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 letâ€™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 itâ€™s picking up now, for a while you werenâ€™t blogging so much. What was the dealio?
For anyone who has returned from long term travel will understand that itâ€™s a confusing and turbulent time. I was unsure about my future and was trying to settle back in. Youâ€™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 doesnâ€™t see. Iâ€™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 doesnâ€™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 arenâ€™t suitable or donâ€™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 thatâ€™s the business point of view. Even if this blog made nothing I still wouldnâ€™t sell it. Itâ€™s valuable to me personally. I enjoy running it, Itâ€™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 â€˜getâ€™ 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 donâ€™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. Itâ€™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.
Whatâ€™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 itâ€™s content.
So youâ€™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 itâ€™s my way of giving back to a community, that on the whole, has been very supportive, fun and friendly. I wonâ€™t pretend that itâ€™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. Iâ€™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 canâ€™t exist without itâ€™s readership and I want you to be included in guiding itâ€™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. Iâ€™m so fortunate to have fallen into blogging. Itâ€™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 weâ€™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!