Ventures, Values, Visions for Venga, Vale, Vamos
When I started this blog nearly twelve years ago, it was out of pure passion: passion for building websites, for learning my way around WordPress, and for sharing my excitement as my junior year of college approached, which I would be spending in Madrid. Over the years, what started out as something that was meant primarily for myself and secondarily for close friends and family started seeing visits from fellow expats in Spain and, later, travelers of all sorts.
As a budding digital marketer, I relished the uptick in site traffic and jumped at the opportunity to use my blog as a sandbox for the web development, design, writing, SEO, social media, and marketing skills I was learning for my career. And when I started attending blogger meetups while living in Sydney, I realized there were plenty of people just like me who had turned their blog into a real business. So I dove into that idea head first, picked up my first sponsorship opportunities, and spent the end of my time in Sydney approaching this blog like a second job. And I loved it.
When I decided to leave Sydney permanently to pursue a long-term backpacking trip before returning to the U.S., I was thrilled by the idea that I would be able to dedicate more hours each day to blogging. What never occurred to me was that my itinerary, which had me jumping from one city to the next every two or three days, left barely any time for blogging. Plus, I truly underestimated just how exhausting non-stop travel is or how egregiously slow wifi can be in many places. And on top of that, when I actually had a spare minute to myself, could keep my eyes open, and could get a webpage to load in less than five minutes, my freelance clients had to take priority over blogging.
Full-time travel still was still great for blogging. I collaborated with some amazing hotels and tour operators around the world, learned a lot about the hospitality industry, and, of course, lived enough stories to fill up this blog for centuries.
Since returning to the U.S. in 2017, most of my energy has had to go into my full-time job instead of this blog. I’ve tried to keep Venga, Vale, Vamos going as much as I can, although you may have noticed many of my recent posts are either guest posts from fellow travel bloggers or brand collaborations. And even when I am writing from the heart these days, as a professional marketer, it’s hard to ignore the SEO and clickbait tactics that have become second nature to me, resulting in bland listicles and search engine-friendly articles that barely speak to my personal experiences. Heck, even as I write this, I find myself subconsciously pondering how I can title this post to elicit the most Pinterest clicks.
Now that we’re in the midst of a global pandemic with no end in sight, travel seems like the last thing I should be writing about. I may have more free time than before, but my “globetrotting” these days is limited to driving a few suburbs away for a socially distanced walk, and, like most of you, all of my future travel plans have been canceled or postponed indefinitely. Despite all that, I miss the way this blog used to make me feel! The passion it ignited, the sense of accomplishment, the ardor for writing as often as I could. So perhaps it’s time to figure out how to get back to the way I once wrote about travel.
My political post last month, an obvious departure from travel content, was one attempt at renewing my blogging fervor, and I truly enjoyed writing it. I also found a lot of pleasure in fleshing out a hotel review post that I had started years ago. And I’m going to do my best to start writing posts that I enjoy writing, whether they follow blogging/SEO best practices or not.
Chatting with a friend the other day about our 2010 Stonehenge Summer Solstice Festival adventure, I found myself reading posts from the early days of this blog and was delighted to have these recorded memories, regardless of their appeal to a general audience or ability to generate inbound traffic. Creative writing that’s not boxed in by required research, prescribed formats, or marketing must-dos is what this blog was once about, and watching the world end around us seems like as good a time as any to return to that. And I have no shortage of stories to tell, tips to share, and photos to post.
So, yes, I’ll keep posting interviews with other travelers, you’ll continue to see some brand partnerships, and the digital marketer in me will never be able to fully disregard blog optimization tricks, but I’m also going to do my darndest to create more posts that are straight from the heart. Even if they’re just self-indulgent ramblings like this one.