Jaime Perez of My Travelouge kindly nominated me to participate in a virtual blog tour. The challenge asks that I give readers an inside peak at my blog through the framework of answering four questions. What is my workflow process? What am I working on? How does my work differ from others of its genre? Why do I write and create what I do? I thought it was an interesting challenge that would force me to reflect on my blogging and also gain insight into how other bloggers I enjoy reading create and sculpt their blogs.
For me, the first thing I need is inspiration. An idea. Something that makes me want to drop everything and write. Since I am a travel blogger, I usually try to organize my blog around an event or a trip. In fact, the concept of thirdeyemom all began because of a memorable trip: My hike along the Annapurna trail in Nepal in 2010. If I am not writing on a specific place, I look for inspiration and ideas through reading books, current events, photo challenges and social good campaigns. For the most part, my blog is organized around series of stories about trips I’ve made and how these experiences have impacted my life.
During a trip, I take tons of notes documenting my journey and snap as many photos as possible. I also research a destination before, during and after my trip by reading travel books, non-fiction and fiction books on the place, and I also search the internet for missing information. I soak up as much as I possibly can while I’m there and then wait until I return home to begin blogging. The most recent series I’ve written on include Ethiopia and Cuba.
Once I am home and rested after a big trip, the next thing I do is organize. I go through my notes and unedited photos and look for stories. I jot down ideas of posts on a sheet of paper and then arrange the posts in order. I like to have a beginning and an ending to a destination but that does not always go as planned. Sometimes a photo challenge will come up and I will find a new, unexpected way to use the photos or tell a story. The key is being creative and flexible.
My favorite part of blogging is the third step: Going through my photos and editing them. I love this part! I tend to take hundreds of photos during a trip and I never have time to look at them until I get home. Once I’ve downloaded the photos onto my computer, I enter them into Lightroom where I go in and adjust each and every photo. It is amazing how much you can do to fix a bad shot and how beautiful you can make a photo be. I may even run a photo through another application like Snapseed or Instagram. It is amazing how much you can do and how fun it can be to create something special. Here are some examples below:
The last part of my process is sitting down and actually writing a post. Depending on the situation, it may take me an hour or hours (if there is a lot of research or photos involved). I also may not write a post in one sitting. I may begin it, import the photos and write a few sentences and then leave it for a while. It I have writer’s block, I will go on a run or walk outside or just come back to it later. It all depends.
Before I hit the “publish” button I always proofread and preview the post a few times and make corrections. WordPress can be finicky and sometimes I don’t like the way the images show up. Or I may have a couple of grammatical errors. Since I never have a second pair of eyes to review my posts, I try my best but of course sometimes mistakes happen! Thanks to my wonderful, supportive readers usually someone will let me know so I can change it.
Once a post is published, I finish up by promoting it via social media. Before I began blogging, I never used Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or Google+. But I’ve realized how important it is to promote your own work along with the work of others you read. Not everyone wants to subscribe via email to your blog. Some like to follow you on Facebook or Twitter or another platform. I follow different blogs and people different ways as well, and use the different platforms for different needs. I love Twitter for following different NGOs and current events. I love Facebook pages for following blogs I don’t want to read every day. I love Instagram for following photographers I like. It all depends. Therefore, giving readers options is important and it also helps you build your blog to people who may never have found you on WordPress.
The last thing I always try to remember is have fun. Be creative. Be spontaneous. If something grabs my attention, write about it! My blog is my creative outlet and something I am passionate about doing. It is not paid. It should not be work. It should be something I do because I want to do it and I love it. If I forget that basic reason why I started blogging in the first place, then it is time to step away and take a break. 🙂
What am I working on now?
I’m working on finishing up my post series on my June trip to Ethiopia. It generally takes me a good three to four months to finish a series and I always like to mix in other topics along the way to keep readers interested. Once I finish this series, I will move on to the next which is to be determined.
How does my work differ from others of its genre?
I started this blog as a travel blog writing exclusively about travel. However I truly found my unique niche by expanding my blog to include social good and advocacy. I write about the issues that impact the people in the places I visit. Some of the subjects I’m most passionate about include global health, human rights, poverty, education, the environment, women and girls, and cultural differences. I encourage readers to think about these issues even if it can be uncomfortable. Sometimes I even ask them to act.
Why do I write and create what I do?
I write and create my blog because I love it. It is my voice and a powerful way for me to document my life as well as the life of others in hope of making the world a better more peaceful place. The greatest reward I receive from my blog is knowing that I have touched or inspired someone or have done something to create positive change. Participating in the recent United Nations Foundation Shot@Life “Blogust” campaign has been exceptionally rewarding. In the month of Blogust, through readers social media shares and comments on our blog pieces, we were able to surpass our goal and will provide 60,000 vaccines to children in need around the world. My social good blogging trips to Ethiopia and India also were quite inspiring.
Other bloggers I follow who I’d love to hear about their workflow process:
I don’t want to tag anyone in particular for this challenge, however, you know who you are! (hint hint…..those who regularly comment and read my blog). If anyone wants to go ahead and do the Virtual Blog Tour, please feel free! I’d love to hear more about why you do what you do.
Thanks Jaime for giving me the push to sit down and reflect on my blogging!