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. 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?