After reading Heather’s round-up up of the World Travel Market last week, I figured I would add my ‘less experienced/beginners’ thoughts on how I felt it went. Read Heather’s article from her experienced point of view and then read mine from a ‘blogging beginner’ – it will make more sense.
The World Travel Market was an eye-opener of surgical proportion when I attended last week particularly as it was the first time I had ever been to anything like it and certainly anything on its grandiose scale.
I’m still sitting on the fence as to whether or not I can say that I ‘enjoyed’ myself.
From the moment I pegged my ‘press pass’ badge onto my top I felt like a fraud. I have less than a thousand Twitter followers, 100+ Facebook ‘fans’ and traffic too small to be worth a mention. There is nothing ‘press related’ about me as far as I can see and yet, here I was, stood at the entrance of this world event not believing I should even be there, never mind where to start. To say that my audacity to be there outweighed the substance of my blog would be an understatement.
I’d been watching the tweets throughout the conference from ‘the floor’ and talks people were attending, feeling increasingly naive about what I was letting myself in for. I’m not a business girl. I am, like many, just someone that started a blog that happened to get a few followers and comments etc. Yes I want to make it successful (a relevant term) and sure, I’d like to make it a full-time job eventually but what I wasn’t aware of before the world travel market was JUST how serious some bloggers take it.
There has been a lot of talk in the travel community of late about ethics on our websites etc but the saddest part of the fall-out was, from my point of view, that a lot of people were forgetting why they started their blogs in the first place: a passion to travel.
And THAT’S why my opinion changed during the World Travel Market. I realised that in some people attempting to be serious about their blog they didn’t seem, simultaneously, to allow it to be fun anymore and that realisation scared me because I don’t want to be like that. It felt as though the business, rather than travel, side of things had become the priority for them and I don’t want to aspire to that. Of course I would like to make my living from my passion but I worry, at one point, one outweighs the other; surely it doesn’t have to?
I happened to bump into a couple of ‘Twitter celebrities’ whilst walking around and you know what? They were a complete letdown. They were nothing like their blogs suggested. They weren’t funny or open. They were too busy glued to their phones or ‘in the zone’ to barely notice I was even there, never mind talk to me and as a reader of their websites, I was disappointed. It was as though I was a 7 year old asking a celebrity for an autograph only to be pushed away by their bodyguards. Yes, at an event like this, you have to wear your professional hat but you should have a smiley face badge on it too because there are people like me that aspire to be like you and if the ‘little people’ meet you and are disappointed that doesn’t leave us a lot to aim for; it definitely changed my opinion of a couple of them. I’m not saying everyone is like this, I’ve met ‘big’ Twitter people that were LOVELY but unfortunately, it seems that during the travel market, I met the minority of the group.
I’d like to think that when people meet me they would say that I was very much like my ‘online persona’ – sarcastic, honest and funny (I won’t list all my negative points) not cold with an ego. The other bloggers I met that day were EXACTLY like they were online and I loved that because that was exactly the reason that I read their websites and followed them on twitter.
Hearing how serious some people took their blogs pushed me into asking myself a tough question: Am I really cut-out to make my website successful? Would I turn into someone who chases success rather than travel? I have to admit that it worried me. Does success mean always chasing a press trip even if I don’t have much interest in the particular country or being unapproachable to my readers? I sincerely hope not.
When it comes to most aspects of blogging I am naive. I have very little knowledge of SEO, can’t do code without having a nervous breakdown and talk about sex instead of temples; I’m just a writer. I’ve always been a writer. It’s what I believe I was born to do in some capacity. Everything else is, quite frankly, congestion I have to get through. And maybe that’s why I came to the realisation that I might not be able to ‘cut it’ in the business side of things after all, especially if it means turning myself into someone that chases my success instead of passion. Besides which, as I’ve explained to you before, what if my writing is deemed too unprofessional to even be a professional?!
So will I be going back to the World Travel Market next year? Yes. Whether I ‘enjoyed’ it or not it was a learning curve and if I’m going to make this website a success (in whatever capacity that might be) then I need to learn to steer myself around the corners whether I can see what’s coming or not.
For now I’ll just keep writing and see where it leads…