Blogging seems care-free and easy, right? I mean, you just get a website and start raking in the cash! It’s the perfect hobby for someone who has no sense of responsibility. It’s not a “real” job. Right?
Those assumptions and stereotypes could not be further from the truth, y’all. There is so much more to it than glamorous photo shoots and oversharing on Instagram. Anyone can be a blogger, but not everyone can: 1. Make it work, or 2. Keep their credibility and integrity intact. Blogging well and blogging successfully both come with huge responsibility, especially travel blogging.
Why This Post Exists
I got the inspiration for this blog post while attending a cultural sensitivity seminar by the State of Hawai’i Tourism Board. It’s no secret that Hawai’i and many destinations around the world feel the impacts of over tourism more than others. It’s a catch-22: Their economy needs tourism, but the ecology can’t handle too much of it.
Related: How to Travel Sustainably in Hawai’i
How You Can Spot an Irresponsible Blogger
I hate to bash my fellow bloggers, so I won’t name names or include links to other blogs. I will, however, point out a few things to look out for. We’re all trying our best, but that definitely doesn’t mean we all follow the best practices or make good recommendations.
If you’re a blogger and you do any of these things, please don’t take this as a personal attack. Take a moment to take it in, consider and evaluate your motives, and move forward doing the next right thing.
More here: The Ultimate Secrets of Travel Blogging
They’re telling you signs don’t matter.
If it didn’t matter, there wouldn’t be a sign. Even if it seems like everyone else is doing it, or if someone told you it’s fine, be respectful anyway. If you read a blog post from someone who says signage is merely a suggestion, that was not written by a responsible blogger.
Keep reading: The Ultimate Worst Things I Did for Instagram
They clearly didn’t do their research.
Sometimes you can’t tell unless you’ve been to the place they’re writing about, but sometimes it’s so obvious, you can’t miss it. If you’re reading a blog post that seems light on details and heavy on flowery opinions, the writer is likely making some things up. Or perhaps their “research” came from reading other people’s blogs–who maybe didn’t do their research either.
Also helpful: How to Be Your Own Travel Advocate
They don’t link to references for more information.
If someone’s writing as though they know everything you need to know, and you don’t need anyone else to tell you anything, that’s a sure sign to look elsewhere. Good bloggers know that things change, and they’re not above a misunderstanding or mistake in their own research.
They’ll want to point you to the source, which is usually the website of a destination’s tourism board, government, or other tourism site, in the case of travel bloggers. If the blogger you’re reading doesn’t think there’s a need for more information, it’s time to move on!
Read next: A Day in the Life of a Travel Blogger
They’re swearing in their posts.
This is not me being judgy, this is the difference between professional and unprofessional. Blogging is a profession, and swearing is simply unprofessional. That’s all. If a blogger doesn’t treat their readers with respect and professionalism, their readers are going to pick up on that pretty quickly.
How You Can Be a Responsible Blogger
If you’re a blogger and you’re still reading this, thank you! That says a lot about you: That you’re either already not doing the things above, or that you’re open enough to be looking to improve. That’s the mark of a responsible blogger–and a responsible writer in general. Always be improving, because there’s always room! (Trust me–I’m always reminding myself of that!)
Keep reading: Destination Creative Retreat (and Why You Need One!)
It seems so simple, and yet it’s hard for so many. If you didn’t go somewhere, but you still feel the need to recommend it, tell your readers why. If you didn’t like something that you got paid for, tell your readers in a nice way; don’t feel pressured to say nice things about a not-so-nice experience. Your readers might go in thinking this was an amazing experience, and when they’re disappointed, who will they blame? You! Be honest. Always.
And know that it’s also acceptable to say nothing, if your honesty simply can’t be kind.
Also helpful: How Blogging Changed the Way I Travel
Accept that research needs to be 80% of your job.
That’s a conservative guess at the percentage, by the way. I’m always researching: Places to go, things to do, what to eat, where to eat, where to stay, safety tips, general tips. The list goes on. Doing as much research as possible will:
- Make you an amazing blogger.
- Give you credibility (and give people reason to know you’re an amazing blogger).
- Inspire countless blog posts. I can’t tell you how many blog post ideas I come up with while doing my research. Whatever I’m searching for, I know someone else is searching, too!
- Make your blog accurate.
- Give you humility. It’s amazing how much you don’t know that you don’t know, until you try to know it all!
The list could go on, but those are the big ones! If you don’t like research, you’re in the wrong line of work. But if writing for your blog is something you truly love, you’ll (eventually) want to do the research instead of feel like you have to do the research.
Keep reading: How to Be a Prepared Traveler
Be willing to change your mind.
If travel teaches us nothing else, it teaches us that what we “know” isn’t true for everyone, everywhere. We have to be humble enough to change our minds and understand that we don’t have to understand. And no matter how “gung-ho” you feel about anything, you can not only listen to the other side, you can change your mind!
Tell people where they can find more information.
This is so important! You’re not above a mistake or a misinterpretation (and neither am I!), and things like opening times and admission fees for museums and other sites definitely change over time. Always include a link to the tourism board’s website, a city or country’s government website, a museum’s website, etc.
Make sure your readers can easily find more information, and check the details themselves. They might need to know something you didn’t think was important and didn’t include. Just give them the means to get the information they want, and you’ll win them over!
Want more? Check out all the most honest info about blogging on my Writing and Publishing Page!
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