I’ve been wanting to write this post for quite some time but always backed away from it because I didn’t want to stir up a hornets nest but I’ve now got to the point where I literally want to smash the nest wide open regardless of whether I’m wearing protective gear or not.
I am just so incredibly fed up with the childish behaviour in the travel blogging community – something so opposite from the connotation of the word ‘community’. You think of people being positive and helping each other not telling people ‘you’re doing it all wrong’ and calling each other out in public forums etc. When did people find such big sticks to sit their butts on? *Newsflash* egos aren’t attractive! If you think you’re special just because you have a lot of followers, page views and are making some money, I’ve got something to tell you; you’re not. Nelson Mandela is special. Warren Buffet giving away nearly all his wealth is special. Your family is special. You? Well you’re just one person in a ocean of hopefuls trying to achieve their own success with some riding bigger waves than others.
This is when you really have to develop a mind of your own…
Some will tell you that you HAVE to blog a certain amount of times per week whilst others believe it should be quality over quantity. Someone might tell you you HAVE to guest post at least once a month to ‘maximise exposure’ but someone else may say that an occasional guest post is all that is needed. Some tell you never to swear on your blog whilst others celebrate the honesty of the writer behind it. And don’t even get me started on advertising; some will say ‘yes’ or ‘my God, why don’t you just sleep with the Devil’.
Let’s just clear something up shall we? There is no right or wrong way to blog (I recommend you pick your jaws up from the floor; I haven’t cleaned in a while). YES, there are ways that may prevent you from becoming ‘bigger and better’ or not maximise your potential but they’re not the be all and end all of blogging. We all have very different ideas on the ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ ways to blog but that’s just because of our personal preferences. Some think pop-ups inviting you to join their Facebook page are a good thing whilst others hate any kind of pop-up; we’re all different. If you love that your photos aren’t perfect on your blog post because you didn’t quite have time to ‘set the shot up properly’ then good for you! If you’re happy with what you have written and photos you’ve displayed then what the hell does it matter to anyone else?! Just like parenting, blogging doesn’t come with a manual and everyone is just trying to discover what works best for them.
Many people will say that a blog is ‘just a platform to showcase other talents and projects’ etc but what if it isn’t?! What if you *just* want to write and make a little money on the side, or none at all?! There is so much assumption that everyone wants to be huge and successful (whatever that term truly means) but there are others that just want to blog and have fun with it like Maggie. Sure, there are things you can do in the future for a little extra such as writing an ebook but not everyone has or wants to showcase ‘other talents and projects’. Not everyone wants to develop an app, start another website, do freelance work or write an ebook. Some people simply like to write and share their photos and their adventures with us. Their thinking isn’t wrong, it’s just the avenue they’re taking. Just because someone is ‘big’ i.e. has lots of followers or fans, it doesn’t give them the right to TELL people what they should and should not do. Give advice not lectures! We’re all different. We have different wants and needs from our blogs. Don’t assume that just because we’re heading in the same direction, that I want or should follow your path.
Let’s just settle this whole ‘should I sell adverts’ business once and for all shall we?! It’s none of your business! Yes, we are all aware in the countless Facebook groups for bloggers over the countless weeks and months you spend bringing it up that by many people’s standard (and whoever else I simply cannot be bothered to mention) that it’s ‘wrong’ to do it but so what?! Are these people personally hurting you? Are they affecting YOUR statistics? No?? Then kindly keep your superiority complex to yourself. Please don’t bother to correct me on my ‘naiveity’ of advert selling either because that’s not what this post is about.
I couldn’t give a crap if you sold links or your Grandma (note to children; don’t sell your Grandma, you won’t get much) as long as it doesn’t affect me. We are all taking different journeys! You can go round and round over the same argument (which is happening and getting extremely boring!) about whether or not you should sell them and that it’s not a sustainable income etc but who cares?! You’re taking one avenue and someone else is taking another.
The only people that truly care about the validity of placing links are other travel bloggers. REAL people, the ones that people are trying to connect with and inspire in the first place usually don’t even notice let alone care! As far as they’re aware, it’s normal practice for a blogger. The real people aren’t bothered by the politics and ethics of a text link, they just want to read inspiring stories, tips on destinations and have someone to answer their questions. So if the ‘normal’ person doesn’t care, why are all the other travel bloggers getting their Speedos in a twist?
Keep your opinions to yourself
If you have something to say personally about a blogger i.e. that you don’t like their writing or attitude etc, either keep it between yourself and friends (privately), tell the blogger in private or just shut the hell up! I get so incredibly angry and disheartened that so many people call each other out in public whether it be Twitter or a Facebook blogging group; at first glance it looks like we’re in the school playground not a bunch of civil adults trying to help each other in the ‘community’. It’s just embarrassing to read and I begin to feel ashamed that I have, by default, been ‘lumped in by association’ with these other bloggers.
And would you PLEASE stop trying to ram it down other peoples throats that something ‘doesn’t fit your business model’. So what if you have a business model for your blog, a social media strategy or goals – it makes you no better or worse than anyone else in the group. Again, you’re not special, you’re just another blogger. We all started out in the same place. Sure, you may be ‘bigger’ than others (congratulations!) but that doesn’t mean you have to have a stick up your ass or have you forgotten your lessons from school? Treat people like you would want to be treated. If you want to be the jackass that’s fine but don’t be surprised if no one wants to then go that ‘extra mile’ to help you.
Please stop being hypocrites. If you tell people ‘never to sell links’ or ‘never blog a certain way’, don’t do it yourself because you just look like a stuck-up idiot, especially when you get caught doing it. I know too many bloggers that tell people the only way to increase social media numbers is to keep having conversations etc, only for them to go and buy Facebook fans or Twitter followers (yes, you really can ‘buy’ bigger numbers). It’s disheartening and it makes a fool of bloggers who actually work hard for those people. It also makes you a liar when you say that you made ‘some money through blah blah blah’ when you’re actually selling links – the very thing you told people not to do – and no one likes a liar. I’m not saying that you have to announce every action to everyone (since some people are pathetic enough to ‘grass’ each other up to Google), just don’t lecture someone about not doing a certain practice which you engage in yourself.
Be yourself online too. Don’t sound like you’re this amazing adventurous person on your blog and through your writing then be a jumped up a*hole in real life. Not only is it disappointing but you will gain a reputation (in private) amongst other bloggers that actually, you’re not that great a person after all and guess what? You’ll start losing followers and readers; the exact thing you pride yourself on.
And what’s with the condescention everywhere? Have you forgotten that we all started out the same? Sure, you may be ‘huge’ now but guess what? You started in exactly the same place as everybody else so why have you got a forrest worth of sticks shoved up your ass? Why don’t you HELP US not ‘sit in your castle and laugh at the minions’?! It takes far more energy to be a douchebag than it does to be nice! If people engage with you often, be it through Twitter or Facebook etc, have the common decency to at least thank them. After all, without them, you have no readers in the first place. I can’t remember how many ‘big’ bloggers I have unfollowed, un-fanned and unsubscribed from because they couldn’t even find it in themselves to say ‘hi’ occasionally. Stop dismissing people because you don’t think your time is worth it. Everyone deserves time.
On our own journey
We’re all people interested in travel and have blogs that showcase that but that’s where the similarities end because we all have unique ways of connecting with our readers and we have different goals we want to achieve. Some may value their achievement on the amount of money they make whilst some measure success with page views or comments. Me? I measure success by my ‘numbers’; right after how happy writing makes me feel. Don’t judge me if I don’t have a ‘business model’ or strategy to go ‘viral’ online or if I see myself as ‘just as writer’ when I *should be* editor, photographer, marketer, PR and SEO genius etc etc and I won’t judge you for being totally opposite to me in every way.
And before everyone jumps on me telling me that I’M the one with the stick up their ass, let me just clarify a couple of points. Whilst I can’t remember them off-hand, I probably have committed a few faux-pas along the way (it’s called learning). You might also think I’m bitter and jealous because my blog isn’t big but that would only serve to reinforce my point; you are assuming I want to be ‘big’! This is my blog and my journey, I’m simply ‘calling out’ the minority that are spoiling it for the majority. There are many huge bloggers out there that are kind and so helpful despite their crazy schedules such as Nellie of Wildjunket and Caz and Craig of ytravelblog so my only question is; if they can do it, what’s YOUR excuse?
Feel free to rip this post apart and tell me I’m ‘wrong’ about everything from my grammar to the ethics of blogging because guess what? I don’t care what you think; just like you shouldn’t care what I think either. You are you and I am me. That is where our similarities and differences start and finish. It’s the exact same reason you are fully entitled to think I’m talking shit but it will simply prove my point; we are all unique, are taking different journey’s and all have different opinions on what people should say or do. Neither of us are wrong or right, we’re just being ‘us’.