After getting quite a few messages asking me how I got started with my weekend travel blog, I decided to consolidate my answers into one post. If something here isn’t answered, feel free to drop me an email!
OK so nobody emailed me asking this, but I figured it might be a good way to start in case you aren’t familiar with The Blonde Banana. My name is Anna and I’m a twenty-something Bostonian working full time at a tech PR agency. I recently moved back to Boston after working in fashion public relations in New York City, and let’s just say I’m still recovering! In my spare time I’m usually found searching for flight deals, trying new workout classes, overeating tacos and exploring the city.
Travel (and planning travel for others!) is my favorite hobby, so starting a travel blog was a natural move for me. I try to travel as many weekends as I can, and if there’s a long weekend or holiday of some sort, you can bet I’m on a plane. Most of the people I talk to are amazed that I have the time, energy and funds to travel so often and I get a lot of questions about it. I also get the occasional Facebook comment from a confused relative I haven’t seen in a while that says, “Where do you live?”.
While the travel blogosphere is definitely a bit crowded, I think The Blonde Banana stands out as a blog making travel accessible for people who work full-time. I am insanely jealous of bloggers who get to travel the world constantly, living a nomadic lifestyle and working remotely, but that’s not the lifestyle for me. I love my friends and family too much to be far away all the time, I’m dedicated to my career, and I also love sleeping in my very own bed. I think most people feel the way I do, so I’m here to show you that you don’t have to give up your life to travel – you can see the world on weekends!
My travel blog began over on the free version of WordPress.com, but once I realized I wanted to make money from affiliate links and offer giveaways to my readers, I had to switch to WordPress.org. I love WordPress and have to say after hosting blogs on Blogger, Tumblr, and Movable Type, it’s my favorite blogging platform.
I registered my domain and host my site through BlueHost because it is the top recommended hosting service for WordPress blogs. So far, everything has been great and it was relatively easy to set up. If you are thinking about signing up with BlueHost, please consider doing so through this link as I will earn an affiliate commission.
I bought a pre-made theme for my travel blog from ThemeTrust to get started with the design, and had a friend design my logo. Then I just started posting! I’ve since invested in a professional logo design, which is the one I use now.
I am often asked if blogging is my full time job. The answer is nope, it is not! Although I’d love to spend all day feeding my Internet addiction, I only make a small amount of money with my travel blog through affiliate programs like Amazon and Shopsense. I also write the occasional relevant sponsored post and work with select advertisers to help cover my hosting fees and other costs associated with continuing to blog.
While I’m not raking in millions (yet!), my blog has helped me secure numerous profitable freelance opportunities. Some of the paid gigs I’ve landed with the help of my blog include: creating an audio travel guide to Times Square for an app, contributing paid articles to other blogs and websites, and doing PR/marketing consulting for one of my favorite travel brands.
If you are looking to make money with a travel blog, I highly recommend you sign up for Travel Blog Success. It’s a bit of an investment, but this program will literally break down all the ways you can earn money as a blogger. It also allows you lifetime access to a group of respected bloggers that you can ask questions and get immediate responses when you need help. It’s been extremely helpful for me.
While living in NYC, I hosted travelers in my apartment via Airbnb. It’s definitely not for everyone, but I’m laid back and the only time I’m really in my apartment is to sleep, so I don’t mind having visitors in my living room sometimes if it means it will cover a significant portion of my rent.
In the spirit of full disclosure, I also receive things for free sometimes. I might get a product for review or a free night in a hotel room, but I still stay true to my opinions and only feature things I actually love on The Blonde Banana.
That being said, the majority of my weekend travels are self-funded thanks to Mr. Paycheck. I also use credit card sign up bonuses to get free flights sometimes. My favorite cards are the Capital One Venture and Chase Sapphire Preferred. My flight to Ecuador was thanks to Chase, and my flight to Nashville thanks to Capital One! I also have the JetBlue Amex because JetBlue is my favorite airline for traveling between Boston and NYC.
Even though my blog has nada to do with PR, I get this question a lot. So I’ll answer it here! If you are looking to get into fashion PR, my #1 recommendation is to do as much interning as possible. I found all my internships on FreeFashionInternships.com.
If fashion public relations is your dream, prepare for lots of long hours, quite a bit of heavy lifting, pretty terrible pay (sorry, but it’s true!) and never ending stress. After a few years I was totally over it, but I guess I had to get that out of my system, right? Traditional fashion PR is not all bad – you’ll never forget the first time you see your client on the Today Show or in ELLE and think “I did that!.” And the unlimited flow of free clothes, shoes and bags doesn’t hurt either!
So I hope I answered all your questions, but if there’s something I missed feel free to leave a comment and I’ll respond. And don’t forget to subscribe to my email newsletter and follow me on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram!
This post contains affiliate links where if you click to sign up for or purchase something, I will receive a small commission. This commission does not influence my content or opions in any way. All of these services are used by me and I highly recommend them.