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Coming To Terms With Myself As A Blogger

I’ve had a lot of time to reflect over the past few months.  I guess that’s what happens when you stop blogging, cancel all of your brand contracts, set your Instagram to “private” and stop posting, and go through nasty health issues.  I was silent, but I wasn’t absent.  I was still paying very close attention to the state of things in the blog-osphere.  I knew that I wanted to keep writing, but I just didn’t know in what capacity.  I had nothing to say.  All I knew is that my blog had gone down a path that I was no longer happy with, and something needed to change.

When I began adventuretoanywhere.com, two and a half years ago, it was a space for me to share my adventures.  My travels, my time spent in the mountains, my life.  Soon after creating the blog, I jet-set off to Southeast Asia for 5 weeks, and I had tons to write about.  I gained a substantial following, I earned a few guest features on other blogs, I even began making a bit of money – and that felt good.  Really good.  But then, I came home, and real life dug its claws into my nomadic heart.  I finally completed my licensing exams and became a journeyman hairstylist, my career took off, as did Sean’s, and we decided to buy a house.  I had a lot of shit to do.  But most of the shit I had to do was boring.  It’s hard to make working 40 hours a week, sticking to a strict budget, and moving in with your father-in-law to save money for a new house sound sexy.  I had nothing to write about, and I was longing for adventure, but I knew that this was just a chapter in our life that was going to set us up for the life that we REALLY wanted – the one where we live in a small house that we can easily pay for, and travel multiple times a year.  But that dream was far away.  I was bored to tears.  And then, I started running.  I fell in love with running, and it was moderately interesting to me in the midst of my mundane life, so I began writing about it.

Naturally, my blog progressed from being strictly a travel blog, to being an adventure, running and lifestyle blog.  I never ran out of things to write about, because I never stopped running.  Actually, the only time I stopped running, due to injury, I went on a solo trip to Costa Rica, so that provided me with all kinds of blog material.  But, as life would have it, long-term, international travel became a distant dream of the past, and my life shifted to a predictable routine of working, training, racing, and writing about it all on my blog.  “Adventure To Anywhere” should have been re-named “Adventures In My Routine Life Punctuated By Running Things”.

Eventually, I became pretty involved in the Running and Fitness Blog community.  I met some amazing bloggers, and some of them even became real life friends.  My social media hashtags shifted from #wanderlust and #neverstopexploring to #fitfam and #halfmarathontraining.  I became a member of all kinds of new and exciting online fitness communities.  I snagged a few sponsorships, opportunities, ambassadorships and affiliate positions with some really cool fitness brands.  I was okay with it.  This transformation served a very important purpose (a facade that I was in control of my actually out-of-control life, but that’s for another post), and I look back on that period of my life with nothing but fond memories.  But, a few months ago, something started to feel wrong.

I watched from the sidelines as many of my blogging friends acquired all kinds of exciting things, like wicked brand rep opportunities and amazing guest posts on HUGE and successful blogs.  I was so happy for them, because it’s wonderful to see people you care about achieving success.  But I couldn’t help but feel envious, and even more so, confused.  Would I have liked to have some of the same opportunities?  Sure.  But why didn’t I care enough to make it happen?  I am extremely ambitious individual, yet I had no ambition.

Suddenly, blogging began to feel like a massive, daunting chore.  How did these bloggers do it all?  I follow bloggers who write two posts per day.  TWO POSTS PER DAY.  Where on earth were they finding the time!?  I was drinking celebratory champagne if I could keep up with my commitment to post twice per week, which slowly became once per week, and, eventually, once or twice a month – and in those posts, I was usually apologizing profusely for not posting more.  I had contracts with brands that I was required to talk about on my blog once per month, or products that I was supposed to write about in exchange for monetary compensation or free stuff.  I found myself trying to figure out something interesting to say about these topics, but I had nothing.  My heart wasn’t in it, and I was sure that my readers could tell.  Sure, I was keeping up with my goals of posting once a week, and shouting out all the people I was supposed to shout out, and my page views were growing steadily – but was anything I was writing about actually of any value?  Did I actually have anything to say?  Or was it all just fluff, filler, mindless crap that I was posting because some podcast told me that I had to post this-many-times-a-month to stay current?  None of it was coming from my soul.

I read back through some of my older posts.  The ones that had received the best response from my readers and friends, the ones that I remember loving to write.  Mostly, they were travel diaries, personal posts and race recaps.  The words flowed.  The message was clear.  I felt things, because those posts had a heartbeat and a  soul.  They were my living, breathing creations, and they had come from a place of authenticity – not a “to do” list.  All at once, I realized that it was more important for me to write because I wanted to write – not because I had to.  Not because some company was paying me to push their product, or because I hadn’t posted in a week so I’d better write something before people forgot about me.  I’d rather write something passionate every three months than three-times-weekly empty junk.  And, most surprisingly, I actually didn’t give a shit if anybody forgot about me or my blog.  I’d rather have 10 quality readers than 100,000 superficial ones.  Also – let’s not forget – it’s my blog.  I started it for myself, as a place to collect my thoughts, photos and stories.  If I inspired or helped someone along the way, that was great, but that was never my sole intention.  How had I lost sight of that so easily?

I think that bloggers who write for others are wonderful.  I have learned so much from their posts, tips and tricks.  I love them.  They’re excellent at what they do, their posts are informative and valuable, and because I know so many of them personally, I know that they truly do enjoy blogging that way.  They treat their blogs like a business, and they are rewarded for it.  But it is with a large dose of humility and realism that I can now admit that kind of blogging is not for me.

I’ve taken a lot of time to decide what I want to make of my space on the internet.  I love my blog.  It’s like my child.  I have poured my heart and soul into this thing.  Thousands of hours of research, writing, editing and creating have gone into it.  And I’m not prepared to just abandon it.  However, it is time to take a step back.  This blog is not my business or my priority.  It is something that will come and go in my life, the way most things do.  I want to take Adventure To Anywhere back to its roots – a place for my Adventures!

Because I was not blessed with a trust fund or a sugar daddy, I am not able to live in a state of constant adventure and travel, as much as I’d love to make my life look that way online.  I am an average person who works an average job and lives in an average suburban home in a big, average city, with an average amount of free time, energy and money.  The (unfortunate) reality is that I get 2-3 weeks of vacation time per year, and, while I do plan on taking several longer trips in my lifetime, they will be few and far between. But when I do take adventures, whether they be near or far, and I feel inspired to write about them, I’m going to.  I want to write about mountain sunsets and ancient temples.  I want to write about hilarious airport mishaps and the trials and tribulations of budget backpacking.  I want to write honest reviews about places and products I love – whether I’m being paid or not.  I want to write about what’s on my mind and in my heart, even if it’s personal.  And I think that I do still want to write about running – but not on this particular blog, and not for any reason other than the simple desire to write about running.

Slowly, you’ll notice some significant changes around here.  I’m going to be deleting a LOT of useless shit.  I am going to transfer my running posts over to an entirely separate space – it’s going to be called “Adventure On The Run”, and I’m not even buying a domain for it.  That’s how little I care about impressing people with it.  You can check it out if you want, but right now it’s just an empty template.  It’s going to be a simple running journal – mostly just race recaps that I can look back on for years to come.  If other people want to read it, that’s super cool, but it’s not really going to be for anyone but me.  I have changed my Instagram account name to @adventureontherun, too.  I don’t think anybody even noticed.  I started an entirely new account for @adventuretoanywhere, and right now it has 14 photos and 120 followers – most of which are bots, bloggers and brands who comment on my photos with clapping hand emojis or “superb gallery!”…I expect they will stick around for a few days before they unfollow me for not following them back.  (lol.  internet things.)  This space – Adventure To Anywhere – will be my travel journal, my adventure diary, my personal story.  My fantasy life…the one I am only lucky to live a small percentage of the time, but the one that makes me feel most alive.

I have no idea what this new path is going to look like, but I am so excited about it.  I might write twice a year, or I might write five times per week.  It will just depend on the current season of my life, and how I am spending my free time.  I can not promise consistency, but I can promise authenticity.

See you soon,

-Ashley

Ashley Dempster is a twenty-something Canadian Travel and Adventure blogger based in Calgary, Canada. Her passions include good food, minimalist packing, running, music, and chasing down every opportunity for adventure.

8 Comments

  1. Part of the reason I stopped blogging a few years ago was because I just felt like I was going out and doing stuff for the sake of blogging about it… which eventually felt kind of dumb! I’ve begun blogging again with an entirely new blog and focus and really just as a means to share my passion for adventuring, exploring, running… and of course food. It’s hard not write the posts you think people want to read or get caught up in the analytics, numbers, page views – and sometimes easy to forget why I began blogging in the first place! I’m excited to see where you blog goes from here. Welcome back! 🙂

    1. Thanks Jen. So many people have been reaching out to tell me this! I think it’s all too common that we get ourselves crammed into these niches during a certain season of our life, and then things can sometimes change. I hope you figure things out, too. Of course you know I will always support you no matter what. 🙂

  2. Definitely understand what you are writing about. I also tried to figure out for myself what it means to be a blogger/travel blogger nowadays, even wrote about it on my blog, and sometimes compare my own travel blogging with Phoebe’s singing on Friends )) When I first started out, I read quite a few blogs of different topics and styles, but after a while you kind of get who is who, and most of the time can spot affiliations and biases a mile away, even if not mentioned. Like you, I have about a few hundred of supporters on Instagram, not even sure if they are all that real also. Sometimes I get emails and offers about how to “buy my way to stardom”, and I think everybody knows the truth about social media numbers anyway, so why bother and who is even impressed by them anyway?! )) Unlike you though, I personally like and respect those bloggers more who care and respect their readers enough to produce and write unique content, even if it means, I get to read it a couple times a week or even a month. For me they are in a way artists and creatives with their own individual visions, and it is definitely another level of travel blogging… I personally think you are going in the right direction, so keep it up!

    1. Thank you so much for your kind words, Nadia!! And you’re right, you can spot ads from a mile away. I’m totally open to affiliations in the future IF they’re something I truly believe in, but I don’t want to accept everything that comes my way just to make a buck.

      Looking forward to seeing which direction we both go 🙂

  3. Good for you! If it isn’t working for you then don’t feel pressured to continue. My blog has always been a personal outlet for me rather than a source of income or way to get a bunch of free stuff. There is nothing wrong with that but I don’t want the pressure of having to write. I enjoy the connections I have made through blogging and the occasional free race entry or other review but really it’s just for me to look back on and connect with others. It has to work for you! Looking forward to following your new blog!

  4. This was really helpful for me to think about. I’ve tried blogging a few different times, stopped, decided I wanted to write about something different, then made a different blog. It occurred to me a few months ago that I was searching for something I couldn’t find really well–simple posts on specific places to see while traveling and a rating for them (need to see/not need to see). I want to write about this so that people, like me, can maybe find the information they need without having to weigh a bunch of pros and cons. However, I feel my fingers itching to write more heart-felt articles on travel and life, so I can already feel that I want to add more than just reviews. I guess I’m in a place a bit like you!

    Karlie http://thetatteredpassport.wordpress.com

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