What Did I Learn From My First Year As a Travel Blogger?

I know what you’re thinking, because before I started travel blogging, I had some of those same thoughts, too! Travel bloggers have all the fun and get all the special privileges. They eat, drink, and maybe even travel on someone else’s dime. And to get all that, perhaps they spend an hour or so each day cranking out blog posts. People have funny reactions when they find out you’re a travel writer! Actually, I really never thought much about what the behind-the-scenes life of travel blogging was like. Given my background in health and fitness, the travel blogging crowd wasn’t my crowd. But I did like to travel, and travel a lot. I never could have guessed that as of 2017, travel blogging would become such a big part of my life.

I’d been writing for years, but not about travel. I’d also known Grant for a few years. So looking back, in a way, it was a good match and great opportunity for me to explore. I was recently told that travel, and all its related categories, is the largest industry in the world. Now that I’ve got a year of travel blogging under my belt, which of course is just a mere drop in the bucket of the travel blogosphere, I thought I’d look back and share with you some of what happens behind the scenes.

Shelli in front of the Sydney Opera House in Sydney, Australia

One thing I’ve learned is you gotta have thick skin! For instance, in my post about Boston, I mentioned I liked the fish on the East Coast better than on the West Coast. Two commenters told me I know nothing about West Coast foods. Ouch. One commenter told me I seek perfection and I am too hard on companies, and to switch to decaf coffee. Surely he jests – switching to decaf is totally out of the question! Then there was the time I made a huge mistake, posting the wrong information about the National Park Passes. Yikes. Maybe a mistake like that is bound to happen every now and again, but it still stings.

I didn’t realize travel blogging would give my family cause to worry. In the middle of the Southwest Monkey vs. Southwest Airlines situation, a lot of attention was drawn to my posts. My aunt told me if Grant and I end up in jail, she’d bring us cookies! What a relief :) There are posts that surprise me too. Who knew people love Vancouver B.C. as much as I do? Another surprise, though maybe I should have guessed, was that talking about Jewish delis would be such a hot pastrami topic. There are posts that take a long time to write that mean a lot to ME, but that very few people read. You never can tell.

Katz’s Deli in New York City

Of course, there are benefits to blogging. Grant sends me inquiries we get to see if I want to check out certain services and products. This can often go nowhere, but in some cases, such as meeting my Joey in Santiago, learning about Pruvo, or receiving hotel hanger extenders (which I’ve yet to try out), these leads are fun for me and provide our readers with great actionable information. And though the food is long gone, I now have beautiful World of Hyatt boxes. I gave one to my aunt, so if she ever needs to deliver cookies to Grant and me in jail, they’ll come in a beautiful Hyatt box!

I’ve also learned tons about team effort. And it may be obvious, but it’s also about who’s on the team. Grant and I both work many hours each day on TWG posts and that’s made much more fun by his sense of humor. My humor is fueled by coffee, and his quirky (at least I think so) humor springs up from where I don’t know :) Having fun each day talking and keeping the ideas flowing between us makes a huge difference. Unfortunately, I don’t get to see Grant all that often (unless he visits me down in San Diego), so we use Skype for longer discussions about TWG, travel, and life in general. We’ve become great friends, as well as very compatible colleagues. He’s a great boss and I can go to him with whatever I’m thinking about TWG. Who wouldn’t enjoy a work environment like this?

Grant spent years building up the audience for TWG, which I’ve been able to piggyback on. All the tips about where to go, hotels, use of points/miles that come from TWG readers are a huge benefit of having the TWG community behind us. And I do appreciate the corrections, too, because there is so much to learn, and that’s an understatement. I’m thrilled with what I’ve been able to add by way of my own voice, my interests, and my travels. We don’t write for the Google search engines, we write for TWG readers! Grant taught me that if it’s a topic I’m interested in, others will be too. So this is what we write about.

Perhaps the bottom line is that this past year’s travel blogging has taught me more about humility. Caring about what I produce and in what ways I serve, regardless of the niche, is always at the forefront. Sometimes the most unexpected journeys are the most amazing ones. That certainly describes my first year with TWG!  Here’s to a great 2017 and all the best in 2018!

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