The start of a new year is usually marked by people writing down 2017, crossing it out, and writing 2018. Sometimes it takes a while for that sort of irritating muscle memory to cut out. Me, I’m still writing years starting with “19”…
It’s also the traditional time for travel bloggers to take stock of where they have been, how much they have made, where they want to go next, how many thousands of dollars a month should be their goal…
Brittany of Leaving Gringolandia writes one of these posts. In the blogging business for all of five months, she claims to have made seventy-two cents in revenue. If my experience is anything to go by, that’s excellent!
She talks about her blogging and the lessons learnt month by month. August to December, she traces her ups and downs. Nothing exciting, but steady progress on linking in social media. For example, she signed up to Tailwind and upgraded to a paid account. I’ve done the same, and while I’m not getting a huge amount of traffic from that source, it’s nothing to sneeze at, neither.
Three months in, she took a significantly different path. One that most bloggers avoid, to their detriment. She decided to stop writing what she thought her audience might like to read, and to write about what she loved. She decided to write in her voice.
This is crucial. I’ve said it before, but there are thousands of active travel bloggers and most of them are utterly predictable, boring, and formulaic. They follow the same advice about how to write a blog, how to write a headline that pulls in the readers, how to choose keywords for SEO, how to stand out from the pack, and because they all do it, they don’t stand out at all.
Every clickbaity headline is a warning that what I get if I click on the link is not going to be worth my time and effort to click it. I’m going to be sucked into an environment where pop-up windows will ask me to subscribe, intrusive sidebars will ask me to share the story, adverts and cookies will pepper my attention and try to crack open my credit card, and the actual story will be routine and dull.
Brittany has made a conscious decision not only to avoid that well-trodden path, but to put herself into her blogging. Now, I don’t mean just telling stories from a first-person perspective – I went here and I did this, and then I went there and did that, and here are photos showing me doing stuff – but actually exposing her personality in what she did, why she did it, its effect on her.
And that is the great secret to blogging. We, as humans, resonate with the lives of other humans. Their problems and dilemmas, their successes and joys, the little doubts that creep in, the dreams, the spirituality, the contradictions, the love. If you tidy all that away from your writing, it loses a lot of its attraction. Like a streetscape without people, it’s empty.
Go, read Brittany’s blog. You’ll see exactly what I mean. She’s written a recent post about reflection which exemplifies everything above.
But here’s Brittany herself, talking about a key moment in her blogging career.
After this month of getting maybe 100 views, I decided that’s not the type of blogger I wanted to be. I really wanted to help people and the articles I was writing were just, to put it lightly, clickbaity garbage. And bad clickbaity garbage at that.
I also hadn’t found my writing voice yet, so the articles were pretty bland. If I could do it over, I would have written every day. The keyboard can be your best friend if you let it be. It can be therapeutic even. Once you find your voice as a blogger, writing becomes not only easier but much more enjoyable. —Brittany