A few weeks ago, I was doing some marketing research for my Facebook page. When I tried to figure out what other pages people had liked in relation to MY page, it was mostly a whole lot of Newfoundland business pages. I thought it was kinda funny, because a friend had done similar research, and HIS matches were mostly other travel blogs.
If that doesn’t make sense it’s because I don’t actually know much about marketing so writing that entire first paragraph is like me spewing facts about medicine and astronomy and romance. NONSENSE.
The bottom line is this: My biggest audience is my fellow Newfoundlanders, without a doubt. And for this little supportive community I’ve built around me, I am incredibly grateful.
These days, I am consistently stopped in the street or at a bar in St. John’s by a reader who seems bewildered by what I do and how I do it. I’ve been on several coffee dates with people who are curious about how I cracked the travel blog and writing scene, and mostly I sit there clutching my coffee and pretending like I know what I’m doing. “I have no idea what I’m doing,” I say. “Seems to work for me.” Then I throw vomit-worthy words into the conversation like “SEO marketing” and “native advertising” and “unique page views” to further support my image as Wandering Douchebag Extraordinaire until I bore the poor person to tears and they never contact me again.
(I’m so kidding. I actually love meeting you to DEATH.)
Here, in Bay d’Espoir where I grew up, I can’t walk five feet without someone asking me where I’m going next. Let me tell you, it’s a weird feeling to have all eyes on you. Especially when you HAAAAATE being the centre of attention (lol says a narcissist blogger). And sometimes I get annoyed by people thinking the only thing in my life is travel, when my biggest passions are actually writing and literature.
And I guess that’s where the blog scene gets more than discouraging at times, because even though being a brilliant blogger and a brilliant writer aren’t mutually exclusive, you certainly don’t need to have an inkling of writing talent to succeed. Sometimes it feels like people only care about page views and social stats, not the actual writing quality. And sometimes it feels like the blog world is one big circle jerk full of mundane headlines and overused adjectives. I quit all the Facebook travel blogging groups because people were nasty and vindictive with one another. BUT! BUT! Then there are all the good things, like community support and the fact that bloggers responded SO INCREDIBLY KINDLY when Dave Bouskill of ThePlanetD broke his back recently. And the fact there’s a whole massive campaign launched to save rhinos, and it’s wonderfully organized.
Wait, where was I going with that? Oh yeah. So even though there are a ton of ups and downs, you readers keep me humble. You allow me to take a step back and think, oh hey, this is actually pretty cool. It’s thrilling, and flattering, and very surprising to know people are reading.
And if you ARE wondering, the truth is this: I actually have no idea what I’m doing, but I followed my dreams and worked really hard and somehow it worked out and sometimes people pay me to do things because they like reading my stuff and they follow me on Twitter. WHAT A NOVEL CONCEPT! I also make less than $30k a year, travel most of the year, paid off my credit debt, manage my life-sucking student loans, and still manage to afford vegetables from Sobey’s. Turns out you don’t actually need much money to be free.
I have often struggled to define what it means to be a Newfoundlander, as I point out in this interview with Daily Travel Podcast. The sense of community on this big, rocky island is kinda crazy. Being a Newfoundlander is such an engrained sense of identity, it’s impossible to shake. No matter where you go in the world, you’re a Newfoundlander first and foremost. And I love that. It’s tattooed on my skin.
This blog post isn’t meant to slight my other readers from around the globe – not at all. I am endlessly grateful for your attention, and your comments, and your support. This upcoming year is already filled with travel plans: a sailing trip around Greece, an archaeological dig in Spain, three weeks in Hawaii, moving to Berlin, a trip from Vegas to the Grand Canyon. And I hope you’ll follow me along for the journey.