Recently I’ve been questioning my blog. Why am I really writing it? Is it possible to make money from it in this over-saturated market? Is my writing good enough? How long should I be spending on each post? Should I be doing vlogs instead or even add on top? Do I sacrifice my morals and become an Instagram influencer (and how does one do that anyway if you’re not in a bikini and at resorts)? How can I reach more people? Will it grow if I treat it like a business? Along with so many other questions.
Initially, it was the desire to become location-independent, free to travel as long and however I like. I thought that would mean monetizing my blog and write as I traveled…but that didn’t happen; I got swept up in the whirlwind of travel, the excitement to see as much as possible within the usual month I had in each country, forgetting to take notes and actually write about my experiences. I thought I could easily make it as a digital nomad. Well, travel blogging turned out to be more than I could handle.
The nomadic lifestyle is atop a golden pedestal in the eyes of many, including myself when I first started out. Going directly to Chiang Mai, Thailand as my first stop was partially due to the digital nomad community there – I was hoping to meet some of these people and gain insight into how they made it work for them. In fact, over the months of travel I met many digital nomads doing all sorts of things to keep afloat just to keep traveling. Then more questions arose:
- When should you go home?
- Where is home if you sell all your belongings?
- How would my relationships with other people be affected if I always travel?
- Do I even want to travel full time without a home base?
The question that stuck out to me was the last one. Did I really want to leave my family and friends behind, have a life within a backpack, and keep trotting around the globe? At the start of my travels, I would have said yes from all the cool experiences and people. However, as I continued traveling, I realized a decreasing sense of wonder and interest from just traveling. With travel blogging, that’s what you do – you travel, blog about it, and repeat.
Well, kinda. As I now understand it, travel blogging is a lot of work – a key element that I realized was missing after a few months of pure fun travel. Work. I need to have purpose and something to do as a balance to the chill life. I knew this since I was young, always opting to take summer school because months of no school would drive me mad with boredom. So had I taken blogging more seriously while traveling, understanding that it could have helped me, I brushed it off as too much work. Instead, I did a few workaways in South Korea and Vietnam.
Honestly, I regret not taking more notes and photos and writing everyday. Yes, it’s a ton of work and it changes the pace of traveling, but it would have been excellent, even just for personal reflection. Blogging was going to be a way for me to remember my travels, explore what I had experienced even deeper through recollection and reflection, and share with friends and family. Creating a business was an added benefit, but the fear of slowing my travels down even further scared me. After just my first month in Thailand I realized that even a month isn’t enough for me to get to know a country very well but I didn’t feel like I had the chance to double or triple up the time in each place due to visa restrictions and the always-looming, impending question of “what am I going to do for a career when I get back?” I was scared and running away but knew I would have to eventually go home. This trip was estimated at about a year, but I didn’t have a real excuse to stay longer. It was only delaying the inevitable.
But yes, back to blogging changing my travels: for most of my posts, I do research so that I’m accurate in what I share and gather up resources from the web so that readers don’t have to – they can just read my “meta” posts and know the best of the best on the web. That takes a lot of time for each of those articles. So if I wanted to travel to a few places per country and take my time in each location to better understand them, I would have had to start paying for more visas to extend my stays, which I was scared to do as I didn’t go in with a specific budget in mind nor how long I’d actually be away. I wanted to immerse myself and I felt like sitting down at a desk writing for hours every day would take away my time and opportunities.
Now the regret comes mostly from the fact that I may have photos and some recollection, but I didn’t get to capture my thoughts and feelings. The few voice notes I took were amazing to listen back to and I wish I did even more of those because they take less time than writing and I can hear the emotions and state of mind in my voice.
Blogging can be a beautiful method of expression, as seen in a friend’s blog about mental health, but my confidence in my writing and consistency and dedication is waning. I know I can do it with more practice, reading others’ blog posts, researching writing techniques, etc. but do I want to get that deep into it at this point? That’s another thing for me to reflect on.
I’ve seen myself get worse with meeting my self-imposed schedule of Tuesdays and Fridays, which is reflective of my inner confusion, lack of confidence, and flimsy time-management. Now it’s up to me to decide if there will be re-prioritizing in my near future.
It’s important for me to differentiate myself: I don’t want my travel blog to add to the noise, I want it to gather up all the really useful information and have it in one place for travelers, inspire young people to travel more and grow from the experiences, break down the barrier that you need a ton of money to travel, how personal aspects of life are affected by travel, and so much more.
Whether this will really become something is TBD.