If you consider yourself a travel blogger, I have a question for you: Do your travels determine your blogging? Or does your blogging determine your travels?
In other words, does your blogging life – your online persona and community – actively play a role in how you choose your travel destinations and activities?
If you are not in the travel blogging world, but you happen to be in the metaphor business, a similar question applies to you: How much of what you do is motivated from within?
If this looks like a twist on the career advice, “Do what you love and the rest (i.e., the satisfaction, success, money, etc.) will follow,” it is.
What the heck is the metaphor business?It’s one in which, as you have an experience, you undertake and capture it in a way that can somehow be shared or monetized later. If you are a travel writer, travel photographer, lifestyle writer, or food writer, you’ll probably know what I mean.
The Travel Blogger Example
We once assumed that most travel bloggers do as we do: choose an itinerary based on their own interests and write about their experiences. But a few articles came across our RSS readers earlier this year in fact underscoring that others take a wholly different approach. They actively choose and tune their travel trajectory based on what they perceive will be of interest to their readers, even if other destinations or activities may be of greater interest or better suited to them.
This is a deliberate choice, but it does cast light on the relationship between an experience, reflections on that experience, the consumption of those reflections by an audience and the influence of audience reaction on future decisions.
We began this blog to share our around-the-world journey. Along the way, we hoped to use and hone our writing and photography skills to engage readers in travel as a gateway to understanding our world (and hopefully becoming less fearful of it). As we've executed, we’ve made inroads into the travel blogging world — and in turn we've realized that there are myriad approaches to and reasons for travel blogging. And as our understanding of the blogging world evolves, we regularly examine and question our own approach.
Although we occasionally call out to our community for guidance, we generally make itinerary choices based on what we believe will engage us and teach us something.
We understand that we sometimes do this to our own online peril. For example, an article about kids working the mines in Bolivia is interesting to some and a meaningful issue that we believe both deserves attention and accurately reflects our travel experience. To us, it’s worth the effort to write. However, we're aware that it’s not a particularly hot travel topic primed for viral success.
Tomato-throwing caveat: One approach to travel blogging is not inherently better than another; each has value and satisfies different needs. I ask the question below not with a specific answer in mind, but as an open inquiry. I’m curious about the relationship between the experiences you choose and your audience.
Do you travel to blog or do you blog to travel?