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Lieze Neven: ‘We decided that we wanted to travel the world for the rest of our lives, which was also the main reason why I started my travel blog.’

Travelling while working: sounds like the perfect job, doesn’t it? Lieze Neven explains to us today what does a travel blog consist of, how much work do you have to put in it and how is it to have a travel blog during a pandemic.

Thank you for accepting to do this interview! First, could you tell us a bit about yourself?  (where are you from, what did you study etc.?)

My name is Lieze and I am originally from Belgium. I studied history at the University of Antwerp but later on decided that marketing was more up my street after doing marketing for a new art gallery in Antwerp for two years. Before I could finish my studies in marketing I made a decision to move to the United Kingdom as I met my future husband that winter and I could not be without him. He is British and was living in London at the time so I took the plunge. With my knowledge and experience in marketing I was able to secure a job as a marketing executive in London. 

As a European it became clear that my future in London would be difficult. This is why Josh and I made the decision to move abroad. We got married in April and moved to Dubai in August where Josh started a job as a history teacher in an international school. We decided that we wanted to travel the world for the rest of our lives, which was also the main reason why I started my travel blog.

My husband and I are currently living in Kathmandu, Nepal and are looking forward to travelling in the area, exploring more of South-East Asia, and trekking and hiking in the himalayas! 

I see that you have a travel blog. Where did you get the inspiration to create one? 

As a ‘’trailing spouse’’, I had to try and find a way to entertain myself, to do something and maybe even to earn money, while my husband and I were living abroad. As I had been writing for music e-zines and online magazines about pop culture from the age of 17, a blog seemed like an obvious choice. I was able to combine my knowledge about digital marketing, blogging, and SEO in order to build a website that would eventually allow me to make a bit of an income – which is a goal I have now smashed. 

What are you working on right now? 

Nothing special really. I am keeping my head down, creating content, waiting for more countries to come out of lockdown to see what will happen to my traffic and my income. Most of the data we bloggers are seeing is heavily skewed. You won’t know what will work, what will earn you money in the long run, until travel is back to normal. 

We are living hard times nowadays. Did the pandemic affect your work in any way? How?

I started taking my blog seriously at the end of March of 2021 ( I was working for my husband’s school for two years before that) and was able to grow my audience and my income. My time as a marketing executive taught me that any articles, any changes you make when it comes to SEO, will need at least 6 months to ‘’ripen’’. This meant that I was able to motivate myself to get the content out just because I would reap the rewards after 6 months – and that was the case! 

What does a normal work day look like to you?

I normally would get up with my husband at 7 AM after which I do about 20 minutes of Yoga. I used to think yoga was a fad – until I was quarantined here in Kathmandu and tried it because I was bored. 

Then I go down and make myself a large french press full of coffee after which I start my day. Before noon I do all the things that can bring in money – most of the days this will be freelancing. In the afternoon I do things for me – working on my blog mosty. I tend to work until 8pm or 9pm depending on how I feel. The problem with a blog is that there is always more to do, there is always more to learn, and there is always more to write. 

What is the most challenging part regarding your career?

Explaining other people what I do. Which is why I call it travel writing rather than travel blogging. I am not a blogger in the way that I do not share a lot of personal stories. I try to write travel articles. 

Most people think blogging is just a hobby, while it actually is not only incredibly difficult, it is also a viable career. Some bloggers earn more by blogging full time than they did in their day jobs. But by the time I get to explain this, people have already made up their mind. 

Any advice you’d give to someone who wants to start a career like yours?  

Decide whether you want to do this as a hobby or as a career. Sure, you can start your blog out as a hobby and then build it into a career, but you will feel as if you wasted time, effort and money as most of the blog posts you wrote for your hobby blog will need to be reworked or even deleted. 

Second of all it is important to do keyword research for every single article. Don’t just write articles because you ‘’think’’ people will want to read them. Base everything you do on your blog on hard evidence, on the data from your keyword research, and the findings from looking at Google Analytics. 

Third and final – work with medium term and long term goals. SEO takes time to have an effect. Your articles will only really start to rank after 5 to 6 months. It is important you understand this and don’t expect articles to receive views and visits within the first few days. Use short term goals for things you want to achieve on your blog like ‘’I want to post 5 blogs this month’’ and medium to long term goals for anything you really do care about such as visits or income or rankings. 

What are your future plans regarding your career? 

I want to try and launch a niche site about a destination every year while working on my main blog. I launched exploringuae.com this year as a test to see what works and what doesn’t. So far all seems good!

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