Dave from TravelDaveUK and Scott from IntrepidEscape (who became two of my best friends in the last two years). I was incredibly inspired and curious to learn more about their “career” and their lives. Until this point, I was reading travel blogs to plan my own travels, but I had no idea about the whole industry and business behind it! I finally got all those insights and after our incredible trip, I decided that I wanted to give it a try. I flew back home to Germany in the end of August, started my final year at university and launched “German Backpacker”!
The beginning of this travel blog
In fall 2017, I uploaded the first few articles to my first draft of a website (I obviously had no idea how things would work at this point). However, Dave and Scott, who became my unofficial mentors, told me about a travel blogger conference. I didn’t even know something like this would exist! They convinced me to make the commitment of buying a ticket and traveling to Killarney, Ireland for the TBEX conference. My blog was barely a few weeks old and suddenly I was at a conference in Ireland, listening to talks about SEO, affiliates, monetization and brand collaborations; networking with tourism boards and socializing with fellow travel bloggers (many of who became close friends). I realized that blogging is actually a proper industry where people do make a living with their online businesses. And suddenly I was invited last-minute to an upcoming press trip for two weeks around Romania with 40 other bloggers and content creators.
I couldn’t believe that I actually got the chance to go on a press trip after I just started my blog, and from this point on, one thing led to another and I slowly figured out more how the blogging industry works. I went for the first time to ITB Berlin (the biggest travel and tourism fair in the world) and spent 3 full days pitching myself to every tourism board and collecting all the business cards I could get. And although my blog was still in its infancy (to be honest – next to university and travels I barely had any time to properly work on it), I got invited on sponsored trips to Kerala (India), Sri Lanka, Italy, Cyprus, Pakistan and Kyrgyzstan – all during my first year of travel blogging.
Jumping from university to full-time travel blogging
It had been certainly difficult to combine all those trips and finishing my Master in Management degree at university and to be fair, I barely wrote any articles for my website during this time. However, in summer 2018 I finally finished my master’s thesis and graduated from university. And this led inevitably to the big question – What comes next?
Everyone who knows me personally probably knows about my struggles to decide what’s the right path for me since summer of 2018 – I’m not going to get into this in detail here though. And while I was still extremely excited and pumped up to get invited to sponsored trips all around the world, I also didn’t make a single cent with my website at this point and knew that all of this wouldn’t be sustainable in the long-run. However, after being stuck at university for so many years, I decided that I deserve a break and enjoy the travel blogging dream for a little bit longer until starting a corporate career. My plan was to enjoy all the perks for a few more months, before looking for a regular job. I gave up my own apartment in Mannheim, moved my belongings to my parent’s house and suddenly had all the freedom in the world – to travel and to blog. And besides all the trips I went on in the last year, I finally committed to working on my website, to grow it and to monetize it.
My current life as a professional travel blogger
And here we are in the present – 2 years after I started this website. This blog, which started out of a lucky coincidence, suddenly became my life and my passion on which I’m working hard every day. At this point, my life is a crazy mix of sponsored trips, private travels, conferences and time at home to catch up on work and deliverables. I’ve been on some pretty epic trips in the last months – such as island hopping in the Bahamas, an expedition to the Hudson Bay in northern Canada and an all-inclusive resort stay in Antigua with 40 of my blogger friends.
But besides all these adventures, I also adapted my strategy and finally managed to monetize my website. I’ve decided to focus on travel blogging rather than social media (please never ever call me an influencer) and to focus on the German audience. This is also the reason why you won’t find many English articles here – most is happening on the German-speaking part of this blog. Oh, and if you’re curious on how I normally collaborate with brands and tourism boards, check out my PR & Media page.
It’s funny how people (especially in Germany) would normally never talk about money. However, it’s the first question people ask me when they meet me and learn about my unusual job. I don’t blame them and at some point, I might write an extensive article about how I make money with a travel blog for everyone who’s curious. To keep it short for now: After taking full advantage of sponsored trips but not earning much money in my first year of blogging, I’m proud to say that I’m earning a (mostly passive) income through a mixture of ads, affiliates, sponsored posts and paid campaigns at this point. My little hobby blog became my online business.
And since we’re just talking about it: This is also the reason why you see ads showing up when scrolling through my website. And if you want to do me a huge favor – whenever you book a hotel, a tour, a flight or a product, please consider doing your booking through the respective affiliate links on my website. You won’t spend a cent more, but I will receive a small commission 🙂
Anyways, I’m earning money while traveling the world – sounds like I’m living the dream, right? That’s at least what I hear from so many people all the time. Well, it’s not that easy and while I certainly don’t want to complain much about the life I chose, it’s not perfect either. My travels are not all fun and freedom anymore, but also became routine and work and I often find myself running around a destination to get all the pictures and notes I’d need for my upcoming articles rather than actually enjoying the place. With all these travels, I sometimes miss having a home and a routine, and while some of my blogger friends love being nomadic and live their best lives moving around every few months, I realized that it’s not for me – at least not in the long run. But don’t get me wrong – nevertheless, I’m very thankful and happy about how everything turned out in the last two years.
My plans and goals for the future
Writing about my future plans is probably the hardest part for me – my world is just moving too fast to commit to any long-term plans at this point.
If you’d have asked me two years ago, I would have said that this blog is a fun hobby next to university.
If you’d have asked me one year ago, I would have said that this blog is a fun way to get on a few free trips before starting a corporate career.
In my review of 2018 (just 9 months ago) I actually revealed that I’m planning to start a “normal” job in summer 2019 (guess what – it didn’t happen).
Therefore, I’m trying to hold myself back with any big predictions for next year or my future in general. At this point, all I can say is that my schedule is already pretty full until the end of 2019. However, my decision to start a corporate career in the future still holds true – but I’m not in a rush and I won’t set myself any deadline. Right now, I’m rather proud of what I achieved in the last 2 years, thankful for the opportunities that I received and fully living in the present.
I hope I was able to share more about my life in the last two years. If you have any questions, comments or remarks – let me know in the comments, I’m always happy to hear from you!