Home again, home again, jiggity jog!
Wowsa – these last few weeks have been quite the ride. From conferences to video work to photography workshops, from the West Coast to the South to more of the Midwest – we’ve gotten AROUND, yo. It’s been really awesome and a season full of excitement and sweetness and I’m so thankful to have my partner in crime sitting in the front seat of that rented Prius with me. Okay fine, driving me around. You know imma passenger for life.
Now for the bad news: as sweet and fun and energizing as all this travel has been, it’s also been really easy to quickly fall behind on blogging work and lose ourselves into the vortex of can’t-keep-up.
That’s what today is all about. The ways to keep up. And build. And make travel work for your blog. Cause we like to see the world and be wild like that.
In my blogging life, there are two types of travel:
- No-work-at-all, where I have zero responsibilities and I can completely unplug from the world;
- Some-work-required, where I am going to try to stay connected and keep up with posts because maybe I didn’t get everything ready in advance or I don’t have anyone taming the email beast and I still want to keep that blog train chuggin along.
Before we pack up our little operation in duffel bags and scurry out the door, I try to determine which of these two types of trips I’m about to adventure off on. Major spoiler alert: usually it’s #2.
Since I’m usually trying to do at least some sort of work from an airplane, the passenger seat of the car, or a tiny hotel room in the middle of a no-name town in Oregon, and since we’ve been traveling around like hungry food blogging nomads lately, I thought I would throw together a post with all the little life hacks we use to keep on building the blog while we’re traveling.
Because in addition to being really fun, traveling can be a great time to build your blog. SERIOUS.
Yeah, we’re super serious.
I bet you’re going to give me your best ninja tricks in the comments, too, because you’re the bestest of friends and you know I’m greedy for them, right? Sweeeet.
#1: Schedule Ahead
So the “correct” answer, I guess, technically, according to the invisible blogging game makers, would be to schedule ALL of your content in advance of your travels and not have to worry about writing any of your regular posts while you’re gone. If that’s easy for you to do and you thrive with following all the good blogger rules, Merry Christmas. You are awesome.
And now for the rest of us.
I find it extremely difficult and sometimes just really bleh to draft up posts in advance — I mean draft to the point where all of them are completely written and edited and accurately categorized and full of awesome images and tagged with all the right keywords and scheduled out to a perfect T and ready for the PUBLISH BUTTON eight billion days from now. This is halfway because I’m a procrastinator and would rather be eating a large plate of crackers and hummus and goat cheese than writing my posts for next week (it’s sooo farrrr awayyyy), halfway because I believe in limiting my time for some tasks so that I don’t end up spend three days writing one post, and halfway because I like to write to my readers in real-time. Halfway x 3 = I’m good at math.
This is what works really well for me –> I schedule the essential elements of my content in advance, meaning the stuff that I won’t be able to work on from the road. For me, that’s the food and cooking and photos (hi thare food blog). Typically that means spending a Saturday getting that all done before I travel so that I have all my posts drafted with photos and recipe. Then each morning, wherever in the world I find myself, I can connect to the magic of wifi and spend a few hours writing directly to my readers so that it’s live, real time, and fresh, even if the food content was drafted up last weekend. This is what feels good to me.
When we stayed at a beach house in North Carolina with my family earlier this year, I would get up at 5:30am and write my posts surrounded by gorgeous views of the sunrise over the ocean with coffee in hand before anyone else was awake. BINGO yes yes yes I sort of loved it (see picture above, yeah, right?). But when I went on a girls’ trip to Aspen, I knew I didn’t want to be getting up at 5:30am and writing in the morning after a long night of cheese and wine, hot tubbing, and marathon belly-laughing, so that was a trip for which completely scheduling ahead was a self-requirement. And it was awesome.
The takeaway: Take it on a case-by-case basis. Do what needs to be done in advance (cooking, crafting, fashioning, picture-and-videoing, etc.) to maintain your current posting schedule, and then determine how much you’re okay writing from the road and fit that writing time into your travel schedule.
#2: Write and Edit on the Plane (no wifi, no problem)
I find that the airplane is THE GOLDEN PLACE for me to crank out a bunch of photo editing and/or writing and/or work. It’s like a sweet little gift hidden right there in the sardine-packed peeling-leather row of barely reclining airplane seats, and I secretly always look forward to having this time to be forced away from my mostest funnest apps and redirected right back into my core work.
The good news for us internettys is that on a plane, all web-based distraction options are removed (I’ll miss you FB) and so all we can do with that laptop or phone is just… work. HALLELUJAH.
Brainstorming. Drafting. Editing. Organizing photos. Color correcting and spot removal and contrast boosting. Saving and renaming. Pinterest photo making. Video editing. All of it can happen (and fast! whoa snap!) without the beautiful distraction of having the world wide web at our fingertips.
The takeaway: Spend two minutes planning for whatever work you’re going to do on the airplane. Get your photos imported. Grab those videos and make sure that your editing softwares are up to date. Download the talking points for that freelance post you’re writing. Be ready to work work work work work.
#3: Emails and Comments in the Car (gotta love the hotspot)
Bjork and I both have iPhones and there is something supercool about iPhones which is that they can give you wifi when you normally can’t have wifi. Some of you know this. Some of you just BOOMed up there in the head. Minds = blown.
We use our iPhone wifi aka hotspots ALL THE TIME when we travel. We basically worked the whole 15 hours to and from Montana last year all from the comfort of the backseat with laptops in tow, and there was a lot of emailing, commenting, and WordPress-ing in general time going on as we drove through Oregon earlier this month, all compliments of the hotspot. Sometimes we even use this little life hack when we drive back and forth to our home town which is just an hour away. But you guys, an hour is an hour. Hiiii-YAH! Be a time bender.
I find that this is best for my maintenance work, like email and comments, because usually Siri is yelling directions at me and I am trying to eat a handful of Pretzel Crisps while blocking the sun from my eyes with my third hand and someone has to go to the bathroom ahhhgain *eye roll*. It’s hard for me to work with all of that going on, but email and comments are an easy to-do that can get checked off in the midst of all the road chaos.
To set up your hotspot and take advantage of built-in phone wifi, just go into your settings and turn the hotspot on. Set password, connect, and voila.
The takeaway: Use your hotspot to access internet through your phone while driving in the car and reap the benefits of doing your maintenance work (comments and emails espesh) as you drive through the cornfields of Iowa. This is almost always more efficient than using your phone because, um, thumbs. Trust me.
#4: Engage Readers on Social Media
When you go somewhere, ask your readers for advice on where to stay, where to eat, what to see, and all that jazzy. Like, dahhh, right? But sometimes it’s easy to forget amidst locating those plane tickets while trying to remember which color suitcase is yours and which hotel were we staying at again?
When we were on the West Coast, I asked for recs on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and my blog. I got emails and comments galore – and here’s the best part: beyond just being a really fun-for-me and fun-for-readers way to boost up the activity on my blog and social media pages, THE FEEDBACK WAS SO SUPER HELPFUL. Like, I would study them before every single restaurant selection and Bjork would never ever get impatient with my desire to go to all 80+ restaurants in three days. It was an awesome way to connect with my readers and let them speak into the sparkly destiny of our travels.
The takeaway: Take advantage of the wealth of travel knowledge amongst your readers, and use your travels to gain engagement and give some fresh content to your social channels. People like interesting stuff.
#5: Podcasts and Audio Books
The audiobook is currently at the top of my Favorite Inventions list.
I love it when Bjork makes me drive the last leg of the trip after I’ve been sleeping the first 90% of the time, because what it actually means is that I can get a book full of knowledge plunked into my head while finishing a whole bag of honey mustard pretzels and a caramel almond sea salt KIND bar. I don’t even have to do anything. I just sit there and let it morph into my brain and it is an ultra happy place for me.
Truth –> I actually hate reading nonfiction. I know it makes you smarter, and right here and now I am straight-up rejecting smartness in book form. Major sleeper. I find it so much more engaging and enjoyable to listen to a nonfiction book, stop periodically to interrupt Bjork and tell him THE MOST INTERESTING THING EVER ABOUT THIS BOOK and isn’t that just unbelievable? and then go back to my happy listen-learning. With snacks.
This helps develop the blog because it helps develop ME as the blog-running person. There are books that are jam-packed with great information and theory and practices and strategies that would help me be a better and smarter blogger, but the problem comes when I don’t really like to read them. Long times of travel are, to me, the perfect time to cram on smartypants business-related audiobooks and podcasts.
We listen to audiobooks with an app called Audible and we use the native podcast app on our iPhones to organize all the podcasts that we follow.
Here are some of my favorite books and podcasts as of lately (both business and personal):
The takeaway: Identify something that you want to learn about in relation to your blog, and use audiobooks and podcasts to make learning really accessible while you’re on the go.
#6: Practice your Photography
Getting outside of your zone is a great time to practice your photography because it forces you to think differently about your light, your subjects, your style, your perspective, everything.
Every time we travel, whether for work or otherwise, I always have this internal debate about bringing my DSLR or just using my iPhone. I almost always decide to bring my DSLR and I am always glad, 100% of the time. I find that I’m super inspired to capture things in new ways and that getting out of my normal photography circle of operation helps me to become a better photography very quickly.
The same can be true even if you don’t have a DSLR or decide not to bring it. Visuals are a huge, non-negotiable part of any blog IMHO <– do you love when I use IMHO? I’m still trying it on for size –> so learning how to maximize your camera to see and capture beautiful things for your readers is a really important way that you can use travel to develop your blog related skills.
The takeaway: Bring your camera. Take lots of pictures. Use the new sights, colors, and lights to help you develop your photography skills – and use those new skills to make your blog more visually appealing.
#7: Meet People
By meet people, I do not mean do things that are crazy and record it on video.
But do as I say, not as a I do.
I like it when it goes more like this: meeting people and talking their ears off and asking them way too personal questions right off the bat and listening to all their deep stories and laughing really hard when I end up talking for at least a minute with a large smear of garlic truffle aioli across my face.
This has been a huge source of encouragement and a fun element of travel for us over this last year. We’ve met lots of people at the conferences and events that we’ve been traveling around to that have been so inspirational and kind and incredibly nice to us. But even beyond that, we’ve had more than a handful of people pursue us in order to get together when they see we are in their city. This is possibly the coolest thing ever. These real person connections are so energizing for me and I carry the simplest little conversations with me when I go back to doing my normal work at home alone in the basement. Real life friends fill my bloggy little heart up to the top.
The takeaway: Real people are everything. Behind the terms readers, pageviews, fans, and likes, there are very real people who are connected to you and your work. Take time to connect with and be inspired by blogging peers, readers, or heroes to help you keep real people and real relationships and trust with a capital T at the forefront of your blog.
#8: Take or Teach a Class or Workshop
We’ve been really fortunate that most of our travel this fall was already scheduled around classes, workshops, and conferences. We attended some and we taught at others, but mostly the benefit of this is that it not only gets you out and into the world as a traveler but also as a learner.
The takeaway: Before you are traveling somewhere, look up classes in that city that would be within your niche. Also possible and fun: plan your travel around courses that you find that look appealing. If you have a large enough following and teaching is one of your thangs, schedule a time and a place to teach a workshop as you go through various cities.
#9: Gather Content
Travel is theeee best time to simultaneously have fun and experience the world while gathering up some awesome stories and unique, meaningful content for your blog. This was so true for us in the Philippines – we were experiencing some really amazing things and going through a lot of personal change while also being exposed to the stories and realities of other people – most of which was content that would be shared to make this little blog a better, richer, more authentic place.
On-topic content is really important (FOOOOOD), but for me and since Pinch of Yum is a highly personal blog, straying from the norm for one or two posts to share bits and pieces of the big wide world with my readers is really fun and engaging for everyone. I think about blogs that I follow and how much I enjoy reading about their travels – stories, experiences, recommendations – and that always encourages me to share just one more picture or one more misadventure story from our travels here on Pinch of Yum. These are the things that make life (and a blog!) interesting IMHO. <– there it is again. Too soon?
The takeaway: Travel makes your life more fun, and a fun life will generate exciting content for your blog. Share your pictures, your videos, and your stories of your travels, especially if your blog has a strong personal element to it.
#10: Rest and Relax and Enjoy
It’s easy to get wrapped up in the spiral of DO EVERYTHING BETTER ALL THE TIME when you are a blogger. But as I read (ahem, listen to) The Happiness Advantage, and as I think about the seasons of my blog that have been most successful, I can clearly see that me as a happy blogger is me as a better blogger. And resting, relaxing, and taking in all the joys of a new place is something that makes me happy.
The takeaway: Take time to just BE. As you travel, do things that make you happy: morning walks, lazy breakfasts, sitting out in the sun, long dinners (anyone want to vacay with me?). Being happy not only feels good for your heart and soul, but it’s also a powerful strategy for making you a more effective and just generally enjoyable blogger.
It’s been an awesome season of travel, but to tell you the truth, I’m not too horribly sad that it’s coming to an end. I’m ready to be at home, cooking in my own kitchen ehmmm basement, running around my own familiar lake paths, and watching The Office while sitting on my own extra soft spot on the couch.
And besides, Minnesota winter is coming which means it’s time to hunker down with a big pot-o-chicken-wild-rice-soup. ♡ Until next time, Travel Adventures!