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How did the pandemic affect travel bloggers?

Coronavirus means that travel bloggers, travel influencers and content creators have lost a significant part of their income.

Travel bloggers are reeling from the impact of coronavirus, from freedom of movement to income streams, and the repercussions of coronavirus will likely cause them problems long after we are free from lockdown again.

At the time of writing, on account of global lockdowns, all travel and freedom of movement has ground to a halt. Only essential travel is permitted.

How will coronavirus change the future of global travel?

Once the lockdowns are lifted, the future landscape of travel after coronavirus has the potential to look very different.

Some of the ways that travel might change include:

  • More expensive flights due to low-cost airlines going out of business
  • More expensive tourism industry as businesses start to recover
  • More restrictions on freedom of travel as an individual
  • Being forced to keep a public record of places travelled to as an individual
  • Health or virus screenings and testings at airports
  • Health certificates needed to pass through country borders
  • Lockdown or locked borders in high risk areas for the virus.

In light of all this, let’s discuss the ways that travel bloggers, travel influencers and content creators will be severely affected by the tourism industry hitting rock bottom, from working ability to income.

Yellow dress in plaza with windows in Barcelona, Spain - Mel Legarda illumelation

1. No travel, period.

If non-essential travel is banned for a long period of time, travel blogging becomes rather redundant.

Travel blogging is a very niche job.

Currently, travel bloggers can’t physically travel as it is non-essential. Unless you are a “key” worker in health, government, or otherwise, you are to stay and work from home. This affects travel bloggers in a number of ways. But first and foremost, it renders their job completely redundant. If there’s no travel, they can’t keep travel blogging.

2. No new travel content.

Everyone in the travel blogging and influencing game relies heavily on content.

Photography, writing and blogging, creating videos, and posting on social media all factor into their income. Bloggers need to be able to travel to constantly make new content relating to food, culture, sightseeing, and everything else travel related.

Travel is a highly competitive niche as it is, so many travel bloggers and influencers have slowly diversified their niches into lifestyle content.

Right now, nobody’s able to make new travel content unless they’re editing old footage and writing about previous trips.

3. No travel-related affiliate marketing income.

The majority of travel bloggers make most of their income from affiliate marketing and social media ads.

Now that the travel and tourism industry has nosedived, these huge global brands are unplugging their affiliate offers from the system. From hotel booking platforms like Agoda, to flight booking platforms like Skyscanner, to online brands and marketplaces, nobody’s travelling, so no money can be made.

Hardly anyone is googling travel tips right now. Tourism-related sales have come crashing down. The travel-related affiliate marketing source of income has completely dried up. Not to mention, Amazon Affiliates recently rocked the blogging and publishing industry by quietly slashing their affiliate commission costs at in mid-April 2020.

4. No press trips or sponsored travel content.

Most travel bloggers make money from blog or social media sponsorships.

They get paid to visit different places or write content about certain places on press trips, and to post about these places on social media. With the tourism industry now hitting the lowest point in recent history, travel bloggers are going to have to pivot very quickly to receive income from other sources and continue to pivot very quickly to receive income from other sources or open up their niches from travel only.

The landscape of sponsored posts and ads are looking very different too. Small brands and businesses who had marketing budgets now have to put that budget into survival.

Many travel bloggers and influencers rely on brand partnerships for a majority of their income. Now that buying habits for certain industries have dried up, deals with brands may be paused or off the table entirely.

5. Huge competition for remote income.

Many travel bloggers and digital nomads supplement their modest travel-related income with remote jobs or virtual assistance.

Now that there’s such a glut of remote workers all over the world and significantly less demand for jobs, and with so many others being furloughed, the competition for securing remote work is sky high.

Unless these bloggers had reliable and loyal clients before, it’s going to be tough finding new income streams in the gig economy, since everyone’s at it. The cost of work will drop and quality might suffer. Digital nomads and bloggers offering online services will have to step their game up and work harder at finding and keeping new clients.

Barcelona+empty+streets+and+apartments+-+yellow+dress+-+Mel+Legarda+illumelation

Should travel bloggers and influencers expect increased controversy and scrutiny?

Travel bloggers come under a lot of flak and controversy as it is, being told they don’t have “real jobs” or “get to travel for free”, but the truth is a lot of sacrifice and an insane amount of work goes into travel blogging. Only the dedicated are successful. And now, that hard work and dedication has become a source of financial insecurity.

As well as the financial problems coronavirus has directly and indirectly caused freelance content creators, travel bloggers will probably be scrutinised in future for travelling so freely and frequently from place to place. When viewed through the lens of a viral pandemic, this kind of job or lifestyle suddenly becomes incredibly dangerous, and a job like travel blogging could well warrant suspicions of being a “super-spreader”.

Will the travel blogging and influencing industry look the same after the coronavirus lockdown?

Only time can tell us how severely coronavirus has impacted the travel industry.

The ripple effect for travel bloggers and influencers will force them to pivot until the industry gets back on its feet. Things are tough for most people right now. Many have been furloughed from work, or find themselves without employment at all. Anxiety seemed to reach fever point a few weeks ago, but now people are feeling more optimistic. The tourism industry will recover — but how long it will take to recover, we don’t quite know.

Most of the freelance creatives, bloggers and YouTubers I know live paycheck to paycheck. The ones who are doing really well right now are the business-savvy entrepreneurial creatives who have put in the hours and hard work to diversify their income, primarily through digital products. From what I’m seeing, its’s products such as presets, LUT packs, and online courses that are being invested in right now, as people are starting to spend some time at home creatively upskiling and making content that they didn’t have time to make before.

Travel bloggers and content creators who haven’t yet diversified their income or have savings may well find themselves in a very tough situation. Unless they had income streams or sponsorships that were unrelated to travel, then they’re going to have to seriously consider pivoting their niche or harnessing all those wonderful skills (from writing, editing, and SEO to photography, videography, and more) to make money another way. The silver lining right now is that travel bloggers and influencers have the time to step back and think critically about their long term goals and strategies, and find ways to make an income without needing to travel.

Mel Legarda

Melissa Legarda is the founder of illumelation. She has worked as a travel blogger, creator and writer since 2015, and has collaborated with well-known brands worldwide. She has helped over 1,100+ students improve their travel photography skills since launching her creative courses. Her mission is to encourage and empower others to travel and create more. Find her on Instagram.

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