33 Lessons From Three Years of Travel Blogging
Three years ago I bought the domain name Get In the Hot Spot.com and started to take my travel blogging seriously.
Since then it’s morphed from a travel blog to a personal development site to a social media site and finally back to my first love of travel. I don’t recommend that because it made my blog grow so much more slowly than if I’d settled on one blogging niche to begin with.
Get In the Hot Spot is a my happy place, a place where travel lovers gather to dream, learn and laugh.
I am eternally grateful to my readers, to my commenters and to my sponsors. Having you along for the journey makes it so much more fun. Here are a few stats from three years of blogging that make me smile:
- 327,664 people have visited Get In the Hot Spot;
- 589,044 page views in total;
- 4,742 comment have been left on 259 blog posts.
I’m still learning, I’ll never stop learning. But I’ve made great strides since I started blogging learning not just about travel blogging but about so much more. Here’s what I’ve got to share so far.
1. If you want to make your dreams come true you have to take action.
If you want to be a writer all you really need to do is write and publish your writing on your blog. That’s it. Now if you want to earn money from your writing that’s another thing altogether. For help with that see becoming a freelance writer and making money blogging.
2. Be bold. Fear is nothing.
In my first blog post I declared that I was going to:
“Stare fear in the face and overcome my fear of being read, the fear that my writing would be judged.”
I never wrote another blog post for three years. But thank heavens I did get blogging again and, by sharing my writing again and again overcame, or tamed that fear.
Now my writing has been published in print and on some of the biggest blogs on the Internet. I have been hired by tourism boards to write for them, I have been paid to travel and to write. It’s a dream come true except I never dreamt it was possible until I started blogging. But anything is. As long as you are bold, brave and brassy.
3. Having 945 friends on Facebook and 4,500 followers on Twitter doesn’t make you feel loved.
Many of my social media connections feel like friends, some have become friends but that can never replace real life contact. Contact with people who really know you and who would still love you even if you didn’t have any followers on Twitter or Facebook.
4. Stop comparing yourself to other bloggers.
No matter how many friends or followers you have you always want more, especially if you compare yourself to other people who have more.
When you compare yourself to others you often trick yourself into believing you’re not as good as them. But you are, in a different way and at a different stage.
5. You’re never too old to make mistakes.
As soon as you let your guard down you slip up again, just like those pesky typos slip into your blog posts.
Making mistakes is perfectly normal and nothing to be ashamed of. In fact it should be applauded. If you are making mistakes you are trying new things, learning and growing. Bravo.
6. Procrastination is good.
There are more ways to waste time in this world than I ever dreamt of. I have stopped striving to be a super-focused productivity machine and accepted that I like to work in fits and starts. When the focus is there I focus. When I want to go for a walk I go for a walk. Less guilt, more productivity and I am happier for it.
7. You can make friends online.
I never started blogging to make friends. In fact I used to think that was for sad people. But then I accidentally started making friends, blogging friends and travel friends too. It just happened. Now I know one of the best things about blogging are the friendships that are created.
8. Changing habits takes time
I always over pack even though I pack less every time. When I’m 80 I’ll just take a carry on bag but until then I’m taking more.
9. I may have a psychiatric disorder
I probably have a travel disorder and I am spreading it willy nilly. I really don’t want to stay in one place forever. I love traveling. I never want to stop seeing more of the world, experiencing new cultures and meeting new people. Even if you do get culture shock or reverse culture shock sometimes.
10. If you can only entertain one person make sure it’s you.
Sometimes people don’t get your jokes but it’s okay if you’re the only one that finds something funny. Keep putting it out there, not everything will click with everyone.
11. Shared laughter makes life sparkle
Nothing is better than finding someone else who shares your sense of humour. You should seek those people out and hang around with them as much as you can. I hope my funny travel stories make you laugh.
12. The world is a terrible place
When you look at the state of the world. The poverty, the injustice, the threat to our wildlife and environment you could start to despair.
13. Optimism is the cure
But you can’t go there. You can’t despair. You have to carry on doing what you do and know that, even when you feel as if you’re not getting anywhere, you are. Just slowly.
Just as we don’t notice the world turning so we don’t notice progress for many years.
14. Mindset is everything.
Glass half full or half empty? It’s your choice and I recommend you choose happiness like the happiest people in the world.
15. There will always be naysayers and frustrations.
99.9% of people still don’t get social media and blogging. It’s not our job to explain it to them and convert them. We just have to get on with doing what we do best and ignore the rest.
16. Travel blogging is a lonely business.
For all the support and encouragement, blogging and traveling is still a lonely job. Too much time is spent alone at the computer, more family, friend and travel time will help.
17. We create many of our own problems.
I blog and travel because I feel lonely but sometimes despite all the new connections and adventures they make me feel lonelier still.
18. Feelings of loneliness are normal.
It’s perfectly normal and nothing to be ashamed of if you feel lonely some of the time. Not all the time though. No one should feel lonely all the time.
19. Don’t take things personally.
PR and marketing companies who send you emails don’t care about you, they’re just doing their job.
20. It’s okay to say NO!
Saying no is empowering and it gets easier in time. There are nice ways to say no too.
21. Trust your instincts.
If you think you’re not being treated fairly you’re probably not. Don’t undersell yourself and set decent rates for sponsored blog posts and advertisements on your blog.
22. Special people in your life should get special treatment.
Cherish your most dedicated readers and commenters. They will keep you going when you want to give up blogging and writing.
23. There’s no such thing as free lunch.
Press trips aren’t free holidays. They are hard work and you’ll be in the company of strangers. You may have to spend time with people you don’t really like and some people may not like you because you’re a travel blogger and feel threatened by that because they don’t understand it.
24. Some people do appreciate you
But being invited on press trips does make you feel valued as a travel blogger and you will come home with heaps of fab stories for your readers.
25. Pay attention to the details.
Little things are important. We think people don’t notice the details but subconsciously they do and they make decisions based on that. Pay attention to your blog design. I can help you with that if you need blog design updates get in touch.
26. Be honest at all times.
If you feel like you’re selling out you probably are.
27. Indulge in your passions.
If you love travel you just have to do it, even if it means leaving your family behind sometimes, or taking them with you when they don’t want to go.
28. Don’t try to be like anyone else. Be more like you.
Most travel writing is still boring, most travel bloggers are still just going through the motions, and most readers are delighted when they find something different, personal and interesting. Don’t worry if you feel like you don’t fit in, people will love you for that most of all.
29. You’re the boss of you.
Only one thing can hold you back from doing what you want to do. You. Only one person can make you get to where you want to go. You.
30. Be prepared to compromise.
Travel blogging means living in a messy house, being able to go anywhere at the drop of a hat and being prepared to work for nothing because you love it.
31. Take every opportunity that comes your way.
If someone invites you somewhere say yes. I missed out on trips to France, Hong Kong and Sydney this year because I was too busy. I still regret that though.
32. If people don’t get you it could be because you’re ahead of your time.
95% of the people you approach with your brilliant ideas won’t be interested. That’s a relection on them, not you.
33. Travel bloggers rule.
I’m convinced of that. We have fun, we write our hearts out and we make people want to travel away on their own adventures.
Travel blogging has been an amazing adventure for me. It’s taken me from covert writer to confident creator and from China to Canada (see photo up top).
My crystal ball is hazy so I can’t say exactly where travel blogging will take me next but one thing I do know is I’m hanging on for the ride of a lifetime.
Here’s to the first three years and may there be many more ahead of us.
Thank you for being here, for reading my travel tips and stories and for sharing this journey with me.
It’s been seriously fun.
Do you love travel too?
I’d love you to subscribe, either get the RSS feed or subscribe by email. That way you’ll stay tuned every time the blog is updated which is between once and three times a week.
Thank you and happy travels to us all!
Thanks- I needed this! I’ve only been blogging since late May but I love it and have a lot to learn. My sense of humor is either great to people or a turnoff or a WTF?? But that’s fine! It’s good to know that my house is supposed to be the mess it is. And yes, I do need to make some at least rudimentary design effort.
Glad to hear your house is a mess too;) If you need help with design I’d love to work with you on that. You can find out more here: http://www.successfulblogging.com/blog-design/
Keep on blogging:)
Congratulation, Annabel! What a journey your blog has been on, but with every twist and turn it’s helped countless people along the way. There are so many unique lessons here and that’s what’s special about you. It’s all summed up in #28 “Don’t try to be like anyone else. Be more like you. “. Plus a dose of fun, laughter, and optimism differentiates you ! So happy to know you.
Thank you so much for joining me on the journey – we’ve been bloggers-in-arms for a while:)
Love the feedback and hope to keep everyone smiling for much longer.
Annabel, No one works harder than you to have a successful blog. You have clearly deserved all the success. I’m not a world traveler like you but I enjoy reading your adventures. The other thing that people gain from your travel writing is something we all need to understand… we are all so very much alike no matter what part of the world we live in.
Keep it going!!
Re “we are all so very much alike no matter what part of the world we live in” so true and thank you for reading:)
Really great points! I can relate to most of them. I want to be in the field to travel more, but most of the time I’m busy with my day job as a programmer. This leaves my travel blog outdated sometimes. I’ve started blogging since August 2011 but I only have 40 posts to date. The passion to share my travel stories is still here with me though. :)
That’s almost a post a week – stick with it and keep sharing:)
Wow, Annabel. I always enjoy reading your travel posts – and I must say that my list of must-see places is steadily growing. Sometimes I think certain places are not feasible in this lifetime – but even as I thought that – we are making travel plans to visit another country early next year – so :-) the Universe is listening, it seems.
I know that when I visit a place outside India, I am definitely going to come here and see what you’ve written about it.
I love this list you made – it is a great checklist for all of us. Blogging is such a neat way to learn from each other. Hugs! Do continue to rock and rule! :-)
That’s brilliant, I hope you’re going somewhere interesting and I know there are heaps of great places to visit in India itself:)
Love this! #7 really hit home for us this year while on the road. Can’t believe how many people we’ve bonded through the power of blogging. You’re right, blogger’s rule! Congrats and happy 3 years!
Great list: Here’s#34……
Make sure you have fun.
Agreed, I’m always trying to have more fun:)
What a fabulous post – love it!!! You sure have packed so much fabulousness into your three years… brilliant, keep it up – I think your work is brilliant!!!
Right back at ya;)
Oh I love it!! Especially No. 10… sometimes I wonder if anyone really cares about photos of playgrounds and beaches – but I know I do!! Actually Google tells me that others do too, and that’s good. I know that I like to be useful above all.
Feeling so god about blogging right now, even though I am having a blogging-lite week as I’m hurrying to finish a wee book by Monday – yikes.
I DO LOVE to travel… but I have my four kids too. I didn’t mean to have so many but there you go. Sometimes a little, little escape escapade can go a long way when you have kids. Am unfeasibly thrilled to go away for 2 nights just down the coast tomorrow. Because whenever I am away from home, my eyes are open so much wider. Love my armchair travelling with you Annabel, and your sense of humour… and the garter!!
The garter was definitely fun:) My first time wearing one too so better late than never.
It’s brilliant you’re sharing your passion and knowledge and helping others. Yes, that’s what blogging is all about:)
Thanks for some great info. I am still new to blogging but finding it addictive. I have found my passion and focusing on the area of showing people how they can become healthier. I love to travel too after being a travel consultant for the past 10 years.
Thanks and I look forward to following your blogs.
Great to see you here. I should have said if you want more blogging tips I also write Successful Blogging which is full of them here – http://www.successfulblogging.com/ :)
Annabel you are certainly one of my most respected bloggers – for your sincerity and committment in what you do. I love that you don’t blow your own trumpet. that you have a genuine interest in travel and in other places and people and that you share your experiences (warts and all) with others. I am a rather lazy blogger and I don’t comment much but I do love to read about what other people are doing and thnking. Carry on the good work!!
So glad you left a comment this time:) I will be trying my very best.
love these. not just great blogging lessons – but great life lessons. wish i’d learned them in my 20s and 30s – but glad i can put them into use them now. thanks for the inspiration!
Sometimes I need to have the lesson more than once:)
Hello Annabel! I have been following your blog for a year now. I have enjoyed reading your posts, both travel ones and your writing ones. I enjoyed the story about your mom and the waiter and your husband and the orange-chocolate candy. I love your pictures to your blog. As a mom myself, I love when you talk about your children.
I am a school teacher. I live in the USA and am ready to launch my own blog—-maketodaypositive.com—I would consider hiring you for help in the future.
Perfect compilation and thanks for the 33 tips. So true, not just for travel blogging but lessons for one’s life :)
Great to hear from you, so glad you’re enjoying my travel stories and I’d love to help you any time – just send me an email when you’re ready:)
Thank you for responding to me. I will get in contact with you when I am
ready to officially launch my blog. I am working on a Word Press blog and
would like to pick a little more eye catching background and header. I am following you and your writing tips are very useful. I like the blog about
The confident writer. That one helped me. Keep writing and I’ll keep reading.
I am planning to buy your book, Successful Blogging in 12 Simple Steps. Soon. Thanks, Roseann Smith
I really needed to hear this. You are a great example to the rest of us. Keep up the great work.
Really great list, thanks for sharing it.
Hi Annabel! These are a lot of lessons learned but I agree with you. Travel blogging is not all bliss but everything is worth it. All it takes is the right attitude to it. I am actually very happy to travel and share it to people who are interested in what I am saying.
I loved this post and you raise some honest points with lessons learned. Would love an update on this post now for 2014 – how GITHS has morphed and what you’ve learnt from another two years’ travel blogging.