AKA “Just start the damn blog already!”
Continuing the trend of stream-of-consciousness and self-indulgent narratives the likes of which I have far too few current followers to feel weird about, I’m going to blather on and on about why I should have started this a long time ago.
For a long time I’d hide in my fortress of solitude instead of peruse through the material written every day by hundreds or thousands of intrepid explorers wandering the world to their heart’s content, sheltering myself from the multitude of fascinating journeys and experiences they were happy to share with anyone and everyone who would listen.
It’s not that I disliked them. It’s that I wanted to be there too!
I can’t live vicariously. When I read stories about amazing travel adventures (or even just a silly post about getting lost in the middle of nowhere on the other side of the planet), I can’t help but want to get out there. I’ve traveled plenty, far more so than the average person in my socioeconomic position, but like any well-seasoned drug dealer knows, it’s the moderate-use junkies that are always on the verge of going overboard with their addiction. For years I couldn’t pass by the travel section of any bookstore without sifting through oceans of guidebooks and mentally planning one adventure after another.
Having fairly recently set out on the path of the digital nomad, I thought I’d be on track to be location-independent within a few years, and just a few years after that, I’d be able to maintain a home base of operations instead of “needing” to be on the road all the time, living cheaply, with no place to call home, and no suit and tie to wear when a wedding for a friend or loved one came to my calendar’s attention. But if I had started this back in my 20s, long-term homeless nomad would have been the perfect life for me. Now it’s a bit trickier, since I want business to go well enough to afford realistic dreams of retirement, as well as have a semi-permanent place to crash.
So, how does this all relate to procrastination? Well, I’ve always sort of put off the idea of doing a travel blog until I could “really” do it; when I could take off for a few months, do serious work building the site, post an endless stream of mesmerizingly amazing tales of intrepid adventuring, punctuated by hauntingly beautiful specimens of photography, captioned by snappy and hysterical one-liners, the gestalt of which would make readers laugh, cry, and tell their friends.
I always had excuses. Pretty good ones, too. I didn’t know a thing about web design. I didn’t like the idea of just blathering about my own experiences. I didn’t know how much “worthwhile” content I could post before running out of practical tips and just falling back on “look at me, I’m somewhere cool!” There were way too many travel bloggers already anyway. I didn’t know a thing about social media promotion. Twitter didn’t even exist during the earlier trips. I had other stuff going on. I wanted to build up some extra money first.
But you know what? That was all wrong. Totally wrong. Here’s why you should start a travel blog NOW, even if no one’s going to read it, you’ll never make a penny from your work, and it’ll still suck up some of your precious time running it:
1) You’ll remember where you’ve been.
Got any travel photos from way back in the day? Try to name the city. If you’re one of the “I like seeing little towns, too” types of people, those names will just fall out of your head. Especially when they’re in Hungary and they’re spelled Nagyberki Feherviz Termeszetvedelmi Terulet.
I’ve seen way too many churches to remember which is which, and I bet you have too. It’s not like you have to remember them all by name, but if you stick a few favorites into a blog post, you’ll caption them properly and you’ll have a record of them forever.
And it’s not just the places you’ve been, either. They’re usually not the star attraction of the show. What’s even better is…
2) You’ll remember what you did
Who can forget wild and crazy adventure times with amazing friends and ridiculous shenanigans occurring every day? Everyone, that’s who. You’ll remember plenty, but some of those stories will just fade away. Some people like to keep a journal, but why not just make it digital? You’ll have a permanent record that’ll never get water damaged, and it’ll bring you closer to your experiences. Plus they’ll have fun pictures!
You’d be surprised how easily memories start coming back when you just reminisce about one or two little things. And those are your memories! Who the hell is the Forgetfulness Fairy to think she can just take them away?
Blogging about those experiences makes them that much more memorable. Writing them down and reading through them, even if it’s just skimming a page and glancing at photos while doing site maintenance, will bring those warm and fuzzy memories rushing right back.
3) You don’t have to email everyone all the time
Tired of typing dozens of email addresses into the recipient box? Me too. Make everyone else do the work for you by telling them to just follow you on Twitter! Besides, people are plenty more likely to share a fun story if it’s on a site, rather than inside an email. And besides, why bother writing all those emails (or writing in a paper journal) when you can just take the text and post them in a blog? It’ll be there forever, like a wonderful digital diary.
4) It’ll build…
Feeling weird about starting an entire blog for just a short trip of a month or two? Well, so what? Sooner or later you’ll go on another trip anyway, and everyone getting those updates will see the rest of the record of your crazy adventures too. And they don’t care when you wrote it. Just that it’s fun to read.
And how nice will it be to look back on a decade’s worth of blogging adventures? Chances are if you keep things up you’ll have years’ worth of material, and those old stories will be just as fun to recall as the new ones, and they’ll be right there, like a photo album of your baby pictures, but twice as embarrassing.
5) If you build it, they will come
No one out there recommends chucking your life to run away and become a travel blogger. Any self-employed or self-produced operation is going to take an enormous amount of work, just like any other small business always has. But, chances are, you’ll put as much time into it as you’re comfortable dedicating, and readers tend only to accumulate. Haven’t posted in a year? No big deal. That one random reader you’ve got in the Falklands will still get the update anyway, and he’ll probably be happy to get it. And you’ll smile seeing the readers randomly accumulating from random corners of the Earth. Even if it’s not for the money, that’s probably going to be a good feeling.
So if you’re on the fence, just jump ship. You’ll be emailing your mom anyway to tell her you’re not dead, so you might as well just stick it into a blog post instead. You’ll be glad you did.