Cheers Sippin Gypsy Travelers! This post comes to you while enjoying one of my favorite cocktails of all time, my Sippin Gypsy Jalapeno Margarita. What a year this has been figuring out how to balance a full time career, motherhood and travel blogging! Dreams of being whisked away to a glamorous life of full time travel, experiencing new places every week were level set by the reality of understanding the root of building an audience, consistently conjuring up quality content and understanding a world that is very different as I go into my 40s then it was even just 20 years ago. While I understood that a travel lifestyle didn't need to be a National Geographic Reporter or the beloved Samantha Brown or Rick Steves, I certainly had a lot to learn regarding how to put what I discovered and loved out there for other travelers like me.
A quick recap of the start of Sippin Gypsy:
I remember sitting in the New Orleans airport at a bar, sipping my last Bloody Mary before the flight home, trying to come up with possible names for my new adventure....a travel blog. My husband and I would come up with a catchy name and quickly search to see if the name was taken already for a blog or business. I already had the nickname 'lil gypsy' given lovingly by a few friends and coworkers for my eclectic preference in fashion style, and constant need to be moving taking new job opportunities and up and moving with sometimes less than two or three months notice. Within our first five years together, my husband and I met, got married and had our first son together...we had already moved 6 times and changed cities 4 of those times. The 'sippin' was a give in. Between trips to Disney World when here in Orlando, New Orleans and Savannah, one of my self proclaimed favorite parts of visiting these places was the brilliant concept of sipping and strolling because of their open container laws enabling visitors to be able to walk around with a cocktail 'to go' and still be able to explore and experience things and not be cemented to a bar stool.
'Basic Training' and the start to wonderful new digital friendships and mentorships:
So how do you take a dream of traveling as a career and translate into today's format? Lots of reading and research quickly put me in front of this incredible group of ladies and gentlemen who were called "Travel Bloggers". Some of them were young single professionals that had figured out smart ways to work from their laptops around the world, others were couples or families who found jobs that enabled them to move to new countries with work (such as teachers or medical assistants) and others were like me...working that '9-5' and sneaking away on weekends off and paid holidays to soak in the new sights whenever they could. These fantastic individuals were wildly receptive to others in the travel blogging industry and offered support, suggestions and inspiration. So there I was...late 30s, staring at my phone and scared to death to download these apps and platforms called "Twitter", "Instagram" and "Snapchat". I was comfortable enough with Facebook and Pinterest I jumped right in and set up my Sippin Gypsy accounts....but I was 38 years old...was I allowed to "tweet" or post selfies on Instagram!!!??? I turned to the amazing family on Facebook, The Travel Bloggers Club and found the support I needed, and learned how to professionally use not only my social media platforms to share what I was proud of in my travels, but also I learned how to set up a professional blog, what this SEO concept is, and what to do to establish myself as a no name, middle aged family woman with a unique fashion style and lover of cocktails into a brand that connects with other amazing travelers and offers little tidbits of experience and excitement about exploring this incredible world we are all citizens of.
Taking it from a hobby to a lifestyle:
One fact that quickly stood out to me from many of the Facebook groups and new travel bloggers who popped up overnight was the difference between those with similar odd delusions that I had, that by creating a catchy blog name and posting pretty pictures of travel would translate to the perceived lifestyle of Anthony Bourdain or Samantha Brown. It became very clear how hard these travel bloggers worked at building quality content, spending time networking and promoting their information and really serious about managing themselves as a brand and working together to help build credibility in the digital realm so that their hard work would be more easily found by nonchalant browsers. The Facebook Group, The Travel Bloggers Club started some very helpful and interactive activities for members that helped us with networking together and promoting each other by sharing content on each others social media sights, commenting on each others blog and peer to peer coaching to writing better, posting more effectively in social media, and overall support in the industry! To this day I still revisit many of these blogs to gain inspiration and continue to support my digital friends and mentors:
Eliza is the host of The Travel Bloggers Club and created one of the most influential and inspirational blogs Digital Travel Guru Eliza and several other incredible ladies and gentlemen have been incredibly supportive to travel blogger newcomers and have demonstrated sincerity and diligence to helping others figure out how to navigate this digital world.
Alex and Lisa have been equally as inspirational and supportive. Their blog Career Gappers is so transparent and realistic. It gave me hope that even someone as inexperienced as myself can learn, grown and build my own blog. Last year, Alex and Lisa started cataloging their monthly business report, recapping efforts and successes to goals and opportunities as professional bloggers and how to grow their brand. This really helped things click for me. Their vulnerability to put their business out there helped me pace set and allowed me to set realistic goals.
Yeshira with her blog HelloYeshi has such a delicious way of captivating her readers. Her photos have such an artistic edge, and her love of travel and resonates through every post. Yeshi has been such an active member of our Travel Bloggers Club and helps newbies really settle into the group and feel welcomed. Last year Yeshi hosted a Travel Blogger Q & A where she invited many of us from the group to share more about ourselves on her blog! I was so inspired by this and loved getting to know my digital peers better through her posts!
Sometimes you encounter someone who really shifts your thinking and helps open door that were hidden to your comprehension of possibilities. Kemi of Musings and Adventures was just this sort of inspiration for me. Some of the first posts I encountered by Kemi were her recaps of day trips and weekend getaways. Since I was confined to travel on my days off or vacations, I was feeling discouraged that I couldn't contribute posts about 'my month in Spain'. Kemi has such a wonderful following of other women like us who find ways to add travel value even with just a day or two to explore. This gave me such relief and renewed hope for my own type of travel and posting!
Federica of A Stroll Around The World instantly caught my attention. I loved her style of writing and I really connected with this concept of slow travel, and taking your time to enjoy a location. For a while I was planning my trips to pack in as much content as I could, but the more I read by Federica I understood how much quality I could gain by slowing down a little and appreciating the small details that can often be missed in a fast paced travel. Federica is also very involved on Facebook and then a few months into reading her posts and I understood why I was so inspired...here was a fellow travel blogger over 20-something!! Yippee!! I was so glad to see another woman embarking in this journey!
Keep growing your network:
So now I find myself anxious to check in on Facebook and Instagram to see what my digital peers are doing daily. But I also really try to keep up with activities that continue to support each other. Our Facebook group committed to A Seven Day Challenge where a small group of us participate in a rapid fire of activity on each others blogs and social media sights to continue to build activity to our brands and improve authority in our domain name and other search tools and results. This recent Seven Day Challenge has introduced me to other truly inspirational travel bloggers:
Julie has created a most creative and attractive blog layout called Why Not Ju Her adventures across the globe are artistically cataloged on her blog and the overall energy is fantastic. My family heritage is from Norway, so I am excited to learn more about her suggestions for travel in Norway as we prepare to do a family vacation to see where my grandparents were from and explore more of such a beautiful country!
Diana and her blog Dianas Healthy Living is the perfect example of dedication and time spent building your brand and staying true to yourself. She has built a wonderful following and her fans are starting on her travel adventure as she includes not only reviews and posts from incredible restaurants and chefs, but her travels across the globe. What I found the most inspirational for me with Diana's site, is so many of her tips and growth come from her experiences right here in America! Since my current travels are keeping me Stateside as well, I found this refreshing that such a successful blog can flourish! (I have been a little jealous that life doesn't allow me to get to my bucketlist destinations worldwide...yet!!)
Mirela of The Travel Bunny is centered in one of my dream locations, Europe. She writes of her travels through many of the countries I have always found dreamy and right out of a fairy tale! Her blog offers great tips for getting the most out of your travel budget and really getting into the culture of the locations she visits!
Jayashree of Doibedouin has a wildly energetic blog and truly a beautiful way of looking at travel and bringing those she loves to be part of her travels. Like myself she has found the activities with the Travel Bloggers Club to be helpful to really growing her blog. She posted an article about our Seven Day Challenge that really explains how these activities boost your credibility within search engines.
Caitlyn with her blog With Caitlyn offers a wonderful concept to link food and travel: She litterally offers recipes inspired by her travels. Caitlyn's blog is beautifully real. You can find her review of a book she is reading, a new recipe and entertaining recaps of where she has visited. I've advised for my own boys who are interested in creating a lifestyle blog as we start traveling more to see how she balances what she enjoys doing at home and travel into an engaging blog!
Arunima of Nameste Solo Travel is one of the most brave and gracious ladies I have encountered in my blog research. Not only is she confident to venture into this world on her own and take in experiences independently, some of her travels have been met with challenges that she has written about most eloquently and handled respectfully. What really connected me to Arunima's blog was her post about her travel to Switzerland.
Lissa runs a blog about Family Travel called Roots Wings and Travel Things which I am so excited to have been introduced to! When I first created my own blog I thought it would be best to shield the world from my private life, specifically my children, But the way that Lissa catalogs her family adventures (and being another Midwest girl...) I am so anxious to learn more about how Lissa balances travel with children and shares their experiences.
Sydney created her blog A World In Reach to catalog her own travels in her quest to see as much of the world as possible. I love this about the travel blog lifestyle, and I know it is something my own children are aspiring to. I love that our world is be coming to accessible and that today's young professionals are showing us what they are learning as they explore. I never understood when people had never traveled from their hometown to see even more of their own country, but then you read the passion and insight that someone as bright as Sydney shares on her blog, and you just feel relief that our world just might be heading in the right direction!
Nina of Nina Out And About seems to have lived a life of travel. She explains that even her family traveled every chance they got and now she continues with that same diligence and passion to try exciting things in places many of have on bucket lists from decades ago! I am so excited to continue to network with Nina and gather ideas for what to do in some of the locations we are budgeting for in our own family adventures.
Alison is another wife and mother who runs a family travel blog called Five Family Adventurers I loved learning about her story uncovering how her and her husband were great travel companions and now are upholding that passion to explore together and bringing their children along. Her blog is really engaging and I truly connected with her experiences and seeing things through the eyes of her children.
So here we go! A Seven Day Challenge with digital peers that I feel like I have known my whole blogging life, and new friends that I am honored and excited to build partnerships with! Cheers to all of us and that you everyone for your support!
Lover of travel to charming places dusted with unique flavor. Join me as I explore the world sip by sip. Cheers!