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I thought for several weeks —or months I should say— about writing this article. But I didn’t want to be harsh. I am not an expert in travel blogs and I don’t pretend to be one. I built this site during a very difficult time when I barely had time to go to the bathroom. However, this year with La Vida Nomade I encounter a very different blogger world compared to the one I used to know.

Long time ago, I had a blog where I wrote about British music and about my favourite band, The Smiths. This website became very popular in that niche. According to the counter —Google Analytics didn’t exist at that time— I was getting between 15,000 and 20,000 visitors per month from all over the world, not too bad for a site from a small country, with no ads at all. However, I never saw it as a business but I began to receive gifts: books from Portugal, music records from Peru and the US, postcards from Mexico, among others. I never gained any money, but I saved a lot of it because I was invited to parties and concerts. After all, I was just a fan of British music doing what she likes best: writing.

I closed the blog for personal reasons. Google Analytics and Adsense made their appearance, and suddenly, blogging became a job. When I was in college, a digital media professor told me “I saw your travel blog and I liked it. Now you have to worry about the SEO”. It’s not enough to write about what you like, now you have to choose keywords, generate traffic, make noise. Generating good quality content seems to be, in many cases, a less important matter. Now you should focus in getting retweets, make it to the highest spots in search engines and gain as much followers as you can, even if they don’t read beyond the title of your articles. “We want your clicks, we are Google’s slaves” seems to be everybody’s motto.

mapa_analytics

We want clicks from around the world. Google Analytics map.

Blogs were born to give a voice to those who are not part of traditional media. There was this amateur, kind of punk and DIY blogging attitude, but not anymore. Now bloggers sell themselves as “editor, photographer, writer, designer,” even when they have blurry pictures and lot of grammar mistakes in their texts —don’t look at me, English is not my first language! But let’s be realistic: launching a blog on a WordPress theme does not make you a web designer nor blogging makes you a professional writer. So what’s the idea behind all this pretension?

Another fact that struck me was the amount of almost identical content that I found in so many blogs. I like traveling and obviously I like to read about travel. Sometimes I enter sites that look promising, with a sexy name, a lot of followers and amazing pictures, but when I read the content I feel cheated.

When I first started in the Twitter world —something I learned to love in less than a year— I found a number of travel blogs and websites giving the same packing tips: they were all writing about that nonsense toothpaste on a straw (really?) or placing bills on a Chapstick tube. This is blogging in the 21st. century? Just copy and paste content? I thought that was a trick of traditional media when they need to fill out their websites. But no. It seems that a blog has to be updated and be shared no matter what, even if the content is a copy of the copy, literally. In addition, many bloggers sell their souls for brands or blogtrips.

bombilla

The “best” tip of 2015.

Moreover, I found a ridiculous competition and pedantic attitude, at least in the local Chileans blogs, with this “I have more followers than you” approach. Is this a contest or what? With that way of thinking we are not going to get anywhere. Collaboration gentlemen, that’s what we have to do. There are other bloggers out there, and some of them are way better than you and me. However, I think the aspect of community is more deeply embedded among English speakers and also between Spanish, Peruvian and Mexican bloggers.

To cut a story short —OK, maybe it’s too late to say that—, I think it’s okay to professionalize and monetize a travel blog, but I also think we need more collaboration, more original content, but more importantly, we need more spirit and less SEO, we need more travel and less time seating in front of the computer.

By the way, did you read my article in The Huffington Post How Travelling Saved My Life? That’s the reason travel and travel blogging means the world to me 🙂

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Journalist specialized in Digital Communication with a diploma in History. I create content for different brands, I am a Speaker (Marketing and Tourism), and I write for the Official Promotion of Chile (SERNATUR) for the local and foreign market, Chile Travel and Chile Es Tuyo. If you need my professional services, do not hesitate to send an email to lavidanomade@gmail.com. Let's see each other on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.

28 Comments

Fran Opazo · 19 May, 2017 at 2:21 am

Thanks Jenn!

Jenn · 18 May, 2017 at 12:05 pm

Thanks for writing this article. I think to many bloggers get wrapped up in the some of these aspects and forget why they started to write in the first place.

Fran Opazo · 18 April, 2017 at 6:38 pm

Thank you for your comment Lula 🙂 I’m going to read your article ASAP.

Lula Dolz · 17 April, 2017 at 6:25 pm

Hey Fran, cool article thanks for sharing!
I agree with you in that yep, sometimes it feels all about getting the likes, and I’m surprised that in blog groups, it still feels like people just do it for the sake of it (because it’s part of the group rules). It’s a bit disheartening when you think we’re all bloggers, looking to get read, and yet we can’t even read each other’s work and comment from the heart. But hey, we lead such fast-paced lives now it’s understandable that some people just tick the boxes exhaustedly, because they have to. At least, no one can stop us from writing honestly eh 🙂
I also just read your article in Huff Post and I can really, really relate to that – feeling so positive and inspired after travelling, it’s just how I feel. I’ve just written a post that discusses similar issues if you’d like to read it – https://lulaaventura.wordpress.com/2017/04/12/home-is-where-i-feel-a-little-strange-2017/

Ryan Biddulph · 10 April, 2017 at 12:08 am

Hi Fran,

This is why I blog mainly for fun. This is also why I blog with love, mainly 😉

Because many travel bloggers mean well but they allow fear to dominate their minds, and when this happens, the spirit, passion, fun and collaborative attitude goes out the door. What was once fun becomes a job. Yuck. Not for me. Which is why I do OK with my blog. Because I do it with love, and collaborate, and help others and make friends and think creatively not competitively and all the fun and love I emit reflects back to me through fab blogging friends, prospering opportunities, money and the like.

Thanks for sharing 🙂

Ryan

PS….My sister was a HUGE Smiths fan way back in the day 😉 Obsessed with Morrissey back then LOL….

Jillian Michelle · 24 January, 2017 at 8:29 pm

Love this! I really miss the days when people blogged for the love of blogging…before it was just a numbers game. There are still hidden gems out there, but they’re often overshadowed by the thousands who seem to have become more like robot machines rather than people with a passion. I love when I stumble across smaller, quirky blogs that write about things that other people may care less about. I love the nerdy little blogs with fewer followers but who stay true to themselves. Those are fun 🙂

Fran Opazo · 17 April, 2016 at 11:17 pm

Veera thank you for your comment. I think you are doing it the right way. It is more rewarding than being Google’s slaves 😉

Veera Bianca · 17 April, 2016 at 7:41 am

Just came across your blog on GLT group! Seriously love this post! I’ve been a blogger for 8 years and now do it professionally, but it comes with a funny story. When I started, I didn’t even know the term SEO or anything related to it, I was just excited to share my travel stories for people who would listen. Then it all changed, I started to take part in conferences, learning about SEO and how to write viral content etc. I was stressed for 2 years, my traffic went down, I thought about quitting. Now, a couple years later, I decided to forget all that I’ve learned from being Google’s slave, go back to writing without taking pressure on being a great writer, sharing the stories of my days on the road without any click-bate titles and I’ve doubled my traffic again by being genuine and honest and not getting much traffic from Google.

My next mission is to engage with my community more, read what others are writing and also by getting to know my readers 🙂 That’s where the magic is at!

Fran Opazo · 6 April, 2016 at 3:24 pm

Thank you Tiffany! “When you write from a place of passion, it shows” –> I totally agree with that 😉

Tiffany · 3 April, 2016 at 6:10 pm

Really enjoyed reading this post, Fran! I found myself nodding in agreement to many of the points you made here. I’ve definitely posted more than a few listicles because that generates more visitors for me, but it’s never been the content I enjoy writing. Luckily for me, I’ve discovered that people enjoy inspirational content and I get a chance to inject some storytelling back into blogging.

I think when you write from a place of passion, it shows. People gravitate towards authenticity. You post definitely encourages me not to forget why I started blogging in the first place! Great article.

Fran Opazo · 18 March, 2016 at 12:53 am

Thank you for your comment Katy! Moved to Manchester?!! Oh wow! You are mi idol!

Fran Opazo · 18 March, 2016 at 12:50 am

Thank YOU for reading and taking the time to comment. Keep doing whatever you are doing on your blog. I truly think blogging is a very rewarding “hobby” or “job” or whatever you prefer to all it. It’s not always about money and/or fame!

Fran Opazo · 18 March, 2016 at 12:48 am

Thank you for your comment Laia! I know you do a great job on your blog 😉

Laia · 17 March, 2016 at 6:10 pm

So sad and so true what you say.
I started a travel blog as a hobby, just to feel creative and keep family and friends updated with my trips. I didn’t use twitter and didn’t bother about SEO nor followers.
Now I’m trying to enter the “professional” blog world and I discover that I have to learn about SEO and followers and statistics and a lot of things which are not what I really enjoy: writing and taking pictures.
I also believe in quality content, collaboration and being personal and honest.
Thanks for sharing 🙂

Yasha Langford · 16 March, 2016 at 11:00 am

We started our ‘travel website’ in 2006 to document our trip from Alaska to Ushuaia, originally for our families and friends at home. Other people started reading it and we got quite a following in the ‘overlanders’ community of travellers. Our trip ended in 2009 and we didn’t do much with our site, but we still have visitors who came for information that they found so useful.
We have been back in South America since 2014 and things have changed. Now we have a ‘travel blog’ on wordpress and we are in danger of needing “more travel and less time seating in front of the computer”!
I agree completely with what you are saying. Somehow it is impossible to keep up with the ‘real’ travel bloggers who seem to draw their fame out of the air. Like you, I am often disappointed when I read their posts.
I try to be true to myself and write things that are true rather than things I think people want to hear.
Thanks for publishing this piece.

Katy · 15 March, 2016 at 11:44 am

Hi Fran, you make a lot of interesting points. I think people start blogging for a number of different reasons but ultimately if you are prepared to put your words and images online you are doing so in the hope someone will read them. If you are doing so in the hope you will make a lot of money from it then you will have to work really hard to do that.

In my professional life I am a marketing strategist previously for blue chip companies and now small business clients. In my opinion brands of all sizes are becoming much more savvy and selective about the influencers they choose to engage with. I certainly would be asking an incredible amount of questions and getting my agency to give me a full briefing on content, positions, following (analysis of) and engagement before hiring a blogger.

Best of luck, from a fellow Smiths fan – who actually moved to Manchester from Australia I was so obsessed. A blog would have been a lot more sensible, but less romantic. Disclaimer – it was before the internet. Gasp!

rik aka red tapir · 14 March, 2016 at 3:48 pm

well said!
I started my travel blog to 1. learn 2. have total creative freedom 3. meet people along the way
If I have to start checking SEO, it becomes a job. I might as well write a brochure for a client. Or a TV script.
I don’t have sponsors and I don’t write star reviews in exchange for free stuff. Maybe that’s just naive, but hey, that’s me.
I try to get some clicks, like and tweets – just to have some basic numbers. Because the first thing people ask is not: ‘What do you write?’ But: ‘How many readers you have?’ 2000 sounds better than 20.
It took me 300 great pictures to get 1000 followers on Instagram. I don’t understand how people with 3 crap photos have 10.000. Twitter seems like a place with tons of action but little interaction. No wonder, it’s machines posting things. One endless spam list.
Sometimes you wonder, where’s the social in all this media?
But then I look back at the reasons why I started my blog. To learn and to have creative freedom. And that’s what I’m doing right now.
keep rocking – rik aka red tapir

Shaira Caldwell · 14 March, 2016 at 3:08 pm

Thank you for writing this, you gave me confidence! I love your viewpoint in this.

Sam · 14 March, 2016 at 3:03 pm

Agreed! I also started blogging only 3 weeks ago and honestly haven’t expected it as crazy as it is! You are right saying it is all about competition, likes and google ranking. I also saw very successful blogs which contents disappointed me and I wondered why they became that famous. There is some genius blogs out there. It’s a shame that it’s not them being on the top but those with the best marketing strategy. However, I am happy I entered the world of blogging, learn from your stories and share mine. The more we share, the more we have <3

Martha · 14 March, 2016 at 2:55 pm

Estoy completamente de acuerdo ! Acabo de compartir tu post porque me hizo feliz ver que no estoy sola con mis opiniones.

Svenja · 14 March, 2016 at 2:52 pm

So true! I’ve been blogging since 2007 or thereabouts, originally just to keep friends & family back home updated and to keep a sort of diary from our trips abroad, so tons of pretty personal content without a “real” audience. A couple months ago, I decided to branch out and start a second blog, in English this time, and more for the general public.
I absolutely believe in quality content, and while I have a lot of stories and pictures to share, I currently lack the time, so my blog still looks rather puny in comparison with the majority of travel blogs around.
Maybe one day my blog will grow up to have a gazillion of clicks every day, but if it doesn’t, I’ll still have fun with it!
Oh, and of course I still keep my first blog for friends & family, no analytics or SEO required, I’m quite attached to it and it beats writing postcards 😉

Brittany Thiessen · 14 March, 2016 at 2:51 pm

Thank you for sharing your honest perspective about travel blogs! I have actually been thinking about this recently as well and really enjoyed reading your thoughts. I completely agree with you.

It’s easy for us bloggers to become so focused on getting more likes, more followers and more comments that we start to lose sight of what really matters and that is high-quality, original, informative and inspiring content.

Thanks again for sharing!

Ivy · 14 March, 2016 at 2:32 pm

Love it! I’m new to the blogging world too and the main reason for me was actually to get back into web and graphics design. I love how it serves as a digital diary and how I’m able to just point to it when friends and family ask about our experiences. My parents live in another continent, and have been for over 10 years, so it’s a great way to keep them updated on my life. Can’t agree more on the duplicate content… Also makes my eyes roll a little when people call themselves travel experts and monetize their blog when they haven’t really been around. Although, I gotta say, it’s nice to have discounted stuff or freebies 😛 But it shouldn’t be the sole purpose because that loses the personal touch and turns into plain advertising. Thanks for pointing this out!

Alex · 14 March, 2016 at 2:18 pm

I so agree with you, and this is something I’ve been struggling with a lot as an aspiring travel blogger. It seems like the people who have “made it” did so just by publishing dry, sterile top 10 lists- is that what people really want to read? I’m hoping people get tired of just seeing flashy headlines and get back into reading personal stories and perspectives.

Sally from Passport & Plates · 14 March, 2016 at 2:02 pm

I loved this! I started blogging a few months back simply because I really like writing about travel and decided to turn my love for travel writing into a website rather than my personal tumblr page. I remember feeling really overwhelmed at the beginning and thinking “but I just want to write and share good content.” I’ve definitely backed away from constantly worrying about SEO and analytics and all that stuff and realized that at the end of the day, if you write good content that YOU want to write, then that’s all that matters. Thanks for sharing!

Maverick Goddess · 14 March, 2016 at 1:44 pm

I love this! Since I started blogging (a month ago) I have also thought many of the things you have written and feared I may fall into the trap of putting followers before genuine content. I have no desire to make money off my blog but as I enter the world more and more I certainly see the appeal. I now make it a priority to make sure I’m writing something because it is real to me and not because it will make me popular, and this post reaffirms that!

Gracias!

Travel Blogger News: April 2016 · 9 June, 2016 at 5:10 am

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