Updated: Jan 3, 2019
I had wanted to launch a travel blog since early 2016.
I had been inundated with people asking me to suggest destinations that I may or may not have traveled to. As the number of places accumulated, I figured that my #blog could be a go-to source that I can refer people to. Hey, maybe I can be cited as a source one day! *wishful thinking*
As time progressed, I would come across slaying black female #travelbloggers and I felt INSPIRED. Let's be real, as a black woman, it is very rare to see others who resemble you in certain contexts, one being traveling. Black women traveling is emerging as a movement, but there still seems to be very few who have both traveled expansively AND blogged about
The very first person I came across was Oneika the Traveller. Her travel count and documentation in the realest way amazed me. I mean sis, over 100 countries! It gave me something to aspire to. As such, I feel she paved the way for others like Jessica Nabongo of Catch Me if You Can (114 countries and counting AND trying to be the first African American woman to travel to every country) and Gloria Atanmo of The Blog Abroad (the ultimate travel nomad)!
From left to right (Oneika the Traveler, Jessica Nabongo, and Gloria Atanmo)
However...I never came across any big time PLUS SIZE #blackfemaletravelbloggers. That left me with the big question: How will I match up? Clearly, that question lingered for a long time because although my earliest blog posts date back to September 2016, I did not have the guts to publish my blog until May, 2017. Why? OCD tendencies wanting the PERFECT blog! Self-doubt – who would want to read my work? I do not consider myself a writer. It took Melanin Majority to request that I write an article about body positivity as a plus size black traveler to convince myself that I GOT THIS!
Who knew 12 months later that I would be writing a blog post reflecting on my blog posting experiences!?! Time to celebrate my #blogaversary. Yes, that is a thing!
This blog has become my brain child as I have invested endless hours brainstorming, creating content and finding ways to market the content. Lord, was I naive in thinking that this would be easy peasy. As I have developed my craft as a #blogger, there are many lessons that I have internalized along the way.
5 Major Lessons:
1) Consistency is Key
GIRRRRRRL, that has been a struggle that I am still working on. When you have a demanding full-time job, it is very easy to brush this aside. However, in order for your blog to be successful, you must commit to it CONSISTENTLY. For me, setting up goals of how frequently to post a blog has been helpful. My accountability tool has been aiming to release a #travelthirstthursday newsletter blast every 2 weeks.
2) Strategy Must Equally Be a Key
You must have a plan or strategy of how to make this happen. For me, it was deciding that once a week I would spend an evening in Starbucks just blogging away. I still struggle with using that time solely just for blogging, but carving out that space has been super helpful!
3) Blogging is a Part-Time Hobby and a Full Time Job
YOOOOOO, this has not been any realer. If I added up the amount of time that I spend drafting blog posts, editing content, taking pictures, selecting photos for the next post, marketing my content through IG, and just straight up reading through blogs, it definitely is the equivalent of a dedicated hustle! I have blogging on my brain constantly, even if it’s just brainstorming potential article ideas. Just like with a career, I go to workshops to learn how to better my traveling and blogging craft.
4) Blogging Operates Like a Business.
When you have a business, creating and selling your brand is everything! As with a business, your blog IS your brand and you must treat it as such. You want to attract readers to buy into (or in this case, read) your brand. You must market that brand: IG, Facebook, Pinterest, newsletters, the list goes on. I did not realize the extent of this until much later in the game, which has made a difference because I have had people comment on my content and even recognize me on the street (or even crazier, in another country!)
5) Do Not Ever Lose the WHY.
When you are bogged down with the work-life-blog balance (notice how I put it as a separate entity unless your blog is your full time job), it is very easy to forget why you started this endeavor. As you come across more bloggers, you can also easily fall into the trap of comparison. How come this blogger has way more followers than me? At the end of the day, although it would be nice to have tens of thousands of followers, that is not the ultimate goal. People can surely tell if you are doing this for genuine reasons!
First Blogaversary Accomplishments:
Launched the blog: Although it is the most obvious one, it is definitely worth mentioning! During the time span of my blog so far, I have written just over FORTY articles!
Major features on IG: Over the course of this first year, I have been blessed to be refeatured on many IG’s including Queens Abroad, Road to 100 Countries and Parlour Magazine. In total, I have been refeatured on Instagram over THIRTY FIVE times.
Major features on blogs: I developed the guts to go forth with my blog after Melanin Majority asked me to write an article for them that then received a lot of positive press. As I have put myself out there and sent my work to other places, travel websites such as Black and Abroad and Sisters Traveling Solo have featured me. In total I have been (re)published NINE times on other travel websites.
Snapchat takeovers/IG Takeovers: Thanks to Black & Abroad, I have taken over their Snapchat not just once, but TWICE, to show my time in Thailand and Portugal. I have also recently taken over Fat Girls Traveling Instatories for my Morocco Adventures!
Launched #TravelThirstThursday Newsletters: I realized that I needed another way to hook readers. Starting as an accountability tool for myself to get more posts out, I have enjoyed sharing tips and motivating others through my regular newsletters.
More travel = more content: During the time span of my blog, I have traveled to 6 new countries and 3 new states (lost track of other travel!)
In terms of NEW countries, I traveled to:
NOTE: I also revisited Canada twice!
In terms of NEW states, I traveled to
NOTE: I also traveled to many new cities (too many to count!) in states I have already visited such as Charlotte, North Carolina; Cape Cod, Massachusetts; and San Francisco, California. Furthermore, I was able to gain greater appreciation by re-exploring major cities such as Philly and Washington, DC.
Top 5 Favorite Blog Posts
New Year, New Goals: Looking Forward
At the beginning of this journey, my main goal was to get my blog off the ground (or I should say off the desktop, hahaha). One year later and one year wiser, I have clearer, actionable goals for the next 12 months. Here is to speaking these goals into existence:
Consistently write a blog post each week
Consistently send out my travel newsletter blasts every other week
Have a post featured on a major publication
Monetize my blog either entirely or certain articles (at least)
Increase number of blog readers, page views, and IG followers by at least 25%
New website design: Stay tuned!
Thank You to All of You!
As cliché as it sounds, you all really do keep me inspired! Considering that I never considered myself a writer (English is actually my least favorite subject), I often question if my content is any good. Is anyone even reading it? Don't get me started on IG, adding the extra layer of photographs of myself being circulated! However, every like or comment received in cyberspace or in person is a reminder that you are all engaging with me! I am still in shock that people have recognized me on the street or on a group tour trip. *Mini celebrity status* The travel connection among all of you is real!
A trip down memory lane:
Over the course of this blogaversary, so many photos have been captured. Whether it is my lifetime goal of traveling to Haiti, my first (and continued) baecations or epic solo travels, there are photos to make these memories last a lifetime. Enjoy my top twenty photos. There are travel stories behind every single travel photo: