I was very excited to be part of a travel blogging group.
In my mind, I saw myself walking through a big brown door and meeting old-time bloggers in person, shaking their hands, introducing myself. I’d imagined having long conversations and being privy to industry gossip and secrets.
I already have a draft of questions as conversation starters, in fact.
- How has writing been to you so far? Have you had writer’s block and what did you do to get past that?
- Have you ever grown tired of constantly blogging about all the places you go to?
- Do you have some place you frequent but don’t blog about? Where, why?
- Do you answer all readers’ messages? How about “lazy” questions?
- Have you experienced getting bashed for something you wrote?
- Other things.
I thought about going on trips with bloggers such as myself and know how different (or similar) it is from the usual trip with friends. I wanted to become part of a community.
Barging in through the world of blogging
The first few local bloggers I talked with online were okay, I guess, but competitive. Some dodged answering questions on how to get invited to fam trips* but would gladly reply to everything else. There’s this one dude who turned snob after learning we were also planning to go to a new location same as his group.
I guess this shouldn’t have been surprising, but it still caught me off-guard.
My initial lame attempts at asking to be invited in meetups were in naught. Over time, I got acquainted online with a few local bloggers that I actually like. (I’m not going to name names, but if you read this, you know who you guys are.) Still, there’s this feeling that blogging isn’t really a community experience as I thought it was.
When I got accepted to a local group that I admired for a long time, I realized that most members have been in the industry for years that they already have their own sets of friends. It’s like transferring to a new school in the middle of a school year.
There isn’t that much collaboration going on as well. I don’t really know why. Once I pitched in about having a link exchange thread and only one responded, a relatively new blogger such as myself.
*Fam trips or familiarization trips are usually free trips provided by tour companies or tourism boards for bloggers to help with promotion.
Finding groups online
Inasmuch as it’s more poetic to write about being a lone wolf or head on to a depressing resolution, I actually found groups that are constantly providing support and encourage growth. My favorite would be Female Travel Bloggers, a group of lovely ladies traveling in different parts of the world.
FTB has regular threads for collaboration efforts and it’s open for various discussions, which range from the technical side of blogging to what-to-do’s in different situations (e.g., experiencing burnout or fatigue from constantly blogging). We can talk about small and huge successes and frustrations, and there is always, always people who would listen and respond.
I’d like to talk about this time when I turned to them for help. A few weeks ago, a tourism board grabbed one of our photos, healed the watermark and replaced it with their own before posting it in its Facebook page. The page admin ignored my messages asking for take-down (Hello Catanduanes Tourism Board). I was in a conundrum because although I want to uphold our copyright, I also didn’t want to offend or burn bridges.
I posted about this dilemma online. Whereas in the local group I got a single reply, I received much more support in FTB. At least two bloggers even posted in the tourism board’s page to protest or get its attention, and before the day ended an official finally replied to one of my messages.
Aside from this active support system, I also benefited from guest posting and link exchanges. I was able to raise our blog’s domain authority enough to rank high in Google in my posts this year. In fact, our stats have more than doubled compared to that from the last quarter of last year.
Have I found my tribe?
I don’t know, to be honest. I guess I don’t want to assume because it would seriously hurt if something happened and I find my ass out of any groups that I like. I’m thankful that I didn’t feel alone, and I can even write a mushy letter of gratitude to all the international bloggers who helped or supported us in one way or another.
I think a part of me still wants to have an online barkada of local bloggers, but maybe it doesn’t have to be the same crowd I looked up to before I started.
Maybe I’ll find my people in my generation. Maybe they’ll find me.
Maybe it’ll just happen.
Right now I appreciate what I have.