Blogging is scary. I know, you wouldn’t think so, right? But it is. At least for me, it is. I felt sick to my stomach when I hit the publish button on Drink Tea & Travel almost 6 months ago. I had been working on the site for months leading up to the launch, carefully researching, writing my first travel diary entries, putting together travel guides, and collecting my best photography. I knew it was ready, but to push the “go live” button and let the world see it all was absolutely terrifying.
I don’t know what I was afraid of, maybe the lack of content, or criticism of what I’ve written, or judgement over my decision to start writing about my experiences. Maybe it was just the sheer fear of sharing my life with hundreds (now thousands) of people all over the world. You know how we grew up with our parents telling us not to share too much private information on the internet (well at least I did)? Well, here I am, doing exactly the opposite. You all know the details of every single one of my trips, past and future, you know my life story, and my love story. You know what I eat, and where I sleep. But most importantly, you are starting to see deeper down, into my feelings, anxieties, and uncertainties. And that’s the scariest bit of it all.
So here is the truth. Life as a travel blogger, even a part-time one, like me, isn’t always awe-inspiring adventures and life changing experiences. It also comes with its fair share of doubt, fear, and hesitation. And lately there’s been a lot of that.
Will I Burn Out?
I follow dozens of travel blogs, some are new, just like me, just starting to dip their feet into blogging. Others, I’ve been following for years. In the last 3-4 months, I’ve discovered that 3 out of my 10 favourite blogs have decided to take a break from traveling and move back to the US, 2 have decided to cancel various trips and slow down, and 1 has just announced that she is going to quit travel blogging completely. These are the people that inspired me not only to travel, but to start travel blogging in first place. They are the ones I aspire to be like! And their recent actions are making me worried. I don’t want to burn out like they did.
In the last 6-8 months, I have poured my heart, soul and sometimes, even tears into this site. I work full-time and then I come home and instead of relaxing in front of the TV, I write. On a Saturday night, when my friends are out partying, I stay in and write. And I don’t regret it for a second! The joy that I get from writing a great article is still worth it all! And nothing makes it more worth while than an email from readers saying “thank you” or “you have inspired me to travel!” It’s funny how little I actually need to keep going.
But I totally understand why travel bloggers are burning out. I’m not even traveling and I struggle to keep up sometimes. No wonder they need a break! I just don’t want to follow that part of their path. I don’t want travel blogging to burn me out and stop me from traveling. Maybe one day after another few years of living abroad, away from family/close friends, and traveling and writing about it all, I too will burn out…but maybe I won’t.
Every time I read about the struggles of another fellow travel blogger, I can’t help but wonder…
What If I Lose Motivation?
I don’t have the best track record in seeing things through. When I was little, my parents enrolled me in figure skating classes. I really liked it, but the second it got hard, I quit. Then there were dance classes and piano classes, both of which I eventually quit for the same reason. I once started studied German, French, and most recently, Mandarin, but unfortunately today I can barely get by in those languages. I have started dozens of books that I never finished. I gave up on learning how to ride a bike. And the list goes on. Will there be enough motivation for me to keep Drink Tea & Travel going?
Sometimes I have writer’s block. And it scares me. Most of the time, all it takes is a good sleep and I’m back at it with dozens of new post ideas. But what if one day it’s no longer going to be enough and the words will just stop coming to me? What if…
I Don’t Have a Niche
It seems to be the rule for successful travel blogging. “You must find your niche” – they all say! Well I’m struggling to. I can’t write about female solo travel, because even though I did travel solo for a while, I no longer am. I am no longer traveling S.E.A, so I can’t just focus on that. I’m not really funny or have a distinct way of writing (or at least I don’t think so), so I can’t just hang my hat on that. I have recently written a lot about Australia, but while I enjoy sharing my travels around this country with others, I would much rather be writing and traveling elsewhere!
I crave going off the beaten path, I crave adventures that don’t make it into the ” top 10 things to do in…”, I crave lesser known countries, and cultural experiences… And not the “going to the museum to look at art” type of culture, the type where I sit around the table with a cup of tea listening to stories from a local… THAT kind of culture.
Is that a niche? How many people out there want to read about that kind of “cultural travel”? I don’t know. But does it even matter? Which leads me to my next point…
My site analytics drive me insane! Google analytics page is one of the first things I look at when I wake up, and it’s the last thing I look at before going to bed. I’m completely addicted to knowing how many people are reading my blog. And I don’t even know why I care! Because, unlike a lot of other people in the travel blogging world, I don’t really want to make money from selling ads on my site, so I don’t need to gain 100,000 unique visitors a month. But I want it to be successful. I’m not quite sure how I define success just yet. Maybe success is to see my words and my photography in a National Geographic Traveler magazine. Or maybe it’s to be able to remember my experiences 10 years down the road. Or maybe it’s none of those….
Today, I write because I like it, because I want others to discover the joys of travel and the amazing world outside of their hometowns! THAT is what I want! I want you to fall in love with travel as much as I have, because I truly believe it will change your life!
So I know that it doesn’t matter how many people visit my site on a daily basis. What matter is that those that do, get something out of it. And if one of my articles and my photography one day make their way into the pages of some big shot travel magazine, well that would just be icing on the cake!
Note to self: Must stop checking Google Analytics obsessively.
What Other Bloggers Are Doing
It is hard not to compare yourself to others. Because, when you see a fellow travel blogger post a recap of their first year of blogging and realize that they have managed to gain a massive following, you can’t help but feel a bit jealous. And I hate that feeling! I am so happy for all of those bloggers that have found their niche and are really emerging out of the crowd! But it always keeps me wondering, what are they doing better?
I try to keep the comparison to a healthy level, learning from others and not letting their success or failure influence me and my writing. But it’s harder than it seems. Just like in any industry competition pushes you to rethink what you are doing, how you are doing it, and find ways to do it better. With hundreds of new blogs popping up left right and centre, it’s tough not to get distracted by others. And it’s even scarier to admit it…
As I first sat down to get some of this stuff off my chest, the words poured onto the page. But as they say, in the darkness of the night, the fears always rise, but in the sobering light of the day, the worries never seem to stay…
I put the post aside for a few days and really debated whether any of this was worth sharing. There are no lessons in my fears, no conclusions, just a bunch of questions with not a lot of answers. But maybe, I’m not alone out here with these fears. Maybe there are others, new and expert bloggers who are thinking the same things. Wondering, worrying, wishing… Maybe we can find comfort in knowing that we all have similar worries and struggles. Maybe we all just need a bit of advice.
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