Blogging in Berlin

Why I Started a Travel Blog (And What Makes it so Successful Today)

Hello and welcome to my newest blog 🙂

This summer marks four years since I quit my job as a graphic designer in Boston. To celebrate, I’ve changed my former design portfolio into a blog and website where I can share more of what I actually do these days.

Back when I was a designer, I’d been working at one of the world’s leading publishing houses for the three straight years post-college. And while I loved my job, I had also reached a certain point. Call me impatient, but I had goals to achieve, places to see and things to do (and plenty to discover as well). My corporate job was a good one, but it wasn’t providing me with everything I wanted. (This is your cue to refer to me as a millennial. I don’t care.) I knew what I wanted. And I went after it.

And so here I am, four years later, with a successful travel blog where I’ve been posting regularly for nearly five full years. Can you believe it?! I hardly can. I never expected my life to take me down this path. The transition from print designer to full-time blogger was a strange one, and yet here I am sitting in my Berlin apartment faraway from the life I never even imagined.

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I started my travel blog for a number of reasons. It ultimately began because of a tweet. I’d just returned from a life-changing trip to Iceland. While planning that trip, one particularly kind stranger sent me heaps of tips and advice over Twitter. With that simple but kind gesture from a stranger, I was hooked. Social media was already a passion, but with that flurry of tweets, I knew there could be a useful way to use social media while traveling.

Shortly after that trip to Iceland, I made a few life-changing decisions. Most important was my strong desire to see more of the world — whether by transferring jobs or just going abroad out on my own. Either way I decided I would need a blog. Plus, with my newfound respect for social media, I knew I’d want to give something back to the world at large.

The travel blog took shape as I was studying web design and playing with social media. It became a sort of testing ground where I could learn how to use certain web tools. It was a way to use social media professionally (or semi-professionally) and see how far I could take it. I always loved challenging tradition; it was one of the best parts of my job working in print publishing. The industry was changing and I knew from early on that I wanted to be a part of the change. As publishing was increasingly transitioning from print to digital, I knew I’d need my own platform. And that came in the shape of a blog.

Travels of Adam - Hipster Lifestyle & Travel Blogs

I’d blogged before, of course. There was Xanga and LiveJournal and some small, indie blogging platform which I can’t even remember. Facebook was created at the same time I was a freshman in college, so there was that (back when it was THE Facebook). I always loved sharing stories and blogging was just the next iteration of this. With, the goal was to start yet another blog, but this time a bit more focused. At first I used it as a testing ground, learning how to use WordPress, practicing web design & coding and exploring what social media existed and how to use it for marketing. Despite my love and passion for design, I’d quickly grown fond of Twitter—often trying to convince friends of its countless benefits.

Over time, as my blog evolved and changed (as did my life!), I became more and more interested in online publishing. What could I do when I control the entire publication? How far could I push it and what could I achieve with it? And of course there was the sweet temptation to make money. It wasn’t the goal when I started out. The blog was originally my testing ground, and my way to practice writing, publishing, marketing and social media while I traipsed around the world spending the very last bits of my $20,000 in savings.

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By the time I landed in Berlin, desperate to live abroad and quickly falling in love with the city, I realized there was so much more potential to my blog. I worked hard at it over the next several months, updating it to the next level and using my new-found knowledge in SEO and online marketing to effectively optimize the site. It took another four or five months until I could take the blogging job full-time, but the wait was worth it. This is the job I never dreamed of, the job I never expected.

Blogging in Berlin

But what makes my blog successful?

I’ve got a few ideas. First: one of the things I believe will make anyone successful in any job they choose to do, is having a certain amount of passion. Passion and drive goes a long way, and if you’re doing what you love, it’s no surprise your chances of success are higher. You’ll want to achieve more, to do more. And with self-made careers such as blogging, passion can do wonders. Social media was always a passion of mine. I had a Twitter account well before my travel blog. I never started my blog to make a career out of it and because I genuinely enjoyed the process from writing and editing to photographing and marketing, I kept at it. Many will tell you that consistency is key when starting a new blog. And yet many still burn out. You’ve got to want to do it.

Second: it’s experience. My short career in publishing, working on everything from design to marketing, certainly helped me to better understand the online publishing world. Not just the complicated publishing process, but the importance of artist copyright, the power of design (and typography!), editing and marketing. During my years working in book publishing, I pretty much involved myself with every process of creating a book, from prototyping to brainstorming content to even selling books in stores. All that knowledge has helped me to understand what publishing does and what it can do. Undoubtedly the challenges in an online space are different, but the roots are the same.

Blogging isn’t for everyone. But the beauty of blogging is that anyone can try. I started my blog out of personal interest and a chance for professional experience. Certainly there are challenges that come with a career out of travel blogging (or any type of blogging). Online publishing is a diverse space with a lot of room for creativity. What works for one website may not work for another. My blogging career has changed countless times over the past five years. With the flexibility that comes with owning all aspects of the publishing process I’ve had the chance to test and try new ways to make blogging successful. I’ll be covering that here on this blog. Look out for additional digital marketing tips for travel businesses on this space and on Twitter.

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Follow Adam on Twitter @agroffman for relevant travel industry marketing news, or on Instagram @travelsofadam to see where in the world he’s at today.

2 thoughts on “Why I Started a Travel Blog (And What Makes it so Successful Today)”

  1. Congrats on your success Adam! I’ve had my present blog for just over 2 years now, the first was a big learning experience. I continue to learn so much from others by reading tips such as yours! I think you are bang on with having to have passion for what you are doing. I love everything to do with travel and if not for that, I would have given up ages ago! Thanks for your input!

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