I’m a former researcher and part-time travel writer who is on a mission to turn writing into my full-time job. This blog is a big part of that: Researcher Gone Rogue is where I share stories of my travels around the world and my passion for exploring the outdoors and places that lie beyond the urban centres. Every month, I write a personal update about what’s been happening during the month to help me stay on track. You get an insight into what travel blogging is like and it holds me accountable and enables me to follow my progress as I go. My intention is to be as honest and open as possible.
I track several things in these posts: things I did and places I visited, blogs that I wrote, articles that I published on other platforms, social media engagement and of course the things I wish I’d done better. At the end of each update, I’ll set some goals for the month ahead.
So without further ado, here’s what happened this October!
My goals for travel blogging in October (set at the end of September in my one month update) were to produce 2 blog posts each week during October, to publish 4 freelance pieces and to improve my engagement on social media.
What I did
Put out consistent Content
I did consistently publish 2 blog posts each week (even if one week I changed the days around a little – but there were still 2 of them!) My favourite piece this month was the one I wrote about Swedish place names. This was a really fun article to research and write, and I had some help from my friend and Swedish language/culture expert Sofi Tegsveden Deveaux from Bee Swedish. Another of my favourites was the article on 7 Facts About Vänern: Sweden’s Largest Lake. I know a lot about Vänern as I live right next to it, but I still learned so many fascinating things about its history and its connection to Nordic and Old English sagas and even Vikings!
Published 1 freelance piece
Okay so I didn’t reach my goal of 4 published articles, unfortunately, but one article I wrote for Routes North was published this month – yay! This one was all about the copper mine in Falun, Sweden, which you can actually visit for free. It’s the place where the paint for the typical red Swedish cottage comes from.
I also wrote 2 other freelance pieces this month but they won’t be published until November. They are both paid and for two new platforms that I haven’t written for before, which is really exciting as I’m expanding my portfolio. So even though I didn’t reach my goal I’m still pretty happy.
Engaged (or tried to) more with social media
One thing that helped me massively this month was scheduling some posts at the beginning of the week. I still updated my feeds in real time, but scheduling at least 1-2 posts on Facebook and Twitter every day really took the load off. So to any other travel bloggers just starting out, I highly recommend that you take the advice that is literally being thrown at you from everywhere to schedule your posts ahead of time!
At the end of September, my stats were as follows: Facebook (24 likes), Instagram (30 followers) and Twitter (47 followers). Now, at the end of October, I’ve got 34 likes on Facebook, 59 Instagram followers and 74 Twitter followers. Not large numbers or anything but they did improve, so I’m counting this as a success. What I’d really like to spend more time on is engaging in conversations with people on these platforms. It’s easy to put out content and share it but takes a lot more time to engage in a meaningful way with people. I find this very easy on Twitter, as the platform is made for conversation, but Facebook and Instagram are a whole different ball game.
Got some advice
I stumbled on a series by Christina Guan, travel blogger at Happy to Wander. Her posts on creating epic travel content, social media and my personal fave – the No BS Guide to Travel Blogging – really gave me a lot of helpful tips that I am already starting to apply to my own blog. I’ve read a lot of these guides by various successful travel bloggers but they all repeat the same advice that I find a little tiresome. This one did repeat some things I’d heard before but it’s written in a really honest, down-to-earth way that was refreshing.
Started using Canva
So I might be a bit of a wordsmith but I am certainly no expert when it comes to designing things, such as the feature images for my blog posts. I managed to set up this website by myself but I wouldn’t say it looks ‘great.’ I can picture what looks good in my head but can never seem to figure out how to make things more visually appealing. But at least Canva exists, to make my blog images look that little bit more professional. I’m not sure why I didn’t start using Canva to begin with, but now I’ve figured out how to use it I’m happy I am! I’m going to continue to experiment with a few different designs and fonts. Here’s one that I did for my recent post on Gaasbeek Castle in Pajottenland, Belgium.
Where I went
During October, I continued to explore Värmland (there’s so much to see and do outdoors here and I need to get as much in as possible before Winter begins!) I also travelled to Belgium for a week for the European Week of Regions and Cities. I’d won a blogging competition run by the European Commission and they flew me to Brussels to cover the event as an accredited journalist. Pretty awesome, right?! While I was there, I explored Brussels and also managed 2 day trips. One took me to Gaasbeek Castle in the gorgeous Pajottenland countryside and the other to Luxembourg and Dinant. I’d never visited Luxembourg before, so I got to tick another country off my list.
Things I need to work on
Pitching more regularly
So in case it’s not obvious, I don’t make money from this travel blog. I made money from a full-time job in research (which I am currently on leave from so goodbye steady monthly income for a while). Now, I make money from pitching to other travel platforms. When they say yes, I write something and get paid. So basically, I have to spend a lot of time pitching ideas to other people in order to pay my bills. So what did I do during October? I spent a lot of time on this blog but none whatsoever on pitching to other platforms. I had a lot on my plate this month with the trip to Belgium but I’m still disappointed that I didn’t at least send one pitch to a platform that would pay me for my writing. This needs to change during November, especially as my financial situation will depend on it…
Finishing my travel writing course
I completely failed to continue with my travel writing course with MatadorU this month! I wrote one of the assignments for it in September but wasn’t satisfied and I guess I lost the motivation to return to it. But I’m determined to get back into it. Hopefully by this time next month I can say that I’ve at least completed the next two modules. There’s no rush but I know that I’m missing out on some really valuable advice and an opportunity to improve my writing.
This month I maintained Researcher Gone Rogue’s focus on rural destinations and outdoor activities but branched out to cover a couple of other destinations (the UK and Belgium). I’m officially on leave from my job at the moment, which means I’ve got a lot of time to really focus on writing. Right now I’m gearing up for the month of November, when I’ll be moving countries. Where to? I’ll keep you posted…Make sure you’re following me on social media to find out!
My goals for travel blogging in November are to have more meaningful conversations on social media, maintain a consistent blog schedule, start pitching again and get at least two more modules of my travel writing course completed.
Are you also an aspiring travel blogger/writer who can relate to some of these things? Please share your accomplishments and struggles in the comments below, I would love to hear from you! And if any part of this update resonated with you or you want to know more then please don’t hesitate to reach out.