How ‘Blogging’ & ‘Social Media’ nearly ruined our Travels – this is a story that is real, honest and raw. This is a story that some of you might relate to. If you are thinking about blogging or setting up social media accounts for your adventures – this is the OTHER side of the story… Real Stories from Real Families.
To Blog or not to Blog…
Hundreds of families will head off on their BIG LAP adventures this year or lots of little travelling holidays. Many are setting up Facebook pages, Instagram accounts and websites to share their epic travels. We LOVE following along, drooling over photos and soaking up all the hints and tips. #travelinspo to the extreme!
However, is ‘Blogging’ for you? This is the other side of the story…
Meet ‘Sarah’. Back in 2016, Sarah and her family were planning their 12 month lap of Oz. She had followed many travelling family blogs and social accounts and they all made it look so easy! Maybe, just maybe, they could pick up a sponsor if they posted the same way? This is her story:
“….I will be completely honest with you! I thought that if we set up a website and gave hints we might be able to get a sponsor like some of the other families. How cool would that be! Could we make money from this?
What a bloody nightmare and a complete waste of time it was for us and our family. I don’t think we really thought about the impact it would have on our travels and as we see other families going down a similar road, we wanted to share our story, which might make a difference to families who are wondering if it is all worth it.
Originally, we set up our Facebook page to keep in contact with our family and friends. We had met the Caravanning with Kids team at a caravan show in Bendigo and they were so helpful. They suggested a Group might be better, if reaching our family was our goal. We already had our page and rolled with that. What happened next was a surprise to me – I became addicted to social media. Yes, it’s a thing. We started posting photos and people liked them. They liked us. They thought we were funny. They shared some of our stories. Our “likes” started to build! How exciting!
This was addictive and we both got a real kick out of it – and we hadn’t even left yet. We set up Instagram and then started to chat about a website and logo. We had no clue, so went back to Caravanning with Kids for some advice. Once again, awesome conversations and advice – although I was now hooked and believed that we could be a Travel Blogging family! We would do our lap and make some money while we travelled. People were really liking what we put out there. We had 428 likers on Facebook! Surely the sponsors would start rolling in? (OMG, as I write this I am shaking my head at how foolish I was…).
Instead of focusing on work and getting the kids ready for our Lap, I was spending every waking minute researching and working on our ‘platform’. We spent thousands of dollars (that we didn’t really have) on website design, logo design and decals for our car and caravan. We purchased a GoPro, drone and some accessories that we had no idea how to use! Plus, countless hours on our facebook page and instagram account. I joined loads of groups and spent hours scrolling through Facebook. By the time we left for our lap in early 2017, I had spent 3 months working 15 hours PLUS on our ‘Travel Blog’. My husband was getting a bit cranky with me. I was on my phone A LOT! Looking back – YES, I was addicted.
Now, what happened next was ALARMING! I was so obsessed with building up our following that I was blinded by the impact this was having on my family. I was always on the phone, always on the laptop at night and always asking to pose and repose and repose for photos. I was mental and did not like the person I was turning into. I spent way too long working out what to post, when to post and I spent way too long writing articles for our (pathetic) website.
I posted some photos from Sovereign Hill in Ballarat and a follower asked me a question about the experience and I couldn’t answer her! I was too busy – getting the photos, doing Insta stories, writing notes for later, yelling at the kids to get in position and SMILE FFS, doing some videos, working on posts, worrying about when and what to post. All of this – and I could not remember what the actual day was like? Did I enjoy it? Was I present? For the next 2 months, this all spiralled out of control.
Why was I doing all this WORK? Everyone was cranky with me.
Finally, a reality check from Hubby:
“This was meant to be FUN, we were meant to be having the time of our lives! You are not getting paid for any of this ‘work’ you are doing and you are MISSING everything FFS!”
Gutted. Tears. Bubble Burst!
How did I let it get to this? Everyone else made it look so easy ☹
Back to Caravanning with Kids for advice – Adele is the owner and a savvy business guru who is very open with her knowledge and advice (she coaches other travelling families) Another reality check followed. Adele explained the other side to Travel Blogging. What businesses & brands look for, content creation, stats and reach etc. Mind was blown and I realised, despite all the hard work and effort, this was NOT something I wanted to do. She also shared stories about families that she knows who get paid for their content and how much work is involved in this, and also pointed out that these families had travelled for a long time BEFORE they started to work with Brands. They had already experienced their Lap, they had their adventure! I was missing my own Lap! This was never the plan. I wish I had have had this conversation with Adele before I let it spiral. Would it have made a difference? Maybe not, because I was addicted to the instant validation that social media gave me. Social Media addiction is a real thing. Adele helped me out and I will be forever grateful.
Once I got out of the addicted mess I was in (thanks to the tips from CWK) – we then went on to experience the BEST 8 months of our lives. A life changing experience. I still posted on Facebook and Instagram, however I let go of the page & the website and only had our family and close friends in a Group. I only posted when I felt like it, when I had the time – not because I felt like I had to but because I wanted to. This was MY record, for US and this DID NOT impact my family. My relationship with hubby improved and I had MORE quality time with the kids. The flow on effect after I stopped trying to be something that I never wanted to be, was overwhelming!
Finally, we experienced the adventure we had hoped for – seeing this incredible country, spending quality time as a family, having time to BREATHE & experience this ‘once in a lifetime’ opportunity.
My story is not about telling other families to NOT do all the social and blogging things, my story is about our family and how doing all this nearly ruined our Lap. I did not have realistic expectations and the impact of this on my family was horrible and I would hate to see any other families experience the same thing.
Big thanks to Adele and her team for helping me write this (I would never have made it as a blogger and I really sucked at writing!) and giving me the opportunity to share it with you.
Happy & Safe travels – “Sarah” 2017 Lappers….”
WOW – what a story! We spend a lot of time helping travelling families with their platforms, affiliate marketing and working with brands and sponsors. We always ask families WHY and to be very honest with themselves…
Why do you want to share your travels? Who do you want to share them with? What are your goals?
If the DREAM and GOAL is to become a successful Travel Blogger & social media influencer…then GO FOR IT! However, BE PREPARED! – are you aware of what is involved? what you need to do? Research, learn and listen to those in your industry who are doing it well.
We are flooded with online forums, blogs and webinars from ‘so called’ experts telling you what you should be doing – however – we believe that there are TWO key elements that will help your quest:
- Authenticity & Likability
- AWESOME CONTENT!
If you have these…the rest will come with hard work, commitment and determination!
Another article you might be interested in is this piece about Trip in a Van – one of the biggest Travel Blogging families in the Caravanning & Camping industry….
Have you checked out our SHOP!! Loads of great caravanning inspired products for your adventures…