My blog just turned five, and in human years, that’s always a pretty big deal; it’s a whole handful, half a decade, a twentieth of a century (I think?).
Every now and then I think with much fondness back to 2012 when everything was much simpler, a year when it all started with the words “Going Somewhere Slowly” on a lazy Sunday afternoon in Gyeongu, South Korea; I had a (somewhat planned) journey ahead, an idea to document it all and absolutely no digital knowledge.
Funnily enough the South African hit TV show “Going Nowhere Slowly” never came to mind when “Going Somewhere Slowly” came to mind and I often have to correct people that I’m going somewhere, not nowhere. I also have to remind people that my name is Anje and not Anja, but that is a story for a different day.
Five years ago a web-host-thing caught my attention with the words, “no coding skills”; I got a domain, built a drag-and-drop site and hit publish. The design/layout was horrendous, the colour choices were a cry for graphical help. It had no social media links, my Twitter account was a lifeless profile consisting of 6 tweets in 3 years during which I tried to figure out what exactly the @-sign meant. A Facebook page didn’t even cross my mind, I didn’t know of Instagram’s existence and Google+ was an unknown foreign concept. The SEO was bad, as a matter of fact, it just didn’t exist. Nothing. Nada. Zero. Zilsch.
I started with my journey, wrote about my experiences and had about five readers; occasionally six but mostly three.
During the last 5 years I’ve learnt my fair share of lessons, when I published my 100th post I wrote: 10 Lessons Learnt from Travel Blogging, on another day I wrote: 19 Tips for Blogging Because 20 is too many, and recently I shared advice with Travelstart – along with some other South African travel bloggers – on How to Become a Travel Blogger.
I shared the lessons I learnt, a few tips, and now, in honour of my blog’s 5th birthday here are a few random thoughts on this milestone.
5 Years of Blogging: Facts, Truths & Things
The truth: After 2 years of freelancing (juggling a few different roles, balls and hats), the majority of my friends and family still have no idea what I’m doing “with my life”. Apart from immediate family and a few friends, the people who support me the most are total strangers.
I blog because: It combines two of my greatest passions: writing and exploring. Passion is the driving force behind everything that I do.
My biggest supporters: My parents and brother.
Confession: Every single time, whenever I see that there is a new comment on my blog or on social media I fear that it is something negative.
The internet: Can be mean.
To my readers: Words can’t convey how much I appreciate every bit of support, click and comment.
Another confession: Negative words about a piece of creativity can hit a creative person (whether you are an artist, writer, dancer or singer) in a place that’s difficult to explain, and often difficult to get out of.
Never ever have I: Thought of quitting, that thought has never crossed my mind.
Biggest blogging pet peeve #1: Unprofessional behaviour.
Biggest blogging pet peeve #2: Jealously. Why can’t we all just allow others to have opportunities, why can’t we share others’ joy and excitement?
Motto: Comparison is the thief of joy.
About travel: It is not a competition; go where you want to go, whether that is in your own hometown, going abroad or visiting the same country twice.
Did you know: Writing one blog post – from finish to start, choosing, resizing, editing, uploading photos, doing the social media, compiling e-mail for blog post notification – can take anything from 4 to 8 hours.
Message to other bloggers: Calm down. Chill. Seriously.
About press trips and free things: Nothing is free; not every opportunity/thing is for every person, know when to say no and no thank you (more on this later).
Do this: Someone once said, “Humanize before you monetize.” Build relationships, the rest will follow.
Thoughts on social media: It sucks but it is necessary. Unfortunately.
Thoughts on blogging courses: You are you own blogging course; observe, learn from others and find your way.
I think: Everyone and anyone can be a blogger; the whole world might not be filled with Ernest Hemmingways, but your opinion and voice matter.
I believe in: Hard Work. I believe in starting at the bottom, putting in the time, knowing your place in an industry and climbing the ladder step by step without skipping any steps. I will forever look up to my late grandparents, my father, my mother and my brother who all built their dreams out of nothing and started at the bottom. Success is earned, it is not a sense of entitlement.
Timing, perseverance, and ten years of trying will eventually make you look like an overnight success.
– Biz Stone
I struggle with: Differentiating between taking a break and taking my break to work.
My best working buddy: My cat. She sits/sleeps next to (often on) the laptop from about 21:00 until I go to bed (but she fails horribly at accompanying me when I wake up at 04:00).
Next goal: Taking better videos and learning how to edit properly; I’ve developed an interest, and dare I say passion, for videos (but still not keen on turning the camera on my face and doing vlogs).
One goal I’ve been trying to get to for the last two years: Making time for myself. I still feel guilty when I’m not working and admire people who can switch off over weekends and after five and read a book or watch a series.
One last thing: My beloved bicycle, Koos (the reason why this blog started), also just turned five. And by the end of 2016 I said that I wanted to do another trip with him in 2017, but we’re almost in 2018 already. Next year. I’m making a deal with myself, with Koos and with you guys, my readers, if I don’t do it I’ll give you all a free vacation. It’s in black and white now, there is no turning back.
I should’ve said that I would give you all a free cup of coffee…