16 Dec To blog or not to blog
Recently two people asked me the same question. ‘I want to write a book, but should I bother and do a blog instead? Or do both?’ I thought it was a subject worth unpacking.
In those situations, I always ask: How much time do you have to devote to your writing? We all have a well of creativity and if you draw too deeply, it can run dry. Blogs can be a big timesuck. You can easily spend several hours on your blog rather than devoting time to your memoir or finishing a travel article. And having a whizz-bang blog doesn’t equal a publishing deal. In fact, it can (occasionally) work against you.
At one of my workshops last year I heard a story about a travel writer who blogged excessively about his amazing journeys. When he came home, he pitched a book proposal to an Australian publisher. Initially keen, in the end they didn’t run with his book because he’d told too much of his story online.
Ask yourself some crucial questions on why you are setting up a blog
- To give yourself a platform?
- To earn money?
- To travel the world?
- Who is your audience: friends or family?
- Are you serious or part-time?
- What is your point of difference?
Travel blogs started out as online diaries: simple, straightforward and non-commercial. They were the next step up from round-robin emails.
Entrepreneurial travellers like Barbara Weibel turned this idea into a full-time vocation. A fifty-something American, Barbara turned her back on a job she disliked to follow her heart. Now she travels the world writing about culture and people at holeinthedonut.com. Hugely prolific, she publishes a photo a day and her thousands of followers ‘travel with her vicariously.’
Then there’s the gazillions of online travel guides & information sites out there. These usually focus on a particular place / follow a theme. i.e how to travel with ageing parents, how to couch-surf across Europe.
Gary Arndt also travels non-stop & tells the world about his adventures at Everything Everywhere. All these blogs make money from advertising and sponsorship. Gary also sells his photos.
But money isn’t the only reason to blog. Writers who have published book will often use blogs as a way to self-promote and build a following.
Walter Mason, author of the delightful Destination Saigon (you’ll hear more from Walter soon), is a great example of a blogger who’s also savvy with social media. The two go hand-in-hand. Using Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Tumblr—to name a few—will expand your networks and build a conversation with your audience. His blogs are personal and reflective of his keen interest in Vietnam and spirituality.
Alexis Grant started off writing about her travel memoir, a story of ‘a journalist who backpacks solo through Africa.’ Now she’s expanded into a social media strategist and offers online courses on ‘How to Make your own Luck.’ Plus she offers lots of writing tips and gives a weekly round-up of other websites worth following. (Thanks Patty for putting me on to her!)
What’s exciting about blogging is you can make it whatever you want. You can be personal or keep it professional. You can upload photos, videos – make it a vlog — & do podcasts. Check out Indietravelpodcast.com for more information on podcasts.
But with over 100 million blogs out there, the more focused, the better. If you decide you want to blog and write, just be strict with how much time you actually spend blogging.
And enjoy the ride!