Update: Goodbye 2010

As we draw to the end of 2010, I find myself reflecting over the past year. As I sign off for the holidays I wanted to make some announcements FAQ stylee.

Are you travelling at the moment?

For those of you who are unaware I took a personal decision not to travel for the immediate future. The reasons for this are my own and I may decide to write about it at a later date. Cryptic I know but let’s chalk it down to health for now.

So what are you doing now?

I came back to my hometown; Warwick, England. Two days later I was offered a management position in a firm. Not really having a plan I decided to take it. I now do 52 hour weeks, sitting behind a desk, pushing money around and clicking buttons. I still run this site in my spare time of course.

Even though it’s picking up now, for a while you weren’t blogging so much. What was the dealio?

For anyone who has returned from long term travel will understand that it’s a confusing and turbulent time. I was unsure about my future and was trying to settle back in. You’ll forgive me if I am unable to do five posts a week. Please remember I am just one man and a laptop. I also do a lot of work behind the scenes that the casually observer doesn’t see. I’m hoping this will all become apparent in the future. I would like to state that I am far from done with writing and still have a lot of my adventures left to share.

A photo of the week that is all about you and not about travel really doesn’t make a travel blog does it?

Personally I was under the impression that my photo of the week segment was well received. My blog is about my journey and therefore I thought that actually having me in the photo was warranted. The photos were all taken while I was travelling so I feel they are travel related. Nevertheless if my readers feel that they aren’t suitable or don’t add value then please let me know and I will make some changes.

Do you want to sell your site?

Hell no! I decided to do my YTD for 2010. Including all sponsorship and advertising revenue this blog generated a sizeable sum. Considering earnings in Q1 were practically nothing, this blog is far too valuable to sell. But that’s the business point of view. Even if this blog made nothing I still wouldn’t sell it. It’s valuable to me personally. I enjoy running it, It’s my creative outlet and something that I have created from nothing.

So you enjoy travel blogging then?

On the whole yes. You need a thick skin doing this because not everyone is going to agree with you or be supportive. Conversely, there are some incredible bloggers in the community that have my respect and admiration. People like FoxNomad and Christine Gilbert who despite both being huge and established bloggers will still give you the time of day whoever you are.

So the community aspect is important to you?

There are people like Spencer Spellman, BackpackingMatt, AsWeTravel and Andi Perullo. These are all bloggers that ‘get’ it. They understand the importance of collaboration and community. Recently, I spoke to Spencer on Skype and had a conversation about travel writing as a paid profession. This guy is genuinely passionate about the betterment of all travel writers. BackpackingMatt and I regular discuss travel, advertising strategies… and women.

What about all the other stuff?

I don’t care about your Alexa ranking, what your Google PR is, what magazine you used to write for or your site traffic. If you are a real person with a genuine passion for travel and social media you will always have my attention. The bloggers I have just mentioned are not just colleagues in the community but to me they are friends. It’s forging these relationships that are more valuable in the blogging world than anything else. The sooner everyone realises that the more successful people will be.

What’s the future hold for Gap Year Escape?

2011 will bring some exciting changes and challenges. I already have an intern working for me, Charlotte Smoothy, and have been accepting guest contributions from select writers such as Fiona Soper. Next year I will be allocating a monthly budget to hire freelance writers to expand the site and it’s content.

So you’ll be working with other members in the travel industry?

Throughout this year I have been fortunate to embark on numerous media trips due to partnerships I have developed with travel companies. As I am currently not travelling , I have decided to offer up these media trips to my fellow bloggers. I see so many fantastic blogs out there and they are yet to reap the rewards they so justly deserve. I suppose in a small way it’s my way of giving back to a community, that on the whole, has been very supportive, fun and friendly. I won’t pretend that it’s completely selfless. Obviously, I will benefit from bloggers attending tours and activities on my behalf in terms of content but if I were to offer you a $900 trip would you really complain? I am piloting this with Caz and Craig from YTravelBlog who will be attending an event on behalf of Gap Year Escape. I’ll make a formal announcement nearer the time.

Some big changes then?

As I said there will be changes to the site but this will be evolutionary, not revolutionary. I want to build on the successes of this year. This site can’t exist without it’s readership and I want you to be included in guiding it’s growth and direction. If you have any suggestions or constructive criticisms please feel free to get in touch. Is there anything you want to see more or less of? You can get in touch by e-mail or on twitter.

You seem pretty positive?

I certainly feel that way. I finish this year with a smile on my face and a spring in my step. I’m so fortunate to have fallen into blogging. It’s enhanced my travel experiences that much more. Who knew that spending $10 on a domain and setting it up in my friends kitchen would lead me here.

Ok we’re bored of you. Can we go now?

I would like to wish you all a safe and happy holidays; however you choose to celebrate, wherever you are in the world and whatever company you may be in. See you next year!

18 Comments

  • Caz Makepeace

    December 21, 2010

    Great update Amar and well answered FAQ. You contribute a lot to the community and I’m looking forward to working more with you next year. i certainly understand how turbulent returning home is- the turbulence still hasn’t stopped for us. and I think the photo of the week is a great idea. It’s photos that inspire many people to go to a destination in the first place

  • Andreas

    December 21, 2010

    A very open post, congrats on your year and here’s to 2011!

  • Nathan - As We Travel

    December 21, 2010

    love the honesty dude 🙂 that really is the only way forward to a awesome, happy and wicked life!

    Great to see whats going on, and hope everything health-wise is ok! I know 2011 for you is GONNA ROCK!!! 😉

    see ya in a few!

  • Ella

    December 21, 2010

    It sounds like 2011 will go brilliantly for your site aswel! I’m really glad that you wouldn’t consider selling it because it is a massive personal achievement – and shows that you do it for the love of it not for the money, that’s just an added bonus that you might aswel take advantage of!

    Yours was actually the first travel blog I came across and just want to say how much I have enjoyed reading it!

  • Michael Hodson

    December 21, 2010

    Glad for the update and that you seem to be doing well — for not traveling that is 😉

    wish you all the best for 2011 and beyond. Love that you were so open and forthright in this post and agree with you 100% about the greatness of many in the travel blog community. And what was unspoken in your post… that doesn’t cover 100% of the community. Good luck and can’t wait to see what you come up with.

  • Lindsay aka @_thetraveller_

    December 21, 2010

    Merry ho ho! 2011 will be grand!

  • Norbert

    December 21, 2010

    It’s so good to take a peek behind the curtains and see a bit of what goes behind the posts and the blog. I really enjoyed reading this.

    I looks like you had an amazing 2010 and hopefully you will have an even better 2011.

    I also want so say my thanks here. Just like you said about Anil and Christine, you too take your time to help others, even when those others were just starting a blog (like me!). So, thanks for being part of this amazing community!

    Cheers for a rocking 2011!!

  • Spencer Spellman

    December 22, 2010

    Thanks for including me Amar and looking forward to what 2011 holds for you. Keep rockin’ it my brother.

  • Andi

    December 22, 2010

    Thanks so much for the shout out love, you know I adore you and your blog! 2011 is gonna be 1 hell of a year for everyone, I feel it!!!

  • Ayngelina

    December 22, 2010

    Looks like 2011 will be an interesting year for you. Hope that whatever holds you back from traveling takes a turn for the better.

  • Matt

    December 22, 2010

    Congrats on a fantastic year – look forward to working with you in 2011 and hopefully meeting up again.

  • Gap Year Escape

    December 22, 2010

    Caz – Thanks for the feedback and of course I am certainly looking forward to working with you next year.

    Andreas – I’m just looking forward to when you make your debut in the travel blogging world. It’ll be a good day 😉

    Nathan – Cheers dude!

    Ella – Thank you very much and very much looking forward to seeing your blog grow.

    Michael – That is certainly what I was alluring too but I wanted to keep this post positive.

    Lindsay – Ho indeed…

    Norbert – You’re very welcome.

    Spencer – My brother from another mother. Nuff said.

    Andi – I agree. Thanks sweetie.

    Ayngelina – Thank you, I hope so too!

    Matt – You’re such a bad influence. I blame you for our conversations :p

  • Pam Stucky

    December 22, 2010

    I’ve recently decided that if you (the generic you, not the specific you) are pleasing everyone, you’re not living to your full potential. Who cares if people don’t like your photo of the week? Your site is your vision. To make it great you must make it wholly and authentically you. No pandering!

    I do, however, enjoy stories about pandas. (See what I did there?)

    Happy Holidays to you, pumpkin! xx

  • Lauren Fritsky

    December 22, 2010

    My fav part–“BackpackingMatt and I regular discuss travel, advertising strategies… and women.”

    Good stuff.

  • Erica

    December 25, 2010

    Sounds like you had quite the 2010!

    Bring on 2010 and cheers to the travel community. You have nourished me and supported me through hell and back!

  • Anil

    December 25, 2010

    Amar, thank you for the kind mention making for a great new year gift. I hope that 2011 brings you continued and further success and that you’ll be able to travel soon.

    …an early Happy New Year!

  • crazy sexy fun traveler

    December 28, 2010

    LOVE this post! Keep on doing great job hun!!!!

  • Texac City Hotels

    January 7, 2011

    “Not really having a plan I decided to take it. I now do 52 hour weeks, sitting behind a desk, pushing money around and clicking buttons.” – That’s exactly my case too and I do sympathise with you:). However, congratulations on your decision to keep this blog, it’s something I don’t find myself capable of (yet), but I admire ppl who are. So, keep it up!

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