One of my first big milestones: I’ve officially been blogging for 6 months now! Even though I was writing for months before I actually started my blog (and I had a free blog during my year abroad), this is a big milestone for me. When I bought my hosting and domain name, I wasn’t totally sure if it would be worth it, and if I’d actually like it. But I have absolutely loved it so far! It’s been a lot of fun to share my travels and stories and tips with all of you—thank you to everyone who reads my posts and follows along with me on my adventures!
So I thought I’d do a bit of a different style of post, and share my own reflections on this big marker!
I really, really love blogging
Guys, it’s so much fun. Blogging is awesome. I wish I had started doing it sooner! It gives me a lot of meaning to write my reflections and have them out there on the internet—not even as a specific guide, but just as general inspiration for people wanting to travel. I am absolutely loving blogging and will definitely keep it up!
I am doing fairly good at finding my voice
Every blogger ever seems to say that the most important thing about blogging is to find your voice. This is way easier said than done, and something that I’m still working hard on. I feel like my voice and personality are making their way onto the page in better ways as time goes one. My voice and style have changed even just looking back at posts in the last 2 or 3 months, and I’m liking that! That being said, there’s always room for improvement: the only way to really find your voice as a writer is to write, write, write. So I’m just going to keep on writing!
My photography is improving
It is seriously painful looking back at old pictures. Especially from 5+ years ago. But in the past 6 months, especially since I got my new camera, my photography has improved SO MUCH. It is satisfying to see hard work and improvement. I’ve still got a ton to learn, but I work hard to take nice pictures and it’s starting to pay off (slowly but surely). Practice makes perfect, onwards and upwards!
It is really hard to keep up blogging while I’m actually traveling
I know that the point of a travel blog is (for the most part) to share thoughts and experiences while you’re on the road. But I don’t think a lot of people understand just how hard that is. I definitely didn’t until March! How do you find time in your busy, busy day to blog? How can you download, edit, and upload pictures when you want to go out that night, or explore during the day, or eat or sleep? WHERE IS THE TIME TO BLOG WHILE YOU TRAVEL? News flash, there isn’t any. So you have to make it up as you go. I struggled so much with this during my trip around Central/Eastern Europe and Zambia. I’ve been home this summer, which has meant that my blogging has been (for the most part) fairly consistent. It’s a lot harder to blog when I’m actually on a trip. It is also pretty much impossible to blog if you don’t have wifi. Which leads me to my next point…
Blogging is really hard when you don’t have (consistent) wifi
Your wifi situation is constantly changing while you’re traveling. Especially if you’re moving every couple of days, switching accommodation, spending time on transportation getting from Point A to Point B. It’s hard to use the internet when there is no internet. Or if you do have internet but it’s really shitty, you still can’t do everything, since it all takes so much longer. There is simply no way to do everything you need to do as a blogger if you don’t have wifi. Trains and buses with wifi became newfound heroes (I’m looking at you, StudentAgency!). I struggled to accomplish anything blog-wise when I was in Zambia, since I was without internet for days at a time (but #noregrets, because I was in the middle of nowhere hanging out with hippos). Blogging is dependent on wifi, and if the wifi sucks, blogging sucks.
I’m still struggling with keeping a good schedule
When I was on the road, I struggled with getting posts up within a couple days of visiting a place. There are some things I still haven’t written about, just because I didn’t have the time and still haven’t gotten around to it! Being home this summer, I made it my goal to post every other day. Some weeks I’ve been really good about that—other times I have majorly slacked off, meaning that nearly a week goes by without a single post (my trip to South Dakota a few weeks ago is one example). I love blogging, but sometimes I just don’t have the time. I don’t know if making a specific detailed schedule (this post on Tuesday, this post on Thursday, etc.) will be good for me, or stress me out too much. So keeping a good blogging schedule that becomes habit is another work in progress.
A million ideas, not enough time
I’ll go through periods where I have like 13 great ideas for new posts. But then the inevitable happens, and I don’t have time to write all of them because (obviously) it takes a long time. I have a list of ideas for blog posts, but it seems like everytime I finish a post and cross it off, there are 3 more new posts I want to write! But the upside of this is that I’ve got lots of good material for a long time coming—you won’t be running out of things to read here!
I enjoy shorter “weekend” trips, but I like longer trips better
This summer I’ve gone on a couple short trips (2-4 days) in Minnesota, Kansas City, South Dakota, and Las Vegas (ironically, only one of them was on an actual weekend! #serverlife). And while those trips were great and I’m so glad I had the opportunity to go on them, I really prefer longer trips of at least 1 week a whole lot more. Not just because there’s more time to enjoy a place (or multiple places), but just because I rarely find the motivation to keep up blogging on such a short trip. I get into the “oh I’ll just do that/upload the picture/publish that post when I get back” mentality. It’s way easier to blow off those updates on short trips, a lot harder to do on long trips, where they build up constantly. So my short trips have been great, but I’ve really missed long trips this summer.
I feel very proud of the tech side of my blog
If you know me at all, you’ll know that I’m a Luddite at heart, hate technology, and struggle to use basic smartphones. So I am incredibly proud at having created my own website!! My hosting situation has been quite good (I haven’t had any problems with my website), which makes for a happy blogger—the tech side of things is where I get the most stressed out. Sometimes I still can’t believe that I can say “oh yeah, I run my own website” ! There are always ways I’m looking to improve my blog and make it more reader friendly, but for now, I’m very happy and proud.
Instagram is GREAT for blogging
Instagram is awesome. I love it. It is such a great platform for showcasing photos. I got Instagram for my blog (it’s my only Instagram account) and I think it’s a great way to reach more people. Of course, I’m a travel blog first, and then an Instagram account—my blog is still my number one priority—but it’s fun. I also love how there isn’t the stigma associated with Facebook of liking/commenting on people’s things if you don’t actually know them—like “oh, I don’t want to be a creeper since I haven’t talked to them since high school so I shouldn’t like it even if I think it’s cool etc.” Which is great for me to connect and grow my audience! That being said…
I struggle with how to reach more people
I’m not exactly sure how to get the word out and widen my audience. I always get a big uptick in views when a friend shares my blog (just in a Facebook post) and tells people to check it out, or when I do well on Instagram and get a bunch of likes/followers. For now I plan to continue writing quality blog posts that are interesting, informative, and fun to read—that’s always my main goal. But if I can commit more time…
Do I expand my social media?
I have been asking myself this question for months, ever since I got Instagram. Should I expand my social media? Do I start using Twitter and Pinterest and YouTube? While I think it would be a great way to broaden my reach, 1) I don’t know how to Twitter/Pinterest, and 2) I don’t want to spread myself too thin. I’m sure I can figure out Twitter and Pinterest (after all, I figured out Instagram!). But I post on Facebook and Instagram just about every day (at least once), and I wouldn’t want to slack off and lose followers on those platforms to maybe draw in more people on other platforms that I’m less familiar with. For now, I’ve said that I’m happy keeping it with FB/Insta. But this is a question that I’ll continue to ask myself (and you readers!) for the next couple months, and maybe decide to expand. Of course, you can follow along on Facebook here and Instagram here!
Do I start making videos (vlogs)?
I have tons of footage of short clips from my trips—eventually I tell myself that they’ll be turned into quick videos. But finding the time to do that (especially when I don’t have that much experience with iMovie) (and trust me those things take SO MUCH TIME) is something I’ve put on the backburner. Again, I don’t know if it’s a way to expand my reach that will be worth all the extra time. But it’s in the back of my mind as something I’ll continue to check in on over the next few months.
I get really excited when people besides my parents tell me they read my blog
About a month ago, an old friend from college wrote to me on Facebook and told me that I made them want to travel so bad, and that my blog was really inspiring. It meant SO much to me, and I am so touched—not only that they read my blog, but thought to write me out of the blue and tell me! Unless a person subscribes to my blog via email, comments on my blog post, or likes/comments on my Facebook posts, I have no idea who reads my blog. Literally not a clue. For the most part I assume it’s my parents and my boyfriend and that’s about it. It meant the world to me to hear a friend say that they read and enjoy my blog. It honestly made my whole day/week/month. Thank you, David!
Blogging has made me fall even more in love with Minneapolis and Minnesota
Seeing my own beautiful city and state from the eyes of a blogger has made me love Minneapolis (and Minnesota) more than I thought possible! I absolutely love being a tourist in my own city now. I love having photography days and going to my favorite places. I love heading to a new place/restaurant/museum and viewing it from a blogger perspective—is this fun? Would I recommend this to visitors? Should this be a high priority for a trip here? I took a spontaneous mini 2-day road trip to the North Shore just because I wanted to see it in this new perspective, and it did not disappoint. Minneapolis is really one of the greatest cities in the world that I have visited, and I love that it is my hometown!
It has been an awesome 6 months so far. I can’t wait to see where I’m at in the next 6!
Thank you so much to everyone who has been following along on my adventures for the past 6 months! Your support means the world to me!