Seven years ago on this very day, a girl with luminously bleached blonde hair sat down after work and hit “publish” on a brand new blog. This blog.
The girl, in case you weren’t sure, was me. Talking about myself in the third person like an annoying weirdo. Little old me – much slimmer than I am these days – working at a shitty call centre, dreaming of a life of adventure, totally unsure if I could do it.
If you’d have told that dorky, questionably hair-dyed, girl that one day she’d be a full-time travel blogger – that people would actually pay her for doing the thing she loved more than anything in the world – I doubt she’d have believed you. If there’s one thing I’ve always been really good at, it’s self-doubt. But here I am, seven years on from the day I mustered up a bit of faith in myself and started a blog. And I am a full-time blogger. People pay me for this. People, for some reason, read my posts.
For seven years I’ve plugged away at this little blog. I’ve built it up from one reader (my boyfriend at the time) to tens of thousands every month. Last year half a million people read my blog. That’s mental. Who are you all and what am I doing right?!
Anyway – today is my seven-year blogiversary, and I’m celebrating! I’m blasting out the Spice Girls on Spotify, eating sweets, and reflecting on all the good things that seven years of travel blogging has brought me…
1 – Everyone Needs a Tribe
Travel blogging is such an amazing community, and I’ve been lucky to find some really fabulous people within it. I love all my friends, but it’s especially nice to have found what really feels like my “tribe”. People who get me, who have the same weird obsession (addiction?) for travel that I do. There are so many people in my life that I’ve only met because of travel blogging – and my life is so much better for having met them. I even moved in with one of them! I think the absolute best thing about blogging, and the internet in general, is the way it brings people together. There’s never been a better time for being able to find people who share the same interests as you – and that’s a great thing. Unless you’re a Flat-Earther.
2 – Confidence Takes Practice
I’ve chatted about this a lot before. I used to be horribly shy – still am, to be honest. I got better as I got older, but I don’t think I would ever have become the person I am today (by which I mean, a functioning, seemingly normal, human being) if it hadn’t been for the blog. All those conferences, meetups, and group press trips basically forced me to confront my biggest fear and get good at meeting new people. I doubt I’d ever have been able to go on my first solo backpacking trip, if it hadn’t been for all the smaller solo trips I did for blog clients. Doing something over and over always makes it easier. Blogging has forced me out of my comfort zone time and again, and the result is that I’m a more confident, capable person than I was seven years ago. It just took a lot of practice!
3 – It’s OK to be Proud of Yourself
This is the best thing travel blogging has given me. I’m proud of myself, for something I created. For some reason or other, I’ve always felt like I had to be humble at all times – that shouting about your success is something only annoying losers do. But WHY shouldn’t we celebrate our successes? I worked hard on this blog, and I think it’s awesome. I am crazy proud of myself. So there.
4 – There’s No Place Like Home!
I’ve always loved where I’m from, but I don’t think I ever truly appreciated how amazing Dorset is until I left. One of the best side effects of all my travel is how much I love my home now. Even better is that this blog has given me a platform to shout about how great Dorset is – I have a ton of posts all about it, and even more coming.
5 – Variety is the Spice of Life
Being a travel blogger means wearing about a million different hats. I’m a writer, manager, photographer, editor, videographer (sometimes), presenter, “model” (HAH!) social media manager, customer services rep, graphic designer, CEO… I’m everything. I do interviews on podcasts and write hotel reviews for newspapers. I fix tech-y problems when my blog goes wrong. When I can’t afford to pay an expert to do something (which is most of the time), I do it myself.
Sometimes, that seems very much like a negative of travel blogging. Especially when things go wrong and I have to spend hours learning how to fix them. But in actual fact – it’s fun being a lot of different things. I’ve never been good at doing the same thing all day every day, and I love that every day there’s a new challenge.
6 – Travel is Good for the Soul
The very best thing about being a travel blogger is all the travel I get to do (obviously). Much as I love to tell anyone who will listen (no one will) that what I do isn’t a holiday, that doesn’t mean I don’t love it. I love travel, more than anything in the world, and it’s definitely more of an addiction/compulsion than a hobby. For better or worse, me and travel are an item and it’s unlikely to change soon.
But travel is so good for the soul. It sounds like a cliché – but sometimes clichés are based in truth. The more I travel, the more I learn and grow. The more I realise that people all over the world are inherently similar – and that our differences are what make the world a fascinating, beautiful place.
7 – All You Need is Positivity
Sorry – I’ve been listening to Spice Girls for about an hour now and I think they’re inside my brain. But if there’s one thing I can takeaway from my journey to becoming a full-time blogger, it’s that positivity is key to success.
I’m not here to say that we can do anything we put our minds to – despite what all those Disney movies told me growing up, that’s just not true. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try. If I’d never taken a chance on starting this blog, if I hadn’t even tried, I could still be working in call centres and dealing with complaints. Instead, I get to have this weird, made-up career where I write whatever nonsense pops into my head!
And if you don’t quite achieve your dreams, stay positive. I’d be lying if I told you that Travel Blogger was my dream career. It’s close enough, and it lets me live a life that’s perfect for me, but it wasn’t – isn’t – the dream. When I get bogged down in feeling like I’m not “good enough”, or that I’m not the “proper” writer I always wanted to be, I have to give myself a good mental shake and remind myself of the positives.
I know I can be a bit negative about blogging at times, and it’s still one of the most frustrating jobs I’ve ever had. Careers you really care about are much, much harder to handle than those easy customer services jobs I never gave a flying fart about. But blogging has been the biggest gift for me. So sometimes, it’s worth taking a little gamble on yourself and giving something a go.
Happy blogiversary to me!
So those are seven awesome things I’ve learnt from seven years as a travel blogger. It’s by no means been an easy journey, and I certainly haven’t loved every step of the way. I’ve laughed, I’ve cried, I’ve torn my hair out in frustration… but I wouldn’t change a thing. Hope you’ve enjoyed following the journey – here’s to the next seven years!