I knew nothing about blogging or the technology involved. Social media was practically non-existent – the first tweet was sent four days later and Facebook wouldn’t be available to everyone for another six months. Those colleagues who I started blogging with back then were looking for a way to turn a love of their subject matter into a paying gig, and it wasn’t always clear that it could be done. I look back on those wild west days of blogging and often shake my head and the things we did.
Travel blogging has changed a lot.
- I’ve learned enough about technology to manage a number of websites, including some of the backend stuff. I hire about the coding and other heavy lifting projects, but I’ve created a business that I can run on a day-to-day basis.
- Travel blogging, for me at least, has grown into a business, and along with that business comes typical growing pains. I’m butting up against one of those right now and it’s frustrating as I work through it and strategize a solution. It’s not all about jaunting off to exotic places in the world, it’s about being a responsible business owner (something that I never considered in 2006).
- Today it seems like a new social media network launches every week, and while there are some outliers that may make it, nothing seems to be rivaling Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram right now. The rise of the influencer on social media has created additional revenue streams, but it has also become a dragon requiring constant feeding.
- Lots of people are blogging, but few keep at it for longer than a year or two. I don’t know how many of my current colleagues were blogging back in 2006, but I’d guess it’s only a small handful. The actual writing has become only a part of what we do and to succeed has meant using other business skills like public relations, marketing, project management, accounting, and human resources.
- I joined SATW (Society of American Travel Writers), the preeminent travel writer organization, that finally recognized travel blogging as a legitimate qualification for professional membership. Along with other travel blogging colleagues who are members, we are trying to raise the bar for professional and ethical standards in the field. We’ve still got a long ways to go, but as print publications continue to close and readers continue to want content in digital formats, we intend to be part of the discussion regarding the future of travel media.
- When I first told people that I was blogging, confusion followed because no one knew what it was. Then, confusion turned to laughter as people thought it was a bunch of people in their basements making stuff up. From there it seemed like a fight for credibility, to prove that we were here to stay and to be taken seriously. We’ve earned a place at the table and we intend to take it.
My travel blogging continues to grow and change.
- Tony and I forming a media company, creating an umbrella company under which we can operate our digital properties and services. You’ll see an official announcement about that in a couple of months as we finish putting some details into place.
- We launched a new feature this year, You’ll Never Want to Leave, featuring a selection of destination that we loved so much, we didn’t want to leave. We think you’ll feel the same way, too. So far, we’ve profiled a stay at the Pantai Inn in La Jolla and the Hilton Union Square in San Francisco. Look for our March feature later this week.
- We launched a reading challenge this year (you can see the challenge here) and a companion Goodreads discussion group. If you’re a lover of books and reading or are just looking for something to take along on your next trip, you’ll find lots of recommendations in our group. Join us!
- We are putting a renewed focus on our Getaway Guides, our value luxury recommendations of places to go, what to see and do, where to stay, and what to eat and drink. We want to show you to get the most value out of your budget, and help you decide when and where to splurge – because it’s worth it – and where to save, because it’s not. You can read our Getaway Guide to Langley, Washington, here.
- We’re in the middle of a site redesign. The current site has served us well for a number of years, but it’s time for a change. While I had hoped to have it launched my now, I am constantly humbled by how long these things can take and how interrelated all decisions and changes are. I’m hopeful that it will just be a couple more weeks.
One thing that hasn’t changed is my love of travel. Experiences and events continue to shape my preferences, my bucket list continues to change (it’s not really a bucket list, just a continuously updated list of 100 travel experiences), and the type of things that I want to write about has evolved.
Another thing that hasn’t (and won’t) changed is that Traveling with MJ is about making the best of our travel opportunities. We don’t all have to like the same things, have the same travel preferences, or travel in the same way. This is a judgment-free zone, we just want you to get out and experience what this world has to offer, whether that’s across town or around the world.
Thank you for coming along on this journey for the past 12 years, and let’s make our 13th year the best one ever.