An Interview with Chris Christensen

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Chris Christensen, the host of Amateur Travel podcast, has a lot to say about the travel industry. Before he started doing podcasts, he built and ran online communities and events for companies like TripAdvisor and the History Channel. In our interview today, Chris talks about transitioning into podcasting and what he will be talking about at TBEX Cancun 2014. Enjoy!

Chris, tell us a little bit about the inspiration between the Amateur Travel blog and podcast.

The Amateur Traveler podcast came before the blog and my love of podcasts came even before that. Shortly after listening to my first podcasts in 2005 I decided that I wanted to create one. I thought about doing a tech podcast, and I thought about doing a religious podcast. But, we had some friends over to our house for a Memorial Day BBQ and I found that all the best stories were travel stories. The first episode of Amateur Traveler followed about a month later.

Your first podcast went live in July of 2005. Now that we’re in 2014, walk us through how your approach to blogging and podcasting has changed since then.

When I started the show I thought it would be about my travel stories but the math did not work out. I was working full time with about 4 weeks of vacation and I was trying to publish 48 podcasts a year. I was rapidly going to run out of new stories. It did not take long before the show became primarily an interview show about other peoples’ travels.amateurtravelerphoto

If someone close to you wanted advice on starting a travel blog, what’s the most important piece of advice you could give them?

My first thought is don’t quit your day job. I do Amateur Traveler mostly for the love of travel, which is where the title came from. If you don’t love content creation it will get pretty tiring pretty quickly.

Most of our readers are interested in making blogging more than just a hobby. How do you support yourself with your blog, how has that income stream changed over the years, and what do you foresee in the future in terms of changes?

I don’t. I did try and quit my job and live just off the blog for a while but didn’t sell our house and move to Chiang Mai which would make more sense financially. Not only did I burn through savings but I also missed my work in software. I now am working on building a new company called BloggerBridge.com which helps companies find bloggers to work with which I hope will make it easier for people to turn blogging into a career. I support myself by contracting half time as a programmer with my old employer TripAdvisor.

tripadvisorlogoYou’re speaking at the upcoming TBEX conference in Cancun. Can you give us a sneak peek of what you’ll be talking about?

 Ha, as it turns out I am talking about just this subject. The talk, which I am doing with David Brodie, who runs a PR firm in Vancouver, is called “Don’t Quit Your Day Job”. We are hoping to talk about some of the advantages of a day job and how to craft the right balance for you of mixing a career and blogging.

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Chris is the host of the Amateur Traveler, a popular online travel show that focuses primarily on travel destinations. It includes a weekly audio podcast, a video podcast, and a blog. He was formerly the Director of Engineering for TripAdvisor’s New Initiatives group, the EVP Engineering at LiveWorld where his team built and ran online communities and events for companies include eBay, HBO, TV Guide, Expedia, Marriott, A&E, History Channel, the NBA, NBC, ABC, Disney, Microsoft, WebTV and American Express. Chris now owns and runs BloggerBridge.com which is a new startup connecting bloggers and industry contacts. 

Interview conducted in July, 2014 by Kristin Winet.

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