Posts Tagged ‘blogging’

One Passion Fades, Another Is (Re)Discovered

November 30, 2016

I was catching up with a very old friend of mine in London a couple of weeks ago when I told him how, as I rapidly approach 40, that I’d finally come to the end of the road when it came to arguably the biggest passion of my life so far: partying.

The dancing to crap music, the wasted hungover days, the tinnitus, the deceptive sexual promise (ie. the promise rarely materialises – and even when it does normally leaves you disappointed), the long cold journeys home… the cons just outweigh the pros so heavily when you’re in your 30s, and to be honest I’ve been winding it down for at least 5 years now. The problem for me was what do I replace it with!? I love sports but as I grow ever slower and less fit they are as much a source of frustration as anything else. Meanwhile a hatred of the cold, water and mornings, not to mention anything mildly dangerous, rule out 90% of outdoor activities.

For most of my mid-30s I have been on the look out for a new passion, and about a year ago I discovered it… or rather rediscovered it, and from an unlikely source at that. I’d run into an acquaintance of mine at a concert, a guy who was a notorious playboy, and asked him what he’d been up to. He looked a bit sheepish before admitting that he’d been “taking it easy, playing a lot of Dungeons & Dragons.”

Well what do you know, from ages 11 right up until 18 I’d been completely addicted. I’d started as a player but quickly became the de facto Dungeon Master of my group and spent many long evenings after school constructing dungeons, adventures and characters and revelling in the creativity of the game. Well sure enough that acquaintance, who I can now safely upgrade to friend, invited me to come and play with his group and it seems that time has not dulled my love for this pastime.

In fact I’m taking it so seriously that I’d love to branch out from my travel writing and become an authority on tabletop roleplaying as well. Indeed, inspired by the rather rock and roll characters I play with every Sunday, I’ve already launched my roleplaying blog, Hipsters & Dragons, with the aim of not only sharing tips on playing, but also maybe to challenge the negative perceptions that seem to follow D&D around… strange really when you consider that it’s a social activity that requires a lot of creativity (and usually a good sense of humour).

Anyhow, for newbies I went straight ahead and posted a long article explaining what Dungeons & Dragons is (as most people don’t really know, and it is a little abstract if you’ve never played before!) as well as some more technical articles for those already in the game, like this Critical Fumbles Chart.

With Game of Thrones making fantasy cool for possibly the first time, and a popular new edition of the rulebooks in print I have a strange feeling that this old school roleplaying game from the 1970s is on the cusp of a gargantuan comeback… so I’m actually pretty excited about getting involved!

Yes it’s not quite as glamorous as the addiction that was my raison d’etre through my 20s and 30s, but I’m really glad to have rediscovered it at just when my passion for partying really needed replacing…


A New Travel Blogging Team

February 17, 2015

Since starting my travel blog I have naturally spent a lot of time mulling over the question of how to monetize it. The question goes hand in hand with the question: who profits from travel content? The answer to the latter is easier at least and I’d say broadly speaking that three parties do:

1) The reader (who either uses the content for valuable info or inspiration)

2) The destination (assuming that the travel experience was good – and most people do enjoy their travels – then obviously the destination benefits for having been written about, as it follows that more people are likely to turn up in the near future [if that content was published on a blog/website of any influence at least])

3) The travel brands / companies / agents (obviously anyone whose services are recommended stands to gain).

We live in a world where readers expect free travel content (hell, many of them expect free movies and music, despite the higher costs of providing those… so they are certainly not forking out for mere “information”!) so that only leaves 2) and 3) as possible patrons of travel writing. The good news is that both parties are happy to invest in content marketing… the bad news is that as relatively small media (let’s face it, even the largest of travel bloggers has a fairly pifling audience compared to the likes of Conde Nast or The Guardian etc) it is hard to get the decision makers in those organisations to pay attention to us. They key I believe is teaming up…

That’s how The Travel Mob was born. More soon!


Making Money Travel Blogging

October 23, 2013

Remember when I wrote that post about the (un)truth on making money travel blogging? Well that was 2.5 years ago and things have changed a fair bit since then.

Firstly the bad news. On top of all the struggles that bloggers face trying to surface in an overcrowded sea of information, Google is pro-actively working towards removing the one source of revenue that many small and medium-sized bloggers relied on to keep their blogs going: which was cash for links.

Why? Well there are plenty of reasons Google is against this, some more legit than others, but the bottom line is that Google doesn’t want companies spending their advertising budget with small websites/bloggers just so that those companies then appear (un)naturally in Google’s organic results. It’s understandable… those advertisers are not interested in traffic or “eyeballs”, only SEO effect and increasing their website’s visibility in Google’s search results. And of course Google wants that companies get their traffic by investing their money directly with Google on adwords. (Google argues, coherently, that companies who purchase weblinks are cheating in the search results. Although this moral superiority is also a major convenience for them, bearing in mind that if they can control their own search results exactly, with more accuracy, they can for example tweak them time and time again to force more companies to pay for their traffic via Adwords…. or so a cynic would argue at least).

Whether you hate or love Google (or a bit of both), one thing is for sure as Google’s monopolisation of the web and online advertising continues it will become harder and harder for anyone to make a living through creating content alone. Those bloggers who had some visitors but essentially relied on accepting dough for linklove are likely to lose their income in the coming months/years (sites who break the rules will be punished and removed from Google’s index, and Google, a bit like Big Brother in 1984, is getting pretty smart at guessing who is breaking the rules, partly by encouraging companies to tell on one another) and thus be forced to stop blogging altogether or become amateur bloggers only. So only those websites with very high viewer numbers will be of any value to brands who might want to engage with those readers genuinely (ie. not for SEO purposes as has often happened in the past).

Partly because this has already started to happen, and partly because there was never much money in cashing in on link advertising, travel bloggers have been forced to become quite entrepreneurial in their outlooks, effectively using their blog as a CV/tool to provide other services or sell their own products. Those services might include freelance writing, copywriting, SEO or social media consultancy, branding or destination marketing, to name but a few, whilst typical products sold by bloggers include books, e-books, prints, comics and photos. It’s probably fair to say, just as I argued in 2011, that this not “making money through travel blogging” in a precise sense, but whilst it might involve a lot more than uploading photos of your holidays and scribbling a note or two about them, using your blog to live a self-employed entrepreneurial lifestyle would still allow many to enjoy the freedoms they dreamed about when they first left that much-maligned cubicle.

It’s hard to know how these new threats and opportunities are going to pan out for the average (travel) blogger, but definitely a versatile skill set and flexible and entrepreneurial attitude will be required for the average Joe/jotter/jetter to survive… if you’re one of them say hello and let us know what you’re doing to survive in this big bad world of (travel) blogging!