Candle Number Two : 5 Things I’ve Learned in My Second Blogging Year

Pipeaway blogger Ivan Kralj sitting on the daybed with bright sun coming through the large window, in the room of Treeline Urban Resort in Siem Reap, Cambodia - what does it take to make it to two years of travel blogging, photo by Ivan Kralj

Tell me about a place with good cakes, and I’ll travel there! Sweet tooth craving is just one of my weak spots and, to satisfy it, I’m prepared to cross continents. Little did I know, two years ago, that crossing the continents will become a real job! It eventually led to the second candle on the cake called Pipeaway travel blog. Happy anniversary! To me, and especially to you, if you hopped on this blogging journey with me together, at any point!

Having Earth is a privilege

“The Earth is what we have in common.” The message written in the directory booklet of Treeline Urban Resort, the hotel I’m staying in at the moment, made me think twice. This Cambodian enterprise is at the forefront of the travel industry players who extend their services to protect the environment. Comparable to Jaya House RiverPark, also in Siem Reap, just two kilometers North, Treeline is a 5-star hotel with a noble mission. There can be no profit in the world that destroys its resources, so protecting the environment means defending one’s own business!

Pipeaway blogger Ivan Kralj standing on the Kalleliklumpen boulder hovering over the cliff in Florli, Lysefjord, one of the best hikes in Norway, photo by Ivan Kralj
I’ve been to many incredible corners of our planet. I understand that traveling and blogging about it is a privilege

I’ll undoubtedly write more about these resorts that eliminate single-use plastic and opt for green solutions. The Earth as a common possession is an interesting ecological point of view, but it is also a romantic idea. I do understand that I’m privileged to travel the world! I know I’m in this particular position to check “our common possession”, when so many cannot leave their corner of the planet, due to economic, political or other restrictions.

17 countries per year. Will I stop?

Only in the past twelve months, I’ve been calling home countries such as Austria, Bulgaria, Cambodia, Croatia, Ethiopia, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Laos, Lithuania, Macedonia, Malaysia, Netherlands, Norway, South Korea, and Thailand. Seventeen! It’s a lot, especially when we know that five of these I visited more than once in this period!

Some people ask me did I not have enough of it. It. As if we are talking about an extraordinary feat, once-in-a-lifetime experience.

It’s a planet, it’s round, and I’m not a plant. For me, these are the only relevant criteria for justifying traveling

I’m not trying to exoticize my nomadic life. I can count these countries only because of the political organization of the world.

While obtaining visas and crossing borders is a pain-in-the-ass process, the rest of it is enjoyable everyday. You work, you eat, you drink, you enjoy the company of the people, you sleep. Throw some other ordinary activities in between!

I’d be happy if there would be no borders, and then it would seem harder to say I “left home”. It’s a planet, it’s round, and I’m not a plant. For me, these are the only relevant criteria for justifying traveling.

In 2018, I published 5 Things I’ve Learned in My First Year of Blogging. Even if one of the lessons clearly stated “Slow down your traveling!”, the score of countries I visited shows that I ignored my own prescription.

Frankly, I feel that in blogging year number two I’ve unlearned most of the things I’ve learned in year one. That doesn’t necessarily make me smarter. Maybe I’m just learning how to make mistakes. Ask me in ten years, please!

Without further ado, if you are about to start your travel blogging adventure, these would be the advice I’d give you!

Five tips for navigating through the world of travel blogging

1. Blog at your own pace!

A man observing the camel caravans transporting the salt at the plains of Lake Assale, Danakil Depression, Ethiopia, the hottest place on Earth, photo by Ivan Kralj
Like this man at Lake Assale, let the caravans pass by! Your peace of mind is much more important than jumping on every single train!

The key to blogging success is being present. Publishing posts in regular intervals eventually pays off.

That is more easily being said than done. If you hop on an around-the-world adventure with no return ticket planned, your writing could eventually be slowed down by traveling and consuming the experiences. If you start your travel blog from home, some other daily chores could interfere with the rhythm of your publishing.

While I advocated for more frequent post publishing in the article a year ago, now I’d say that blogging journey is a marathon. Take it at your own pace! Don’t frustrate yourself over a few days (or even weeks) of being behind with your editorial plan (I know, some more experienced bloggers will tear their hair when they read this!). While it may be an enemy of the speed you will succeed with, it doesn’t mean you should put that priority in front of your peace of mind. The world will not disappear tomorrow. Take care of yourself!

2. Don’t procrastinate!

With the previous tip in mind, it doesn’t mean one should procrastinate. Getting the frustration out of the equation does not entitle laziness. Do as much as you can when you can! But if you never can, maybe you should admit to yourself that this is not a job for you.

Just after she was found, Zara, the kitten, sleeping in my lap in Livingstone cake shop in Bali, photo by Ivan Kralj
Abandoned cats like this one in Bali, made me think a lot about the nine lives we humans don’t have

You shouldn’t procrastinate in other walks of life either. You may be in the phase when you are asking yourself should you even start traveling, or start that blogging thing, but then you find a gazillion of excuses why the moment is not right. Moments are rarely right at the point of time when they happen. Only with a historical distance, we can measure how significant they – were. So don’t wait for the right moment! The right moment was yesterday!

If you have an urge to travel, do it! If you have an urge to do something else with your life, try something else! The lesson of not delaying one’s fulfillment plans came to me from the animal kingdom. Cats taught me that following one’s path matters – today!

3. Google love takes time!

Success doesn’t come overnight. So be patient! As long as you are doing well in optimizing your blog posts for search engines, Google will eventually pick up your articles! And then the number of visits will rise, as well as a potential of monetizing your blog.

Plane windows during the night, with a man behind the first window, a woman behind a second one, and a dog sitting in the last row plane seat, graphics by vecteezy.com
Which seat to choose on the plane is a very popular dilemma – the answer became one of the most visited articles on Pipeaway

My most read article on Pipeaway was published on 28th March 2017, on the day of the launching of the blog. Every month, it stays on the top of the posts people visit and significantly contributes to the overall traffic. It’s the article on the best airplane seats. While I felt I wrote it mainly to fill up space on the launching day of the blog, it turned out it is the information readers were looking for. When some high domain authority sites started linking to the post, it helped its popularity even more.

In any case, I would always advocate for doing fewer articles that are properly researched, prepared and optimized, than flooding your website with low-value posts, only to build up the traffic volume.

Do not lose your patience, do it well, and search engines will follow!

4. No free resort stay can replace the Me-time!

Pipeaway travel blogger Ivan Kralj laying by the swimming pool of Zefi Hotel in Naoussa, Paros, Greece, photo by Mladen Koncar
All those swimming pools, welcome drinks, lush buffets and complimentary spa treatments may look like winning a lottery. But is that all you need to feel fulfilled?

Travel blogging comes with perks which sometimes present a prime attraction to many who wish to break into the world of travel writing. Free hotels, complimentary dinners, unpaid tours… For the outside eye, it may look like a traveler’s dream come true!

While establishing your name in the field may bring many opportunities, have in mind that your blog is a business that should concentrate on journalism. It’s not a marketing panel for anyone who has the means to pay for it. Well, technically, it could be (that could bring you additional income), but always be aware of your responsibility towards your readers! Choose your partnerships wisely! Readers who trust you will stay your readers.

On the other hand, even if you find many interesting and interested partners, try to keep a balance. All “free stays” come with the expectations of the content you will deliver! For instance, at this very moment, I have ten Cambodian hotels lined-up, practically back-to-back. While this enables me to spend more time on the location and discover many local stories, it also demands a lot of work that I’ll need to invest in the upcoming months. It will generally take me much more time to deliver the articles, than the length of each stay. Which means that “free stays” are eating your additional “free time” as well. In this tempo of changing hotels so frequently that one may even get confused in which country one is, it is essential to save time for yourself!

Speaking of “free hotels”, be aware that hotel management may be getting a dozen of requests similar to yours every single day! Make sure you can provide something that will differentiate you from the mass, and that partnerships you want to build make sense.

5. Forget journaling!

Backpackers resting on the sun loungers in the backyard of the Smile Luang Prabang Hostel, one of the best hostels in Luang Prabang, Laos, photo by Ivan Kralj
This guest at Smile Hostel in Luang Prabang is journaling, but then again – maybe he is not a blogger. The girl next to him is on her phone – maybe she is.

While my last tip in 5 things I’ve learned in my first year of blogging was “Write a journal!”, I must admit I stopped doing it.

I still believe it could be a great tool to remember all the fine details of your experiences. This means it is not just your book of personal memory, but a reference book you can consult every time you write a new story.

However, I replaced the physical journal with writing notes into Google’s Keep Notes application. I like it because it saves space in my traveling bag (that I would otherwise reserve for the writing book). Also, I can write it on my mobile phone, but access it later over my laptop, so it’s convenient.

Before, I was writing the journal at the end of the day, usually when I’d be struggling with keeping awake. Now I choose to invest some of that time in the social media or actual sleep.

Sure, my notes on the phone are usually not personal at all. They are just thrown details I may forget with time, and will hopefully help me reconstruct the memory once the story writing time comes. So while it’s not as romantic as creating a scrapbook of one’s travels, at least I can count on its informational potential.

Not dragging a physical writing book around also potentially “saves a tree”, and in the world that is increasingly being deforested to make space for quick-money-earning development projects, that is a noble cause.

Things I’ve learned in my second year of blogging – Summary

The development of the world’s travel industry shows no sign of slowing down. Temptations are everywhere around you, but if you want to enter the business of travel blogging, keep in mind that it is still your very own journey! Consider the advice of others, but create the rhythm of your work by yourself!

This doesn’t mean you should procrastinate; your website’s readers still expect new content coming up. Otherwise, they stop being your readers!

Have patience as, if you invest more time in SEO now, the benefits will eventually come!

Beware of the “free stays” benefits, however! Everyone needs time to recharge! While your friends may consider you are having a vacation of a lifetime, you know it’s a job, and treat its stress accordingly!

You may keep a physical journal of your experiences to track the little details that will help you when you’ll write an article, but I changed that into a digital version, as I found it more practical, even if less personal.

If you’ve started a blog, please feel free to leave a comment under this article. I’d love to know how your blogging journey is going! Also, feel free to inform me when your blog anniversary arrives! If there’ll be some delicious cake around, I may travel just to congratulate you personally!

Pipe away and blog on!

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Travel blogging requires constant learning. After two years of running the travel blog Pipeaway.com, these are the five things I've learned that could hopefully help less experienced bloggers in pursuing their travel writing career!

 

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Ivan Kralj

Editor

Award-winning journalist and editor from Croatia

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