I’ve always been a daydreamer and used to get into serious trouble while in elementary school for drawing in my notebook and staring off into space. Even at seven years old I was dreaming of faraway lands, exotic adventures, and amazing moments. It frustrated my parents to no end that they would get called for a conference with my teachers who would show them the evidence of my daydreaming in class. I didn’t have a problem learning the material, as my test scores were always in the high percentile. I just knew what I was interested in, and it wasn’t mathematical equations or chemical compounds.
In going through some old boxes, I found some of the stories I wrote when I was a child and through college. This gave me a wake-up call regarding my place in life with blogging and why I initially put my words online. I seem to have lost my way somehow, worrying about SEO (search engine optimization) and spending too much time dealing with advertising enquiries. Blogging as a business can take away the fun of why we all began our blogs.
First comes the temptation of seeing one of your blog posts rank high in the search engines. It’s a thrill. An adrenaline rush similar to drugs. You want to figure out how to capitalize on the traffic and realize that it’s because you wrote about a specific topic. You begin to veer away from your true writing self and end up penning lists of top or best items.
Next comes the first paid advertising enquiry or sponsorship. You are amazed that anyone would want to pay YOU to have their logo on your site for a few bucks a month. A few advertisers may even ask you to write a story about their product, and they’ll pay you a few dollars more, you just need to include a link to their company with a few key words included. Here is yet another temptation that takes you off the path of why you began to blog and write online, should you choose to do this. You then find yourself spending more time writing what others want you to write instead of the topics that make you happy.
Online communities can seem to be a boon and godsend when you first discover them. It’s other people looking to learn about the same things you are searching for. Only, after a while you can see through some of the personalities in these communities and realize you’ve been wearing rose colored glasses for way too long. Most of these people just want what you have and they will befriend you to find out your secrets of success and then step on you as they climb and claw their way up to what they perceive as the top of the pile. There are some truly genuine people out there wanting to help, but they’re sometimes hidden inside the sea of community and you have to look hard to find them.
Then, at some point, you may end up being asked to speak at conference or give a talk on social media. You feel on top of the world because someone recognized that something you always knew was inside of you and the knowledge you have that you just want to share. But then, you realize that you’re spending even more of your time preparing the presentations and traveling to a destination that you’ll only experience from the inside of a few conference rooms and possibly a catered buffet from a local restaurant. You’ll sit in your hotel room and wonder how you got there and at point did you lose your purpose in travel writing.
Depressing, isn’t it? You just want to write, but in doing so you end up losing yourself as you try to be an entire publication staff. You aren’t just a writer once you start a blog. You become publisher, IT person, advertiser, marketer, publicist, sales, editor, accountant, and many other things. Don’t get me wrong, there have been some unbelievable moments and I’ve met some amazing people on this journey. I never would have imagined I’d be featured on Good Morning America about travel blogging for money.
While everyone is busy writing their New Year’s resolutions about losing weight or being nice to their in-laws, I’ve made a decision to make 2011 my year of personal writing. I now have an ad rep company to handle the basic ad enquiries that come in, however I’ll still handle sponsorship requests. I want to finish that book I’ve been working on, before my days here run out (whenever that may be). I want to write more stories that make me smile when I read them or when the kids find them when they’re older, such as camping with the kids in Kisatchie National Forest or spending an afternoon alone exploring the small Louisiana town of Ponchatoula.
Just before Christmas, I found out Mr. Miyagi has grown a bit. I’ve got a few more important things I want to do in the next few months and since my clock is ticking hard core, I’m going to be selfish in 2011 and do things for me, while I can. I’m getting back to why I started blogging in the first place and I plan on enjoying the heck out of every moment and will continue to celebrate every day.
What are your plans and personal declarations for 2011?