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I re-wrote the first sentence of this blog post at least 10x, only to have this lazy cop-out of an opener be what I ended up running with. *sigh* I suck.
But can you believe I’ve been blogging for a whole 16 [yes, SIXTEEN] years, and travel blogging for 4 of them?
And even after all these years, I still get slight anxiety every time I hit the PUBLISH button with my subpar intro sentences and sometimes debatable/clickbait[able] content.
You see, being a blogger or writer in any capacity opens you up to a party of criticism you wouldn’t otherwise invite yourself to.
It can take you from silently empowered to violently heartbroken within minutes — ahh, the power of the people of the Internet.
Alas, here’s my biggest takeaways and words of advice to those hoping to pursue a lifestyle that’s similar, or just need some guidance on how to start.I've been blogging for 16 years, and travel blogging for 4 - here's my best advice from it. Click To Tweet
BRANDING IS EVERYTHING
Own your style. Your quirks. Your flaws. Your personality.
OWN YOUR ENTIRE BRAND.
And let it be the reason for your growth and success. So many times we find a person who’s killing it in their field and we think that THEIR brand of awesome is the same kind you need to adapt.
We’re all so diffenent and quirky in our ways, and as someone who constantly sees my voice cheaply imitated by others, I laugh it off knowing it’ll run its course and they’ll get tired of being a carbon copy.
When you brand yourself with a name and digital footprint, you need to make sure it’s something that allows for both simplicity and growth.
I’ve met bloggers who started off as something specific like, “My Austrian Adventures” and then they found themselves limited to only being able to blog or talk about Austria.
Similarly, for those who start off as backpackers and brand themselves with something like, “Backpacking BillyJean” it’ll be really hard for them to ever evolve from a backpacking style if they want to continue blogging well into their 30’s and 40’s.
No doubt it’s possible, but when working with brands and on campaigns, don’t expect to secure any deals with luxury or high-end labels, because “backpacker” automatically disqualifies you from that.
Think about this when it comes to putting expletives or risque language in your brand as well.
Securing a blog name can be challenging, overwhelming, and anxiety-filled, but try not to overthink the name, and before you buy it, sleep on it for at least a night.
Once you introduce yourself as a brand under a certain name, the last thing you want to do is spend a lot of time, energy, and money changing that and hoping everybody crosses over and is aware of the new name.TOP BLOG TIP #1 - Branding Is Everything. The Blog Abroad explains why in this post. Click To Tweet
WRITE 5-7 POSTS BEFORE YOU GO LIVE
The biggest mistake I see beginner bloggers make, is losing momentum early. They crank out that first post, their friends and network are stoked, the reception is amazing, and they get the most likes and comments they’ve ever seen in a while! Whoop whoop!
The pressure hits. They feel the need to write something so great that it tops the first post, and then that pressure inevitably outweighs the ability to produce anything at all, and then they stare at their laptop for days.
Those days turn into weeks. Those weeks into months.
Pretty soon, your blog has lied dormant and everyone has forgotten it exists.
The biggest thing you need to remember about your blog is that YOU alone are your own biggest fan. YOU need to constantly remind people that it exists and that you’re doing a “thing”. And that “thing” is a passion project that you’ve been anxious to start for a while.
But people can’t support what doesn’t exist or consistently produce.
People’s support, just like your motivation, will be fleeting. And if you’re not entertaining or feeding them constantly, eventually they’ll stop picking up the spoon.
Hello from Morocco! Jokes. Just some magical sand dunes in Port Stephens (Eastern Australia). So, novel ahead. When your work and play coincide, how do you know where to draw the line? This is perhaps my biggest struggle as a travel blogger. Without coffee, I’m anxious. With coffee, I’m anxious — but faster. Anxiety became the theme of my year and I had no idea how to alleviate it. When you travel for work AND play, it’s hard to know when you can take all seven of your hats off. This year has been BUSY. Busy in an exciting, overwhelming, and scary way. Proposals that would’ve made me sh*t my pants a year ago, I’m having second guesses about now. Fellow bloggers I once admired before, I learned how some can be pretty conniving in how they operate for their personal gain. I’ve had my intellectual property stolen more times than I can count, and it sucks. Because you can’t do much about it. And though I will always struggle with the shame of never being exactly who my parents hoped and prayed I’d be (every child of immigrant parents will understand this), I had to learn to accept and be comfortable with my own definition of success. So while you may look at my life from a distance and think I have it all together, please know I have my own struggles. We all do. No curated social media life will ever fully describe the complexities and layers to any lifestyle, which is why I try to write captions like this. Nonetheless, I’m truly blessed to be doing something that gives me so much pleasure and purpose, and also helps others aspire towards greater things in life. So here’s to getting back to creating the content I love that got me started in this industry in the first place. A big thank you to those who’ve stuck around for my rants, musings, experimentations, growth, lessons, struggles, and more. Also, if you have a favorite blogger, vlogger, or online personality that you follow, please send them a quick message and let them know how much you appreciate their content. While people usually only message us for questions and favors, it’s always nice to just hear a single thanks in the sea of it all. xx 📷 | @jedventures
When it comes to Instagram, for example, I’ve trained my audience to read my captions. If the platform permitted, I could copy and paste the
broken U.S. constitution in there, and people would sit through and read it word for word, waiting for a revelation, pun, joke, or perverted comment to seep between the lines somewhere.
My audience knows my voice — better than me sometimes! They know that whatever I write, no matter how long, will leave them feeling entertained, educated, or inspired.
But that trust and loyalty came from producing consistent and quality content that they would feel FOMO if they skipped out on a caption. I branded that strategicallly. And you can too.TOP BLOG TIP #2 - Write 5-7 Posts Before You Go Live. The Blog Abroad explains why in this post. Click To Tweet
MONEY SHOULD NOT BE THE MOTIVE
I can’t stress this enough. Had I started my blog under the impression I needed to make it my full-time income one day, I’d be nowhere near where I am now.
It’s amazing how many people get into this industry for the perks alone. It cheapens our title and makes all travel bloggers look ingenuine.
You need to have a reason WHY at your core that propels you forward and allows you to hammer out thousands of words at a moment’s notice, because you’re afraid to lose the thoughts in the moment you’re experiencing them.
Traveling for work and for pleasure is a special type of
#sponsored dilemma, because you never know when you can truly just shut off and enjoy the moments and memories for just yourself.
Everything you do is based on what you think your audience will enjoy or engage with. And you need to know that at your core, you’d still be busting your tail and creating content because you enjoy it, even if you never made a single dollar from it.
Someone asked me the other day what I ultimately want to do with my brand, and I shared with her some lofty visions and goals, but I also said, that no matter what I do or how far this blog takes me, this will always be my baby, and I will always make time for it.
Because it never started as an avenue for cash — but the byproduct of success made it one. While the blogging industry from beauty bloggers to mommy bloggers to fashion bloggers to food bloggers vary greatly, there’s one thing that’s for sure — your earning potential goes as deep as your work ethic.
So don’t expect to be flossing in the green even after you’ve learned to monetize if you’ve got a minimum wage work ethic and $10 ambition.TOP BLOG TIP #3 - Money Should Not Be The Motive. The Blog Abroad explains why in this post. Click To Tweet
BE INSPIRED; BUT DON’T COPY
This is perhaps the most frustrating thing for me as a blogger. Every time I see my ideas get stolen, used, and recycled without credit, it hurts.
Not because I need them to feed my ego, but because it symbolizes the toes people step on and the backs people trample over on this desperate race to the top.
I value my intellectual property, and with the travel blogging industry drenched in desperation, it makes for an exhausting ride of constantly seeing your ideas and words next to the names of other people.
The biggest takeaway I got from that piece was this:Innovation, on the other hand, is the humble acceptance that nothing is original at this point. Click To Tweet
It was a gentle reminder to myself that even the things that I create, were once inspired, fueled, or triggered by the thoughts or works of someone else.
Find inspiration in people, books, conversations, and songs. But most importantly, always give credit where it’s due.TOP BLOG TIP #4 - Be inspired; But don't copy. The Blog Abroad explains why in this post. Click To Tweet
The timing will never be perfect. You will never feel qualified. Your bank account will never be where you want it. Your self-esteem will never be higher than Beyonce’s. But you need to start anyway.
Each passing day that you don’t start tackling those passion projects of yours, you lose a precious 24 hours towards something that could monumentally change your life.
The cumulation of several hours, days, weeks, months, and eventually years of working at a craft is how you become legendary in your field.
No one starts and masters anything on their first day
Stop comparing your Chapter 1 to someone else’s Chapter 15 if you have no idea when they started.
Someone else’s journey isn’t yours to live, compare to, or try to walk down, so don’t even bother trying to. There will never be a better time than NOW to start. When you are feeling inspired, anxious, and nauseous all at once.
THAT is your heart finally telling you IT’S TIME.TOP BLOG TIP #5 - Start Yesterday. The Blog Abroad explains why in this post. Click To Tweet
GET A BEST FRIEND OUTSIDE OF THE INDUSTRY
There will be days where you feel the weight of the universe on your shoulders, and it’s really just the product of a dozen new notifications of freshly brewed hate mail, a sponsor who’s three months late paying you, and a campaign manager who’s changed the terms of your deliverables at the last minute.
No doubt these may be first-world problems, but they’re still problems I deal with and I’m valid in being annoyed, frustrated, and stressed by them.
This is when you need that close, unbiased friend to just vent to and remind you of normal things.
Even in the industry as bloggers, whenever we get together, we tend to only talk — you guessed it — blogging! And that can be exhausting to engulf yourself in so much of your work that it swallows you whole and spits you out alive like a proverbial Jonah.
This will be the friend that humanizes you again. The friend that doesn’t care about doing XYZ around the city, because your company is sufficient.
They have nothing to gain from you, so you also don’t feel used. There are people in the industry who befriend you just to get ahead.
They see your network, your followers, and your community as potential social capital for themselves. It makes you jaded against people and as a natural giver, I’ve been used many times, and I forgave myself for it, because my God is bigger than my insecurities and regrets.TOP BLOG TIP #6 - Get A Best Friend Outside of the Industry. The Blog Abroad explains why in this post. Click To Tweet
INVEST IN A MENTOR
Whether in the blogging space or not, find someone successful [and accessible] who is absolutely killing it in their field. Because it doesn’t matter what someone does for a living, if they’ve found a way to reach the top of their ladder, then they no doubt have desirable qualities and skill sets that they’ve mastered, and the wisdom to pass down to someone else.
But finding a mentor is tricky, because it seems like a very one-sided relationship too. Which is why you need to approach it from the mentality of a servant-driven leader.
How can I help you help me?
This could be free work, assistance to them in a field you’re good at, or quite frankly, promises of paying them back tenfold when you make it where you want to go.
Mentorship is no doubt something that every leader and aspiring creative should seek, but it shouldn’t be demanded or expected from anyone.
I’ve mentored a handful of bloggers in the past and still do because it’s such a rewarding feeling passing down knowledge I only wish was readily available to me when I started.
There will also be a second annual Bali Blogger Bootcamp in 2018 to get hands-on mentorship from myself and Alyssa, or you can email GlobetrottinGlo@gmail.com with the subject “MENTORSHIP” and we could discuss hourly skype session rates based on your needs.
TOP BLOG TIP #7 - Invest In A Mentor. The Blog Abroad explains why in this post. Click To Tweet
Having traveled through 60 countries in the last 4 years, many of them multiple times, I can’t help but look back and wonder why God saw me fit for this lifestyle — for this platform, and all the responsibilities, struggles, and unconventionality it brings.
It’s a special type of blessing I don’t have the words for and in this Christmas season, the greatest gift of all is that after four years of thrusting myself into the world, despite a few hiccups, I’ve come away unscathed and renewed.
And whether you’re beginning your journey, in the middle, or on the verge of ending one, my wish for you all is to remember that after all this is said and done, you have a beautiful collection of photos, words, and memories stashed aside for yourself and your future generations to remember you and your legacy by.
Your blog is a virtual coffee table collection of memories, and that in and of itself, is priceless.