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.
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