Heather Cowper is a professional travel blogger based in Bristol, writing at heatheronhertravels.com. In the nine years she’s been travel blogging Heather has worked with many leading travel brands and destinations, regularly speaking at conferences about blogging and social media. Heather has a great deal of knowledge and expertise in this field and is involved in several blogger collectives, including: Travelator Media, Bristol Bloggers and Influencers and Bristol Travel Massive.
How did you became a travel blogger
I started my travel blog heatheronhertravels.com over nine years ago after an inspirational trip with a couple of girlfriends through Ecuador and the Amazon basin. While I was there I would post photos on Flickr (this was before the social media platforms were so established) so that they could be seen by my friends and family. On my return I remember asking one of my work colleagues who was into all things technical “So how do I get into this blogging thing?” and with a few pointers I was away. For a long time I just did it for fun but gradually I become more serious about the blog and a year ago I decided to become a full time blogger so that I could devote all my time to the blog and associated projects in blogging and social media.
How has digital technology and social media changed the way you work
When I started out, the blog was seen as the main hub that you wanted to bring readers back to. However, over the years I’ve been blogging, so many new platforms such as Instagram, Pinterest and Snapchat have emerged, as well as Facebook and Twitter, and I have different audiences who are following my travels on each of these platforms. These days it feels that you need to have a presence everywhere to be a serious blogger. It’s more about sharing your content where the audience is, rather than always trying to bring them back to your blog. I seem to spend half my life on my iPhone, flipping between social channels to check what’s going on, posting photos from my travels and responding to reader queries.
What are your top tips for aspiring travel bloggers who want to make a career in the industry
When I started out the travel blogging community was so much smaller and it felt as if it was possible to know everyone. These days of course there are so many new bloggers and so I think it’s more difficult, although not impossible to build a career this way. My top tips for aspiring travel bloggers are:
- Take a while to work on your website’s design, build your audience and to find your voice, as this will help you to gradually refine your niche. I wouldn’t rush into making a career directly from blogging, as it’s a hard slog and there’s no pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. It’s better to take things at a sustainable pace and learn your craft, while working out what your audience responds best to.
- Take a look at the skills you may have, perhaps in writing, photography or social media that you could use to build up a freelance income stream by working for other people. Most full time bloggers earn at least 50% of their income this way and this will support you financially while you built up your blog’s traffic to the substantial levels required to make money from advertising or affiliate sales.
- It’s good to attend travel blogging conferences and events where you’ll meet both other bloggers for support and PR professionals who may want to work with you. Conferences are a great way to improve your skills and knowledge while networking and having a fun time – otherwise it can be a lonely occupation sitting in front of your laptop.
I love following travel bloggers who share my passions of food, culture and sightseeing and who bring their work to life with colourful photos, videos or great writing that inspires me. Being in my 50s I also tend to gravitate to bloggers who are at the same life stage as me – I love reading the work of inspirational older women rather than being impressed by 20-somethings doing yoga poses on the beach.
Zoe Dawes at The Quirky Traveller
Kathryn Burrington at Travel with Kat