Sunday, June 9, 2013

Dare to do Something a Little Different

When the email arriving in my inbox last August announcing a travel blogger's conference in Toronto the following May, I thought "what the heck, I have no idea where I'll be next May, so I'm signing up!"

Between the day I signed up and the day of the conference, I had made some major changes in my life. In short, I decided to leave my job in corporate communications to go back to school full-time and finish up a degree in communications I started many years ago.  I needed a change - a change of pace and a change of direction and this decision just felt right.

So back to TBEX, " the world's largest gathering of travel bloggers, writers, and new media content creators."  As a very part-time travel blogger, I didn't know what to expect. I went as an observer - I wanted to take in the sessions and the travel blogger's vibe.  Here is what I learned from the weekend:
  1. I need a website.  A real one.  I currently blog using blogger, but if I want to get serious about blogging, I need to get clear about and organize what I want my blog to accomplish and create a website with my own domain name.
  2. I'm not sure I am a travel blogger, per se. I love blogging about my experiences in Mexico for example, but I do it because I am passionate about it, not because I'm being paid to do it. I don't think I am comfortable blogging about a destination that has compensated me to say nice things. How can my readers trust that what I am writing about is true if I am being paid to write about a place or experience? Maybe a travel blogger out there can help me make sense of this.
  3. This ties in to my previous point, but when I was focused on how I was going to make money blogging (this topic came up a lot with others too), I felt uninspired to be a part of this. But when I reflected on some of my favourite blog posts and the inspiration behind writing them, I remembered why I write. I write to share stories that will inspire others to live the life they really want to live. I'm not sure how this fits into the travel blogging business.
  4. I was inspired by Trey Ratcliffe's keynote presentation and his passion for travel photography. I now realize money can be made in other ways around travel blogging - we just need to get creative! I appreciated his photographic process as his art. His photos rock!
  5. I was also inspired by Bruce Poon Tip's presentation. He talked about the noble purpose of blogging - inspiring others to travel by bringing them our stories, and opening up the world of different cultures and countries to promote understanding and peace. He stressed the importance of experiencing a country for what it is instead of confining ourselves to all-inclusive travel compounds. What I most enjoyed was his stories about his company, g Adventures and the good they do. I realized that I want to be a part of a company like g Adventures - one that has a noble purpose, when I am finished school - either through something I create on my own, or as part of a company such as g Adventures, or some kind of combination of both.
  6. The social interactions are a big part of TBEX. I was so happy to finally meet Craig from StayAdventurous after knowing him online for about three years. Lunch at the St. Lawrence Market was the perfect place to catch up. Unfortunately I didn't have the opportunity to partake in the parties, but a couple of the other people I met at the sessions were lovely and inspiring. If I decide to attend the next conference in Dublin, I will take advantage of the social opportunities for sure.
So that was my experience. A different outcome than I expected, but really inspiring just the same. I also want to add that it was awesome to be surrounded by a group of people (1300!) who were passionate about what they do. I'm not yet sure exactly where this all fits with me, but I have a feeling travel is going to have a part.  How about you? Did you attend TBEX? I'd love to hear your comments.


Melinda Schnyder said...

Hi, Wendy, I was there for my first TBEX as well. And I also quit my job in corporate communications!

I learned a ton about blogging as well as great information about the travel & tourism industry in general. I lean more on the side of being a journalist who writes about travel in addition to other niches. I came away from TBEX understanding that you can blog without taking a bunch of freebies and it's OK to not have grand ideas of getting rich off of your travel blog.

In a roundabout way, blogging could help me financially, though. I think having a specific travel blog will help position me as an source for Midwest travel articles and I hope that eventually leads to more published travel articles!

Wendy said...

Hi Melinda, thank you so much for your comments. I think you're right and I'm starting to understand it all a little bit better!
It's nice to hear there is someone else out there on a similar path.. If you would like to connect, please send me an email at ..I would love to know more about what you are doing!