Anyone who has jumped headfirst into the food-blogging world knows that those waters run deep — there’s a lot more to it than just whipping up your favorite recipe or taking a few pretty pictures. Being an epicurean is only one part of the equation. All the rest? Well, it takes hustle.
And that can be doubly true if you decide at any point to take your show on the road, so to speak. What if you become a digital nomad? Or plan an extended vacation? Is it possible to blog effectively while on the road? Sure, it can be done. We live in a day and age where we have more tools at our disposal than ever before that make being a food blogger — anywhere — easier.
A little over a year ago, I decided to pack up my little family of four (plus one enormous dog … er, now two), sell our home and devote the next few years to traveling the country in an RV. Trust me when I say this time has not been without its unique challenges where my work is concerned. Feel free to picture me frantically running around the wilderness near Yosemite, arm over-extended above my head, trying to find a few bars after my signal dropped out during a phone interview with Anna Faris.
The reality is that blogging on the road is a juggling act and it can take even more hustle than your typical daily grind. It also requires being strategic. So, while you’re on the road, here are a few tips for staying on top of your food blog workflow. Seriously, if you learn from my mistakes, my comically bad blogging moments over the last year will not have been in vain.
Depending on where your travels take you, you may not always have access to reliable internet. You might hit an unforeseen delay (like the time we blew a serpentine belt coming over a mountain in New Mexico) that renders you unable to even think about sitting down at your laptop during that day. Flexibility is a key factor in food blogging effectively while on the road.
However, it is still important to try to loosely stick to a schedule. Pencil it in just like you would work or going to the gym, because otherwise the temptations of travel can easily sidetrack you for days (weeks! months!) on end.
I learned firsthand how easy it is to neglect your blogs. Despite the fact that I truly love what I do, working while traveling can give you a serious case of FOMO. When my husband and kids set off to explore in order to give me quiet time to focus on writing, I sometimes feel overwhelmed by the urge to join them. Because of course I would want to be with them on every part of this adventure, right? And there were many, many times I did bail on my blogging duties to go for one more hike or to hit up a local amusement park.
Unfortunately, my traffic has dropped off sharply and I’m now forced to do damage control. I highly recommend not taking this route. Make balance a priority.
Line up guest bloggers for heavy-travel periods
The reality of being on the road is that you may need to outsource some of your blogs in order to stick to a consistent posting pace. A great resource for doing so is the blogging community. Look ahead to travel days you know you won’t be readily available (or won’t want to be) and line up guest bloggers to post content on those days. If they can get their submissions in the system and set to go live in advance so you can check them out beforehand, even better.
If I look back and try to pinpoint when precisely I started to really get lax, I might say it was the three weeks we spent just outside of San Diego. We hadn’t been to the area for years, we had friends we wanted to visit, and work easily fell by the wayside. Had I planned better, I would have reached out to fellow bloggers well in advance and gotten the time period during that San Diego gap covered. Because, truly, it’s a slippery slope. Once you let yourself fall out of your normal schedule, it’s tough to get back into that mindset.
Re-package prior content
Guest blogs are one type of quote-unquote easy content. Your own original, previously published blog posts are another. Don’t worry — you’re not plagiarizing yourself, and the odds are some of your prior posts could stand to be updated.
So, when you’re short on time, it can be a lifesaver to do a quick roundup like “most popular posts of 2018” or “best dessert recipes” using content you’ve already done all the legwork for.
Consider your equipment needs
Much of what you need to know about blogging on the road will be determined by the length, scope and style of your trip. But, in general, you’re clearly going to need a few pieces of equipment: a DSLR camera and a laptop. Those are the basics. But what about all of the fringe items you regularly rely on, like tripods, light boxes, cooking supplies, a bag for hauling gear and the like? You won’t be able to just run home and grab something if you forget it, and we all know that such equipment doesn’t necessarily come cheap (nor is it always easy to find).
Another major consideration when it comes to equipment is your internet access point. It may seem crazy that anywhere in today’s society would lack solid Wi-Fi or smartphone reception, but it absolutely happens. And sometimes in the most unlikely of places — I experienced a total service blackout staying in the middle of Las Vegas. Anytime I wanted to blog, I had to drive to a nearby casino and hang out. Admittedly, not the worst life, but still.
Always call ahead to inquire about the service where you’ll be staying, and check sites like TripAdvisor and RV Park Reviews where people routinely include information about coverage related to specific carriers. It’s never a bad idea to bring along your own personal hotspot/MiFi, range extender, signal booster or even secondary coverage device under a different carrier. We’ve accumulated all of these over the past year out of necessity.
Whenever you can, schedule posts ahead
If you know your travel dates ahead of time, you can try to create and schedule posts to go live during your travels so you don’t even have to work while on the road. Of course, this isn’t always practical — we’re all busy.
Another approach would be to bundle-create posts during down days and schedule them to go live during busier travel days. Either way, you’re minimizing the extra anxiety that comes from feeling obligated to post while you’re actively traveling.
Want a real break? Take one!
You know the best thing about being a food blogger? You’ve got the best boss in the world: yourself. If the time you’ll be spending on the road has nothing to do with your blog — let’s say the focus is on quality family time — consider scheduling an official break.
You want to be fully present in whatever you’re doing, whether it’s sightseeing with your kids or creating a new recipe for your blog. Why run the risk of doing either halfway? The break doesn’t have to span your entire time on the road; it could be for as little as a few days or as long as you want. As long as you’re upfront with your readers, you aren’t likely to lose too much momentum. Plus, a little break could be just the thing you need to keep you motivated to stay on top of your blog for the duration of your travels.
What I learned during our travels is that I probably should have taken a break. Not a hard stop kind of break, but in a way that included outsourcing things like social media posts to a virtual assistant or social media manager.
This may be the single most important piece of advice there is when it comes to blogging effectively on the road — have a sense of humor. Things will go wrong. Like, hilariously bad. Whether you’re staying in a posh hotel on the other side of the world or embarking on an epic road trip, there will be bumps in the road (both literal and figurative).
If you’re too hard on yourself when things don’t go your way, you’ll get bogged down in those bad feelings and likely wreck your creativity and productivity. But if you accept your time on the road for what it is — a chance to grow yourself as both a person and a food blogger — any hitches along the way will feel more like adventures than obstacles.