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One Year Into Travel Blogging: A Reflection

When I started my blog a year ago, it was after years of debating it. I’d been blogging since I was about 11 or 12 (yes, really) and I’d never been that great at it. My blogs had been those write-what-you-feel type blogs and they ended up being all over the place and of no real consequence to any readers. For a good two years before ITFTS, I actually kept open a fashion blog. I was loyal in updating it every week and the content was ultimately good, and always consistent. I thought it would be helpful and I wanted to be a part of the fashion community I saw. But it backfired – bad. Not getting many likes on Instagram and getting little blog attention actually started to harm my self-image, so I left. It sucks posting selfies on social media that get 3-5 likes. It was incredibly disheartening that after choosing a focus and putting lots of work into creating content for others, I was still a worthless speck on the internet. An ugly, worthless speck.

So why should I have created a travel blog? It was going to be a lost cause.

But I started it because I had a burning desire to write about travel. Friends and family often come to me to ask for travel advice so I wanted to share it with others. I also read lots of travel blogs to orchestrate my plans, and there was some info missing on the internet that I wanted to complete. What is this tourist attraction really like? Is it better than this other attraction? Is there a lot to do in this city? What are some offbeat things to do here? These are questions I asked and wanted to answer. I knew what I liked and didn’t like about travel blogs, and that I wanted to focus on history and art in travel. I knew I was an old soul and it showed through the things I did and saw. So I succumbed to my desire, and my boredom, and wrote down a bunch of blog articles. Then I opened the website you see today.

One year after opening ITFTS and I’ve put money into my logo, business cards, and web hosting (finally, I have to pay a lot of money to accommodate my traffic!). But why? What have I learned? And why do I stay here?

Lesson 1: It sticks because it’s where my confidence lies.
First, I’d blog because I felt like it was cool and I wanted a blog, but not to blog. Then I finally found something I liked, but it wasn’t something I was confident in. That ended up being a poor choice. But I know my relationship with travel. I know that the content I create is the content I want to see. I know I don’t like photoshopping my images because it depicts a fantasy world. I know my opinions may be basic or even unpopular – but they’re my true opinions.

This helps me because when I get criticism or my blog doesn’t accumulate thousands of views a day, it’s something that I can easily stand behind.

Lesson 2: People are a-holes.
The travel community is huge, and there are a lot of rude people out there. A lot of interactions with other bloggers have been negative but ultimately, it’s because each time my opinion was called “wrong” in some way, shape or form. Opinions are not wrong unless they’re based on falsehood. It’s ridiculous how many people want to take time out of their day to put other people down. It’s also ridiculous to go through travel forums and see trolls everywhere attacking everyone. Put all that negativity to the side. Just as there are a lot of rude people, there are also a lot of friendly people.

This is something that holds so many people back from becoming part of the travel community, but the internet is filled with trolls. Haters to the left.

Lesson 3: Photos are important now.
I used to not take photos to avoid losing a moment. I felt that being behind a camera could hinder the ability to live presently, and photos don’t capture everything anyway. That’s not untrue. However blogging has made me realise how many pictures I didn’t take, and so I’ve started taking more – an abundance, even. I’m actually happier with that.

Lesson 4: YOLO, and also, you’ll probably only be there once. Take notes.
I love travelling and exploring, but having a travel blog really increases the urgency to see things. If I go to a city, I feel more pressed to stop by a museum or place I want to see because I’d also like to write about it on the blog. At home here in Maryland, I’ve visited and re-visited a lot of places in the area just because I wanted to create blog posts from them. It’s not that I travel just because I have a travel blog, but before, I’d say, “I’m going to visit eastern Maryland one day,” every day. Now I say, “I need content for the blog, so let’s go to eastern Maryland now!”

I’m also much more observant and take many more notes than I used to. It doesn’t affect my perception of certain places but it helps match words to my feelings and experiences.

Lesson 5: Success is what success is to you.
Unfortunately the Instagram and blogging influencer world is plagued by people who fake followers; people who have no respect for what they’re doing; people who get scammed by business partners. And let’s be honest: there’s good unrecognised content out there, and there’s some pretty popular content that’s honestly quite bad. It’s like life but it’s in plain sight in the travel blogging world.

Success is generally all about the numbers but I’ve given myself something to do in my down time. I’m keeping my writing and thinking skills in shape. I’ve made a place for myself in the travel blogging community. I’m happy with that! Once you spend a decent amount of time on your blog, you’ll know whether or not you’ve been successful – because it’ll be by your standards.

I’m happy to be here and happy to stay within the travel blog community. If you’ve read this post, I appreciate the time you put into reading my own story, and I hope it sheds some light and perspective onto yours.

Do you have a travel blog? Leave your links in the comments!

Posted on Thursday, February 28, 2019 in Uncategorized

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