“Just a girl who travels” is the introduction of Shivya Nath. You will end up reading ten articles when you start reading one article on her travel blog – The Shooting Star.
Shivya has traveled in Guatemala, Ecuador, Germany, Georgia, Jordan, Ethiopia, Trinidad and Tobago, and of course, India… among over 40 countries.
Her travel stories are so inspiring that you will feel like leaving your home forever and spend your entire life travelling.
She actually did that. Shivya gave up her apartment, sold her household stuff, stored some luggage in her friend’s car, packed her bags for unlimited fun and infinite travel.
I wish I could ever do that but.. You know, we don’t have that much of courage.
Did I tell you that Shivya left her corporate job in 2011 and for the past 3 years, has been funding her travel from the income from her travel blog only?
She earns more than 100,000 Rs. on average per month. Her blog attracts 50,000 unique visitors with 100,000 page views every month.
She figured out different ways of source of income from travel blogging.
- Freelance Blogging
- Social media campaigns for travel companies (those that match her travel philosophy)
- Long term partnership with travel brands
- Branded content (Sponsored Articles on her blog)
The money is not the goal for Shivya. She rejects 50% of offers from travel companies who want to promote the brand to her audience. She is very selective while picking partners for business collaboration.
Responsible travel and offbeat solo travelling is the theme of her travel blog.
Since I love to talk about money most of the time, let’s ask Shivya how she feels when she got paid for travelling?
It took me a few years to figure out how I could earn money from travel blogging, while staying true to my travel style and my readers. But now that I’ve more or less managed to strike that balance, it feels a bit surreal that I can make nearly 80% of my living through my blog – which only began as a passion.
How much respect travel bloggers get from the travel companies and agencies? Or do they consider travel bloggers as necessary evil?
Haha, I guess if I had a penny for every time a company or agency wanted me to be part of a campaign in exchange for exposure, or good karma, or because “it’s your passion”, I’d be a millionaire by now.
But I have to say that that has changed quite a bit in the last couple of years. Travel bloggers are necessary evil for some, but others get it, and know what it takes to build an engaging, impactful campaign with a blogger or social media influencer.
I read your stories about meeting WWII refugee, your hiking adventures and staying with different type of communities. Which one is your most memorable trip?
I hate that question, because how I can compare the feeling of meeting the last indigenous cave-dwellers of Sri Lanka with that of finding shelter in the home of an Italian artist on the countryside of Umbria?
I know that you love to stay with locals and prefer booking AirBnb. What else do you check before finalizing the accommodation?
Where I stay plays a big role for me on my travels. As a digital nomad, I carry my work with me wherever I go and need a feeling of space, character and beauty to inspire me to write and create content. But also because connecting with local hosts allows me to appreciate and experience the local way of life, find hidden gems, and get off the tourist track.
I spend a lot of time researching my accommodation, reading reviews on forums and blogs, and if possible, connecting with the host to align expectations.
Our travel blogger friend, Deepti, raised issues of women safety with examples from unsafe holi in Vrindavan.
Do you feel that solo travel for women is safe in India?
To be honest, I think it really depends on where you go. I feel much more vulnerable in a tourist town like Rishikesh, where people come from all across India to set up shop. Or in a city like Delhi, where I’d be wary to venture out alone at night.
But I feel much safer in a small village in say, Uttarakhand or Kerala, where everyone tends to know each other and look out for your as the only outsider. Personally, that’s the kind of traveling I enjoy too – slowing down, meeting locals, making friends with unlikely strangers, and staying open to adventures in a somewhat safe way.
“Why go Solo? Because how else can you feel complete freedom – to shed the baggage of everyday life, make your own choices, and even simply be the person you always wanted to be?”
How much time a new travel blogger should wait for monetizing a travel blog?
It depends on a lot of factors. What is your travel style? What kind of collaborations are you interested in? Many travel bloggers are fine with getting a free FAM trip or a free hotel stay. Personally, that kind of sponsored travelling neither fulfils me nor pays my bills.
But reaching a point where brands are willing to let you stay true to your travel philosophy and pay you for the content you create, you need time. Anywhere from 2 to 4 years, of dedicated blogging, finding your voice, honing your social media skills and building a genuine, engaged readership.
Blogging seems easy but it’s difficult to make quick income (or become rich) with travel blogging. Still many people have passion for travelling and they don’t care much about money.
If you have to choose SEO or Social Media then which one you pick and why?
I spend a lot of time on social media, simply because I enjoy it. I like creating meaningful travel content that encourages people to step out of their comfort zone and change their notions of travel as just a holiday – and that’s the reason I started travel blogging too.
Although a large part of my blogging traffic comes from organic search, my reach and engagement on social media has led me to projects independent of blogging, which keeps my income mix diverse and fun.
How do you keep yourself motivated for writing?
The kind of places I stay at and work from, impacts my work a fair bit. I’m far more inspired to write with a view of the Himalayas or in a charming little cafe with good music, than in a characterless hotel room.
What are your productivity hacks?
I don’t really rely on tools to keep me productive; it never worked back in my corporate job, and it sure isn’t going to work now.
Sometimes I disconnect from wifi so I can focus on writing.
When I land up in a place with no or slow connectivity (happens often while travelling in India especially), I complain, but then take the time to detox digitally. I usually find myself a lot more productive when I get high speed wifi after that.
Do you think that bloggers should do anything for free? How to draw a line between providing free help and charging for work?
At the beginning of my blogging journey, I created a Travel Fund page on my blog, inviting my readers to support me financially if they were so inclined. I was surprised by the contributions I received; even if they were small, the fact that someone was helping me fund my travels over saving money for their own was moving.
When my freelance and blogging incomes started growing, I deleted that page. I feel that as long as I can make enough money to comfortably support my travels through partnerships with relevant brands, I can offer my readers my content for free – because at the end of the day, my dream is see more people challenge convention, especially in India, and chase their dreams.
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Back to the readers, what are your thoughts?
Thanks Shivya for giving your time and sharing your travel blogging insights with us. I am not sure how many people will start a travel blog. I love long vacations under budget and already started sharing my travel stories on my new blog TravelBuffer.
Do you want to start a travel blog?
Let me know your thoughts in the comments!