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Dear Newbie Travel Blogger,

This open letter is from me directly to you. Who am I to be writing to you? Well I’m me, Jean. A well known Australian travel blogger. Actually Melbourne’s most infamous coffee fuelled adventure travel blog. I’m also a chapter leader for Travel Massive and reguarly present on brand & blogger engagement. My street cred is seen in my kind eyes and calloused fingers from typing away for some many years. I’ve been doing this blogging/influencer thing for a little while now. And by a little while I mean 3 years or so. I’ve done the hard yards. Spent hours working on honing my craft. And I’m really happy to share my hard learnt lessons with you. I’m here helping you on Facebook groups. Answering your silly repetitive questions. 

So to help you grow, develop and truly become a wonderful citizen of the world here are a few of my pet peeves which I really wish you’d stop doing. 

Stop Asking for Freebies

Oh I can’t tell you how many times a day I see you all huddled in your newly discovered Facebook group. You finally get the courage to put finger to keyboard and push out a most delicious and ridiculous request such as the below.

  • So I’ve been blogging for 22 days, I have 9 followers and my mum says I’m cool. How can I get brands to work with me?
  • I’m good as at writting and have a based blog. When can I start asking brands to give me free stuff?
  • When can I expect people to give me free stuff
  • Do I need to send my stats to a brand to get all the free stuff?

Firstly – Stop.

This travel blogging to making money is a rough road that you are about to journey down. Be prepared to have a sore arse from all the ups and downs. Being a travel blogger isn’t just for the perceived free stuff. If your aim is to make millions, travel the world for free and be a sex god then travel blogging isn’t for you my dear. Let me slap you in the face with the truth fish – Travel blogging is hard work. Oh no I dropped the “W” word. W O R K. When a brand agrees to send you an item it isn’t for free sweet cheeks. It’s an exchange of services. Brands expect you to work your sweet arse off for that item. Whether it’s a $10 item or a $1000 item. The expectation is still there. It’s a weighty expectation for you to act like a professional and deliver.

Brands expect that you have a solid community of followers. That you have spent time nurturing and developing a loyal following. That you know what works well with your community and how to best present their brand to this community.

Deliver what you promise.

If you have managed to hood wink a brand into working with you then you need to deliver what was agreed upon. Even if this takes you a lot longer then you anticipated.

When you don’t get how this works you fuck it up for the rest of us. When you never write that article. Never share that Instagram image. You are literally a bad person that is damaging the travel blogging community. Also known as an arsehole bastard here in Australia.


Let go of the Leibster Award

Because no one cares. I care so little that I’m not even going to link to this faux shitty award. Yes that truth slapping fish is here again. When you post in ALL the Facebook groups and leave me messages on my blog asking me if I want to be nominated what do I want to do? Fish – face – You…. I’m sure you can fill in the blanks.

Leave crappy comments with your URL on other well known blogs.

Oh hey I’ve done the exact same but different trip here’s my blog post 

This is a killer. A killer mistake. Somewhere along the line some cruddy How to be a Travel Blogger and Make Money decided that this was great advice to get the all important juice link to your blog. No. Nope. No way. It’s a terrible idea and shows how unprofessional you are. Don’t see these on my blog? Yeah that’s because my spam filter captures this data and throws it out the window without a second glance.

I’m sorry that you paid for this shitty advice.

Demand to have all my contacts.

Ah no. At least buy me a drink before you try to screw me over. Please stop thinking that it’s ok to demand in a public space (Instagram, Twitter, Facebook etc) that I hand over my business contacts after you’ve seen that I’ve done a sponsored post of a FAM trip. I take what I do seriously. I don’t know who from a bar of cheap hostel soap. So why would I give you my business contacts? Those contacts that I’ve worked hard to gain their trust and respect? I’m not a telemarketer selling off a database of details.

I do a lot of brand – blogger engagement work. I do this as part of a service we offer here at Traveling Honeybird. Sorry but I’m not going to risk smudging my reputation with someone I a- Don’t know or b- have seen being a diva/dick online or even in real life.

Don’t be a Dick

So many travel bloggers have the DYKWIA syndrome. No, I don’t know who you are and I most likely don’t care. Actually I’m 99.9% sure that I don’t care/ You know who I know? Nice people. Who do I work with? Those nice people who are easy to deal with, are professional and who can be trusted.

If you do make it onto a press trip or to a networking event be a nice person. It won’t kill you.

So what can you do to be a better travel blogger?

Now that you’ve stopped crying at my harsh words or the pain from the Fish of Truth there are some really simple things you can do to be a better travel blogger.

Be prepared to work.

There I go again dropping the W word. You need to be prepared to work. On your blog. On your community engagement and building. And maybe even somewhere else along the way until you can comfortably and reliably start charging for the work you are doing. Whilst I love what it is I do here I also have several other income streams to ensure that we can pay rent, feed the animals and ourselves.

Pay your own way.

Not every trip that you do is going to come as a freebie. If you’re lucky and work hard then you might be able to convince some brands to work with you. There’s nothing wrong with approaching places and doing a wee bit of bartering. BUT that’s not what travel blogging is about.

We commonly pay full rates for the places we go and the things we do.

Network your ass off.

I run the Melbourne chapter of TravelMassive. Which is the worlds largest travel networking community. We have airlines, bloggers, travel agents, vloggers and just about everyone inbetween. Some events are for free, others have a small charge to help cover costs. With chapters in 130 cities around the globe you’re sure to find one near by.

Don’t be a dick

Ok so I know I’m repeating this one but it’s a big one. There are millions of travel bloggers out there. Yet we are still an extremely small community. We love to drink and gossip. Word gets around if you’ve bought back links. Or if you’re a diva, leave your bags in the hotel room on a FAM trip and the harass the other attendees then guess whos’ going to know? Yup, everyone. And what are they going to be saying – Don’t work with that twat.

Take yourself seriously

Get off the free websites. If you want to do this take yourself seriously and get rid of those plans that give you a free, limited website. I don’t bother reading or dealing with style blogs. Hosting is really cheap these days. You can easily get a domain and hosting for a year for under $100. Which is less then what some of you will spend on booze this weekend.

Exposure doesn’t pay the airfares.

Or the food bill. If you want to do this travel blogging thing seriously stop working with brands for exposure. Exposure is a magical word which translate to “We’re too cheap to pay for you”. Also stop pitching companies for magical exposure dollars.

So now that I’ve broken your heart, slapped you in the face with the Fish of Truth I’m going to walk away and give you some time to process all of this. If you have any questions on how to be a better travel blogger or think I’ve missed out on something let me know in the comments below.

If you’d like some help getting off a freebie hosting plan we can assist you in setting up a basic and professional looking travel blog for a very reasonable fee. Contact us for more information on this service.

Lots of love,



  1. Thanks for the tips Jean

  2. Just discovered your blog Jean. I love your writing style. As a brand new travel blogger I’m so grateful you wrote this. I’m not really interested in press trips or freebies but what on earth is a FAM trip? I’m a bit confused – so is it bad etiquette to leave a comment on a blog with your URL? Or is it just self-promoting comments? I’ve already had this on my Facebook Page. And thanks for clearing up the Leibster Award! I just didn’t get the point of it!

    • Welcome!! Yes it is bad etiquette to leave your blog URL in the comments. It’s poor Manners and most blogs have these as no follow links so no SEO juice.

      A fam trip is a familiarisation trip. A press trip.

  3. Ha, this is a great post. I’m glad I’m not the only one who feels the same way about the Liebster “Award”. It reminds me of those crappy chain email questionnaires that were all the range when I was in Year Ten. I fell for it when I was 15, but am not falling for it now! And don’t be a dick should not only be a mantra for blogging, but for life in general.

    • So glad you enjoyed it 😉

  4. Thanks for this. I’d like to add another. Stop publishing about how to travel the world for free as a travel blogger. It happens for so few who were perhaps early adapters and stuck to it consistently; or those with great luck, youth and business acumen; or those who find a niche that provides real service and hasn’t been over saturated. At any rate, great well writen content, solid SEO, a tireless work ethic, and a second income in the family goes a long way towards success! (Thanks for letting me vent…)

  5. This is fantastic! I bloody love every part of this! 🙌

    • Aww thanks!!

  6. This was an awesome read, some very hard truths, and as a newbie, no surprises at all! It always strikes me that people think anything that is free/awesome/exciting just magically happens easily or for little effort.

    I think after launching my blog in January I have literally spent more than half of my life sending literally thousands of blog pitches to various online media outlets, for sometimes not even a reply – it’s a slave trade at the beginning, that’s why so few make it!

    Thanks for the awesome words, would love to get to your point in the future 🙂

    • Oh Alexis you have a wonderful blog that will do wonders!!

  7. LOL! I wasn’t sure what this blog would be about when I read the title….I laughed so hard. “At least buy me a drink before you try to screw me over.” LOL! You have said what SOOO many bloggers think ALL the time. I’ve been at it for 3 + years, too, and cringe when I read things like, “I’m good as at writing…” OH, that hurts my English teacher eyes. Thank you for letting me know I’m not alone in groaning at some of what I see out there from ‘travel bloggers’ AND for the chuckle.

  8. LOVE. THIS. POST. I would leave a longer and more meaningful comment but you’ve literally said it all. I agree with everything!

    • Oh thanks Emily! Means a lot coming from you

      • Thank you for the awesome post 🙂 I hope a LOT of people read it. Can we make it mandatory for people starting blogs please?!

        • I think it should be. Maybe we’ll start of our How To Be a Top Notch Blogger course? 😂

          • Haha yes. Step one, stop listening to “how to make money blogging” blogs.

  9. Nice words Jean. I live for the day when this industry becomes full of more professionals, people who understand that writing a blog is like running a business, develops rewarding, mutually beneficial relationships, stop giving away content for free, writing properly, being respectful, honouring committments, working hard, being inclusive and my favourite which you touched on, stop hassling me for my contacts. #agreewitheverything

    • Thanks Kerri. You’re support means a lot!! One day we will get there. United we stand, divided we work only for exposure

  10. “Let me slap you in the face with the truth fish.” You are awesome.

    • I do my best 😉

  11. This is great! I totally forgot about the Leibster award hahahah I still feel awkward whenever people ask me if I want to be “nominated” for the 47th time, but granted, I fell for it once upon a time too.

    • Oh dear! It is rather funny! Because clearly you meet the newbie criteria 🤦‍♀️

    • Oh Richelle!!! I was just going to nominate you too… And I have soooo much to say about YOU on a fam trip 😉 This is actually all really great and totally what I think each time I get an email or a tweet about any of these things. Jean, thanks for being blunt! 🙂

      • Not blunt just honest! 😉

  12. This is the advise that I need to hear. I am not a travel blogger but I do write travel blog sometimes. You are right, it’s really hard work.

  13. You’re awesome. That’s all.
    Checking out Travel Massive….now!


    • Awww thanks lovely! You and Michelle are pretty cool too


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Coffee Lover | Travel Blogger | Horse Rider | Adventure Racer | Donut Dame. Generally nice lady-enjoys wine, indie movies & random dance parties in my tent.