The ‘Art’ of Blogging: A Panel Discussion

Slot Canyon by Randy Martens Photography

There was a time when blogging was a bright and shiny new outlet where people would voice their personal opinions on any topic that caught their attention. In a proverbial blink of an eye, blogs became ‘tailored’ to fit particular demographics – politics, travel, etc. Bloggers began to realized they could actually earn income (large or small) from the works they produced. But, there are a great number of bloggers that do not follow the money trail. I wanted to know why. So, I chose a small group of people and asked two simple questions. Below are their replies.

1) Why do you blog about your travels?
2) Why do you continue to blog without trying to make money from your efforts?

I don’t envisage “the candy trail …” being a commerically-viable blog. My crazy travel stories, raw expression and off-beat travels, mean that I’m too far removed from the mainstream…

Michael Robert Powell

the candy trail…

1) Why do you blog about your travels?

Being an extreme global nomad – since 1988, I feel a need to make sense of my vast travel experience; blogging files my memories and brings order to the clutter in head.

Also I’m usually alone in life. I have no-one close; no set base, no social niche nor societal belonging, so I share my expressions – of travel, art, photography, writing, history, philosophy, sexuality & alcohol misadventures – with the vast, open, random void of cyberspace. And encouragingly, I get some nice feedback.

2) Why do you continue to blog without trying to make money from your efforts?

I don’t envisage “the candy trail …” being a commerically-viable blog. My crazy travel stories, raw expression and off-beat travels, mean that I’m too far removed from the mainstream (however, my travel photography & art site, rather than my blog, is a possibility).

Simply, I blog for myself and as updates for friends & family. And, if the public enjoys it too, great.

Crazy House by Mike Lake


The Longest Way Home

Why do I blog about my travels?
I don’t actually consider it blogging. I write my travel journal about my search for a place to live. It started off as just a personal one, and then people started to read it. And, so it developed. I write about my journey, I don’t churn out made for consumer efforts.

I also use it as a memoir of my life. Just like why we keep diaries. Without them, we really do forget the little stuff that made our day, week or time spent interesting, or not, as the case may be. Being on the road without a home, nor place to store things, I use my website as a place to hang my photographs to. All in all, The Longest Way Home has turned into my online home.

Why do I continue to blog without making any money from it?
Well, my website does make money, both directly and indirectly. More so from indirect sources. Two-dimensional “blogging” was never my thing. Advertising and text links are how most people think about it. I don’t. And while these things do pay for hosting, servers, photo-storage etc, I don’t consider the fact of owning a blog, profitable.

What I do outside of travel “blogging” generates income. I continue to “blog” because of the first question. Not for anything else. This is my story about my journey.

And, guess what? I have several thousand subscribers who enjoy reading my life’s work, and many imitators who try to copy it in some form. But, the bottom line is, write because YOU have something to say, not because of what you think it will get you or what others expect from you.

Meg Pier

View from the Pier

I began writing travel pieces for the Boston Globe about a decade ago, something I did as a fun aside to a full-time job as a PR executive in the financial services industry. When I had four cancer scares in two years (2006-2008), I decided to check out of my pressure-packed career and explore what really interested me–travel writing and photography. After 25 years as a Corporate mouthpiece, I aspired to find my own voice, and see if it resonated with people. I had a simultaneously naive and arrogant attitude that this would be a seamless transition and a lateral move at that and in no time I was sure to be the next Elizabeth Gilbert.

My areas of interest and style of writing did not immediately land me gigs at Nat Geo and the Black Hole pitching process to travel editors began to resemble the unrewarding PR work I had been doing.

Needless to say, that was not the case. My areas of interest and style of writing did not immediately land me gigs at Nat Geo and the Black Hole pitching process to travel editors began to resemble the unrewarding PR work I had been doing. The five themed photography/quotation books I had self-published on Amazon, while now carried by about two dozen stores in New England, were not snatched up by the many publishers to whom I presented them. Some of the joy began to be sucked out of my carefully-crafted and heartfelt Love Letters to the destinations that had so moved me. I started to question if my “voice” was one anyone wanted to hear.

My husband, God love him, suggested I create a website, a somewhat laughable endeavor for someone as non-technical as me, yet I was desperate to pour out my pent-up creativity and so was open to the idea. The site began with me posting what were essentially pages from my photography/quotation books–a new image each day, captioned by an uplifting quotation. I made these available as a free subscription, mostly to former colleagues, with the intention only of hoping to inspire someone who might feel as lost, disconnected and frightened as I had. This combo continues to be the site’s “bread and butter” and the feature on its main page.

I soon realized I had a forum where I could write the way I wanted to write, and not have to fit into anyone’s formula of what constituted travel writing. I launched a series of new features, ones in which I could focus on the themes that matter to me. The “Compass Rose” column showcases articles about cultural traditions and spiritual practices, liberally sprinkled with quotes from those I meet. The “Peer to Pier” Q & As are in-depth interviews with people who strike a chord with me and have a message I want to share. Through the blog essay on my site, I am able pass along personal Life Lessons in the context of mini travelogues. Via the “Guest Room” column, I can provide a platform (albeit non-paying) for others who love self-expression and the sense of wonder far-away lands can elicit.
*Meg Pier’s comments have been ‘edited’ due to length. Above are her first 4 paragraphs published in context.

Center Stage by Gretchen Wilson-Kalav

Vicki Hatfield

Come With Me…

1) Why do you blog about your travels?
2) Why do you continue to blog without trying to make money from your efforts?

I never set out to have a travel blog. In my youth, when life was full of infinite possibilities and I was still blissfully unaware that the things we love don’t always translate into things we can make a living at, I had dreams of being a writer. However, real life gave me a choice: do what I loved and scrape by or do something practical and be a financial success. Right or wrong, I chose door #2. Today, I have a very successful career, but I do not find it interesting or personally fulfilling. To make up for that lack of passion in my work life, I dove headfirst into my passions in my personal life. I have an insatiable appetite for travel, a love for photography, and a hunger for the written word. I started with small trip reports on travel forums. I noticed over time that I gathered a “fan club” of sorts, individuals who waited for my next trip and devoured my report. I found that sharing something I love with others who love it just as much was incredibly rewarding. That’s when I started the travel blog. I do it for the simple joy of creativity and the incredible sense of satisfaction that comes from having something I create enjoyed by others. Why don’t I try to make money from it? Because it then becomes a job. A duty. An obligation. It is no longer simply a living, breathing creative thing that I do simply because I love it.

Greg Wesson

Greg Wesson’s Esoteric Globe

I spent about 2 years in my 20s trying to write a great novel. It was going to be my opus! The “Great Canadian Novel,” about life as a 20-something software engineer in a world overrun with baby-boomers. Everything I produced sucked. There were a few good bits here and there, but mostly it was populated with flat, two-dimensional characters in dull situations. So I gave up on writing my novel, and stopped writing.

When I started travelling, I started to write down some stuff and sending via email to friends and family. It made me very happy, and I found that I really enjoyed writing.

When I started travelling, I started to write down some stuff and sending via email to friends and family. It made me very happy, and I found that I really enjoyed writing. I found that writing stuff – any stuff really – kept me more emotionally grounded and happy. I was a better person when I was writing than when I wasn’t.

So instead of the great Canadian software-engineer-based novel (which, frankly, Douglas Coupland had beaten me to writing – even back in my 20s when I was writing it originally), I decided to write stupid and funny little quips from my travels and publish them to the world. I’m not sure that my blog constitutes great literature, but at least I think it entertains a few and keeps the frustrated writer in me satisfied.

MaryAnne Oxendale

A Totally Impractical Guide to Living in Shanghai

I blog about my travels because I love to travel, because I’m a compulsive diarist and because I like the sense of community that can be built up through sharing your words with others who have similar passions. Everytime I pay my annual hosting fees I pause for a moment and think maybe I ought to try to bring in some money somehow, if only to break even. I was an Amazon affiliate for about a week at one point and made nothing. I have one affiliate ad up for MatadorU (which has yet to bring in even a penny since March because I barely acknowledge it let alone promote it) because I am a graduate of their writing program and respect what they do. But I don’t feel comfortable with selling. I have no desire to sell anything. I don’t want to change the tone and content of my writing to make a buck – and my tone tends to be too dry, dark and frank to make good ad copy. Like I’ve said before: teaching pays the bills so I can do what I really love without tainting it with the scramble to make money.

Kris Kalav

The Beerman Chronicles

Quite honestly, blogging about my travels is a catharsis for me. It allows me to re-live the memories of what I’ve done, where I’ve been and gives my friends and family a chance to be completely bored for 10 minutes. Well, some like my writing.

I really don’t care about making money from my writing. If that were my goal, I would try to write a book, or submit my blogs to editors of magazines or even publishing houses. My writing is completely for the enjoyment of it.

To read the article about blogging without monetary gain, please check out the The ‘Art’ of Blogging: A Commentary.

For a synopsis of the TBEX ’11 Conference, please see ‘Taking Your Blog to the Next Level’ written by Kate Kendall of Travellerspoint and The Fetch.

Thank you all for your participation. Much appreciated.

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Discussion »

  • #1FourJandals

    Great post. Definitely nice to know that everyone is not just blogging for a quick buck or two. Reason I started (and will continue to write) is for our own records so that when I am sitting at home in my rocking chair in many moons time I can show the young whipper snappers that I wasn’t always an old boring man. Plus my Mum likes to know what I have been up to!

  • #2Angelica Turley

    Amazing I love the internet and I do wish I had time to just sit in a rocking chair. Now that our children are grown up is our time to be free and travel. I love traveling and at this time in life I am learning to be a farmer (Came from the city) the more I learn the more I want to just travel. While traveling we have learned many things to care for our health without doctors because of language barriers or isolation, not your first aid care but some important things about making your travels easier. Most of this comments are about people who don’t care about money but if I can write enough important posts I like to make enough to hire a worker to do all the farming for me, then my husband and I will just travel and share it on my blog.

  • #3Jessica

    Great compilation! Thanks.

    I just returned from Brazil. I will be starting a new blog soon, not really about the travel aspect, but more about what a traveling woman should wear while traveling.

    I know it will be difficult, but it is what I have wanted to put together for a long time. Brazil is just the first step.


  • #4Rahman Mehraby

    Human need in communicating as a social being seems to be the common drive to attract more and more audience, friends, ears and eyes to what we’ve got to say. Sometimes, people do things without thinking about the possibilities to make money with it. I don’t disagree with generating revenue with a travel blog, but it takes certain steps to learn and follow on a regular way to be able to create some income with it.

    Rahman Mehraby

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