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World Traveling Blogger? Puh-lease. Travel Where You live and Get Shit Done

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Gag me with a spoon.

Those aren’t real headlines but I guarantee you have seen a variation of them. They promise a life of freedom and glamour inaccessible to the rest of us mere mortals who refuse to let go of our earthly ties and modern conveniences in exchange for a dream job of traveling, writing, and livin’ the life.

If I read one more article that makes travel writing seem an unreachable and lofty goal…I will scream.

Rant.

Rave.

Headlines like those make it appear that unless you can drop everything and travel the world, then you must not really want to travel write all that bad, now do you?

You don’t deserve to have that life anyway, not if you can’t handle leaving your cozy little home, your friends and family, and your 9-5 job, and hitting the open road.

Living the dream.

You know what? Now, hang on a minute.

This is pretty big:

You don’t have to travel the world to be a travel writer or a travel blogger.

Hilltop Orchids in Cloverdale is a small town surprise
I found an award-winning orchid greenhouse in a teeny tiny town (population 2,088 as of the 2016 census). Hilltop Orchids possess 10,000 square feet of greenhouse space and creates fifty to one hundred new hybrids each year.

Shut. The. Front. Door.

Hey, traveling beyond the safe harbor of home is fantastic. It’s fun. It feels good. Life is fresh and exciting again.

You should do that every chance you get.But.

For many travel writers (or aspiring travel writers or bloggers)

that just ain’t gonna pay the bills.

Most of us can’t up and quit our jobs or leave our family or dwelling or pets or houseplants or whatever “it” is just for the purpose of traveling around and writing about it.

It doesn’t mean we don’t like it, or that we don’t like the idea of a travel writing job, but the reality is…

we have Responsibilities.

(and capitalized Responsibilities are impossible to ignore)

Especially if we are fledgling travel writers, write as a side-job, are testing the waters, or not really sure about the whole thing but really, really feel pulled toward it.

But.

We can check out the places where we live or frequent in a new way.

We don’t need to wait until the next big overseas trip to begin writing about travel.

Have you ever walked around the city or town where you live with a camera in one hand and a notebook in the other?

What happens when you try to find the good about the area you call home or the places that you head to because your work involves travel or you have friends, family, or some other reason for making the same trips to the same destinations–and what can you find worthy of sharing with the masses?

Fairmount High School where James Dean graduated
James Dean not only graduated from this high school, but he even performed on the stage. The school crumbled and was destroyed. Irreplaceable.

You know that family-owned coffee shop or restaurant where you always stop because

  • 1. the coffee or food are great but…
  • 2. you can always expect a bit of chit-chat and leave feeling better than when you walked in?

Yes, that’s blog content.

Remember that time when that old school was torn down and it left a hole in the community?

Yeah. Blog fodder.(and also a good reminder to protect what you have in the place where you live)
You don’t have to have anything fancy to begin documenting your experiences.

I used to use a fancy pants Canon camera. My dad gave it to me right before my eighteenth birthday because he was so excited he couldn’t wait until the day after Christmas (yes, yes it is one of the worst days in which to have a birthday).

That camera was my pal for a decade. When it died (I still have its carcass for sentimental reasons), I purchased a new digital Canon. Shiny!

But then.

I hated lugging around extra stuff. Traveling with kids meant even more extra stuff. My extra stuff then had extra stuff.

I was drowning in stuff on every trip.

We cover a lot of ground in a day. I felt like a pack mule.

Pinball Main Street Amusements Lafayette Indiana
Yes, I work hard. But it doesn’t mean I don’t know how to have fun. Pinball is my thing. So, here I am basically combining work and play. Brilliant. What would I do with a big bulky camera bag? Not quite the same.

So.

Verizon Wireless kindly sent over a Galaxy camera which made it so easy to snap pics and upload them to social media. While I had that camera, I used the heck out of it. In fact, images I took with it went into my book, Little Indiana.

Time passed.

Camera phones improved and now that’s what I use. Yes. A camera phone.

For reals, yo.

Bonus: I no longer have to worry about memory cards becoming corrupted and erasing everything (been there, done that). It’s all backed up online right away.

I’ve seen plenty of pictures taken by people with fancy pants cameras that suck.

It doesn’t mean they have the skillz.

Still. It can make you feel a little…less.

You know, not having the big pricey camera, not having the sharp camera bag, not using special photog props, and not switching out camera lenses like a pro.

But this way works for me.

Travel Light and You Can Sing in the Robber's Face
Travel Light and You Can Sing in the Robber’s Face

That’s my life motto.

But you know what it feels like when it appears that someone is more put together, more successful, and just all around more than you are, right?

They Make It Look Good

When I first got into travel blogging, it was by accident. I was a stay at home mom at the time in a small town where there weren’t really employment options that fit my skills. I liked taking care of our son but I felt like my brain was turning to mush.I looked around for work-from-home opportunities.

I didn’t find anything but I did find a start-up travel website that promised a free trip to its most active member. There weren’t many active users on the site yet. It was really new.

Perfect!

When he went down for his nap, I got to work.

I receive a phone call letting me know that I was going to be a featured community member but that they also wanted to offer me a writing job. Score!

(Funny thing: ever since I was five years old I wanted to be a writer–I just didn’t know how to translate that into the real world.)

The frequent phone calls and emails made it easy to get to know everyone, even though we lived far away from each other. The rest of the writers did freelance writing on the side. It’s how and where I learned to use WordPress, how to write online, use social media (setting up social networks was a part of the job too), and everything else that goes with it.

After getting to know me, the freelance writers started sending clients and work my way.

I kept hearing from these long-time writers that I needed a blog, a place where I could have samples of my work without anyone going over it with a red pen.

That’s when this happened:

And that’s how this happened:

MomCentral Winner
Quite a few years ago now, I won a $2000 grant for Little Indiana. It was the nudge I needed to keep going.

And then this:

Cannelton Jessica Nunemaker on PBS
I was approached by a PBS producer and asked to be a part of their show with a regular “Little Indiana” segment.

And then this:

Little Indiana Small Town Destinations
My blog became a book. It was picked up by Indiana University Press and won the Best of Indiana Journalism Awards from the Indiana Professional Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists.

But when I began?

It took ages to write a post, take pictures, go through them, and maintain the site.

Beginning a Blog is Hard

But I stayed true to my vision. I had mapped out my content plan and had carefully considered my categories. I read everything I could about how to start a blog. I didn’t want to screw it up.

It took me a year to get things figured out (it went live twelve days before the birth of our second, and last, child).

When I had my first tourism conference, and I had to give my elevator pitch, I was greeted with a bit of skepticism here and there.Chit-chatting with other bloggers at special events was the worst. So many of them liked to say things like, “That’s cute,” or “How nice” before they rambled on about their latest overseas adventure.

It’s hard to compete with that.

So. I. Don’t.

I kept at it.I busted my ass getting content out there and trying to get better. The places I had visited and the tourism reps I chatted with got it. They understood (and appreciated) what I was trying to do. The next year, I was greeted with hugs.

If you are waiting to blog until you can finally take that trip to India or China or Austrailia, or wherever it is you want to go, you don’t need to wait.

Consider this your permission to get started now.

Don’t waste another minute thinking you can’t do what you want with what you have now. Blog on your own terms, not someone else’s.

It doesn’t matter if you have a baby.

It doesn’t matter if you only have a camera phone.

It doesn’t matter if you don’t have all the money in the world.

It doesn’t matter if you have a hard time deciphering your own handwriting every now and again.

Jessica Nunemaker travel notes
Yes, I have messy writing. I have always had messy writing. I will likely always have messy writing.

You will learn how to travel as a family.

You can still take great images with a phone camera.

Hey, you can even begin your travel blog for free.

 

  • As long as you know what you want:
    • what you want out of blogging
    • what you plan to put into blogging
    • what you are doing all of this for…

    –dig in.

    Yes, you can.

    You may still be dismissed for your Big Blogging Idea. I was and still am, sometimes. I mean, writing about Indiana towns and locally-owned big city stuff doesn’t exactly hit that adventurous note.

    But I love it.

    If you want to begin your travel blog, then begin your travel blog.

    Don’t let anything hold you back.

 

About Jessica Nunemaker

Writer. Award-winning author. PBS Host. Newspaper columnist. It all began with Little Indiana. If it happened to me, it can happen to you. Use the resources on "Travel is a Blog" to successfully grow your own travel blog.

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