This week’s Sunday Social Travel Talk has been on my mind ever since I wrote last week’s article. Over the past week, some ideas were born inside my head and up until this very minute (Saturday afternoon 5pm) I still had no idea what exactly I was going to write about. So I’m just gonna start writing and I’ll talk about three things that kept my mind running over the past week, coming together in one article:
– Why taking a blogging break was the best choice ever.
– How social media made me lose my appetite for blogging.
– Why I don’t want to become a full time travel blogger.
Earlier this week, I read an article by Theodora from Escape Artistes and although the responses to this blog vary (and in all honesty, I haven’t read them all … reading about people pissing on each other is fun for five minutes, that’s it) I couldn’t help feeling relieved. Why? Because it totally states why I’m so glad that I found out in time, that becoming a professional blogger (or better said, trying to become one) would not be my thing… and never will be.
Let’s start with why taking a blogging break was the best choice ever.
January has been an interesting month. Or maybe I should just say it’s been a crappy month. Ok, in all honesty, a total shithole. The first month of the new year has always been my least favorite for various reasons:
a) Although I don’t do diets, I have to cut down eating in order to still fit my jeans.
b) I mostly do 6-day working weeks leaving me just one day to blog/socialize/rest/get outdoors.
c) The days are short: biking from/to the office in the dark basically just depresses the shit out of me.
d) It’s cold.
So somewhere mid January I decided I’d had enough of everything. I came home drained from a trade show for the 3rd day that week and all I could do was sit on the couch and do nothing. Again. Martijn was in Finland and since I was just working, I ate pizza each night (OMG) and didn’t go to the gym even once. No energy. The one free day I had, I spent behind my laptop, trying to get some writing done, producing some of the worst blogs I ever wrote. In the meanwhile, my colleagues told me they noticed I lost my spirit and my friends told me I looked like hell. Blogging became a must-do instead of a want-to-do. I even fell asleep on the couch with my laptop still on my lap, waking up in the middle of the night, with the lights still on (I haven’t told that to anyone yet, so embarrassing, so you just got an exclusive).
It took me a while to realize – but this wasn’t going to work, I didn’t want to spend the rest of my winter like this. During those weeks I booked 3 trips but I wasn’t very excited about any of them. They just felt like another thing I had to do, to fill up my schedule. I had to find a way to regain my energy to write and travel.
Was that really me? Where did my spirit go? Where did I lose it somewhere along the way?
And more important: how was I going to find it back?
I made a drastic decision, at least for me (someone who’s married to her phone and laptop): I had to take a break. From it all. From being a blogger and from social media. Back to normal life, back to being a normal person. Whatever that may be. I put away my laptop and refused to use it most of the time. In the two weeks I went offline, I used it no more than twice. I also caught up on sleep, even went back to my eight hour routine and I actually felt well rested again for the first time in a long period. I spent hours taking hot baths and reading books. I partied with my girlfriends and got so insanely drunk that I spent the whole next day being sick on the couch. I went on walks without actually knowing where I was going. That sort of stuff. Like any “normal” person does…
Not for one second I worried about my numbers, about my pageviews, comments and retweets. I realized that worrying wouldn’t make me feel better, so I’d better let go of it all. Where possible … (I’ll gladly admit, I never ditched the social media completely!).
Then my trip to Stockholm came in sight. At first I wasn’t looking forward to it at all. Sure, I was looking forward to spending time with my friends and to being outdoors. But I wasn’t looking forward to spending hours on the airport and the whole packing/unpacking process. Not for one minute I was excited about traveling again. Until I stepped on the plane. As the engines started running and I was pushed back in my seat, my heart somehow opened up again. That’s when the excitement kicked in and as I closed my eyes, I realized I was on my way back to becoming the old me.
My days in Stockholm were just fab, I can’t say that often enough. I fell in love with the city, the Swedish people and the whole vibe. I even loved being outdoors in the snow for 3 full days, even though it was wet and cold. During my last day in Stockholm I took a 10 km walk through Djurgården and as I was listening to my favorite music on Spotify while walking, I realized that after two weeks of silence, I missed writing.
Back home, I waited two more days (not by choice, but because of a busy schedule, would you expect anything else from me?) and then I started writing. The words came by itself and I didn’t have to think about it anymore. I knew I was on my way back…
So – what caused me to feel like this, apart from the reason it was January? It was social media. Or at least, that was a major part of it. Recently a friend of mine introduced me to the Findunfollow app. Now you must probably think that I’ve been hiding underneath a rock or so, but I never really tracked who was following/unfollowing me. But when I started using that app for my we12travel twitter, I got extremely frustrated. People would follow me and when I hadn’t followed them back within let’s say 2 days, they’d unfollow. This crazy process kept my mind occupied. Very occupied. “So this is the way it works”, I thought. Like for a like, or follow for a follow, or whatever you want to call it. For one minute, I considered: should I follow back just to make my numbers go up to make them look better? But quickly enough I said to myself: no fucking way. This is not the way I want to be a blogger. I want genuine likes/follows. I know it might not be the way it works in “travelblogger land”, but it will be my way.
Basically said, if you are expecting me to like you because you liked me, forget it. Sure, I’ve probably hit “follow” in the past of pages that I never paid attention to but from now on, I’m just not going to do it anymore. If you don’t like what we have to say, hit that unfollow or unlike button. Please, go ahead, I won’t be unhappy about it for one single second anymore.
Sure, social media is an important way to drive traffic to our site and I’ll always respect that. But not at all costs. I’m not liking pages anymore just to get a like back. I realize I could’ve had 10.000 followers on Twitter or 1.000 likes on Facebook from some Asian click center if I’d pay them a couple of bucks, but basically, I gave up caring.
Where are the days that we had a real life without social media? This is also an important part of Theodora’s article. What really opened my eyes was the quote from Craig from YTRavelBlog, one of my favorite travel blogs:
“By the time we’ve taken photos of our lunch, updated facebook, tweeted, pinned and instagrammed the kids are running loose and our food is cold.”
I’m so glad I’m not a food blogger and generally I don’t post food pics, I like my foot hot! So how about the real life? Well, I choose to have it. To spend my time outdoors without checking my iPhone every single second to see if I’ve gathered any new likes. Or taking my bath with lots of bubbles and a book instead of with my phone. Or going out for dinner with friends without capturing the food from every possible angle. And you know what, now that I’ve decided I’m not going to care about likes anymore, I feel totally relieved.
Changing to this point of view, really made me feel a lot better over the past weeks. It really did. So that leads me to the third reason of my list: Why I don’t want to be a fulltime travel blogger.
I think I could write at least 10 blogposts about this, however for today I’ll stick to the reason that actually has to do with my first item on the list:
I don’t owe anyone anything.
Sure, if I’ve agreed to do an article about a press trip or a review, I’ll gladly do it, but those are very few compared to my other posts. I’m still able to choose my subject each time I’m sitting down to write. I have the freedom I don’t HAVE to write anything nor do I HAVE to post on social media each day. At least, most of the time. If I don’t feel like it, I don’t. If I do, well I do. Easy as that. I’ve seen blogs that I truly enjoyed reading in the past, change into well-marketed businesses that write what their sponsors want them to write. And that’s a shame. Luckily, I have the possibility to choose not to do that. In fact, I like my blog just the way it is. I don’t care that I probably only have 10% of the visitors the big guys have. What I do care about, is that every now and then, we receive messages from people we never seen or heard from before, that we inspire them. And that they like reading our blog. To me, that’s much more valuable than 10.000 Twitter followers.
(Note: I would like to add that even though I choose not to try and become a professional / fulltime blogger, I respect most of those who do. Those that are truly passionate about spending their life that way and willing to give it all, you rock! I’m just not one of you…)
Thanks for sharing!