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The problem with this blogging thing is…

28 Jul Posted by in Blogging, Inspiration | 39 comments
The problem with this blogging thing is…
 

My blog has two birthdays (yes, just like the Queen; it’s that important!)…the first one is May 2009 when I set it up for family and friends to follow me as I prepared, then went, backpacking solo around South East Asia for three months.

Although my writing was average, there’s no SEO and I used almost zero photos in the posts themselves (forgetting that despite being adults, we do all still like a picture to break up the words) my family believed that I’d finally found my calling as a travel writer (forgive their naivety; it was the first time they’d read my work – ha ‘read my work’ how fancy does that sound?!) but nevertheless I appreciated their praise and encouragement of my blogging (they don’t do it a lot…they’re a very typically reserved British family).

My favourite comment came from my Uncle who is one of the most intelligent people I know and it got me brimming from ear to ear!…..

However, when I came back from travelling in June 2010 I became so lost (the metaphorical box wasn’t prepared to stay shut any more) that I couldn’t write for six months (hence there’s a huge gap in my archives) but at theend of January 2011 I wrote a letter to finally let it all gofound Twitter and reconnected with my passion to write; that’s my blog’s second and most important birthday.

The problem I had in joining the travel community on Twitter was that I ended up feeling like Dorey:

In case you’ve failed to notice; my little slice of internet is pretty informal.  I’m sarcastic (I know, it was a shock to me as well), I poke light-hearted fun at people and I talk about sex.  I’m not everyone’s cup of tea (though I should always be somewhere on the menu) and that’s what got me thinking…

What if I’m deemed too unprofessional to turn this blog into a business?

Important people like Lonely Planet won’t retweet my stuff if I mention ‘boats that rock my world’ and ‘Florence Nightingale moments’ in a post.  I’m sure I make some people laugh and have been known to write a post or tweet that gets people spewing their drinks with giggles but, as I am sure Patch Adams once wondered; is laughter enough?

Yet on the flip side, people have been falling over themselves (I tried to tell them that Thai buckets get you drunk REALLY quickly) to tell me how much they love my honesty and my bravery to tell it like it is.  My two most honest posts (Road Romance and My Story) are my most popular and I pride myself on that.  Sure, I’m probably gonna crap myself when a potential bloke comes on to the scene and they start reading about my blogging sexploits (though let’s be serious here fellas, we don’t live in the days of Pride and Prejudice anymore – this also applies to my family reading about ‘sweet and innocent moi’ doing naughty things) but we’ll burn cross that bridge if and when we come to it – Regret the things you have done and said, not the things that you haven’t right?  And none of that ‘you shouldn’t regret anything’ fluffy rainbow talk…everyone regrets something, even if it’s just eating too many biscuits.

For a few weeks I really started to wonder if the way I wrote was wrong but then I realised that writing in the same way as everyone else is wrong and that if you want to succeed in the rather saturated travel blogosphere you have to stand out and be different.

Then it happened; I got my first advertising request and I started to allow myself to think that maybe, JUST maybe, that there was a chance I could be a serious travel blogger but have fun with it too.  I mean, surely if I tell you about a great beach bar then I just HAVE to tell you about the drunk lesbian that proceeded to attack my face with her tongue right?!  Right?! Thought so.

If I want to build this site up into a place where 20-something solo women travellers can come to for advice, help and laughs then I have to write about everything that life entails in that 20-something bracket.  The good.  The bad.  And the bumping uglies.  It’s no good preaching about safe sex if I haven’t done it myself; that would just be hypocritical ;)

So I’ve made a decision.  I’m not changing.  This blog is all mine *insert evil laugh* and I’m not prepared to lose my personality just to toe the line with everyone else.  I’m happy to stand out;  it’s what I do best!

Thank you to Torre of Fearful Adventurer for the inspiration to write this.

  1. Tom07-28-11

    HURRAH! I, for one, love your posts and you shouldn’t change your style at all! Most of my favourite blogs are ones that Lonely Planet probably won’t feature soon (Florence Nightingale moments lol!) but that’s why I love them – they’re honest, and they humanise the blogger as a person.

    I prefer to read about a real human being, who makes mistakes and has fun and does silly things while they travel, rather than the kind who helps build a whole village, gets taken into a family and has the villagers worshipping them as a god before they live, whilst having become proficient in the local language due to an enlightening week-long temple stay in an unpronounceable city. YAWN.

    Keep doing what you’re doing!

  2. Nic07-28-11

    Thanks for a great read. It’s good to hear someone else is experiencing some of the same things as me. Blogging is amazing but it can be easy to feel like you’re writing into an empty ether and wondering if anyone hears it ping. I do think that age-old ‘be yourself’ motto is still a gem.

  3. Maria Alexandra07-28-11

    I.LOVE.You.

    The end =D

    <3 !!

  4. Toni07-28-11

    @Maria – One of the nicest comments I’ve ever received; thank you =)

  5. Toni07-28-11

    @Nic – It’s a big old world the travel blogosphere and I think, especially when you’re just starting out, it can be incredibly daunting and you start to wonder if you should lose your voice just to fit in. But the world is full of individuals and we should write like we speak; if you have a different personality online, people will see right through you. I still get days where I wonder ‘what’s the point’ when I see someone similar to me with twice as many comments but who cares? I’m doing it my way and no one elses; keep on trucking! =)

  6. Jeremy Branham07-28-11

    I liked your stuff because you were honest and a bit naughty. However, from reading my stuff, you know I have no problem being honest and controversial so I can appreciate that.

    Was it you that was trying to up with some cross between diary and blog? I think this fits what you are trying to do. It’s part travel, part diary and with your personality and candor, there will be people that connect with what you do. In the end, that is all that matters.

  7. Toni07-28-11

    @Tom – Wooo! So glad you like my stuff =) I have to admit that MY favourite blogs are the ones that make me laugh with silly but true stories etc. I LOVE your last paragraph and bloggers being worshipped as Gods in some temple at an unpronounceable city…funny because it’s true! I’ll definitely high five that! I’ve got nothing against people writing about it…just put your own spin on it to make it different from everyone else =)

  8. Toni07-28-11

    @Jeremy – yes, I was the one you shared the ‘travenal’ idea about =) And what’s this ‘liked’ business – present tense Mr Branham, present tense…I’ve only just started blogging; you’ve got a lot of stalking still left to do =D

  9. Erik07-29-11

    You succeed as a writer where I fail- I’m afraid to put myself out there too much and I’m afraid to try to be funny. You stuff is honest and entertaining, mine is functional. As functional as my stuff is, I don’t get retweeted by LP either, and don’t ever expect to. The thing I read most about blogging is that content is king, and if you develop a niche, people will keep coming back. You have done that, and you should be proud of it. I hope I can find mine.
    It’s only a guess, but I would imagine that your style will evolve on your Africa trip- I’m excited to see how that experience moves you.

  10. Scott07-29-11

    Totally with you on this. I started my blog and my twitter life kind of serious with like “7 Reasons I Love Vegas” and only like b.s. RT’s of travel articles. But then I realized that I have to put my personality and screwy sense of humor (ask Julia about my jokes)into it to truly love what I am writing/doing. So, I wrote my first attempt at humor called “Unesco Says Screw It and Names Everything A World Heritage Site” and the rest is history. I want to entertain people more than anything and I think you are doing much of the same, and honestly half these blogs are so dry and boring they don’t stand out, and that is the most important thing in marketing/branding … standing out. keep up the great work!

  11. Oddette07-29-11

    I am so glad you’re finally finding yourself and figuring out who you are instead of trying to be what others expect you to be.

    Your writing is wonderful and while it may change over time it will only be because it evolves as you grow and experience new things. Oh God, that sounds so condescending… I hope you know I don’t mean it that way.

    Keep doing exactly what you are doing and the world will thank you for it :-)

  12. Dominique07-29-11

    I love your honesty, your sarcasm and your stories. Keep it up lady. You’re going places. :)

  13. Toni07-29-11

    @Dominique – thanks for the vote of confidence hun; much appreciated! Fingers crossed hey?!

  14. IsabellesTravel07-29-11

    Don`t change your writing style, it`s funny and engaging! Keep it up, you`re doing great!

  15. Toni07-29-11

    @Isabelle – thank you hun; coming from you that really is a wonderful comment =)

  16. Toni07-29-11

    Oddette – yes I know what you were trying to say =) I’m totally going for it now – game on!

  17. Toni07-29-11

    @Scott – Yeah I’ve heard about your humour mister ;) I think that’s the thing – you want to be able to ENTERTAIN people and a lot of people forget that. If 500 people write about the same place in South East Asia, you’ve got to make yours sound different otherwise you’ll never get noticed. Stand up and be counted whilst falling flat on your face causing hysterics =D And your post is great…very true about UNESCO! haha. And thanks – glad you like my writing =)

  18. Hogga07-29-11

    Damn diggity! Preach it sistah. I tried for months to write all ‘proper’ and ‘guide/tips’ oriented like everyone else until I realized the more I started being myself, the more people liked me and the more traffic I got. With SO many bloggers online now, you gotta stand out. Personal branding yeo!

  19. Justin Hamlin07-29-11

    Never change your style. It is what makes you uniquely you, and what keeps all of us coming back to read your exploits (well, that and your twitter threats. i kid, i kid. no, seriously)

    Keep being yourself, keep burning and crossing bridges and we will all follow along, every step of the way :)

  20. Jennifer Nixon (@jenniferbnixon)07-29-11

    I agree toni, as I’ve said before – where would Carrie Bradshaw be if she had censored? I’ve felt similar to you, that maybe I should try to make my blogs less ‘funny’ and be more serious – but then I remember that there’s loads of stuff out there that people can’t read if they want serious, you have to be yourself and if people don’t like it then they don’t have to read it x

  21. Toni07-29-11

    @Erik – big internet hugs for you! You’re much better than you give yourself credit for. I guess, for me, I get a little ‘keyboard courage’ and figure to hell with it; I’m going to have fun…write for yourself like a diary or a letter to yourself and hit the publish button…you won’t regret it. Look at the praise I get on my most honest (and revealing) posts…that is my niche; people want honesty and I’m prepared to give it to them. I’ve since decided that Lonely Planet can take a run and jump; life is for living and if they don’t want a laugh courtesy of moi, they don’t deserve to read me =) And you’re right, my blog will take an emotional direction during/after Africa but I’ll never change completely; I like how it is too much =)

  22. Toni07-29-11

    @Hogga – you hit the nail on the chicken’s head…be yourself and be honest and people will come flocking…personal touches all the way baby! <—– wow that sounded much less dirty in my head! =)

  23. Toni07-29-11

    @Jennifer – exactly! If you don’t like, you know how to close your browser =) I think all you can do is be yourself; if you try to be someone you’re not, people will see right through it. Besides, it’s much more fun being like us =)

  24. Toni07-29-11

    @Justin – haha of course I threaten you – it’s all part of my stalking process =D Good to know you enjoy my exploits and that YOU’LL be stalking ME every step of the way =D

  25. Nomadic Samuel07-29-11

    I really enjoyed this post. I’m currently transitioning from a friends and family blog to one that is more out there ‘in public’ for others to read. I think if you’re willing to put yourself out on a limb a bit more you’ll find your true audience – even if it means certain readers are alienated.

  26. Toni07-30-11

    @Samuek – glad you liked it. And you’re right, I think if you’re willing to put yourself out there, far more people are likely to appreciate it than be alienated by it…turns out that people really do still treasure honesty =)

  27. Sarah07-30-11

    Big high-fives to all of the above.

    Please leave the rainbow fluffy talk for just about everyone else. More stories about biscuits, burning bridges, and general belligerence, please and thank you. (I’m asking politely, too! So you kind of you know, HAVE to keep writing.)

  28. Toni07-30-11

    @Sarah – haha politeness and flattery will always keep me writing so don’t worry =) High five right back to you =)

  29. Anthony08-01-11

    You’re British AND you talk about sex!?!? :O How’s that for a taboo? Haha.

    Disclaimer to why I can take the piss in a friendly way; I’m a Brit.

    Good on you for giving (and keeping) your personal touch to your blog! :)

  30. Sheryll08-01-11

    You’re the best! Do you, love, and fuck the rest! I’m always WAY more interested in blogs that are honest and about the author, than reading top 10 lists and “how to find the least touristy spot ever” posts.

  31. Toni08-01-11

    @Anthony – I know right?! I’m totally kicking Taboo’s ass =D LOVE the disclaimer…maybe I should use that the next time someone gives me a look! haha

  32. Toni08-01-11

    @Sheryll – thanks hun; glad you appreciate it! I have to admit that after having my ‘wobble’, I soon realised that being yourself is the only way to write for better or worse…though I think in the blogging world, standing out is definitely for better =D high five girlie!

  33. Anthony08-01-11

    Hahaha indeed!!

  34. Toni08-01-11

    @Anthony – :) Glad you like it!

  35. Monica (@TheTravelHack)11-07-11

    Love this post Toni! You definitely have something that most travel bloggers don’t have and that’s the balls to stand up and say it how it is. Most of my friends and family don’t even know I have a blog – that’s how scared I am to put myself out there. Carry on doing what your doing! I’m very excited to see the changes to Reclaiming my future!! :)

  36. Kjell11-07-11

    I’m happy you chose to stand out. You are a great inspiration to us all. Thank you for being our guide. I wish I had the courage to stand out like you.

  37. Toni11-07-11

    Kjell – thanks for the lovely comment =) Everyone can find the courage if they need to hun…take baby steps and you’ll get there eventually =)

  38. Toni11-07-11

    Monica – So glad that you enjoyed the post hun :) And thank you for the lovely compliments *blushing*. Tell some of your friends – who knows, they may love it! (although most of my friends don’t actually care haha). Can’t wait to begin changing this place too…so exciting! :)

  39. Loz in Transit (personas)06-06-12

    There are so many vanilla Travel blogs out there that its nice to find someone thats willing to present themselves as uniquely as they really are. Its also comforting to find someone else questioning whether they should suppress themselves to appeal to the hypothetical “advertiser” and “reader”.

    As a fan of personas (from Comedians to Wrestlers etc…) I hope more defined personalities start appearing in the Travel blogging world. Fingers crossed the audience is out there for us.

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