Bloggers celebrate their anniversaries: “one year of travel blogging”, or two or even five years – but we can look back on ten years of travel blogging, starting from May 2006. Back then there were very few travel blogs around and the concept of blogs in general was quite new to most people.
We had lived and worked in Tokyo and when our contracts ended decided to go travelling for an extended period. Wishing to stay in contact with friends and relatives we came up with the blog idea: In the beginning the blog was password protected and intended as a time-saving internal communication tool – rather like a conference call, so that we would not have to write and send the same stories and thoughts several times, from countries where Internet connections were difficult.
It turned out our friends either found the technology too strange and demanding, or perhaps it was our new and different life that they couldn’t connect with. So after 10 months we lifted the password protection as people just lost the password and didn’t use the blog for private communication anyway.
During our almost three years of travelling around the world we gradually slipped into the tour-guiding and guidebook/ travel writing business and at one point decided to give this way of living a try. In the end it worked out pretty well and as we continued to travel we also kept the blog up.
To be honest over the course of these ten years the blog was a source of struggle more than joy. We enjoy writing and still appreciate the potential to develop our own story ideas and to publish them freely, but on the other hand most of our original motivations for writing the blog did not work out at all.
Staying in contact with friends and family
Most of our closest friends and relatives rarely read our blog posts. Some of them associate Internet in general with work and avoid it during their free time; others are not confident reading English (we decided on English rather than German as a blog language because we have a lot of friends who don’t speak German). Some just do not read blogs or feel overwhelmed by the information overload on the internet. Over the years we have succumbed to keeping contact with people who matter to us in whichever way that person prefers (not via the blog, in general). And that works quite well.
Getting in contact with like-minded people and travellers
We also hoped to use the blog as a means to get into contact with like-minded people, get some new ideas for travel destinations and have some philosophical conversations about travelling in general. Not sure why, but this also did not work out. While we did make some new contacts via the blog, we found the travel blogging scene not very suitable to thought exchanges. What we had hoped for were discussions about the historical and political background of destinations, ethical questions and the meaning of travel, but we found mostly shallow image-cultivation and self-profiling. Again there are some exemptions.
Making money directly via the blog
For a while we tried to subsidize our blog with Google ad-sense but gave up because it put off readers who found this too commercial and the earnings were not worth those discussions.
We also offer the opportunity to buy our books via our web-page on Amazon, but as the company has a negative reputation in Germany many people (including our politically correct audiences) tend to use it only clandestinely.
Using the blog as a buisness representation
While many reasons for the blog proved futile, it does work as a sort of business card for potential clients. Business contacts, potential partners and sponsors do get a general idea of our destinations and work – although we assume that it did not gain us one single specific contract.
Writing this blog post alone stirred some frustration. For the time being we have a lot of writing contracts and tour-guiding work, and actually the time we invest in the blog seems a bit wasted. Nevertheless we are reluctant to give it up completely – not entirely sure why (maybe this could be a topic for a different blog post?). For the near future we will post less and also re-feature some of the first-year posts, perhaps improving them with more pictures and maybe some new information. We were travelling off the grid in 2006, often without internet or with extremely slow internet connections, and could upload one photo maximum per post.
Thanks for reading and as always looking forward to hearing from you and about your own struggles with your travel blog.