This month marks the five-year anniversary of LLworldtour — my first around the world trip and the start of this blog. It also marks the fact that the last time I worked a full time job was also five years ago. Holy cripes! When I started blogging not only didn’t I even want to have a ‘blog’, I didn’t even like the word blog. Blahhhhg. Who would want that? What is that? It sounds like something you do after a long night of drinking. ‘Oh, man I think I’m gonna blaahhhg.’
Like so many travelers I know, I just wanted an easy and fun way to keep in touch with friends and family back home. Plus having a blog, gave me some structure, something ‘to-do’ as I traveled. It gave me a home, a nucleus from which I could write and hone stories I would later pitch to publications. It gave me some work which I like. As a professional writer and television producer, I had already spent my career ‘telling visual stories’ and knew that travel, more than anything, would inspire me to write and share my photography with anyone who was interested. Little did I know that this fun and easy project would become hard, at times, all-consuming, and would turn into my full-time work.
My good friend, Traci (hi T), convinced me to start this WordPress blog as the easiest way to keep in touch and a great platform for me. Plus instead of sending out some squirrelly email, I could just have people subscribe who were interested (via Chicago start-up, Feedburner, where Traci worked, which has since been gobbled up by Google).
I had one rule when I left. I never wanted the blog to feel like a job (obviously I have broken this rule now. Always the rule breaker).I was going after my biggest dream to travel the world – with no schedule, no return date, and no pressure. I did not want the stress of ‘having to’ update my blog a certain number of times or anything like that. And for the most part that worked. I updated only when I had an interesting story to share that I knew would inform or simply entertain and hopefully make you smile or laugh. I did not post about every place or every cup of coffee…it was really about things that moved me and stories that I knew could leave an impact.
And my readers grew fast. Back then, there were fewer of us bloggers out there. I made amazing friends through this blog that I ending up meeting whenever I got to their place in the world (a shout out to all of you good friends I’ve made along the way and met through this very blog).
But, I will admit that five years later, at times, my blog has started to feel like a job. But perhaps that is simply because it has now become my job. I do make a bit of income from it and through it and I am extremely proud and thankful for that. But admittedly, there are times when I am less inspired than I used to be. Perhaps it’s simply because I’m not traveling as much as I was when I was literally living out of a bag for 3 1/2 years. Perhaps it is because sometimes ‘real’ life, and all of its ups and downs, gets in the way or clouds my love for travel.
So what do I do now? About a year ago, I was attending my second TBEX (Travel Bloggers Exchange) in New York City. Picture it, me and hundreds of others just like me, all talking about the same thing for two days. How boring is that? Don’t get me wrong – I love meeting travelers and we always have something in common, but just not en masse (that’s French. I wrote about that too…imagine that?). I know some people loved it, but I did not. I did enjoy catching up with other travel friends. But like I’ve said before, I don’t travel to blog or blog to travel. And I never wanted the two to become the same or even close. Sure I have my own audience, but unlike before when it was mostly armchair travelers and dreamers or other actual travelers, now a good portion of my audience is other travel bloggers. And let’s face it, we all end up writing about the same things one way or another. Maybe I’m a good writer and photographer (hopefully you think so), but with today’s 140-character attention spans…who has even gotten this far in this post?? We all have written about how we could afford to travel and how it’s cheaper than you think, and how it’s all about the journey, or all about the food, or all about the people you meet. Yes, it’s all those things, but, at times, I am even tired of reading about it.
But it was at TBEX that a faint light bulb of an idea starting burning in my brain. Video was exploding all over the internet. There was a panel talking about video on blogs. I thought, wait a minute, I know all this. In fact, I truly am an expert at this. There it was – my two worlds crashing together. BOOOM! Well it was more like a little ‘boom’.
So, one year later I launched LLmedia, a video consulting business and a way for me to bridge my two careers together of TV production and travel writing/photography/blogging. I am now helping other traveler bloggers and small businesses improve their video and simply learn how to make it better. I have the credentials of 15 years in broadcasting (as a director, a producer, a writer, a videographer, and practically any other job in TV production and yes with three Emmy awards), plus I taught a weekly TV Production course at Columbia College Chicago for 6 years. I’m very excited about my new venture and am giving myself perhaps another 5 years to see where it goes.
Anyway, this five-year anniversary milestone reminds me that I do not want to take things for granted. I do not want to be lazy and wasteful and live with my eyes closed. I am so very thankful for the life I have lived so far: what I have seen and done and what I strive to hopefully do. I continue to get to see the world and meet amazing people far and wide….and that is one thing I hope that never stops.
I am thankful for the freedom I have, that I’ve created in my less-cluttered life which enables me to not rush through it and to be able to absorb and feel as much as I can around me. I remember going on hikes in jungles or taking walks in cities and, since time was no factor, I felt like my senses were so much sharper than they’d ever been. I was really ‘seeing’ everything. I was smelling and tasting, hearing foreign languages, and contemplating it all inside my own head. Everything was heightened. It’s a great way to live: eyes wide open. Thanks for continuing to journey with me.
What to expect from LLworldtour in the next year:
- An overdue complete redesign
- 1-2 posts per week max.
- Interviews with ‘different’ kinds of travelers – You may recall my awesome encounter with Dino Don. I plan to bring you more traveler stories…from people that travel for varying reasons and a lot of people that do NOT blog
- More Groovy Travel Tips
- More Photo Essays
- More Video
- More Reviews
- More Travel stories as I continue to explore new places…just for shorter time periods
What else would you like to see? Please let me know in the comments!
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