Six months ago, I decided to start a travel and lifestyle blog with my wife. It was a long time coming and something I had wanted to do for years but had been too anxious to actually sit down and begin.
Who will read what I have to say?
What if I don’t make it?
There are so many established bloggers in Bangkok, let alone the world at large; how can I possibly compete with them?
After all, many of the bloggers scoring the highly-prized endorsements and brand deals right now are only in their early twenties, so at age 30, I felt way behind the pack. The idea of starting fresh in this new world was overwhelming and, frankly, a little scary.
But thinking of blogging as a competition in this way was a mistake, and I quickly learned that the reality of the industry was not like that. I understood that to start blogging successfully, it had to be for the right reasons – simply for the love of writing and sharing stories.
Maybe it was an inert talent for writing that spurred me to finally start, which I came to realize I might have after TripAdvisor sent me an email saying that I was in the top 1% of reviewers from Thailand.
Oh wow, that’s cool!
Maybe I was meant for this?
After some convincing from the wife and reading so many wonderfully inspirational blogs, we jumped straight into it and started Dose of Life.
Why Dose of Life?
See, we were living a life of mundane routine – go to work, eat, sleep, live for parties at the weekends, and repeat.
At first, this lifestyle was great but we soon realized this wasn’t what we wanted for the long-term: we wanted to live a REAL life.
As cliché as the saying “we travel not to escape life but for life not to escape us” sounds, it really struck a chord with us.
So when we started brainstorming ideas for our blog, ‘dose of life’ made sense because that is exactly what we were going to do – to add a bit of life to our lives.
Blogging transformed my lifestyle
Blogging, particularly travel blogging, allowed me huge scope to explore – not just by physically traveling and seeing new places, but also for my own personal development. It gave me the opportunity to try new things, face fears (some I’m still working on), meet interesting people and learn about different cultures in a way we never had before.
I have discovered more about Thailand in the last 6 months than I had in the previous 20 years.
Instead of perpetually bar hopping, I might opt for temple hopping instead.
I’ve driven cross country multiple times, gone cliff jumping in Chiang Mai, snorkeling in Koh Tao, hiking in Doi Inthanon and even hope to scale the Ghost Tower in Bangkok soon.
You could say I had been simply “surviving” here in the past, whereas now I’m actually LIVING.
Now, I’ll often go exploring in the tiny streets and back alleys of Bangkok and nearby cities, interacting with the locals and finding peculiar spots.
I’m driven by the idea that blogging isn’t going to come to me, I have to go out and find things to talk about and share.
Blogging forces me to get out and start moving more; I attend meetups, conferences and startup workshops regularly. It also gives me this sensational desire to help other travelers and tourists find their way in the city.
It doesn’t come without challenges…
Naturally, everything has a ying and a yang.
Travel blogging isn’t what you’d call easy because not only does take up a lot of time, there are a host of logistical challenges that hold me back from growing the blog and my experiences.
Being a Pakistani doesn’t help.
I can’t ever be one of those ‘quit my job and travel the world’ digital nomads because everywhere I go, I need a visa.
And these aren’t some simple visa requirements. They are strict, making me feel as if I’m on bail from prison, requiring everything from a letter of leave from my employer to 6 months of bank statements to show that I have enough funds to travel and return home. Tickets and accommodation have to be booked far in advance, so there’s no way I’m going to be traveling on a whim at any point.
Then there’s the issue of convincing my parents to let me pursue a full-time career in blogging. I would a hear a barrage of comments along the lines of:
“Your dad didn’t spend so much money on your college education just so you can gallivant around the world!”
“Beta [son] you have an Engineering AND an MBA degree. Are you crazy?!”
“Ai hai. What’s wrong with your stable job in a multinational company?”
I still have fears on this aspect of blogging – what kind of company would want to collaborate in the face of such hassles? And how will I travel the world and have enough content to stand out among the other bloggers?
But I feel that is also where the opportunities in blogging lie. My audience can easily be the people who share the same issues and fears as I do, and who are looking for the inspiration to travel and blog.
Another thing to always bear in mind is that blogging isn’t about competition.
It’s a community of passionate individuals who help each other out. Each have their own unique stories and style of sharing – and that’s what makes them stand out from the pack, while grabbing opportunities for collaboration and networking.
My advice? If you’re thinking of traveling, blogging or really doing anything in life, passion has to be the driving force.
After that, it’s up to you…
Featured image is via ONEDAY: Forward Co-working space on Sukhumvit Soi 26 – a venue very popular in Bangkok’s blogging scene