This post started out as me announcing some changes — a new look, a new location, a
new direction. As I was writing, my preamble turned into a rant. I realized this blog and my social media accounts don’t bring me joy.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I love the people I’ve met and become friends with through this blog. The experiences and opportunities it has brought me have been pretty great, too. I’ve also been moved by the hundreds of people who have messaged me over the years just to say that I’ve inspired them to travel or literally helped them do it.
But over the last several months, I’ve been going back and forth about what to do with this blog.
Should I make the investment of time and money to really turn this into a business? Should I just archive this thing and keep my travel to myself? Should I make this space a better reflection of who I am?
I even went so far as to hire a brand consultant so that I could narrow down a direction for this website and find my ‘tribe’.
Through the process of speaking with her, I realized that I want to write more at the intersection of social justice, sustainability, and travel. I want to promote responsible travel and meaningful experiences — travelling for insights instead of sites. I would love to take an ethnographic approach to my travels and tell stories no one else is telling. It’s not like I couldn’t do that here, it’s just… I guess it feels like I would be writing into a void.
I can’t say that the shifting tides of the travel industry aren’t partially involved in my decision. When I started out, people wanted to read beautifully crafted stories (I love Brenna and Candace for those) and incisive insights into place (Oneika and Gloria are queens at this). We were right on the cusp of the listicle- and visual storytelling-driven industry we have now. Because I tried to follow the crowd, this space went from challenging myself by writing narrative pieces like this and this to writing SEO-driven posts. I was seduced by the idea of press trips and brand partnerships, and I lost sight of why I originally started writing here.
I started feeling jealous of people who had bigger followings and better collaborations, but I had no reason to be. I wasn’t doing the work. One of the things you learn as an entrepreneur is that if you don’t have something you need to make your business a success, then it’s your responsibility to get it. Buy it, learn it, hire it if you have to. When it came down to it, I didn’t have certain things and I didn’t really want to go out and get them. I wanted the perks without the work — and I didn’t find the work of doing ‘blogger things’ fun.
I’m not glued to my phone. I’m usually too embarrassed to take photos of myself. The thought of talking into a cell phone for an Instagram story makes me cringe. I’m more aloof and offbeat than outgoing or charismatic so it feels inauthentic when I try to foster a community. I stink at networking. Simply put: I am not cut out for travel blogging 2.0 or 3.0, or whatever OS were living in. Admitting that feels like a weight off my shoulders.
Even though I’ve been blogging since 2008, I miss writing in my journal and I miss travelling for myself — without the pressure to “take one for the ‘Gram”. I want to make connections with people and write things that might have a small impact on the world. Part of maturing is being true to yourself and understanding that everything is not for everybody. Blogging in 2017 isn’t for me.
Moving forward, I’m not going to worry about Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook, and whatever cool app comes next. I’m not posting anymore listicles (though I’ll probably write them because, bills). I’m going to follow the bloggers I love as a fan instead of as barometers for my own success. I’m going to support them because they are doing this blogging thing better than I ever could.
I have a visa for Spain and I’ll be spending half the time in Switzerland with my partner and half the time in Barcelona.
I’m going to keep pitching travel stories but I want to do more reporting. I’ll keep building my business and working with clients.
I’ll read more. I’ll try writing that novel and it won’t be about travel. I’m applying for a PhD.
I’ll spend more time cultivating the relationships that are important to me.
I’ll never be worried about updating my blog or gaining more “followers”.
And this website? Well, it’s my portfolio and the name of my freelance business. Alongside the content I’m not so proud of is content that is genuinely useful for people, so it will stay live and get a nice refresh. I’ll probably write a post about getting the youth mobility visa for Spain. I also announced a project I’m working on that I hope will help more people on their journey to the UK Tier 5 visa.
Finally, it would still make me happy to hear from you — please get in touch if you have a question or want to meet up on the road! Email me here.
Thank you for joining me in this chapter of my story.
7 thoughts on “Turning the Page on Travel Blogging”
I just found your site yesterday and have been a little bit obsessed! Thank-you soooo much for writing about the Spanish Mobility Visa. Forever grateful for the info.
In regards to this post, I feel so similar to you about travel blogging. I have a baby blog with around 6 posts, but I can’t seem to get myself into it because all of the research I do centered around blogging and growing your audience seems to be focused on SEO and becoming a, sorry hate to say it, one dimensional Influencer. I am so sick of it.
Also sad is much of the content I’ve produced, while helpful doesn’t feel necessarily meaningful. I feel like I am dancing around my true niche if you will, and I too want to write about the people behind all these places captured behind iphones, their struggles, their stories.
Thank-you for sharing your story, and keep writing the good write, because you have people out there that want a new type of travel blogger, more insightful and set on telling stories of people and culture.
Hi Eva! Thanks for the kind words and you’re welcome!
I think there is and always has been a market for people who write beautiful travel narratives. Those mentioned above, for example, don’t focus on SEO to get readers, people just like their stories and personality. Of course, they’ve been in the game since blogging and forums were the only types of social media, ha! Unfortunately, I don’t know of m(any?) new broadly successful bloggers who focus solely on storytelling – in the written form that is. (Everyone on Instagram and their mother is calling themselves a visual storyteller these days…)
Anywho, for someone like Brenna, I think writing is just her passion and she would probably still do it if she had zero readers. That’s how I started and what I, sadly, lost along the way. I just really loved the craft of writing. I think there are a lot of people who aren’t one-dimensional in their influence, who use their audience to call attention to various issues in travel and global politics.
But generally, travel blogging isn’t really a thing anymore – most of the people I think of who call themselves bloggers actually Instagram, YouTube, and Snapchat more than they write.
Be/do/write what makes you happy. The people who want what you have to offer are out there, so just be true to yourself and they will come!
Hi Alyssa, just want to thank you again for the youth mobility visa posts, it helped me so much! Now my 2-year stay in the UK is coming to an end and I am heading to Barcelona as well! Wish you good luck in Barcelona and maybe we will bump into each other one day!
Thank you for your posts, they have been very helpful and interesting! Especially that youth mobility visa guide. Have fun in Spain!
Been meaning to get to a desktop so I could leave a comment. I can fully relate to your disappointment in the current direction of the travel blogging world, and admire your willingness to admit that keeping up with the joneses just isn’t your thing. I had to come to terms with all that last year and decided to trek forward, and see how far it takes me. Your future plans sound really exciting! I hope you’ll still post the occasional pic or update so we can see how it’s going!
All the best!
Thanks Francesca! It looks like you made the right decision for you – an in-flight magazine is big! I’m sure there’ll be something on Facebook every now and again 🙂