I love you, I hate you…the story of my life. I always seem to live on the extremes; always in search of some sort of balance. In the name of balance, I decided to take a look at my relationship with blogging and my lifestyle – why I love it and what I equally hate about it.
Hearing from People
I love hearing from people. Nothing makes me happier than getting a comment on my site (from a real person and not some stupid spammer simply trying to pimp their link or business… I hate those people). I enjoy it when people send me personal emails with questions or simply words of encouragement; it keeps me going, it’s my fuel – my paycheck. Most of all, I love hearing from my dad when he comments on my blog. He shares insight into his thoughts and life that’s I’ve never been privy to in my 41 years. I feel like it opens a window to his thoughts, feelings, and soul that we never ever talk about in person. Yes – I know this is completely dysfunctional…but I take what I can get.
Then again, I hate hearing from people…yes – that’s right…you heard me. I get numerous emails a day from people ‘demanding’ that I share links with them, or trying to get me to advertise for free or very discounted prices. I hear from people who simply send out form letters to every blogger out there (I know this because I have two websites and I get the same message…duh). I get countless PR companies sending me emails about their products and announcements. I get people asking me to do sponsored posts or guest posts (yet if they look at my site they should know that I don’t do sponsored posts or guest posts). Why do I hate this…because it wastes my time. I have to open and delete every one of those emails…and that makes me cranky. Those are minutes I’ll never get back in my life…they add up.
I love being on the move, not having a homebase, and being completely flexible. I love not spending my time shopping for housing things and paying bills. I love being ‘fenced in’ by the size of my backpack. I love seeing new countries and cultures. I love seeing my own country and culture in action. I love the fact that because of this lifestyle…my ability to chat with people at social gatherings has really improved…I have a story to tell and people generally enjoy hearing that story.
I hate being on the move constantly, blowing up air mattresses, never really knowing where you will sleep from week to week. Lugging a heavy backpack around and an equally heavy daypack – I look like a dork…and my 41 year old body isn’t too thrilled about this either. I hate always being a guest and never being able to unpack my toiletries. I HATE going to my storage unit in New York City – it’s a complete mess of boxes which are falling apart and the items in the boxes aren’t much better after 4 years. The worst part is that it reminds me of how incredibly screwed up my ‘life of stuff’ is.
I love having control over my life and my work; I’m my own boss. I set my hours and can work from anywhere. I don’t have to ask permission or get ‘sign off’ to try out a new idea or do something a different way. I don’t have to conduct employee reviews or be reviewed myself! I can take a long lunch…in Thailand if I want!
All of this control comes with a price though. Because I work for myself I tend to work much harder and put in more hours (yet it is doing stuff I love!). However, when I get behind, there’s no one to pick up the slack except myself. But the biggest issue about working for yourself is that when you screw up – you have no one to blame but yourself. Plus, to top it off, when you screw up, you really do care that you’ve screwed up – after all, it’s your business. When a project goes wrong, it upsets me to my core and I have to work my ass off to get it corrected – at all hours.
I love the fact the travel blogging has risen out of nothingness when I started in 2006 and has become this vibrant, supportive online community. The blogging world is expanding so fast that it’s impossible to keep up. But the nice thing is that I’m not alone anymore. I do love reading about other people’s adventures. I have a group of peers that I chat with daily, bounce ideas off of, and partner with. I have people who understand my.
However with this influx of travel bloggers and the increased presence in social media – it creates a massive amount of noise in my head. I learned last weekend at the World Domination Summit that 50,000 new blogs are started every day. Shit. Do we really need 50,000 of anything? Granted – these aren’t all travel blogs…but they are blogs. Not only is it noise in my day with twitter feeds, keyword streams, facebook likes, and emails that no live person can really keep up with. But specifically it’s negative noise in my head. It’s the voice that tells me, “Everyone is more successful and doing cooler things than you.” “They seem to have it all together, while I’m more unbalanced and broke then ever!”…it’s the self doubting voice which I hate. It’s the ‘grass is always greener’ plague. It makes me want to run and hide more than ever. I just want to disappear and not pay attention to everyone else. I feel like I’m in high school all over again and desparately wanting to be in the cool clique. Yes – here’s the problem – I hated high school. I just want to do my own thing and at my age one would think that I would have figured that out by now. Um…no, I’m human…and we are hard to change. I’ve started to not want to read about anyone else and what they are doing as I know that I’m too hard on myself. But then I go through guilt of not ‘participating in the industry dialog’. This is probably the hardest area for me. I desperately want and need camaraderie and the industry to grow – but I quite honestly preferred it when there were only a few of us doing this. It’s a strange feeling.
I actually love the fact that my attitude about money has completely changed. Thanks to this lifestyle I’m no longer wishing I were rich. I simply want to have enough to exist and be happy. I don’t need excess.
I’ve been meeting a lot of new travel bloggers lately and they come up to me with eager wide eyes and want to know tips on how to be successful or how to make money blogging or get free trips. Inside my head I wonder if people actually think it’s easy…cuz it’s not! I begin by telling them that I’ve been doing this now in some shape or form for 5 years and I’m going on my first press trip next month. I barely get by financially. I feel like I want to shake them and say it’s not as glamorous as they somehow think. People are not knocking down my door sending me on free trips. I have to ‘hustle’ for everything I get. Generally – I have to go put out proposals to people as to why they should host me and what I can do for them in exchange. I rarely get emails that invite me places for free out of the blue.
I love making new relationships in this blogging and social media world. My network has expanded by leaps and bounds; and it’s global. I can practically go to any country in Europe or Asia and always have a friend I can stay with. The potential networking you can do via the internet is endless. If I have a blogging question – I simply write one of my many blogging techie gurus and they will help. The travel blogging community is really amazing. Plus, I’ve made some incredible friendships with people who simply read my blog (yup…I’m talking about you Amy!); who says you can’t build relationships through leaving comments?!
However even with 10,000 unique visitors, and 4200 twitter followers – it’s a very lonely existence at times. Generally, it’s me and the laptop; which is slightly dysfunctional. In addition, this nomadic travel blogging lifestyle does take its toll on finding and building any romantic relationships. There are times when I worry if I’ve chosen a lifestyle that is guaranteeing me a single existence forever. Then again – I had years of being single in big cities and I didn’t have any better luck in a ‘traditional’ lifestyle!
Love it and hate it…everything has good and bad. The good news is that I have more love than hate…and that’s what keeps me going!
Are you a travel blogger? What do you love and hate about blogging?