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May 05, 2010

Comments

Christine Garvin

Ah, such a good post. It is hard if you don't have the time or inclination to spend on the gazillion things that need to be done to promote a blog. Especially as one person trying to run it all, it could easily take up 27 hours of the day. And we know how much time that leaves us to live in reality...

I feel like the ante is upped daily, and I get more depressed the more that is called for. I mean, I write about holistic health, and being on the computer 24/7 is about the furthest thing from being holistic OR healthy. But I plunge ahead and attempt to not always feel like I'm behind. Mind you, I never actually achieve this feat.

JoAnna

I don't think it really matters why anyone blogs. At the end of the day, who, besides the blogger, really cares anyway?

In any case, I blog to provide information. I know that a lot of the people I used to go to high school and college with, and my friends and family who don't travel, read what I write and live vicariously through me. They also read my writing and use it for inspiration. They ask me questions to plan their own trips. Before I post anything, I ask myself what my readers want to know. What would interest them? That's why I have a travel blog, and it's also why I don't have guest bloggers. It's *my* travel blog and I write for my readers.

Cate

Your post rings true for so many of us out there who are frustrated at the way we have been advised (by the successful pros) on how to blog. I don't put the marketing hours in, it's not why I started blogging and yes it shows because my numbers don't stack up compared to others. But I have a steady readership who read and comment because they enjoy what has been written and I like it.

Leigh

You are not alone in how you feel. I share many of your frustrations.

I started my website with the idea of having loads of fun researching, traveling and writing guides. Then I'd sell them. No problem. Except- I'm a terrible marketer. So now I'm trying to blog for my loyal readers about stuff that interests me. I'm mostly loving it...but certain aspects of the business drive me nuts. I'm slow on the technology stuff, hate promoting myself and don't like following the crowd. It's hard to be the popular one that way. Even something like getting comments seems hard. But I keep trying & every week I have a little more success. So then I try a little harder and every so often I just say screw it all, turn off the computer and enjoy my old life. That is until I start thinking of how I can get those blasted numbers up. Mostly I love it and figure it's a process... and a long one at that.

I would also love to get your help as I am visiting Salta (via bus from Chile) early next January and haven't booked a thing yet in Argentina. I will email you Q's and perhaps you'd be kind enough to reply.

I for one, love your blog.

Alice

I love your blog the way it is. I don't know that I would be as interested in it if you were constantly trying to sell something. I'm exploring different areas through you because while I LOVE to travel and explore different cultures, I have no money and several pets. Keep up the good work!

Carolina

Always good to hear that other bloggers go through this, especially those that have been at this longer than I have. I've been asking myself this lately, and second-guessing where I'm going with the whole blogging thing.
I have met some cool people this past year and that has been worth it. I also enjoy the challenge of getting my writing out there and learning new things that are outside of my day job.
Whatever your reasons, glad your still blogging.

Claiborne

Leigh, thanks for your honesty. As a new blogger, I've given a lot of thought to this lately–and as I spend more time "blog surfing", I become more and more aware of how much energy goes into promotion. I don't aim to make money through my blog, but I often get caught up wondering if I should be putting myself out there more. In the end I have decided not to look at my numbers. At all. Because I know I could easily get fixated on them, and I don't want to lose sight of why I write.

Keith

You've struck a nerve with this one :) Good post, and nice work articulating why you blog. PR and Marketing aren't my strong suit either. I mentioned this on another blog, but am I naive to believe good writing will ultimately win out? I think the answer to that is yes, but if you can even do a modicum of PR it might be all you need to hit a much bigger audience (if the writing's good).

As far as comments, my belief is that most casual readers don't comment. Travel bloggers comment because this is what we're passionate about and, well, it helps to be seen. I write for all the reasons you mention, and that's probably five reasons too many. For now, I'm content to let it flow. I always enjoy your posts!

Kyle

Thank you so much for writing this post. We're glad that we're not the only travel bloggers wondering the same thing. Well, wondering them out loud, that is. I think we have new confidence to write about things we want and not worry so much about the PR stuff, as we, too, don't really care for that aspect.

Mara Gorman

"'m slow on the technology stuff, hate promoting myself and don't like following the crowd. It's hard to be the popular one that way. Even something like getting comments seems hard. But I keep trying & every week I have a little more success. So then I try a little harder and every so often I just say screw it all, turn off the computer and enjoy my old life. That is until I start thinking of how I can get those blasted numbers up. Mostly I love it and figure it's a process... and a long one at that." I just wanted you to know that this sounds like the running monologue in my head! You are definitely not alone.

I've accrued many benefits from my blog - some free trips, tons of new friends, and also lots of practice writing (it's kept me disciplined like nothing else ever has). But my traffic, frankly, stinks. I can't really figure it out. Periodically I make an effort to get it up, but I find it hard to sustain.

One piece of advice I received from a fellow blogger, not a travel blogger but also a mother of young children like me, is to have one night a week be "blog boot camp". Just set aside one evening, stay up late, and to the more tedious SEO, research, promotion, etc. I think this is a great idea, although I'm yet to implement it.

Thanks for a great post!

Jason

I was one of the travel bloggers staying at Leigh's house and joining in the discussion.
I think we all agreed that sadly content is becoming less relevant in trying to create a high traffic website. There exists the few that gain a great loyal following and grow organically, but honestly, it doesn't work like that for many of us. It doesn't work like that for Aracely and I. Aracely hates the marketing side of blogging, I don't mind it so much. I recognize it's a game and admittedly participate.
For us, one of our reasons for blogging is to sustain our travel dreams, which means we market. As a couple we have decided that I will do the marketing and Aracely does most of the writing. I would assume it's easier with two people. Aracely and I do have different reasons for blogging, but unfortunately it involves marketing.

Leigh Shulman

I feel like I have the same ironic twist in my life too. I write so much about finding balance and focusing on the things most important (usually outside of work), but the reality is my life doesn't reflect that balance as much as I'd like.

Maybe add that as a nother reason why I blog. It's a way of getting my thoughts out and open for discussion.

Leigh Shulman

Perhaps the entire world doesn't need to care why we each individually blog, but we need to know our own reasons.

Each of us has to make a decision as to what the final goal is then work toward that. If you want to be a professional blogger, then you probably need to spend that 70 percent of your time -- as suggested by Problogger -- on marketing and PR.

If you're only writing for family and friends, then you don't need to do that. If you're writing to present a body of work to a very specific group -- blog as resume or writing samples -- then you have to market in a very different way.

I decided that based on my goals and blog needs, it would be inefficient use of my time to spent that 70% marketing. Better for me to focus on my writing, family and the many other aspects of my life that come sooner in my list of priorities.

Leigh Shulman

You mention the "successful pros." It makes me wonder, too, when part of what they sell, part of their product is to teach us how to market our blogs.

Sort of a bit of conflict of interest there, maybe.

Leigh Shulman

Thanks, Leigh. I appreciate your complments. Of course feel free to e-mail me with questions. I'm happy to help out with tips and ideas for the area.

It's great that you're enjoying writing your blog. That's key. And I think no matter what we do, we will at times be frustrated by the process.

Which, btw, process is such an important concept. My earliest writing teachers -- the ones who have had the biggest impact on me -- talked about process vs product as well.

They are two very different ways of thinking. I don't think one is necessarily right and the other wrong. But I can say I prefer blog as process to blog as product, but I still do a bit of both.

Leigh Shulman

Thanks, Alice, for putting in your two cents. It's truly beneficial to hear reasons why people read mine or any other blog, for that matter.

While in the future, I *might* do things here and there to monetize this blog, I promise I will never constantly try to sell anything.

Leigh Shulman

Carolina,

I think second guessing is normal. I also think many people write in a voice that makes it sound as if they NEER second guess anything. Which makes a lot of sense if you're marketing yourself as a product.

I mean, why would anyone buy something from you if you don't believe in it.

But then there are the many of us who blog because it's something we enjoy in and of itself. At the same time, though, perhaps hoping our blogs will become huge and perhaps we will be able to support ourselves doing only what we love.

And think, you and I would not be in touch were it not for our blogs.

Leigh Shulman

I think there's that moment of awareness how much goes into promotion. And I think for some, promotion comes naturally. From search engine optimization to selling ads to figuring out Stumble Upon, Twitter and all the rest.

Some of that works for me. Other parts, not so much. I do what I can do, but ultimately run out of time with it.

But you're absolutely correct. It would be very easy to lose sight of the main reasons I blog.

All the responses here have given me a lot to think about, and also seeing how many others feel similarly helps me feel more comfortable with the fact that this is just a natural part of the process.

Leigh Shulman

I think it might well be fair to say that we are both naive in thinking good writing will win out over all.

But maybe not.

I suppose I'm betting on the fact that it's not a naive way to see things, which is part of the reason I've begun to incorporate a bit of fiction on my site, even though it doesn't really fit with most other things here.

As for the travel blogger comments. I do think there are many who comment honestly because they truly have something to say. That I appreciate, encourage and it's the model I use when commenting on other sites.

But there are those who comment just for publicity. They only talk about themselves and add no value. That aggravates me badly.

And I have to say, Keith, that I have not commented nearly enough on your blog. But I do read it and thoroughly enjoy your writing as well. It's something I have thought often, but have not had the chance to really reach out and talk to you more about writing.

Leigh Shulman

It's wonderful to get to that point of writing what you truly want to write, regardless of how well it will do.

In the long run, I believe solid writing, good content, unique view points will rise to the top and be heard. But it will most likely take a bit longer.

Which is also fine.

Leigh Shulman

The discipline it takes to form a consistent practice with most things seems to illude me.

Actually, I sell myself short to say it's a lack of discipline on my part. There are simply so many things I want to do, that it's either make hard choices between them all. Or move much more slowly on everything.

And Lila most definitely takes a large part of my attention. She comes home for lunch every afternoon, and we eat together and hang out. Sometimes I don't think I appreciate that as much as I should. But ultimately, I think those lunches with her are far more important than any blog post I write.

(Fiction may be another matter. Not that it's more important, but my short stories and translation feel more real to me. But that is probably another post altogether.)

Leigh Shulman

While I agree that it would be sad for marketing to take a complete back seat to content in a world of writing, video and photography, I by no means intend to say that marketing is bad or wrong.

I do mean to say that I don't like doing it, and it is not something that comes entirely naturally to me.

Writing, though, does. And since I support myself in other ways, I have the luxury of saying I prefer to ignore marketing (somewhat) and focus instead on the content.

But I do still go back and forth on it.

If marketing is something you enjoy doing or -- like Gary Arndt and Matt Kepnes -- you have a clear talent for it, it would be sheer stupidity not to benefit from that inclination.

JoAnna

I agree that, depending on who you're writing for, you'll need to write in a different way and with different aspects (SEO, etc.) in mind.

I guess what I was trying to say is we shouldn't let expectations dictate what we do. When I say who really cares anyway, I know that the blogger does, but it's not up to anyone but the blogger to make that decision or judge it for what it is. I think everyone should ask themselves why they blog, but I don't think we have to be married to our decision either. Things change.

In your case, I come to The Future is Red because I like to wander through your daily musings. I love to see the world through Lila's eyes. I'm interested in how you perceive the things going on around you. If you started writing about the best ways to save on airfare or something, that wouldn't be what I define as The Future is Red. Not right now, anyway.

I'm curious to hear what all of your couchsurfers / dinner buddies / fellow travel bloggers had to say about the issue.

Leigh Shulman

Re: what the others had to say. Jason commented below with his viewpoint. Aside from that, I don't really want to speak for anyone, but the general consensus is that you make choices. You decide why you're blogging, then take the time you have available and do the most important things first.

When I evaluate my blog according to "best blog practice," I see the following issues. 1. I don't have a clear topic and theme. 2. I don't have a real product beyond, as you say, my personal musings. 3. I don't spend enough time on social media sites interacting with people.

The first two I have made a choice not to follow. Why? Because I don't want to. If I planned to make a living through my blog and wanted to gain readers much more quickly, I would not make the same choice.

The third. I simply run out of time after working on other projects.

And let me also say, JoAnna, how much I appreciate that you do stop in here to read whatever it is I have to say on any given day. In many ways, that cuts to the heart of the blogging question I ask in this post. When you don't get hits, it can feel like no one wants to hear what you're saying. It feels personal even when most times it isn't.

I think that's why so many people do care. Because no matter what, no one wants to write and blog into a void.

But you are right in saying, once you make your choices for blogging, then you stop bending to expectation that doesn't meet your own.

Audrey

Leigh, thanks for writing this and echoing our thoughts and discussions. We started our blog that documents our journey for a few main reasons: 1) to share what we learn from our travels with others; 2) to get others excited about travel and learning about the world (and themselves) through travel; 3) to create a portfolio of our creative work (since our professional lives before were so different) to try and find freelance work.

While I think we've been relatively successful in our original goals, we are not great at the marketing and PR side of things. A lot of it is that we'd rather be out there experiencing life and creating content and this means not being online much for social media/commenting and other online marketing techniques.

But, I do wish sometimes that we were better at the marketing/PR to reach a larger audience. Not so much for our own numbers, but because it's so great to get emails from college students who found our site through a random google search and are now thinking of traveling or doing a study abroad or from other 30-somethings like ourselves who find that it is possible to leave a career and travel or from a grandmother who can't travel because of physical limitations but is "traveling the world with us." I think there are more people like these readers that write us and I wonder whether we might be able to reach more people curious about the world if we were better at marketing/SEO.

Like Keith and some of your other commenters, I am idealistic that quality content is what's most important. I think for most people, their blog is an expression of who they are and you want that impression to be top quality...irrespective of the blogger's marketing skills.

Lots more ideas going around in my head. Wish we could continue the conversation over more wine, great food and company.

Cate

Funny how pro bloggers reinforce how bad we are doing. Maybe if I buy one of their books I will become successful, but do I want to compromise my writing -- no.

Christine Gilbert

This blog post, without knowing it, is an object lesson for everyone who is struggling with traffic.

I think the assumption is that folks with bigger readerships (and let's be honest, even the biggest travel blogger is still a *tiny* blogger compared to the blogging bigshots out there) are doing this massive promotion.

The truth is, very few people can make promotion work for them in the way that you're thinking. For instance, I have 40000 twitter followers. I use a service that I pay $18 a month for that adds new people based on key words (about 100 a month, not a lot) and it trims my DM inbox for me and autofollows everyone who follows me. I don't touch it.

What does 40K in Twitter followers buy me? Nothing. I actually tested this by accident. When I was in my ninth month of pregnancy I didn't tweet at all, just a link to a new post, which there were like four total. Then after the baby came, I started tweeting like mad. I compared traffic from twitter for the two months, and I actually had about 740 in my pregnant non-tweeting month and 700 after. My twitter traffic went down. The amount of tweets I do has nothing to do with how well my blog does.

In fact, all of that promotion has very little impact, I'm learning (March I did nothing, and had the highest traffic month in the history of my blog).

But, this post illustrates what you can control. Content. And it's NOT just about quality, it's about getting people excited. A beautifully crafted essay on the Yucatan is dead in the water. A post that gets travel bloggers commenting (like this one) or causes some controversy is one way to create massive traffic.

Big bloggers know this. They also know that they can cause "hype" fatigue, so they alternate their approach. Perhaps they do something insanely useful, then something personal and deep, then something bold and then something that makes everyone comment.

They work their content and their audience. They not only provide quality content, but an experience.

I'm thinking more of really big bloggers like Dooce. She'll pick a fight with her washing machine company. Then she'll get all gooey about her daughters birth. She's not out there writing essays on being a mom. And she's not commenting on blogs, or stumbling or whatever.

It's not what you write, but how. And the passion you had when you sat down and wrote this post comes through. And the topic goes to the core of secret thoughts of your readers. If you did that on every post, you wouldn't ever worry about self promotion again.

Of course, that's easier said than done.

Leigh Shulman

Audrey,

I think your writing and content very much speak for themselves. You and Dan post information and imagery that stands unique in the travel blogging world. So yes,I do believe for those who are saying what isn't being said elsewhere, content can drive itself more so.

Even so, someone starting to blog, even with such unique content, might have a harder time making headway in the stream of blogs without any marketing at all.

But, there are also many different levels of marketing. In a weird way, our sitting over meat and wine was also marketing. One that is a very new model of marketing. Because after spending time with you, Dan, Aracely, Jason and then also with Craig and Linda Martin, I'm talking about our time together. Then you're commenting and tweeting on our time together.

But I don't think we're doing it with the ultimate goal of marketing ourselves. The immediate goal is to have a discussion and connect with others. The publicity comes far more slowly, but it is also of far better quality if you ask me.

That said, I I will continue to act as if content is king, and continue writing and connecting with people in a way that works for me. Still, I cannot ignore how my hits drastically increase with Twitter, Stumble, Facebook. Or when I guest post places. Or make connections with other bloggers.

It all makes a huge difference in the number of people who come to read my site.

I also wish we could continue chatting. It was a wonderful week here with all of you. In and of itself. Without the marketing, blogging or any of that other stuff.

Leigh Shulman

Hi Christine,

Thanks for the comment.

Dooce -- whom I think is also a fabulous designer and photographer -- can't really be compared to a newish travel blogger today. She was pretty much the first of the mom bloggers. I doubt someone starting out now would have the same success without promotion no matter how talented they may be.

I also have to disagree that if every post was written with passion we wouldn't need promotion.

I have a much larger following now than I did two years ago. When I repost something from early in my travels, it generally gets hundreds of hits. When I first posted, the exact same content had maybe 20 visitors. Or when I remix something from my blog and post it on Matador, suddenly, a post that gets hundreds on my blog, gets thousands on Matador.

I also want to be clear that when I talk about marketing and PR, I mean something far more than hits to the website as related to Twitter. I wouldn't be editor at Matador were it not for Twitter.

I first heard about the Life editor availability from another Vicky Baker of Going Local Travel. I immediately e-mailed Julie Shwietert whom I'd met through Audrey of Uncornered Market. Julie passed along my blog address to David.

Audrey e-mailed me after she read an AOL article about me that had been forwarded to her by her mom. That article isn't even online anymore, and I didn't go out looking to be part of it. But when I was featured on AOL's main page, I suddenly saw what promotion can do for a website.

That's when I began putting just a little bit of my effort in that direction.

The effort you put into content on your website shows as well, and I in no way intend to say that any of my fellow travel bloggers are coasting on promotion while lacking in content. I do think, though, content being mostly equal, that those who do more PR will be more popular than those who don't.

Christine Gilbert

Yes, a blog with zero traffic will do well to do some promotion... I was just trying to point out that after a certain point, it doesn't make a difference. I started at zero readers too! Just offering a different perspective. Cheers!

Leigh Shulman

I'm curious to know at what point marketing no longer matters.

Because massive brands like Nike, Oprah, Coke have enormous marketing departments and campaigns.

And on a smaller scale, brands like Problogger continue to market and cross pollinate with groups like Third Tribe.

Plus, I don't know any blogger who doesn't attempt to up their hits through Stumble, Digg and the link.

I hear your different perspective, I'm just not sure it bears out as a model to follow.

Christine Gilbert

Wow, you're taking what I said and applying it to "marketing in general". That’s called a straw man: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Straw_man

I feel like maybe I offended you, and if that's the case, I apologize. Maybe there's a tone in my comment that I'm not seeing. I'm not saying I have a model figured out... as I mentioned in my original comment, even the most popular travel blogger is still small potatoes in the big scheme of things.

I was addressing the self-promotion stuff you said you didn't have time to do. I was saying, don't do it.

I hear this argument a lot "My content is equally good, the only reason why I'm not more read is because the other guy is promoting more".

That's an assumption. I'm saying that guy might be promoting, but it's not the deal breaker. A person's writing might be "good" but is it sticky? Is it attention grabbing? Does it give people something they want? Does it met an unspoken need in your reader?

In my opinion, I think people often overlook the stickiness factor. Why aren’t the top bloggers all award winning travel journalists? It’s not about the quality of the writing. Why aren’t the top bloggers all hotel search companies with the inclination and budget to promote endlessly? Because it’s not all about the social media push. I think the people who do well use social media smartly but more importantly they fill a niche content-wise. And they do it better than you and me.

Leigh Shulman

No, definitely no offense taken here. Perhaps my tone, which is only intended to be very straightforward, comes across that way?

I don't think it's the so-called straw man. Marketing is marketing and I talk about it both in larger terms and in terms of travel blogging.

Beyond that, I don't think anyone here is saying the "Oh, poor me. I'd be so much better read if only." It's more a lament for situations in which marketing -- generally or travel blog related -- becomes more important than content. Which does happen a bit too much for my admittedly idealist taste.

The general consensus, I'd say, in comments here would say that yes content is generally most important. There may be times that it is not, but many of us seem to feel we'd rather focus on quality content nonetheless.

soultravelers3

Interesting post & conversation! I can relate and I do agree "that content takes second seat to marketing and public relations" & that it is frustrating. Especially since the whole system can be gamed & IS gamed regularly. I watch the gamers and those they fool, but have no interest in playing the game. I want a real life and I like to follow my own drum.

If one is actually traveling ( which we have been doing non-stop as a family since 2006 & educating our young child as we tour the world) who the heck has time to market and do PR? Even when I can get online ( and we go days unplugged without any) it is usually at a slow and totally frustrating speed.

Most travel bloggers are not traveling. Making money blogging is hard enough, but trying to do that while actually traveling is something else. I added a paralyzed dominant right arm to the mix these last 9 months....stilll healing that...& still haven't caught up with my email...& may never.

Just keeping up with a once a week post is about all I can do & have periods that I don't even do that. I've yet to write one press release, take one press trip, rarely have time to comment on other blogs, have never been to any conferences to meet other bloggers, know nothing about SEO, have no idea how to even read my google analytics, I don't even know how to figure out how many subscribers I have etc etc.

Yet, many have called us thought leaders in our niche. We have been featured in the New York Times, UK Guardian called us " travel gurus", we're case studies in the mega hit "The 4-Hour Workweek", our very first Youtube travel video went viral with well over a million views ( we've had more viral videos than any other single travel blogger that I know of), we've appeared in lots of international media ( have yet to even get a chance to put it up on our blog in a press page), we won two Lonely Planet Best Travel Awards ( but haven't had time to figure out how to get started with blogsherpa, nor have we gotten it up on our front page) and top literary agents came to us and convinced us to write a book, etc etc.

None of this was planned & all of it came to us ( usually out of the blue!) so I don't think that you necessarily have to market, play games or do PR.

Yet, if we did, we would probably be much farther ahead.

BUT, our reason for blogging isn't to be the number one blogger in the world. We blog primarily to share & help others, stay connected to family and friends and to keep a record for our daughter. It has never been my goal to be a writer or an author or photographer or a travel writer.

Our number one goal is freedom! We blog, photograph, make videos and do social media as a creative outlet because we have so much to share & feel it is an honor to inspire others. We could stop now & hire dozens of people to help us pour out our content ( most of it is NOT online yet) & could do that for decades without running out. But TIME is wealth in our minds & we want a life that is MUCH richer than web content & marketing.

We do enjoy the amazing connecting with people & think perhaps that is one of the BEST benefits of blogging. And not just travel bloggers, but all kinds of people. We didn't know when we started that we would be traveling the web 2.0 as we traveled the world, but that has been very rewarding and we have met the most wonderful people ( online and off). For us, it's about connecting, collaborating, communicating, community, & sharing the love.


GotPassport


What a great post.. learned so much not just from the post but the comments here.

We are so new at this blogging thing- not sure if I can participate in it the way others who have blogged for a time.

I'm here reading this post (and will likely return often) because I love the way you write, the content but most importantly, I return because of you are genuine and friendly, how you have responded to me on many occasions. Frankly, I get turned off by those who are not (friendly, that is) even if they have good content. Content may bring me to a website but if the author is not friendly and genuine, I have little reason to return on a regular basis. That's me though.

We are learning about the travel blogging world, about our selves in it from everything we read to everyone we interact with.

Great post like this and the comments provide us with a lot of information.

cheers.

Craig

Leigh (and whanau!),

Firstly, thanks so much for hosting us during our recent short sojourn in Salta. It really was a magical few days and such a special place and group of people. If we ever have a home, it's open to you.

Secondly, and to the crux of this post and comment stream, I really appreciate the frustration you feel. Linda and I both come from quite 'literate' backgrounds, studying English at Uni and playing with our own creative writing. The quality of writing is our highest priority.

Indie Travel Podcast doesn't really work like a "blog"; submitted writing is fact-checked by one person, edited by someone else, and sometimes photos and layout done by someone else. Then, if it passes final editorial approval, it's published. We really do care about content: the quality of our writing and that which we publish.

Then again, without traffic we don't earn money and would struggle to keep travelling. We do SEO analysis and implementation, various marketing techniques and work our arses off to be present in the travel blogging space and help out everyone who asks for it in practical ways.

But we're certainly not desk-bound: we travel full-time, and have for over 4 years. There have been 3 periods where we stopped for around 6 months but other times we'll go through 7 countries in 7 days. So how do we keep it up? Luckily (or evily?) success breeds success: because we've grown strongly over 3 years of blogging we've managed to attract great writers and a group of interns who give us time each week in return for learning some of the tricks of the trade. And volunteer audience members who give us an hour or two to help out each week. It's amazing and truly humbling to have people who are helping you build your dream.

So, how to conclude this written ramble? I don't know. I guess I'm just outlining another type of travel blogging, set with it's own frustrations and great joys.

Leigh Shulman

You make a great point, Aye. One of my favorite things about blogging is the connection with other people.

As more people come to this site, I find myself less and less able to keep up with everyone in the way I'd like.

You, Craig, Christine and others here have in different ways pointed out that there are different types of blogging. I don't think anyone would say, "Hey, no. Please don't visit my site. I don't want too many hits." And yes, content and personal character of the blogger is important, too.

I'd just hate for the importance of those two things be only 30% of blogging (as suggested by the article on Problogger).

And I do fear that while many bloggers are not at that point or even close, that we are heading in that direction.

Leigh Shulman

You're 100% right, Craig. And watching you work while everyone else went out into Salta for the day, showed me exactly how much work it really is when you blog as a living even with a team of volunteers helping out.

I've often thought maybe I should just go for it, just do it and try to make this blog a real business. But the bottom line is I don't want to do the marketing. And not just marketing. It's all the business stuff that goes along with it. All the things you mention as well as many others that you dont' specifically say here.

It's a huge amount of work.

Thus, I content myself to grow slowly, see where things go, meet great people and do my other work for money.

And yes, it was really wonderful having all four of you here. Now that everyone has left, the house is all quiet. Which is nice, too. But those days of chaos, 10 people running around the house, blogging, eating, more blogging and eating and talking. Chasing the dog from eating someone's hat, then making another pot of coffee.

It was all kind of perfect.

Leigh Shulman

I apologize for not responding to your comment earlier. There's a lot in there, and I wanted to take some time to think on it before replying.

I think you and others are correct in pointing out that content does drive interest. That is a great thing to hear. If I look at my own blogging, I find that to be the case as well. I won't appeal to everyone. And there are most definitely things I could do to push numbers, but for now, I don't see that as a priority.

I think it was that Problogger article that just got to me. I specifically mention marketing here in this post, but as you and Craig mentions below, there are plenty of other things to do when running a successful money-making blog.

This discussion, overall, has actually helped me see things a bit differently. I think it is my fear that content will become third rate and not matter. And as I'm a writer, I don't want to see that happen.

But when I look at the people who have commented here. Yes, mostly travel bloggers, but all of whom represent such a wide range of content and experience, it leaves me feeling a lot better about the whole topic.

Thanks, again, for your comment. And congratulations and good luck with all your upcoming projects.

Christine Garvin

Just read an article that reminded me of your post:

http://frankkern.com/?p=4

Forget marketing. Just be cool and give stuff away :)

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