Where we’re at: As I started to write my seventh travelversary and blogaversary posts, I realized that while I paid tribute to my sixth travelversary, I never celebrated the blogging milestone! (The contents of this post may somewhat explain why.) I didn’t want to have a gap in my annual recaps, so I’m making it up with an abbreviated version here. Look out for year seven coming at ya next week.
My sixth year of blogging was a pivotal one. Looking back from the future, it seems that I may have crashed and burned a tad after hitting the half decade mark of self employment. And how did that manifest for me? The way it would for any lifetime wanderluster — an intense spree of personal travel and some general shirking of responsibilities. Do anything for six years, and I think you need to put conscious effort into staying present and engaged in it.
It was an intense year for me personally — from blogging burnout to election and personal heartbreak — and I just kind of needed to go into hibernation to get through it. But I think when I emerged from that towards the end of the year, it was in a way that really set me up for a ton of creative breakthroughs in year seven. And despite all that was going on the scenes, I’m actually quite proud of the content that I managed to create in year six (I think it was some of my best ever!)
My Year in Blogging // By The Numbers
• Posts Written: 104. This was my lowest number of posts written in a year ever, and I think kind of reflects how burned out and run ragged I was. Hawaii in particular seemed to break something in me — I kind of broke my obsessive, years long stretch of regular posting for the first time ever while we were there, and it was hard to get that back once I realized the world didn’t fall apart as a result.
• Comments Replied To: 4,565.
• Group Press Trips: 2, kind of, to Universal Studios — though they were both part of a year-long, paid ambassadorship with the brand that also involved an individual trip, so I’m not sure they’d really fall under what this category once meant for me.
• Influencer Campaigns: 6. I worked on paid content creation campaigns with Travel Manitoba on a trip to Winnipeg and Churchill, Universal Orlando Resort on a trip to Orlando, Thompson Airlines on a trip to New York, Visit Florida on a trip to St. Pete, Viator on tours in California, and PADI on multiple dive destinations I visited.
• Brand Partnerships: 7. This was an incredible year for me on this front — I partnered with brands like Dramamine Non-Drowsy Naturals, Lycored, Carnival, Avis, New York Lottery, Square Cash, and Skillshare on projects that were travel related, but didn’t necessarily require me to get on a plane.
My Year in Blogging // By The Blog Posts
I look back at my sixth year of content and I’m proud of so much of it! I tried to write more useful informative posts while still keeping my voice, and I wrote a staggering amount of Thailand content, which really planted the seed for a future Koh Tao ebook in a big way.
Blogaversary Five: How I Make and Spend Money Blogging • My Thirteen Favorite US Travel Destinations • New Year, New Passport Stamps: My Travel Plans for 2017 • Why I Didn’t Get Lasik • Why I Don’t Delete Mean Blog Comments • Surprise! I’m In The United Kingdom • Kicking the Can: How I Broke My Addiction to Diet Coke
Glamping Among The Elephants: A Journey to Khao Sok • Street Art, Sunset and Sugarloaf: The Perfect Last Day in Rio de Janeiro • Seeking Thailand’s Deep South in Satun • Angkor Wat Photography Tips • The Beauty of Two Million Bats: Touring Pak Chong
Eight Secrets of Brazilian Beach Culture • Belugas, Bears and Blooms: Summer in Churchill • Serene in Siem Reap: Dreaming of Navutu Dreams • A Warm Bem Vindo to Brazil: Exploring São Paulo’s Vila Mariana • Why Winnipeg? Taking the Pulse of Canada’s Heartbeat • Under Jericoacoara’s Spell: A Brazilian Backpacker Paradise
Most Disastrous Travel Meltdowns Melted
The Complete Guide to Visiting Koh Yai National Park Independently • Is Koh Tao Safe for Travelers? • Martha’s Vineyard On a Budget — Yes, It’s Possible! • How to Create a DIY Health Retreat in Thailand • Two Tanks Are Better Than One: My Review of the PADI Sidemount Course • What’s Keeping You Out of the Ocean? Debunking Diving Myths • How Much Does Tomorrowland Brasil Cost? • Inside My Bag: What To Pack For Two Weeks in the United Kingdom • Taking Care of My 3.57lb Best Friend: Tips for Traveling with Your Laptop • White Rice and Wild Adventures: Five Tips for Picky Eating Travelers
Greatest Adventures Shared
Planning a winery tour of Thailand • Spending the night in a floating tent in Khao Sok • Touring a favela in Brazil • Helicopter Riding over Los Angeles with my dad for Father’s Day • Partying at Wonderfuit • Befriending Beluga Whales in Manitoba • Staying in a treehouse in Bangkok • Hang gliding in Rio • Spending Day of the Dead in the City of Angels • Surviving Tomorrowland Brasil
Best Brand Collaborations
Beating The Post-Travel Blues with Skillshare • Get On Board: My Cruising Bucket List • Two Flights for Two: A Review of the Square Cash App • Car Rentals for Introverts: A Review of the Avis Now App • The Wanderland Essential Holiday Travel Apps • Florida Fanatic: My Summer Plans for the Sunshine State
My Year in Blogging // By Business
Guys, this was a crazy year behind the scenes at Wanderland HQ! It was really a year of the good, the bad, and the ugly. The really good? I earned enough (and got my shit together enough) to set up a retirement account for the first time. Pow! I was approached by an incredibly regular basis by top travel brands to work together, which made me feel like dang, I am doing this.
In addition to the branded content and travel campaigns outlined above, I continued to generate revenue from my affiliate programs, from display ads, and from my Featured Blogger program. Fun little projects that kept things fresh included a destination sponsored paid Twitter chat, experimenting with some travel consulting on a start up (since folded) called Plansify, and renting out my place on Airbnb when I was traveling (I had fun being a host!)
Finally, it was my last year of doing any link sales, which really shows how the tables have turned after that was the way I earned my very first dollar blogging. (If you want to know what those are, read this post.)
For the bad, kinda — my management company and I parted mutually towards the end of the year as they decided to move in a different direction than blogger representation. I am so grateful for the time we worked together and am open to doing so again in the future, but agreed it was time to part ways when we did. Also, sadly, my partner of many many years, Viator, ended their blog ambassador program at the very beginning of the year, which was a sad goodbye.
And the ugly. Gosh, some weird stuff happened this year. I had some true business disasters on a level I hadn’t experienced before. Some were surprising but easy to recover from — creating content for a project via an agency I was eager to work with and then having the sponsor pull out, for example.
Others were messier, like signing on for a big budget travel campaign only to have the contract negotiations between my management and the brand’s management go incredibly awry (turns out, I wasn’t the first blogger they’d bamboozled) and getting issued a significant kill fee for a project for the first time in my life.
Others were even more stomach turning, like sponsored trips that had elements I wasn’t comfortable with, and having to negotiate that internal conflict in a serious way for the first time in my blogging career. The anxieties of entrepreneurship, I guess I spent this year learning, go beyond late payments and long hours — the bigger your business grows, the more complicated the struggles become.
Reflections // Room to Grow
I feel like this post has dwelled somewhat on it being a challenging year, and well, it was, in a lot of ways. I had a moment in this sixth year of travel blogging where I was about to board a flight and I actually felt like I was having a mental breakdown, and considered missing the flight on purpose and checking into an airport hotel to stare at the ceiling for a night because I was so exhausted by everything that was ahead.
But it was also, of course, a beautiful year, in so many ways. This post is about my blogging journey, but that springs first from my travels, and I went on some incredible, inspiring trips this year. I still smile when I look back and think about so, so many of my travels in year six — and the content that they generated!
As I mentioned previously, I think this year helped me realize that I needed to stretch myself creatively, and really helped plant the seed for the ebook and retreats I would develop in year seven. I did two super popular and successful reader meetups which was a lightbulb moment for me in absorbing how much I enjoy actually meeting y’all face to face. And after burning out on travel, I spent a ton of time at home in Thailand, writing about Koh Tao on a deeper level and feeling how rewarding it was to help readers plan more comprehensive trips there.
I know that I’m writing this post in retrospect with the hindsight of knowing that everything worked out okay, but I look back and I am so stinking grateful — just absolutely humbled by thankfulness that you all have given me the time and the space to grow and change this platform over the years.
Feeling stuck, behind the pack, burned out or unsure where you’re headed? Hang tight. The next rebirth might be right around the corner.
And so I will close with my traditional post wrap up, six years running, because really, it sums it all up: