(Disclaimer: I did NOT win $1,028 in Vegas – my sister did and she doesn’t share). I recently asked a travel blogger (who will remain anonymous) about how much they actually save for retirement and their long term financial goals during an “ask me anything” session on their Instagram. I find it interesting how so many bloggers seem to be able to make enough money writing travel reviews, shilling Nordstrom and Amazon sales or marketing their own personal brand of travel journals, “boss babe” online content or just flat-out asking for money via GoFundMe or Patreon sites. I completely understand that some bloggers out there make a very decent living and work really hard at original content but I also suspect that many of them aren’t nearly as well off as they portray online. Rather, I suspect that many of them are working on short term goals only, i.e., meeting their monthly rent, food and other basic needs, but without a serious commitment to long term financial well-being and all while making it appear they have hit it big by such “hard work” as sitting on an inflatable unicorn in Tahiti. I was genuinely curious how this blogger was really saving for eventual retirement given that they were self-employed, self-insured and traveling constantly. Geez, did I hit a nerve!
I really wasn’t trying to offend this person but they got super defensive immediately, which pretty much told me what I needed to know. They were very likely saving little for long term retirement goals and had one basic savings vehicle. That may be fine at 21 but when you’re in your 30’s, not so much. I was chastised for not “being a follower” so I couldn’t possibly understand. Yea, sure. How much or how little they save is certainly their own business though perhaps a bit ironic given that they splash their lives, travels and “how we do it” all over the internet and all while heavily marketing and selling their own “how you can do it too” materials. Hey, that’s their hustle and good for them but at least be honest about the potential long term effects of your current lifestyle. I do get that discussing long term financial goals is kind of boring and isn’t great for sales of pseudo-educational products promising to show people how they can “grow their content” enough to “live the dream” of being a full time blogger. I’m also not interested in buying any of it either and I never have. Many bloggers do disclose how they make money or can afford their travel, but I rarely, if ever, see anything about long term financial plans or savings. Maybe I’m just old to be asking about this.
Anyway, I started this little blog for a few reasons and monetizing it wasn’t one of them. I love to travel and I love taking pictures. For the record, I pay for all my own travel. I was previously printing and putting all my photos into albums that I keep on various shelves and nooks around the house. Frankly, I was running out of room for all my photo albums. The blog was a great way to keep an online diary of our travels, photos and stories and I thought it may be useful to a few others. I certainly enjoy other people’s content and blogs, especially SilverSpoonLondon for travel and a few others (and if they make money by affiliate links or paid content then that’s just fine as long as it’s properly disclosed). I go for well written content, honesty, proper disclosures and quality information, including original photos so I can see what a place really looks like. I’m fine with some photo filtering or enhancing, like Lightroom, but fake effects and photo shop are too much.
I am truly happy and humbled if anyone stumbles or stops by here and enjoys the travel pictures and/or gets something out of anything I post. The more the merrier as far as I’m concerned. However, I don’t plan to try and sell anyone my “lifestyle” anytime soon, though. My lifestyle is actually pretty mundane – I work a corporate job and so does my husband and we work a lot, we commute and, yes, we have stress. We both save a lot for retirement in multiple accounts and ways but we also splurge on travel because that’s our main outlet to relax, reconnect and we enjoy experiencing different cultures. I fully admit to taking “easy” trips like Mexico so I can just decompress and have a margarita rather than seeking out an “Instagrammable” photo opportunity. A small amount of short-term debt won’t kill anyone but selling a phony “you can have this too” lifestyle without disclosing very real long-term consequences is disingenuous to me. I also know that while I have worked hard, I have also had an unbelievable amount of privilege and maybe even some old fashioned luck and I’m grateful for it. Anyway, I thought it was an interesting exchange and it really made me more skeptical than ever of the blogosphere and some of the people in it and the constant shilling. I give most of it some major side-eye but I’ve always been the hard-sell type.
I continue to look forward to sharing photos and travel info on here again and keeping up with my online travel diary, as goofy as it may be.
5 thoughts on “How do you decide which bloggers to follow and which ones are just hustlers?”
Love this!!! And I love that you said it all 🙂
I feel like most travel blogs I read can read like an advertisement… then I realize most likely they are being compensated with free tours/trips/whatever and so of course it will be like that. I like reading the more “real” type of blogs, ones without perfectly posed photos with perfect hair and makeup, and ones that talk about the nonsense that happens. And I hope I capture that in my own blog.
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Thanks! I debated even posting it but this same blogger is constantly posting Instagram comments and blog posts about “how real” she is, which is a big red flag to me that you’re probably the biggest phony out there if you have to constantly sell yourself like that. Everything she does is about trying to get people to buy her “learn to live like me” webinars and it rubs me the wrong way. I’m not a jealous hater and I don’t mind people making $$ from their blogs but at least be honest and learn to live with some criticism if people give you side eye for shilling tide pods or whatever. Anyway, I’ll check out your blog! Like you, I prefer the ones that are more real life and less curated and filtered.
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This is a [somewhat] eye-opening perspective. I’m currently a full-time local travel blogger in my home country of Jamaica, which started out as a hobby (and still is) and developed into one I could monetize. For the most part, I’m doing this right now because it’s what I love and I can afford to (literally) at this time, and ultimately want to see what other opportunities it presents me until bigger things come along, whether that’s blogging or not. When I revealed to my following that i do it full time, I was taken aback by the amount of persons who said I inspired them to also quit their 9 – 5, which drove me to follow up the post with my truth, including the lows and discomfort that come with it. It’s refreshing to see someone talk about they don’t like the posed, made up Instagrammable photos, because sometimes I feel like maybe if my aesthetic matched that I’d have a more engaged reach… but now I don’t. To each their own 🙂
Very true! I agree that it’s to each their own. I think it’s fine if people monetize their blog or even make it their full time job – I admire a lot of the hard work people put in to do it full time. I still require honesty and I get tired of the “look at how amazing my life is…you should be like me” act. And if someone is making money on that line but isn’t fully disclosing their reality, it irritates me. I think there are many bloggers out there that are complete phonies or entitled millenial brats. You just have to be careful about who you choose to follow or buy anything from b/c of that. I admit that I scroll through Instagram and click on and maybe even like some of the obviously photoshopped and clearly curated photos but I still prefer the “real” pictures and real blogs.
P.S. I’ve only been to Jamaica once and would love to visit again. It has the best food in the Caribbean, IMO!!
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I agree with you wholeheartedly. Sounds like you’re overdue for a visit btw 😀