Every year in March my little old blog gets one year older, and I am so excited to share that this month The Travelista celebrates its 5th Blog Birthday. I can’t quite believe that I have been blogging for half a decade (sounds pretty crazy when I put it like that). Since graduating, my blog has driven and shaped my entire career and despite the increasing pressures of the industry, there’s still nothing else I would rather be doing. It’s nice to take some time to reflect now and again, so that’s exactly what this post is about.
In the 5 years I have been running this blog my role and ‘defining title’ has changed so much. Firstly, I called myself a Travel Writer. I created The Travelista as a way to self-publish and get myself noticed as an aspiring travel writer (you’ll notice my first ever blog post was more like a newspaper article than a personal blog post). It was my dream to write about travel for the likes of Cosmopolitan and Conde Nast Traveller, so I started to call myself a Travel Writer from day one (fake it ‘til you make it right?). I managed to contribute travel pieces to a variety of magazines and bookazines, but it seemed that nobody wanted to offer me a job, or pay me a penny. I slowly realised I had to take a change of tack if I wanted to make money out of writing.
I decided to take a job as a Digital Content Executive instead of pursuing the journalism route, so I got to hone in my writing skills in the digital world. It was at this point I also changed my defining title from Travel Writer to Blogger, as I knew I wanted to focus on writing online. Back then it really was all about the writing, which suited me perfectly. I would post long, wordy blogs with a few bad quality iPhone photos, and that really was enough. It was raw and real, and people seemed to respond well to it (it even won me a Cosmopolitan Blog Award). I feel like that’s when blogging was in its heyday, before the rise of social media, Instagram and perfectly edited photography.
How I blogged back then would not be enough to survive in the industry these days. The benchmark of quality content is so much higher and if you’re not willing to put the effort in, there will be someone else out there who will. My friend Macca Sherifi hit the nail on the head when he did a blogger-related talk at World Travel Market last year called ‘Diversify or Die’. As extreme as it sounds, it’s kind of true. The people that once defined as Bloggers are now having to become Multi-Media Content Creators, producing beautiful videos, photos and social media content that supports the ‘words’ they have always shared.
In the past few years I have created a YouTube channel, learnt to shoot and edit videos and embraced the (once scary) concept of live vlogging through Snapchat and Instagram stories. People are now consuming their content in a very different way, and we ‘bloggers’ have to embrace it or risk falling behind.
The term Influencer is becoming the more common phrase for what I do and it’s a term we bloggers are better off embracing than rejecting. It makes me sad to admit, but it’s really not just about the blogging any more. Last week Hannah Gale wrote a great post about The Slow Demise of Blogging, sharing that she had decided to focus more of her time on Instagram and social instead of posting so regularly on her blog. She pointed out that people’s attention spans are becoming shorter and people now want to consume content in short, bite sized chunks. I thought she had a really good point and her post made me think about what I should be spending my time on too. Instagram captions create the opportunity to micro-blog, and you can reach your audience without taking them away from their beloved Instagram app. Video is going to be a big focus for me going forward, as well as investing in more photography sessions to make sure I am getting the very best photos for my blog and social channels.
All this makes me realise how much blogging and social media has changed in the past 5 years and I can only wonder where we will all be in another 5 years time. Will Instagram be dead and gone? Will YouTube be the only thing we watch? Is Vero actually going to take off? It’s all a big unknown, but my plan is to embrace the new media and allow my blog to grow and evolve with me through the different stages of my life. I’ve done a lot of growing up in the past 5 years and I want to reflect that in the content I create. Through all the uncertainty of the future of blogging, I plan to continue surfing this wave for as long as I can. Here’s to the next 5 years!
From the bottom of my heart, I want to thank every single one of you who is reading this post, and who has followed me and supported my blog over the past 5 years.
What did you think of my reflective blog birthday post? How do you think the world of blogging and influencers has changed? I’d love to hear your thoughts so please do leave me a comment in the box below. Jess x
Photography by Matt McCormick