Happy Birthday LLworldtour.com! You’re nine years old.
Can you believe that? I can’t. I started this little online “journal” in July 2006 to mostly keep my friends and family abreast of my travels and share some good stories and experiences from around the world.
From my first post:
It’s really happening. My heart has been pounding outside my chest for weeks now and it’s starting to hurt. I always grow anxious with anticipation over certain things in life—and this is a BIG one. I’m quitting my cushy job at ABC after 9 years and traveling the world for a year. What? Am I really doing it? It is so much easier said than done. But I think the fact that I ended the 5 year relationship with my boyfriend, sold my first condo, am about to rent out the condo I live in, and got some needles stuck in my arms (read: got vaccinated) might convince me I am.
Little did I know it would turn into a career and part of my larger profession as a freelance travel and food writer and speaker. It’s funny, I was just reading back through the replies I received to the “I quit my job” emails I sent around to friends and colleagues when I announced I was leaving to travel around the world and they just fill my heart. Some women have bridal showers or bachelorette parties. I just left to travel and my gift was getting the support of so many.
So, while I certainly learned a lot in the last several years, I still have a lot to learn and do.
Here are nine things I have learned (accompanied by many different hair styles/colors):
- I don’t exactly love blogging. Yes, I said it. While I am so fortunate to do what I do and have the freedom from a 9-5 job working for “the man” in a beige, fluorescent-lit office, I find I work even more hours than before because I can work from anywhere and my work mixes with social now more than ever. Plus, I need to work harder to make half of what I used to make. BUT this is not just because I am a blogger (although blogging is so much more work behind the scenes than you may realize), it is because I am a freelancer. We are always hustling – to find that next gig, that next idea, that next elusive paycheck.
- What I do love is that I have built such an amazing network of friends and colleagues all over the world. If it wasn’t for my blog, I would have met far fewer people than I have in the past decade. Through online blogging groups, writers groups, conferences, and social media, I often am overwhelmed by how many virtual and real life friends I have made. In fact, I often say I have to put a moratorium on meeting new people because I honestly have trouble keeping track of all the new people in my life. And that bothers me. Because I am the type of person that DOES want to see you and when I say I do, I mean it and follow through, and that takes work! I I even have to make lists, so I don’t forget who to contact when I get to other cities. I even have a list for my home city of Chicago and still make time to meet new people face to face that I’ve “met” online. It can be overwhelming, but it’s also extremely heart-warming and keeps me feeling alive.
- Blogging is just part of the puzzle. Many think I make a living off of blogging. Not exactly. Work has definitely come to me through and because of this blog, but the majority of my modest income comes from various freelance work I do – writing, photography, video coaching/consulting, speaking, sales/sponsorships, and a few random other jobs that come my way. I love the variety, but also can get bogged down with everything that I have my hand in at once. I continue to struggle with this some as it can keep me unfocused.
- I am a small fish in a big pond. When I started in July 2006, there actually were many blogs out there, but nothing like today and far fewer travel blogs. I stood out right away and got some attention and a following, but as time went on and I focused on other jobs as well, hundreds of other blogs hit the web and I honestly had no desire to “compete” and be the “top blog” or have the most followers, etc. I can’t deal with that pressure. And I don’t enjoy most of the tactics needed to do it. In fact, I still pretty much hate Twitter (although I begrudgingly use it) and would rather be looking at kitty cat videos on Facebook all day long. When I’m not doing that, I’d rather keep building my little career in an organic way and keep doing what I do best on my blog.
- Blogging has competition like any job, but often it’s just more in your face thanks to social media and its obvious role in blogging. You have to try your hardest to ignore it and not worry about “what everyone else is doing.” It’s distracting and well, so is the entire Internet.
- Blogging has also opened up so many doors and enabled me to be a part of something new and exciting and really groundbreaking. It’s a new field in the media world and is rapidly changing the media landscape. Blogs are no longer little journals written by moms in pajamas. Every big company has a blog. Everyone wants and needs content. And readers really connect with the honesty and “realness” of a blogger rather than some writers being paid by a big news organization.
- Blogging is hard, time-consuming work. Having a current a blog is like running your own magazine. I am the writer, the editor, the publisher, the photographer, the videographer, the social media marketer, the sales person, and the admin. It’s a constant cycling through all these roles and can be exhausting! It’s why I finally got help and have a few virtual assistants to help me (which still doesn’t do much as I still want everything in my voice). And it’s why I have occasional guest posts.
- I’ve also learned that blogging is not my number one passion. And I’m still trying to figure out how to fit my passions — animals, food, making things with my hands, interior design, travel, cities, urban planning, and people–into my life and work. OR maybe that’s the point, maybe I have to separate life and work more. But on the other hand, no. Life is too short and I want to keep making more time for the things that I love.
- I still want to bring you good, entertaining, and informative stories. When I love a place, I want you to know why. When I have tried and true tips to share, I want you to benefit from them. When you can’t go somewhere (yet), I want to transport you there with my photography. This has not changed from day one.
I so appreciate those of you who’ve been following along for the last nine years and for those of you who haven’t, I am so glad you are here! I hope to keep bringing you more stories and photography from my travels and would love to hear what YOU want to read about!