We've never formally talked about being travel bloggers on our website. But we're being asked about it more and more, so we thought we'd open a dialogue.
In truth, we've always felt like we kind of stumbled blindly into our recreated lives - and by no means consider ourselves experts (in travel or blogging).
And, seriously, we thought, who wants to hear us talk about what goes on behind the curtain?
When we hit the road in 2008, we were vaguely aware that travel blogging even existed.
For the first year, we were simply out in the world, enjoying each other's newly empty-nested company and writing about what we were discovering so family and friends could keep up with where we were.
Our early posts were all over the place - and inconsistent. We posted photos that we would never post now because we had no idea what we were doing.
But we kept on writing. And writing. And writing.
Eventually our posts became less cringe-worthy and had more focus.
We discovered what we liked and didn't like about our travels, and how to relay it in a (hopefully) engaging manner. We researched how to make our photos suck less.
But it wasn't until we learned to be authentic, when we found our voice, that people started to like our little website.
Still, it was very strange to us when folks began emailing with questions about how to do what we are doing. It still seems strange. Stranger yet, we've been asked to wax poetically on the subject in public.
We Wish We Could Tell You a Big Short Cut, but there is no Big Short Cut
We had to do the work. Period.
We had to write, write, write. And we had to love it because it never stops.
Yes, we love it. We feel like we have the best life in the world - for us.
We Started out Small
Before we traveled, we wrote about travel.
Because we also love to travel, we wrote about travel. A lot.
First, we wrote about things going on in our hometown. We home exchanged and wrote about that. Then we quit our jobs, sold our house and bought an RV for $3,000 that we named BAMF on eBay and wrote about that.
Then we drove all around the United States and wrote about that. Then we branched from the US borders and wrote about that.
We Became Social There's a reason it's called social media.
And had a blast doing it. So we never stopped.
We Became Social
There’s a reason it’s called social media.
We had gotten a few comments on our site and our oldest daughter, The Piglet, decided that we were on to something. She suggested that we start putting some effort into social media.
So we started a Facebook Page, thinking that was that. We'd post stuff and check it occasionally. It was fun. Then The Piglet dragged us kicking and screaming into Twitter.
So we sucked it up and tweeted our first tweet - we think it was something really fascinating like "Drinking coffee." Then we wondered why no one tweeted us back (seriously).
Once we realized that social meant social, and we began being social, something wonderful began to happen - people started following us.
The Piglet kept at us - start creating videos, she said. There's this new site called... So now we're on YouTube, Google+, Pinterest, GoodReads, Instagram and StumbleUpon - each with their own merits and each with varying success.
...Somewhere in There We Found Our Voice, We Became Authentic
We finally learned NOT to write what we thought people wanted to read.
But posting videos of squirrels (yup, we did that) and tossing up photos of what we were eating for dinner was not cutting it, and we made mistakes and learned from them, but thankfully...
This was THE big epiphany for us.
Taking a hard look at our posts, we realized they contained very little of ourselves in them. Even when we had been writing for our family and our friends, we were writing generic little pieces.
There was nothing in them that were uniquely us. Actually there was no uniqueness at all.
So we decided to be ourselves, we started being authentic. At first it felt at like oversharing (still does sometimes) to talk about the real us, and perhaps it is oversharing.
But immediately writing became easier, even more fun, and began flowing out of us freely.
Now we discuss how destinations make us feel, let our innate goofiness fly, and write as we speak in real life. We admit our history nerdly-ness, we aren't afraid to confess when we're scared.
We Have Support and Give Support
We are not alone.
David now embraces his inner train nut, Veronica isn't embarrassed that she happily squeals, bounces, and claps like a little kid whenever an animal comes into view.
As wonderful as we find our Nation of Two, we are part of a some very generous communities.
Like any well functioning community, we help and are helped.
We meet, learn, network, and have a blast at TBEX conventions - an excellent resource for travel bloggers and aspiring travel bloggers, highly recommended by us. We also read the TBEX blog.
As folks of " a certain age," we also gather inspiration at AARP's Life@50+ Expos (we've attended in Atlanta and Boston so far), and are members of the Facebook group Boomer Travel Bloggers (the criteria to join the latter are people who are travel bloggers with their own blogs and were born between 1946 and 1964 - but, if you don't fit the demographic there are similar groups out there to join).
Once We Became Fairly Established, We are Diligent That...
...We Don't Let Our Community Down
Now that we are a part of a community, we take our responsibilities seriously.
We are no longer an outpost in the desert.
We keep in mind that if we publish shoddy posts, our entire travel blogging community suffers.
From time to time we are offered sponsored trips by folks within the travel industry. In doing so, we have been able to bring stories to our GypsyNester community that we would not have been able to otherwise. And for this, we are very grateful.
When we do accept these trips, we are careful to act professionally, to work hard and do our research. Most nights on these adventures, we happily fall asleep while typing mid-sentence with our laptops on our laps.
...We Remember to Give Back
For further reading on the subject of deportment and ethics while on sponsored trips, see this commentary from a travel blogger's perspective and this one from an industry person's perspective.
One of the most joyous parts of being a travel blogger is the ability to do good.
We have found ways that our little website can help others and inspire the GypsyNester community to find the joy in helping, too.
We have begun to Pack for a Purpose, and have a dedicated " how to help " section of our site. We can't express the joy that has come into our lives by sharing ways to help others.
It's highly recommended. ????
YOUR TURN: We're sure we didn't cover everything - so let your questions fly and we'll do our best to help out! If you are a travel blogger and you have tips about subjects we covered (or didn't cover) - please share!
David & Veronica, GypsyNester.com
This blog was originally published on The Gypsynesters.