Is Anybody Out There? Hang in There, Travel Bloggers

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Recently I've noticed more than a few travel bloggers becoming frustrated. Frustrated about being passed over for blogging opportunities. Frustrated at being left off lists of “top” travel bloggers. Frustrated over feeling left out of the clique of “cool” travel bloggers who seem to be so much more successful than everyone else.

Someone said that travel blogging feels a lot like being back in high school. The kids who are deemed cool remain so, and it's difficult for any newcomers to reach that same level of coolness.

I've felt frustrated, too. It's not easy to always feel left out, or feel like you're lagging behind with no chance of catching up. I think it's especially bad when I put a blog post out there that I'm really proud of, and then it flops. Some days, I wonder who I'm even blogging for; I wonder if anyone is even out there, paying attention.

But I think this feeling of frustration is only natural.

The “cool kids” of travel blogging started in the exact same place that I am now. True, there wasn't as much competition in the travel blogging market a decade ago as there is now. But everyone has to start somewhere.

So, on those days when I start feeling frustrated, I try to remind myself of a few things:

  • It's not the end of the world if no one leaves a comment, or retweets my new post. Sure, it's disheartening. But, in the grand scheme of things, one off day shouldn't ruin my whole week. If anything, it should just inspire me to try harder next time.
  • Sometimes, it's just dumb luck. I can write what I think is a brilliant post, but maybe I just post it on the wrong day. Maybe the people who would also view it as brilliant just aren't around. And maybe the next day, when I post some silly Top 10 list, that's the day someone like Lonely Planet decides to retweet my post. Often, I think it's just one of those things that's very hard to predict, and impossible to control.
  • There can be no success without failure. I'm really just a baby blogger when it comes to the travel blogging universe. I haven't been doing it for that long, and yet I'm slowly crawling my way up in the ranks. The little successes — the RTs from Lonely Planet, the occasional big boosts in traffic — feel even better due to the little failures. If I keep at it and don't let the frustrations ruin the experience, eventually those successes will come more and more frequently.
  • It's not anyone's “fault.” I cannot blame everything on the successful bloggers. I can be jealous that they continually get opportunities I would kill for, but I can't blame them for being successful. They've worked hard to get where they are, and what I should be doing is taking note of how they made it happen for themselves.

Obviously I'm not going to become one of the “cool kids” overnight. Contrary to popular belief outside of blogging circles, travel blogging is not easy. It takes a lot of hard work, and even more dedication. It's not something you can just half-ass and expect to be successful at.

I know that, in the end, I'm the only one who can make my blog as successful as I want it to be.

And no amount of whining or feeling sorry for myself is going to change that fact.

Are you feeling like this too? Are there days when you feel like you're just screaming into a void, begging to know if anybody is even out there?

Well, you're not alone. Believe me.

Giving advice on handling this sort of frustration is near impossible. But here are the best tips I can come up with to try and break into that “cool kids” clique. It's my plan of attack, at least:

  • Post a variety of quality things. Some insightful, some silly, some practical. You don't want to pigeon hole yourself into one specific sort of advice or writing. (Or maybe you do?) Especially when first starting out, I think a bit of experimentation with your writing can help you figure out what works and what doesn't for your blog. But, no matter what, focus on quality. Proofread your stuff. Make people believe that you know what you're talking about.
  • Stay true to yourself. Even though you want to try and hone in on what people want to read by trying a variety of approaches, you also want to stay true to yourself. Don't write about something you don't enjoy. And certainly don't write about something you don't believe in, just because it's what you think people want to hear. Stay true to your own convictions; your voice will shine through.
  • Don't make comparisons. No two blogs are the same, because no two bloggers are the same. You shouldn't be comparing yourself to others, or feeling bad because you don't feel like you stack up. If all bloggers were the same, what would be the point? Be who you are, and others will undoubtedly appreciate it.
  • Read and comment on other blogs. If you remain in your own little blogging bubble, it's going to be much more difficult for people to find you, and — more importantly — relate to you. Read other travel blogs. Leave comments and share your insights. After all, how can you expect others to do the same on your blog if you're not doing it yourself? Plus, reading other blogs can give you a sense of different styles, and perhaps help you figure out the sorts of things you do and do not want to write about yourself.
  • Be active in social networking. Start a Twitter account. Utilize StumbleUpon. Create a Facebook page. Engage with your potential readers, and forge some online relationships with other travel bloggers. Not only will you make some friends, but it's likely that you can help each other out by driving new traffic to one another's sites.
  • Be open to guest blogging. A good way to gain some free exposure when you're just starting out is to write a guest post for another (perhaps even more successful) blog. Save something good for your guest posts, and you'll likely be rewarded with some new readers.
  • Try new things. Never tried your hand at video editing? Not sure if travel photography is really your thing? Try it out anyway. Who knows, you may discover a new talent. And adding things like strong images and video to your blog will only make it more appealing.

And, most importantly:

  • Don't give up. If travel blogging is really what you want to pursue, then don't let those rough days get you down. Don't let anybody tell you that you'll never succeed. Because, if you're serious about it, I think you can make it happen. You have to be persistent.ย You have to actively go after what you want. Eventually, it will pay off.

The frustrating days suck. But, often, at the end of those days, I get an e-mail from someone who has just discovered my blog, or a great comment, or a kind retweet from someone I respect. And those make all the difference.

So hang in there, fellow travel bloggers.

Because, yes, it seems there is somebody out there, paying attention.

Do you sometimes get frustrated with blogging, too? How do you cope?

"It's a dangerous business, going out your door. You step onto the road, and, if you don't keep your feet, there's no telling where you might get swept off to." - JRR Tolkien

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267 Comments on “Is Anybody Out There? Hang in There, Travel Bloggers

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  1. It does seem like high school sometimes, especially on Twitter, but I think you’re doing great! You have great content and insights and the readers will come!

      Thanks, Emily! It’s readers like you who make me actually believe it. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Thanks for writing this post. Sometimes I need to be reminded that it takes time and patience to get where you want to be.

      My pleasure, Alex. I think we all need a little friendly reminder sometimes. Just writing it made me feel better!

    Hey Amanda,

    It’s been great to connect with you on twitter over the last few days and this is something that I actually give quite a bit of thought to. My focus on how I do everything is entirely based on relationships which is why I’ve made a point to engage with people as much as possible when it comes to flightster. Fortunately I have fairly decent size personal networks because my BlogcastFM site and Skool of Life. My friend Stanford @pushingsocial wrote this great post the other day where he coined the term “kissing digital babies.” I thought it was the smartest thing I’ve read all week. As I’m putting together this list I mentioned to you I’m specifically trying to find smaller lesser known people who have awesome sites. The reason for that is it’s much easier to get somebody into you tribe when they are smaller and looking for tribes to join that it is to hit try and hit somebody really big who has already been around for a while. From one digital baby to another, consider this your kiss from Flightster ๐Ÿ˜‰

      Thank you so, so much, Srinivas! Your support means so much! I love the “kissing digital babies” concept. It really makes sense, when you think about it.

    Great and honest post. One should never quit travel blogging because it’s not as “successful” as they want it to be. Serious?! Is that why travel bloggers get into it? If that’s someone’s take, then it will burn out quickly. There are some travel blogs that make a lot of money and people try to make that same type of money and what not, and it takes a lot of work and can take years. At the end of the day, I don’t care about someone’s page views, SEO, Klout, rank or whatever. I want to be inspired by travelers to travel and I want the writing to engage me. At the end of the day, you’re still writing for people and not search engines.

    Anyone who feels like they have to keep up with the Joneses, should press on knowing that they are their own voice and have their audience and if nothing else, you’re daily growing and becoming a better writer as you better your craft. Amanda, keep doing what you’re doing. You have a unique voice. I don’t want to be a cool kid. At the end of the day, readers don’t care about rankings, freebies, klout, or anything else. They want to be inspired by travel. You’re doing that, and others are. And it’s people like us that fight for the integrity of travel and good writing.

      Thanks for the honest feedback and support, Spencer! I agree – I don’t really care if another blog is making tons of money, or just has a core following of a few readers. If the content is good, that’s all I really care about. To be honest, I don’t even like the blogs of some of the so-called “cool kids!”

      I, personally, started blogging for myself. Eventually, I started to blog for myself AND others. I’m not making money. Like you, I write for people, and not search engines. (Love how you put that, by the way.)

      Some days, I can’t lie, I’d love to be a cool kid. But I’m not, and, at the end of the day, I’m okay with that.

        After you replied to a comment of mine on Facebook today, I thought I’d go back through the archives of your site, as you really truly are inspiring! I’m a newbie to the travel blogging world, and look up to people like you, so it’s amazing to see a post like this from way back when you started. I have these feelings you describe in the post, quite often and needed this bit of inspiration to boost my motivation! I think it’s safe to say, you’re now one of the ‘cool kids’ and kudos to you for working your butt off to get there ๐Ÿ˜› Keep up the amazing work; inspiring like-minded bloggers around the world ๐Ÿ˜€

          Thank you so much, Bryanna! I know how tough it can be when you’re just starting out. But hang in there, and great things can definitely happen!

    Great post Amanda! It can be incredibly frustrating as a travel blogger I think, especially when you see others getting recognition constantly. I try to ignore the “top 10 most amazing travel blogger” lists. In the end, they are somewhat useless posts to me. It’s important not to compare yourself to others or get down about no comments,etc. Usually when I get discouraged, I get an email or comment that turns that all around. It can feel like high school popularity all over again only if you let it.

      I agree with you that it’s not worth it to compare yourself to others. Sometimes it’s difficult not to get discouraged (we can tell others not to as much as we’d like, but it still happens!), but, the same as you, when I’m discouraged I usually get that little boost from an e-mail or comment that makes me feel better. We all have our off days, but just have to remind ourselves that the good days come around again, too!

    Don’t get discouraged! Just keep trying. Try different things. Try to figure out why one post was popular and another wasn’t… I’ve had posted posts that I spent a lot of time on, that nobody reacted on. Try different marketing techniques… half of blog success is great marketing!

    Not everyone is an overnight success either. Some take a while to climb up the ladder, some happened to have the magic formula right off the bat, some just have the right personality that people are generally attracted to… you never know.

    What I do know is if you continue to put out great content, people will come. Fact of the matter is, you have a great blog, and what looks to be like a really good following. So keep moving forward.

      Thanks so much, Jenny! I wrote this post as much for myself as for other bloggers out there who I know feel the same way sometimes. What you’re saying is good, solid advice, and I appreciate it!

    It can definitely be frustrating and disheartening at times when you feel no one is reading or you’re aren’t getting more visitors etc. But I think if you are persistent over time, things can click into place and your blog can take off. At least, that’s what I keep telling myself ๐Ÿ™‚

      I think being persistent and not giving up really is the key! Also, you have to believe in yourself. When it comes down to it, we are all our own worst critics, but also our best chances to succeed!

    I like your positive “plan of attack.” But I must also suggest that you ACTIVELY pitch editors/websites to get those blogging opportunities. Similarly, if you want to go on press trips, INTRODUCE yourself to the PR people who run them. Send letters of introduction about yourself; include your blog stats and info about your “reach.” don’t expect them to “find you.” You find them and say hi.

    You don’t get anywhere in this travel-blogging world without proactively going after EXACTLY what you want.

      Thanks for the advice, Kara! And I think your suggestions fit into the whole “no one can make your blog successful but you” mentality. You can’t just expect things to fall into your lap.

        Precisely! If you are truly writing for yourself, that’s awesome. Enjoy, travel, write.

        But if you do want to capitalize on some of the opportunities (ad sales, trips, writing gigs, partnerships) offered to travel bloggers these days, it’s all about being proactive. No whining allowed! ๐Ÿ˜‰

          I try to approach everything (blogging and otherwise) with a can-do attitude. But we all have our off days where we “fall off the wagon,” so to speak.

    Nice post! Persistence is key, even if there are days when you want to give up ๐Ÿ™‚

    First off, reading through the comments on the post, I recognize faces and names of some of my favorite bloggers. This is akin to in high school on the first day of a new semester realizing that all the nicest people are in one class together.

    I imagine that the idea of being successful in blogging is pretty much the same as what would have worked in high school. This goes both ways. You can be loud and flashy and such and people may pay attention. Think start football star or head cheerleader style. Or can you do your own thing, do it well, put energy into it, enjoy it for it’s own sake and show it to people that appreciate it. Well, I imagine it would have worked in high school; but at that age insecurities are rampant. Not that we get rid of them as we get older, but they should hold less sway on us. As you say, be true to yourself and your passions.

    You do good stuff here. Enjoy the wonderful group of people you do have following (even if some of us get really busy or wrapped up in our own lives and miss a post or two). I’m so far behind on my RSS reading, I doubt I will catch up. Doesn’t mean I dont appreciate my favorite sites and writers.

      Good high school analogy; I think that really sums it up nicely. Thanks for reading, Andrew! I know what you mean about getting behind, though – I’ve been there! I’m glad you found time to read and weigh in on this one. You always leave very insightful comments.

    Oo oo .. I wanted to add to the Dumb Luck section too. While sometimes I have a post or two that I though was well written yet ignored. I get more times a post that I thought was awful and just filler become one of my most read. Go figure.

      I know EXACTLY what you mean! It’s even happened to me just in the past couple of weeks! Go figure.

    I sometimes think they’ve found the secret key somewhere and I just haven’t found it yet! I’m getting out there and it’s getting bigger but I haven’t found the ‘secret’ yet. There are so many approaches though…I’ll just keep trying too!

      I don’t think I’ve found the “secret,” either. But, like you, I’ll just keep at it! The way I look at it, as long as I still enjoy doing it, that’s all that matters. If there ever comes a day that I’m blogging just because I feel obligated to, or because I feel pressured to, then that’s the day I should stop.

    Great post, thanks for sharing! I agree, it can be very frustrating at times. I too am trying hard, but it’s difficult to reconcile the fact that you can’t MAKE anyone read your stuff. So I just keep going on, trying my hardest and hopefully I’m reaching at least a few people. That’s why I start the blog, to help others get out there and see the world.

      And I think that’s really the best you can do, Matt! If you put out good, quality stuff (which I think you do!) the readers will come. (At least… I sure hope so, because that’s my philosophy, too!)

    I understand this dilemma first hand. We start blogging for the love of it, but when we see other people benefiting from their blogging with free stuff and making money, it makes us think that we want that, too.

    Thanks for a a great post!!! Being 100% honest w/ ya I so feel the same way sometimes too (I’d be lying if I said I didn’t). I am a baby blogger too (I just started mine a few months ago). The thing is I really don’t let it get to me though, I will think about it but just brush it off. Afterall I know Im posting once a week sometimes twice a week hell sometimes I go a few weeks w/o posting. When I do post I just make sure its 100% ME & am being honest with my self. Also I always remember some of the cool kids have been doing it for years and well hell I am just in the planning stages of my RTW trip, I havent even left…lol!!! Anyway I love the advice you give cus that is what I tell myself and I dont get discouraged, down the road the readership will pick up.

    Oh & the cool kids can only be cool if we allow them too. One thing that pisses me off about the cool kids is that they don’t ever participate in #TNI or interact as much on Twitter with the rest of the community. I love interacting with everyone on Twitter (HELL I TWEET TOO MUCH) but you know what its those relationships that you build on twitter that are gonna help ya down the road.

    Oh and us BABY BLOGGERS (as I call us) need to stick together.


      Thanks for reading, Jaime! And you make a good point about the “cool kids” not being very active on Twitter and such. Of course, that isn’t universally true, but I definitely know what you mean.

      The cool kids were once the “baby bloggers”, you have to start somewhere. I agree, it’s all about building relationships, it is who you know but not just the cool kids. If you surround yourself with awesome people then awesome things happen, regardless of how popular they are.