Travel blogging is by far the longest job I’ve ever had. Before this one, the longest I stayed in one position was two years. I was never cut out for working for someone else.
I never thought I would have been cut out for the entrepreneurial life, but hey here I am and that is part of life’s surprises. Or, how much you can actually surprise yourself.
I realised the other day that our blog has just turned seven.
Fitting that the seven-year itch comes right when we’ve relocated to the US. It’s a seriously big moment with our blog. Just like the seven-year itch they say so commonly brings apart marriages, we were facing the same with our blog.
Either stay in Australia, plateau and wither away due to a loss of passion and things to talk about, or make a gigantic swing shift, reignite the passion, do something risky and fun.
To celebrate I’m sharing seven of the biggest things I’ve learned within that seven years.
I’m talking about the more important stuff – the huge shifts within me. Because that is a large part of why I continue on this journey because it keeps bringing me to a better version of myself. And of course, you create who you are anyway, so who you become is your biggest asset of all.
We’ve had a lot of success with this blog in terms of numbers, accolades, income and even awards. None of that matters, I could give that away in a heartbeat. What I love and cherish the most is the journey travel blogging has taken me on and I’m not just talking about in flyers miles.
It’s been an unfolding of myself and it’s that leap of faith towards that journey that has allowed magic to happen.
7 Travel Blogging Lessons Learned
1. Just give it a go and see
You don’t have to know everything and have all your ducks in a row before you try something. Just give it a go and see.
I’ve learned this a lot when working with brands and creating my own products. Most of the time you’re slinging shit against the wall hoping it will stick. We’ve been wading in uncharted waters, but have worked it out because we’ve given it a go.
I laugh at the boldness of ourselves now when I look back at us pitching Tourism Australia when we only had 14,000 visitors a month. That seemed like a huge amount of traffic at the time, and it’s nothing to sneeze at, but I’ve learned we needed a lot more backing us than that when talking to a brand as big as Tourism Australia, but our kahunas were big and it was that that helped us work things out.
We didn’t know how to create a proposal so we researched and asked for help. We pitched and were rejected but learned a lot in the process. I didn’t fall in a failure heap. It was just a lesson. We refined and got better with each new pitch.
We still fail on what feels like a daily basis, but at least we’re out on the field getting filthy dirty. It’s growing our strength and confidence and has helped us get better.
Don’t be afraid to tell people you don’t know what you’re doing, or you’re trying something new. It’s amazing how many people will help.
I’m not one for waiting until things are perfect. I’ll just have a go and see. That helps me learn faster than any other method. It works, I celebrate. It doesn’t, I refine. Simple.
Because of this getting dirty we’ve now created marketing materials and proposals that make people sit up and pay attention. They’re surprised and excited and sometimes, they even ask if we’ll help create something like that for them.
It’s come about not because we have any skills or talents, but because we’ve given it a go every time and have been open to learning and okay with failing.
2. If you don’t know something, figure it out
I’ve been doing my best lately in my home-schooling classes to teach my daughter, Kalyra, valuable lessons about getting stuck and not knowing something. She’s been leaving a few blanks for answers on her vocab spelling work.
It’s okay not to know something, but she’s just been saying, “I don’t know therefore I don’t do.”
I’ve been talking to here about how powerful we are to figure it out.
1. Take some time to use our brain and see if you can figure it out:
- can you connect to something you already know?
- can you move the pieces of the puzzle around?
- can you test and see if it works?
- can you eliminate the things you know it can’t be, and get down to logical reasoning?
2. There’s the power of Google. Now back in the old days, we had to pull out the dictionary, know how to look for a word using alphabetical order and then find the definition. All our kids have to do is type or speak into Google.
Besides being able to put a sentence together, albeit badly, I didn’t know anything else about how to start a travel blog or writing. Imagine if I just left the page blank. I figured it out. Now I’m stunned at what I can do.
The power of Google has helped immensely. I’ve taken an infinite number of courses that empower me every day and up my skill level. I absolutely love it.
Now I embrace the challenge when I come to that place of being stuck. I’m not interested in being lazy and pretending it’s not there. I’m ready to dive in and figure it out because it’s just so rewarding and I only grow myself. Which leads me to my next point…
3. Act like the person you want to be so you can grow into it
I’ve figured out that goal setting goes deeper than creating lists of achievements and things to check off.
Getting what you want is less about what you do and more about who you become. As Wayne Dyer always said,
“You create who you are.”
So for now, when I plan for my future and look to what I want, I consider, who do I have to be to create that.
If I don’t have it yet, then it’s obvious I am not yet the person who is ready for it. I have things to learn. I have space to grow. So my focus then becomes on growing into that person.
The first step is to act like you already are this person.
This idea came to me as a lesson I’ve learned recently when I was preparing for my TBEX talk in Alabama in early May. (if you want to come, I have a code for 30% off. Just use CAZ30)
I was thinking of my process for creating the talk and how in my head I envision a stage and a performance that could make the TEDx stage.
I do this with every talk I’ve done. When it comes time to get up on stage, I’m as nervous as hell, but I take a deep breath, put my faith in the journey, connect to the present moment and do my best to deliver something that is engaging and valuable to those watching.
Is it TEDx worthy? I highly doubt it.
But, if I didn’t have that approach and vision in the first place, I would probably hide behind the podium and mumble from my notes. Instead, I reach out to the person I want to be and give it my best shot. With each talk, I get better and better.
It’s about becoming the best version of yourself. When you do, success follows.
Success in blogging and business is about the value exchange. If you increase your value as a person – who you are, what you can offer and deliver, a value that matches that will be returned to you.
It all starts with you. You don’t deserve or are entitled to anything – you earn it by being and offering more value.
4. Be Vulnerable and have a purpose bigger than yourself
I think we’ve had success with our blog because people connect to us and our mission.
We are not travel bloggers because of what we can get out of it, we do it to help others. I think our purpose shines through in our communication and how we relate to our community.
Our readers feel a part of our tribe, our family, and our adventures.
We invite them in, we share our mission, we share our vision, we share our struggles and our victories. It’s that openness and vulnerability that helps people feel safer to be the same.
It’s damn scary sharing your innermost thoughts and laying your heart so open in a public forum. You get a bit of that on our blog, but those in our VIP email tribe get a much deeper insight:
Sometimes I cower after hitting send as I’m waiting for the reply repercussions. They rarely happen. Our community is just so beautiful. But I won’t stop sharing because I know that,
openness and vulnerability gives our readers hope, it helps them feel sane, it helps them gain belief in themselves and their journey and what is possible.
So I will keep letting them in and opening up even more because of this and no matter how uncomfortable it makes me feel. I will keep caring about our community and going above and beyond to help them live lives that thrill them.
5. Relationships are key (and fulfilling)
I love the wide variety of people we have met as a result of travel blogging.
I love meeting new people, which means I’ve been more inclined to get out there and build relationships, which has helped me to see how valuable this is for success. It’s valuable for fulfilment and connection too.
So much of what we have achieved has come about because of the people we know. It’s true what they say. But, this is not in a sleazy, conniving way.
It’s about know, like and trust. People are going to help those they know, like and trust. So just get out and meet people.
We feel it more keenly now as we enter a new world in the US. We had built many valuable relationships in Australia which helped us grow and prosper. Now, we’re tiny fish in a huge, foreign bowl. One of our focuses is to start building those relationships.
We began doing that before we left Australia and now we’re in the US, we’re attending travel blogging conferences, setting up meetings and being open to engaging with amazing people.
When it comes to building relationships, it’s not just about what you can get from someone.
It’s about collaboration, cooperation, and just having a fun time getting to know new and interesting people.
Things tend to just evolve from natural interactions that are easy and giving.
Moving one step up is masterminding. We have recently begun doing this more with a few people we trust and know we can learn from and offer something too.
Masterminding is an amazing way to grow your business and build your strengths. I highly recommend creating your own mastermind group to help you be accountable, to give you ideas, and help you become profitable. It’s a valuable source of motivation and encouragement.
6. Discomfort is where the growth happens – plateau is the dangerous place
If things aren’t working, it’s very easy to look sideways and blame others or get cranky at those who are doing better than you but CLEARLY ARE NOWHERE NEAR AS GOOD AS YOU.
We’ve all had those dummy spits so don’t worry. Pick yourself up, brush yourself off and take a bloody reality check.
Your success has nothing to do with anyone else. If you’re stuck or plateauing, it is because you are missing something. You have fears, blocks, limitations, or your focus is on the wrong place.
You have not yet become the person ready for the success you desire.
Bring it back to you.
Why is this not working? What am I missing? What can I do? Do I need to improve my skills, learn from new people, try something new, innovate, create, tell a better story, communicate better, relate more to my audience?
We have changed so much about our business over the past seven years because of the huge discomfort we have felt in not excelling in areas or being too comfortable, aka complacent.
Sometimes you can get comfy when your numbers are high and the money is flowing in, but comfort like that in this business does not last long.
Someone’s coming up behind you innovating better than you and things change very quickly especially when it comes to algorithms etc. You have to be constantly upgrading your skills, trying new things, refining, failing and starting all over.
It’s why this USA trip that we have called America Unplugged is so important for us – it’s the new uphill climb.
The Australian plateau hit and I hated it. I realised, as mentioned above, I love the journey, but I love that journey more if it involves a climb and doing things that fucking scare me.
I mean doing things that make me so uncomfortable that it stretches out those zones and breaks apart the old me to introduce something better. I love this constant testing of my capabilities and proving that I’m more powerful than measure.
I don’t say that from an egotistical viewpoint, but to share with you that you are too – it’s a strength of spirit thing and soul based work that we all came here to do.
7. Everything moves in cycles and involves chaos
When you have your own business, especially one as dynamic and uncertain as travel blogging, you become very attuned to the ebbs and flows and cycles.
Now, you do have to have a keen sense of awareness to notice these. I do my 30 Days to Money Mindfulness over and over again, which helps me pick out theses cycles and has taught me so much about change and the chaos we go through when change arrives. I keep a tight rein on monitoring our income and expenses so I totally understand the cycles.
I keep a tight rein on monitoring our income and expenses so I totally understand the cycles.
January and February are typically slow months for us. These are the months where my fear starts kicking in. I lose faith in the journey, but sure enough, come March and April things are kicking into swing again and I can see how it works and how I’m supported. I’ve taken a giant leap of fear one after the other.
I’ve taken a giant leap of fear one after the other.
I know exactly how this works now because I use hindsight to see the patterns and connect the dots.
I know this giant leap into our US travel is one that we can take. I’m aware of the fear, I’m aware of how I fall apart before it, I know this is all the chaos of change. I have faith to follow through with it because I know that I’ve been supported over and over again. I can see how it has played out in my life over and over again.
The pattern of writer’s block – not being able to write. I’ve had it for the past few months as I’ve been consumed in getting stuff done leaving Australia. I just could not focus on writing, no new words would come out or inspiration. I didn’t fret or fear, I just knew this was a part of the cycle of growth.
I was simply in an absorption phase.
My mind and soul was learning and finding ways to understand this new world and how I could fit into it and my body was consumed with getting healthy and preparing myself for the journey ahead.
I knew just to flow with it and yep, as has proven to me over and over again, the day would come when the words would just flood out. This post is one of those – written in about half an hour. Just before it came two more posts – whoa I had to shout to hold it up!
Now I have faith in the journey again. I’ve moved through the chaos, I’ve created something new, I’m ready to roll.
This blog has helped me to sharpen these tools of awareness and connectedness I have.
Now I embrace the chaos, I know what to do I know how to manage the cycles, I know when change is necessary, I know how to reach forward to become the person who can manage the change, and what to do so I can reach up to a new level.