After five years of constantly writing on my blog, I figured it was time to hash out some of the trials and tribulations of being an amateur travel blogger. I started this blog as a means of helping my friends in school prepare for their first few trips, but since then I’ve essentially transitioned to focus more on my stories while traveling. Without a doubt, I do enjoy talking about where I’ve been, but sometimes, I’ve questioned whether it’s worth it. The timing of this post comes at an ironic time, as my previous post is the most liked one in the entire history of this blog, which is to say, it’s nothing mind blowing. This post is simply the culmination of my darkest and bitterest thoughts over all the years, and it was long overdue to let them all out.
For starters, I admit that there are some days when I think if doing this is worth it. No revenue is gained from this, so it’s not like I’m obliged to write; rather, I’m doing this because I love to travel and I love to talk about where I’ve been. Maybe I harbored overly grandiose desires to be seen by more people or maybe I just haven’t been very interesting, but it feels like I’m typing into the void. Before I move on with this thought, I absolutely, from the bottom of my heart, want to thank each and every person who has clicked on my posts, given then likes, told me what they thought (both good and bad), and have mentioned my blog at any point of our interactions. All of that has given me the encouragement I’ve needed at times, and it’s one of the reasons why I’ve continued to sit in front of my computer and/or phone to post things. Just, it feels like I’m not making much of a dent in terms of awareness and help, which pains me. Could this be because I’m bouncing between styles? Maybe I’m not going to “cool enough” places? Or is it that the time difference between Moscow and the folks back home, aka my target demographic, is too much to overcome? I don’t know, and that’s what currently scares me.
I think to some extent every blogger hopes to make it to the mainstream, and I don’t know what can I do. Look, I’m an introvert, and I feel that I’m stuck between wanting to bombard everybody on social media with all my posts to (hopefully) garner more attention, but I know that at heart, I’m not like that. You see my problem? This also leads me to take a long look at my own writing skills, because something’s got to give. Recently, friends and family have been giving me tips about what they think I can improve on, and I’ve been using what they told me to tighten up my posts/language. And guys, whomever out there is reading this, PLEASE tell me if there’s anything you think I could improve on. More importantly, don’t just like what I post and share, but COMMENT ABOUT WHAT YOU LIKED. I cannot emphasize that enough. Any artist wants to know about specific things, and not just shallow things. My self esteem is at the point where I honestly half expect the likes to be out of pity-it’s gotten that bad.
Another thing that I’m self-conscious about is the fact that I simply don’t and cannot travel enough to warrant self acclaim. Yes, this is a first world problem, but for a travel blog, four weeks a year feels like I’m cheating my hundred-something followers. Even then, I feel like I don’t quite being adventurous when I do hit the road. Apart from maybe going to some lesser-known destinations, I’m not going on epic hikes nor am I experiencing Shangri-La. Thus, I feel like I’m undergoing a case of imposter syndrome, minus the part of the syndrome where I’ve actually accomplished something. Not helping my brain here is the fact that I see heavyweight bloggers such as Be My Travel Muse, Sihpromatum, and Nomadic Matt rack up an insane amount of attention, I can’t help but feel a twinge of jealousy. Barracking off of that point, as much as I’m happy for them, it does feel like a kick to the guts when I see much younger blogs succeed. Even though I do my absolute best to support them, sometimes I have to force myself to smile; I don’t want to be jealous, but damn do I wish I could consistently get even half of that support and love. To slightly move off on a tangent, I occasionally see a meme, featuring a bird that, quote-unquote, is “solely propelled by its hatred”. Substitute the “hatred” for “longing” and that right there embodies how I’ve approached my latest posts. Longing, for places where I can go and explore and bring some fantastic stories. Longing, for a day in the spotlight.
What arguably hurts the most is that some times, I pour my thoughts out only for them to fall flat. Irony can be cruel, and I’ve seen the (rare) notification pop up on posts that I don’t necessarily think that were my best works. This especially hurts considering that I’ve been trying to do my best in promoting them, and it almost makes me want to throw in the towel, truth be told. Long ago I realized that I’m neither the funniest nor most charismatic guy out there, so it feels like I have to try at least twice as hard to be seen. In the best of times, being seen is a challenge, but with all these extra tribulations added on, it feels almost Sisyphean. Life mirrors art in that case, since I’ve been striving to improve who I am. Hopefully, maybe, my writing will echo that ongoing transformation. Until then though, I’ll be floundering with no lifeboat in sight.
Despite everything in the preceding paragraphs, I will continue strive to write to the very best of my abilities. If anything, the fire has been lit and it’s hotter than ever to produce some kickass posts. Finally, to conclude this long and winding post on a lighter, more positive note, I want to say thank you to everybody who’s been with me. That also is preemptively extended to those who will join me down the road, wherever that might be. While the journey may not be easy, it’ll only serve to make things feel even sweeter once I do arrive. For that, I’m full of hope and vigor.
You have to be really special to ‘make it’ in the blogosphere, unfortunately. I wanted to be a great tennis player when I was young but bumped up against my limits enough times to learn it wasn’t going to happen. You will get better and better over time, especially if you really, really learn from the posts of other successful bloggers…but you may have the same problem I had, namely God hasn’t gifted you with that special talent. Doesn’t mean you can’t continue to blog and enjoy sharing. Doesn’t mean you won’t get a wider viewership. But think about how many folks make it in this avocation as a fraction of those in the world interested in travel…it’s an infinitesimal amount. You have to be realistic about your prospects. The number of people who can make a living in this way, without being affiliated with a travel or some other magazine, is probably in the tens of people. You have to almost be as good in your profession as say T. J. Oshie is in his… That’s a very high bar to aspire to. Manage your expectations, take stock of what other types of jobs give you some of the psychic payoff that blogging and traveling does, and begin to assess your alternative futures. Look into being a tour-guide, or trade-rep, or getting a teaching certificate to provide you higher pay and more flexibility about which countries you can work in, etc.. You might need to work as an understudy somewhere. Everyone has to sort this out in their own way. When some doors close on you, usually there are many more that open. You are fortunate to have a support group at home that others don’t, so be of good cheer. What you are experiencing right now is “life”. Were it easy or seamless, it would not be as rewarding. Having kids is not always easy, but all the more rewarding because of that when it works out…as it has with you, my son. Love, Dad.