Steve Jobs once said that we can connect the dots of our life only in hindsight. When Angela Corrias of Chasing the Unexpected nominated me for My 7 Links project, I began to flip through my blog posts, and in the process, began to unravel and connect the phases of travel blogging addiction I’ve been through.
1. Fantasy. Ask anyone on the street and they’ll tell you that travel writing is the coolest job in the world. You agree, chew some coffee, read some travel blogs, but never think you could get paid to travel someday. Your most popular post is not even related to travel, because as a newbie, you didn’t know at the inception of your blog that its title will be Google’s best friend.
My most popular post: Wish upon a Shooting Star.
I wrote my post on the origins of shooting stars and the tradition of wishing upon them, as an obligation to the title of my blog. Google loved it, resulting in 42,000 page views and counting.
2. Desire. You find yourself in a sticky situation, and are overwhelmed by the support of the online community. Strangers are reading what you have to say, and you begin to feel you owe them the best of what you know, what you’ve seen, and what you’ve felt. You want to take them with you virtually on your journeys and let them see the world with you, if only to thank them for their altruism.
My most controversial post: On Social Media & free speech.
I wrote about a restaurant threatening to sue me for writing a negative review on social media. I received messages from tweeps and bloggers from all around the world, sympathizing with my situation and encouraging me to fight the battle. Calvin Timo of The Foodelicious World even wrote about the fiasco on his food blog.
3. Conviction. You start taking baby steps into the world of travel blogging, and just when fatigue is about to set in, you receive your first guest blogging offer. You think of it as your first big break, and you wake up anxiously every morning to see your travel writing on someone else’s travel site. Your post is published and well-received, and voila, you start thinking of yourself as a travel writer.
My most helpful post: 5 offbeat travel destinations in Southeast Asia.
I originally wrote this post for GotSaga, as the start of my niche in travel blogging. I developed an aversion to popular tourist destinations, swamped with crowds of people, and started to seek places that few have been to and even fewer have written about.
4. Realization. Let’s face it. Travel writing is a lot more than an offer to guest blog. You start to churn out content that you are proud of, but you haven’t yet gone the extra mile(s) to sell it. You are yet to build your network, and you realize gradually that you have a long way to go till you reach the popularity of all the travel bloggers you’ve been reading.
A post I feel didn’t get the attention it deserved: Gargnano; life or something like it in Italy.
I wrote about Gargnano (a little village in northern Italy) with as much love as the village showered on me, and honestly, I was quite moved by my own words. I almost felt sad that not many of my readers seemed to resonate with the beauty of traveling to an undiscovered place and feeling right at home. Perhaps, the initial title didn’t sell it well enough for people to want to read.
5. Surprise. You make a concentrated effort to balance good travel stories with networking, and when the ride is going smooth, you receive a little surprise; an encouraging string of complements, a range of guest blogging requests, and your very first paid assignment. Posts that you admit might interest only a handful, surprise you too.
A post whose success surprised me: Will your travel memories be someone else’s travel disappointments?
Despite the numerous articles on responsible travel online, I wrote a post about it from my own experiences in Spiti. I intended it more as a note-to-self to remind me of the implications of traveling, and assumed that most people would’ve either read something similar before or couldn’t be bothered to read something so preachy at all. I was pleasantly surprised by how strongly my fellow travelers feel towards traveling responsibly, the amount of thought they put in to their travel habits, and their desire to get it right.
6. Pride. You begin to feel a sense of accomplishment with every post you publish and every comment it receives. You obsess over your site stats, and watch the bars grow in satisfaction. You proudly distribute your blog url, and swell each time a silent reader of your blog reveals himself.
The post that I am most proud of: Traveling alone in India: Am I crazy?
My pride comes from the accomplishment behind the post. Solo female travel in India was unfathomable for me at some point. I’ve come a long way since then.
7. Love. Pride aside, you begin to fall in love with your own travelogues, just the way you fell in love with traveling. Each time you’re on the road, a part of you is subconsciously thinking of describing the experience in words. Essentially, you’re traveling twice, once physically, and once with your readers. You’d like to get paid for what you write, but you write for the love of travel and for the love of travel writing.
My most beautiful post: Travel tales from Spiti: Kaza’s garden lady.
It was in Spiti that I discovered the people aspect of travel, and began to write stories about my interaction with the locals. I was very touched by my experience with Kaza’s garden lady, and I’ve tried to convey atleast a tenth of its beauty in this post.