I was excited about a lot of things: starting a blog, writing, and meeting & befriending like-minded people.
This is one of those things that are filed under Expectation vs Reality.
In my mind, I saw myself entering through a big wooden door and meeting old-time bloggers in person, shaking their hands, introducing myself. (Metaphorical, of course.) I imagined having long conversations and being privy to industry gossip and secrets. Finally having people to talk to about blogging — aside from my friend Andrew, who often says he wants to start a blog but hasn’t done so yet.
In fact, I already have a draft of questions as conversation starters.
- 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?
I imagined going on trips with fellow bloggers and realizing how different (or similar) it is from the usual trips I have with friends.
I wanted to become a part of a community.
So, what happened?
It’s probably my naivete to expect that people will be welcoming. Or perhaps it’s because that’s how I am as a person — if I see someone alone, I immediately extend an invite to join me or my group.
The first few local bloggers I talked with online were okay, but I felt the heat of competition. This wasn’t what I expected. Some of them would engage in casual banter but dodge answers to questions like how to get invited to fam trips. Fam trips (or familiarization trips) are free trips sponsored by tour agencies or tourism boards to help with promotion. The funny thing is when I asked those I was just making small talk, not planning on pitching or making on actual list. There’s this due who was very friendly until he learned I was planning on a trip to a similar destination. Did he think we’d be competing with a “scoop”? I don’t know.
In my first year of blogging, one of my goals was to get accepted to this local blogging group. I was but it was disappointing. I realized that most members have been in the industry for years that they already have their own group of friends and — to be frank — a lot of them are snobs.
In our first year of blogging, one of my first goals was to get accepted to this local blogging group in the Philippines. I was just disappointed. I realized that most members have been in the industry for years that they already have their groups and, to be frank, a lot of them are snobs.
I made attempts to be invited in casual meetups (like coffee talks) but nothing came out of that.
Over time, I got acquainted online with other local bloggers that I actually like. Still, there’s the lingering feeling that the blogging industry isn’t the community experience I thought it was.
Finding support groups online
The internet is such a blessing. Eventually, I found international groups that constantly provide 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.
Take this situation, for instance. A few weeks ago, the FB page of Catanduanes Promotions Board grabbed one of our photos. The watermark was removed and replaced with their own. I sent messages to the page but was ignored. I was in a dilemma because I wanted to uphold our copyright, but I also didn’t want to offend or burn bridges especially to tourism offices whom we might be able to partner with in the future.
I asked about this online. In the local blogging group I got a single reply, whereas in the FTB I received more support. 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.
Is this my tribe?
I don’t know if I’ve found my tribe. I don’t want to assume because it would seriously hurt if I somehow get kicked out. This happened before — I inadvertently broke a group rule, got no warning whatsoever and was banned.
That saying, I’m thankful that I don’t feel alone and I am in a community which offers continuous help and support to each other.
To be honest, 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.
Maybe I’ll find my people in my generation. Maybe they’ll find me. Maybe it’ll just happen.