Four Things I Should Have Thought About When I Began Blogging

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Four things I should have thought about when I began blogging: where I wanted to be in life, responsibilities as a blogger, my value, and how much time a blog needs to succeed.

Me Dancing in a Sunflower Field, Buffalo, N.Y., Aug. 2014

Me Dancing in a Sunflower Field, Buffalo, N.Y., Aug. 2014

Friends and colleagues have called me a pioneer in blogging and social media. It’s a nice compliment but I kinda feel it’s a polite way of telling me I’m old.

I’m often asked for advice on blogging and social media. Am I an expert? Hardly. But, I was an early social media adopter and know more than the average bear.

When asked what I do, I’m not sure how to respond other than, “I work hard. I work really, really hard.”

Regular readers know my first blog launched in 2003-2004, although no one knew what a blog was.  Solo Travel Girl celebrated its five-year-anniversary this year and knowing what I know now, there a several things I wish I thought about before launching this blog.

If I could do it over again, or perhaps offer some advice to aspiring bloggers, these are four things I should have thought about when I began blogging….

Stump Pass Beach State Park, Manasota Key, Englewood, Fla., Aug. 26, 2014

Stump Pass Beach State Park, Manasota Key, Englewood, Fla., Aug. 26, 2014

Where I Want to Be in Life, Not Where I Was at the Moment
This blog was launched because I traveled alone and was frequently asked if I was lonely.

“Heck, no!” Had been my reply but honestly, traveling alone can get lonely sometimes.

In 2009 when I was looking for a travel-specific theme I chose “Solo Travel Girl” one, because after trying other URLs, this one was available.

Two, I chose it because I was pretty much single. I had been divorced about five years and my former husband had passed away the year prior. I had a toxic on-again-off-again relationship that was definitely off when I launched this blog and another dysfunctional one was just budding. That ended about two years ago.

I’ve written before that I’ve felt naming this blog “Solo Travel Girl” has created a perception I’m content being single and traveling alone.  Being in a relationship could still mean traveling alone, my persona wants to change from being pigeon-holed as “Solo Travel Girl” to simply me. For my sanity, it needs to change.

How Am I Changing This? This blog will eventually make the move to simply JenniferHuber.com and I’ll be me.

 

Sing at the top of your lungs while driving. Life’s too short not to. #quote

A photo posted by Jennifer Huber (@jenniferhuber) on

How Much Time a Blog Needs to Succeed
Very little of what I do for this blog involves writing. I really wish that’s primarily what I do because I have a lot more to say and share. My time is consumed with:

  • Responding to emails (I receive a minimum of 100 a day and I currently have more than 20,000 unread emails sitting in my emailboxes *sigh*)
  • Engaging in social media
  • Getting sucked into the Facebook vortex
  • Editing photos and video
  • Traveling

Indeed, the exciting part about travel blogging is visiting new destinations, however, I haven’t learned to maximize idle time. There’s idle time in a hotel room where the WiFi doesn’t work or is slowcus pocus. There’s idle time driving to and flying to a destination. And, there’s idle time sitting around and waiting.

I do use my flight time to write and have begun to record quick video segments recapping trips while driving. It would be nice if there’s an app to download my thoughts while driving. Can’t someone get on that? For now,  I’ll just be singing at the top of my lungs.

Things I should be doing include:

  • WRITING – for this blog
  • Writing – for a travel guide
  • Creating a weekly enewsletter
  • More marketing
  • Developing an editorial calendar
  • Engaging with other bloggers
  • Learning more about the technical side of blogging

Time is money and there are fees associated with maintaining a blog.

How Am I Finding More Time? Prioritizing, traveling less and exercising the powerful word “NO.” (Until I’m at a point where I feel almost caught up).

On the Set of WFLA with Anchor Yolanda Fernandez, May 24, 2104

On the Set of WFLA with Anchor Yolanda Fernandez, May 24, 2104

Responsibilities Associated with Blogging
In touting the triumphs, joys, and challenges of being Solo Travel Girl, I’ve become a resource, albeit, sometimes a reluctant resource. I began blogging because I wanted to push information out and share my stories, hopes, dreams and challenges.

I never thought readers (I never thought I would have readers other than immediate family and a few close friends) would reach out seeking advice about travel and social media. I never dreamed I was building a community.

Don’t get me wrong it’s nice having the dialogue, it’s just time consuming. While I don’t mind researching and responding to questions, it’s something I had not allocated time for and I feel guilty when it takes me a bit to respond. Most nights I’m getting about five hours of sleep so I can get the basics of this blog and life completed.

How Am I Embracing Responsibility? This is a tough one because this isn’t something I asked for but comes along with being a blogger. Time management should help with quicker response times. I also hope those who inquire are patient with me.

Does My Blog Have Value? You Betcha!

Does My Blog Have Value? You Betcha!

Understood My Value
Boy. I really admire and envy the Millennial Generation. This is an exciting time with technology and I’m simply impressed with what that generation is doing when it comes to social media and blogging.

Earlier this month I attended a bloggers retreat at Tuckaway Shores Resort in Florida’s Space Coast. I was one of the oldest bloggers as well as the most senior when it came down to how long I’ve had a digital life.

Reality blew me away when I learned how some of these “kids” (and I mean no disrespect when I refer to them as “kids”) have been blogging for a year or two yet their households are able to live on income generated by their blogs.

Some bloggers are making liveable incomes from their blogs.

How can this be???

These bloggers understood the value of their blog. We didn’t get into too much detail but most have the whole monetization thing down with pay-to-play programs, brand partnerships, reviews, and affiliate revenue.

Most also made “an ask” for something, which is something I haven’t done. I really dislike asking people for things but I suppose I need to buck up and start doing it.

I had always approached a blog as the equivalent of an online magazine – that it should be dominated with editorial content I generate, have the occasional “advertorial” (sponsored post) and be supported by advertising.

Guess what? A blog is not an online magazine. Alright. Most of you knew that. At the moment, a blog seems to be an editorial-marketing hybrid. I say “at the moment” because who knows what a blog will be a year or so down the line.

I’m thankful to be working with some entities that match brands with bloggers and pay decently but I’ve made some bad decisions in the past in working with brands with no return to me. I’m learning to be more selective with which brands I work with and what a fair value for a sponsored post and/or ad is. I have a day job which for the good or bad, makes me financially comfortable.

How Do I Place a Value on Me and My Blog? I scrutinize every pitch I receive to ensure it’s a good match and worth my time. I have a price in my head as to what my value is. I’ll be a champion for specific causes and sometimes it comes down to relationships, too. If the person pitching has been nice, I’ll most likely work with them. I’m also mustering up the courage to reach out to brands and pitch myself with hopes of a mutually benefiting relationship. I suppose my fear is tied to the fear of rejection.

View of a Glacier, a Lake and Mountains from Flight into Anchorage International Airport

View of a Glacier, a Lake and Mountains from Flight into Anchorage International Airport

Where Is My Head with Blogging Right Now?
I love blogging. It’s an opportunity to share my knowledge, opinions, and inspire others. I also love traveling. I seem to be in the ever-looping struggle of finding balance with a full time job, this blog (which is full time), care for my house and cats, and having a social life. I have a plan and gradually, I’ll be where I want to be.

If you’re a fellow blogger, what do you wish you had thought about when you began blogging? Also, I really don’t know how my fellow bloggers do it all. Have to admit, I’m a little jealous.

Note: Most of what I blog about I do not receive any type of compensation. 

Author: Solo Travel Girl

Originally from Buffalo, N.Y., a hiking trail led Jennifer Huber, aka: Solo Travel Girl, to a career path in tourism. She has worked in the tourism industry for more than 20 years including 10 years with a park management company in Yellowstone, Death Valley and Everglades National Park. She currently lives in Southwest Florida, and maintains this travel blog with the goal of inspiring others to travel alone, not lonely.

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1 Comment

  1. Thanks for your candor, Jen. I’m learning from you.

    Like you, I blog, and like you (I think), I’m uncomfortable with the editorial/marketing hybrid. How can readers trust bloggers who write nice things in exchange for money, trips or meals? I, too, respect young bloggers for monetizing this relatively new forum. But I don’t respect dishonesty.

    I find that many profit-oriented bloggers don’t “print” trustworthy information. Most readers don’t know the difference between these folks, journalists, and bloggers who blog for other reasons.

    It’s a mess, IMO. I’m discouraged.

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