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TBEX Europe 2015: The State of Blogging

We don’t blog about blogging, but this is an exception. We’ve participated in past TBEX conferences and decided to make the trip over to Barcelona, Spain for the 2015 edition – primarily because we wanted to visit Barcelona. However, the conference gave us a lot to think about and we wanted to weigh in on the State of Travel Blogging in 2015.

Since launching this blog on January 2, 2008, we’ve seen a lot of changes in the last 7+ years. This year’s TBEX underscores for us how far our little industry has come. And how far it still has to go.

Tables of people networking at TBEX Europe
Speed Networking

What Are the Takeaways from TBEX Europe 2015?

The focus on nomadic living is dead

When we first started blogging in 2008, we weren’t “real” bloggers. And the big bloggers all told us we weren’t real bloggers because we still had corporate jobs, we still had a house and cars and we hadn’t sold everything to live out of a backpack. We were told the only “real” bloggers were digital nomads.

Well, at TBEX 2015, the digital nomads are settling down. Gary Arndt talked about his end game of blogging and how he is only going to travel a few months a year. He’s not alone. We counted at least a dozen big name bloggers all slowing down, finding the joys of real estate and re-evaluating what it means to be a blogger. We’ve always held that there is not a one-size-fits-all approach to blogging. The only “right” way is your way. We’re thrilled that our peers are realizing this too.

Everybody is a luxury travel blogger

It seems that everyone is now a luxury travel blogger. People who were writing backpacking blogs about how get to get by for a few bucks a day are suddenly writing about luxury hotels. Many are doing it purely for financial reasons. Following the herd isn’t a business strategy. Be yourself. Be true to your audience.

Table with bowls of olives
Local olives at the TBEX party

If you don’t have an audience, you don’t have anything at all

At past TBEX conferences (including Ireland), there was a lot of discussion about the importance of SEO and writing for the “digital brain” at Google. But SEO will only get you so far. If you want to be a travel blogger for the long term and you want to monetize, you need an engaged audience. You need to offer them something of value, not just ranking number one in search results. Your success will be defined by your ability to build a community and attract an audience of followers.

To run a serious travel blog, it takes a lot of time and a lot of hard work

We made a lot of friends at TBEX in Toronto and many of them are no longer blogging. They decided to give up and throw in the towel. At this year’s TBEX, a thread through a number of presentations and discussions was how hard it is and how long it takes. Nobody is entitled to a travel blog. Nobody is going to hand success to you. Blogging still takes a lot of work and a lot of time. It’s about consistency and persistency.

People creating a human pyramid in Costa Brava, Spain
The human pyramid – a local tradition

TBEX Europe Recaps:

  1. The only “right” way to blog is your own way.
  2. Be Authentic. Don’t follow the herd. Speak to your audience. Be true to yourself.
  3. Your success will be defined by your ability to build a community and attract an audience of followers.
  4. Blogging still takes a lot of work and a lot of time. Nobody is going to hand success to you.
Musicians performing at a cocktail party

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Leyla Giray Alyanak

Wednesday 20th of May 2015

A great reminder of the takeaways... I think blogs evolve. You start writing about backpacking and end up writing about food. I started writing about solo women's travel and now I'm writing about empowerment. Our blogs, especially if we stay true to ourselves, should reflect who we are. The challenge is bringing our community along for the ride. Not everyone succeeds in that transition but if it means losing a few people along the way so be it.

I think blogging, like life, is cyclical... today we're on the road full-time, tomorrow we have a need to settle down but a whole new generation of travel bloggers is undoubtedly waiting in the wings to adopt that cycle all over again...

I personally love these blogging conferences - there's always new information to pick up but really, I love to see people I otherwise only connect with online. It's great to be able to say Hi - to old friends, and to new ones too.

David Stock

Wednesday 20th of May 2015

Great Post! We are TBEX backers and will always do what we can for the travel community. But there's to many new blogs that just think it's easy work, for free travel. That is not it at all so it was nice to see people driving it home! There's also so many blogs that copy what everyone else is doing, Just do your own thing and things will fall into place or at least that's what we think. It also blew us away how many do not have a niche. They want to be Adventure, Backpacking, Food and so on....... I can tell you we are Adventure and if i put a food post up my readers would say, this is not adventure (that's why i come here.)

Chris Christensen (Amateur Traveler)

Tuesday 19th of May 2015

People have been coming into travel blogging and then leaving again for the 10 years I have been a part of the community. It also is pretty common for people to backpack for a while and then settle down or not want to stay in dorm rooms for ever. I don't know if these are new trends or just new trends to this generation of bloggers. There are also a whole new generation hitting the road just now, staying in hostels and blogging about backpacking. And so... it may ever be.

Lance Longwell

Tuesday 19th of May 2015

Good point Chris. Maybe everything comes full circle!

Rick Calvert

Tuesday 12th of May 2015

Great advice and a great short state of the industry Lance. Thank you for coming back to TBEX. We hope to see you again at a future event.

Sincerely Rick Calvert CEO TBEX

Lance Longwell

Wednesday 13th of May 2015

Thanks Rick. Looking forward to perhaps going to Sweden next year.

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