5 Lessons I Have Learned From Blogging

I’ve written about travel writing before, but today I’m sharing what I’ve learned specifically from travel blogging. As it turns out, many of these lessons have helped shape me into a more outgoing version of myself.

1) Stop caring about what other bloggers think/do

This step surprises even myself because I never thought I was one to question my own decisions based on what more “experienced” bloggers were doing. Don’t get me wrong – I want to learn from the pros but at the same time I also need to do what is best for me and my readers and sometimes the two don’t match up. Advice is great but when it comes down to it, I need to listen to my own voice and act accordingly.

When I first started out I’ll be the first to admit that I made mistakes. I didn’t know who my audience was. I posted articles about places I had never even travel to. The list goes on and on. Yet, once I started navigating my own path, I felt much more confident in where I was headed…or so I thought. Almost immediately, I found myself getting caught up in the ridiculous blogger banter happening on the group forums ironically designed to help new bloggers get their footing. Overall, negative comments and jealous remarks overshadowed the skills and strategies I was learning, which genuinely bothered me. It took a few months but I eventually left these groups and have been much happier since.

2) Network. Network. Network.

Like most people, I have my moments of awkwardness. Being behind a computer all day is clearly not the same as interacting with people face to face at an event. When I’m with my close friends or family of course I’m more comfortable but it’s my shyness that always gets the best of me. Conveniently, when I worked full-time in an office setting I didn’t feel a need to network and therefore, I didn’t.

Once I started blogging, however, I had no choice but to put on my extrovert mask and work the room to the best of my abilities. While I’m hardly a pro, I’ve managed to score press trips that have not only allowed me to write content that I’m truly passionate about for Bohemian Trails but it has helped me break into print because I have more story ideas to pitch editors. Just recently, I attended a TBEX event in New York and before heading home, I was officially invited on a press trip for one of the PR’s other clients. This was prompted by nothing other than introducing myself and telling the PR rep she looked strangely similar to my best friend from high school. It’s these strange, illogical turn of events that won’t happen if you don’t at least put yourself out there.

3) Moments of loneliness are part of the gig

I’ve alluded to this before, but my life as a full-time freelancer can get rather lonely. Gone are the days when I craved five minutes of alone time after working 9-5 and spending my evening at fashion events sipping champagne from perfectly shined flutes. I’m actually not exaggerating here, but that’s not the point. My life is far less glamorous now by my own choosing.

Nowadays, when I’m not traveling, I spend much of my time working from coffee shops, as I’ve learned the hard way that NYC public libraries attract the city’s smelliest and most drugged-out homeless people around. The loneliness even kicks in when I’m traveling to some of the most beautiful places in the world. Even when I’m not traveling solo I feel homesick from time to time. It’s something I’ve just come to live with and while I am a quiet person by nature, I do my best to meet up with friends whenever I get the chance.

4) Don’t expect to make a fortune

This probably goes without saying but I’ve included it anyway. I know there are a few travel bloggers out there who do make a reasonable living from blogging but many of them probably are not paying a New York City rent, which I am and have been doing for nearly four years. I do admire bloggers who travel for months or years on end, partly because I recognize that while they might not be paying a high monthly rent like me, they have their own struggles.

Again, it’s a personal decision but I chose to have a home base and consequently, I don’t make as much money as I’d like. On the other hand, the experiences I’ve accumulated through traveling and meeting people from all walks of life is truly priceless, as cheesy as that sounds. I do make money from blogging but I don’t do much outreach on that front, as I prefer to keep my site as free of advertising as possible. Much of my income comes from social media and copywriting work, all done remotely.

5) Sit back. Relax. Enjoy.

This might seem counter-intuitive, especially given that your trip has a specific purpose – i.e. writing interesting content that your audience would actually want to read and/or satisfying the tourism board or PR firm who paid you to be there by promptly publishing articles – but this rushed formula just doesn’t work for me after a few days on the road.

Whenever I travel, I put a ton of pressure on myself to take an absurd amount of photos, to post as quickly as humanly possible and to stay up late doing all this and my other freelance work. Like clockwork, I always have that light-bulb moment when I’m like “wait a minute, I’m in  (insert amazing travel destination) right now – I need to appreciate this opportunity and make the most of it”. More often than not, once I calm down and let things flow, I ultimately come up with better content.

tips for new travel bloggers

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47 Comments

  1. Cathy Sweeney January 16, 2013  4:35 pm Reply

    I can see that eager traveling girl in both pics! You made some great points, especially about the need to sit back, relax and enjoy when we are so lucky to be doing what we love -- traveling!
    Cathy Sweeney recently posted..Some of My Best Travel 2012My Profile

  2. Monica January 16, 2013  5:39 pm Reply

    Great points! I agree with the loneliness. Lots of people think that travelling a lot is super glamorous but they forget that a lot of the time you travel alone and this can be tough.

    And the tip to 'network, network, network' is so important! PRs, your readers and other bloggers want to know what you're like in real life too!

    • Megan Eileen McDonough January 16, 2013  5:41 pm Reply

      Thanks Monica! I agree - it's important to get to know people in real life too!

  3. Ross January 16, 2013  10:01 pm Reply

    I always learn something from your posts. Thanks. I have a blog and most of my posts involve travel but I'm not a true travel blogger. I do follow a number of travel bloggers because I have a passion for travel. You mentioned that you didn't know who your audience was at first. I am not sure who the audience is for travel bloggers. From what I can tell it's mainly other travel bloggers. It that true?
    Ross recently posted..The BoxerMy Profile

    • Megan Eileen McDonough January 17, 2013  9:12 am Reply

      That's so great to hear Ross! I'm probably not a true travel blogger either - in the sense that I'm not constantly on the road...but then again I don't really think there is a set definition or just one type. As for the audience, it does seem that way, especially since most of them actively comment but the rest of readers are eager travelers looking for tips/inspiration.
      Megan Eileen McDonough recently posted..5 Lessons I Have Learned From BloggingMy Profile

  4. Nico January 19, 2013  3:07 am Reply

    It's always interesting to hear thoughts from people who have been blogging for a while.
    Nico recently posted..Living Through a FloodMy Profile

  5. Maria January 21, 2013  10:26 am Reply

    Ah perspective. Not a difficult thing to find, have or refer to but often it's easily forgotten. Glad to read you've been there and done it but are keeping yourself tuned in to your unique perspective.
    Maria recently posted..Dinner with BillMy Profile

    • Megan Eileen McDonough January 21, 2013  10:31 am Reply

      Thanks Maria! It's hard to keep up with everything but I'm sticking to my own travel blogging trail :)

    • Megan Eileen McDonough January 22, 2013  9:35 am Reply

      Thanks Reena! P.S. I saw that you are writing for Gadling now. That's so awesome :)

  6. Jonny Blair January 22, 2013  5:55 am Reply

    Good post. I go for number 1 the most - my blog is my blog and i'll write what I want. I agree networking is important though within the travel blogging community so I'm looking to network a lot more! Jonny
    Jonny Blair recently posted..Tuesday’s Travel Essentials: Passport PhotosMy Profile

  7. Hogga January 22, 2013  8:43 am Reply

    All excellent points

  8. Ally January 23, 2013  5:01 am Reply

    Great points, I started my blog about a month ago I too can be a bit awkward at times ha ha so I havent started going to any travel blog events yet.

  9. Mike January 23, 2013  9:34 pm Reply

    Great, great post. The beauty of blogging is that what people are most interested is who you really are. Happy travels!

  10. Christian Eilers January 27, 2013  9:21 pm Reply

    Hey Megan! Great site you have here! It's funny, I was directed here by a link from another travel blog, and the first article I see is this one, where you're prodding me to network, network, network :) Solid article here, I'll try to follow your site from now on!

  11. Deb February 10, 2013  7:50 pm Reply

    Great advice! It's really important to follow your own path and travel and blog for yourself. And you are so right when you say, sit back, relax and enjoy. It can be very difficult to find balance, so we have to remind ourselves to enjoy the moment when traveling. I think many people (myself included) go through a phase when they work too hard and get caught up in the pressures and stress, but eventually we all settle down and relax. Congratulations on living a life you love!

    • Megan Eileen McDonough February 11, 2013  11:43 am Reply

      Thanks Deb! I really admire how you two are on the road constantly and still manage to truly enjoy your experience and make me enjoy it from afar! :)

  12. Ervin Cenmurati February 11, 2013  10:42 am Reply

    Great post Megan, I ma glad I stumbled it :) the advice is sincere and letting your blog come from you without thinking too much of the others releases your character with every blog. I totally agree as well on the network as there is nothing best then putting a face to the name.

    :)
    Ervin Cenmurati recently posted..Where can I get real suntan in the winter?My Profile

    • Megan Eileen McDonough February 11, 2013  11:41 am Reply

      Thanks so much for your feedback Ervin! It's been a long road of constant learning but doing things my own way is working out so far :)

  13. Barrett Caldwell February 21, 2013  11:49 am Reply

    Megan,

    Good stuff...thanks for paving the way and encouraging those who follow.

    Barrett

  14. Shalu Sharma February 25, 2013  6:33 pm Reply

    This is the first time I am on your blog. I don't know how I got here. I too have been blogging about India and travelling about India and you are right about not making a lot of money. Also I like the fact that you do not care about other bloggers, which is a great thing. Well done.
    Shalu Sharma recently posted..Visiting Golghar in PatnaMy Profile

  15. Corey Will March 24, 2013  11:49 am Reply

    Great tips for the beginning blogger! I have definitely found that networking is one of the best ways to reach new website visitors.

    Everyone definitely makes mistakes in the beginning but it is important to learn from them and carry on.

    Thanks for sharing!
    Corey Will recently posted..Make Money Affiliate Marketing in 2013My Profile

    • Megan Eileen McDonough March 24, 2013  3:31 pm Reply

      Your welcome Corey! Good for you for figuring out that networking is important so early on - you are already ahead of me :)

  16. Karisa March 27, 2013  4:07 am Reply

    Great advice! I've been living in Thailand for about 6 months and I'm finally taking my blog seriously. I want to share my impressions and adventures with friends, family and whoever is interested!

    Do you find that having a facebook and twitter presence is very important?

    Thanks! :)
    Karisa recently posted..Tiger Balm is MAGICMy Profile

  17. Mojo Yeah August 3, 2013  5:10 am Reply

    Thank you for these tips Megan. I'm just starting to blog so it's good to know what's coming ahead. I love the whole vibe of your site. Keep it up!

  18. Pingback : How to Start a Blog 1/5 (getting started and staying motivated)

 

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