This post is for the readers of my blog who also maintain one of their own.
I recently requested another travel blogger add a link to my site on his. I first learned about this person's blog from the comments he left on mine as I was traveling last year. The response was “no” because I didn't comment on his blog in return. I fully understand his perspective, yet it has caused me to reflect on the way I tried to balance my travels with running this blog. I realize there are a lot of other bloggers who have proactively added a link to my site from theirs. I am very appreciative. Hopefully they're still reading.
In advance of my trip, I spent much of my free time on the internet learning about blogging, asking and answering questions in the Bootsnall forums, reading other people's travel blogs, commenting on them, and generally making connections within the online travel community.
When it came time to leave home, I switched gears, focusing solely on relaying my travel experiences in writing, photos, and videos. My #1 online priority was providing daily updates for people to read. If I had to guess, I probably spent an average of 1.5 hours per day on the internet, usually in a cafe where I was paying by the minute, often seated uncomfortably, and subject to a slower-than-ideal connection or small monitor. The main reason I read other people's travel blogs before my trip was to stay motivated and entertained while I waited for my turn.
So, once I was off having daily adventures of my own, the last thing I wanted to do was sit in an internet cafe reading about other people's adventures. As a result of this conscious decision to limit my blogging experience to the boundaries of Gobackpacking, I did not read other people's blogs, even the ones I considered my favorites. And if I wasn't reading them, I wasn't in a position to leave comments on them. I insulated myself from other blogs for the sole purpose of maximizing my travel experience. Blogging became an integral part of that experience, but I had to draw the line somewhere.
I fell into a routine which did not involve making design updates. I rarely added a new unpaid link, and turned down many requests from other people, with the response that I was limiting my blogroll to people I met along my trip. In reality, it was more about not having a links page on the blog, and thus not wanting to fill up my sidebar with unfamiliar sites. I think this was a mistake. To correct course, I created a new Links page when I updated my theme a few months ago after settling in Medellin.
Now that my travels are wrapping up with this transition period in Colombia, I am trying to be more proactive about giving back to other bloggers – both the new ones getting ready for upcoming trips and the more established ones who've shown me such support the last two and a half years. I'm reading my favorite blogs again, and adding new ones every week. I'm become more social again, taking the time to comment on others' blogs and answer questions in the Bootsnall forums. In an effort to share what I've learned, I began the Developing a Successful Travel Blog series. And if I can get my butt in gear, I'm planning to do some guest blogging.
These are some of the ways I plan to “pay it forward” for the support I received while traveling.
Regards from Medellin on a cool and rainy night, as I type to Bob Marley's Legend in an apartment that is about to be mine alone for the next 3 weeks.