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Jealousy Almost Made Me Quit Travel Blogging
I’m not kidding around. This title is not clickbait. Not even close. I seriously almost quit travel blogging this month. It was not a good time, my friends, not a good time at all.
As you know, I’ve been running this website for a little more than three years. I might not have always updated consistently, but regardless of any flakiness on my part, this blog has been my consistent loving passion.
My feelings changed a lot in the later part of August and definitely September.
Jealousy and insecurity were both the main culprits. Hey, I never pretended to be perfect.
Just to Clarify: You’re Not Quitting Travel Blogging, Right?
No, no, no, of course not! I love my travel blog way too much to suddenly flounce. Let’s not even touch the amount of money I’ve invested into this site either. It wouldn’t be cool to walk away.
So don’t worry. I’m around for a long time to come. I even have plenty of new posts lined up. After all, I went to the Brooklyn Book Festival for the first time (yay!), and we all know I need to talk about my literary adventure, yes?
Keep in mind, though, school has started again so I can’t update all the time, but I promise I won’t disappear forever. Breathe easy, readers.
So, with that out of the way, what was it that pushed me to the breaking point so much that I would actually consider leaving travel blogging forever?
Why Is Blond Wayfarer So Salty? What Happened?
Traffic. Of course. Freakin’ traffic. And Google being a brat.
Let’s just say I spent a big chunk of my summer vacation fixing and optimizing old posts. We’re talking at least three hours a day of dedication to make my site more valuable to readers. And at first, things were great.
Traffic boomed in July. I felt confident. I felt awesome. I felt like my hard work was “paying off.”
Then what happened? Oh, girl, you guessed it! Google switched up the algorithm in August, causing one of my posts (about poetry of all things) to get knocked off the first page. Still, I didn’t lose too much ground compared to others lamenting in groups. Another post of mine was also losing traffic, but it was seasonal in nature and focused solely on the summer. At the moment, I felt okay. I could always bounce back. No big deal.
Soon afterwards I learned that Google would start displaying a warning to visitors if certain websites weren’t “secure.” I didn’t want to upset my readers or make them nervous. So, like many others, I switched to “https.”
Then my traffic really decided to take a leap off a cliff. I redirected everything, but, alas, the damage was done.
At first I thought the traffic drop with “https” was normal. But oh no.
Unfortunately, when I learned others in the travel blogging community weren’t affected by the “https” switch, my annoyance slowly transformed into full blown rage and jealousy. Not necessarily toward other bloggers themselves, mind you, but there was no denying my situation infuriated me.
I felt I was being penalized for doing what “Google wanted.” I optimized everything, eagerly shared tips and resources with friends, busted my butt to improve, only to lose all my results. Gee, thanks.
Honestly, I think my traffic death made me angrier than my breakup and car accident combined, haha. I was mad.
“What’s the point?” I thought more than once. “Why do I never seem to benefit from hard work while everyone else does? Why should my readers care? And why should I care?”
Writing in my blog suddenly felt like a chore. I didn’t want to do it. I felt like I was back in university working toward my master’s degree, and no, that is not a compliment.
How Did I “Get Over Myself” and Return to Blogging?
This month I recently read a young adult (don’t judge, I teach teenagers) novel called The Hate U Give. I recommend reading it whenever you have time. It’s a wonderful book and made me think a lot about race in a new light.
One of my absolute favorite quotes in the book was the following sentence:
Sometimes you can do everything right and things will still go wrong. The key is to never stop doing right.
In context, this quote refers to always standing strong in your beliefs and making a positive impact in your world and community even when things go wrong, sometimes horribly so. We see this type of thing happen all the time. You can work hard at your job and still be fired. You can treat people with kindness and still be taken advantage of. The list goes on.
Sure, travel blogging isn’t activism. Not even close. However, this beautiful quote reminded me that while I did everything “right” by creating good content, sharing resources with others, and carefully optimizing my older posts, a snafu still happened and threw off my progress. Every single entrepreneur has the same story. Probably multiple same stories. However, giving up isn’t an option.
Lessons I Learned From This Debacle
It’s always important to see the lessons during the bumps in the road. Otherwise what will you learn? Nothing. I thought about my situation (which is still ongoing) and came up with the following lessons. I hope my lessons will help other bloggers who may be struggling with motivation.
1. Google Can Go Kick Rocks
Haha, sorry. Can you tell I’m still a little bitter? I’m sure ranting about everyone’s favorite search engine in this post won’t help my rankings either, haha. Whatever, I’m speaking my mind.
But, no, really, Google annoys me. Have you noticed that every time there is an algorithm change either Google itself or someone associated with the company suddenly tweets that creating excellent content is key in order to rank? That being an authority is all you need to do? For reals, you guys, all you need to do is write better!
Now I understand creating good content. Updating posts frequently to reflect changes is good and helpful to readers. Linking to high quality sites is also a good idea. Hell, even writing 2000 words per post with essential information is good, if not a bit overkill. Responding to readers’ inquiries and actually answering the problem(s) presented in your post is especially good. What’s “not so” good? Claiming all you need to do is produce good content to rank in Google.
Get outta here with that nonsense! I don’t believe it for one second. I’ve hung around in SEO groups long enough to know there is more to ranking than being an authority, whatever the hell that means.
Oh, and Google? I’ll believe your “create good content” and “establish trust and authority” non-answers when I receive relevant search engine results first. 100% of the time. If I look for, say 48 hours in Washington DC, I don’t want to see itineraries for a week or more outranking more appropriate posts geared toward a weekend in DC. And, no, I’m not interested in Quora posts from 2010 either. Just sayin’. Why don’t you take your own advice?
2. All that Glitters Ain’t Gold
If you’re a jealous person and have a travel blog, or any blog, then you need to remember all that glitters isn’t gold. Just because someone has more traffic than you, more followers than you, whatever doesn’t mean he or she is better than you.
Comparing yourself to everyone else only hinders your own progress. Instead of worrying about them, bring all the energy and focus back on you and your business. Every second you dwell is another moment you waste.
And keep in mind. Some niches draw more followers than others. At the end of the day, it’s about your audience and not numbers.
Remember your loyal readers. They are more than a number in Google analytics.
And again, all that glitters ain’t gold. Someone else might struggle in other areas that you thrive in. So instead of worrying about other people focus on what makes you and your blog extra special.
3. Remember the Positivity in the Travel Blogging Community
In the travel blogging community, we all aspire to help each other grow into more powerful writers and influencers. Sure, you have a handful of jerks, but for the most part, the people are awesome. I have so many inspiring pals. It’s crazy!
So try to make friends in the community rather than seethe over “who is doing better” than you. Comparison is the thief of joy. Share advice with others. And then learn from them. Make each other’s blogs better together!
Sure, at first, I wondered why I shared tons of ideas with others only to dramatically flop myself, but again, even if things go wrong, doing the right thing aka being a helpful person is better than other options.
4. Write Whatever You Want – Keysearch and SEO Be Damned!
It’s great to care about SEO and Keysearch. I’m still researching keywords and optimizing in the hopes things turn around. But at the end of the day, you and I don’t own Google. Our bank accounts reflect this reality. Therefore, sadly, we are pretty powerless against Google’s whims and desires.
They could switch the algorithm tomorrow so only major corporations, such as Amazon, Walmart, and Target, dominate the first page for every single search result. Hell, they could change it so posts older than three years old no longer have a place in the top 1000 search results. They could change so it’s impossible for a website with a domain authority less than 50 to rank.
We have no control over what Google does. Zero. Sure, some SEO experts pretend they do, but they don’t.
So write whatever you want. Do your keyword research, but if you feel passionately about a subject that isn’t searched for, do it anyway. It’s your site. It’s your voice. Do. What. You. Want.
Tell me a time jealousy almost made you give up. What happened? How did you overcome your negative feelings? And a big “thank you” to my readers for sticking with me. You’re the very best!