Why I Started a Travel Blog So Late in the Game
You all know that compliment “you’re one in a million,” right? Well, when it comes to travel blogging, it often feels like I’m just one OF a million. Or millions. And that’s not completely false. Google the phrase “travel blog” and you’ll get nearly 300 million hits. Of course, that rounds up every page that mentions “travel blog,” whether or not it actually is one, so it’s hard to nail down an exact number. But there’s no arguing that it’s a saturated market.
So why did I bother launching a blog in 2017 when other pros have been at it for years, get thousands of page views a day and travel the world full time? That’s a legit question, and while some days the answer seems pretty fuzzy (like those days I check analytics), the short answer is that I did it because I needed to. It may or may not be the right time to stand out, have all the success or ever make it to a “top 100” list, but it is the right time for me in my journey to take on this new adventure. If you need more convincing, read on for the long answer. Maybe it will inspire you to leap into one of your goals.
It’s part of my job
Believe it or not, I used to be a full-time writer and assistant editor for a travel magazine (like the kind you see on newsstands and subscribe to in the mail). Pretty cool, huh? Well, it certainly was on paper, but the reality involved commuting, lots of overtime and late nights, too many hours away from my home and husband, and not enough time off to visit my family in two different states (or you know, actually take a vacation). So I traded in the full-time gig to work for myself. Since there are so many different ways and platforms to be a freelance writer these days, it’s important to maintain an online presence and demonstrate that you know what you’re doing when it comes to writing for the web, blogging, SEO, writing for social media, etc. In addition to being a super fun way to share my wanderlust, this blog serves as a type of online portfolio that I can point potential clients to when they want to see my work. Fun story — buried deep on the internet somewhere is an old portfolio I was required to make in journalism school on one of those freebie sites that today would make me look like a huge amateur. I honestly don’t even remember where it exists, so if you ever find it, let me know and we’ll have a good laugh at my college clips!
I have stories
In this noisy internet age where everything you need to know about everything already exists online, my insight doesn’t really seem worth much. After all, why would you want to read what a part-time traveler has to say when you could follow someone who has been to 67 countries, or 190. Sure, I know how to pack for two weeks in a carry-on, but so do a million other travel bloggers. So what DO I have to offer? My experiences. My perspective. My thoughts. My emotions. All of these things shape how I live my life, how I travel and the stories that I have to tell. You can read endless blogs about cruising to the Bahamas, but will they tell you how to pull off a massive 30th-birthday surprise for your spouse on the sea? (He thought we were going to a concert instead of the cruise, y’all.) I’m not the first person to take a picture of the sunset on Waikiki Beach, but did everyone else write their dad’s name in the sand and watch it wash away with salty tears because Hawaii was only one of two states he didn’t get to visit before he died? See what I mean? We all have our stories. Some of mine might inspire or motivate you. Some might give you ideas or encouragement. Some might make you angry or sad. And some might be similar to some of yours and bring back happy memories.
There’s always room for more
I mentioned earlier that there are millions of hits for “travel blog.” While that’s true, it’s also true that blogs start and drop like flies. Almost everyone likes to travel, and websites like Weebly, Blogger and WordPress make it super easy to start your own blog to tell friends back home about your semester abroad in Rome or share family pics from a trip to the Grand Canyon. But I’m going to make up a statistic and say that 92% of these post eight times and then stop when they realize they don’t like writing or when they’re done with said trip. OK, so that only leaves 24 million hits for “travel blog,” no biggie. The numbers aren’t really important though, since we all know there are tons and tons (just check Instagram) and yeah, it’s really hard to stand out, be successful and make money. But you know what, you don’t have to be the No. 1 travel blog, or even No. 999 to make money blogging, and you don’t have to make money blogging at all if you want to do it as a hobby. I’m choosing a middle road for now, monetizing eventually but not really stressing about it and seeing if there happen to be people out there who want to hear what I have to say. If there aren’t and I get burned out, maybe I’ll be one of the 92%.
It’s never too late to dream
Four years ago, I was just starting a new job in a new state I had moved to with my husband. I had a window of opportunity where I could have done almost anything in the world, including work for myself. But I signed on for another 9-5 and commuter life. Four years ago, some successful travel bloggers were just getting starting. Packing their bags, launching their websites and working on their marketing plans. That could have been me if I had decided to go in that direction. And in four more years, I could be saying the same thing if I don’t do it now. It takes time, really hard work and a little luck to be successful at anything you try, but you have to decide to start and give it a chance if it’s something that you feel passionate about. There’s a popular quote that I think fits what I’m trying to say perfectly:
“Never give up on a dream just because of the time it will take to accomplish it. The time will pass anyway.” - Earl Nightingale
How very true that is, dear friend, and I encourage you to take this quote to heart. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve told somebody I’m a writer and been met with the response, “Oh I’ve always wanted to write a book about …” How long have you been harboring that dream? How long have you been wanting to go back to school or learn how to paint or lose 20 pounds? The time passed anyway. My goal for this blog (and my new life motto) is to have something to show for that time.